It starts with a simple one: staring at an open one
Cut my feet and look at my feet to make sure I didn't slip on the ice.
The pit is several hundred feet deep, about half a mile wide.
We are on the edge of an old Zhusha mine near the town of hollyfka in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian mine for Mercury, but the pit has been abandoned for some time.
I attended a training seminar with a dozen other environmental activists to identify contaminated sites.
This place is of course qualified.
High levels of mercury were found in the soil of nearby villages;
We're here to assess the risks.
However, my biggest concern at the moment is to keep myself from slipping on the cold edge of the mine.
A glance is enough to tell me that it is a long road, dark.
Our local coordinator is Vladimir.
He pulled my elbow. “Uh-
"Oh," he whispered.
I followed his eyes and saw two big black SUVs driving off the road 50 yards away.
A window of the lead car rolled down, and someone in the car barked a few words in Russian.
Vladimir ran over, listened for a while, and then came back jogging.
The expression on his face was very serious.
"They want you to go with them," he said . ". “Who” I asked.
"I'm not sure who they are, but they are officials.
We have to do what they say.
When we all walked over, something that was not said was hovering in the air, and Vladimir introduced me.
"This is Richard Fuller, the team leader of our investigation team.
He said the sentence in Russian and then repeated it for me in English.
Someone said, "get on the bus . "In English.
The back door of the SUV opened and I caught a glimpse of two heavy, grim --
Facing men in there
"You too, Valodia," I said, hoping that I would break the tension with the colloquial name of Vladimir. It did not.
Vladimir returned to our training group with curious and nervous faces and they were trying to come towards us.
He gave them some instructions and then opened the front door and sat in the front row.
The second SUV followed and we drove away.
When I noticed that the white van rented by our team was quickly filled up, I stretched my neck and felt a little relieved.
After a while, it followed us.
There are witnesses, I think.
I was distracted by the voice of Vladimir, who had a detailed and heated discussion with someone I thought was the boss, the old gentleman sitting next to me.
I dare not interrupt.
If my team does something illegal
Or even if these people just think we did something illegal.
My current safety depends on the talent of Vladimir to say his way out of trouble.
This is not the first time we need this skill, but it seems to be the worst so far.
From everything I can collect, these people who come to pick me up are not drunken soldiers, nor are they Low
Officials looking for bribes.
They're obviously big.
Some type of time operator.
It could be fatal in the former Soviet Union.
The conversation lasted for a while until Vladimir took a look at me.
He must have seen the look on my face.
"It's okay to have money," he said . "
"Everything is fine.
This is the mayor of this town.
Hollifka, on the rise.
He didn't come because we had trouble.
"Great," I sighed.
They need our help, he said.
On 2009, the Ukrainian city of hollyfka was actually a bomb waiting to explode.
The ruins of a secret former Soviet weapons factory are located in a 400-
Acre campus in the center of town.
In the crumbling concrete hall, a pile of corroded metal barrels leaked out a deadly chloro-benzene (MNCB ).
The Soviet Union left the cache when the empire collapsed in 1991.
This is a very bad news for the Ukrainian people.
MNCB is so toxic that it can kill a person by just taking in, inhaling, or absorbing half a teaspoon through the skin.
Hollifka has more than 8,000 tons of stuff in his bucket, enough toxins to wipe out all living things within a few miles.
You can often smell the air in town, a touch of sweet almond.
Together with MNCB, a flammable toxic compound called tritoluene-
More commonly, TNT.
It was left in the pipe and in the underground coffin.
TNT is one of the final products of the factory.
When the Soviets gave up their factories, they left nearly ten tons of them, most of them unstable and ready to explode.
Other buildings nearby contain a large variety of highly corrosive acids.
The mayor and his team drove us to the entrance to the facility and pointed to the building.
They didn't leave the car, they just kept talking to Vladimir in Russian.
Curious, I opened the door and came out.
The rest of my team was parked behind me in our white van.
They came out, too. Come with me.
Once they are sure that no one has been arrested, some of them will drift over and talk to the mayor and his people.
But no one moved to the factory.
We all stood there and looked at it from a safe place.
At that time, about 260,000 people lived in hollyfka.
The chemicals in the factory leak into the air they breathe and the water they drink.
Local doctors believe that the average life expectancy of hollifka is less than 50 years old.
But what's more worrying is that
Until recently, people in hollifka had been living under the threat of an explosion.
Not too much-
It's just a lightning bolt, a cigarette butt thrown on one side, or a spark floating in a hot, dry wind.
A slight inflammatory provocation could trigger a chain explosion.
TNT will rise in an instant and throw toxins in town.
According to some estimates, a disaster in hollifka easily dwarfs the victims of Chernobyl and Bhopal.
