Give up coffee? Fuhgeddaboudit, say New Yorkers after California ruling

A California judge has ruled that coffee companies must put cancer warnings on their product but on the east coast, caffeine-crazed drinkers arent buying the latest health scare

Asking a New Yorker whether theyll give up their morning coffee during their commute is likely to elicit only one response laughter.

News broke on Thursday that a California judge had ruled coffee companies should carry cancer warnings on their products after an eight-year legal battle with big coffee. Coffee companies, led by Starbucks, had argued that the levels of acrylamide, a known carcinogen, present in their coffee were insignificant and outweighed by health benefits.

But the defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health, Elihu Berle, a superior court judge, ruled. While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation.

Harm to fetuses, infants, children, adults? Sounds scary. But not to New Yorkers. Three thousand miles away from the California court the reaction ranged from meh to fuhgeddaboudit.

Quick guide

How dangerous is acrylamide?

Acrylamide is hard to avoid. While it is practically non-existent in raw produce, it is found in all sorts of foods that are grilled, fried, baked or roasted. Thats because the chemical forms in the cooking process when sugars and amino acids react at high temperatures. The higher the temperature and the longer the cooking time, the more acrylamide is produced. Some of the most common products to contain acrylamide are potatoes, biscuits, bread and coffee.

In April,European regulations come into forcethat aim to keep acrylamide levels in food as low as possible. Last year, the Food Standards Agency took action itself, and launched apublic health campaignurging people to cut down on acrylamide-containing foods, including crisps, well-browned potatoes and well-done toast toreduce their risk of cancer.But the FSA made clear that the risk was not large. Professor David Spiegelhalter, a prominent statistician at Cambridge University, even questioned whether the campaign made sense, stating there was no good evidence of harm from humans consuming acrylamide.

The most recent comprehensive study on coffee and cancer came in 2016 from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a group of cancer specialists convened by the World Health Organisation. They found that while very hot drinks those hotter than 65C probably raised the risk of oesophageal cancer, there wasno strong evidence that coffee increased cancer risk. As a Cancer Research UK spokesperson said at the time: If you already drink coffee regularly youre probably not increasing your risk of cancer.

California! said Jarrett Boor, an architect winging his way to work on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. They put warning labels on everything. He said it was good in some cases and that the public should know when products are dangerous. But everything causes cancer: cellphones, GMO foods. Im not giving up my coffee, he snorted.

New Yorkers do, apparently, drink a ridiculous amount of coffee. A survey by health data website Massive Health calculated the city was running on 6.7 times as much coffee per person as other cities (San Franciscans, by contrast, eat 4.4 times as many brussels sprouts). Given the amount of joe coursing through a New Yorkers system its little wonder that the citys hopped-up workers dont seem too worried by Californias warnings.

According to a Harvard study, roughly 62% of Americans drink coffee every day, an all-time high. And, despite the fly California has dropped in the nations latte, two decades of research suggests that coffee is good for us, helping to reduce the risk of illnesses ranging from cancer to heart disease to Alzheimers.

One common complaint among caffeine-loving New Yorkers on Friday was that they were sick of the ever-changing buffet of health-related coffee news.

The last public health statement I saw was coffee was good for you. It reduces hypertension, said Marge Wetzler, wearily waiting for a medium iced latte in Gregorys Coffee in midtown Manhattan. Now its bad for you? I just dont buy that. She would, however, continue to buy her morning coffee.

coffee
Dude, Im enjoying my coffee. Photograph: Devon Knight for the Guardian

Whatever, said James Warren, a bike courier picking up a Starbucks between stops. Its bad for you, its good for you, its bad for you, its good for you. Its kinda irritating, he said before dashing out into traffic.

New Yorkers attitudes were echoed 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles.

I just dont think it would stop me, Jen Bitterman, a digital marketing technologist, told the Associated Press. I love the taste, I love the ritual, I love the high, the energy, and I think Im addicted to it.

Lawyer Darlington Ibekwe agreed. Its like cigarettes. Like, damn, now Ive got to see this? he said. Dude, Im enjoying my coffee.

Berles ruling could spell bad news for coffee companies. The third phase of the California trial, brought by non-profit organization the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, will determine any civil penalties that coffee companies must pay.

The potential penalties are massive, if unlikely, with a fine of up to $2,500 per person exposed each day over eight years. California has 40 million residents.

While its extremely doubtful that coffee will face the same kinds of penalties slapped on the tobacco companies, the case does open up the possibility of a world without coffee.

There would have to be an alternative, said Ali Philippides, a product manager at the Daily Beast. Commuting into work with her ridiculously cute corgi, Fig, Philippides was gripping a Starbucks cappuccino and looked a little shaken by the cancer news.

