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Chapters

  • 02:43 Magnitude of Air Pollution by Deaths
  • 04:32 What is Air Pollution?
  • 08:14 Hazy Places
  • 10:30 Sources of Air Pollution
  • 21:50 Does Progress Outweigh the Cost?
  • 29:13 Health Impacts of Air Pollution
  • 49:30 Catch-22
  • 57:23 What Can We Do?

(Sorry this transcript sucks, we'll fix it as soon as we can!)


Daniel Forkner:

[0:04] David are you ready to record.

David Torcivia:

[0:06] Yeah I'm all ready to go let's go.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:10] What's what's that sound David are you in the middle of a hurricane or something.

David Torcivia:

[0:14] No this is just like my personal air protective equipment is it like the bare minimum I need to be safe.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:22] Are you in some kind of toxic waste land right now what's going on.

David Torcivia:

[0:27] I mean you could sort of say that I'm here in New York City it's a beautiful clear day outside so.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:35] You sound so how you sound like you got like a like earmuffs wrapped around your mouth and you trying to speak through some kind of muscle contraction over there.

David Torcivia:

[0:42] Okay okay I'm only going to take this off but you want to risk my life but I'm going to keep my my fan on so they hang on.

David Torcivia:

[0:51] Is that is that a little bit better there Daniel.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:53] Oh yeah that's a little bit better on the audio.

David Torcivia:

[0:55] Imma risking life and limb for you right now taking off my personal protective mask just so you can hear me clear.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:03] What is dramatic as that sounds I know the listeners will appreciate it but why do you need a protective mask right now.

David Torcivia:

[1:08] And I told you it did it's a toxic wasteland out there I mean after looking through the things for this week's episode I don't see how you can not be wearing a mask right now.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:19] Your voice sounds better but you still sounds like you're in a hurricane what's that in the background.

David Torcivia:

[1:30] Sacrifice for you and our listeners here let me turn it off one side.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:40] You back with us David.

David Torcivia:

[1:41] Yeah I'm ready let's let's go I guess I'm David torcivia.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:46] I'm Daniel forkner.

David Torcivia:

[1:48] And this is ashes ashes it show about the stomach issues cracks in civilization collapse of the environment and if we're unlucky the end of the world.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:57] But if we learn from all of this maybe we can stop that the world might be broken but it doesn't have to be.

David Torcivia:

[2:04] The more astute listeners out there may have realized that this week we are talking about that invisible Menace that surrounds all of us and is maybe when the most dangerous things we face in the world today and that Menace is air pollution.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:17] You know David this topic is very similar to the one we covered in episode 7 about the air that we breathe and Powell certain environmental factors all around us can impact us and dramatic ways if we don't see until much later will this episode is very similar in that all around us we have particles we have chemicals we have talked since having an immediate and a long-term impact on our health that we don't fully understand yet.

Magnitude Of Air Pollution By Deaths

David Torcivia:

[2:44] And when we might not understand all the problems facing us yet but we do understand that the magnitude of the impact of air pollution, this is one of the largest killers in the world today in fact he kills more people than HIV and malaria combined, the number to Modell's on how many people die annually from air pollution or sort of Up For Debate there's there's some range in here even within a single report like one report that the World Health Organization put out, you seem to be about 7 million people die annually from air pollution.

Daniel Forkner:

[3:12] That is a lot of people and 9 out of 10 of us a whole 90% of the global population is breathing in air that is considered Dangerous by World Health Organization standards.

David Torcivia:

[3:24] And of course like most of the problems that we discussed in the show this is only going to get worse as time moves forward.

Daniel Forkner:

[3:30] I wonder if one of the reasons it's hard to quantify the numbers of people that died or are affected by air pollution is precisely because it's so ubiquitous and, isolating the variables can be very difficult and because it varies so much depending on the place and the types of particles and toxins that you're dealing with, right now many people are aware that we have raging wildfires all across the western coast of North America and it's affecting the air quality everywhere in Seattle right now they have some of the worst air pollution as a result of this smoke, a million and a half acres of burning Wildfire all around them it's coming in and blanketing the whole city. People have been advised to stay indoors keep Windows shut and avoid activities that will harm indoor air quality like vacuuming. And as we'll see you when we get into the section about the health impacts of this air pollution, it can affect us in so many different ways it can result in so many different illnesses and diseases that it's hard to pinpoint air pollution as the single cause of this mortality and death. So with that David what is air pollution is it just smog that comes out of car exhaust that hangs over our cities and makes us cough and we breathe it in his at the smoke from wildfires.

What Is Air Pollution?

David Torcivia:

[4:44] Daniel all the above it and so much more at the same time than interesting thing about air pollution is that when we think of it we have this very specific image it's a smoggy city the sun is out but you can't see anything there's maybe just like electronic Billboards sticking out of the clouds and it's like a very Bladerunner an image of this like polluted future. For most of us the day today in back of air pollution is in tile.

[5:18] Smoke soot dirt liquid droplets chemical things that come out of cars or other industrial processes and so we breathe all these things in carry them with the air and we need to survive. Teeny tiny pieces and call particulate matter and what's important particular matter is that anything that's smaller than 10 microns which is very small and a lot of these things are.

Daniel Forkner:

[5:39] For comparison the diameter of a human hair is around 75 micron.

David Torcivia:

[5:44] Bright so very very small and anything is 10 microns or less which is the vast majority of the syrup Lucian will that can enter the bloodstream via our lungs and particulate matter 2.5 which is a very important quality measures call PM 2.5 that can get into even more places than just crossing that simple lung blood barrier.

Daniel Forkner:

[6:04] These are particles less than 2 1/2 microns very very smart. Any problems that occur when this particulate matter gets into our bodies it's similar to the concept we discussed in episode 19 where we discuss plastic which is you know these micro Plastics in the environment that we digest they have health consequences based on so many factors including their shape based on how much accumulates in our body and based on what other toxins and organisms they pick up on the way before they enter our digestive tract in this particular matter in the air is similar not only are we dealing with the effects of just large numbers of physical particles entering our body blood knocking into things causing inflammation will these particles also have the ability to absorb things in the environment such as other toxins and concentrating those into our lungs and into our blood. In addition some of these particles themselves have chemical properties that make them dangerous I mean we're dealing here with nitric oxide for dealing with ozone or dealing with sulfur oxide all these chemicals that on their own when they enter our lungs can cause problems.

David Torcivia:

[7:12] Another major factor in this overall air pollutant is something called fox vocs or volatile organic compounds you probably heard this before and these are me to buy all sorts of things but mainly the combustion of fossil fuels Bill many things in your house probably off cats box is just a side effect of existing and soul into creating a lot of plastics things like that probably your carpet is doing this right now and he's box over long periods of time can a very toxic health effects I will get into later on.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:39] And David you know you mentioned at the very beginning of the show that you being in New York City you bought this respirator mask and you have your air purifier going out of it I think you're being a little bit paranoid because.

