What quotes from this text are exemplary or particularly evocative?




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May 7, 2022

"School facilities represent the second largest sector of U.S. public infrastructure spending after highways, and yet no comprehensive national data source exists on K–12 public school infrastructure. Even at the state level, school facilities information is often scant. The death of official data and standards for our nation’s public school infrastructure has left communities and states working largely on their own to plan for and provide high-quality facilities. According to the Healthy Schools Network (2015), the U.S. Department of Education has never had any in-house staff with expertise in school-facility management or child environmental health. Moreover, there is no federal regulatory agency with the authority to intervene in schools to address known environmental health hazards; Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health hazard evaluations and guidance are designed to protect the health of adult employees, such as school teachers and staff, but no agency has the overarching responsibility to ensure that children’s health is safeguarded at school. This must change. A National School Infrastucture Assessment, and National Director of School Infrastructure, are needed."

This quote does a number of things. It draws attention to the critical lack of data, especially publicly-available data, on school facilities. Without this data, it is nearly impossible to know the scope of the problem, prioritize actions across and within districts, or make connections between districts dealing with similar issues. Collaboration will be critical to our response to the challenges presented by environmental hazards in order to make sure we are not duplicating efforts in different locations. It also draws attention to the fact that no government agency is directly responsible for the health of children in school buildings and proposes the creation of a government agency to solve this problem. This is an interesting solution and is one I have not seen proposed elsewhere.

May 7, 2022

"Higher temperatures not only increase levels of ozone and other air pollutants that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory illness, but they can also increase levels of pollen and airborne allergens that aggravate asthmatic symptoms (World Health Organization, 2015) and, as a result, directly affect student performance (Park, 2016). Hotter temperatures will continue to place greater demands on heating and cooling systems, and greater care will need to be taken to ensure that indoor environments remain comfortable for school building occupants. It is predicted that extreme heat will lead to increased numbers of droughts and wildfires, resulting in increased fine particulate matter intrusion in schools (Nazaroff, 2013). Children’s physical and visual health may also be at risk as hotter outdoor temperatures limit opportunities for outdoor play."

This quote demonstrates the direct effects that climate change--specifically, rising temperatures--will have on school buildings and therefore children. This is a very under-studied area and one that is especially pressing. Elsewhere in the report, they also discuss the impacts of rapidly increasing urbanization: in the future, more schools will be located in proximity to high volume roadways and airports and in urban centers, all of which exacerbate the effects of rising temperatures.

May 5, 2022

"We recognize that beyond the four walls of the school building there are many environmental and social contexts that can adversely affect students’ well-being and undermine their academic potential. Inequities persist in the distribution of the social determinants of health, and students bring these influence with them every day when they walk through the doors of their school building."

Environmental injustice can't be an either/or issue of hazards inside or outside schools, it needs to be a both/and issue where hazards in schools are being addressed in conjunction with hazards outside of schools.

May 5, 2022

"The chronic impacts of a poor school environment often do not get the same type of attention as cases like these, because the links between building quality and health are subtler and less overt."

"These" is referring to a list of dramatic incidents where students were suddenly exposed to some kind of environmental hazard. This quote captures one of the biggest challenges of environmental justice work--in the many, many cases where it is not visible, it is hard to mobilize support, attention, and emotion because the links aren't flashy. This connects to ideas about slow disasters in Anthro 25A.

May 5, 2022

"Millions of K–12 students in America spend several hours a day learning in schools that are more than 50 years old and in need of extensive repair and where children may be exposed to mold, poor ventilation, uncomfortable temperatures, inadequate lighting, and overcrowded, excessively noisy conditions."

Emphasizes the scale of the issue--this is not a Philadelphia or Santa Ana or Azusa problem, it is a national issue for all public schools. Also emphasizes the breadth of the issues--there are so many different forms of environmental hazards in schools.

March 18, 2022

“Also of note when interpreting our results is that this study did not take into consideration the ingestion of heavy metals through the dietary route. Had we considered this additional exposure pathway, our calculated chronic daily intake levels of heavy metals would have been greater, resulting in higher estimated risk (particularly for metals such as Pb, As, and Cd which have been widely documented in various foods)” (Marsi et al. 2021)

“Both cancer and non-cancer risk at the Census tract level exhibited positive correlations with indicators of social as well as physiological vulnerability” (Marsi et al. 2021)


March 18, 2022

“ After extensive hurricane damage fueled in part by a warmer atmosphere and warmer, higher seas, communities in Texas are considering ways to rebuild more resilient infra- structure. In the U.S. Caribbean, govern- ments are developing new frameworks for storm recovery based on lessons learned from the 2017 hurricane season.” (34)