I used to drink a lot of Diet Coke and swapped for seltzer, she said thoughtfully. But could she give up coffee? As she paused to think for a moment you could almost see the post-apocalyptic dystopia of a coffee-free New York reflected in her eyes. Riots on the L train, Union Square on fire a city mad with withdrawal. Fig looked up at her with concern.

Could I give up coffee? she repeated. No.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/mar/30/coffee-cancer-warning-health-california-new-yorkers-response

How does Donald Trump’s health compare with the average American?

As the president heads for his regular physical check-up on Friday, what clues are available to assess his fitness? An expert weighs in

Every so often, American presidents are expected to go to the doctor for their checkup and just to reassure the American public that everything is alright. On Friday, its Trumps turn.

A physician at Walter Reed medical center will run Trump through many of the same tests regular Americans receive, such as blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. Details about the presidents health are at his discretion to release, but with what clues are available so far, a natural question arises: how is Trump likely to compare with his fellow American?

If Trumps past exams hold true, surprisingly average.

Like many American men, the 71-year-old president enjoys fast food, and is overweight. He takes statins to keep cholesterol in check. He golfs but probably does not get enough exercise. He does not smoke.

In some ways Trump is in a much less risky position than the average American senior. He nearly predicted as much before the exam, saying: I think its going to go very well. In fact, he said he would be surprised if it doesnt.

He has reported only one serious medical problem, ever: an appendectomy at 11. He is shuttled around the country in an ultra-safe car, so unlikely to have an accident. He is a teetotaler. He takes statins without a history of heart disease, which could raise eyebrows, but is common.

Hes average in terms of health, said Steve Schroeder, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco and a public health expert. The most important thing hes done is never smoke in his lifetime, and that puts him ahead of most American men.

Former
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump grab some cookies. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

However, if a letter from Trumps doctor is accurate, hes nearly obese. In 2016, his campaign released a doctors letter which said the 6ft 3in candidate weighed 236 pounds. That puts his body mass index at 29, just shy of the medical definition of obese.

Further, despite the apparent openness of a public physical, the White House already ruled out releasing one test: a psychiatric exam.

Trumps mental competency has been on trial since the Guardian published excerpts of Fire and Fury, in which advisors questioned Trumps fitness for office.

In any case, Trump will have a high bar compared with his predecessor. President Obama, who is more than 10 years Trumps junior, actually got healthier toward the end of his second term in office, after he increased his lean body mass.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/11/how-healthy-is-donald-trump-medical-exam

Vehicles are now America’s biggest CO2 source but EPA is tearing up regulations

Transport overtook power generation for climate-warming emissions in 2017 but the Trump administration is reversing curbs on auto industry pollution

Some of the most common avatars of climate change hulking power stations and billowing smokestacks may need a slight update. For the first time in more than 40 years, the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the US isnt electricity production but transport cars, trucks, planes, trains and shipping.

Emissions data has placed transport as the new king of climate-warming pollution at a time when the Trump administration is reviewing or tearing up regulations that would set tougher emissions standards for car and truck companies. Republicans in Congress are also pushing new fuel economy rules they say will lower costs for American drivers but could also weaken emissions standards.

Opponents of the administration fret this agenda will imperil public health and hinder the effort to address climate change.

This Environmental Protection Agency doesnt seem to have met an air regulation that it likes, said Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board and a former EPA assistant administrator. Ive not seen any evidence that this administration knows anything about the auto industry, they just seem to be against anything the Obama administration did.

Vehicle emissions are going up, so clearly not enough is being done on that front. The Trump administration is halting further progress at a critical point when we really need to get a grip on this problem.

The 1970 Clean Air Act, signed by Richard Nixon, set standards for a cocktail of different pollutants emitted from new vehicles. New cars and trucks, which account for more than 80% of transport emissions, now have to meet fuel efficiency standards and display this information to consumers. This approach has helped cleanse previously smog-laden American cities and tamp down greenhouse gas emissions.

But in 2016, about 1.9bn tons of carbon dioxide emissions were emitted from transportation, up nearly 2% on the previous year, according to the Energy Information Administration. This increase means that transport has overtaken power generation as the most polluting sector in the country, and its likely to stay that way.

Cheap gasoline prices have led to a recent uptick in vehicle emissions, despite the fuel standards, at the same time that coal is being rapidly displaced by an abundance of cheap natural gas and the steady rise of renewable energy, driving a sharp decline in CO2 emissions from the power grid.

While coalminers have lost their jobs to technological advancement and environmental protesters have thrown their bodies in the path of oil pipelines, there has been far less to disrupt the basic emissions-emitting models of cars, trucks and planes.