David Torcivia:

[7:50] Me paranoid.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:52] You know we have something called the Clean Air Act which means that all our air is clean now because it's regulator.

David Torcivia:

[7:59] Don't don't let me scoff if you could please continue.

Daniel Forkner:

[8:03] So I'm sure it's not as bad as places like Beijing you know where they had that embarrassing moment at the Olympic Games where there was so much smog and we will have that here in the United States.

David Torcivia:

[8:14] Well you're absolutely right I mean it hasn't been like that in the United States for or the almost 50 years at this point since the passage of that Clean Air Act and it has had dramatic effects in cleaning up our air it's still got a long way to go

Hazy Places [8:27] in places like New Delhi which is the most air polluted MegaCity in the world are really catastrophic to human health New Delhi particulars three times more polluted than Beijing which is like to go to image in people's head of like be polluted city it is at some points like smoking 44 even more than that cigarettes every single day just in terms of breathing the air that exists outside and then tried also to give mixes at one point last summer they were shooting like water cannons into the air pretending it's going to make a difference getting this dust out of there iqor in India recently had a ruling an in it and they mention in it that the smog of the city was like quote Living in a gas chamber, it is a very intense place that is not good for human health I'm in the same as absolutely true for Beijing China has declared red alerts in numerous cities during times of peak air pollution for years now.

Daniel Forkner:

[9:18] And together India and China account for at least 50% of the air pollution deaths that do occur globally there huge number of that 7 million people fee.

David Torcivia:

[9:28] That's absolutely true but these so-called developed Nations don't get off. Hi there in Europe Spain and Italy have declared state of emergency in Barcelona Milan Naples because of air pollution in London some areas exceed their entire annual limit for nitric oxide that knocks thing we talked about earlier it just in the first few weeks of the year the UK has tens of thousands of people die from air pollution annually this is not something with limited to these quote developing nations places where there's very lacks environmental regulations this is a global problem.

Daniel Forkner:

[10:01] It really is a global problem to the point where air pollution and some places is the primary cause of death doctors in Afghanistan's Capital Kabul declared air-pollution the number one cause of death.

David Torcivia:

[10:14] Duran Duran has shut down schools to keep people indoors and shielded from poor air quality outside. Cairo has the second worst air pollution in the world for all the megacities his levels have been measured as high as 100 times greater than the upper extremes of the World Health Organization limits. Savannah course the question is where does all this air pollution come from.

Sources Of Air Pollution

Daniel Forkner:

[10:35] You know last week we discussed the history and the development of logistics and how the need for greater expansion and speed of the flow of goods increases risks for work. Will David I got a big surprise here for you but it doesn't just affect the workers but it also increases the health risk to people on the margins of this Logistics system and that's through the exposure of increased air pollution.

David Torcivia:

[10:59] I never would have guessed.

Daniel Forkner:

[11:00] Yeah so a UK government study this year found that commercial ships are pumping nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the air around Britain Sports at 4 and three times as much as previously thought respectively. These two gases alone kill an estimated 40000 people in the United Kingdom every year in important the air pollution from ships can make up 30% of the air that people breathe but it's not just the UK that deals with this problem globally shipping is responsible for 15. 8% of the nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide in the air and because 90% of all the products that we purchase here in the developed world. Are likely to be on a commercial ship at some point once again it goes back to that consumption that drives this destruction and does harm all around the world.

David Torcivia:

[11:53] One of the interesting point about this global Shipping in his contribution to air pollution is this actually some legislation that's gone through and this is dirty you but also International Trade groups and they have made a new regulation that is requiring these Mega shipping container ship, to burn a cleaner fuel that's going to take care of a significant portion of his nitric oxide and sulfur oxide pollution a huge step forward to cleaning up our air course.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:20] Yo what's the problem David what's the catch.

David Torcivia:

[12:22] Of course like all well-intentioned afterwards there are some unintended side effects so first off the reason why these Mega ships put out so much pollution is cuz they burn a very very cheap type of fuel called bunker your voice is basically sludge but these special diesel Mega engines at these giant ships have can burn this very unrefined dirty fuel and they burn it primarily like on the transoceanic portions of their joints and they switch to a cleaner fuel when I get close to Ports cuz of these various regulations but, you're going to be jiggly band bunker fuel completely and it's going to make chipping more expensive so that's majority products at a ship this way which as you mention is a huge amount of products more expensive so that's one thing we have to look forward to from this but if that means cleaner air and because that less health effects while then that's something that's in that good and then we're pricing and responsibly these side effects the unintended externalities right that's good. And here's the butt Daniel.

Daniel Forkner:

[13:20] Yeah I don't want to get too excited here.

David Torcivia:

[13:22] Anna and one of my other episodes where we talked about geoengineering we mentioned that one of the most effective ways of reflecting sunlight and because of that the energy that warms up Earth is something called Marine cloud seeding and when is very dirty fuels are burned it emits a lot he's particulate into the air and that causes a huge amount of clouds to be generated Chinese cloth reflects energy back into space keeping it from being absorbed by the ocean by the Earth's atmosphere, but switching to cleaner fuels mean this very significant source of cooling is going to be gone.

Daniel Forkner:

[13:52] David. I want to stop you out here because I think I know where you're going with this and to be honest I think this is one of the most discouraging or depressing aspects of this topic. And I don't want people to Simply leave the episode before we've gotten these very important facts out of the way so can we just hang on like just a few minutes before we get to this point.

David Torcivia:

[14:13] Okay Daniel I'll do that for you since I'm already killing myself by taking off my mask I can sacrifice one more thing.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:20] Look there's no limit to the amount of sacrifices you can make David. But you know David it's not just the ships that carry our Goods but obviously it's the cars it's the trucks it's the diesel engines petrol combustion engine that we drive that are truck drivers and Logistics workers drive that put a lot of the pollution into our hair and that's why we have this push internationally for more fuel efficient cars for engines that burn cleaner Fuel and that give off less pollution.

David Torcivia:

[14:48] Electric and natural gas vehicles for most of us this is the vast majority of. A pollutant that we encountered a today especially those of us who live in cities and suburbs because there's so much traffic being driven around us it generates a lot of these nitric oxide but also these Balto organic compounds he's box and these build up inside our homes they build up on roadsides they build up anywhere that lots of traffic is that often means things like playgrounds for schools which are usually built on site Lee less expensive land and this all build up in the air around there and then we breathe it in and it slowly builds up within our body.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:25] That's right and Lima the capital of Peru an estimated 80% of all pollution related deaths are result of the air emissions coming from very old buses and cars that aren't up to the new international standards.