“​​However, Harvey’s total rainfall was likely compounded by warmer surface water temperatures feeding the direct deep tropical trajectories historically associated with extreme precipitation in Texas, and these warmer temperatures are partly attributable to human-induced climate change. Initial analyses suggest that the human- influenced contribution to Harvey’s rainfall that occurred in the most affected areas was significantly greater than the 5% to 7% increase expected from the simple thermodynamic argument that warmer air can hold more water vapor. One study estimated total rainfall amount to be increased as a result of human-induced climate change by at least 19% with a best estimate of 38%, and another study found the three-day rainfall to be approximately 15% more intense and the event itself three times more likely.” (95)

“​​For example, in the Nebraska part of the northern High Plains, small water-table rises occurred in parts of this area, and the net depletion was negligible. In contrast, in the Texas part of the southern High Plains, development of groundwater resources was more extensive, and the depletion rate averaged 1.6 km3/year.” (160)

“In the Southeast (Atlantic and Gulf Coasts), power plants and oil refineries are especially vulnerable to flooding…Nationally, a sea level rise of 3.3 feet (1 m; at the high end of the very likely range under a lower scenario [RCP4.5] for 2100) (for more on RCPs, see the Scenario Products section in App. 3)47 could expose dozens of power plants that are currently out of reach to the risks of a 100-year flood (a flood having a 1% chance of occurring in a given year). This would put an additional cumulative total of 25 gigawatts (GW) of oper- ating or proposed power capacities at risk.48 In Florida and Delaware, sea level rise of 3.3 feet (1 m) would double the number of vulnerable plants (putting an additional 11 GW and 0.8 GW at risk in the two states, respectively); in Texas, vulnerable capacity would more than triple (with an additional 2.8 GW at risk).” (180)

“The Southern Great Plains, composed of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, experiences weather that is dramatic and consequential. Hurricanes, flooding, severe storms with large hail and tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms, relentless winds, heat waves, and drought—its people and economies are often at the mercy of some of the most diverse and extreme weather hazards on the planet. These events cause significant stress to existing infrastructure and socioeconomic systems and can result in significant loss of life and the loss of billions of dollars in property.” (991)

“With the Gulf of Mexico to its southeast, the coastal Southern Great Plains is vulnerable to hurricanes and sea level rise. Relative sea level rise along the Texas Gulf Coast is twice as large as the global average, and an extreme storm surge in Galveston Bay would threaten much of the U.S. petroleum and natural gas refining capacity.” (992)

“The Southern Great Plains ranks near the top of states with structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges, while other bridges are nearing the end of their design life.16,17,18 Road surface degradation in Texas urban centers is linked to an extra $5.7 billion in vehicle operating costs annually (dollar year not reported).15 The region has tens of thousands of dams and levees; however, many are not subject to regular inspection and maintenance and have an average age exceeding 40 years.” (995)

“Along the Texas coastline, sea levels have risen 5–17 inches over the last 100 years, depending on local topography and subsidence (sinking of land).25 Sea level rise along the western Gulf of Mexico during the remainder of the 21st century is likely to be greater than the projected global average of 1–4 feet or more.26 Such a change, along with the related retreat of the Gulf coastline,27 will exacerbate risks and impacts from storm surges.” (996)

“Superimposed on the existing complexities at the intersection of food, energy, and water is the specter of climate change. During 2010–2015, the multiyear regional drought severely affected both agricultural and aquatic ecosystems. One prominent impact was a reduction of irrigation water released for the Texas Rice Belt farmers on the Texas coastal plains, as well as a reduction in the amount of water available to meet instream flow needs in the Colorado River and freshwater inflow needs to Matagorda Bay.” (997)

“The 2017 Texas State Water Plan52 indicates that the growing Texas population will result in a 17% increase in water demand in the state over the next 50 years. This increase is project- ed to be primarily associated with municipal use, manufacturing, and power generation, owing to the projections of population increase in the region.”  (1001)

[See Edwards Aquifer case study on pg. 1002.]

