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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #844 -- Collapse


Montague, Peter

Publication Date:

March 2, 2006


Why Civilizations Decline Some civilizations reach their peak of power and then suddenly collapse and remain in decline or even disappear. Others thrive for thousands of years. What accounts for the difference, and what does it matter to the U.S.? Money and Medicine: Richer or Poorer, Health and Wealth Are Linked A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that people with lower "socioeconomic status" are twice as likely to die in any given period of time, even after taking into account age, sex, race and current smoking habits. Benzene in Children's Drinks: Not a Sweet Surprise The government has known since 1990 that vitamin C can combine with other common soft-drink ingredients to form benzene -- a powerful industrial solvent and potent carcinogen (see Rachel's #647). Recent studies found benzene levels in some popular 'kids' drinks that were 2 to 4 times what's "acceptable" in drinking water. And benzene is only one among many health problems linked to our soda pop culture, including obesity, tooth decay, caffeine dependence, and weakened bones. Dumped Electrical Goods: A Giant Problem As the electronic age progresses, the environmental costs grow exponentially. If full-lifecycle manufacturing were embraced, the vast majority of e-waste could be recycled. An average desktop computer holds 14 pounds of plastic, 4 pounds of lead, 8 pounds of aluminum and smaller amounts of arsenic, mercury and beryllium. Acid Seas Are Killing Off Corals and Shellfish As global carbon dioxide levels rise, the oceans are growing more acidic. Scientists now believe that a critical threshold for sea-life is being crossed, which could further the decline of corals and shellfish populations which are highly sensitive to acidity levels. This in turn would reduce the uptake of C02 (oceans absorb about half the C02 we produce) worsening the problem of global warming.

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