David Torcivia:

[15:39] This is a major problem in a lot of the large Latin American cities were there so many old cars and trucks especially babe they haven't had the strict regulation and clean vehicles that have occurred in Europe in North America, and so consequently the air pollution from these vehicles are much greater. The currency crisis and the general crisis that's going on in Venezuela right now means a lot of people can't afford fuel for these vehicle. And so Caracas which was one of the world's most polluted cities in terms of air pollution and had these very famous traffic jams where people get stuck in traffic jams anywhere for an hour or two for five hours ridiculous gridlock City constantly burning all this field. They are well silly when people can't afford that fuel and they no longer Drive except for scooter is another very small vehicles that are highway fuel efficient. The air has cleaned itself dramatically and people have noticed this in a blown out and they breathe this fresh air and they're like well this is Xtreme kind of nice I mean like yeah cost me a million boulevards to buy toilet paper but the air is clear and then there's actually been a huge amount of Life a bird's another animals moving back into the city because they're not being killed by the toxic air so every single tragedy here also has a positive side and then that's the only time you'll ever hear me say that.

Daniel Forkner:

[16:57] When other cities around the world have also recognize this in a number of cities have implemented this even or odd license plates game where they try to limit the number of cars on the road by only permitting half of the people to drive their vehicles and alternating this by even and odd license plates at the big thing in China they do that in New Delhi and I think they're experimenting that with some European cities as well.

David Torcivia:

[17:19] Honestly we should just ban all personal vehicles from cities and business vehicle should only travel it under certain restricted hours and. But that's a radical opinion and something will get into it someday with an episode about cars but it's worth.

Daniel Forkner:

[17:37] That wouldn't work David in Atlanta where you literally have to have a vehicle to get anywhere we don't have a very walkable City here.

David Torcivia:

[17:44] Oh I know it said going to be painful is going to take a lot of investment but the benefits from it are so huge eventually people and governments will no longer be able to ignore that or maybe they'll end up like Venezuela and have no choice.

Daniel Forkner:

[17:56] We have to be fair there is a lot of pollution that comes from cars and vehicles and things like this but you mentioned the volatile organic compounds that come from, things like our carpet and that's because a lot of petroleum-based products these are cleaners the paint in our houses are personal care products.

David Torcivia:

[18:13] Basically all Plastics that you have.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:16] Right. It turns out that these do admit a ton of Vox and we have been under estimating the amount that they do release by at least a factor of 3 in fact according to a paper that was published in science. In many cities these products alone may be releasing just as much into the air as those cars and trucks of even if we could replace all our cars in our cities were still not going to be doing enough to combat this air pollution that's all around us.

David Torcivia:

[18:45] But we can't blame everything on shipping Logistics cars vehicles and then all the consumers in that we have in our house cuz we also have to attribute some of the blame for a terrible air quality to the industrial processes that depend on and unable these other.

Daniel Forkner:

[19:00] What do you mean David.

David Torcivia:

[19:01] So this is the factories that produce the raw materials that we turn into these household products the refineries that create the oil that power these logistical systems all these are enormous emitters of air pollution and it places that are an industrial or whatever that word means the amount of air pollution locally is significantly higher this is places like New Jersey the areas around Houston where there's a lot of Industry and these things yes we do lot of cleaning in the air with them but it it's not enough and then sometimes he's cleaning systems break down so we saw after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston area below these industrial plants lost some of their are scrubbing capabilities. And the pollution around that area skyrocketed these plants continue to produce but without the safety and Environmental Protection to be normally operate in. People at the time complain about all sorts of problems with their lungs itchy skin itchy eyes and the little has been done to look into the effects of the hurricane on the health of these individuals though I'm sure how many lawyers are salivating at the thought and we'll hear more about this over the next five to ten years unfortunately because of people's health effects.

Daniel Forkner:

[20:09] It was speaking about industrial processes and especially if we're talking about Houston where a lot of oil refineries are yeah the oil industry contributes a ton to this pollution problem and there was actually some political drama in the UK recently has who was discovered that the government had hidden a report for 3 years that showed that the fracking industry significantly increases air pollution and it's not just from the actual extraction but it's also due to all the surrounding activity and all the industry that goes on to support the actual extraction you know all the diesel trucks that are coming in and coming out and in all of these machines that are going on all of this contributes to air pollution.

David Torcivia:

[20:51] Yeah Daniel Mall this came to light actually just last month when this report finally came to life conveniently after the government had already approved an expansion of the fracking industry there.

Daniel Forkner:

[21:03] I'm sure that's just a coincidence but according to the report if the fracking industry in the UK expands to its estimated future size involving 12500 Wells that means that nitric oxide and those volatile organic compounds that you mentioned will they're going to increase by 12 and 9% respectively, within the country.

David Torcivia:

[21:25] With something about that is that we can almost directly linked those figures to a body count that will occur because of this increased air pollution because we have a rough idea of how many people die annually because of these art existing nitric oxide levels within the UK, 812 and 9% increase or you can extrapolate out and see how much more minimum relating to be impacted by this which is a tragedy and I'm sure also does not show up in that room.

Daniel Forkner:

[21:51] David that's a very interesting point that expanding this oil industry is going through directly result in more debt.

Does Progress Outweigh The Cost? [21:58] But you know one of these defenses of expanding civilization is that life gets better even though we suffer some type of side effect in a lot of the examples come down to these cars where we stay look a lot of people died as a result of car crashes every year but hey that's just the cost of being able to drive anywhere you want it's going to happen there's a risk associated however small that is and when you multiply that risk out by millions of people people are going to die but we have to balance the benefits and cost of civilization do we want global trade in all these products if it means that there's a small wrist that people are going to suffer or do we want to just live in this primitive world where we can't have anything. So from the oil industry standpoint I'm sure they'll say will the body count or however many people died as a result of our industry is overshadowed by the economic benefit that we derive from the industry in from all the energy that we get from the production of the soil.

David Torcivia:

[22:57] I'm glad you brought it up Daniel because yes that mean that definitely plays into this but there is a like a dark Matt that's happening in the background that you'll never see show up in these reports were they actually calculate. Value of Life lost from these sorts of ideas and this is not some sort of like weird like insurance adjusters were thing but actually a major component of what the EPA Environmental Protection Agency does and I'm sure the same thing as having the UK I'm not as familiar with their environment protection group. BPS and then called the value of a statistical life it's a way of calculating how much a life is worth in it certain situation and instead of directly signing a human life of value like the US government does when they accidentally drone strike the wrong person in Afghanistan or in Yemen or something and they pay out to these families.

Daniel Forkner:

[23:47] They should the family like 5000 or $10,000 or something.

David Torcivia:

[23:51] Whatever it is American lives of course are worth much more in the government's eyes. What the EPA doesn't want to trying to sign a dollar value for a life because it looks really bad it can change and it depends on what life it is so instead they settled on this thing called the value of a statistical life which basically they ask a huge amount of people to like say like a hundred thousand people statistically carried out so it will be much smaller group but they project out 200,000 and they say how much would you be willing to pay annually, to save one life.