“Between 1982 and 2012, 82 dams failed in Texas, and during 2015 the high-hazard Lew- isville Dam was of concern due to observed seepage.” (1005)

“Within Texas alone, 1,000 square miles of land is within 5 feet of the high tide line, including $9.6 billion in current assessed property value and homes to about 45,000 people. Sensitive assets include 1,600 miles of roadway, several hospitals and schools, 4 power plants, and 254 EPA-listed contamination sites (hazardous waste and sewage).100 Up to $20.9 billion in coastal prop- erty is projected to be flooded at high tide by 2030, and by 2050, property values below the high-water mark are projected to be in excess of $30 billion, assuming current trends of greenhouse gas emissions.” (1005)

“Saltwater intrusion of aquifers has been observed in the Gulf Coast Aquifer, the second most utilized aquifer in Texas, which supports 8 million people. Although this was in part associated with heavy pumping, the Gulf Coast Aquifer remains vulnerable to further saltwater intrusion resulting from SLR and storm surge exacerbated by climate change.” (1006)

March 18, 2022

“In August 2016, a historic flood resulting from 20 to 30 inches of rainfall over several days devastated a large area of southern Louisiana, causing over $10 billion in damages and 13 deaths. More than 30,000 people were rescued from floodwaters that damaged or destroyed more than 50,000 homes, 100,000 vehicles, and 20,000 businesses. In June 2016, torrential rainfall caused destructive flooding throughout many West Virginia towns, damaging thousands of homes and businesses and causing considerable loss of life. More than 1,500 roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed. The 2015–2016 El Niño poured 11 days of record-setting rainfall on Hawai‘i, causing severe urban flooding.” (67)

“Increases in baseline sea levels expose many more Gulf Coast refineries to flooding risk during extreme weather events. For example, given a Category 1 hurricane, a sea level rise of less than 1.6 feet (0.5 m)47 doubles the number of refineries in Texas and Louisiana vulnerable to flooding by 2100 under the lower scenario (RCP4.5).” (181)

“Many urban locations have experienced disruptive extreme events that have impacted the transportation network and led to societal and economic consequences. Louisiana experienced historic floods in 2016 that disrupted all modes of transportation and caused adverse impacts on major industries and businesses due to the halt of freight movement and employees’ inability to get to work. The 2016 floods that affected Texas from March to June resulted in major business disruption due to the loss of a major transportation corridor.147 In 2017, Hurricane Harvey affected population and freight mobility in Houston, Texas, when 23 ports were closed and over 700 roads were deemed impassable.” (498)

“​​Communities in Louisiana and New Jersey, for example, are already experiencing a host of negative environmental exposures coupled with extreme coastal and inland flooding.” (548)

“An example of the effects of rising sea levels can be found in Louisiana, which faces some of the highest land loss rates in the world. The ecosystems of the Mississippi River Delta provide at least $12–$47 billion (in 2017 dollars) in benefits to people each year.155 These benefits include hurricane storm protection, water supply, furs, habitat, climate stability, and waste treatment. However, between 1932 and 2016, Louisiana lost 2,006 square miles of land area (see Case Study “A Lesson Learned for Community Resettlement”),211 due in part to high rates of relative sea level rise” (775)

“The flood events in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016 and in South Carolina in 2015 provide real examples of how vulnerable inland and coastal communities are to extreme rainfall events.” (785)

“Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale when it made landfall on the central Texas coast near Rockport late in the evening of August 25, 2017. It then moved inland, stalled, and eventually moved back over the coastal Gulf of Mexico waters before making landfall a final time as a tropical storm several days later in southwestern Louisiana.” (992)

“The State of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan has more than 100 struc- tural and coastal restoration projects designed to provide benefits over the next decade and up to 50 years into the future.” (1320)

“Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast has five broad objectives: reduce economic losses from flooding, promote sustainable coastal ecosystems, provide coastal habitats that support commerce and recreation, sustain the region’s unique cultural heritage, and contribute to the regional and national economy by promoting a viable working coast. The plan contains actions  that advance all five objectives, reflecting a set of tradeoffs broadly acceptable to diverse communities in the face of hazards, including coastal subsidence (sinking land) and sea level rise.” (1323)

March 17, 2022

“Landfalls of storms usually accompanied by high tide and heavy rain result in long periods of rain and floods. The flood season in Central Vietnam lasts from June to October. Along the rivers between Quang Binh and Binh Thuan, the flood season lasts from September to December. The Central region has short and steep rivers with high debits. Dike systems in this region are relatively low or incomplete. 8-meter-high floods not only occur along the main streams but also spread over the floodplains (Le et al. 2012).” (43)

“Storms moved southward in recent years, though it is widely expected that because of the increasing temperature, the North will face more storms in the near future. Also the intensity of the storms is expected to increase, resulting in more wind and more intense precipitation (CCFSC 2001; IPCC 2007). In particular, more intense storms, representing in more threats to people’s lives, livelihoods, infrastructure, and agriculture, are forecasted.” (43)

