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Causes and

Consequences of
Environmental
Degradation
Martin Donohoe

Am I Stoned?
A 1999 Utah anti-drug pamphlet
warns:
Danger signs that your child
may be smoking marijuana
include excessive preoccupation
with social causes, race relations,
and environmental issues

Our Home

Overpopulation
World

population exponential growth


1 billion in 1800
2.5 billion in 1950
6 billion in 2000
7 billion in 2011

Overpopulation

Africa, Asia, and Latin America primarily


affected
Causes:
Poverty
Womens rights issues
impaired access to reproductive
health care and education
political/legal/economic/social
marginalization

Air Pollution

Health Effects of Air


Pollution
Causes

approximately 60,000 75,000 premature deaths/yr. in


U.S.

656,000
Over

in China

2 million worldwide

Health Effects of Air


Pollution

MI
CHF
Ventricular arrythmias
Asthma/COPD
PVD
Cerebrovascular disease
Multiple other illnesses

Air Pollution

Indoor combustion of coal and


biomass for cooking, heating and
food preservation
3 billion people worldwide
2 million deaths/yr
Tobacco smoke
5.4 million deaths/yr worldwide
(1/10 deaths)

Air Pollution: The Good


News
Reductions

in air pollution
under Clean Air Act Account
for up to 15% of overall
increase in life expectancy in
major U.S. metropolitan
areas
Saved

160,000 lives in 2010

Effects of Ozone
Destruction
Ozone

hole over Antarctic (2X


size of Europe)
Shrinking
Increased cataracts (UV damage)
Increased lifetime melanoma risk
1/1500 - 1930
1/68 - today

US Energy Consumption
by Fuel

Oil 37% - peak oil production


expected 2014
Natural gas 24%
Coal 22% - peak coal production 1920
Nuclear 8.5%
Renewables (mostly hydroelectric and
biomass; small amounts of geothermal,
wind, and solar) 7.3%

Oil and War


Countries

that export oil are


>40 times more likely to be
engaged in civil war than
those that do not
Gulf Wars I and II
The Future Water Wars

Toxins/Pesticides
6 trillion tons of over 85,000
chemicals produced annually
More than 90% have never been
screened for toxicity
5 billion lbs/yr pesticides worldwide
1.1 billion lbs/yr in U.S.
About 3 lbs/person/yr in U.S.

Pesticides

EPA: U.S. farm workers suffer up to


300,000 pesticide-related acute
illnesses and injuries per year
25 million cases/yr worldwide
NAS: Pesticides in food could cause
up to 1 million cancers in the
current generation of Americans
WHO: 1,000,000 people killed by
pesticides over the last 6 years

Health Effects of
Pesticides

Autism
Parkinsons Disease
Alzheimers disease
Diabetes
Obesity (with prenatal exposure)
Depression
ADHD
Endocrine/reproductive effects

Toxic Pollutants
85,000 known or suspected
hazardous waste sites in the U.S.
Environmental Racism
Waste dumps/incinerators
more common in lower SES
neighborhoods
Cancer Belt (Baton Rogue
to New Orleans)

Infamous Industrial
Disasters
Minimata,
Love

Japan

Canal

Bhopal,

India

Chernobyl,

USSR

Infamous Industrial
Disasters

Alaska, Exxon Valdez, 1989

2006 BP Alaskan pipeline rupture

2010 BP Gulf disaster

2011 Yellowstone pipe rupture

Minimata Disease
W Eugene Smith

Deforestation
Tropical forests constitute 7% of
land surface area, contain > 50% of
plant and animal species
Majority of tropical forests destroyed
One acre of worlds forest cut down
every second
50% of global wetlands destroyed
(54% in U.S.)

Deforestation
Historical

-Easter Island (Polynesians), Middle


East, U.S. Southwest (Anasazi Indians)
Contemporary
-Mauritania, Ethiopia, Haiti deforested
-Philippines and Thailand are now net
importers of forest products, looking at
Latin America

Deforestation: Causes
New agricultural settlements
(overpopulation, poverty,
unsustainable farming practices)
Logging
Oil and gas exploration
Cattle ranching
Drug cultivation

Global Warming

Consequences of Global
Warming

160,000 deaths and 5.5 million


disability-adjusted life years lost
per year
WHO, UN Environment
Program
Expected to double by 2020

