Monday

World Bank Report Warns of ‘Cataclysmic Changes’ Due to Global Warming

Study says a 4-degree Celsius heat increase this century would mean extreme heat waves, rising seas and food shortages. The assessment prepared for the World Bank said current national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases will do little to change the trajectory of temperatures, which are set to rise roughly double the United Nations target by 2100. That level of warming threatens to raise sea levels by more than three feet, flooding cities from Mexico to Mozambique and the Philippines. It could also start dissolving coral reefs by 2060, deplete crop yields in India, the U.S. and Australia, and worsen heat waves. Envoys from almost 200 nations will gather in Doha next week for talks to lay the groundwork for a new treaty to fight climate change. Bloomberg

Research finds women in the automotive plastics industry face a five-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer. The six-year study, by researchers from Canada, the U.S. and United Kingdom, examined the job histories of 1,006 Ontario women who had the disease and 1,146 who didn’t. Adjustments were made for smoking, weight, alcohol use and other factors. The plastics workers may handle an array of carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They include BPA, whose presence in water bottles and other products has unnerved some consumers, plus solvents, heavy metals and flame retardants. In the U.S., an estimated 150,000 women in the plastics and synthetic rubber industries are likely exposed to many of the chemicals  The Center for Public Integrity

Criminal case nears against engineers accused of “seaman’s manslaughter” in BP oil spill.  In the hours before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in 2010, the two BP engineers are accused of making a catastrophic misjudgment about a safety test. Don Vidrine, 65, and Robert Kaluza, 63, are to appear in federal court New Orleans Nov. 28 on charges that could send them to prison for a decade or more. The charges involve the failure to properly interpret a test on the drilling rig before the blowout, which killed 11 and caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. In the case of seaman’s manslaughter, based on an 1830s-era law to protect sailors from dangerous decisions by captains or crew, the U.S. must prove only simple negligence. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post

California’s capital city faces grave flood risks. Aside from New Orleans, Sacramento has the greatest flood risk of any major urban area in America. A levee breach could cause many deaths and cripple the economy for 1.4 million people in the metro area. A levee break could leave residents of some neighborhoods as little as 20 minutes to flee before the water gets 1 foot deep. At that point, self-evacuation is more difficult because driving a car becomes impossible. A key factor is that most Sacramento residents actually live below the water level flowing by in the area’s rivers, especially when the rivers swell in a storm. Emergency officials say the vulnerability persists even though billions of dollars in levee and dam improvements are under way. The Sacramento Bee

Texas tragedy could fuel push for train safety improvements. Some experts predict that the circumstances of Thursday’s high-profile crash—in which a freight train barreled into a parade float carrying wounded war veterans, killing four—could provide fresh ammunition for more-stringent regulation of railroad crossings. The tragedy also could galvanize support for Positive Train Control, a technology to prevent rail accidents caused by human error. A day before the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board listed widespread implementation of PTC as one of its annual top 10 “most wanted” safety enhancements. But, as FairWarning has reported, the railroad industry has pushed to delay the Dec. 31, 2015 deadline for installing the technology. The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Progressive Railroading 

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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