Tag Archives: andrews

Trump admin lets Florida opt out of controversial offshore drilling plans.

People who lived through last year’s hurricanes may experience grief, anxiety, and depression for months or years, experts say.

“They’re grieving about the loss of what was,” Judith Andrews, co-chair of the Texas Psychological Association, told AP. Her organization provides free counseling to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Following a natural disaster, people experience an arc of emotional responses. This usually starts with a “heroic” phase, when people rise to the occasion to survive and help others, Andrews says. Then disillusionment sets in as people come to grips with a new reality post-disaster.

In Puerto Rico, calls to the health department’s emergency hotline for psychiatric crises have doubled following Hurricane Maria, and the number of suicides has also risen.“Hurricane Maria is probably the largest psychosocial disaster in the United States,” Joseph Prewitt-Diaz, the head of the American Red Cross’ mental health disaster response, told Grist.

Hurricanes can have long-term effects on mental health. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, the rate of adult psychiatric hospitalizations in the Queens neighborhoods hit worst by the storm are nearly double that of New York City as a whole. The city’s health department is working with local organizers to connect residents with preventative care so that they can get help before reaching a crisis point.

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Trump admin lets Florida opt out of controversial offshore drilling plans.

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New York City is taking BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to court.

People who lived through last year’s hurricanes may experience grief, anxiety, and depression for months or years, experts say.

“They’re grieving about the loss of what was,” Judith Andrews, co-chair of the Texas Psychological Association, told AP. Her organization provides free counseling to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Following a natural disaster, people experience an arc of emotional responses. This usually starts with a “heroic” phase, when people rise to the occasion to survive and help others, Andrews says. Then disillusionment sets in as people come to grips with a new reality post-disaster.

In Puerto Rico, calls to the health department’s emergency hotline for psychiatric crises have doubled following Hurricane Maria, and the number of suicides has also risen.“Hurricane Maria is probably the largest psychosocial disaster in the United States,” Joseph Prewitt-Diaz, the head of the American Red Cross’ mental health disaster response, told Grist.

Hurricanes can have long-term effects on mental health. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, the rate of adult psychiatric hospitalizations in the Queens neighborhoods hit worst by the storm are nearly double that of New York City as a whole. The city’s health department is working with local organizers to connect residents with preventative care so that they can get help before reaching a crisis point.

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New York City is taking BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to court.

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Unrecorded diesel emissions kill 38,000 people a year.

In early May, laborers harvesting cabbage in a field near Bakersfield, California, caught a whiff of an odor. Some suddenly felt nauseated.

A local news station reported that winds blew the pesticide Vulcan — which was being sprayed on a mandarin orchard owned by the produce company Sun Pacific — into Dan Andrews Farms’ cabbage patch.

Vulcan’s active ingredient, chlorpyrifos, has been banned for residential use for more than 15 years. It was scheduled to be off-limits to agriculture this year — until the EPA gave it a reprieve in March. Kern County officials are still confirming whether Sun Pacific’s insecticide contained chlorpyrifos.

More than 50 farmworkers were exposed, and 12 reported symptoms, including vomiting and fainting. One was hospitalized. “Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” a Kern County Public Health official warned.

If chlorpyrifos’ presence is confirmed, the EPA may have some explaining to do. The Dow Chemical compound is a known neurotoxin, and several studies connect exposure to it with lower IQ in children and other neurological deficits.

The Scott Pruitt–led agency, however, decided that — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — the science wasn’t conclusive.

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Unrecorded diesel emissions kill 38,000 people a year.

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Quilt’s Dreamy New Mind Excursion

Mother Jones

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Quilt
Plaza
Mexican Summer

Courtesy of Mexican Summer

Singer-guitarists Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler, who contribute the lion’s share of the material on Quilt’s arresting third album (with solid drummer John Andrews filling out the lineup) are clearly talented writers, but the sheer gorgeous sound of the band is so intoxicating that it almost doesn’t matter. Like its predecessor, the engrossing Held in Splendor, Plaza offers a dreamy mind excursion, mixing soothing male-female vocal harmonies with swirling folk-rock guitars and strings for a potent escapist cocktail. Evoking the late-’60s, when soft pop and loopy psychedelia intersected to delicious effect, mesmerizing tracks like “O’Connor’s Barn” and “Eliot St.” make a twee first impression before the luscious melodies kick in, and you’re hooked. If Plaza sometimes feels like a decadent indulgence, so be it!

