Secret Climate Report, Duwamish Health Threats, Lead Paint, and Reconsidering the Beaver

Lots of Nooze today! Sammy fretwellFirst, a follow-up from Sammy Fretwell, with The State in South Carolina, about the climate report hush-up that he wrote about recently.

Secret DNR climate study will be released

COLUMBIA, SC — Criticized for sitting on a report about how climate change could hurt South Carolina, the state Department of Natural Resources plans to release the 102-page study and seek public comment on the implications of rising global temperatures in the Palmetto State.

Agency director Alvin Taylor said Monday “it won’t be too long” before DNR puts the study out for review, although he said it won’t be this week.

“I thought staff spent a lot of time and put lot of effort into a document that we need to put out,’’ Taylor said. “There will be plenty of discussions on both sides of this issue as we go forward. It is our responsibility as an agency to keep up with the science. Let’s monitor what’s being said — on both sides — so that we can try to make good decisions on how we manage our natural resources.’’

S.C. Wildlife Federation director Ben Gregg and Steve Moore, the federation’s special projects manager, said they are glad DNR decided to release the document for public review and comment... Read more. 

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Robert McClureFrom Robert McClure with InvestigateWest, a disturbing look at the results of industry in the Duwamish Valley:

Duwamish Valley residents face health threats, study shows as EPA chooses Superfund cleanup plan

In this map from the report showing cumulative impact score by ZIP Code,a darker color indicates a higher score.

The residents of south Seattle’s 98108 ZIP code, some living cheek-by-jowl with the Duwamish River Superfund site, face a high degree of environmental health threats and are likely to live sicker and die younger than residents of other Seattle neighborhoods, says a new report by two nonprofit groups.

Researchers studied 10 representative Seattle ZIP codes and analyzed data to assign each a “cumulative health impact score” that considers pollution threats as well as socioeconomic and other factors. 98108 had the worst score of the ZIP codes studied, says the report by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group and Just Health Action.

The report admits that by focusing at the ZIP code level, the analysis may obscure even more worrisome threats affecting specific neighborhoods within the area, especially South Park and Georgetown.

“Duwamish Valley residents are more likely to live in poverty, be foreign born, have no health insurance or leisure time, and are more likely to be sick. Georgetown and South Park residents have up to a 13-year shorter life expectancy (at birth) than wealthier parts of Seattle,” the report says... Read more. 

Debris along the Duwamish River. Credit: Paul Joseph Brown/InvestigateWest

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rebecca kesslerBecky Kessler with Yale Environment 360 covers a hazard that many of us think of as a thing of the past: lead paint.

Long Outlawed in the West, Lead Paint Sold in Poor Nations

For years now, Perry Gottesfeld has been globetrotting in search of lead paints. These have been banned for decades from U.S. and European buildings because they poison children as they deteriorate. But as Gottesfeld, executive director of the U.S.-based NGO Occupational Knowledge International, and others have been showing, there’s still plenty of lead paint for sale in developing nations.

A study found 64 percent of paints purchased in Cameroon had lead concentrations well above U.S. standards. (Photo courtesy Occupational Knowledge International)

Two years ago Gottesfeld was in Cameroon, where he and collaborators at a local NGO now report they had found high levels of lead in numerous enamel house paints for sale throughout the African nation — a dozen with so much lead in them they exceeded the U.S. standard by 300 times or more. Only a few listed any ingredients on the label, and none had any warning language to alert consumers of the danger. The lead paints they found came from 12 manufacturers in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates.

Gottesfeld and two Cameroonian colleagues visited the largest manufacturers in Cameroon, trying to convince them to reformulate their paints to eliminate the lead. They headed to the country’s biggest paint manufacturer, Seigneurie, which made one paint that they say topped their charts with a lead content of half its weight, 5,500 times the U.S. standard. Arriving at the factory, Gottesfeld says he was shocked to see a big sign on the door bearing the corporate logo of PPG, the world’s second-largest paint company with headquarters in Pittsburgh. This was no backwater operation. Seigneurie, it turned out, was PPG’s French subsidiary, with outposts in a dozen developing nations.... Read more.

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Frances backhouseAnd finally, Frances Backhouse with Canadian Geographic considers that most industrious - and most maligned - creature, the beaver:

Rethinking the beaver

At the turn of the 19th century, many people thought Canada’s national animal was a goner — a doomed species that had passed the point of no return. One notable pessimist was Horace T. Martin, a Canadian Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and author of Castorologia or the History and Traditions of the Canadian Beaver. “As to the ultimate destruction of the beaver, no possible question can exist,” declared Martin in 1892, noting that “the evidences of approaching extermination can be seen only too plainly in the miles of territory exhibiting the decayed stump, the broken dam and deserted lodge.”

The focus of North America’s first natural resource stampede, beaver pelts attracted legions of traders (Photo: C.W. Mather, Ernest Brown and Boone & May/C-001229/Library and Archives Canada)

One hundred and twenty years later, on a warm June evening, I sit on the shore of a massive beaver pond in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, watching water bugs etch ephemeral lines on the glassy surface. I chose a spot near the long, curved dike that contains the pond at this end. From this vantage, the structure is unremarkable. Viewed from downstream, as I would do later, it stands an impressive two metres high, a thick, angled rampart of sticks, mud and sprouting greenery.

Within 10 minutes of my arrival, one of the dam builders appears. At first, it looks like a plank of waterlogged wood, but as it nears, I start to make out details: knobby ears, black-bead eyes, water-slicked mahogany fur. When it gets close enough that I can see its nostrils flaring, I expect a startled dive. Instead, it approaches to within a metre of the shore and cruises back and forth in front of me for several minutes... Read more.