U.S. must lead fight against killer pollution

first_imgHarmful particulates, toxic chemicals and smog-forming gases result from fuel burning, from primitive dung-fired cooking stoves to massive coal-burning power plants.These and other forms of pollution promote asthma, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other maladies.Premature death is only one problem.Long-term impairment before death also results in human misery and material impoverishment. Developing nations, many of which lack strong environmental enforcement, are much worse off than developed countries, the study found.Poor and middle-income nations account for 92 percent of the premature deaths globally.Pollution drives a full quarter of deaths in some lower-income countries. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared in The Washington Post. A major study published last month in the Lancet, a British medical journal, found that there is a global killer responsible for more yearly deaths than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.Pollution.The problem is pervasive, affecting every country on the planet.It is expensive, costing the globe a whopping $4.6 trillion a year — about 6 percent of global gross domestic product — in hours not worked, premature deaths, health spending and eroded quality of life.The study associated pollution with 1 in 6 premature deaths, 9 million people in 2015.Even if the numbers are off a bit, the magnitude is striking.Air pollution is the leading culprit, linked to 6.5 million deaths, followed by water pollution, with 1.8 million. The study’s authors argue that this human toll is not the inevitable price of development, nor a problem that will simply disappear with growth; countries should not “wait for an economy to reach a magical tipping point that will solve the problems of environmental degradation and pollution-related disease,” they write. Instead, the authors insist, developing nations should look to the United States.The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and the enforcement of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, each passed in the early 1970s and updated since, resulted in dramatic reductions in harmful pollution, over a period of time in which the economy more than doubled in size.Not every pollution restriction that environmentalists dream up makes sense.But mandating relatively cheap pollution controls or, when possible, simply taxing polluters for the damage they do can result in a good value proposition for developing and developed nations alike. Poor countries struggling to pull their citizens out of abject poverty may yet find it tough to take the long view.Many Americans, including those in the Trump administration, still fail to do so. Conservative critics of environmental rules often overstate the potential costs of pollution controls and discount the benefits.The Trump administration is on this basis weakening pollution rules across the board, sending an early signal about its approach by tapping Scott Pruitt, a climate-change denier, to lead the EPA.Yet the United States has hardly finished the job; the nation still sees tons of pollution pumped into the air, directly harming people and contributing to global warming.Meanwhile, the federal government has not yet addressed other forms of pollution, such as toxic chemical exposure, with needed rigor, and the Trump administration has sent negative signals about its intentions to do so. The Lancet study should remind leaders in the United States and elsewhere that, though there are costs associated with restricting pollution, countries also incur costs by failing to do so.Finding the right balance requires acknowledging both sides and weighing them carefully.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

Unions pull representatives from Dutch scheme’s oversight board

first_imgThree unions have withdrawn their representatives from the accountability body (VO) of the Dutch sector scheme for dental technicians at the urgent request of the pension fund’s board.The board of Tandtechniek had ruled out further co-operation with the VO, which represents the scheme’s membership, as the accountability body was considering an appeal against a verdict from the Netherlands’ corporate court.The board feared that this could further delay the ailing pension fund’s plan to join the €197bn healthcare scheme, scheduled for 1 October.Last month the corporate court rejected the VO’s request for an investigation into alleged mismanagement by Tandtechniek’s board. The VO also asked to replace the board by an administrator. The court ruled that the body’s responsibilities weren’t as extended as it thought. Henk van der Meer, employee chair of Tandtechniek, said: “We don’t have time for such an appeal procedure, and we aren’t actually interested in it either. This will demand energy which we [would] rather spend on the collective value transfer.”Following a meeting with the accountability body, the board did not believe the VO would change tack either, Van der Meer added.He said that Wolter Jagt, employer representative in the VO, had already stepped down of his own accord as he didn’t agree with the decision to appeal the court’s ruling. The Tandtechniek scheme faces more cuts when it joins PFZW in October‘Give members more say’Responding to the developments, Arie Slottje – now also a former VO member – suggested that the board had obstructed the regular judicial process, as its request to the unions had effectively blocked the VO’s appeal option.In his opinion, the court hadn’t really addressed the questions posed by the VO, instead ruling that that the VO could not do anything whereas the board could do as it pleased.“The participants who pay can’t decide or ask anything, but are subject to risks and losses,” he said.Slottje referred to the low funding of Tandtechniek, which stood at 92.7% of liabilities at year-end, following several rounds of rights cuts during the past few years.Joining PFZW, which has a coverage ratio of 98.6%, would make additional cuts inevitable.Citing Tandtechniek’s annual report over 2016, Slottje said that participants had already lost at least 20% of their pension rights. “The chances to make up for this are virtually zero,” he said.Slottje, who took his PhD on decision-making processes at company pension funds, argued that participants themselves should get an increased say at the expense of the unions, “as unions represent no more than 18% of the Dutch working population”.last_img read more