[24:22] And if somebody says $100 and that's the ultimate average figure that comes out then they sign the value of life in this scenario would be 10 million dollars. The person that killed. Total take the sin of environmental Manner and be like okay the people around here like you can have cheaper gas on you can have this new thing but it might cause impacts on people's Health might kill people how much more would you be willing to pay for something in order to protect somebody's life like what is the the value that you will be willing to sacrifice for their own personal amount of money in order to save a life, and they calculate that out and if that number is less than the economic impact will then it's a net gain economically and it's worth sacrificing those lives in order to allow this thing to go forward. You're not going to see this with a math done publicly VP will do this in terms of like enforcement and Regulation and court stuff but this sort of idea of the value of a statistical life is absolutely carried out by these companies by the oil groups and stuff and I think that scene in Fight Club where were they like oh yeah we do the math to figure out the cost of the recall versus the cost of settling out of court.

[25:35] Horrible way looking at the world but it's very common is that right. Well I think anybody who hears that if you like know this is super fucked up is like a horrible way to reduce people down to dollar sign, and especially also is out all these other unforeseen externalities of these actions things that we talked about the past and pointed out that nothing is actually profitable when you look into the damage that we've done people's lives and the environment in the world as a whole if we're destroying the world with the removal of these fossil fuels. Making it so that no life can exist one day or civilization at least in a large-scale can't exist like we know now wrecking all the profit incentives. Then what the fuck does it matter if the life is slightly less expensive then the economic James you see you from these brockwells crazy.

Daniel Forkner:

[26:20] I think you put that really well David because this is something I've been struggling with his you read some of these reports for example I'll give you one example is these UK scientist did the math on the healthcare cost of cars across the United Kingdom and they concluded that in the city of London. A single car will add. $10,000 or $8,000 pounds to the National Health bill over its lifetime in for a diesel vehicle in London that cost is closer to $20,000. And they estimate that across the country. The UK experiences 83 billion dollars in health care costs associated with all air pollution in for the whole concert of Europe that's around 1.6 trillion dollars a very significant portion of GDP. And of course if these cost are then used to justify hate we need to improve this technology we need to make things more efficient because look at all the costs we can reduce.

[27:14] It seems like we're waiting for these types of reports to provide the economic case to halter alter are most Grievous industrial practices because it in a way it based on what you're saying that you kind of is a contradiction. We should know by now that the only way industry works the short-term extraction of oil, or it could be industrial agriculture where we're in putting chemicals into the soil that ultimately harm the land and that are very finite and their Reserves. The only way this works the only way we make profit, in this way is by putting off the true cost of our activities it doesn't really even make sense to try and adjust for the cost because the cost are everything it what is the cost of depleting the entire Earth reserves of soil.

[28:01] You can't reduce that to Simply what is the health care cost of someone going to the hospital right now or what is there statistical average value of life based on pulling a whole bunch of people in this area where they don't even live the only reason international shipping is economical right now. Is because shipping companies do not pay for the environmental and health damages they inflict the only reason that industrial agriculture works, and why we can still celebrate High crop yield is precisely because those yields come at the direct expense of the soils ability to provide in the future we are destroying the world in the future so that we can produce something in the present and that is fundamental to the way our economy work so trying to determine the hidden costs, of an industry for the purpose of maintaining that industry is really an attempt to have our cake and eat it too it doesn't make any sense because all that profit, is essentially stolen it stolen from the future or it's stolen from somebody right now in the form of their life if we want to include the cost all the cost of Industry into our equations then we will simply have to get rid of profit altogether because it really doesn't exist.

David Torcivia:

[29:13] So mean it's very obvious that there is a dollar value assigned to the health impacts of this air pollution and maybe it works out economically in the short-term

Health Impacts Of Air Pollution [29:22] but overall obviously there are huge problems with the way that this is even a sign but but maybe we should instead change your focus for just a moment and look at some of these actual help. And we're just discovering more of these every single year some of these diseases that would mention I've only been linked to help pollution within the last 12 months or less and this is a constantly developing area we know so little actually about the effects of a lot of this air pollution on their health that these numbers of how many people are impacted these dollar signs of what a cost the drive a car something are constantly going to be going up not just because of rising healthcare costs but because our understanding of the impacts of this air pollution and its effects on your health are always increasing.

Daniel Forkner:

[30:00] You know David this is actually where I think the episode gets a little bit more interesting which maybe no one else will feel that way but for me I was very surprised at how many different health effects result from just particles in the air that we take in.

David Torcivia:

[30:15] Okay let's roll through somebody's real quickly and the one that I'll start with because this is something that I suffered from when I was younger opposed to going out of it now but is a asthma and this is the very obvious go to.

Daniel Forkner:

[30:26] I feel so much worse now for making you take off your respirator.

David Torcivia:

[30:29] I know I'm like literally choking a daddy or not. I've grown out of asthma a lot of kids do what the amount of kids and adults now suffering from asthma are dramatically increasing so air pollution is known to increase the risk of an asthma attack and that translates obviously into higher asthma-related deaths in the UK asthma-related deaths have risen 25% over the past 10 years with over 1,300 deaths in 2017 alone, and the largest increase in the number of these asthma deaths are in people over the age of 55 which is something unusual cuz asthma traditionally is more of a problem for the very young but was trying to see transition to more the elderly that are being affected by this and you'll notice a lot of our stats to read this episode are from the UK and us because they have some really excellent reports on the impact of air pollution something that is lacking in places like United States intentionally or otherwise.

Daniel Forkner:

[31:20] And perhaps it's not that surprising that air pollution impacts asthma the one that did really surprised me is diabetes do an episode 14 we talked about sugar and a big Concept in that episode was the rise of chronic disease all of the world and diabetes is one of the worst chronic diseases worldwide it's one of the biggest in terms of health care cost for National Health budget. And it turns out that sugar is not the only thing that contribute to diabetes air pollution does as well any major study published this year and the Lancet planetary Health Journal helped quantify that relationship the researchers looked at data on 1.7 million US citizens who had no record of diabetes at the start of an 8 and 1/2 year timeline and at the end of those eight and a half years the researchers then compared the levels of diabetes in the data with documented pollution levels.

[32:15] All medically known causes of diabetes were controlled for in the study. And what they found was a 21% incidence of diabetes among people who have been exposed to relatively low levels of air pollution. And these findings were used to create a model to combine with global data on diabetes and pollution and these models estimate the air pollution causes 3.2 million new diabetes cases around the world every year. Now why does this happen will the hypothesis is that air pollution induces inflammation in the pancreas and that affects insulin production in the body by the way that's a staggering number of people that were added to. Chronic diabetes statistics.

David Torcivia:

[32:59] And if we're talking about staggering amounts of numbers then I don't think anything beats out stroke heart disease and lung cancer so here the World Health Organization reports that air pollution and these numbers blew my mind when I read them air pollution is responsible for 24%. All adult deaths from heart disease 25% of all adult deaths from a stroke. 43% from all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and end in the obvious one here 29% of all lung cancer is caused by air pollution really huge amounts of these very chronic diseases that are some of the biggest killers in the world caused by the very air that we breathe.