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Quilt’s Dreamy New Mind Excursion

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The Horrible Chemicals That Make Your Winter Gear Waterproof

Mother Jones

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Ever since our early ancestors left the fertile sauna of Africa and headed North, we humans have been searching for ways to fend off sleet and snow and rain and cold. The Inuit once relied on seal and whale intestines to get the job done. Nowadays, we rely on waterproof synthetics.

These modern fabrics represent a certain kind of progress, but they also have a worrisome downside. Some of the fluorocarbon chemicals used in their manufacture are dangerous for our health, and are so stable that their residues will persist in the environment, quite literally, until the next Ice Age. What’s more, there’s no guarantee that the industry’s latest alternatives, which are marketed as safer, are much of an improvement.

To make their fabrics repel water—causing it to bead up and fall away rather than penetrate the material—most manufacturers rely on perfluorocarbons (PFCs), the same chemicals used to make nonstick cookware and cupcake wrappers. Some PFCs escape into the atmosphere and into wastewater during production—and small amounts can turn up as residue on the clothing itself.

PFCs have been around since the 1950s, but we didn’t know a lot about their effects until the early 2000s, when scientists began releasing data on PFC toxicity and their persistence in the environment. A particularly troublesome PFC is perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a suspected human carcinogen that has been linked to cancer, kidney damage, and reproductive problems in rats. It may also pose human health risks if it accumulates in drinking water at levels as miniscule as 1 part per trillion—the equivalent of less than one teaspoon in 1,000 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water. One study also associated elevated exposure to PFCs, including PFOA, with weakened immune responses in children.

The makers of PFCs have been the subject of several blockbuster exposés—PFOA most recently made headlines as the culprit poisoning residents of Parkersberg, West Virginia. These compounds have a very long biological half-life—specifically, it takes our bodies more than four years to flush out half of the PFCs currently residing in our tissues. As such, the US Environmental Protection Agency warns that “it can reasonably be anticipated that continued exposure could increase body burdens to levels that would result in adverse outcomes.”

Because PFOA and its precursors virtually never go away, they accumulate in nature and eventually find their way back to us. Researchers have found the chemical in remote parts of the Arctic, in soil and dust, in fish and meat, in human tissue, and in drinking water throughout the United States. (To find out if your county’s water has tested positive for the chemical, see this map).

In 2006, the EPA asked major chemical manufacturers, including DuPont and 3M, to set a goal of eliminating PFOA and its precursors from both emissions and products by January 31, 2015—their final reports are due by the end of this month. The European Union has also proposed restrictions on the substance. So problem solved, right? You no longer need to fret about the chemicals used to make your sweet new neon ski parka?

Well, not exactly. There are reasons to stay worried. For one, the EPA’s phaseout program was voluntary, and it includes no mandate that clothing manufacturers must also remove PFCs from their supply chains. (The EPA does say that it is working on a rule that would require clothing companies that import fabrics made with PFOA to subject themselves to the agency’s review). Greenpeace tested 40 pieces of outdoor clothing and gear it had purchased in late 2015, and reported that PFOA is “still widely present” in name-brand products, including items from the North Face, Patagonia, and Mammut.

Patagonia calls Greenpeace’s assessment “not accurate,” and says it has mostly phased out PFOA. Mammut says it has eliminated the chemical entirely—as does North Face, starting with its spring 2015 line. Some of the products Greenpeace tested may have been manufactured before phaseout efforts were complete.

Most of the sportswear manufacturers have replaced PFOA, which has an eight-carbon backbone, with six-carbon (C6) PFCs. Mammut, for example, says it is provisionally using a “responsible” and “PFOA-free” C6 chemistry, while Marmot, another outdoor clothing brand, argues that C6 “is the safest alternative for the environment.”

