Posts tagged with "Air Pollution"

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, Fireworks

DON’T PLAY W/ FIRE

By Gabriella Scerbo

Fireworks: Usually an item associated with July 4th or any sort of celebration. Every year around the major cities hundreds of people gather to watch fireworks, and are in awe of their multicolors, and unique pulsating sounds. Another thing that many love about fireworks, is the excuse to sip a cold beer (maybe a little too much) but overall spend quality time with family. This time of celebration and positive correlation seems to be out the window when discussing fireworks in the political climate of 2020.

Fireworks are illegal in many states without a permit, and police departments across the country are cracking down on the abundant use. Law enforcement is once again restating the ordinances regarding these fireworks. In Illinois, the Police Department posted a Facebook update, once again reminding residents of the policy. In June, New York City firework complaints have more than tripled within the past year. This influx in fireworks is due to the fact that large gatherings are cancelled, such as concerts, sporting events and many other celebrations due to the spread of COVID-19.

Another theory regarding the influx of fireworks, are the protests following the death of George Floyd. In New York City and major cities around the country, thousands protest police brutality and years of systemic racism, and racial injustice faced by the Black Community. The Black Lives Matter movement have also been involved in directly using fireworks in addition to peaceful protests, and a larger national conversation about the system injustices.

Pasadena, California has seen a 400% increase of fireworks related complaints. Around 40% (2 in 5) of Americans plan on buying their own fireworks this year, due to the cancellations of many celebrations due to COVID-19. In the Big Apple, Firework complaints have rose to 13,109 compared to just 32 last year.

Not only are these fireworks having a large affect on humans, they also affect everyone’s favorite member of their families: pets.

Although the fireworks seem to glisten in the sky, used for either boredom or to reiterate an important movement, they can also cause serious physical injuries. These effects include loss of fingers, hands, and even tissue damage on the face. Fireworks should be left to people that know how to properly use them.

Not only are the fireworks causing physical injuries to many, they are also causing light pollution and air pollution, which has a direct negative effect on the environment. These fireworks put harmful chemicals and smoke in the air, these chemicals have negative implications such as coughing, shortness of breath, and even heart attacks.

The loud noises are causing concern to frontline workers during the pandemic, looking to get a good night’s rest from another stressful day in the hospital. As well as officer workers, eager to get back to some sense of normalcy during Phase 2 of reopening following COVID-19.

Not only are these fireworks having a large negative on humans, they also affect everyone’s favorite member of their families: pets. Similar to humans, the loud noise is not the most pleasing one, and can cause mental problems. Dogs specifically, when hearing these noises tend to self mutilate, due to anxiety.  Smaller dogs, such as border collies, Australian Shepherds and chihuahua’s can be especially sensitive.

Unfortunately, the amount of pets that are entered in the shelters post July 4th are around 80% higher  than normal. Imagine the potential increase in  shelters with the fireworks in 2020.

These astronomical numbers will be steadily increasing if this firework predicament is not properly taken care of. Many amazing pets lives will be destroyed, as well as there loving families.

 In the grand schemes of things, fireworks are a very small issue in the sea of large issues. However, right now they have been brought into the spotlight as yet another concern for the safety of major cities around the country.

UN Climate Report

To Tackle Climate Change We Need to Rethink Our Food System By Kathleen Rogers and Dr. Shenggen Fan

The way we produce, consume and discard food is no longer sustainable. That much is clear from the newly released UN climate change report  which warns that we must rethink how we produce our food and quickly to avoid the most devastating impacts of global food production, including massive deforestation, staggering biodiversity loss and accelerating  climate change. While it’s not often recognized, the food industry is an enormous driver of climate change, and our current global food system is pushing our natural world to the breaking point. At the press conference releasing the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, report co-chair Eduardo Calvo Buendía stated that “the food system as a whole which includes food production and processing, transport, retail consumption, loss and waste is currently responsible for up to a third of our global greenhouse gas emissions.”

In other words, while most of us have been focusing on the energy and transportation sectors in the climate change fight, we cannot ignore the role that our food production has on cutting emissions and curbing climate change. By addressing food waste and emissions from animal agriculture, we can start to tackle this problem. How do we do that?

Livestock production is a leading culprit driving deforestation, degrading our water quality and increasing air pollution. In fact, animal agriculture has such an enormous impact on the environment that if every American reduced their meat consumption by just 10 percent about 6 ounces per week we would save approximately 7.8 trillion gallons of water. That’s more than all the water in Lake Champlain.

We’d also save 49 billion pounds of carbon dioxide every year the equivalent of planting 1 billion carbon-absorbing trees. What’s more, to the injury from unsustainable food production, we add the insult of extraordinary levels of food waste: nearly one third of all food produced globally ends up in our garbage cans and then landfills. We are throwing away $1 trillion worth of food, or about half of Africa’s GDP, every single year. At our current rates, if food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third-largest carbon emitter after the U.S. and China. 

To ensure global food security and sustainable food practices in an ever-growing world, we need to reexamine our food systems and take regional resources, such as land and water availability, as well as local economies and culture into account. To start, the United States and other developed countries must encourage food companies to produce more sustainable food, including more plant-based options, and educate consumers and retailers about healthy and sustainable diets. Leaders must create policies that ensure all communities and children have access to affordable fruits and vegetables. And we all can do our part to reduce food waste, whether it’s in our company cafeterias or our own refrigerators.

Technology also plays a part. Developed countries should support and incentivize emerging innovative technologies in plant-based foods, as well as carbon-neutral or low-carbon meat production.

Developing countries, on the other hand, face high levels of undernutrition, as well as limited access to healthy foods. Many nutrient-dense foods (such as fruits, vegetables and quality meats) are highly perishable, often making prices significantly higher than ultra-processed, nutrient-poor and calorie-dense foods. The high cost of nutrient-dense foods creates a significant barrier to healthy diets, as seen in urban Malawi and many other countries.

By promoting enhanced production of healthy and nutritious foods while also improving markets in low-income countries, we can lower prices and increase accessibility of healthy and sustainable diets. Politicians can also tackle systemic inequalities by redirecting agricultural subsidies to promote healthy foods, as well as investing in infrastructure like rural roads, electricity, storage and cooling chain.

Change must happen at every level if we want to build a better food system. International participation and resource-sharing can spread regional solutions across countries. And working for change at the ground level among individuals, communities, local and federal governments and private entities can help fight hunger and food inequality firsthand.

Yes, our food system is broken, but not irrevocably so. The challenges are enormous, but by understanding the problem and potential solutions, we can effect critical changes in the ways we produce, consume and dispose of food.