Americans are buying larger cars and taking more flights domestic aviation emissions grew 10% between 2012 and 2016 and face little opposition in doing so.

The change in power generation has been very impressive over the past 10 to 15 years, said Brett Smith, assistant director of the Center for Automotive Research.

In the automotive sector, there isnt the same push. There are certainly Americans concerned about global warming but people are driving bigger and bigger vehicles each year. Its not a priority for them. The cost of fuel is pretty cheap and at the moment there isnt a better option out there than the internal combustion engine.

Transport accounts for about a quarter of all US planet-warming emissions but also poses a direct health threat to about 45 million Americans who live, work or attend school within 300ft of roads that are shrouded in high air pollution levels.

This pollution can stunt lung growth, trigger asthma attacks, exacerbate heart disease and cause developmental problems. The EPA estimates 17,000 schools across the US are located next to roads with heavy traffic, with children from low-income and minority groups disproportionately put at risk. California is the only state in the US to ban the construction of a school on the cheap land found beside major highways.

US cities havent emulated the likes of London and Stockholm by charging drivers a congestion fee to coax them on to public transport, cycling or walking; nor does the US feature the comparatively high rates of fuel tax seen in Europe. Frances move to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 would be politically unthinkable in the States.
But the air is much cleaner in American cities than it was in the 1970s, and a world away from the fug that now envelops Beijing and Delhi, in part due to vehicle emissions standards that have progressively been ratcheted up by the EPA.

That trajectory has been cast in doubt by the Trump presidency. In March, the EPA scrapped a deal struck between Barack Obamas administration and automakers that would require new cars to run 54.4 miles per gallon of fuel, up from 27.5 miles per gallon, by 2025.

The White House said the new rules had been shoved down the throats of car makers, with the main industry lobby group pointing out that consumers overwhelmingly prioritize safety, driving performance and value for money over fuel efficiency. There are more than 70 car models on sale that achieve 40 miles per gallon and they account for just 1% of total new vehicle sales.

Then, last month, the EPA cited regulatory overreach by the previous administration for its decision to waive clean truck standards that would have phased out glider vehicles that produce 55 times more diesel soot than new trucks. Scott Pruitt, administrator of the EPA, said his predecessors had attempted to bend the rule of law and expand the reach of the federal government in a way that threatened to put an entire industry of specialized truck manufacturers out of business.

These rollbacks from the executive branch have dovetailed with an effort by Republicans in the Senate and the House to revamp fuel efficiency rules by replacing state and federal requirements with a single standard. Environmental groups and previous administration officials fear this will lead to a further weakening of emissions standards.

Americas clean car standards have dramatically improved the fuel efficiency of vehicles, saving consumers billions of dollars and cutting pollution in the process, said Carol Browner, a former administrator of the EPA.

Instead of rolling back commonsense, successful and popular clean cars standards, we should focus on innovation and technology that will continue the auto industrys growth and the pollution reductions weve achieved since these standards were first established.

In the short term, this new approach risks a flashpoint between the federal government and California, which has a long-held waiver to enact vehicle pollution standards in excess of the national requirements. Twelve other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, follow Californias standards, an alliance that covers more than 130 million residents and about a third of the US vehicle market.

Nichols said she had been disturbed by signals coming from Pruitt and other EPA officials that she said show the federal government is looking to end Californias waiver.

We are very concerned because these standards are the bedrock of our whole climate change platform, she said. Scott Pruitt has made threatening noises about the Californian waiver, saying that we are trying to run the country. It feels like this is going to be the next shoe to drop. If it does, we will litigate and fight for our rights in the political arena with other states and consumer advocates.

With federal regulation set to be pared back, technological advances in electric and gas-powered cars, as well as consumer preferences, are likely to play an increasingly important role in whether vehicle emissions are forced back down.

A flurry of recent optimistic studies have forecast that, by 2040, as much as 90% of all cars in the US will be electric. But the current conundrum is that petroleum-fueled vehicles are cheaper and seen as more reliable than their electric counterparts by most new buyers. Affordable gasoline is competing with electric recharging stations that are considered too sparse by many drivers to risk running out of puff, no matter the benefit to the environment.

Its a challenging position for automotive companies because they are touting electric vehicles but ultimately they have to sell more cars, said Smith. Consumers in the US arent pushing for electric vehicles to the extent they are in Europe and unless we take a very different approach as a country, that doesnt look like it will change soon.

