Health Consequences of Environmental Degradation and Social Injustice Martin Donohoe, M. D., F. A. C. P



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  • Martin Donohoe, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Am I Stoned?

  • A 1999 Utah anti-drug pamphlet warns:
  • “Danger signs that your child may be smoking marijuana include excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, and environmental issues”

Our Home

Perspective

  • The earth spins at 1,038 mph at the equator, between 700 mph and 900 mph at mid-latitudes
  • The earth rotates around sun at 18.5 miles/sec
  • The solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way Galaxy at 137 miles/sec
    • One rotation per 225 million years

Perspective

  • The sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy
  • The Milky Way is one of over one hundred billion galaxies in the known universe
  • Ordinary visible matter accounts for only 5% of the universe (95% dark matter/dark energy)
  • The universe may be one of an infinite number of universes

The Planets

Our Solar System

Jupiter = one pixel, Earth = invisible

Sun = one pixel, Jupiter = invisible

Earth/Moon Seen by Voyager Spacecraft through Saturn’s Rings

Portland, Oregon Mount Hood

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Chief Seattle

  • “The earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

The Environment

  • The natural environment
  • The built environment
  • The social environment

Causes of Environmental Degradation

  • Overpopulation
  • Pollution
  • Deforestation
  • Global Warming
  • Agricultural/Fishing Practices
  • Overconsumption / Affluenza
  • Militarization

Causes of Environmental Degradation

  • Maldistribution of Wealth
  • National and Global Political and Economic Institutions
  • Poor education
  • Media manipulation and inaccurate reporting
  • Unbalanced political influence
  • Citizen apathy

Consequences of Environmental Degradation

  • Increased poverty and overcrowding
  • Famine
  • Weather extremes
  • Species loss
  • Medical illnesses
  • Infectious diseases

Consequences of Environmental Degradation

  • Death (40% of world’s yearly deaths linked to water, air, and soil pollution)
  • War
  • Ecological footprint (22 hectares/person) exceeds Earth’s biological capacity (16 hectares/person)
  • Malthusian chaos and disaster
  • Tragedy of the Commons

Economic Costs of Environmental Diseases

  • Estimated at $132-165 billion/year in the U.S. alone ($1.25-$2.0 billion in Oregon)
    • Does not count the psychological and emotional costs of the human suffering involved for the victims, their families, and their communities

Economic Costs of Environmental Diseases: Oregon

  • Adult and childhood asthma: $30 million
  • Childhood asthma: $28 million
  • Adult cardiovascular disease: $342 million
  • Childhood cancer: $9 million
  • Childhood lead exposure: $878 million
  • Birth defects: $3 million
  • Neurobehavioral disorders: $187 million
  • Source: OEC, The Price of Pollution, 2/08

Premature Deaths in the U.S.

  • 10% due to inadequate medical care
  • 60% due to behaviors, social circumstances, and environmental exposures

Overpopulation

  • World population - exponential growth
    • 1 billion in 1800
    • 2.5 billion in 1950
    • 6 billion in 2000
    • 7.1 billion in 2013 (1/15 humans ever to live is alive today)
    • est. 9 billion by 2050, 11 billion by 2100
  • More people added to the planet in the last 40 years than in all previous recorded history

Overpopulation

  • Africa, Asia, and Latin America primarily affected
  • Causes:
    • Poverty
    • Women’s rights issues – impaired access to reproductive health care and education, political/legal/economic/social marginalization

World Population

Urbanization

  • 20-30 million people/year leave rural for urban areas
  • 2007: first time in history that more than half the world’s population live in urban areas

The Displaced

  • World migrant population = 42 million
  • Economic, war and environmental refugees
  • Vast majority of refugees hosted in the developing world

Urban Sprawl

  • Since the 1960’s America’s metropolitan areas have been consuming land at a rate 4x faster that population growth
  • 6,000 acres of open space lost per day

Wallace Stegner

    • “We simply need … wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope”

Pollution World’s Most Polluted Places

  • 1. Air pollution: Linfen, China
  • 2. Industrial chemicals: Bhopal, India
  • 3. Mercury: Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia
  • 4. Pesticides: Kasargod, India

World’s Most Polluted Place

  • 5. Chemical weapons/manufacture waste: Dzerhinsk, Russia
  • 6. Organic chemicals: Sumgayit, Azerbaijan
  • 7. Lead: Tianying, China
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