Air pollution deaths rising
The International Energy Agency reports that 6.5 million people die prematurely because of air pollution, and that number will increase significantly unless emissions are curbed.
Eighty percent of city dwellers whose cities measure air pollution breathe unhealthy air. Air pollution is now fourth, behind only high blood pressure, poor diet and smoking as a threat to human health.
Transitioning to renewable energy for industry, power generation and transportation will be key to cleaner outdoor air. But surprisingly, 3.5 million premature deaths are attributed to indoor household air pollution, mostly in less developed countries, where 2.7 billion people cook and heat with coal, kerosene, dung or wood, usually because they lack access to electricity.
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We hope this makes it clear even to climate change deniers that reducing use of fuels that cause air pollution is urgently needed to save millions of lives.
Big changes in marijuana law
July 1 marks the merger of medical and recreational marijuana markets, and it remains to be seen how this shotgun marriage will work out. Some medical marijuana users worry that the recreational marijuana stores won’t carry the specialized products they need. We hope those fears prove unfounded, and that pot stores will make serving medical customers a top priority.
The merger bill was passed by the Legislature, but it was the federal government that forced the marriage; federal officials contended that the medical marijuana market was not tightly regulated enough.
Culvert ruling a reminder of obligation
In 1854-55, Washington territorial governor Isaac Stevens engaged in a flurry of treaty-making with tribes to free up millions of acres of land for white settlers. In return for ceding control of those lands, tribes were promised that they could hunt, fish and gather in their usual and accustomed places, regardless of whether those places were on reservations.
This week a federal appeals court affirmed previous court decisions requiring the state to live up to those treaties by fixing culverts that block salmon from over 1,000 miles of rivers and streams. The state had argued that tribal rights to fish didn’t mean that the state was obliged to ensure that there were any fish left in the rivers, and that it would be too expensive to fix the culverts. The court disagreed.
Treaties are the supreme law of the land, and we believe the court is correct to conclude that this is true even when abiding by them is inconvenient or expensive. The state should quit spending money on appealing to higher courts, and instead redouble its efforts to fix culverts and save salmon.