Category Archives: climate change

Asthma & Diesel

I turn my car’s fan OFF whenever I am behind a belching diesel truck or bus (especially if their muffler is located down low – like school buses) and for good reason:  diesel exhaust fumes. I’m overly sensitive to chemical smells, and whenever I smell diesel aldehydes I hold my breath and wait for cleaner air.

According to wikipedia diesel exhaust contaminants include substances listed as human carcinogens by theInternational Agency for Research on Cancer of the U.N.‘s World Health Organization.

It made me very, very sad decades ago when I saw children (including my own) being required to stand in line next to a running school bus, breathing in diesel exhaust into their young pink lungs. What a travesty! I knew they were breathing in aldehydes and other carcinogens which would cause health problems decades later.  And it would be such an easy fix (it still is!): just raise the damn exhaust muffler from the ground to higher up! Saying something about this, or worse – complaining! – always falls on deaf ears.

Try telling a trucker to stop idling their rig.

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As with many modern ailments, asthma and other lung infections are caused by modern lifestyles. There’s a markedly lower asthma rate in industrialized countries that have clean diesel than those that do not.

It’s actually kinda easy to wean a person away from an onset of asthma: breathe cleaner air! It’s that simple. Close your windows when the first school buses and garbage trucks start rolling. Open the windows up again after these trucks stop running. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is one of the few things you can control.

An article in the NYTimes Well clearly states the impact of exercising in polluted cities: “The potential health impacts are worrisome. Studies show that athletes who spend long hours in ice rinks filled with exhaust from Zamboni machines, such as figure skaters and hockey players, have unusually high rates of asthma compared to other athletes.”

So next time there’s a smog alert day in your area, besides trying to pollute less, maybe you can rest your body until the air gets cleaner… you’ll be healthier for it.

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Searching on ‘asthma & diesel exhausts’, there’s an entry from a UK study in 2007:

Diesel exhaust fumes on polluted streets have a measurable effect on people with asthma, according to the first study looking at exhausts and asthma in a real-life setting, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Most countries in Europe have had ‘clean diesel’ for over two decades – and it’s WAY cheaper than regular gasoline. Whenever I rented a car there, I always opted for a diesel one. At ~$8/gallon, fuel costs are often higher than rental fees in Europe.

But the USA, thanks to a powerful lobby group, refuses to pass legislation mandating clean diesel – except for California.

Starting in 2010 cleaner diesel truck engines were phased in. California is leading the USA toward cleaner diesel:

https://www.ajot.com/news/future-freight-plan-for-california-depends-on-clean-diesel-power-to-ac

According to 2015 data compiled by IHS Insight for the Diesel Technology Forum, there are over 900,000 Class 3-8 commercial vehicles in California and about 18 percent are the newest generation clean diesel (2010 Model Year and newer) that achieve near zero NOx and PM emissions. Since 2010, these vehicles alone have saved or eliminated 700,000 tons of NOx and 20,700 tons of PM. They have also saved or eliminated 5.8 million barrels of crude oil and 2.5 million tons of CO2. This compares with just over 15,000 natural gas powered commercial vehicles. Nationwide, almost 26 percent of the diesel commercial vehicle fleet is powered by engines that are 2010 and newer generations.”

These points and others were outlined in the Forum’s final comments submitted Wednesday on the draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan concerning the development of strategies to improve freight efficiency and the transition to zero-emission freight technologies.

And it’s going to get even cleaner with diesels in California, according to Cal’s CARB web site:

The regulation requires diesel trucks and buses that operate in California to be upgraded to reduce emissions. Newer heavier trucks and buses must meet PM filter requirements beginning January 1,2012. Lighter and older heavier trucks must be replaced starting January 1,2015. By January 1,2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent.

The regulation applies to nearly all privately and federally owned diesel fueled trucks and buses and to privately and publicly owned school buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 14,000 pounds. The regulation provides a variety of flexibility options tailored to fleets operating low use vehicles, fleets operating in selected vocations like agricultural and construction, and small fleets of three or fewer trucks.

Now, if we can only get other states to adopt similar clean diesel mandates and save our children’s lungs (and retrofit those school buses!!)

WTR related:

Something as mundane as cleaner diesel is part of ‘The Great Turning’ within the Work that Reconnects (WTR).  It’s always easier to remain numb to realities than acknowledge our pain, and make the world a better place – a cornerstone of Joanna Macy’s WTR work: “acknowledge your own pain that ended up as numbness. It’s painful, and hurtful to embrace & acknowledge all the ugliness, violence, chemicals in our daily lives: better just ignore it for your own ‘peace of mind’… which really never comes from numbness.”

 

Shrimp with bacon + olive oil?

 

mmm……looks appetizing right?

well, I won’t be saying this at any dinner parties:  But shrimp, bacon and olive oil are not what we think they are.