Experts say hollifka is one of the most serious remaining pollution in human history, posing a fatal threat to the environment and human health.
However, few people have heard of it.
This is the most polluted place I have ever seen, a mile worse than the mercury mine.
In the end, my team and I dissolved after promising that we would do our best to help the mayor and his people inherit their toxic legacy.
A month later, we sent a team of top environmental scientists from the United States. S. Army (now retired).
The IRA may have taken a few steps in the first building of the abandoned weapons factory.
He read the names on some leaked chemical bags inside the door and his face turned white. “Everyone out. Now.
His voice is very low. Insistent.
He was quickly obeyed by everyone.
Back outside, he told everyone present: "No one went in without complete protective gear.
What's inside is really annoying.
How do you understand me?
Let's put on our clothes.
This is the way we started our project to deal with hollifka and its toxic heritage.
Before I tell the whole story, you have to understand how this pollution is produced --
What many others and I call the Brown agenda --
In a city in a country, it is not limited to a problem.
This is a global issue that is spreading rapidly and what we have to do about it now.
For example, in Delhi, India, thousands of miles away, the air is getting worse and worse.
The diesel exhaust, combined with the coal exhaust from several nearby power plants, produces a kind of smoke that hangs over everything and presents a permanent twilight on bright and sunny days.
The World Health Organization has set a safe, breathable air standard of 20 micrograms per cubic meter.
During my visit in June and July 20, the registered air was at least five times per cubic meter of 600 micrograms of particles in Delhi.
A recent analysis by The New York Times found that Delhi's air pollution is twice that of Beijing, which is typical of air pollution.
Situations like this have already caused losses to citizens, especially in poor areas.
Living in Delhi means coughing and shortness of breath often.
Cases of chest infections, pneumonia and asthma are rampant.
The expats I know have shortened their three terms.
Watch the child suffer and not be able to work out a year after exercise or play outside.
Most Indian children will never leave, of course.
Delhi is their home, a word from them.
Go further east to rural areas in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Small-
Gold finders rip the Kahayan River with a water slide hose for goldrich rocks.
In the surrounding forest, as this paradise slowly fades away, the birds and occasional orangutans look at it in frustration.
The miners processed the ore by hand, using an original technique that included a large amount of toxic liquid mercury.
They accidentally clean up themselves, so a lot of mercury goes into the local environment every year.
This element can poison miners and their children, and many of them will be affected by the earthquake. (
In Victorian England, this is called the disease of the Mad Hatter, because the habedash people use mercury to harden the feeling of the hat they are shaping. )
But the damage did not stop.
In addition to being a toxic heavy metal, Mercury is also an element and therefore has Persistence
It will not break down into harmless, smaller particles.
Once it permeates rivers and local marine life, it enters the ocean and joins the global food supply.
Large fish like tuna are particularly polluted.
Today, everyone in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and other major cities has heard warnings.
Note: mercury levels in fish will rise!
Especially when you are pregnant, don't eat tuna!
What most people don't know is where mercury comes from.
A lot of coal leakage-
There are power plants all over the world.
But the biggest one comes from poor miners who make a living in the ancient jungles of Borneo and elsewhere.
Not far from the Jakarta Metro.
More than a dozen Chinese people play football on the local stadium. They make a ball with cloth and tape. Filthy hand-me-
The clothes hang on their thin frame.
The soil beneath their brown bare feet flashed light gray in the tropical afternoon sun;
It smells a bit metallic.
The kids don't know that the field used to be the owner of unregulated cars.
They did not know that when officials threatened to shut down the garbage, the recycler buried their garbage and ran away.
Nor can they understand that the land they are playing with is poisoned by carbon dioxide, a toxic chemical that causes brain damage and nerve degeneration before killing.
Readings measured on the Jakarta football field with a handheld laser spectrometer show that the lead content is 49,239 per million, far exceeding the World Health Organization's set of 400 standards.
The arsenic reading is also out of the chart at 1,744 per million;
There are less than ten generally recognized standards.
At the same time, the children dream of football to get them out of the slum.
They don't know how dangerous it is.
They focused on scoring goals for the team.
These contaminated sites are everywhere.
Backyard unsafe recycling accounts for 1-
In the developing world, car battery recycling accounts for half of the cases.
The industry provides a basic standard of living for a small number of people, while irreparable poisoning the communities around them.
Five of Seynabou Mbengue's ten children were killed by lead.
Like many families in Senegal's Ngagne Diaw, Seynabou has lived a meager life in the past, recycling old car batteries.
She will break the battery case with her hands, pour the acid on the ground, then take out the valuable lead ingredients inside and melt in the open fire.
It wasn't until her last five babies twitched and died, both before the age of two, that she knew how dangerous it was.
