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It is not the first time I’ve read an article on this, not by far, but it popped out at me today, because there were so many articles in the headlines today about what we’re doing to the environment, and therefore to ourselves and each other.

First is about the chemicals in kids bodies.

“[Rowan’s] been on this planet for 18 months, and he’s loaded with a chemical I’ve never heard of,” Holland, 37, said. “He had two to three times the level of flame retardants in his body that’s been known to cause thyroid dysfunction in lab rats.”

This shouldn’t be a surprise – our environments inside and outside our homes are loaded with chemicals, and we add more every day.

This isn’t an equal risk, however. Poor communities are routinely saddled with bearing a greater share of the risks as they are forced through economic circumstances to live near major sources of pollution. Pollution with known risks, and because of these risks, their property values remain low, making it hard for them to leave the area, even if they could afford a place in a different part of the town. In Houston, the Manchester area is known as the “stinky area”, and the kids growing up there have a 56% greater chance of developing leukemia than kids living elsewhere.

The Marroquin family lives in the Manchester area of Houston, next to the Houston ship channel, the largest petrochemical complex in the United States. Day after day, oil refineries and petrochemical companies pump hazardous pollutants, including known cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and 1-3 butadiene, into the air.

What do the polluters have to say?

Companies in the ship channel told CNN they’ve started voluntarily limiting their emissions. They also point out that they haven’t broken any laws. There are no laws in either Texas or at the federal level that limit the amount of hazardous air pollutants these companies pump into the air

Just as long as we’re clear, these companies are voluntarily (if grudgingly) making changes, though “limiting” is a very far cry from cleaning up their act, and they are quick to point out that polluting the earth is not illegal. Well, ethical and legal don’t necessarily intersect, that is true. It also used to be legal to own people, but I dare anyone to claim that it was ever ethical or moral to do so. No, legal is not an excuse that cuts it for me when a company or a person does something that they know is harming others.

And for tonight’s closure, there are the parts of the world that are drowning. Their current reality is one we might all be facing someday.

During the monsoons at high tide, waves hurdle the breakwater of concrete pillars and the inner rock wall around the temple on a promontory in the Gulf of Thailand. Jutting above the water line just ahead are remnants of a village that has already slipped beneath the sea.

Experts say these waters, aided by sinking land, threaten to submerge Thailand’s sprawling capital of more than 10 million people within this century. Bangkok is one of 13 of the world’s largest 20 cities at risk of being swamped as sea levels rise in coming decades, according to warnings at the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change held here.

“This is what the future will look like in many places around the world,” says Lisa Schipper, an American researcher on global warming, while visiting the temple. “Here is a living study in environmental change.”

All of these articles came from CNN today, a place I check out primarily to find out major happenings, such as the fires in California, though Grace blogged about that today, so I could have skipped CNN! In my five minute stop at CNN today, however, I was amazed at how many environmental stories were front and center, and so it seemed fitting to link them in. Hopefully others had read them, or similar articles, already.

Bangkok, by the way, is the only city in the world that has had a car collide with a boat. And Denver had its first snowstorm today, while in my area we enjoyed 80 degree weather. The trees, at least, have finally started to put on their fall colors.

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