By Andrea Germanos
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexandra Villarreal
As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
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The human body needs protein to build muscle and perform basic metabolic functions. However, many Americans (especially older adults) do not consume enough protein in their everyday diet to meet their recommended daily intake. That's why protein powders and shakes aren't just for bodybuilders. In fact, supplementing with protein powder is an easy and tasty way to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs not just to function, but to thrive.
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There's a growing push from large investors in publicly traded companies to hold the companies accountable for the environmental impact of their practices. In the latest salvo, global companies worth more than $10 trillion are urging companies to disclose their environmental impact to investors, as Forbes reported.
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By Julia Conley
The results of the U.S. Senate race this week in Maine — won by four-term Republican Sen. Susan Collins after Democrats poured $50 million into challenger Sara Gideon's campaign — may have given the impression that a Trumpian right-wing agenda has an iron grip on the state's more conservative rural voters, but the victory of Democratic state Rep. Chloe Maxmin, a progressive champion who ran on the promise of a Green New Deal and offering a "politics as public service" in a strong GOP district, tells a much different story.
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.
<div id="815e9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="eb5133bc08c84a247e6c577bb4c4ba59"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318967338482364416" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Yes! @SenJeffMerkley just introduced new legislation that would stop banks and other financial institutions from fu… https://t.co/Bk15N9Sewk</div> — Stop the Money Pipeline (@Stop the Money Pipeline)<a href="https://twitter.com/StopMoneyPipe/statuses/1318967338482364416">1603301293.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="f84b7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f6742078b73d4f72ad0cdb0b28c45bf8"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318975843717287936" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">"When there’s an out of control fire, the worst thing you can do is pour more gas on it. It’s time for Congress ste… https://t.co/YfjbtiWeRY</div> — 350 dot org (@350 dot org)<a href="https://twitter.com/350/statuses/1318975843717287936">1603303321.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="f35ca" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f0306ad9e315c3763299c349c4056f90"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318969691767930880" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">BREAKING: @SenJeffMerkley just introduced new legislation that would help end the financing of fossil fuels! 👏👏👏 W… https://t.co/831xi0UPfo</div> — Moira Birss (@Moira Birss)<a href="https://twitter.com/moira_kb/statuses/1318969691767930880">1603301854.0</a></blockquote></div>
Greenpeace Activists Urge Barclays to 'Stop Funding the Climate Emergency,' Shut Down Branches Across UK
By Jessica Corbett
In a coordinated action to pressure Barclays to stop financing climate destruction, Greenpeace activists on Monday morning shut down 97 of the British investment bank's branches across the United Kingdom.
In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
By Andrea Germanos
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- Climate Nonprofit Pressures PR Firms to Drop Fossil Fuel Clients ›
By Julia Conley
A new campaign unveiled this weekend by the nonprofit organization Fossil Free Media aims to expand on the goals of the fossil fuel divestment movement, cutting into oil and gas companies' profit margins through their public relations and ad campaigns.
<div id="1dcf1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d5e39a5a3812bc2589ba8aa0563756e0"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1330177734799208465" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">PR and ad companies' work for the fossil fuel industry is pushing the planet past the breaking point.… https://t.co/wOuDBM26ne</div> — Clean Creatives (@Clean Creatives)<a href="https://twitter.com/cleancreatives/statuses/1330177734799208465">1605974060.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="21b90" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bdc23e69ff18075b4fb5df6d4939b9f5"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1330205383848288257" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Porter Novelli isn't some small shop: they've got offices and clients in 60 countries and are part of @Omnicom, the… https://t.co/iw0BCmrdzx</div> — Jamie Henn (@Jamie Henn)<a href="https://twitter.com/jamieclimate/statuses/1330205383848288257">1605980652.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"It's a BIG deal that they're dropping fossil fuel clients—let's make sure it's the drop that starts a flood," wrote Henn. </p>
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Shareholders of one of Europe's biggest banks are pushing for it to stop investing in fossil fuels, in the first shareholder action of its kind targeting a European bank.
By Derrick Z. Jackson
In the U.S., gun violence kills nearly 40,000 people a year and has killed nearly 40,000 or so children and teenagers since 1999, and yet the nation is still without serious gun control. Another 40,000 people die each year in traffic accidents, including 1,200 children 14 and under. Yet we eschew policies used abroad that could cut the toll by half.
