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In total, more than 185 countries have now stopped adding lead to gasoline, with only six—Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, North Korea, Myanmar and Yemen—still using small amounts and expected to make the full switch over the next year or two.
The new study finds this saves more than 1.2 million people, including 125,000 children, from an early death each year and has resulted in far-reaching improvements in brain function in children, reductions in cardiovascular diseases, decline in criminality, and lower lead levels in blood by as much as 90 percent globally.
The phase-out effort was spearheaded by the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, which is hosted by UNEP, and of which the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a founding member. NRDC has a long history of fighting to remove lead from gasoline—first spearheading the effort in the U.S. in the 1970s and initiating a drive for a global phase-out in the 1990s.
Following is a statement from Peter Lehner, executive director of NRDC:
“This is a huge victory for children and families worldwide. Saying goodbye to lead in gas has opened the door to improved health and economic benefits for communities all across the globe.
“We live in a time when politicians and lobbyists make sport out of pitting the economy against public health. This study flies in the face of those petty politics. We don't have to sacrifice our health or our children's IQ for economic gain. In fact, choosing cleaner fuels over leaded gas has not only saved lives, but trillions of dollars.
“This success story is a testament to the power of strong partnerships and persistence. As a founder and active member of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles hosted by UNEP, NRDC is proud to be a part of the team who succeeded in ridding the world of leaded gasoline.
“But today's announcement marks the triumph in one battle, not the entire war. We must continue the fight to make cleaner fuels available, and boost fuel efficiency around the world. And as we rid the world of one unnecessarily harmful fuel additive, we look to generate global momentum to clean up harmful diesel pollution that still shrouds so many cities worldwide.
“NRDC will continue the fight for safer, cleaner fuels across the board and around the world."
For NRDC blogs on leaded petrol phase-out and the future of clean fuels and vehicles, see:
Peter Lehner, NRDC executive director—Global Phase-out of Lead in Gasoline Succeeds: Major Victory for Kids' Health—click here.
Rich Kassel, director of NRDC's Clean Fuels & Vehicles Project—NRDC joins UNEP to celebrate global elimination of leaded gasoline—A huge step forward for children's health—click here.
The study released Oct. 27, Global Benefits of Phasing Out Leaded Fuel, will be published in the Journal of Environmental Health in December 2011. It was written by Professor Thomas Hatfield, chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the California State University, Northridge, with researcher Peter L. Tsai.
Its key findings show the near-global elimination of leaded gasoline has resulted in:
- Health Benefits – More than 1.2 million premature deaths avoided per year (of which 125,000 are children) and blood testing has shown lead in blood levels dropping dramatically—90 percent or more—particularly in cities.
- Social Benefits – Research has indicated that children with lots of lead in their blood are much more likely to be aggressive, violent and delinquent. Since the global phase-out of leaded gas there have been higher IQs and lower crime rates (58 million fewer crime cases reported).
- Economics – $2.4 trillion (or 4 percent of global GDP) costs saved per year.
For more information, click here.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.
Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.