Consequences of Global
Warming
Polar icecaps/glaciers/Greenland
ice sheet/Himalayas/permafrost
melting, sea levels rising
weather extremes/natural
disasters/insurance claims
infectious diseases

Greenlands Ice Cap


Melting: 1992

Greenlands Ice Cap


Melting: 2002

Greenlands Ice Cap


Melting: 2005

Global Warming

The top 1/5 of the worlds largest 145


countries account for 63% of global C0 2
emissions (lowest 1/5 = 2%)
Countries most affected are those least
responsible
Climate refugees
Disappearing locales: Tuvalu,
Vanuatu, Kivalina (Alaska), Male
(Maldives)

Agriculture
Global per capita cropland down over
50% from 1961 to present
Soil erosion exceeds soil formation

Decreasing crop diversity/genetic


diversity
Consequences:

vulnerability to disease,

huge crop losses (e.g., Irish potato


famine)

Factory Farming

Factory Farming
Factory farms have replaced
industrial factories as the # 1
polluters of American waterways
Agriculture accounts for 70% of
U.S. antibiotic use
CDC: Antibiotic use in food
animals is the dominant source of
antibiotic resistance among foodborne pathogens.

Overfishing

Fisheries collapsing

Coral reef destruction

Aquaculture

Species Loss
Rate

of extinction = 4,000-6,000
species/year

1,000

- 10,000X background rate


of extinction

Causes of Species Loss


Habitat

loss (overpopulation, logging,

etc.)
Environmental pollution
Global warming
Exotic species invasions
Overhunting
Black market in endangered animals
HUMANS

Maldistribution of
Wealth
500

billionaires worldwide

top

250 billionaires worth


$1 trillion, the combined
income of bottom 2.5 billion
people (45% of worlds
population)

Maldistribution of
Wealth

U.S: Richest 1% of the population


owns 50% of the countrys wealth
-poorest 90% own 30%
-widest gap of any industrialized
nation
Associated with 880,000 deaths per
year over expected number if gap
was same as in Western European
nations

Maldistribution of wealth
Less

than 4% of the combined


wealth of the 225 richest individuals
in the world would pay for ongoing
access to basic education, health
care (including reproductive health
care), adequate food, safe water, and
adequate sanitation for all humans
(UNDP)

Declaration of
Independence

All men are created


equal.

George Orwell

Some people are


more equal than
others

Hudson River, 2009

Voltaire
The comfort of the rich
rests upon an abundance
of the poor

Maldistribution of
Wealth/Resources Threatens
National Security and Requires a
Permanent War Economy

The U.S. has about 50% of the worlds


wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. This
situation cannot fail to be the object of envy
and resentment. Our real task in the coming
period is to devise a pattern of relationships
which will permit us to maintain this
position of disparity withoug positive
detriment to our national security.

George Kennan, U.S. State Dept. Policy Planning


Study, 1948

Racial Disparities

Economic

Educational

Criminal justice system


involvement

Discrimination

Racial Disparities:
Health Care
Higher maternal and infant
mortality
Higher death rates for most
diseases
Shorter life expectancies
Less health insurance
Fewer diagnostic tests / therapeutic
procedures

Racial Disparities:
Health Care

Equalizing the mortality rates of


whites and African-Americans
would have averted 686,202
deaths between 1991 and 2000
Whereas

medical advances averted


176,633 deaths
AJPH

2004;94:2078-2081

Overconsumption
(Affluenza)

U.S. = 6.3% of worlds population


Own 50% of the worlds wealth

U.S. responsible for:


-25% of worlds energy consumption
-33% of paper use
-72% of hazardous waste production
(1 ton/person/year)

But are we happier?


Workloads increasing,
vacation and free time
decreasing
U.S.: Only OECD country not
to guarantee paid vacation and
sick leave
Erosion of social capital

Economic Stagnation

Inflation-adjusted income of the


median U.S. household
1989 - $54,600
1997 - $49,000
2004 - $44,389
2009 - $49,777
2011 - $51,860
Financial Crisis / Recession

Exorbitant CEO Pay

CEO salaries up 500% since 1980


The average CEO makes 300-400X
the salary of the average U.S.
worker (1960 - 41X; 1980 - 42X)
Mexico 45:1
Britain 25:1
Germany 11:1
Japan 10:1

