Pollution: One step back, two steps forward

Pollution: not the nicest thing to happen to happen to you, particularly if it’s killing you and your children by means of things like cancer, rising sea levels and violent weather patterns. So today we thought we’d take stock and instead of being all gloomy, the Salvians of the twenty first century, we’d offer you a little bad news, balanced by a little good.

Lung cancer is still out there. Remember how hard we worked to get rid of smoking in pubs and offices? Well lung cancer is down. But it’s still happening. In a piece called How air pollution causes lung cancer, Nature Briefings looks at how what’s left in the atmosphere, after all that tobacco smoke has gone, may still be felling us by the thousand:

Air pollution might cause lung cancer by creating inflammation that encourages proliferation of cells with existing cancer-driving mutations — not by mutating DNA itself. The results provide a mechanism that could apply to other cancers caused by environmental exposure and might one day lead to ways to prevent them. “The idea is that exposures to carcinogens could promote cancer without actually doing anything to the DNA,” says medical geneticist Serena Nik-Zainal. “Not every carcinogen is a mutagen.”Nature | 5 min read
Reference: Nature paper

Plastics-the way ahead Plastic pollution is horrible even to look at, as anyone who has recently taken a walk on the shores of the English Channel can tell you. So the first of pieces designed to cheer you up looks at how someone is actually doing something about it Nature Briefings, three ways to solve the plastics crisis

More-sophisticated policies, smarter recycling and new materials could stem the tide of plastic waste, which is set to triple to more than one billion tonnes annually by 2060. Although there are already many well-meaning efforts to cut down on plastic, their effectivness is unclear because there’s “virtually zero monitoring”, says policy researcher Steve Fletcher. Smart interventions could decrease the amount of uncollected and unregulated plastic litter by around 80%.Nature | 15 min read

Are fossil fuels starting to go the way of smoking? Still thinking about smoking? Progress was glacial at first, but then came rather quickly. There were enormous well-funded lobby groups obstructing progress on both. Now there is a hint, just a hint, that renewables are starting to get their nose ahead, and Big Oil may be going the way of the dinosaurs. From whose fossiliferous beds they extracted most of their poison anyway-ironic, isn’t it? Fossil Fuel emissions from electricity set to fall, says the BBC


#cancer #pollution #global warming #climate change #fossil fuels #renewable energies #plastic #oceans

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