Fossil Fuel Air Pollution Kills One in Five

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Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

Summary by Mel Barnard

EcoRing is passionate about being outdoors and appreciating the natural beauty around us. Part of eco-tourism is keeping the air outdoors clean and healthy. New research from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that air pollution from fossil fuels is responsible for nearly one in five deaths worldwide. Burning fossil fuels causes human exposure to fine particulate matter. This fine matter killed about 8.7 million deaths globally in 2018, about the same number of people living in New York City — making it more lethal than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Not included in that number is the deaths caused by long-term exposure to smog.

The highest toll of deaths from air pollution come from China and India, but we see hard-hit areas in high urban areas in the US Northeast and Midwest. Air pollution can be a silent killer, and one we don’t think about that often. It is important to reduce our harm by decreasing our fossil fuel emissions and its subsequent particulate dispersal so our outdoors stay clean.

Read more here.

Ad Agencies Step Away From Oil and Gas

Photo by Charlie Hang on Unsplash

Summary by Mel Barnard

Oil and Gas advertisements are becoming more and more untenable to the public. Literal weeks after Chevron released a commercial that boasted about their ‘ever-cleaner energy’, a refinery of theirs leaked 600 gallons of petroleum and water into the San Francisco Bay. Greenpeace USA and other environmental groups filed a complaint against Chevron with the Federal Trade Commission. According to the complaint, Chevron has consistently misrepresented its image to appear, “climate-friendly and racial justice-oriented, while its business operations overwhelmingly rely on climate-polluting fossil fuels, which disproportionately harm communities of color.”

As a result of these complaints and similar critiques across the industry, ad agencies are being forced to step away from fossil fuel clientele. This is from pressure from environmental advocates all over the world, from pushback against team sponsorships to putting climate warning labels on street ads. Democratic officials have filed lawsuits over the past 18 months in 6 different states to accuse Exxon of deceiving the public about climate change.

Oil and gas companies still wield a tremendous amount of power and the allure of a good paycheck keeps many advertisers on their side. However, there is hope that the moral pulse of environmental advocacy will move advertisers away from fossil fuel completely.

Read more at the New York Times

Looking Back at Women’s History…

By Mel Barnard

Bicycles were invented in the early 19th century and designed with men in mind. The bike garnered attention as a masculine activity because women couldn’t ride bikes sidesaddle, as they did in the proper feminine way of horse-riding. However, the invention of the “safety bicycle” made for an easier time riding. Some women were able to take advantage of this change and used bicycles as a way to transport themselves around without a chaperone, exercise freely in public, and get places quick. This led to changes in clothing since dresses got caught in the gears, which further fueled bicycles as a symbol of feminist action, particularly the suffragette movement.

Since then, however, the bicycle has remained a largely male-dominated activity. The numbers vary based on location, but in San Francisco, twice as many men commuted by bike compared to women. Surveys into the phenomenon generally agree: cycling, particularly on roads, feels intimidating and unsafe. Women are more generally more risk averse and are driven away from the activity because of that danger.

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Electric Cars Could Rule the Road Sooner Than You Think

Photo by Kate Konstantinova on Unsplash

By Mel Barnard

Fewer than 1% of cars currently on the road are electric. However, even with automakers building and selling more electric vehicles, by 2035, only 13% of vehicles are predicted to be electric. Without policy changes, most vehicles will likely run on gasoline even during the midpoint of the century.

To be carbon neutral by 2050, drastic action is needed to turn over and retire the fleet of gas-powered vehicles already on the market. For example, one policy might include buying back and scrapping older cars in use. Policymakers could also focus on electrifying ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft which tend to retire automobiles sooner, or offer rebates to turn in older cars for newer, more fuel-efficient models. Still, these trade-in programs have historically been proven to be less efficient than something like a carbon tax.

One of the best opportunities for change is in improving public infrastructure. Expanding public transit and encouraging biking and walking, particularly in cities, seems to be an excellent, nonpartisan way of decreasing carbon emissions.

Read more at the New York Times

“It’s About Time” Executive Order Mandating Mask-Use on Transportation

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Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

By Mel Barnard

President Biden signed an executive order this month mandating the use of face masks throughout the nation on domestic and international modes of travel. While mask-wearing is a requirement for most methods of travel already, the decision has largely been up to individual state and local governments on how to enforce safety. The Transport Workers Union President praised this action, calling it “a long overdue measure to protect workers” and “about … time our government lived up to its obligations to public health”. 

The current death toll of COVID-19 is over 500,000. More people have died from this pandemic than from WW2, the Korean War, and Vietnam put together. Although the vaccine gives hope, already variant strains of the virus and difficulties with the rollout threaten a quick return to normal. As transportation systems attempt to reopen, frontline workers like those who work in public transportation need protections to stop another wave. 

Read more at Mass Transit