The Stream, March 15: Millions at Risk of Premature Death Due to Freshwater, Air Pollution, UN Warns

The Global Rundown

A UN report warns that millions in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa could die prematurely if environmental protections are not improved. Hundreds fall ill in Malaysia after toxic waste is dumped into a river. Increased rainfall in Iraq leads to a larger-than-expected wheat crop. Cyclone Idai closes in on the coast of Mozambique. Water interruptions worsen in Manila, Philippines, prompting a government investigation.

“We are calling this investigation because the public is already thirsty for the truth, now that they don’t have water to drink and clean with.” –Grace Poe, a Philippines senator, in reference to water interruptions in capital city Manila. The shortages began last week and have left some areas without water for several days. The Philippine Senate announced an investigation into the shortages. Bloomberg

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

Is U.S. Groundwater Quality Getting Better or Worse? It’s Hard to SayToo little data so far for main national monitoring network.

Also from Circle of Blue: Michigan’s Groundwater Emergency

Furious and fearful, residents are asking a simple but urgent question: what’s in my water? PFAS, nitrates, industrial chemicals, and pathogens have been swept underground for decades, threatening groundwater in Michigan and nationally. What else is in the groundwater? And what are the risks? Read this collaborative series between Circle of Blue, Bridge, and Detroit Public Television on Circle of Blue’s website.

By The Numbers

500+ People in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, including several students, who fell ill after hazardous waste was dumped into a nearby river. The local government has temporarily closed the industrial area’s 111 schools until the issue is resolved. Three men were arrested in association with the dumping. The Guardian

4 million tonnes Expected Iraqi wheat crop in 2019, compared with 2.17 million tonnes last year. The unexpected growth is due to an boost in rainfall, which led farmers to plant more of the grain. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

The United Nations published an extensive report this week on the state of the global environment. The report warned that poor environmental regulations could lead to millions of premature deaths in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa by 2050. It noted that freshwater pollution could lead to a rise in anti-microbial resistance and associated deaths. The report urged the public, businesses, and political leaders to salvage the environment by pursuing sustainable development. UN Environment

On The Radar

Cyclone Idai, reaching wind speeds of up to 140 mph (225 km/h), is set to make landfall near the port city of Beira, Mozambique. Meteorologists urged the city’s 500,000 residents to expect the “worst-case scenario” as the storm hits. The cyclone is expected to bring heavy rains, intense winds, and a 20-foot (6 meter) storm surge. BBC

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