The Global Economy


53

of the worlds 100 largest


economies are private
corporations; 47 are countries
Wal-Mart is larger than
Israel and Greece
AT&T is larger than
Malaysia and Ireland

Corporations
Almost
500

6 million corporations

companies control 70%


of world trade

Corporations

Internalize profits

Externalize health and environmental costs

Confidential legal settlements keep


important public health and safety
information secret
May delay governmental intervention,
cause unnecessary morbidity and mortality

Corporate Taxation
Corporations shouldered over
30% of the nations tax burden
in 1950 vs. 6.5% today (real
rate = 2.8% per U.S. Treasury
Department)
Corporate taxes are at their
lowest level since WW II

Reasons for Inadequate


Corporate Taxation
Tax breaks, corporate welfare,
corporation-friendly tax laws,
loopholes, transferring assets
overseas
Cheating and under-payment
common
Offshore tax havens shelter
capital

Ugland House, Cayman Islands


18,000 Corporations
Registered Here

The Stock Market

20% of Americans own stock

90% of stocks, bonds, and


mutual fund assets owned by
10%
51% of all stocks, bonds, and
mutual fund assets owned by 1%

Consequences of
Differential Stock
Ownership

Corporations are answerable to


their shareholders
Governments are answerable (at
least in theory) to their citizens
(either through elections or
revolutions)

Economic Injustices

The Third World Debt Crisis


Africa/Latin America/Asia - $300 billion
Unfair economic organizations and trade
agreements
WTO, IMF, GATT, NAFTA, others
Child labor
Unionization
Unsafe working conditions

Foreign Aid
In

total dollars: U.S. #1

As

a % of GDP, U.S. #21

U.S.

Aid: Over 1/3 military, 1/4


economic, 1/3 for food and
development

Foreign Aid

0.9% of the total federal budget

On average, Americans think


that 24% of the federal budget
goes toward foreign aid

U.S. Charitable Giving

Approximately $250 billion/year


2.5%
2.9%

of income

at height of Great
Depression

2009 Federal Budget


$2.65 trillion

World Military Spending


(2008)

The Military and


Pollution
Worlds single largest polluter
6-10% of global air pollution
2-11% of world raw material use
97% of all high level and 78% of all
low level nuclear waste
Military exempt from most
environmental regulations

The Military: Diversion of


Resources Away from
Health Care

3 hours world arms spending =


annual WHO budget
1/2 day of world arms spending =
full childhood immunizations for all
worlds children
3 days of U.S. military spending =
amt. spent on health, education, and
welfare for U.S. children in 1 year

The Military: Diversion of


Resources Away from Health
Care and Other Scientific
Projects

3 weeks of world arms


spending/yr. = primary health care
for all in poor countries, incl. safe
water and full immunizations
25% of the worlds 2.5 million
research scientists and engineers
work entirely on military R and D

Every gun that is made, every warship


launched, every rocket fired, signifies
in the final sense a theft from those
who hunger and are not fed, those
who are cold and not clothed.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Poverty and Hunger


US: 14% of residents and 20% of
children live in poverty
Rates of poverty in Blacks and
Hispanics = almost 3X Whites
17% (52 million people) lack health
insurance (2011)
Poverty associated with worse
physical and mental health

Poverty
1.1 billion people lack access to safe,
clean drinking water
-1.8 million child deaths/year
2 billion have no electricity
2.6 billion do not have adequate
sanitation services
Lack of clean water and sanitation
cause 4 billion cases of diarrhea and
1.6 million deaths per year

Famine

Famine
1.5

billion malnourished
Hunger kills 18,000 people per
day, most under age 5
Hunger-related causes kill as
many people in 8 days as the
atomic bomb killed at Hiroshima

Poverty and Priorities

Amount of money needed each year


(in addition to current expenditures)
to provide water and sanitation for
all people in developing nations = $9
billion

Amount of money spent annually on


cosmetics in the U.S. = $8 billion

Poverty and Priorities

Amount of money needed each year (


in addition to current expenditures)
to provide reproductive health care
for all women in developing
countries = $12 billion

Amount of money spent annually on


perfumes in Europe and the U.S. =
$12 billion

Medical Care
50% of global health care
budget spent in the U.S.
Per capita expenditure on health
care:
U.S. = $8,160
Typical poor African/Asian
country = $5-10

Medical Care
U.S. - 52 million uninsured
Ranks 24th worldwide in overall
population health (as judged by
disability-adjusted life
expectancy)
Ranks 42nd in global life
expectancy

