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2 posts from July 2022


265th Podcast: Professor Josiah Rector Discusses His Recently Published Book, "Toxic Debt, An Environmental Justice History of Detroit" (July 12th)

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Toxic Debt, An Environmental History Justice History of Detroit, just published by North Carolina University Press in its Justice, Power and Politics series, is largely a history of failure by federal, state and local government officials to regulate the auto industry’s extremely harmful environmental and consequential human health effects.  This failure is substantially explained by the replacement of the, though imperfect, New Deal order with neoliberal policies.  (Re: neoliberalism, see, for example, Gary Gerstle, “The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order,” published by Oxford University Press.)  As a result, Professor Rector documents largely post-Depression consequences experienced by the Detroit's  African American community.  Beyond low wages and ghettoization, Detroit’s African American population has disproportionately suffered adverse health consequences via industrial policies that knowingly caused unrelieved exposure to toxic air and water (think: Flint) and more recently health harms resulting from the denial of domestic water services, what Prof Rector terms, “the dehydration of Detroit.”  

This 43 minute interview begins with Professor Rector providing a brief overview of environmental harms during the Gilded Age or later 19th century.   The interview proceeds to his discussing numerous health harms African American workers suffered with increasing automation of the auto industry and the industry's non-response for half a century, the UAW, positive and negative effects of the New Deal, discusses related waste as energy policy, i.e., specifically Detroit's incinerator and its health harms imposed on African Americans, an overview of the Flint water crisis and the larger dehydration of Detroit problem  (and its health effects) and its interrelationship with financial deregulation in Detroit.              

Josiah Rector is a Professor of Urban History at the University of Houston specializing in 20th century U.S. urban environmental history, the history Rector of the environmental justice movement, and the history of capitalism.  He was previously a Visiting Professor of U.S. and Environmental History at Northland College from 2017-2019.  He also has extensive experience in public history.  He coordinated public history internships through the Next Gen Humanities Ph.D. Program at Wayne State University in 2017-2018 and he co-organized the Michigan Humanities Council’s Third Coast Conversations: Dialogues about Water Program for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in 2018-2019.  He has published articles in The Journal of American History and Modern American History and he is currently planning a book on the political ecology of urban environmental disasters in the United States since World War II.   He earned his Ph.D. in History from Wayne State University, and his dissertation received the Urban History Association’s Michael Katz Award for Best Dissertation in Urban History, 2016.

Information on Professor Rector's book is at: https://uncpress.org/book/9781469665764/toxic-debt/.


Prof. Frederica Perera and Dr. Kari Nadeau Discuss Climate Crisis-Related Children's Health Harms (July 7th)

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In mid-June Columbia's Professor Frederica Perera and Stanford's Dr. Kari Nadeau published a review article in The New England Journal of Medicine titled, "Climate Change, Fossil-Fuel Pollution, and Children's Health."  The article provides an overview of the numerous health harms inflicted on children around the world resulting from fossil fuel combustion's released of massive amounts of airborne fine respirable particles, additional health harms resulting from an increasingly destabilized climate, resulting health disparities and an overview of medical practice recommendations to minimize related health risks to children.  Concerning health harm, last year Harvard along with three UK universities concluded fossil fuel pollution was responsible for eight million deaths or 18% of total global deaths in 2018.  In the US, pollution resulting from fossil fuel’s use accounts for nearly 60% of total excess deaths.  

During this 38-minute interview Professor Perera and Dr. Nadeau begin by providing an overview of the numerous adverse health effects imposed on children resulting from both fossil fuel combustion and the innumerable harms resulting from global warming.  The authors identify solutions to mitigate the climate crisis, opine on efforts by the professional medical community to address the climate crisis, notes the work the Medicaid program needs to do to address related health harms to children, comment on their own university's efforts ,      

 Frederica P. Perera is Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and serves as Director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Fpp1_2742 F Perera 3_med_3 Health.  Her areas of specialization include prevention of environmentally related developmental disorders and disease in children, cancer prevention through the use of novel biomarkers, environment-susceptibility interactions, and risk assessment.  Her recent research is also addressing the multiple impacts on children's health and development of fossil fuel combustion--both from the toxic pollutants emitted and climate change related to CO2 emissions.  She is the author of over 350 publications, including 300 peer-reviewed articles, and has received numerous honors.   She received her Ph.D, DrPH and MPH from Columbia University and her BA from Harvard. 


Dr. Kari Nadeau is the Naddisy Foundation Endowed Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University.  Among other current activities she is currently working at the World Health Organization on air pollution IMG_0764 and climate change policy.   In collaboration with colleagues she has been awarded many patents, started 4 biotech companies, and worked in industry to shepherd two drugs through the FDA to approval. She also is an author of the Lancet Countdown in Global Climate Change 2020 and the book: The End of Food Allergy (published 2020).   Dr. Nadeau received her MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School through the NIH MSTP program. She completed a residency in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and a clinical fellowship in allergy, asthma and immunology at Stanford and at University of California, San Francisco.