You will need to see a major change in battery technology to make it viable. People are becoming more aware and concerned about global warming, but we arent there yet. And when you look at the vehicles being put out by the major car companies, you could argue its not an issue for them, either.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/01/vehicles-climate-change-emissions-trump-administration

Animal agriculture is choking the Earth and making us sick. We must act now | James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron

Film-maker James Cameron and environmentalist Suzy Amis Cameron writes that to preserve Americas majestic national parks, clean air and water for future generations leaders must be pressed to address foods environmental impact

Our collective minds are stuck on this idea that talking about foods environmental impact risks taking something very intimate away from us. In fact its just the opposite. Reconsidering how we eat offers us hope, and empowers us with choice over what our future planet will look like. And we can ask our local leaders from city mayors to school district boards to hospital management to help, by widening our food options.

On Monday and Tuesday, the city of Chicago is hosting a summit for the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to discuss climate solutions cities can undertake. Strategies to address and lower foods impact should be front and center.

Animal agriculture is choking the Earth, and the longer we turn a blind eye, the more we limit our ability to nourish ourselves, protect waterways and habitats, and pursue other uses of our precious natural resources. Raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second highest source of emissions and greater than all transportation combined. It also uses about 70% of agricultural land, and is one of theleading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution.

On top of this, eating too much meat and dairy is making us sick, greatlyincreasing our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, several major cancers (including breast, liver and prostate) and obesity. Diets optimal for human health vary, according to David Katz, of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, but all of them are made up mostly of whole, wholesome plant foods.

So what gives? Why cant we see the forest for the bacon? The truth can be hard to swallow: that we simply need less meat and dairy and more plant-based options in our food system if were to reach our climate goals.

Still
The Avatar movie set had plant-based menus. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Everett/Rex Features

This can start with individual action. Five years ago, our family felt hopeless about climate change, and helpless to make meaningful change. But when we connected the dots on animal agricultures impact on the environment, coupled with the truth about nutrition, we took heart because it gave us something we could actually do.

To create change at the scale needed, this will take more than individual choice we need to get climate leaders on board about the impact of food. Cities and counties have used their buying power to transition fleets from diesel to electric, and we need to do the same with how we purchase food. We have done this in our own community, moving the lunch program of Muse School, in Calabasas, California, and the Avatar movie set to plant-based menus. Scaling up initiatives like these can make a big difference: if the US reduced meat consumption by 50%, its the equivalent of taking 26 million cars off the road. We think thats damn hopeful.

Decision-makers on all levels can make it easier for us to eat better, by expanding access to food options that are good for our health, affordable, and climate-friendly. Nationwide, cities and school districts have adopted food purchasing policies that include environment, health and fair labor standards. The city of Chicago is a recent adopter of this Good Food Purchasing Program, and so the solutions-focus of the summit is the perfect place to discuss how food can move us toward climate goals. In the same breath that we discuss fossil fuels, we should be talking animal ag, or were missing a big part of the problem and a big part of the solution.

Yes, food is inherently personal. Its the cornerstone of holidays, it fuels high school athletes and long workdays, and it nourishes nursing mothers and growing children. And yes, Americans love meat and cheese. But more than that, we love our majestic national parks, family beach vacations and clean air and water for our children and grandchildren.

As individuals, we can make choices on how to better nourish our families, and as citizens, we can encourage local leaders to make choices that will allow us to enjoy our land and natural resources now and in the future.

James Cameron is a film-maker and deep-sea explorer. Suzy Amis Cameron is a founder of Muse School and Plant Power Task Force.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/04/animal-agriculture-choking-earth-making-sick-climate-food-environmental-impact-james-cameron-suzy-amis-cameron

Only one in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, CDC study finds

Only 12% meet the daily fruit recommendation and 9% the vegetable recommendation, and people living in poverty have especially low rates

Only a sliver of Americans eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Just 12% of Americans eat the minimum daily fruit recommendation of one and a half to two cups per day, and only 9% consume the minimum daily vegetable recommendation of two to three cups per day, according to the study, published on Thursday.

The study confirms years of data demonstrating that Americans do not eat their veggies, Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, told the Guardian. Assuming this result is close to reality, it suggests the need for taking much stronger action to make it easier and cheaper to eat fruits and vegetables.

The study, which broke out groups of Americans by state, class, race and gender, found some subgroups were even less likely to eat enough produce.

Men, young adults and people living in poverty all had especially low rates of fruit and vegetable intake. While 15.1% of women eat the recommended amount of fruit each day ,just 9.2% of men do the same. Similarly, 11.4% of wealthy Americans eat enough vegetables, but only 7% of poor people did the same.

Because a poor diet is linked to cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes, public health authorities have long endorsed a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.

Sarah Reinhardt, a nutritionist and food systems analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said there was a growing awareness about the importance of healthy foods. We have a lot more work to do to make sure they reach every corner of the country, she said.

