Living in the world of anti-toxics activism is akin to living in a parallel universe to the world of governments and politicians. In the anti-toxics universe you see the scope and scale of of the damage done by chemicals, reported by experts month after month, year after year, decade after devastating decade. You’re also able to see through a transparent divide, into the world of governments and politicians, and all the matters with which they are pre-occupied. And you can see that everything is the same in their universe, except that toxic chemicals don’t seem to exist. And evidently the politicians can’t see back into your universe. (Graphic Credit: YouTube )
To live in the anti-toxics world is to watch major report after major report – and 2017 and 2018 have brought cascades of these – emerge from top-tier scientific and academic sources, and, indeed, from subordinate government departments such as EPA or Environment Canada, calling out for sweeping action by law makers to regulate or ban many kinds of dangerous chemicals. But at least at the national level in the United States and Canada, there is such a profound determination to avoid toxics regulation that it makes you wonder what the politicians are smoking. “Not politically expedient,” they say. “Not economically viable.” Other favourite excuses: “We have other priorities. We’ll do it later. Junk science and fake news.” Or – the go-to mode for Canada’s government right now – they just say nothing at all.
But the politicians’ universe is a fantasy-land of wish-fulfillment and criminal negligence. Because, as climate warrior Bill McKibbon has famously said when excuses of political expediency are trotted out to justify inaction on climate change, “physics doesn’t care.” Global warming is a product of natural laws, and there is no horse-trading or postponing the reckoning with physics. By the same token, when it comes to the vast ravages of our chemical regime – examples of which I’ll be tackling in my next four blogs – the truth is biology doesn’t care either. It too is governed by natural laws and processes that our petrochemical products violate and disrupt, weakening or killing every type of living plant and animal.
Reality in the only universe that matters? If we keep poisoning ourselves at the rate we are doing now, we truly will destroy our intelligence, our health, our resilience and our fertility – no matter how much our politicians pretend otherwise.
In the next four blogs, I’ll be writing about four huge stories in toxics and the need for game-changing policies – the first two about two new, eye-popping studies; the third about the body of important recommendations for chemicals management still being considered by the Trudeau government – when, oh when, will we see legislation? And the fourth a look at the carnage in toxics regulations in Washington. I hope you’ll follow me through this mini-series so you can be better prepared to tell your politicians to get real, or get out.
IT’S A SICK WORLD AND GETTING SICKER: NEW STUDY SHOWS HEALTH COSTS OF TOXICS EXPOSURES TOP 10% OF GLOBAL GDP, PROVOKES CALLS TO PLACE POLLUTION AT THE TOP OF THE POLICY AGENDA
Graphic Credit: MedicalXpress
In the first blog of this mini-series, I’m going to be writing about a new report – new last December, that is – from distinguished scientists that calculates the costs of disease from “preventable exposures to chemicals” at 10% of global GDP. This finding, along with many others, has legions of experts calling for fundamental policy action to move toxics of all kinds – from industrial, traffic and consumer product sources – to the very top of the political agenda, on a par with climate change for world-wide action.
“AIR FRESHENERS” AND OTHER HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS CAUSE SMOG, ARE MORE TOXIC THAN TRAFFIC EMISSIONS: THE STUNNING NEW STUDY IN SCIENCE THAT FINALLY PUTS REGULATION OF EVERYDAY TOXICS ON THE AGENDA
In the second blog, I’ll be tackling the story that made huge headlines in the American press in February, about how consumer chemicals – from pesticides to indoor air fresheners and household cleaners to perfume and shampoo – are replacing car emissions and are even more toxic as components in Los Angeles smog.
12 YEARS OF STUDY AND STILL NO LEGISLATION FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA: TELL TRUDEAU AND HIS MINISTERS TO ADOPT THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT PROCESS.
Graphic credit: Scientists4Cepa https://scientists4cepa.org/home#petition
Third in this series, I’ll be writing about the seemingly endless process of investigation and inaction that is toxics (non)policy with Canada’s Liberal government. Bill C-69 – now before the House of Commons – is a proposed reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), under which chemicals management has long been included. But without any public commitment to separate and timely legislative action, the 87 recommendations from the preceding 12 year “Chemicals Management Process” are now in suspended animation. I’ll write about the status of the process and the petition of over 450 Canadian scientists to the government, in that seemingly unreachable parallel universe, to please, please, please! adopt the damn recommendations and put Canada back into the “healthy country” category, from which it so long ago slipped.
And finally, fourth up in this mini-series…
ASTEROID STRIKE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BLOWS UP OLD AND NEW TOXICS REGULATIONS AND SETS THE COUNTRY BACK BY 50 YEARS.
In late 2016, Donald Trump was elected president and in early 2017 he appointed Wilbur Ross, a man worth $700 million, as his commerce secretary, promising “there will be refineries, folks, there will be refineries!” DOW chemical execs have been close associates since then, and EPA hater and would-be destroyer, Oklahoman Scott Pruitt was appointed head of the EPA. How are things going in Washington now? We’ll have a look, and make a few suggestions for candidates preparing to run in 2018.
Header Image Credit: Los Angeles Times