"That's when I made the connection," she said . ". “[While]
My baby is pregnant or breastfeeding and I never stop recycling batteries.
I am still full of leadership.
Seynabou's story illustrates how vulnerable infants and children are to contaminants.
They die more frequently and faster than the adults around them, and their larger bodies can withstand toxic chemicals for longer periods of time.
With five toddlers from Seynabou
Seven more children are known to have died of lead poisoning in Ngagne Diaw.
The actual charge may be much higher.
In a modern world that often focuses on "green", these are just a few disturbing examples of what we call the "brown" problem: Pollution goes wrong.
In 2012, eight people died because of the pollution I just described.
9 million people worldwide
From this perspective, WHO statistics show that,
5 million deaths in 2012
Whether it's a car accident, suicide, old age, cancer, hospital mistakes, being blacked out by lightning, infectious diseases, parachute failures, it's every one who dies on Earth, a war, or what you have.
In other words, Brown's question in 2012pollution—
One of the seven people was killed.
The decomposition of these 8.
The number of deaths in 9 million fell as follows: 3.
Outdoor air pollution killed 7 million people; 4.
2 million people died of particulate matter in the indoor air of the stove;
About 1 million people died of chemicals and contaminated soil and water;
840,000 people died from poor environmental sanitation.
All of this data comes directly from WHO's website and database, and I get it from recent data generated by the global health and pollution alliance, in addition to soil statistics, which may have been underestimated. (
For those who are concerned with math, some air pollution deaths overlap between indoor and outdoor air.
As a result, the total was lower than expected. )
In addition to the "normal" level of death, these deaths will be avoided if there is no pollution.
In the same year, 625,000 people died of malaria.
5 million people died from HIV/AIDS and 930,000 from tuberculosis.
As you may know, these three terrible diseases attract more than $20 billion a year from international charities and governments.
However, combined HIV, malaria and TB will only kill one person --
Third, the number of people caused by pollution.
There is also a statistic worth pondering: 8.
In 2012, 9 million people died of pollution.
4 million living in lowand middle-
In other words, the Brown agenda is not a question of "rich countries.
In most cases, the problem is limited to the developing world.
One more thing.
It is important to note that pollution rarely kills people directly or quickly.
Instead, it can lead to heart disease, chest infection, cancer, respiratory disease, or diarrhea.
Pollution acts as a catalyst, making the incidence of these diseases higher than usual.
Scientists make these estimates from studies that measure diseases in places with and without pollution.
These studies go through a detailed peer
Check their calculation process.
That's why who thinks pollution is a "risk factor"
Similar to the threat to human health of obesity, smoking, malnutrition or poor exercise.
But pollution is the king of all risk factors.
Worldwide, it has fewer deaths than any other risk factor in any other situation.
So, sadly, what we are doing to fight it, very little.
As I have already mentioned, HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB attract significant funding, as well as biodiversity and climate change to a greater extent.
Don't get me wrong. These are very important questions. They are worth doing.
But international aid funds are almost non-existent.
Up to $100 million a year.
To be fair, the situation has improved over the past few years.
Governments in countries like China and India have realized that pollution is a threat to their ongoing economic development and have begun to allocate funds, although so far there are only a small amount.
Meanwhile, millions of people still die each year.
The most important thing is children.
There are more possibilities to come.
So the reason why we rich countries have not taken any action to stop this part is the lack of attention.
Part of the reason is lack of consciousness.
Go back to 1950 seconds and 60 seconds.
In the early days of the American environmental movement, pollution and biodiversity were seen as two intertwined focal points.
Rachel Carson's harrowing book Silent Spring brings the problems of pesticides and environmental degradation to our door.
Later, some toxic disasters, such as the Love Canal in New York and the Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio, have the public demand laws that protect our soil, air and water.
The Environmental Protection Agency was established in this era and there is no doubt that our country will be better under the management of this institution.
The regulations provide for restrictions on air, water and soil pollution, and at the same time provide
Compliance can claim compensation.
Lawyers can help if you live in a toxic place.
Big companies have become more responsible, not only worried about their workers, but also about their reputation and share price.
There are currently dozens of great non-profit organizations monitoring polluters.
For all of these reasons, more so, there is little really unresolved, harrowing pollution between rich countries.
Occasionally, some dramatic events will make the news cycle.
A dam broke out and polluted the local water supply.
Or, the increase in autism cannot be explained, most likely due to the large amount of chemicals we consume every day.
Recently, we have heard that endocrine disruptors are rising and may affect our reproductive capacity.
But in our rich countries, terrible air-contaminated drinking water has polluted the soil, and these things have not really been affected.
A condition like this is someone else's problem.