The CDCs findings also showed the disparities in fruit and vegetable consumption by state. For example, just 2.2% of South Dakotans between 18 and 30 years old eat the recommended daily serving of vegetables.

While people in West Virginia, which often tops lists of the least healthy and poorest US states, were the least likely to get enough vegetables on average just 5.8% of West Virginians ate the recommended amount.

Residents of Alaska were most likely to eat the recommended amount of vegetables, though the percentage is low only 12% of adults there eat enough.

Improving these rates is particularly challenging because just 2% of US farmland is devoted to growing fruits and vegetables, according to UCS. Reinhardt said farmers would need to grow almost twice as much produce just for Americans to get the recommended amount of servings.

The food industry is not exactly working with public health on this, theres a multimillion-dollar industry working to get people to eat [processed foods], Reinhardt said.

The new research comes from the CDCs 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which looks at how Americans eat and behave. Researchers called American adults landlines and cellphones and asked how often people eat beans, dark greens, orange vegetables, other vegetables, whole fruit and fruit juice.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/17/just-12-of-americans-eat-enough-fruit-and-vegetables-cdc-study-finds

I am in opioid recovery. People like me shouldn’t be so alone | Greg Williams

People in recovery need ongoing support because addiction is a chronic illness. You dont go to five days of detox and sail off into the sunset

The opioid painkiller OxyContin hit the market in a big way in the year 2000, just after I turned 17. I was already using other prescription drugs. I started taking it in small doses, then it became a daily routine of crushing and snorting pills.

I was naive to what I was doing to my body. On days, I didnt have it I would experience withdrawal, and sleep all day, but I had this idea that because doctors made the drugs, they were safe. Not realizing at the time this was basically synthetic heroin.

Im 34 now and have been in recovery from addiction to opioids, alcohol, and other drugs for just over 16 years I know how long Ive been in recovery better than I know my age.

There are 23.5 million people in recovery like me, though the 22.7 million people in need of treatment for substance use disorders issues dominate the headlines. Addiction stories are important, but people should realize that recovery should be at minimum an equal part of the stories on the issue.

With tremendous tragedy surrounding the current headlines, there remains a great many things to be hopeful about. Theres a lot of things strategically, systematically and individually that can be done to manage addiction.

I feel lucky to be alive, but it also makes me angry. Throughout the journey of my own recovery, its been depressing, frustrating, and in some ways, motivating, to watch the opioid crisis become a pandemic in slow motion. Its validating to finally hear the president declare a national public health emergency, but its also angering: why didnt President Bush or President Obama take bolder action as the statistical trends became horrifying during their tenures.

Part of the reason we are beginning to see bolder responses from elected leaders across the country is mounting civic engagement from individuals and families impacted by addiction.

When the Presidents Commission on Opioids released their interim recommendations this summer recovery supports were a glaring omission. So the organization I co-founded in 2015, Facing Addiction, coordinated more than 15,000 people to comment on this vital missing component to a comprehensive response. This week in the final report recovery support was deeply integrated into a number of the final recommendations.

People in recovery need ongoing support because addiction is a chronic illness. You dont go to 5 days of detox or 28 days of rehab or receive out-patient treatment and sail off into the sunset. There is a lot of talk about treatment, treatment, treatment but we havent spent enough time studying how people get and stay for the long-term.

I found alcohol when I was 12 years old and immediately began to chase that experience how it washed away my fear and anxiety. Marijuana entered the picture pretty quickly after and by the time I was 15 years old, I was using opioids and benzodiazepines anti-anxiety drugs including Xanax and Valium basically anything me and my friends could find in medicine cabinets to start, and then moved to buying the pills from dealers.

When I started using OxyContin, as a 17-year-old kid, I didnt really know what I was using and I certainly didnt know I was going to become physically dependent on it.

Addiction was a serious, serious problem for me: from near fatal car accidents, to run ins with law, to problems in school, to severe challenges with my family, who kept trying to intervene. They began drug testing me at the end of high school, but Id make up a story about how it was just one time.

I was really defiant, but my family still put me in an outpatient program at 17, where I acknowledged that pills were a problem in my life. I left the program after 15 days and was convinced I could drink alcohol and smoke marijuana, telling myself I was done with the opioid painkillers. Within a week of trying to just drink and smoke, I was back to using them.

My family convinced me to go to a chemical dependency center for adolescents after I was in a near fatal car crash in July of 2001. I was placed with peers my age who had lived through what I lived through, and developed a desire to stop using, for good. I even was blessed to find a recovery house for young men to transition into after leaving the treatment program. That support helped me learn how to hold down jobs and improve relationships with my family and others.