First Responders, Maintenance Workers, Women<p>The first mesothelioma deaths have now occurred among 9/11 first responders who worked in toxic clouds at Ground Zero after the collapse and fires of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. Also, a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6608a3.htm" target="_blank">2017 report</a> by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure continues today to workers involved in the maintenance, demolition, and remediation of buildings with asbestos. "Contrary to past projections, the number of malignant mesothelioma deaths has been increasing," the report said.</p><p>In 2018, the New York Times <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/business/baby-powder-asbestos-johnson-johnson.html?module=inline" target="_blank">obtained memos</a> under the Freedom of Information Act that exposed that officials at Johnson & Johnson were aware in the 1970s that the company's iconic baby powder talc could be contaminated with asbestos and yet worked to discredit or silence research that suggested contamination. Two years ago, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.7 billion to 22 women who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by the baby powder, often used as a feminine hygiene product. Five months ago, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/business/johnson-johnson-baby-powder-recall.html" target="_blank">found trace</a> amounts of asbestos in samples.</p><p>Will we soon be adding children and teachers to the toll? Nowhere in America is the wholesale disintegration of asbestos installed decades ago as evident as in the nation's schools.</p>
The Threat to Schoolchildren<p>The UCS report notes that school buildings built from 1946 to 1972 likely contain asbestos, with the highest proportion of unacceptable structures being found in low-income communities and districts where most students are of color. All of that is on unconscionable display in Philadelphia where the teachers' union is suing the city's school board for hazardous levels of asbestos dust in decrepit buildings.</p><p>In 2018, the Philadelphia Inquirer conducted an <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/inq/asbestos-testing-mesothelioma-cancer-philadelphia-schools-toxic-city-20180510.html#loaded" target="_blank">investigation</a> of many schools, finding levels of asbestos dust on school surfaces 11 to 1,700 times higher than the levels mandated by federal cleanup requirements for apartments near Ground Zero. The newspaper also found unacceptably elevated levels of lead.</p><p>By spring of 2019, when the Inquirer was <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/toxic-city-inquirer-pulitzer-finalist-20190415.html" target="_blank">named a finalist</a> for the Pulitzer Prize for its exposé, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced more than $100 million in emergency lead cleanup and general hazardous cleanup funds for Philadelphia schools. Last month, Wolf <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/gov-tom-wolf-asbestos-lead-schools-1-billion-20200129.html" target="_blank">proposed</a> $1 billion for statewide remediation of asbestos and lead in schools.</p><p>But that could not contain the crisis in a system with $4.5 billion of documented <a href="https://www.philasd.org/capitalprograms/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2017/06/2015-FCA-Final-Report-1.pdf" target="_blank">deficiencies</a> in its school buildings. This school year, seven schools have been closed for extensive asbestos damage. One <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/education/a/mesothelioma-philadelphia-school-district-lea-dirusso-cancer-20191121.html" target="_blank">teacher,</a> who worked in a 90-year-old building and often swept up dust from flaking heating pipe insulation and busted ceiling tiles before class, is undergoing chemotherapy for mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer triggered by asbestos.</p>
Environmental Injustice<p>In at least one school closure, the stench of race and class environmental injustice was on vivid display. Ben Franklin High School, comprised almost entirely of youth of color who qualify as poor, <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/education/ben-franklin-sla-school-construction-asbestos-inequity-privilege-20191011.html" target="_blank">was not closed until</a> after it also became the home of a magnet school that is 38 percent white, with half of those students above the poverty line. As Ben Franklin teacher told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "When it was us, the district didn't feel like they needed to have any immediacy."</p><p>The lack of immediacy has existed for decades. Jerry Roseman, chief environmental science and public health expert since 1985 for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said it galls him that his sense of outrage and disbelief in school conditions is the same today as it was <em>35 years ago</em>. In an interview with the Union of Concerned Scientists, he said he had just inspected an overcrowded school where playful children were literally banging into damaged asbestos pipe insulation, damaging the asbestos even more, calling it a systemic failure including school district leadership and politicians.</p><p>"What is clear across the country is that school boards neither understand facility conditions and leave them alone to deteriorate and definitely don't understand the impacts on the health, safety, and welfare of children and staff," Roseman said. He noted how parents and teachers are taking things into their own hands with a <a href="http://www.phillyhealthyschools.org/" target="_blank">mobile app</a> to photograph and report disintegrating infrastructure. "You can have great teachers and great principals," he added, "but you do not get great or safe education if you do not take care of a foundational need—the facility."