“In 2009, storm Ketsana affected provinces along the Vietnamese Central coast, killing 163 people and causing over 600 million $USD of damage (CCSFC 2010)...In 2010, storms and other natural hazards killed or caused missing 173 people. 168 others were injured in October 2010 (GSO 2014)...In 2012, the South China Sea faced 12 storms, of which 4 directly affected Central coast…In 2013, Central Vietnam was hit directly by consecutive storms. The Wutip storm in September 2013 damaged over 1000 houses (Vietnam NCHMF 2013). Over 70,000 people in vulnerable areas were moved to shelters along the central coastline (Al Jazeera America, accessed November 22, 2013). In November 2013, the Haiyan storm forced over 800,000 people to evacuate. Storm Nari in November 2013 destroyed about 12,000 houses in 7 central provinces (The Weather Channel, accessed November 22, 2013)...In 2016, six tropical depressions and ten storms affected the Vietnamese Central coast. Six storms and one tropical depression directly impacted the land…In September 2017, Central Vietnam was hit by the Doksuri storm. Over 100,000 people were evacuated, 4 people died, and 10 were injured. The storm Doksuri caused heavy rains and floods all over the provinces in the Vietnamese Northern Central coast. Thousands of houses were damaged or destroyed. More than 50,000 houses in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien Hue provinces were damaged. Quang Binh People’s Committee reported that about 200,000 houses were flooded or submerged, 5000 lost their roofs and 20 collapsed (updated news on Vietnamnet website, accessed on 15 September 2017).” (43-44)

“By 1996, over 2000 square kilometers of the Vietnamese coast was estimated to be at risk for annual floods. Flood damage is expected to worsen if the daily rainfall increases by 12–19%. …Drought intensified as a result of the increased variation in rainfall and evapora- tion (3% along the coast and 8% inland by 2070). The effect is triggered by rising temperatures (MONRE 2016)...Landslides in the Northern Central coast are often triggered by heavy rains and storms, resulting in large amounts of sliding material downhill. Riverbank erosion is widely spread in this region, in particular during the rainy season. The lower part of the rivers is severely affected. Coastal erosion goes up to 10 meters annually, which worsens with the sea level rise of the recent years.” (44)

“The vulnerability of agriculture in the districts depends on extreme climatic events. Most districts in the Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, and Quang Tri provinces have a high exposure because they suffer storms, floods, and drought. Districts with a high exposure index show also a high vulnerability. For example, the Cam Xuyen district (Ha Tinh province) with the highest exposure in the region (0.57) represents the highest vulnerability (0.56). This underlines that the agriculture in the region with traditional methods mainly depends on the weather conditions.” (45)

“Provinces of the Vietnamese Northern Central coast have a long coastline, many estuaries, lagoons, and bays (Le et al. 2012). Aquaculture is promoted and gradually became a leading economic sector. Shrimp, crab, seahorse, holothurians, and Gracilaria asiatica are the main products. Aquaculture farmers, including both fish and crustaceans, are water-dependent and influenced the quality of coastal resources. Higher temperatures and more droughts affect the yields. This is ongoing as the yields of the spring crops declined drastically during recent years (GSO 2014). Aquaculture along the Vietnamese Northern Central coast shows high vulnerability to climate change: the vulnerability index ranges between 0.33 and 0.73. The highest value (0.73) is for the Gio Linh (Quang Tri province), while the lowest value (0.33) applies to the Thach Ha district (Ha Tinh province). Aquaculture shows a high vulnerability in majority of the districts (25/28), while only three districts (Sam Son, Cua Lo, and Thach Ha) report a moderate vulnerability. The exposure and sensitivity index of aquaculture are the highest of all sectors considered. The districts in the Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue provinces show the highest vulnerability because of its high sensitivity (Fig. 2.3).” (46) This is section Vulnerability of Aquaculture

“The majority of economic zones locate near the shoreline. This makes them vulnerable to climate change hazards. However, industry is less affected as compared to agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture. The industrial zones resist the effects of natural disasters easier. This explains that the industry is moderately vulnerable to climate change: this relates to the moderate qualification of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptation capacity of most of the districts. The high vulnerability in seven districts is related with the high exposure. Industrial plants in new areas which do not offer solid constructions and modern equipment are more at risk from natural hazards than other areas.” (48)

“The Vietnamese Northern Central coast shows its uneven distribution of the population, which reflects a difference between the eastern coastal plains and the western hilly and mountainous areas (Le et al. 2012). Most of the population is located along the national road no. 1A and in the eastern coastal plain, which accounts for over 70% of the population and which is more dense than the national average. Hilly and mountainous areas in the West account for 60% of the area, but only 30% of the people live in this region. Consequently, the average density in the western moun- tains of the country is only about 10–50 people per square kilometer (GSO 2014)...Natural hazards damage habitats of locals in hilly and mountainous areas as well as coastal areas, while storms and flash floods impact both uplands and lowlands. These latter are affected by a combination of storm, floods, sea level rise, and coastal erosion. This explains why the region has a moderate to high vulnerability of the population to climatic change.” (49)

