And nukes. . .
First, two horsemen ride together, via AllAfrica:
Nigeria Violence Pushes Refugees and Cholera Across Borders
West Africa is struggling to control a cholera outbreak that has spread from Nigeria to nearby countries, exacerbated by insecurity and waves of refugees fleeing an Islamist insurgency in the country’s north, aid agencies said.
Some 33,000 people in Nigeria and thousands more in neighbouring nations have contracted the disease, which has been overshadowed by an Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), said.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by a bacteria that can cause rapid dehydration and death. Its victims are frequently infected through the ingestion of water and food contaminated by human faeces.
And a parallel warning from Médecins Sans Frontières:
Ebola in Liberia – Malaria must be treated too
Every year, malaria claims victims in Liberia. The disease is endemic there. However, with the Ebola epidemic, it has become very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain treatment. In response, MSF has begun distributing antimalarials in Monrovia. Approximately 300,000 people living in the capital’s poor neighborhoods will benefit.
On October 25, MSF’s teams began distributing antimalarials in the western part of Liberia’s capital city. This distribution is taking place in the poorest neighborhoods, where population density is very high and where access to care, which was already very limited before the Ebola epidemic, barely exists any longer.
To address the collapse of the health care system, MSF is distributing
antimalarials to 300,000 people in Monrovia. This treatment – artesunate and amodiaquine – is intended for children over the age of six months, but also for adults.
Another outbreak across the Indian Ocean from Vice News:
Amid Talk of Ebola, Australia Is Apparently Silencing Discussion of Tuberculosis Threat
While health officials across the world work overtime to contain the Ebola outbreak, another deadly disease long forgotten in the developed world is making a comeback in the Pacific: tuberculosis. But it appears that some authorities in Australia would prefer that the public not hear much of this.
“I listen to everything that’s going on with Ebola, but we have a crisis right on our front door,” Warren Entsch, an Australia legislator from the Far North Queensland electorate of Leichhardt, told VICE News.
The “front door” Entsch has in mind is the narrow passage of water between Papua New Guinea and Australia known as the Torres Strait. Papua New Guinea has the highest infection rate of tuberculosis outside of Africa — every two hours, a Papua New Guinean dies of the disease.
Mother Jones covers drought in the Golden State:
Scary maps show how bad California’s water shortage is
Just how bad is California’s water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state’s ongoing and epochal drought:
The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. “California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011,” he writes. That’s “more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley.”
Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe’s aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.
More than 2 billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to surface water, the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it’s also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.
And from Reuters, another drought far to the south:
Sao Paulo struggles with worst drought in 80 years
Residents of Sao Paulo struggle in worst drought seen in 80 years as one resident complains “A shower, a proper shower… nobody has that anymore.” Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
The Independent covers a major loss:
UN report: Climate change has permanently ruined farmland the size of France
The report, written by the United Nations University, highlights large areas of farmland in arid and semi-arid parts of the world, such as the south west of the US and Australia, which are suffering from a combination of heavy irrigation and poor to non-existent drainage systems. As a result, a thick crust of salt is forming across much of the world, which is costing £17bn a year in lost crop production in regions including China, India and Pakistan.
Water used for irrigation contains varying quantities of salt, which, in the absence of a good drainage system, is left behind when the water evaporates.
The effect can be intensified by groundwater – which also contains salts – and which rises to the surface as the water table rises following irrigation without drainage. In other words, drainage systems serve to flush the salt out of the ground by carrying it away from soil.
And the Guardian covers an ongoing planetary affliction:
Ozone hole remains size of North America, Nasa data shows
- Antarctic hole in protective layer of gas stands around same level as 2010, 2012 and 2013, but scientists say recovery is on track
The Antarctic ozone hole, which was expected to reduce in size swiftly when manmade chlorine emissions were outlawed 27 years ago, is stubbornly remaining the size of North America, new data from Nasa suggests.
The hole in the thin layer of gas, which helps shield life on Earth from potentially harmful ultraviolet solar radiation that can cause skin cancers, grows and contracts throughout the year but reached its maximum extent on 9 September when monitors at the south pole showed it to cover 24.1m square km (9.3m sq miles). This is about 9% below the record maximum in 2000 but almost the same as in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
But scientists remain unsure why the hole has not reduced more since the Montreal Protocol agreement was signed by countries in 1987.
The Japan Times covers a toxic legacy from another war:
Japan, U.S. accused of failing Okinawa residents, veterans allegedly sickened by Agent Orange
A journalist who has documented the alleged existence of Agent Orange on Okinawa has accused Tokyo and Washington of side-stepping their responsibilities to local residents and military personnel who may have been exposed to the toxic defoliant.
Jon Mitchell, a research associate at Meiji Gakuin University’s International Peace Research Institute, said the Japanese government has failed to investigate whether military toxins contaminated local seafood farms, and U.S. authorities have dodged the truth about what happened to the more than 250 veterans who reported ill health.
