Your Health and the Environment Trampled by Trump

What happens if we
exceed 2 degrees warming
To put the challenge of an uncontrolled warming of the earth
into perspective, here is what is currently happening to harm our world and the
delicate mixture of oxygen and carbon on which we all rely.
Dying Oceans Which
Support Biodiversity and Serve as the World’s Air Conditioner
Massive decline in coral and seagrass resources, which
support sea life and provide food for fish and humans has already occurred. This
precipitous decline could contribute to a dead ocean at some point, unable to
support much of the biodiversity we now have. Besides food, we also rely on the
oceans for medicine and even cosmetic products, so a real decline in Gross
National Product will occur with loss of ocean habitat. Island nations which
are hyper dependent on the seas, like Japan, the Philippines, and all South
Pacific Islanders will experience the greatest losses.
Permanent Rise in Sea
levels
Antarctic ice is melting and the Ross Ice Shelf alone will
raise sea levels by several meters. A sea level raise of three meters is nearly
ten feet and that means that millions of people throughout the world will have
to evacuate their current homes. All coastal cities would be affected.  I live in a coastal city off of Puget Sound
(recently renamed the Salish Sea) and at present I am about 39 feet above sea
level. By 2050 it is expected this will be reduced by 10%. At that rate, here
is a map showing how the rise of sea levels will impact the United States. At
least 270 households live at sea level on low or no bank property, which would
be susceptible to a sea level rise of 4 feet in my city. In Seattle 800
households are living on land susceptible to a sea level rise of 4 feet, which
is expected to occur, by 2050, at least during storms. You can use the risk
finder map to see how your community would be impacted by a four-foot sea rise.
You will recall that New York City’s subways were flooded
during the last hurricane. Boston, is already at sea level and much of the city
would be flooded. Ditto for Washington, D.C., all of Florida, Houston, New
Orleans, the entire Gulf Coast region, and much of the west coast. Here is a
map showing how many households would be affected throughout the U.S. with a
sea level rise of 4 feet.  
Global warming means there will be less snowpack and that
means less water in the rivers and aquifers. This means Washington and Oregon
will have less water to sell to California, where half of the state is a desert.
Colorado will also have less water to offer California, New Mexico, Texas, and
Arizona as the mighty Colorado will not be refilled with as much water from the
less snowy Rocky Mountains. Much of the produce in the United States comes from
Southern California and water rights will dominate the politics there.
In addition to flooding and loss of useable land, salt water
incursion will occur in water reservoirs, which are underground aquifers. This
means drinkable water will be greatly reduced in coastal areas and of course,
island communities. Lopez Island and others may become unable to sustain
populations due to lack of drinking water. Salt water desalination is already
being used by those who can afford it on Whidbey Island. Goodbye ten-minute
showers, hello compost toilets, and forget about washing your car.
Massive hurricanes and other wind storms will occur with
greater ferocity. Yet the Trump Administration did not require that FEMA funded
rebuilding after the 2017 hurricanes meet storm surge standards which were developed
under the Obama Administration. This is an expensive folly which will be paid
for by taxpayers. All of these scenarios are happening now and will only worsen
in the next twenty-years.
Trump Administration
Actions Which Increase Global Warming
This table shows Trump Administration actions which seek to
roll back environmental protections to the Reagan era, by minimizing
enforcement and standards for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Clean Air Act established by Congress in 1963, but
amendments were added in 1970 and 1990; restricts emissions of harmful
pollutants which cause asthma, COPD, and other health problems
Standards are set based on scientific evidence, which are meant
to reduce adverse health impacts and environmental harms; these data are
drawn from long term studies, which are observational and include solid data
measurement criteria and statistical analysis
Trump has cut the NASA climate monitoring program; his
administration doesn’t want to measure emissions standards, wants to change
scientific standards for administering the Clean Air Act; 1,000 scientists
have signed a petition protesting Trump’s rewriting of science rules which
may be applied to the EPA; also cutting funding for voluntary emissions
reducing programs
Clean Water Act was enacted in 1948 and expanded in 1972;
prior to this act industrial pollutants were contaminating ground water
unimpeded, feel free to Google the Love Canal for more information
Obama Administration rule would limit fertilizer run off
into streams, which produce harmful algae blooms, harm fisheries, and impact drinking
and recreational water quality; the rules were meant to protect large ecosystems
like Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound from stream and river runoff impacts
January 2018, Trump’s EPA suspended the enforcement of
these rules; Essentially this administration says that people in urban areas
must comply with environmental protections but those in rural areas are
exempt; For example, much of the City of Bremerton (40,000 people) has
secondary treatment for storm runoff through the sewer system
Auto Emissions Standards are codified to include measurement
of greenhouse gas emissions; for example, auto exhaust measurement in order
to renew license tabs, as a compliance mechanism for the California emissions
standards, which were effective in 2001
California has its own stricter emissions standards to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and this represents 1/3 of all vehicles in the US,
13 other states, including Washington use this standard; federal standards
were stipulated in a 1965 amendment to the Clean Air Act 
August 2018, Trump revokes a legal waiver for California
under the 1970 Clean Air Act allowing them to mandate stricter air quality
standards for emissions and fuel efficiency; federal standards will be rolled
back to pre-1970 pollution standards and mute the sale of clean fuel vehicles
Fuel Efficiency Requirements for cars, light trucks, and
SUV’s, reduce fossil fuel pollution without impeding transportation
efficiency; electric and alternative fuel vehicles have been mass produced
for 20 years; one third of all electric cars in the US are in California
American autos average 26 miles per gallon fuel efficiency
now, Obama raised the standard to 54 MPG by 2025; fuel efficiency in Europe
is 56.8 MPG and 56.6 in South Korea; the rest of the world is way ahead of
the US in fuel efficiency in transportation
Trump rolled back fuel efficiency standards to 37 MPG,
also revokes California’s stricter fuel efficiency requirements; 19 states are
currently suing the federal government over this executive order
Obama protocols curbed Power Plant Pollution, cutting
methane gases and greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons; targeted coal
power plants
The Obama Administration created a clean power plan to
reduce emissions by 32% by 2030
Trump EPA scrapped the clean power plant mandate to reduce
emissions from coal power plants, which kill forests and have harmful health
impacts
Building Code updating due to climate change impacts,
especially in coastal areas; 128 military installations are at high risk for
flooding
Both the Bush and Obama Administrations included climate
change for emergency planning; Obama criteria included changing building
codes for flood prone areas to mandate construction of key roads and bridges
above flood levels
Trump won’t allow FEMA to consider climate change in
federal emergency planning nor will it require upgrading building codes for
flood prone areas, even for public infrastructure
Action Required-What
You Can Do