Headline from The Onion


Uninsured Man Hopes His
Symptoms Diagnosed This
Week On House

Would You Sign a


Petition to Ban
Dihydrogen Monoxide?
1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
2. It is a major component in acid rain
3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
4. It can kill you if accidentally inhaled
5. It contributes to erosion
6. It decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
7. It has been found in tumors of terminal cancer
patients

Geographic Ignorance

Percent of US teens unable to


locate the following on a map:
United States 11%
Pacific Ocean 29%
United Kingdom 68%

Ignorance/Pseudoscienti
fic Beliefs
Half of US citizens do not believe
in evolution and do believe that
humans and dinosaurs coexisted
(2007)
22% of Americans dont know
whether an atomic bomb has ever
been dropped (2000)
25% believe in UFOs (2007)

The Obfuscation of
Science
Advertising
US spends $290 billion/yr on
advertising (almost
$1,000/person/yr in the U.S.
Lobbying
Campaign Contributions ( Citizens
United)
Greenwash
Astroturfing

The Obfuscation of
Science
Corporate Front Groups
Sponsored Environmental
Educational Materials
Media consolidation, corporate
control
5 corporations control majority
of US media, down from 50 in
1983

Global Warming:
Controversial?

Of 928 articles in peer-reviewed


scientific journals, 0% were in doubt as
to the existence or cause of global
warming
Of 636 articles in the popular press (NY
Times, Washington Post, LA Times, WSJ),
53% expressed doubt as to the existence
(and primary cause) of global warming
Science 2004;306:1686-7

(Study covers 1993-2003)

Lobbying

Over 15,000 full-time lobbyists

Estimates of return on lobbying


range from $28 to $100 for
every $1 spent

Lobbying

Lobbying groups spent 3.5 billion in 2010


(federal lobbying, a record)

All single issue ideological groups


combined (e.g., pro-choice, anti-abortion,
feminist and consumer organizations,
senior citizens, etc.) = $76 million
SCOTUS Citizens United decision has
opened the floodgates for unlimited
corporate contributions

The Decline of
Democracy
True democracy demands an
informed citizenry (education),
freedom of the press (media),
and involvement (will, time,
money)
Democracy is critical to the
success of public health

Corporations and
International Agreements

Corporations attempt to influence


writing and acceptance/rejection of
international agreements
Through misinformation,
lobbyists, revolving door between
industry and government
Large behind the scenes role

International NonCooperation/Isolationism

Failure to sign or approve:


Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change
International Covenant on
Economic, Social, and Cultural
Rights
Convention on the Prohibition of
Anti-Personnel Land Mines

International NonCooperation/Isolationism

Failure to sign or approve:


Treaty to ban cluster bombs
Convention on the Rights of the
Child
Convention on the Elimination of
Discrimination Against Women

International NonCooperation/Isolationism

Failure to sign or approve:


WHO Code of Conduct for
Marketing Breast Milk Substitutes
Convention for the Suppression of
Traffic in Persons
The Stockholm Convention on
Persistent Organic Pollutants

Primo Levi
A country is considered the
more civilized the more the
wisdom and efficiency of its
laws hinder a weak man from
becoming too weak or a
powerful one too powerful.

Solutions
Stronger environmental laws
Restructure tax system
Renewable energy
More equitable distribution of
medical research funds and health
care dollars
Single payer health care
(PHM/PHC)

Solutions
Improve status of women / access
to reproductive health care
Living wage laws

E.g.,

NY, LA, Chicago, and


Philadelphia

Create maximum wage


Reform education

Solutions
Publicly financed campaigns and
campaign finance reform
Proportional representation
Instant runoff voting/cumulative
voting/range (rating) voting

Solutions: Vote

US voter turnout low (139/172


worldwide)
Wealthy vote at almost twice rate of
poor
Whites > Blacks > Hispanics
Old > Young
Property owners > Renters
Activism / Protesting / Whistleblowing
Work in Groups (PSR)

Gnter Grass

The first job of a citizen


is to keep your mouth
open.

Anita Roddick

"If you think you are too


small to have an impact,
try going to bed with a
mosquito in your tent"

Public Health and Social Justice


Website
http://www.publichealthandsocialjustice
.org

http://www.phsj.org
martindonohoe@phsj.org