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    • Calls to ban toxic chemicals fall on deaf ears around the world.
      Endocrine disrupting chemicals are everywhere, found in cosmetics, preservatives, medicines and countless household products such as shampoos and toothpaste, which are used every day by billions of people across the world. Now, for the first time anywhere in the world, the European Union is attempting to regulate them.
    • Heart risk in drinking water.
      Ana Navas-Acien can’t quite recall the moment she began to worry about arsenic in drinking water and its potential role in heart disease. Perhaps it was when she read a study suggesting a link among people in Bangladesh. And a similar study in Taiwan. And in Chile. She decided to see if similar links could be found in the U.S.
    • A vacuum cleaner for the Web's dusty corners.
      Ah, if only it were possible for each one of us to suction away the carbon emissions we contribute to the overburdened atmosphere, much as we vacuum dirt from the carpet. Appliance maker Electrolux is promising to help us do exactly that, at least for one oft-neglected portion of our personal greenhouse gas output.
    • Condoms fight climate change, but nobody wants to talk about it.
      The equation seems fairly simple: The more the world's population rises, the greater the strain on dwindling resources and the greater the impact on the environment. The solution? Well, that's a little trickier to talk about.
    • Vatican admits Sistine Chapel frescoes 'whitened.'
      The Vatican revealed a closely kept secret Thursday: The Sistine Chapel's precious frescoes were starting to turn white from the air pollution caused by so many visitors passing through each day to marvel at Michelangelo's masterpiece.
    • Environmentalists sue over nuclear reactor's impact on Columbia River.
      Three environmental groups sued a Washington state agency Thursday over the effects of the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant on the water quality of the Columbia River.
    • Richard Berman energy industry talk secretly taped.
      If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.
    • Why Republicans keep telling everyone they’re not scientists.
      "I’m not a scientist," or a close variation, has become the go-to talking point for Republicans questioned about climate change in the 2014 campaigns. In the past, many Republican candidates questioned or denied the science of climate change, but polls show that a majority of Americans accept it, making the Republican position increasingly challeng […]
    • In war on smog, struggling China steel mills adapt to survive.
      Chinese steel mills, among the biggest in the world, are altering their production schedules to offset disruption from forced plant closures aimed at curbing choking air pollution during a summit of world leaders in Beijing next month.
    • Olympics bid fuels drive for clean air.
      The severe air pollution in Beijing, especially in autumn and winter, has been a headache for outdoor exercisers and sporting event operators in recent years. However, Beijing's joint bid with Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games has offered a chance to reduce the pollution through cooperative efforts.
    • Leaked Sellafield photos reveal 'massive radioactive release' threat.
      Dilapidated nuclear waste storage ponds abandoned 40 years ago containing hundreds of tonnes of fuel rods pose an immediate danger to public safety, photographs sent to The Ecologist reveal.
    • Michigan sites no longer environmental areas of concern.
      Two Michigan sites, tainted by major environmental contamination for decades, have officially been removed from the U.S. and Canada's official list of Areas of Concern.
    • Two locations in Michigan dropped from list of Great Lakes contaminated sites.
      Two waterways in Michigan have been removed from a list of highly contaminated sites around the Great Lakes – progress in the effort to restore toxic hot spots left over from the region's early manufacturing era, federal officials said Thursday.
    • Texas county resents oil drilling, despite the money it brings.
      Dennis Seidenberger has farmed cotton for 49 years in this close-knit community 40 miles southeast of Midland. Farming is a way of life that he passed on to his son, and one that he hopes will stay in the family for generations.
    • Sick Alabama veterans fighting for help.
      Dozens of veterans once stationed at Fort McClellan blame exposure to chemicals at McClellan for their illnesses.
    • W. M. Anderson dies; faced Bhopal plant disaster.
      Warren M. Anderson, a Brooklyn carpenter’s son who ascended to the top of the Union Carbide Corporation, where he grappled with the ravages of a poisonous gas leak at the company’s plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984 that killed thousands in one of history’s most lethal industrial accidents, died on Sept. 29 at a nursing home in Vero Beach, Fla.
    • 'Smart Sewage' could spot epidemics before they happen.
      Valuable insight into the health of cities is lurking beneath our city streets. Researchers are working to characterize the bacteria, viruses, and chemicals leaving peoples' bodies.
    • Killer fungus threatens salamanders.
      Legend says that salamanders can spit poison and extinguish flames, but even such pyrotechnic powers would not be enough to save them from a new scourge.
    • Early animals couldn’t catch a breath.
      The diversification of early animals may have been suffocated by a lack of oxygen. New data suggest that oxygen levels were less than 1 percent of today’s levels, low enough that they may have stalled the emergence of animal life.
    • Smog causes lung cancer: Lawmaker.
      A senior lawmaker in China on Thursday warned of the increasing mortality rate of lung cancer caused by air pollution.

Politics and environmental health

The influence of ideology over science has become an increasingly disturbing trend. The Center for Survey Statistics & Methodology at Iowa State University has conducted a survey of the extent of political interference in science at the Environmental Protection Agency. The findings were recently released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and can be viewed at Interference at the EPA. Examples of interference included not only pressure to change findings that were not politically correct, but editing of documents by non-scientists, delayed release of reports, blocking research from being presented or published, and ignoring expert advice from advisory committees when making policy decisions. The report included a call for solutions in five areas, including protection of EPA scientists from retaliation, instituting a transparency policy, reform of regulatory processes that currently allow for interference, better use of scientific expertise in policy development, and depoliticizing the processes of funding, monitoring, and enforcement.

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One Response

  1. The conflicts that we are seeing between ideology and science (among many scientific disciplines) are not new. At times the difference may result from uninformed individuals; however, it can also be due to a deliberate intent. The Union of Concerned Scientists raises valid and important issues. The “interferences,” particularly at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are frightening.

    Perhaps scientists at our federal (and perhaps state) agencies need some form of “tenure” (such as seen in academia) to protect their science.

    Stephenson (1997) said it nicely in suggesting that we need a “…political ecology within an ethical framework.”

    Stephenson, P. H. (1997). Environmental Health Perspectives on the Consequences of an Ideology of Control in “Natural” Systems. Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology, 34(3), 349.

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