Homebuyers revert to ‘closed plan’ design as privacy is back in vogue

first_img >>FOLLOW EMILY BLACK ON FACEBOOK<< Deb Fitzgerald at her new home in Raby Bay. She moved a few doors down to take advantage of a closed plan layout. IMAGE: Tara Croser.Home buyers are losing interest in what was the ever-popular open plan design as they start to remember, or realise, the benefits of a more closed layout. Eight of the best time warp homes Interior stylist Emma Blomfield says it is easier to style a closed floorplan. IMAGE: SuppliedInterior stylist Emma Blomfield said it was easier to style these spaces as well.“Styling a closed floor plan is a little easier than an open plan space as you have walls dictating where you place furniture and how big you can go with the size of your sofa, armchairs and dining tables,” Ms Blomfield said.“A closed space dining room generally only offers one layout for the table making it easy to work out where to place everything and what size/shape dining table to purchase. Staying together is better RELATED: Ms Carroll said the demand was so great that she found it harder to sell new homes with an open plan design, versus those built in the 1990s and prior.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus13 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market13 hours ago“Homes that have been built in the last five to 10 years, the more open plan ones, I find them harder move,” she said.“The older more traditional style … for families that are in that mode where they’ve got teenagers or teens, they’re just looking for that sense of privacy as well as having that space for everyone to enjoy together.”When it comes to building new, Burbank national general manager residential Louis Sultan said they were starting to see more demand for a separate living space that could be closed off.“We have seen an increase in homebuyers wanting a separate living space that can be closed off from the main living area, providing a place to relax,” Mr Sultan said.“The desire for a socially engaged family lifestyle has led to demand for alfresco spaces that can be used for dining and entertaining so now almost every home we offer now includes an alfresco area as a standard offering.” MORE: Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:51Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:51 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD576p576p432p432p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenStarting your hunt for a dream home00:51 Golden oldie lands suburb’s biggest 2019 sale “The same goes for a closed space lounge room, one wall is for the TV, another is for the sofa to go against and then you work within the rest of the space.” Waterline Real Estate principal Christine Carroll said buyers were concerned with mounting heating and cooling costs, noise and the lack of privacy — especially for families with teenagers.“Only this week I’ve been taking a gentleman through homes and his biggest problem is finding a house that will have the media room, separate lounge, somewhere for a gym, somewhere for his teenagers to hang out when they come and stay and also an open space to entertain in,” Ms Carroll said.“Our own home is one of those homes that’s open plan and one of our biggest issues was heating and cooling.“When we bought it we felt that it was a nice design and we could do things with it, but after living in it we’ve actually had to add on to provide us with that extra separation that we really couldn’t achieve.” Deb Fitzgerald is looking forward to the privacy her closed plan layout will give her and her grandchildren. IMAGE: Tara Croser.Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev said open planned living came about as a counter to the bygone era approach of closeting the kitchen from social activities.“This developed further in the 1990s to extend transparency between kitchen, living and outdoor areas, say a deck or terrace, to the other cooking zone — the barbecue area,” Mr Georgiev said.“Along with opening up come potential disadvantages, so architectural tailoring of design needs to take into account some balance, use of wing walls or giving spatial definition to alcoves or vaulted ceilings.”For homeowner Deb Fitzgerald, the need to convert from open plan to closed plan was so great, she sold and moved few doors up on the same street.“We have grandchildren now, and when they come … they’re watching things on television that you don’t want to watch and they want space, that makes thing a bit difficult,: Mrs Fitzgerald said.“Also the fact that we do have grown up children coming to visit, having a separate space can make that a little bit easier.”last_img read more