It’s true that these shorter PFCs don’t remain in our bodies as long as PFOA does. Still, “the C6 chemicals don’t seem to be the magic coating for your clothing that you’re looking for,” says Environmental Working Group senior scientist David Andrews. Like PFOA, the shorter compounds persist in the environment, which is one reason why Greenpeace, EWG, and plenty of other scientists around the globe don’t consider them safe alternatives. In addition, as Patagonia explains, “the shorter-chain structure also tends to perform less effectively in repellency tests.” Which means a larger quantity may be needed to achieve the same result.

Manufacturers in the United States are not required to test chemicals for safety before using them in products, and the health effects of the shorter-chain PFCs are as yet a mystery. But “the short-chain chemicals show a lot of the same characteristics as their longer predecessors,” EWG’s Andrews told me.

Indeed, as a class, PFCs raise all sorts of red flags. In 2014, 200 scientists from around the world signed the “Madrid Statement,” a document calling for more research on PFC toxicology and urging governments around the world to restrict their use for nonessential purposes. “We should probably have more oversight into this whole class of chemicals,” Andrews says. “It took decades to show how bad PFOA is.”

Outdoor clothing makers acknowledge these concerns—”it may be preferable to search for fluorocarbon-free water repellent as a long term solution,” notes Patagonia—but they insist their hands are tied. The North Face’s “chemical responsibility” web page, assures that the company hopes to phase out “fluorinated DWR” (that’s durable water repellent) by 2020, but notes that “short-chain DWR is currently the best available viable alternative.”

Several clothing companies say the durability of their products—made possible by PFC chemistry—is key to their environmental friendliness. As Patagonia’s spokesman put it: “Abandoning PFCs and moving to currently available alternatives would have an even greater negative impact on the environment because the lifespan of our gear would be greatly reduced, requiring replacement far more quickly, which of course carries significant costs—carbon emissions, water usage, waste output, bigger landfills, and more.” He added that the company is still committed to finding an alternative, and that it has partnered with a Swiss firm working at the “cutting edge of chemical treatments that don’t harm the planet.”

There is at least one safer option currently floating around. A company called Nikwax sells a PFC-free waterproofing product akin to the rubber in the soles of your shoes: You cover your jacket with the Nikwax gel, toss it in the wash, and presto—it’s coated with a network of elastic water-repellent molecules. The problem is that Nikwax is a direct-to-consumer product, meant to go on the jacket you’ve already bought. In that sense, it doesn’t help solve the PFC conundrum.

But that could change. In January, Páramo, a small British brand partnering with Nikwax, became the first company in the outdoor industry to completely eliminate PFCs from its manufacturing process. Italian climber David Bacci wore Páramo’s threads as he scaled the Patagonian peaks Fitz Roy and Cerro Torres, and wrote that clothing “worked perfectly” and kept him “dry and warm in extreme conditions.”

Nikwax North America president Rick Meade says he thinks the publicity around fluorinated chemicals will lead to some “dramatic shifts of interests to consumers in the next one to three years.” For now, until more clothing companies commit to ditching PFCs, your snow outfit will most likely be made with a PFOA cousin that’s coated in mystery.

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The Horrible Chemicals That Make Your Winter Gear Waterproof

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Millennials are the new oil barons? Wait, what happened to all of our green inclinations?

Millennials are the new oil barons? Wait, what happened to all of our green inclinations?

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This just in from Bloomberg Businessweek: “Millennials Spurning Silicon Valley for Dallas Oil Patch.”

Oh, millennials – they sure love to keep everyone guessing! One day they’re shunning cars and rebelling against sprawl en masse, and the next they’re moving down to the great state of Texas to start their own oil companies.

If that seems contradictory to you, it might be because it’s a bit ridiculous to assume that millions of people who happen to have been born within the same tenuous 20-year period can be categorized by any defining set of characteristics. And yet, here we are for the trillionth time.