My social group became young people who were also in recovery and we had incredible fun and memorable experiences: bungee jumping, sky diving, snowboarding, traveling and just being present. It was great to remember what we did the night before. I liked the person I had become and I regained some self-esteem that I had lost. It helped me repair a lot of shame and baggage from my active addiction.

I was lucky to get the early intervention, quality treatment, recovery supports, and family support that I did. Adolescents do better in addiction treatment services than any other age group. I was able to sit in counseling and talk about the exact onset of my illness. If I went through that process at 35, Id have to playback 23 years of using – a lot of which I most likely wouldnt remember. I also might not have my family to support me.

There is also still a lot of negative public attitudes surrounding those suffering from addiction. As a society, we cast a lot of blame and shame towards people who become addicted, but we dont really educate people about on how and when addiction starts. It is more complicated than one day I woke up, age 12, and made a rational independent choice to become addicted to opioids.

Im in long-term recovery today in spite of the broken acute care system we have in place. I returned home from my treatment and recovery house, and I wasnt discharged to check in with a doctor. I didnt have a recovery coach or a cohesive recovery plan.

I had only been engaged in a formal system of supports for just four months (which is a very long time comparatively). But thats just 2 percent of my entire recovery journey. We wouldnt deal with people who have diabetes, heart disease, or asthma that way. We cant afford to deal with addiction with short-term focused approaches and then blame some individuals for not being able to stay well long-term.

We have a system problem. Our system to deal with addiction is woefully lacking we leave a lot of it up to luck and chance. We tell people to avoid driving pass liquor stores, get honest with your doctor about your history, and to delete certain numbers from your cell phone.

We basically tell people with this chronic illness we might be able to help you initiate your recovery, but then you are on your own. Good luck! The journey to long-term recovery for the leading cause of death for those under 50 in America shouldnt have to be all luck. Its up to all of us to get involved.

  • Greg Williams, co-founder Facing Addiction, a leading national addiction recovery advocacy organization

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/04/opioid-recovery-alone-chronic-illness

Trumps pro-coal agenda is a blow for clean air efforts at Texas’ Big Bend park

For decades the national parks stunning vistas have been compromised by poor air quality, and prospects of improvement were derailed by Trump Tuesday

Big Bend national park is Texas at its most cinematic, with soaring, jagged forest peaks looming over vast desert lowlands, at once haughty and humble, prickly and pretty. It is also among the most remote places in the state.

Even from Alpine, the town of 6,000 that is the main gateway to the park, it is more than an hours drive to one of the entrances.

So far from anywhere, it might seem an unlikely location to be scarred by air pollution. Yet for decades its stunning vistas have been compromised by poor air quality that Texas, working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is supposed to address.

But environmental advocates fear that the Trump administrations pro-coal agenda will derail the prospects of improvement, at least in the short term. Tuesdays announcement that the EPA plans to abandon the 2015 Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions came less than two weeks after the agency revealed a revised plan to combat regional haze in Texas and Oklahoma that critics say will do little to cut pollution.

Chrissy Mann, Austin-based senior campaign representative with the Sierra Clubs Beyond Coal campaign, said: Taken in combination with the Clean Power Plan, what were seeing is an attempt from this administration and this EPA to dig in their pockets and find whatever kind of tricks they think are going to stick to provide a lifeline to the coal industry across the country and here in Texas. Its disappointing.

Texas is part of a multi-state coalition that sued to stop the Clean Power Plan, which was placed on hold by the US supreme court last year.

Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, said in a statement: Its gratifying that our lawsuit against Obama-era federal overreach was a catalyst for repeal of the plan. We look forward to working with the administration to craft a new strategy that will protect the environment without hurting jobs and the economy.

The
The Perseid meteor shower at the Texas Bend in Big Bend national park in August 2016. Photograph: Jason Weingart / Barcroft Images

A back-and-forth between the EPA and Texas over regional haze has been in motion since 1999, when the agency launched a concerted effort to deal with the problem, bidding to improve the air quality in Big Bend national park, Guadalupe Mountains national park and in Oklahoma, the home state of the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.

In 2009, the state enforcer, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, issued a plan that would restore natural visibility to Big Bend by the year 2155. That was rejected as inadequate by the EPA in 2014.

The EPA wanted Texas to cut 230,000 tons of sulphur dioxide emissions per year to improve visibility and reduce the risk of worsening respiratory diseases and heart disease and damaging soil, water, fish and wildlife.

Two years later, finding Texas relied on an analysis that obscured the benefits of potentially cost-effective controls, the EPA replaced parts of Texass emissions plan, calling for plant upgrades and a target of natural visibility by 2064.