Daniel Forkner:

[33:37] It's interesting how I feel like in our society we put a lot of blame on individuals for their personal health say oh you know you're overweight or you have diabetes or you have congested arteries you must not be living a very healthy lifestyle you don't have a good diet you're not exercising enough in a lot of these narratives are promoted by the very companies that contribute the most to the stressors in our environment companies like Coca-Cola and the soda industry that we talked about.

David Torcivia:

[34:02] Dead beavers some of these things are absolutely your personal health choices your diet how much exercise do you have but I mean 1/4 of these deaths are caused by something that's totally outside of your control the air you breathe this is a serious problem and we need to remember that our health isn't just all our choices. Also the choices of those around us and the world that we live in and I think this is a great example of that concept.

Daniel Forkner:

[34:23] And you're absolutely right that our individual choices do matter but it just makes me wonder how much of our individual choices are exacerbated as a result of something in our environment that puts us at a much bigger disadvantage you know is very possible that if we existed in an environment of pure air of a more natural state that our bodies are activated to maybe lower level of that ambient CO2 that we talked about in episode last gas perhaps our individual choices would not have such a big impact on our health maybe we could get away with a little bit poor diet or less sleep and these things wouldn't affect us the way they do in this chronically stressed environment. But that's all speculation did let's move on to another Health effect and that's neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, to Alzheimer's disease is something that is not totally understood and how to prevent it we don't really understand what it's altimate causes are however a big clue was uncovered by researchers in a 2016 paper published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

[35:28] The presence of magnetite in the brain this is an iron oxide has been causally linked to alzheimer's but up to that point in 2016 it was assumed that magnetite could only exist in the brain through natural formation, this study found conclusive evidence that the particles are also getting into the brain directly from air pollution they are small, these are less than 2 microns and the magnetite nanoparticles the researchers found in the brain samples that they looked at were shaped and weighs only possible through the type of high heat friction and combustion that takes place in industrial processes, and so once magnetite settles in the human brain it helps produce something known as reactive oxygen species which bounce around and create disruptions and they're known to create neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

David Torcivia:

[36:20] And this is I think a really important topic because when we talk about air pollution I think most of us think of course it impacts my lungs and that's the end of the conversation you know and I'll get black lung disease from coal miner or maybe lung cancer later on but this direct effect that occurs in our brain is a very clear reminder that the dangers of air pollution aren't just limited to our lungs is teeny tiny particles and the toxins and chemicals they carry cross into our bloodstream in are carried throughout our body they find their way into all different parts of us do our pancreas like it causes diabetes and into our brain and once it's in our brain it of course has direct impact other cognitive functions, pollution that reaches the brain can result in the formation which arms neurons that cause memory problems and impacts the very behavior that we exhibit because of these damages to our brain and prevent sprains especially in the young and developing naturally, are extremely strong winds between air pollution and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Ambient painting Services particulate matter 10 which is much higher than the 2.5 microns that were most concerned about this very large level up or to get mad about what that leads to 11% prevalence of ADHD in children first just a 2.7% appearance of ADHD in a control group that wasn't exposed to this higher level of air pollution and what's more boys are more susceptible to this than girls which lines up really well with ADHD occurrences in the population.

Daniel Forkner:

[37:49] Here's another really interesting one David do we have mentioned that air pollution can get into our lungs it can then get into our blood, some of the very small particles like those iron oxide less than 2 microns they just go directly into the brain through our nose but there's another crazy way that this air pollution starts to interact with our body in that studio. Cereal ecosystems that really our entire bodies are made of in the first place, there's a 2017 study that came out with this finding that black carbon in the air can have dramatic effects on the development and growth of certain bacteria.

David Torcivia:

[38:25] Carbon is a very common byproduct of a lot of industrial processes and also things like burning fossil fuel.

Daniel Forkner:

[38:30] Makes sense and the full range of implications of course are unknown but in this specific study researchers found that in mice the presence of black carbon causes the S pneumonia bacteria to spread from the nasopharynx to the lungs where dangerous infections more like. This bacteria is commonly found in human respiratory tract swear it causes no harm in people with healthy immune systems however when is spread unchecked that's when it can start to cause a number of infectious diseases including pneumonia meningitis bronchitis and much more. And the implications of the study go Way Beyond the surface observation that pneumonia can be triggered by air pollution if we remember that Extinction episode from 3 weeks ago ecosystems are complex and any change in their diversity, or a loss of function these can have traumatic long lasting impact that are impossible to predict and every living thing on this Earth is essentially like I said a complex bacterial ecosystem so this is a startling finding that the air that we're breathing threatens the stability of those bacterial ecosystems in ways that we frankly cannot predict.

David Torcivia:

[39:41] And I were talking about Extinction maybe we should address the fact that air pollution seems to have a dramatic effect on sperm and fertility.

Daniel Forkner:

[39:48] I don't have a problem with this David I don't know why we're bringing it up.

David Torcivia:

[39:51] You have a lot of Children Here Daniel. Well then you don't know what you're talking about so it's carried out last year in Hong Kong looked at data on 6500 men and found a quote strong association between abnormal sperm shape and elevated levels of particulate matter in the air, going to be there was just an observational study and no cause and effect relationship was established and tracing the cause of an oddly shaped sperm is very difficult to do in general so there is a.

Daniel Forkner:

[40:16] Right it is very difficult to do it's it's kind of hard to make conclusions based on anything related to the topic.

David Torcivia:

[40:22] But I think it is an important point because this is actually underreported crisis if that's the right word occurring in the world right now in the past four decades the amount of sperm has plummeted dramatic.

Daniel Forkner:

[40:36] But it can be very difficult though to identify who those men are because it's really an in an itemized study and you we just don't know anything about.

David Torcivia:

[40:46] Keep digging your own hole here Daniel Daniel's a personal medical condition beside today's men have less than half the sperm count that they did in the 1970s, and this is a major worldwide phenomenon we don't understand the full implications yet I'm kind of course correlates with fertility we can also be a sign of a much more complex health problems things related to stop drone and what were very clueless as to the Cause right now most likely it's a number of factors putting environmental factors things that stress babies in the room this particular matter in the year increased amount of hormones in our food in our water and we're still nailing down exactly what is happening but almost certainly air pollution is going to be one of these factors in this reduce fertility that were facing worldwide.

Daniel Forkner:

[41:28] And to be fair I was not alive in the 1970s so again more uncertainty and all of this but you mentioned David how the some of these effects can take place in unborn babies while women are still pregnant and so let's talk about how this is affecting or potentially affecting unborn babies and children and how that translates into very long-term society-wide effects, there's a study carried out in London over 4 years which examined more than 540000 verse. And it found a very strong correlation between low birth weight, and mothers who are exposed to air pollution and although the study was not able to conclude a definitive causal link it did observe that while on average mothers in London breathe 15 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter each 5 microgram interval represents a 15% increase risk of giving birth to a baby with low weight. And low-weight birth carry a lot of potential long-term consequences so we see that this air pollution which is introduced during pregnancy can influence the future. 3 of a human life.