The Bloomberg story explores an alleged trend of millennials taking over the gas industry, quoting a handful of people ranging in age from 27 to 38 who have launched their own oil ventures. (Does 38 even fall into the already overstretched definition of ‘millennial’?) Allow me to sum it up: Some people in early- to mid-adulthood are starting businesses in an industry that is, at the moment, undeniably lucrative. Stop the presses!

Let’s examine why someone might want to start a business in the oil industry. Here’s an idea: It makes a lot of money, and that’s a significant motivating factor for many, many people. Energy barons across the country are not fighting tooth and nail for laxer regulations, lower taxes, and a handy-dandy pipeline running across the continent for their health. In 2013, the top five oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell – brought in $93 billion in profits. Here’s a snippet from the Bloomberg story:

“I’ve never seen an industry do what the oil and gas industry has done in the last 10 years,” T. Boone Pickens, the 85-year-old billionaire oilman, said in an April 25 phone interview from his Dallas office. “Ten years ago I could not have made this statement that you have picked the right career.”

And so with Pickens’ blessing, young entrepreneurs have flocked to the Texas oil fields. Who are these traitors who have turned on what has been widely lauded – including on this very website – as the greener, more conscientious generation? Well, they include Gov. Rick Perry’s 30-year-old son. Hmm.

As someone born in 1989, I’m fairly sure – although who knows, seriously – that I am a millennial, and I can’t keep up with what we’re supposed to be into. Why don’t we leave it at this: If you are a young person interested in starting an oil company because you want to make a lot of money, fine. You do you. We clearly don’t have much in common, so I continue to be mystified as to why we’re being lumped into the same group.

But obviously, I hope that my cohort of green-minded young people wins out over our counterparts chasing a very different kind of green. And Perry, Jr. — that bang you just heard was the sound of shots being fired, my friend.

Eve Andrews is a Grist fellow and new Seattle transplant via the mean streets of Chicago, Poughkeepsie, and Pittsburgh, respectively and in order of meanness. Follow her on Twitter.Find this article interesting? Donate now to support our work.Read more: Business & Technology

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Millennials are the new oil barons? Wait, what happened to all of our green inclinations?

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Pony up, frackers: Texas family wins $3 million in contamination lawsuit

Pony up, frackers: Texas family wins $3 million in contamination lawsuit

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What should you do when a fracking company sets up a drilling site right in your backyard? After you stock up on extra-strength Tylenol and Kleenex for the forthcoming chronic headaches and copious nosebleeds, you might want to call a good lawyer.

Yesterday, a jury in a Texas county court issued a landmark ruling against Aruba Petroleum for contaminating a family’s property and making them sick. The company has been ordered to pay $2.925 million in damages to Lisa and Bob Parr of Wise County, Texas.

In March 2011, the Parrs filed a lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, alleging that air and water contamination from the company’s 22 drilling sites within two miles of their ranch had devastating effects on the family’s property and health.

“My daughter was experiencing nosebleeds, rashes,” said Ms. Parr in a 2011 press conference. “There were mornings she would wake up about 6:00 … covered in blood, screaming, crying.”

Before filing the lawsuit, the Parrs had been forced to sell their ranch and move due to fracking-related contamination to both their land and their animals — oh, and also the small matter of regularly waking up soaked in blood pouring from their nasal cavities.

Parr v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc. is being called the first case in which a jury has awarded compensation for fracking-related contamination. Most such cases are settled out of court. Like the suit filed in 2010 by Stephanie and Rich Hallowich of the ironically named Mount Pleasant, Penn., who were forced to relocate after shale drilling in the area polluted the air and water near their home, resulting in serious health problems. They sued Range Resources and ended up settling their case for $750,000. The terms of the settlement famously included a highly restrictive lifelong gag order that prohibits the Hallowich family, including their children, from ever discussing their case or fracking in general.

The Parrs’ lead attorney, David Matthews, praised the family for persisting in its fight: “It takes guts to say, ‘I’m going to stand here and protect my family from an invasion of our right to enjoy our property.’ It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”

Julia Roberts, are you listening? Erin Brockovich 2: Get Off My Shale is guaranteed box office gold!