Texas sued the agency and won a stay of implementation in a federal appeals court. The state argued that it is making reasonable progress and, along with industry representatives, claimed that enacting the structural improvements notably fitting some electricity plants with sulphur dioxide scrubbers would cost $2bn and be a backdoor way of forcing the closure of coal-fired power plants. That, it said, might put the state at risk of power shortages and increased prices for consumers.

Last December, in the sunset days of the Obama administration, the EPA proposed another scheme that would also have required older plants to upgrade their technology.

But in August this year, Pruitts EPA asked a federal court for more time until the end of 2018 to come up with a way forward. When the judge refused, on 29 September the EPA unveiled a path that is much more palatable for Texas and the power companies: one that wouldnt require retrofitting, instead claiming to achieve comparable results with an intrastate cap-and-trade programme. That would give polluters allowances within an overall emissions budget that can be used or traded in a marketplace.

Such programmes can be effective, but Mann, of the Sierra Club, contends that the cap is too high so will not provide any incentive for meaningful reductions. Its not very aggressive. In other words, the amount of pollution that coal plants in Texas are allowed to produce is actually higher than our emissions from last year from the same coal plants, taken all together, Mann said.

The National Park Service and EPA carried out a study in 1999 to understand what causes haze in Big Bend, which is worse in the warmer months. It found that sulphate particles formed from sulphur dioxide sources such as coal power plants and refineries were a key cause.

Researchers discovered that substantial amounts of sulphate particulates came not only from Texas and Mexico, but the distant eastern US. When air flows from the east, production in Americas coal heartlands has an effect on Big Bends scenery.

Even if Trumps efforts to boost coal collide with economic reality and market forces spur more growth in renewable energy, any delays in transitioning to cleaner energy and reduced emissions prolong the haze problem.

Air quality has not improved and ozone has seen a slight deterioration over the past decade, according to Jeffery Bennett, physical sciences program coordinator at the park. Nitrogen deposition has not changed and remains a significant concern. Desert landscapes are especially sensitive to nitrogen, he wrote in an email in July.

Mercury is an emerging concern, he added, based on levels found in fish; it is unclear whether this is because of atmospheric deposition or the legacy of nearby abandoned mercury mines.

The park faces Mexico and since Donald Trump entered the White House it has attracted attention as a particularly unsuitable place to build a wall.

Still, in a few years, tourists might find that while Trump might have failed to wall off the Big Bend from Mexico, the view is blocked all the same. If youre standing here in Panther Junction and not able to see the Sierra del Carmen thats 20 miles away, because of the sulphates and other pollutions that blew in, youre missing a big part of why this became a park, Jennette Jurado, the parks public information officer, said earlier this year at the main visitor centre.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/11/trumps-pro-coal-agenda-is-a-blow-for-clean-air-efforts-at-texas-big-bend-park

US police killings undercounted by half, study using Guardian data finds

Harvard study finds over half of deaths wrongly classified, in latest example of databases greatly undercounting police killings

Over half of all police killings in 2015 were wrongly classified as not having been the result of interactions with officers, a new Harvard study based on Guardian data has found.

The finding is just the latest to show government databases seriously undercounting the number of people killed by police.

Right now the data quality is bad and unacceptable, said lead researcher Justin Feldman. To effectively address the problem of law enforcement-related deaths, the public needs better data about who is being killed, where, and under what circumstances.

Feldman used data from the Guardians 2015 investigation into police killings, The Counted, and compared it with data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). That dataset, which is kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was found to have misclassified 55.2% of all police killings, with the errors occurring disproportionately in low-income jurisdictions.

As with any public health outcome or exposure, the only way to understand the magnitude of the problem, and whether it is getting better or worse, requires that data be uniformly, validly, and reliably obtained throughout the US, said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at Harvards Chan School of Public Health and senior author of the study. Our results show our country is falling short of accurately monitoring deaths due to law enforcement and work is needed to remedy this problem.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/11/police-killings-counted-harvard-study

Arthur Janov, psychologist behind ‘primal scream’ therapy, dies aged 93

Janov achieved celebrity with the idea that repressed childhood trauma leads to mood disorders, addiction and even epilepsy

Arthur Janov, a psychotherapist whose primal therapy had celebrities screaming to release their childhood traumas and spawned a bestselling book in the 1970s, has died. He was 93.

Janov died on 1 October at his Malibu home from respiratory arrest following a stroke, said his wife, France Janov.

Janov, a clinical psychologist, became an international celebrity with his idea that adults repressed childhood traumas, making them neurotic and leading to problems such as mood disorders, drug addiction and even epilepsy.

He believed that what he termed primal pain could extend as far as birth.

Coming close to death at birth or feeling unloved as a child are examples of such pain, he wrote.