“These people, they deserve better. These people deserve justice,” Mitchell told a press conference Thursday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. He was speaking on the day a Japanese translation of his book on the subject hit the stores.
And from Newsweek, an ongoing toxic legacy:
Calls to Ban Toxic Chemicals Fall on Deaf Ears Around the World
When Denis Bibeyran was diagnosed at the age of 47 with bile tract cancer – a rare form of the disease usually found in men at least 20 years older than him – his sister Marie put it down to bad luck. Around the vineyards of Bordeaux, where they lived and worked, cancer among men his age was common and cancer of the bile tract not particularly unusual.
In 2010, less than 18 months later, Marie Bibeyran’s seven-year-old daughter started puberty. By the end of the year, her breasts had developed to a size normally associated with girls twice her age. Soon after her period started but her physical growth slowed almost to a standstill. Doctors diagnosed a classic case of precocious puberty, a hormonal disorder that causes early sexual development – unusual in otherwise healthy young girls, but not unheard of.
Referred to collectively as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), they act by -tampering with the hormonal system. Over the past two decades, a flurry of scientific studies from around the world has shown them to cause problems very similar to the kind she was seeing in her brother and her daughter.
EDCs are everywhere, found in cosmetics, preservatives, medicines and countless household products such as shampoos and toothpaste, which are used every day by billions of people across the world. Some, such as the pesticide DDT and the “anti-miscarriage” medication DES, were banned years ago, leaving a legacy of health and environmental problems in their wake. Many others are still in use, though exactly how many no one knows.
Now, for the first time anywhere in the world, the Europe Union (EU) is attempting to regulate endocrine disrupting chemicals, setting down criteria to define, identify and, where necessary, ban EDCs. Already, this is sending shockwaves through boardrooms across the world because companies selling their goods in Europe will be forced by law to comply. Everyday goods may be taken off the market; industry could lose -billions. The emphasis is on the word “could” because the fightback has already begun. Already a year over deadline, the procedure has finally gone to public consultation, where it has met with uproar.
And another legacy of fossil fuel hunger from the Ecologist:
Lugworms suffer toxic impact of acidifying oceans
A common marine worm has alerted scientists to the likelihood that the effects of ocean acidification may be more widespread and severe than they had realised.
The lugworm (Arenicola marina) – common on the coasts of Europe and North America, where it can grow to 30 cms in length and is a bait popular with anglers – is being affected by rising levels of acid in the coastal seas. The acid is also reported to be affecting sea urchins.
This is further confirmation that ocean acidification is affecting species other than those that scientists call calcifying organisms – creatures that rely on calcium carbonate to form shells and similar structures.
The worm is also an important prey species for seabirds and waders that feed on coastal and estuarine mudflats. Any substantial reduction in lugworm numbers could seriously affect the birds that depend on it and wreak havoc on entire ecosystems.
And another toxic legacy from the Times of India:
Warren Anderson died unpunished, survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy say
Organizations working for welfare of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy on Friday alleged that former Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson died unpunished due to protection by the US government and deliberate negligence of Indian government in bringing him to justice.
The organizations held a meeting in front of the defunct factory of Union Carbide here after news of the death of Anderson spread.
“Due to the protection offered by the US government and deliberate negligence of Indian government in bringing Anderson to justice, the world’s worst corporate criminal died unpunished,” said a joint release issued by them on Friday.
The former chief of Union Carbide Corporation, who was wanted in India for the tragedy which claimed more than 3,000 lives in one of the world’s most lethal industrial accidents, died in the US state of Florida, aged 92.
And yet another toxic affliction from Frontera NorteSur:
Tijuana Border Dump Generates More Controversy
An old landfill in the northern Mexican border city of Tijuana continues drawing binational scrutiny. In a recent meeting, San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez expressed concern to a Mexican counterpart that the closed El Jibarito dump site could endanger public health on both sides of the border.
Felipe Ledezma, Tijuana city council member and president of the elected body’s environmental commission, said the possible run-off of contaminants from the dump in the direction of Playas de Tijuana and Imperial Beach in neighboring San Diego County was raised as an issue of concern.
Beach pollution is among numerous environmental hazards traced to El Jibarito. Situated adjacent to several working-class neighborhoods, El Jibarito was closed in 2002 but reopened in late 2013 by a private company operating under the new name Norbac until it was closed for business again last month. The waste facility has long been the target of protests waged by neighbors and the Agape group.
Activists have documented 800 cases of sick people, mainly women and children, who’ve experienced allergies, cancers, reproductive disorders, birth defects, respiratory problems, and anencephaly, a condition in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. Local residents blame the ailments on the dump.
After the jump, an Antarctic sanctuary sunk, frack-tious politics to get really dirty, on to Japan and raisin’ the root for Fuksuhimapocalypse Now!, assurance of non-radioactive rice, moving forward on restart of yet another Japanese nuclear power plant, an environmental lawsuit over an American nuclear complex, and aFrench nuclear plants droned again. . . Continue reading