David Torcivia:

[42:38] And after these babies are born the exposure to air pollution continues to have effects obviously according to a recent report by UNICEF some 17 million babies are breathing in air that is 6 times worse than established limits that are honestly probably already not low enough. And over 90% of all the children in the world that's 2 billion of them will they breathe air that exceeds World Health Organization limits this means a majority of the people who are growing up in this world right now experiencing not just long damage but damn it's too sensitive brain tissue which carries lifelong consequences on cognitive development and ultimately baby.

Daniel Forkner:

[43:14] This reminds me so much David of that episode 7 where we started with that introduction on lead and how let exposure in the environment. Dramatically impacted the brain development in children resulting in more violent unpredictable Behavior later on in life and we blame these people for their behavior without realizing they were literally poisoned by the things that we are putting into their environment and it's the same situation here from the moment a child is born in this world where we have heightened levels of ambient air pollution their cognitive development is stunted in some way it's affected in some way their future health has been put at risk. And the full range of implications of this of course are totally unknown we do not know how this will end. Society as all of these lives are altered in some way by this environmental Factor multiplied out by billions of people over an entire lifetime and how that will shape the society in which we grow up in the United States and Europe that led will it resulted in many people believe I'm more violent atmosphere until we were able to still not successfully but we have made a lot of progress in removing lead from many of the environments that people are exposed to every day but it had dramatic impact on society and we're probably still to this day feeling those effects in major way.

David Torcivia:

[44:38] 100%.

Daniel Forkner:

[44:39] We just simply don't realize what the alternative of a clean environment is.

David Torcivia:

[44:43] That's right they know they're still so many questions in the air.

Daniel Forkner:

[44:48] There's so many questions up in the air David you know what else is in the air David pollution.

David Torcivia:

[44:52] Oh wow that end in K but there are so many questions up in the air about the pollution effects of it how it works and then didn't even things that we were discussed like Legends.

[45:03] I mean we listed a very large amount of diseases and the consequences that can result from air pollution and to be clear this is only a small part of the total amount of health effects that can occur and all of that is because of air pollution itself what it's made of when it enters the body how long the exposure is and what Pathways in there's a body all these are variables interact an important to the severity of these effects in exactly which diseases you get if the problems actually occur ultimately if it can lead to immortality and we don't really understand all these variables because they're so complicated there's so many of them and work constantly living in this world air pollution is a reality where something we can't avoid when are individuals most vulnerable to air pollution we don't know how deep does it affect cognitive development we really have no idea we don't have answers to even a small portion of these questions and part of what makes understanding this air pollution so difficult as that is hard to isolate for any one particle or variable.

[45:57] I mean it this is the ambient air removing individual from the air to study single variables it's not really practical or even possible most of these studies at the same time some of the effects of air pollution require an external stress to be present before a health problem can manifest itself so one is the key that opens the door and that's what causes the problem ultimately and this may be why a high proportion of air pollution health effects occur in poorer countries and within low-income in minority communities in countries like the United States where these people must deal with a wide variety of other hardships including racial discrimination police violence for syndication Financial pressure poverty food insecurity whatever it is causing these increase dresses on the body that leaves the vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.

Daniel Forkner:

[46:40] If your hats it's because of all these questions and these uncertainties that cities around the world do not adequately educate their citizens on the quality of the air and what it means for People's Health, the who has established standards for what the organization considers to be safe levels of many of the particles that can be found in the air but the indices the cities and countries all around the world use, conveyor a air pollution to their populations they seem to be completely arbitrary and they don't even follow these World Health Organization guidelines.

[47:14] Princeton's Great Britain will say it air pollution is low when nitrogen dioxide levels are five times the who safe limit we here in the United States we also exaggerate what is safe in terms of air pollution, at the same time a lot of these indexes on air quality themselves misguide people into under estimating the risks of chronic exposure to any level of pollution the very existence of an air pollution index that tells us the air is good today or the air is bad today use caution these give us the false impression that there is a safe and healthy level of air pollution David this is something you mention much earlier in the show about how there is no safe limit there was a study published last year and the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it's found exactly that there is no level of air pollution that is safe and of course the health risks are especially acute for older or more vulnerable individuals the study looked at 22 million deaths in the United States of people aged 65 and up, and it sounded direct correlation between death and a level of particulate matter in the air as air pollution goes up more people die as it goes down less people die. It's a simple as that and according to the authors of the study there is no safe level of exposure to Ozone and other particulate matter.

David Torcivia:

[48:33] Another proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study published this year shows that the decline in United States air pollution is it going much slower than the Environmental Protection Agency has actually claimed satellite data reveals that we have been reducing certain pollutants in the air like nitric oxide and carbon monoxide a much lower rates than we actually thought the fears of the EPA overestimated the effectiveness of certain technological improvements in cars and trucks what are bility to fight air pollution will be even harder now that the EPA is committed to lowering the standards for car emissions and other pollutants going forward.

Daniel Forkner:

[49:06] Okay David so basically we don't really know what's going on and I think this is where we need to bring up the two probably most significant points that we're going to make in this episode and that's the relationship does air pollution has on global climate change and some of the ways that we simply don't understand it until after all that we've discussed so far, like I alluded to earlier David this is probably the most discouraging section of this episode because now that we are a little bit more aware of all this pollution around us and some of the harmful effects of having on us

Catch-22 [49:37] you know we're all charged up or angry we're ready to solve this problem right we're not taking no for an answer.

David Torcivia:

[49:42] Nah let's do it.

Daniel Forkner:

[49:43] We're here to demand we're here to demand more electric vehicles cleaner power plants you know our politicians are going to fix this problem right.

David Torcivia:

[49:51] Yes we can.

Daniel Forkner:

[49:53] Not so fast David. Turn your fan back on and put your respirator mask on because it turns out that some of this pollution actively slows the progress of climate change. And reducing it risk speeding up the rising temperature that threatens to destroy all human life on the planet we touched on this a bit and episode 21 and how.

David Torcivia:

[50:14] I actually Daniel I think we were talking about this earlier this episode with the international shipping before I was so rudely cut off.

Daniel Forkner:

[50:23] Oh yeah yeah when I wanted to save the worst for the last.

David Torcivia:

[50:25] Well here it is everyone.

Daniel Forkner:

[50:27] Okay what you want explain once again how some of this air pollution could possibly mitigate some of the progress of climate change.

