Author Archives: Bill Kovarik

Death toll rising in global war on environmentalism

United Nations envoy says the pattern of killings has become an epidemic. (UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré)

Three Central American  assassinations in the first three weeks of March 2016, and three more in the summer and fall, underscore the mounting global death toll in the war being waged against peaceful environmental protests by mining, timbering and hydro-electric industries.

The assassinations signal a “growing epidemic” according to a United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

Waterkeeper Alliance president Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called on the US State Department and international organizations to investigate.

“Ordinary citizens and local communities are increasingly finding themselves at the forefront of the battle over the planet’s natural resources,” Global Witness spokesman Billy Kytes said.

The three Central American activists are among hundreds named and described here on the Environmental History Timeline page Remembering Murdered Environmentalists.

The toxic history of lead

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The recent outrage over lead contamination in the water supply of Flint, Mich. reminds us of how much is known about the history of  lead poisoning.

In 1786, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter about the harmful effects of lead. In describing the problem in distilleries and the printing trades, Franklin noted how resistant people can be when it comes to understanding public health and environmental issues.

You will observe, with concern, how long a useful truth may be known, and exist, before it is generally received and practiced on,” he said.

Although it hardly seems creditable, the useful truth about lead in the form of paint, water pipes, and leaded gasoline is still not practiced.

Lead is the oldest and best known of environmental hazards.For over two millennia, overexposure to lead was known to cause hallucinations and severe mental problems. Continue reading

2015 in review

Pope and Obama

US President Obama greets Pope Francis at the White House in September, 2015.

Pope Francis’ campaign to stop climate change and the Dec. 12 Paris climate agreement were the two top environmental developments in a year that marked a turning point for the environment  and renewable energy.

Environmental Health News put the two  at the top of its list, as did Huffington Post,  Deutche Welle,  the Conversation and others.

“It was an outstanding year for the environment,” said Deutche Welle.

“Call it the grand convergence,” said Douglass Fischer of Environmental Health News. “Coverage of environmental issues, especially climate change, jumped traditional boundaries to pick up broader—and slightly ominous—geopolitical and health angles.”

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