I can’t seem to get away from blogging about food. Why are there  so many food distortions, outright lies, and hidden secrets?  Here’s the latest:

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I’m a regular fan of CBS  60 minutes… I know, I know: they are heavily edited + scripted for THEIR agenda,  but they still produce original investigative journalism – unlike 90% of web content.

Let’s start with olive oil, or what olive oil isn’t.  Look at a bottle of olive oil.  Chances are it will say ‘Made in Italy’ well it’s neither from Italy nor is it olive oil!

Check out ‘Agromafia’ a 60 minutes segment that aired on Jan 3, 2016. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-agromafia-food-fraud/

Here’s some highlights:  Olive oil is a $16 billion industry.  Generally olive oil costs $50 agallon.  But sunflower oil costs $7 a gallon.  Add a little chlorophyll to sunflower oil and it’ll look just like olive oil!  Let’s see $50 vs $7… quite a margin!   So the Italian mafia brings in sunflower + canola oil from North Africa, reprocesses it with Chlorophyll, relabels it  – and walla:  a whole new profit center is borne:  3x more profitable than cocaine.  Allergy people BEWARE :  some of this fake olive oil is based on nut seed oil.

anecdote: just yesterday I bought some italian pasta instead of USA pasta (thinking I would avoid the inevitable GMO that most USA wheat has) … but alas! italian pasta is neither also!  At best it’s contaminated with pesticides and poisons.

Italy appears to have its own hideous, fake food supply chain …  just like China++   So sad!  The ‘made in Italy’ label has been altered forever. I stopped trusting Italian leather decades ago, ever since an Asian store keeper in Venice tried selling me a fake leather jacket .  A little due diligence revealed cheap China crap with ‘made in italy’ knockoffs that were everywhere – even in some  hi-end stores.

Nothing seems to be immune  from the mafia’s food altering cartel: Italian wines are altered with poor quality table wine, relabeled ‘made in Tuscany’;  40,000 gallons worth >$5mil last year alone.  Tomatoes, sauce, pasta, milk, bread… nothing seems to be immune from the mafia’s reach.

From farm to fork:  from supermarkets, to transportation, to farm harvesters, growers + seeds… the entire supply chain!!  The Italian mafia appears to controls everything: especially in Sicily, where the majority of food vendors and restaurants are controlled by the mafia.

The 2007 New Yorker magazine was the first publisher of this phenom.  Why has it gone unnoticed for so long  (8 years!)?

So step aside China, we have a new wiener in the food deception game!  The real sad losers in all of this are the Italian people. Gone will be their ‘made in Italy’ reputation and pricing premiums.  The real Italian artists and artisans could be driven out of business. Hopefully they’ll re-label themselves, and be able to market their wares under some new ‘unalterable, non-mafia’ controlled label.

Thank you New Yorker + CBS/60 minutes – there are still a few investigative journalists around… I might just start subscribing to the New Yorker!

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 let’s look at shrimp.

Have you noticed how cheap it’s been for the last year?                    There’s a reason for that:    In Thailand + Mynamar +, poor migrant kids are being sold to and locked inside shrimp factories to peel Red Lobster, Kroger, Olive Garden, Wal-mart and others’ cheap shrimp. They get paid $3-4 for a 16 hour day peeling shrimp.

In 2015 alone, over 2,000 shrimp slaves have been freed as a result of an ongoing AP investigative series.  42% of Thai shrimp are contaminated.  Heavy antibiotics are used by shrimp farmers. As much as 38% of the mangrove forests being cut, can be directly linked to shrimp farming.

To escape detection, Asian shrimp are often combined with other seafoods and sold as combo patches to unsuspecting western markets. Last week, even Whole Foods had to admit it didn’t know if its Thai suppliers were mixing ‘slave shrimp’ into its seafood supplies.

sources: SF Chronicle page A6, December 15, 2015 and Mother Jones Jan6, 2016:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2016/01/six-reasons-think-hard-about-shrimp-craving

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And now for some GOOD NEWSbacon

Everything’s better with bacon – right?

You may have seen the latest WHO (World Health Organization) report that a couple slices of bacon are equivalent to two packs of cigarettes a day – what BS!  Here’s the real story behind the NPR + pop media story:

WHO merely put cured meats on its list of likely carcinogens.  Within three days, over two dozen social media outlets posted that bacon was hazardous to your health — they ramped up the WHO listing to an become an edict on avoiding bacon + ham. The Spanish were pretty pissed about that!

Here’s the real story: There’s always been a correlation linking nitrates in cured meats to cancer. BUT  ‘correlation does not imply causation’. The WHO did not imply causation – they merely put cured meats on their ‘links to cancer’ list – not an increased risk!

Smoking increases lung cancer by 2,500%, eating two slices of bacon each day increases cancer risk by 18% – and even that is misleading, since the average person has about a 5% risk of colorectal cancer.  When you put the two together it comes out to about a 1% increased personal risk – unless of course you’re driving a car while eating your bacon burger.  So… enjoy your bacon!

(source: Catalystmagazine.net page 16, December 2015)