“Currently, the government invests in developing marine tourism, ecotourism, speleo-tourism, and heritage tourism along the Vietnamese Northern Central coast. However, climate change affects the cultural monuments. Also the water supply in the region is under stress; biodiversity will decrease, and the hot season is expected lasting longer. All this will have a significant impact on the assets and the revenue from tourism. Tourism experiences the lowest vulnerability as compared to the other sectors in the region due to its low exposure.” (51)

“The likely effects of climate changes are most tangible in this province [Ky-Anh coast]. They include: 1. The average temperature during the period 2000–2010 increased by 0.6 °C as compared to the period 1970–1980. 2. Extreme weather events: Unusual cold periods (the spring of 2009 was the cold- est of the last 40 years) alternate with heat waves (in July 2010, the province experienced during 10 consecutive days temperatures over 40 °C); storms are frequently accompanied by heavy rains (the 2010 flood lasted for more than 20 days). 3. Changes in the frequency, the timing, and the intensity of the tropical storms are part of the changing weather profile. While traditionally storms occurred during the period September–November, the storm season now extends from August to December. Floods occur from April to December. They become stronger and faster, with more peak events and more devastating impacts (IPONRE 2009)...In short, prolonged periods of high and low temperatures, drought, sea level rise, storms heavy rains, and (sudden) floods are considered the main weather drivers affecting the livelihood of these communities in coastal Ha Tinh. Consequently, Ha Tinh faces four main problems: 1. Changes in water supply: Drinking water supply and irrigation are critical all over the province. In 2010, 27% of the agricultural land was irrigated. The provincial policy goal is irrigating 70% of the fields. Also by 2010, 70% of the population had access to piped water. The daily per capita consumption ranges from 80 to 100 liters on average. The policy goal is supplying 100% of the urban and 80 to 90% of the rural population with safe drinking water (HTG 2013). The increasing pressure on the water supply hampers realizing these goals. 2. Changing land use and urbanization: By 2001, 10% of the land in Ha Tinh was urban area, while the remaining surface was rural. By 2010, the urban land cov- ered 15% of the province, while the rural area decreased to 85% (HTG 2013). The figures illustrate the conversion of agricultural and bare land into urban areas. Consequently, the area is also increasingly affected by the urban heat island effect. 3. Progressing shoreline erosion: Depending on the inclination of the beaches, Ha Tinh loses beaches at a rate of 0.2–15.0 meters per year. 4. Changing livelihoods: Both urbanization and the changing climate affect the way of life in Ha Tinh. Especially farmers, aquaculturists, and fishermen change their habits, adapting to the increasing storms. Urbanization is associated with changes in consumption lifestyles, the size of the families, the ways of commuting, the gender roles, and the time residents spent at home.” (64)


March 17, 2022

Emphases are mine:

Problem areas were identified based on the results from the outfall drainage studies provided by Formosa. Thus, all the results in the OPCC rely on those studies, uncertainities associated with those studies, and the assumptions made for those studies, some of which may or may not be appropriate as I pointed out in Supplement #2 [Page 4]” (3)

“The proposed improvements assume that the conveyance capacity of the problem areas is increased 100%, which would be able to handle twice as much flow that it currently does. The results from the Drainage Study are not conclusive as to what storm event Formosa’s system currently is capable of conveying. The report does mention that the system is not capable of conveying the 2-year storm, and “sometimes” not even the 1-year storm event. (3)

“A 45% contingency is applied to the OPCC due to the uncertainties associated with underground utilities, likelihood of existence of low road crossings and need to replace those, groundwater impacts, other unknowns, and additional costs associated with engineering, etc. 45% is reasonable and in line with industry practices in my experience, especially given the large amount of unknown information available.” (4) 

“My opinion from my July 9, 2018 report that “there have been and are still pellets and/or plastic materials discharges above trace amounts through Outfall 001” is further supported by the deposition testimony of Lisa Vitale, as representative for Freese & Nichols, Inc, that she and her colleagues have seen floating white pellets or small plastic pieces in Lavaca Bay and in the area near outfall 001 as part of her work on the receiving water monitoring program for Formosa’s TPDES permit...Ms. Vitale also testified that she told John Hyak of Formosa about these sightings as well as has sent him water samples with the pellets about five or six times, including at least one time prior to 2010. This, along with the June 2010 EPA Report I cited in my July Report, demonstrates to me that Formosa was aware of problems related to discharges of plastics from its facility since at least in 2010.” (6)