David Torcivia:

[50:35] They're quickly it works something like, this so the sulfate and his other aerosol that we mention that are generated by things like burning this very dirty bunker fuel increased cloud cover and did the flex a lot of this incoming sunlight and consequently that prevents the Earth from eating up as much and in certain cases can even cause a cooling effect this effect is actually it has a name it because it's been scientifically studied is called. Global dimming.

Daniel Forkner:

[51:01] Interesting will a 2016 paper that was published in nature geoscience estimate. That this aerosol deflection has hidden a third of the warming that we've caused in the past 50 years of this doesn't mean that our air pollution has prevented warm it just means in a way we've hitting it out of sight and this is necessarily temporary. It is similar to the way the ocean has masked much of our admissions the ocean has been absorbing massive amounts of our carbon dioxide emissions and this means that as the oceans capacity to do so starts to Wayne we will see an unprecedented acceleration of warming as our emissions have a much higher direct impact on climate, and this air pollution is very similar if we start to clean this air pollution up is going to release the temporary cooling pressures we've experienced. All at once and that's going to have dramatic impact on our global climate for example a 2016 paper that was published in nature geoscience concludes that up to half a degree celsius increase in the Arctic is attributable to air pollution. Ductions in Europe since 1980 about that and the Arctic which is the most important region for regulating climate worldwide.

David Torcivia:

[52:17] And to be clear the Arctic is warm significantly more than the rest of the world so why we Face .9 degrees or so increase in Celsius the Arctic is significantly higher than that at this point already.

Daniel Forkner:

[52:28] Yeah that's right and of the current increase that it has experienced half a degree has come from the reduction in air pollution alone just over the past 40 years. And similarly if we were to eliminate all human emissions of aerosols right now today our Global temperature would increase.

[52:55] Some of the aerosol pollution around our cities, will it redirects weather patterns and it serves to mask some of the most violent and extreme weather events we should expect with a warming Planet which means that reducing the pollution levels in cities threatens to disrupt the most amount of people from violent precipitations another storm they would then be more like.

David Torcivia:

[53:16] This is such an incredibly important point I really want to drive it home several times here and that's the fact that we are dying from air pollution a huge amounts millions of people annually and those of us who don't die immediately from it are facing debilitative diseases like Alzheimer's of diabetes and it's also actively changing the way our brains work especially in unborn children and the very young this is a huge Global health. We're trying to fix it we're trying to clear the Year we're trying to get rid of all these bluetent gasoline and diesel vehicles we want to Envision a world that is powered by electric energy something similar you want to get rid of these Putin cold plants we want to move away from natural gas and we ultimately want this world that is completely renewable solar panels wind power hydroelectric. Things that don't help with this air pollution but the catch is if we do that things that we have to do to prevent ourselves from cooking because of climate change.

[54:18] In a 1.5 degree Paris agreement gold something that we need to eliminate all this pollution anyway to achieve it's gone we passed it. 2 degrees or more. You can see now at this point that there is no possibility of reaching 1.5 because the technology that we need to reach is 1.5 degrees Celsius warming. Clear the air and its global dimming effect causes us to jump past that goal so we can snap your fingers right now. Transform all of our pooting are to clean solar energy we would still warm up passing his goal instantly. There is no solution here were either killing ourselves with the air that we breathe and if we fix that we cook today.

Daniel Forkner:

[54:58] There are no Solutions or Davis.

David Torcivia:

[55:00] It's not that there's no Solutions it's just that there's bad and worse Solutions and I'm not sure which one is worse maybe we need to pull out that tistical life measurement and do the math and see.

Daniel Forkner:

[55:11] David maybe we just don't know all the potential solution maybe there is a solution out there but there's one thing I know and that's that this highlights the fact that we've been going about these problems the wrong way for so long. We have for too long been addressing existential threats.

[55:29] Incremental changes that are intended to maintain the status quo and if we continue to do that will maybe you're right that we simply won't find a solution we have to radically change the way we address two types of problem this is something we saw with the original ozone crisis wear in the seventies it was pointed out that we had this huge hole in the ozone layer which we still do and it threatens the very existence of human life. It took a lot of effort to get some of the chemicals that were causing this replaced with something else in the factories all around the world. But ultimately that's not good enough it hasn't solved anything it's only put off the inevitable which is as long as we think that we have to have economic growth and that is our something that is our foundation then when we see these problems like air pollution is killing the world and we have global climate change that threatens all of human civilization we don't look at the things that were doing and say well maybe we shouldn't be doing this thing instead what we're doing is we're trying to find some kind of marginal or incremental change that will maybe price the cost of this, into our activity so we can find a better economic model to continue doing the same things we've been doing and continue to do and will do into the future, it's the point I'm trying to make your day but is that the only way to seriously consider our future is to open the conversation up to allow a more radical look.

[56:57] The economic processes that fuel our civilization we don't have to have a civilization that's founded on the burning of cheap fossil fuels to move Goods Halfway Around the World 24/7 as fast as possible that's not the only way that humans can be organized on this Earth but it's guaranteed that that organization structures going to kill us. But unless we're allowed to question that we will never find the correct solution to this problem.

What Can We Do?

David Torcivia:

[57:24] So I mean things are hopeless right now I mean I've already established the point that we going to die from air pollution or from climate change and then we're sitting here at our choices so maybe that sort of immediately neuters our what can we do section of this episode. That is sort of a bleak question when we have these choices of Doom one way or the other but there are things individually we can do and collectively the actual change so we can make.

[57:49] Be something that is possible and fixing both of these problems give it enough time but individually absolutely please go out and buy an air purifier this is when the prayer times are we to tell you people to go out and it's umm things but it really trust you you live in a city is an excellent thing to do put it in your bedroom we spend most of your time is going to clean up your air and it's going to eliminate a lot of these long-term exposure to things like box to PM 2.5. I want it has a HEPA filter change it frequently like it says they're also two different models and things this is a very important investment in your health and I told you to put one in at least every bedroom of your house this is something that should just be standard all around the world at this point if you can afford it please do outside of that silly masks, and we where we walk around especially booty days these are already a de facto fashion item and places like China they should be in India and it really should be in the most of our major cities especially during the summer when air pollutants are at its worst. The surgical mask that you see that doesn't do anything that's just preventing your germs from reaching others what you want is a mass that is at least in 95 or greater. You can buy all sorts of cool looking ones online if your fashion conscious about it and didn't want to look like a lost contractor you're going to be silly if it's hot it's uncomfortable but your health will thank you years down the road.

[59:07] Obviously from there you can also there are number products you can put in your own home to analyze your are locally see if this is a concerns you can need to open a window close a window add an additional air filter these things are important we really need to think about are as one of the major environmental impacts of our life. But beyond that any of these are these are individual things we can do to help ourselves are life jackets in a world that's drowning but any actual change that needs to take place needs to be with all of us collectively come together and realizing that our way of life like always is unsustainable. And we're killing ourselves reducing her health giving ourselves diseases and impacting the next generation of people that were depending on to solve these problems the children because of our air pollution which is a direct result of our way of life.

