Climate change is bad for human health

Effects on human health from energy extraction

  • In 2012, there were more than 6,000 spills and "other mishaps" at onshore oil and gas sites in the Unites States. This is up ~17% from 2010 in states where comparable data was available. Klein, 299
  • Cleanups of oil/gas spills are getting less effective: in 2005-2006, pipeline operators report recovering more than 60% of liquids spilled; in 2007-2010, operators recovered less than a third. Klein, 299
  • More than 15 million Americans live within a mile of a well that has been drilled and fracked since 2000 Klein, 282
  • The number of oil-carrying rail cars has increased from 9,500 in 2008 to 400,000 in 2013 (4,111% in five years) Klein, 280
  • Gas flaring in Nigeria is extremely damaging. If the natural gas were captured, it could power the entire country. Instead, it is set on fire and accounts for 40% of Nigeria's CO2 emissions. Klein, 275
  • In Nigeria, foreign-investment oil has spilled an Exxon Valdez worth of oil on the Niger Delta every year for ~50 years Klein, 275
  • Principles from the "golden age" of environmental legislation: ban/severely limit the offending activity/substance. Where possible, get the offender to pay for the cleanup. Klein, 183

Effects on human health from pollution

  • EPA warns that indoor air pollution is the United States' number one environmental threat to health, 2-10x worse than outdoor air pollution Louv, 112
  • Health impacts in China: average blood lead levels in urban Chinese are double "dangerously high" levels in other parts of the world, 300k deaths and $54b in health care are attributable to pollution Diamond, 329

Effects on human health from pesticides

  • The FDA typically does not ban the presence of toxins in foods, but sets "allowable levels", which means that even approved food can contain enough that toxins build up over time in your body Carson, 195
  • Cancer has increased drastically over the past 100-150 years. Malignant growths accounted for 15% of deaths in 1958, compared with 4% in 1900. More American school children [at time of publication] die of cancer than from any other disease, though 25 years previous it was considered medically rare to find cancer in children. Carson, 231 //TODO: what are we at now? Office of Vital Statistics as source?
  • "It has been medically established that, as common sense would tell us, persons who lived and died before the dawn of the DDT era (about 1942) contained no trace of DDT or any similar material in their tissues. As mentioned in Chapter 3, samples of body fat collected from the general population between 1954 and 1956 averaged from 5.3 to 7.4 parts per million of DDT." In samples of restaurant and institutional meals, the US Public Health Service determined that every meal contained DDT. Carson, 191 //TODO: updated stat?
  • When a ruminating animal feeds on plants with an unusually high concentration of nitrates, microorganisms in the rumen turn nitrates into nitrites, which act on blood pigment to capture oxygen such that it is not released into the tissues. Animals can die from the resultant anoxia within hours. Carson, 93
  • Plant wilt after toxic chemical spray (2,4 D) can create a temporary increase in sugar content, which causes grazing animals to prefer even plants they would normally avoid and ingest the sprayed chemicals Carson, 93
  • The FDA's protection against pesticides on crops is limited due to two facts: 1) they have jurisdiction only over foods shipped interstate and 2) there are fewer than 600 workers on its staff, so they can barely sample (let alone enforce regulations) Carson, 195 //TODO updated facts?

Effects on human health from biodiversity loss

  • Growing body of evidence suggests that quality of exposure to nature has large effects on human health and child development Louv, 39

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