Dec 20, 2016 by


Stuff that matters   GRIST

water wars

That’s according to a Reuters investigation that analyzed blood tests from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 1,100 of those communities have lead levels four times as high as those observed in Flint.

Nationwide, the exposure could be much higher: Data was only available for 21 states, accounting for 61 percent of the U.S. population.

The CDC estimates that 2.5 percent of children across in the United States have at least slightly elevated levels of lead, which can lead to lowered IQs, developmental delays, and learning difficulties, as well as miscarriage and premature birth. The local water supply is frequently the source of lead, but some communities are additionally plagued by industrial waste, lead paint, and lead pipes.

On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump vowed to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — including the lead crisis — but many of his cabinet picks have a history of combating legislation that protect public health.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, sued that very agency for using the Clean Water Act to prosecute waterway polluters. According to Pruitt, the Act threatens the “property rights of the average American.” He didn’t mention their brains.

thanks obama

Obama’s putting a permanent kibosh on offshore drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic.

The administration is announcing Tuesday that President Obama will use a provision in the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to halt new offshore drilling in parts of federally owned Arctic and Atlantic waters — forever. While previous presidents have used that act to protect parts of the ocean, this is the first time it’s been exercised to enact a permanent ban on drilling.

The announcement comes four weeks shy of Obama’s White House departure. President-elect Trump, a climate change denier, has vowed to undo many of Obama’s executive orders as well as dismantle the Clean Power Plan, open more federal lands to drilling, and withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

But by using an existing act instead of issuing an executive order, Obama will make reversal of this drilling ban more difficult for his successor.

“We know now, more clearly than ever, that a Trump presidency will mean more fossil fuel corruption and less governmental protection for people and the planet, so decisions like these are crucial,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols. “President Obama should do this and more to stop any new fossil fuel infrastructure that would lock in the worst effects of climate change.”

slick trick

Tired of waiting on humans, microbes cooperate to clean up our messes.

Microscopic critters are doing our dirty work, by digesting pollutants including methane in the soil and oil slicks at sea. They notably lent a hand after Deepwater Horizon. Now, a newly-discovered species is sopping up natural gas in California, after the nation’s largest-ever leak.

This new species of microbe eats ethane, a relative of methane and a minor ingredient in natural gas. Even better, it may also help other soil bacteria digest methane, scientists say, helping keep the potent greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere.

“There is definitely precedent in the microbial world for this interspecies interaction,” says microbiologist Patricia Tavormina. We already know some ocean-based microbes digest methane by working in concert with other species.

You may want to picture these wee beasties as Danes snuggled around a hygge fire in cheery, communal spirit (in reality, #bacterlyfe tends to make dog-eat-dog look tame by comparison, but bear with me). If these microbes can do it, maybe there’s hope for us multicellular beings, too.


Relive a big moment in civil disobedience for the climate.

On Oct. 11, activists organized to shut down five pipelines transporting Canadian tar sands through Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Washington. We missed this footage when it first came out, and if you did too, check it out.

“If people are not acting as though there’s an emergency, people don’t believe that there is an emergency,” activist Leonard Higgins says in the video.

You can visit the #ShutItDown website for continuing updates.

1 Comment

  1. We in “liberal left-wing eliteist” Boston MA, don’t have this problem. I am sure most places in the USA, also demonized, have the same high levels of healthy and safe drinking water.

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