[59:51] The cars we drive the products We Buy in the shipping and Logistics that enable them, the production of those products in the first place in the raw material generate them the oil extraction refining and ultimately delivery to our vehicles is such a huge process of generating all of these pollutants. Electricity we use all this adds up all of this leads to negative health effects. And by reducing our consumption of these products collectively we can make a radical difference. Beyond that we really should be looking at Dairy extreme Solutions like Banning cars from cities treating areas known as clean air zone. But it's not just enough to protect my small areas from the air pollution at the shift the problem somewhere else. Collectively its countries and globally as of world we need to come together to find those produce the most pollution to punish them for their actions against all of us. And though they might justify by saying we need these products if these products are that damaging to the collective health of all of us and ultimately the world itself. We need to seriously examine our need for them we don't need this mass that says these debts are worth its economic value Which is less than the actual product created. Instead we need to make the choice the responsible choice of less stuff in exchange for a healthier world and healthier lives in a visually. And we need to remember that it's not simple enough just to clear the air pollution complicated there's nothing affects we don't understand and even if we just get rid of all these particular it's from the are we still have to deal with the climate change effects that they leave behind.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:01:20] David those are some very practical things people can do in addition to some of the point you're making. I myself and probably going to buy a respirator but I want to drive home one other point that I think about a lot and I think we need more conceptual awareness about and that's that we really as humans on this planet we really do not understand the world we do not understand the full range of consequences of the activities that we do we do not understand the health effects of all the things we do we have a very very limited understanding of the world around us and so much of our understanding comes I'm just being real. This is how scientific knowledge progresses so much is that we just simply Pro things and we figure things out and this is problematic when we go Full Speed Ahead in terms of indefinite growth and the need for profits at the expense of any and everything and you mentioned the need for things like Banning cars from cities and cleaning up the air and then this of course is important but at the same time there are some relationships going on in this air pollution that we don't understand there was a study published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last December that discovered efforts to reduce air pollution in North American cities is resulting in a new class of air pollution never-seen-before in heavily populated areas.

[1:02:40] So as we've kind of touched on nitrogen oxides Vox and oxygen they all have a complex relationship in the atmosphere nitrogen oxides and the hydrocarbons that make up these volatile organic compounds, these are released from the exhaust of cars and other sources they interact with each other and in this process ozone is created among other things.

David Torcivia:

[1:03:03] An ozone is a potent pollutant of its own.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:03:06] That's right it's until understandably regulations. Seek to improve air quality by targeting the missions of nitric oxide and hydrocarbon emissions and in some places these efforts have been very successful, in the United States cars today produce just 1% of many of the pollutants that they were admitting in 1970 and in the past 10 years nitric oxide in the air above Los Angeles has decreased by a factor of 2 but hydrocarbons are harder to Target because they come from so many more sources. Paints and other products that we mentioned older engines and different types of engines and things like lawn mowers and even a number of natural sources as well and so by reducing the amount of nitric oxide in the air. At a faster rate than the production and hydrocarbons we are changing the ratio of these two pollutants and what this means is that soon there will not be enough nitric oxide in the air to react.

[1:04:01] These hydrocarbons and so the hydrocarbons will start reacting with themselves in a process called gas phase Auto oxidation, long story short this will create large concentrations of something called organic hydroperoxide in the air. And never before have we seen this take place in heavily populated areas so we don't really know what effects this might have on population health and got the lead scientist on The study says quote. We don't know how the formulation of gas and air assault hydroperoxide will impact Public Health but we do know that breathing in particles tends to be bad for you and quote. And maybe this will be a problem maybe it won't be but there's something that I want to point out and that's that we as a species learn about our world and about ourselves through a very reactive process we look around us and we say.

[1:04:51] People seem to be dying let's look at that and find out why or or livestock keeps getting sick maybe we can research a medicine to try and help that and keep them growing. And what is consistent and so many of these discoveries is that we start with a human cause problem. Like this air pollution we follow that up with a mitigation or reactive measure. For the purpose of allowing us to increase this human behavior that caused the problem in the first place which then repeat the cycle all over again. I'm reminded of Mark Risner in his book Cadillac desert where he talks about the unsustainability of civilization in the desert specifically Western United States in the 80s and he foreshadows that all the water projects going on in an effort to combat the problems of water scarcity, will simply exacerbate the problem by allowing additional development to take place which will drive even more consumption of precious water resources and result in it eventual and very painful collapse of civilization in this area. And we're doing the same thing in the face of this climate change it is not fully understood. But all countries around the world admit it is a serious problem that we should do something about it but yet we still do not admit publicly that we have made a mistake.

[1:06:10] The problem is simply framed as a very natural consequence of the unavoidable human progress that we must keep driving. It's never that we made a mistake expanding beyond the Earth natural carrying capacity and that we should scale back whether it's something bad is happening maybe we can continue to expand if we make cars more fuel efficient maybe our economy can continue to grow indefinitely if we designed better vaccines and raise the quality of Education. And this emphasis on maybe is important because even the ipcc and other institutions that purport to be experts on the issue of climate change admit that we have no clue how bad things are going to get. So we have clearly embedded an idea into our society and idea the economies must grow they must never stop growing and that this growth is good and necessary. And that assumption has become so entrenched within our society that we cannot question it and that means that we have this tendency to rush forward we destroy everything inside to try and get at some profit and only after we have destroyed the foundation upon which we stand do we try and find a temporary technology to maintain this progress.

[1:07:24] I think we have to ask ourselves how long are we going to allow the economic and political leaders who hold the most power in our world to act in this way we have somehow allowed a propaganda to seep into our public narratives, the tells us to let economic forces proceed with no oversight and no accountability Outside The Winds of investors profits in Market. We've allowed ourselves to accept the narrative the any company or industry that can make money is adding value and that trying to control or preclude the existence of the industry is going to quote harm jobs. Or destroy the economy. The destruction is already here is all around us we are already literally killing ourselves and was just 4% of wildlife left on land we are way ahead of ourselves and killing everything else. When are we going to accept that those in control of the economy no longer deserve their position as our billionaire Heroes and that their promise of jobs magic technology and philanthropy has long been a ruse.

David Torcivia:

[1:08:27] As always that's a lot to think about and think about it we hope you will. Do you want to read more about any of these horrible Health impacts read that amazing UK study or a full transcript of this episode you can do all of that and much more on our website at ashes ashes. Or RG.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:08:45] A lot of time and research goes into making these episodes possible and we will never use advertising to support the show so if you like it and would like us to keep going you our listener can support us by sharing this with a friend. And giving us a review also we have an email address it's contact. Ashes ashes. O RG and we encourage you to send us your thoughts positive or negative will read them and we appreciate them.

David Torcivia:

[1:09:12] We are also on your favorite social media Network at ashes ashes cast next week you got another great episode we hope you'll tune in but until then this is ashes ashes.