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Toxic Underbelly of Growth: Part 21--Next Added 100 Million Americans

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Have you ever heard of a "diesel death zone" in or near your neighborhood? 

Have you awoken day after day to clanking machinery, wafting odors and the roar of big trucks?   Have you sat in gridlock traffic breathing toxic fumes?   Have you seen black smoke belching from truck stacks?  Have you noticed that brown cloud over your city? 

In a brilliantly depressing article, "DARK SIDE OF THE NEW ECONOMY" by Wade Graham in the Spring issue of "Onearth" by the Natural Resources Defense Council, I couldn't stop reading his report.  

The Busiest Seaport in the United States; San Pedro, CA

 "California's San Pedro Bay ports located in south Los Angeles form a vast metropolis of polluting cargo ships, trucks and locomotives— a diesel death zone," Graham said.

In this marine arena, 5,800 cargo ships unload 40 percent of all seaborne goods imported into the United States annually.  Everything passes through this port including oil, cars, salt, steel, chemicals, plastics, gypsum, machinery, lumber, cotton, food and much more.

An astounding 40,000 truck trips a day move containers from docks and terminals to trains and interstates for distribution. 

"Shipping volume doubled from 1990 to 2000, and doubled again by 2006," Graham said.  "A conceit of the 'new economy' is that it promises freedom from smokestacks and sweatshops of the past two centuries.  But this is an illusion.  The new economy not only rests on the grimy pollution of the old one, but propagates, multiplies and feeds it while spreading it around the world like a pandemic."

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Emissions Huge in Total

Ships arriving in California burn low grade fuels that emit sulfur content at 3,000 times higher than fuel in new diesel trucks.  Large cargo ships burn 'bunker' fuel that emits as much exhaust as 12,000 cars.  While unloading for three days, these ships idle their engines -- spewing toxic exhausts into the air 24 hours a day.  

When you multiply 5,800 ships, thousands of trucks, barges, trains, homes and factories— imagine the environmental disaster for people living in the area.

Graham said, "The twin ports emit more pollution than the top 300 industrial sources and refineries in the Los Angeles Basin combined."

Just think what happens to this port and its citizens when it receives goods for consumption by an added 100 million Americans by 2040.  Multiply current environmental calamities by that 100 million, 33 percent growth factor.  

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Impact Upon Human Beings Catastrophic

"The crude machinery of 21st century world trade presses up against peoples' lives like a dirty storm surge," Graham said.  "The smoke, smog, smell, noise and glare of lights flood the area 24 hours per day, seven days a week.  Trucks are everywhere; some 15,000 rigs, heavily polluting, driving on chock-full highways while they ply local streets looking for a faster way onto jammed 710."  

Jesse Marquez, local activist, said, "You see and feel the smog and smoke clouds, you breathe sudden, inexplicable miasmas of chemical stench that vanish just as suddenly, your eyes sting and your head pings.  In bygone days, harbors smelled of rotting fish, creosoted pilings and a thousand dank and exotic odors of the goods that moved through them.  Now the overwhelming smells come from petroleum products and their combustion."

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www.frostywooldridge.com

Frosty Wooldridge Bio: Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His books (more...)
 

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