Here is a list of things I have done to reduce my impact on
the environment over the past forty years: 

  1. Ride a bicycle-you save money, stay fit and it
    provides zero pollution
  2. Use public transportation instead of a single
    occupancy vehicle (where possible)
     
  3. Share a ride through one of the ride sharing
    options
     
  4. Produce less waste-don’t buy plastic, use recyclable
    bags, eschew straws, buy in bulk
  5. Cook and grow some of your own food
  6. Recycle what you can and give things away rather
    than toss them into a landfill
     
  7. Be mindful about purchasing things, repair things
    rather than throwing them away
  8.  Buy less but do more-do more hiking, biking, and swimming but make fewer trips to the mall
  9. Join recreational clubs where you can share
    access to boats and recreational equipment
  10. Buy recycled products when possible
  11. Use natural cleaning products you can make
    yourself from vinegar and oranges at home
  12. Design gardens which do not require poisons to
    maintain
      
  13. Collect rain water, through rain gardens or
    other catchment systems
  14.  Increase the energy efficiency of your home by
    installing insulated window coverings and other energy saving features
  15. Avoid Styrofoam containers and packing, but
    recycle it if you receive a package containing it
  16. Do not buy any products which have CFC’s in them,
    which greatly increase global warming because they stay in the atmosphere
    including: aerosol sprays, solvents, foam blowing agents-like insulation, and
    refrigerants. Nasal inhalers for asthmatics are now available in the US which are CFC free.
    Refrigerants manufactured after 2010 are less harmful than before, so newer appliances help. Refrigerants
    must be handled by EPA certified contractors and that includes decommissioning.
  17.  Do not buy vehicles with poor fuel efficiency,
    refuse to buy cars or trucks which do not meet the EPA emissions standards of
    California, which have been adopted by 15 other states (Arizona’s governor repealed theirs in 2012).
     Here is a list of states which have adopted the California Emissions Standards-California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington
  18. Do not book or attend conferences or conventions
    in states which refuse to support healthy environmental practices and are
    stripping the power of the EPA.
       
  19. Work with the National Resources Defense Council
    and other advocacy groups to contact your legislators and prevent the wholesale
    gutting of the clean air and clean water provisions of the Environmental
    Protection Acts. 
    We cannot afford to go backwards, as our lives are at stake, this
    is about much more than profits.   
  20. Follow federal and state legislation that will
    adversely impact your health. Here are some links:

https://www.neha.org/about-neha/advocacy
https://www.congress.gov/state-legislature-websites

And finally, get involved
politically
, most importantly vote,
in local elections, in state elections, and at the national level. Save the
planet before we all burn up or drown-get Trump out of office!
And this is the healthpolicymaven signing off, encouraging
you not to sign blanket waivers when consenting to medical procedures or
hospital admissions. Do specify that for which you consent and that for which
you decline, otherwise your health is subject to medical policies based on
someone else’s religion, values, or business plan. If you need help with this,
bring a patient advocate to your pre-op session.
Roberta Winter is a freelance writer and healthpolicy analyst
who has continuously published Straight Talk on Healthcare since 2007. Her writing
has been published by Rowman and Littlefield, the New York Times, the New York
Journal of Books, and she has served as a peer reviewer and technical editor for healthcare  publications. She has continuously published under the healthpolicymaven
trademark since 2007. All opinions expressed here are hers and are not subject
to any corporate or institutional approval.

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