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5 Ways Trump Is 'Gaslighting' Us on U.S. Air Pollution Levels
As he's wont to do, President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted a World Health Organization (WHO) map of particulate pollution and said that the U.S. has the "cleanest air in the world - BY FAR!"
Trump's tweet "shows how maps can be used to misrepresent facts and conclusions," as John Walke, director of a clean air program and a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), clapped back in an epic Twitter thread.
Let's break down the many ways the president's claims are disingenuous or plain wrong:
1. First, as POLITICO noted, the tweet is based on information from 2016, when Barack Obama was POTUS. This is not the first time the Trump team has taken credit for the previous administration's work on reducing pollution.
2. Now let's look at the map itself. Notice that the image has a blue band on top that says, "America: the Cleanest Air in the World—BY FAR." It also includes text that states, "91 percent of the world population (none in the U.S.) are exposed to air pollution concentrations above WHO suggested level."
Walke tracked down the original map, which looks very different. No additional text, but also a lot more pink. It clearly shows that most areas of the world have annual averages of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) higher than the WHO air quality guideline level of 10 micrograms per cubic meter.
From WHO report: "Exposure to ambient air pollution from particulate matter for 2016"
Walke tweeted an accurate map based on the same WHO data showing that the U.S. has average annual PM2.5 pollution concentrations above WHO recommendations.
3. Finland, not the U.S., has the world's best air quality, the WHO announced earlier this year. The U.S. isn't even in the top 10. Countries with the healthiest air are actually Australia, Brunei, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden and countries in the Pacific islands, as EcoWatch previously reported from WHO data.
4. Fine particulate matter or PM2.5 is a dangerous form of air pollution linked to a wide array of adverse health impacts, including premature deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, preterm births, autism and dementia.
When it comes to avoiding sicknesses and deaths due to air pollution, the U.S. is ranked number 23 in the world.
"In 2016, the American population lost 516 years of disease- and disability-free life per 100,000 people. That's more than double the rate found in top-ranked New Zealand, and only marginally better than countries like Honduras (#26) and Nicaragua (#28)," the NRDC wrote.
So it's false for President Trump's tweet to claim that no populations in the U.S. are suffering from dangerous air pollution levels. The "State of the Air report" by the American Lung Association found that 133.9 million Americans—about 4 in 10 people—could be breathing in unacceptable levels of smog, pathogens and toxins.
5. Thanks to national clean air standards, air pollution levels have dramatically lowered in the U.S. since the 1970s. However, progress is in jeopardy thanks to the Trump administration's efforts to roll back these protections in favor of the fossil fuel industry and other polluting sectors.
As you can see in the tweet below from the Associated Press science writer Seth Borenstein, pollution actually got worse in 2017:
The Sierra Club noted that Trump's Environmental Protection Agency disbanded a scientific panel that reviews particulate pollution and has gutted several clean air standards that protect from particulate matter pollution, including the Clean Power Plan and loosening regulations on glider trucks.
"Trump is responsible for the most serious attacks on clean air by any president ever, and his tweets will do nothing to prevent kids from getting sick from his big polluter handouts and clean air rollbacks," Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a press release.
"Trump is taking credit for the progress achieved by the exact same clean air safeguards other presidents put in place that he is now trying to throw out. Just last week, Trump disbanded the EPA panel that was responsible for overseeing the progress on particulate pollution that he is now citing. No amount of gaslighting can undo the damage that Trump's reliance on gas and coal will cause," Brune added.
- U.S. Air Pollution Is 'Completely Outrageous' ›
- Air Pollution in National Parks as Bad as 20 Largest U.S. Cities ›
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By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
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