Remember the WHO statistics I mentioned in 2012?
5% of the deaths caused by pollution occurredand middle-
Read: we enjoy clean water and air in the West;
The rest of the world is out of order.
We enjoy the luxury of focusing on green development, and the rest of the world has to go through what we can only call Brown.
There are thousands of places in poor countries.
Make toxic pollutants take root and spread like cancer.
You will find them low at allto-middle-
Income countries such as India, China, Russia, Peru, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Ukraine, Mexico, Zambia and the Philippines.
In almost any case, the culprit of these contaminated sites is the government, businesses and people who compete to improve their industrial capacity at the expense of their citizens and the environment.
Interestingly, the most polluted ones are often local companies, not multinational companies.
By most comparisons, big companies with a Fortune 500 are operating well.
They won't buy dirty industries because they know they need to maintain Western standards, at least to appease Western shareholders.
Local companies and small backyard industries have caused great losses. Small-
The time operator running the backyard business can cause immeasurable damage to the local population and environment.
They can destroy the whole land for generations to come, let alone human beings.
It's hard to imagine how bad it would be, so let me introduce a scene.
You wake up every day on the dirty floor of the cabin where you and your family are tied with plaster
Take out materials from nearby construction sites for five-star hotel.
Your last child may be a blue stillbirth caused by heavy metal poisoning.
Your husband works 70 hours a week sorting chemicals at a poorly managed pesticide factory.
He recently went home with a cough of blood.
He looks thinner and tired every week, you want to tell him to stop, but how can you make the money he earns as the only thing to feed your child.
So you go to the local pond with a plastic bucket.
The water you scoop out of the pond is brown and smells of human garbage, but you don't have anything else to drink.
You try to tighten it with a cheese cloth, but it doesn't work very well.
At the same time, the factory next door to your slum, the factory that the government closed not long ago, has started to re-operate, but only in the evening.
Its chimneys squirt out the thick smoke that beats in the dark, their tails are illuminated by the flame of the blacksmith's shop, and God knows only what is burning.
Your biggest child coughed all night last week.
Your other children will get sick and slow even if they learn the most basic concepts.
As the years go by, you see them become more and more dull.
None of your friends or family can help you, and it's strange that almost everyone in your neighborhood has the same problem.
You are one of the poor who has been poisoned with no say, no hope.
Regulations that may exist against these conditions will never be enforced.
You can't go to another town simply.
It took you a couple of years to establish yourself to this extent, and wherever you go anyway, every village has the same dilemma.
Like other vulnerable groups in the world, you have become cannon fodder for the ongoing growth War.
There are bright spots in all this.
Let's talk about hollifka.
The city is in serious danger, but we can save it and save it.
More information later).
Now, just know that the most serious toxin that harms hollifka has been cleared.
There are other success stories like this that show that we can beat Brown conditions as long as we make up our minds.
In particular, the overall level of sanitation and clean water has improved significantly over the past decade.
Thanks to the great project of the Chinese government and charity-water-millions of people now have a safer water supply.
This is a great progress.
Ten years ago, 1.
6 million people die from improper hygiene every year.
That number is now down to 840,000.
In addition, some cities like Mexico City have found ways to control air pollution.
The air quality there did improve, although it was still bad some days.
The bottom line is that what we do is obviously not enough.
I know you might disagree.
Maybe you are the ones who think "I mean, why do we care, what you say sounds terrible, but it happens in some foreign countries.
This is not our problem, right.
The Brown question affects us directly and indirectly.
Some of the toxins I mentioned
Mercury is a good example.
At the end of our supermarket.
More subtly, however, pollution causes one death in every 7 people, many of whom are engaged in the extraction and manufacture of products that we take for granted, which are necessary for our comfort.
I think we owe these people a responsibility, although we need to deal with this as well for our own safety.
Consider a study by the Danish foreign ministry in 2000.
The report concludes that the environmental burden has actually increased in recent years, at least in part because of the spread of contaminated sites caused by political and economic quarrels.
By solving the global problem of toxic pollution, we have achieved great victories in both the environment and human beings.
It is relatively simple to do so.
Even the most serious toxic sites exist in the industrialized world, and significant cleanup is often achieved with very small amounts.
As I mentioned, we must unite our collective will in order to succeed.
We just need to see these gates of hell as our common enemy.
When we solve these problems first, everyone wins.
I want to tell you how, by working together, we can win great victories for our planet and our species in the coming generations.
We can help create a newer, better world, a Pure Earth without the ravages of Brown.
But before I do, I want to tell you how my journey started.
Excerpt from "Brown's agenda: my mission to clean up the world's most living --
Threat of pollution by Richard Fuller and Damon di Marco (
Santa Monica Press).