The Green Blues Show – Edition 5

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The Green Blues Show

In this edition of the The Green Blues Show:

Microplastic fibers in our drinking water, in our food, falling from the air! Cause for concern?

Good old-fashioned sleep, and how it makes our brain more plastic.

And Israeli Apartheid. An eminent academic says it’s real. Welcome to The Green Blues Show.

We’re used to thinking of terrorism, climate change, poverty, and global economic development as ‘big’ political issues. But to turn the old Sixties saying around, the political is also personal. Global crises deeply affect ordinary people’s health.

Heart disease, cancer, cholera, malaria and typhoid fever are easy to spot and treat. Poor mental health is largely invisible. Over 300 million people around the world suffer from clinical depression – and the number is reportedly rising. According to the World Health Organization, depression is “the leading cause of disability worldwide, and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.”

Not surprisingly, compelling evidence suggests that depression, anxiety, and other affective disorders are exacerbated by climate change – particularly in the global South. The Indian Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine reports higher rates of suicide, violence, and post-traumatic stress disorder linked to natural disasters, extreme heat, drought, and displacement. While mainstream media report on property damage, injuries, and death, the countless individuals who sink into depression – many never to surface – remain largely invisible.

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They are ubiquitous: microplastics. Tiny plastic fibers evenly distributed over Earth’s surface; the ultimate expression of humanity’s plastic addiction.

Plastic microfibers were found in eighty-three percent of tap water samples in a study by the US NGO Orb Media, and from 2 to 5 fibers per half liter of tap water in Europe and the US respectively.

They’re in beer, wine, food. They’re in the atmosphere we breath. Those cozy fleeces we love to wear release them in the billions with each machine wash. Plastic microbeads are present in a multitude of consumer products.

Then there are plastic nanoparticles, possibly small enough to enter cells. What’s all this microscopic plastic doing to our health? I spoke with Chris Tyree, a journalist with Orb Media, a global non-profit news organization based in Washington, D.C., that performed the tap water study.

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We all know sleep is critical for survival, and a lack of it can have dire consequences. A good night’s sleep certainly helps us function better during the day. But how, exactly? Researchers are only now beginning to connect the dots between brain plasticity and the healing powers of sleep. Listen to this documentary.

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And … The senior correspondent for Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC’s Neil MacDonald, put it perfectly recently, in an opinion piece at CBC’s website: “If it looks like a duck,” MacDonald began, launching into an essay about the rising acceptance of the Israeli apartheid idea, then it probably is a duck.

MacDonald’s essay sparked predictable howls of outrage and volleys of complaints from Israel’s allies here in Canada. MacDonald’s piece failed to cite a recent report on the Israeli Apartheid question by Richard Falk, former United Nations Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.

Checkpoint 300, Bethlehem (David Kattenburg)

The UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia had commissioned the report, which Falk and Tilley produced independently. For a brief moment, the Falk-Tilley report was available at the UN Website. Then it was taken down. The ESCWA chair resigned in protest.

Not surprisingly, Richard Falk and Elizabeth Tilley’s report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – has received very little mainstream media attention. I reached Professor Richard Falk, in Turkey.

Richard Falk is Research Fellow at the Orfalea Center of Global and International Studies, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton University. Professor Falk was United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 2008 to 2014.

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