Polls Show Bipartisan Support for Stronger Protection from Toxic Chemicals
A nationwide poll and four separate statewide polls found similar strong support for bolstering protections against toxic chemicals. By overwhelming bipartisan margins, Americans support strengthening the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), according to new polls released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition and the Ecology Center.
“Americans of all stripes have real concerns about the toxic chemicals we are exposed to every day and the serious health problems they cause,” said Daniel Rosenberg, director of NRDC’s toxic chemicals reform project. “Protecting us from chemicals linked to cancer, learning disabilities, infertility and other health problems should be a top priority for Congress. This really can’t wait.”
NRDC and the Safer Chemical Healthy Families coalition strongly support the Safe Chemicals Act, S. 847, introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. The bill updates TSCA by requiring manufacturers to show that their chemicals are safe in order to sell them. It also streamlines the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to limit uses of a chemical that may harm public health or the environment.
“As the Senate moves closer to a vote on the Safe Chemicals Act, Senators should keep in mind that the partisan divisions that wrack Congress do not reflect the views or desires of the American people,” said Andy Igrejas, campaign director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
A nationwide poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies (POS) for NRDC found:
- Nearly 74 percent of those polled think the threat posed to people’s health by the exposure to toxic chemicals is serious, with 34 percent saying they think the threat is “very serious.”
- 68 percent of respondents support stricter regulation of chemicals used and produced in the United States, with support across all demographic sub-groups, including those typically opposed to government regulation, such as self-described conservatives (54 percent) and tea party supporters (51 percent).
- Description of a proposal that would require the chemical industry to prove that its products are safe and give EPA greater authority to restrict some or all uses of chemicals that may harm health or the environment garnered support from 77 percent of respondents.
“Even when we presented robust arguments on both sides of the issue, those we polled continued to side with supporters of reform,” said Lori Weigel, a partner at polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted the national poll for NRDC.
POS and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) also conducted a poll in New Mexico that found:
- 76 percent of respondents consider chemical exposure a serious health threat in day-to-day life. 74 percent of respondents support the legislation described that would increase EPA authority and require that the chemical industry prove its products are safe–including 81percent of women and 78 percent of Latino respondents.
Meanwhile, separate polls conducted by The Mellman Group for the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition in Nevada and Missouri found:
- 62 percent of respondents in Missouri support stricter regulation of chemicals, and 64 percent support the provisions of legislation to strengthen the current law
- In Nevada, 61 percent of respondents support stricter regulation while 64 percent support the provisions of the legislation.
“There is a rare depth of public support for tackling the issue of toxic chemicals that crosses party lines,” said Mark Mellman of the Mellman Group, who conducted statewide polling on the issue in Nevada, Missouri this month and Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2011.
Finally, a Michigan poll conducted by POS with Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research for Ecology Center in Michigan found 74 percent of respondents supportive of legislation described to increase EPA’s authority to regulate chemicals and require chemical companies to prove that their products are safe. The poll also found 61 percent of respondents were extremely or very concerned about the health impacts from toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes, and 32 percent were somewhat concerned. A mere 6 percent were not concerned.
"The findings of this poll demonstrate that Michiganders support a change in the way our nation deals with toxic chemicals," said Rebecca Meuninck, campaign director of the Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health. "Michigan residents are concerned about the impacts toxic chemicals have on their health and the health of the Great Lakes."
Further information about the polls can be found below:
Missouri and Nevada Polls (along with results from OH, WI, PA and MT conducted by the Mellman group for Safer Chemicals Healthy Families in 2011)
About the polls: For the national poll, Public Opinion Strategies conducted a telephone survey of 800 registered voters nationwide. The survey, conducted June 25 through June 27, 2012, has an overall margin of error of +/-3.46 percent nationwide.
In New Mexico, POS and FM3 surveyed 503 likely voters, between June 28 through July 1, 2012 and has a margin of error of +/-4.38 percent.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a sweeping climate bill on Thursday that would have put the commonwealth on a path to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.
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By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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