</p><p>Nationally, the threat of toxic school buildings has barely been studied despite the 1986 Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to address airborne asbestos in schools. A <a href="https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2015-12-Markey-Asbestos-Report-Final.pdf" target="_blank">2015 report</a> commissioned by senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California found that two-thirds of the school districts in 15 responding states had asbestos. Thirty states did not respond to the inquiry at all. Noting that the Environmental Protection Agency had not seriously analyzed school asbestos since 1984, the Markey-Boxer report said the carcinogen remains "ubiquitous" in schools, with the extent "unknown."</p><p>The EPA, under flat funding for most of the last decade, conducts so few inspections under AHERA that a 2018 Inspector General <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-09/documents/_epaoig_20180917-18-p-0270.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> said, "The EPA has not documented that the risk of asbestos exposure in schools has diminished significantly under AHERA."</p>
Reinvestment, Then Divestment Again<p>President Obama worked with Congress to try to strengthen scrutiny of toxics like asbestos with the 2016 <a href="https://www.c-span.org/video/?411615-1/president-obama-signs-chemical-safety-bill" target="_blank">Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act</a>. But, when it comes to asbestos, the Trump administration attempted to gut the act by trying to exclude asbestos already installed in places like schools ("legacy use") from calculations of risk assessment. Never mind that the White House understands quite well that asbestos is a major health threat. Last summer it conducted $250,000 asbestos <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-21/white-house-relocates-top-aides-for-asbestos-abatement-project" target="_blank">abatement</a> in the West Wing office areas occupied by President Trump's daughter Ivanka, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, policy adviser Stephen Miller, and economic adviser Larry Kudlow.</p><p>Environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, joined with labor unions and family advocacy groups to challenge the EPA and a host of chemical industry groups and the US Chamber of Commerce in court. In November, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the administration's attempt to exclude legacy use was <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/tsca-opinion-20191114.pdf" target="_blank">unlawful,</a> agreeing that workers face major risks when "equipment or structures are demolished, repaired, or refurbished."</p><p>That ruling, combined with a science-minded federal government, should easily be applied to children who currently go to schools that should have long ago been demolished, repaired, or refurbished. As it is now, Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, which was a co-petitioner against the EPA's attack on legacy use, says America is rolling the dice by letting children study and play in asbestos dust. As Reinstein notes, health effects will not manifest themselves until these children are well into adulthood and long since removed from the source school of their disease. Reinstein lost her husband Alan to mesothelioma and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/opinion/asbestos-epa-trump.html" target="_blank">an asbestos ban bill</a> has been filed in Congress in his name.</p><p>"Even though the latency period is long, I've seen parents tearful and terrified," Reinstein told UCS, "worried that every cough is a precursor of something worse about to happen. If you're a student and you know you've been exposed, you lie with the fear the rest of your life that you've been exposed to something that is life changing. . .The fact that we haven't been studying legacy exposure should be a crime."</p><p>In 1984, the EPA found that, of the 2,600 schools testing positive for asbestos in its sample, only 500 had a plan to deal with it. Today, the Trump administration is trying to avoid testing for legacy installations altogether, in the obvious effort not to be responsible for a remediation plan. That effort was ruled illegal, but given the spiteful nature of this administration, it is more likely to respond by dragging its feet rather than leaping to protect children. That leaves the time bomb ticking, with the risk of asbestos exposure today exploding in the lungs of today's children tomorrow.</p><p>For more on this and other threats to children's health, including what you can do about them, you can read the new UCS storybook — <em><a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/breathe-smog-drink-lead" target="_blank">Breath in the Smog, Drink in the Lead: A Grim Scary Tale for People Who Care about Kids</a> </em>— and its accompanying <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/protecting-childrens-health-and-safety" target="_blank">resource guide</a> and report, <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/endangering-generations" target="_blank"><em><u>Endangering Generations: How the Trump Administration's Assault on Science is Harming Children's Health</u></em></a>.</p>
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