Source
$3 million verdict for ‘first fracking trial’, MSNBC
In Landmark Ruling, Jury Says Fracking Company Must Pay $3 Million To Sickened Family, ClimateProgress

Eve Andrews is a Grist fellow and new Seattle transplant via the mean streets of Chicago, Poughkeepsie, and Pittsburgh, respectively and in order of meanness. Follow her on Twitter.

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Pony up, frackers: Texas family wins $3 million in contamination lawsuit

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The Brothers Koch quietly become largest tar-sands lease holders in Alberta

The Brothers Koch quietly become largest tar-sands lease holders in Alberta

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Charles and David Koch sure are a busy coupla pranksters! In the 2012 election, the Mark and Donnie Wahlberg of modern-day American capitalism spent more than $412 million trying (and largely failing) to get their favorite candidates elected. And they’re gearing up to drop some cash on this year’s elections too.

But fossil-fuel-loving politicians aren’t the only item in the Koch shopping cart. Turns out the wacky sibling duo has spent the past dozen years throwing substantial bills at tar-sands property in Alberta – enough to buy leases on 1.1 million acres worth, to be exact.

That makes Koch Industries the single largest tar-sands lease holder in the province, ranking ahead of energy giants Conoco Phillips and Shell. As a point of reference, Alberta has the third largest crude oil reserves in the world, second only to Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

So what might this mean for the Keystone XL debate? As it happens, not that much. From The Washington Post:

The finding about the Koch acreage is likely to inflame the already contentious debate about the Keystone XL Pipeline and spur activists and environmentalists seeking to slow or stop planned expansions of production from the northern Alberta oil sands, or tar sands. Environmental groups have already made opposing the pipeline their leading cause this spring and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called the Koch brothers Charles and David “un-American” and “shadowy billionaires.”

The link between Koch and Keystone XL is, however, indirect at best. Koch’s oil production in northern Alberta is “negligible,” according to industry sources and quarterly publications of the provincial government. Moreover, Koch has not reserved any space in the Keystone XL pipeline, a process that usually takes place before a pipeline is built.  The pipeline also does not run anywhere near Koch’s refining facilities. And TransCanada, owner of the Keystone routes, says Koch is not expected to be one of the pipeline’s customers.

However, as such a large stakeholder in the region, Koch Industries could stand to profit from Keystone XL because it’s expected to lower transportation costs, pushing other pipelines and rail companies to reduce their prices to stay in the oil-shipping game.

Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States with annual revenues of $115 billion, is renowned for both its secrecy and the diversity of its holdings. Next on the company’s agenda? Sky’s the limit! They’re all over the place! By the time you get home tonight, there’s a chance that they may have acquired all of your shoes, but you probably won’t find out about it for another 12 years.


Source
The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers., The Washington Post

Eve Andrews is a Grist fellow and new Seattle transplant via the mean streets of Chicago, Poughkeepsie, and Pittsburgh, respectively and in order of meanness. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Brothers Koch quietly become largest tar-sands lease holders in Alberta

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San Francisco moves to ban plastic water bottles, scoffs at every other sad city

San Francisco moves to ban plastic water bottles, scoffs at every other sad city

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Two big pieces of news out of San Francisco this week: Barry Bonds started a brief stint coaching for the Giants, and the city made significant progress toward outlawing plastic water bottles. As a result, the average level of self-satisfaction exhibited by San Franciscans increased by a factor of three.

And that’s just from Bonds’ ego! Did you really think we were going to shame a city for striving to be more environmentally conscious? Not that we’re ruling out that San Francisco might have done it just a little bit to make every other American city look even worse. (Oh, come on! You were thinking it too!) Still, this is downright cheery news.

On Tuesday, the city’s board of supervisors unanimously approved a ban on selling single-use plastic bottles of water on city property. The ban, which still needs a second vote and the sign-off of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, will go into effect in October of this year for indoor events, and 2016 for outdoor events. Sporting events that require excessive water consumption — such as the San Francisco Marathon — could be excluded from these restrictions, but not without first attempting to secure other, more sustainable sources of water.

