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Heat Wave Could Kill Tens of Thousands in Russia

Heat Wave Could Kill Tens of Thousands in Russia

“The average death rate in the city during normal times is between 360 to 380 people a day. Today, we have around 700. This is no secret. Everyone thinks we are trying to keep it secret. Look, it is 40 degrees Celsius on the street,” Andrei Seltsovsky, head of Moscow’s public health department, quoted on Democracy Now!

Russia is in the grip of the worst heatwave in its history. The country hasn’t seen temperatures like this since record-keeping began 130 years ago. Months of drought have turned the countryside into a tinderbox and wildfires are burning out of control. Moscow is besieged by acrid smoke and soaring temperatures.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters tells Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! that the heat wave could kill tens of thousands of Russians. A similar smoky heat wave in France in 2003 killed 40,000 people, most of them elderly.  Even in the U.S., heatwaves kill more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.

Killer coal

The U.S. is feeling the health effects of summer pollution, too. In AlterNet, Bruce Nilles notes that Monday and Tuesday were Code Orange unhealthy air alert days in Washington, D.C. When the air gets that bad, children aren’t supposed to be outdoors.

We’re all familiar with the link between car exhaust and air pollution, but Nilles draws our attention to the impact of burning coal on air quality. Coal-fired air pollution is especially noxious to human health. Research shows that the tiny particles of coal soot can burrow deep into the lungs and even work their way into the bloodstream, causing permanent damage to the heart.

The coal industry is still fighting to strip the EPA of enforcement powers that might cut into profits. “We are literally killing ourselves by burning coal, and yet the coal industry continues to fight against the Clean Air Act and any safeguards that might prevent them from spewing their pollutants into the air,” Nilles writes.

The Doctors’ Tea Party

The long, hot political summer drags on. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones notes that two GOP Senate candidates, Dr. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sharron Angle of Nevada, are linked to “a radical group of right-wing, conspiracy-theorist doctors, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons“ (AAPS).

Angle headlined an AAPS rally in San Diego this week. Eric Kleefeld of TPM Muckraker notes that Rand Paul is a full-fledged member of the group. The AAPS party line states that it is “evil and immoral” for doctors to participate in Medicare or Medicaid. An article on the AAPS website speculated that President Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing the electorate. Documents from famous tobacco lawsuits reveal that AAPS provided methodologically dubious “scientific” cover for Philip Morris when the company sought to fight indoor smoking bans and tobacco taxes.

Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones has more about this “Doctors’ Tea Party.”

Cycling Conspiracies

You probably think that bicycling is a healthy transportation alternative. Good for your heart and lungs, good for the atmosphere. Win win, right? You see fun and fitness, but Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Dan Maes (R) sees an internationalist plot. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly describes one of the most bizarre campaign attacks of the silly season. Maes blasted his opponent, Denver mayor John Hinckenlooper (D) for promoting cycling in the city.

While bicycling may conjure up “warm fuzzy feelings” in the weak minded, Maes contents that the pro-cycling agenda is closely orchestrated by the United Nations as part of a plot to impinge upon our personal freedoms.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.


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photo credit: thanks to corrieb via flickr
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

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97 comments

+ add your own
3:28AM PDT on Aug 23, 2010

Thanks everyone for your comments and opinions! Yes, Nature is wise and still tries to keep balance, but it become harder from year to year: the pressure of human activity and damage from it makes the mission almost impossible.
This situation with fires in Russia partly has it's roots in 60-70s, when a lot of bogs (in Moscow region especially) was dried to get turf from it, now they burn. Nature has given it's answer to selfish, anti-scientific and unfriendly human attitude. Of course, it's not the only one reason and explanation, why it happen, roots go deeper and too many influencies of human activity are involved...but this typical attitude to nature "now we use it and get the fast money, after us - come Hell and high water" will always be answered - sooner or later!
Such situations can happen in many places in the world, we're all in the same boat and for Mother Earth it's more and more difficult to survive! Now it's time for humanity to do something real to protect environment and to leave some possibilities for it's own future. It's like "Manic Street Preachers"s song:"If we tolerate this, then our children will be next..."

8:25AM PDT on Aug 20, 2010

Welcome to Global warming, folks. We were warned and no one did a thing. I think humankind is headed the way of the Dino.

3:49AM PDT on Aug 20, 2010

Mpther nature is taking her revenge

7:42AM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

were racing towards the end of this world and were the ones destroying it. The world needs to recognize and come together to handle these issues like real human beings we claim to be.

7:34AM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

Breaks your heart to think of all the old folks, babies and animals who are suffering in that heat wave.. sounds a lot like the one that Austrailia went though.. hope its not making its rounds.

5:05AM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

We are reaping what we have sowed we have turned the corner and we are now on the home straight for mother earth to put things right she is just getting rid of an infestation that has got out of control mainly US

11:07PM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

I haven't hear too much about environmental protections in developing countries and am not shocked about the sad situation this year across vast Russia. Besides what the coal soot does to the lungs it undoubably does damage to the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. The rapid push to industrialize throughout asia and the 3rd and 4th worlds has its consequences and I have a strong feeling that global warming forcasts are coming true.

12:11AM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

Alarming! The universe seems to be racing at an alarming speed towards its own destruction. If the calamity is man made, reverse immediately to the natural, original situations. There lies our salvation, otherwise face the consequences.Our cries reverberated in the wilderness, save water, save the forests, save the water bodies, save the animals that bring balance to the Eco system, very few listened.Every sensible person knew about Global Warming, but did nothing to stop it.

12:53PM PDT on Aug 17, 2010

Noted with sadness!

12:02PM PDT on Aug 17, 2010

This is the most unusual weather i've heard of in russia since I remember it tends to be rather cold there, but I wonder if they'll even have a winter this year with all the heat.

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