When the pain is too much, it is repressed and stored away. When enough unresolved pain has occurred, we lose access to your feelings and become neurotic, he wrote. The number one killer in the world today is not cancer or heart disease, it is repression.

His therapy method involved having people relive their traumatic memories by regressing to infancy or childhood in order to confront and exorcise their demons.

His southern California centre provided props such as cribs and stuffed animals. Patients, who might pay thousands of dollars, would scream or shout as their supposedly pent-up traumas were revealed.

Once you feel it, people just become themselves, his wife said. People dont need the drugs, the smoking, the acting out … not to feel that pain.

Janov contended the therapy contended the therapy could cure everything from stuttering to drug addiction to epilepsy, and might even lead to an end to war.

He included homosexuality as a curable condition, although the American Psychiatric Association took it off the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973.

His 1970 book The Primal Scream made him an international celebrity. His patients included John Lennon, Yoko Ono and actor James Earl Jones.

In a 1975 book, Janov called his therapy the only hope if mankind is to survive and suggested that what he called primal consciousness certainly means an end to war.

As with many other emotional-release therapies of its time, primal therapy is today widely rejected by mental health professionals as unscientific and ineffectual.

However, Janovs widow said it is still practised around the world.

It changed so many peoples lives, she said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/oct/04/arthur-janov-psychologist-behind-primal-scream-therapy-dies-aged-93

US people of color still more likely to be exposed to pollution than white people

New federal government-funded study finds exposure to a key air pollutant is significantly influenced by race, far more than by income, age or education

People of color are still far more likely to suffer from harmful air pollution than white people across the US and this disparity has barely improved in recent years, despite overall improvements in air quality, a new federal government-funded study has found.

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, NO2, a key transportation-related pollutant, is significantly influenced by race, far more than by income, age or education, the paper found.

While the racial imbalance in pollution impacts has long been noted by researchers and environmental justice campaigners, the study found that progress in addressing it has been sluggish.

The report comes as the Trump administration has outlined plans to dismantle the EPAs office of environmental justice, which advocates for communities of color.

What surprised us is that race matters more than income when it comes to who is breathing in NO2, said Julian Marshall, UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior author of the study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives on Thursday.

I just stared at these findings and thought: What is going on? You would think places near highways would cost less. But its race that is driving this, not income. Urban planners tell us that cities are still really segregated people live close to people who look like them. We are seeing the outcome of that.

In
In columns A and B, red identifies locations where NO2 concentrations were higher for nonwhite people than white people; blue indicates that NO2 concentrations were higher for white than nonwhite people; and white means they were equal. In column C, red indicates that the absolute difference inNO2 concentration between nonwhites and whites increased over time; blue indicates that difference decreased over time; and white indicates no change. Photograph: Handout

The study, funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, found that overall exposure to NO2 among all Americans dropped between 2000 and 2010. But black and Hispanic people experienced 37% higher exposures to the pollutant than white people in 2010 only a slight decrease from the 40% gap in 2000.

In some parts of the country, the situation has actually become worse. In 2000, concentrations of NO2 in neighborhoods with the smallest proportions of white people were 2.5 times higher than in areas that are overwhelmingly white. In 2010, this discrepancy increased to 2.7 times higher. The gap between white and nonwhite people is starkest in the midwest and California.

NO2 is a nationally regulated pollutant that is emitted through the burning of fuel by cars, trucks and power plants. The pollution can make the air hazy and trigger a range of health problems, such as coughing, wheezing and infections, particularly in those with respiratory issues such as asthma.

According to the EPA, annual concentrations of NO2 have dropped across the US by 56% since 1990. But this overall improvement hasnt wiped out the disproportionate impact suffered by black and Hispanic people, who have historically been housed nearer to major roads, industrial plants and other sources of pollutants than whites.

The University of Washington study estimated that if people of color breathed in the same level of NO2 as white people, about 5,000 premature deaths from heart disease would have been avoided in 2010.

Everyone benefited from clean air regulations and less pollution; thats the good news, said Lara Clark, lead author and UW civil and environmental engineering doctoral student.

But the fact that there is a pervasive gap in exposure to NO2 by race and that the relative gap was more or less preserved over a decade is the bad news.

Previous research has found that the very worst polluting sites are situated next to neighborhoods with high minority populations. The EPA has typically been reluctant to use the Civil Rights Act to prosecute polluters and help remedy this situation.

We have policies in place to reduce pollution in general but we dont have policies in place on environmental justice, said Marshall. We arent addressing the disparities in health risks. Its important that this is recognized. We cant just ignore it.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/14/us-people-of-color-still-more-likely-to-be-exposed-to-pollution-than-white-people