The American Lung Association Supports Fracking?
“Sobering Statistics Tell Story about Reality of Women’s Lung Cancer” headlined a recent post by Harold Wimmer, president/CEO of the American Lung Association (ALA), for the Huffington Post. Wimmer was touting ALA’s new initiative “to make lung cancer in women a public health priority.” Businesses and organizations nationwide are sponsoring events to support it.
These well-meaning groups, and the public, deserve to know the shameful truth about the ALA.
It purports to work to reduce lung diseases, yet partners with the worst contributor to respiratory and other illnesses—the fossil fuel industry.
ALA officers and board know full well that “natural”* gas is now obtained primarily by dangerous fracking, and that the cradle-to-grave production of fracked gas contributes as much pollution as—and possibly even more than—oil and coal exploitation. Yet the organization "supports the increased use of natural gas” as a “transitional fuel.”
To fracture shale and extract the gas (methane) within, frackers mix millions of gallons of fresh water with numerous chemicals—including cancer-causing and nerve damaging agents. They blast this toxic stew into the rock along with silica, which props open cracks so the gas can escape. Silica causes the lung disease silicosis. And drill cuttings contain high levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials including radon-222; only tobacco causes more lung cancer than radon.
Too Cozy, and Too Coy
The negative health effects of fracking are firmly established in the medical literature. Yet the industry, its partner politicians and corrupt organizations insist it’s “safe.”
The ALA once wrote to Congress urging stronger regulations on fracking, acknowledging it causes atrocious air pollution. But after receiving hefty donations from fracking company Chesapeake Energy to fund its “Fighting for Air” ad campaign, ALA switched to promoting gas.
“[E]veryone has a role to play [in] raising awareness of lung cancer,” Wimmer wrote in his announcement.
We agree. So we called Wimmer and other national ALA officers to challenge their hypocrisy in supporting fracking while knowing it causes catastrophic health problems. How could they countervail ALA’s mission “to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease”? We pointed out their pro-gas policy will actually increase the likelihood of women (and men and children) developing lung cancer, and that by prostituting itself to Big Oil/Big Gas, the ALA is making a mockery of its very reason for existing.
But, just as tobacco executives did for decades to physicians and others about smoking, Wimmer and his board arrogantly dismissed our evidence.
The corporate ties that bind are quite tight.
The hypocrisy of current ALA leadership taints the dedication of chapter ALA staff members and volunteers—who could otherwise be justly proud that their decades of hard work resulted in curtailment of advertising and accessibility of killer tobacco, cleanup of polluting industries and condemnation of oil and coal exploitation.
A respected health organization should not play politics or footsies with fossil-fuel corporations. The only remedy for ALA is come clean—by denouncing fracking as the lung-destroying corporate activity it is.
Ronald Saff, MD, is a Tallahassee, FL-based asthma and allergy physician, former award-winning ALA volunteer, and former ALA board member. Maura Stephens is an independent journalist and co-founder of the Coalition to Protect New York and other organizations.
* The only natural state for this methane gas embedded in shale rock is deep below us, where it has been for millennia.
A version of this article originally appeared in Truthout under a Creative Commons Copyright. It is republished here with permission of the authors.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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