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Last year in Detroit, a Marathon Petroleum refinery emitted a pungent gas, causing nausea and dizziness among neighbors and prompting health officials to warn people to stay inside. A “flare failure” at the plant had released hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and other compounds, Marathon told state regulators, but the plant operator “did not detect any emission levels of concern” as a result. That same county has seen more Covid-19 deaths than most other than in New York state. In Michigan, The Times reports that “African-Americans have accounted for more than 40 percent of deaths, even though they make up only 15 percent of the population.” Clean water and affordable electricity are also a huge problem in Detroit, according to Michelle Martinez, the Statewide Coordinator for Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition.
Ironically, in Harris County (Houston) they are cranking out masks and gloves and the other protective gear now, but then the used PPE is coming back to the same place for incineration as medical waste. Minority groups have accounted for about two-thirds of early Covid-19 deaths in the city, despite making up only 22 percent of the population. “Hospitals need the masks, the gloves,” Yvette Arellano, a community organizer in Houston’s polluted neighborhoods told The Times, but ironically, minority communities that are the most hard-hit by COVID “are breathing in the toxins that industry says is necessary for the safety of other people.”
As we expand our understanding of climate change, scientists have begun to focus on the growing role warming temperatures are playing as a potent driver of greater aridity–which is different than drought. As NOAA describes it, drought is “a period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently long enough to cause a serious hydrological imbalance”. Aridity is […]
Public transportation nationwide is taking a huge hit from coronavirus — in California, for example, ridership is down by 90% or more and each week, public transportation systems are losing millions due to social distancing and shelter in place orders.
Why This Matters: Public transportation is vital and it is also key for the automobile emissions reductions that we need to combat climate change and air pollution generally.
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