SFGate reports:

[Supervisor David] Chiu noted that it wasn’t until the 1990s that there was a plastic water bottle industry, which is now a $60 billion a year business. He said one goal of the legislation is to get people thinking about the waste, much like the city’s plastic bag ban, which has dramatically increased the number of consumers who use reusable bags.

“I want to remind people that not long ago, our world was not addicted to plastic water bottles,” he said. “Before (the 1990s), for centuries, everybody managed to stay hydrated.”

At which point, every other city supervisor struggled to recall what life was like at any point before approximately last Thanksgiving.

Chiu, however sassy about it, has a point. Since 1991, U.S. bottled water consumption per capita has tripled. And this is in spite of the fact that bottled water is widely acknowledged as an enormous scam: 25 percent or more of bottled water is just straight tap water, but you pay as much as 2,000 times more for it than the stuff that comes out of your kitchen faucet.

As scams go, bottled water also has an undeniable environmental impact. In 2007, production of water bottles for U.S. consumption alone used up to 54 million barrels of oil. Seventy-five percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead ending up on beaches, in rivers, and partially full of unidentified liquid on nearly all the empty bus seats you’ve ever tried to sit in.

San Francisco, you’ll always be The City That Waits to Die to us. That said, Most Sustainable City in the United States has a pretty nice a ring to it, too.


Source
S.F. supervisors back ban on sale of plastic water bottles, SFGate

Eve Andrews is a Grist fellow and new Seattle transplant via the mean streets of Chicago, Poughkeepsie, and Pittsburgh, respectively and in order of meanness. Follow her on Twitter.

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San Francisco moves to ban plastic water bottles, scoffs at every other sad city

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Americans have no idea how much water we use — or how to conserve it

Americans have no idea how much water we use — or how to conserve it

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“I consider myself a fairly water-conscious person,” says the average American, sipping on a venti iced coffee while dipping his toes in an Olympic-sized pool, spritzing himself with Evian. “I probably just use a few gallons a day,” he continues, stepping out of a 45-minute shower. “By the way — have I told you about my toilet that flushes automatically every 20 minutes, just to make sure it’s consistently pristine?”

Just kidding — it’s not quite that bad. But, according to a recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the average American consumes twice as much water as she thinks she does. Furthermore, we Americans are not quite sure which practices are the most water-intensive. As it turns out, the Olympic-sized pool isn’t the biggest concern — 70 percent of personal water use occurs within the home, according to a 2005 EPA study. And the biggest culprit under the roof? Toilet-flushing, accounting for 27 percent of all indoor water use.

Perhaps most troubling, Americans overwhelmingly believe that changing their habits, as opposed to improving the efficiency of their plumbing, is the most effective way to cut down on water consumption. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said curtailment methods, such as flushing less frequently, are the best way to reduce water use. Only 10 percent chose more preventative measures, such as installing new toilets that use just 1.6 gallons per flush in lieu of old toilets that use five to six gallons.

The concept of “embodied water” — also known as virtual water, or the amount of water required to produce a certain quantity of food — was also relatively unknown to the study subjects. A pound of coffee, for example, has a water footprint of 2,264 gallons.

Study author Shahzeen Attari, an assistant professor at Indiana University, reminds us that, contrary to popular belief, we can’t count on the unlimited availability of freshwater. “Most Americans assume that water supply is both reliable and plentiful. However, research has shown that with climate change water supply will become more variable due to salinization of ground water and increased variability in precipitation.”

California’s certainly learning that the hard way right now.

To sum up: Water is involved in pretty much everything you do, and its supply is limited because the planet is being destroyed. Keep that in mind next time you’re in the bathroom.

Eve Andrews is a Grist fellow and new Seattle transplant via the mean streets of Chicago, Poughkeepsie, and Pittsburgh, respectively and in order of meanness. Follow her on Twitter.Find this article interesting? Donate now to support our work.Read more: Cities

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Americans have no idea how much water we use — or how to conserve it

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