Alas, it seems that work at one or more of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)’s many-tentacled – and ever-increasing – arms is never done! Today’s topic: the “dangers” of “mercury”, and a report on this agency’s untiring efforts to get this substance … you guessed it … “banned”.
Depending on your perspective (and/or dental fillings past, present or future), you may (or may not) choose to agree with the Canadian Dental Association’s assessment (which I had previously noted):
5. What amount of mercury does a person take into the body from natural sources and how much comes from amalgam fillings?
The amount depends on a number of factors, such as the type of food you eat, your occupational exposure, environmental levels and the number of amalgam fillings you have. Health Canada estimates that for the average Canadian adult 20 to 59 years old the amount of mercury absorbed by the body from all sources is about nine millionths of a gram per day. Of this total dental amalgam is estimated to contribute about three millionths of a gram per day. [emphasis added -hro]
None of the above, however, appears to have deterred the ever-alarmed (and perpetually alarming) UNEP from whipping up yet another substance about which we should be alarmed – and against which (natch!) the world should be taking action … under the ever-watchful eye of the UNEP – via the aegis of one or more of its myriad “Conventions”! Quelle surprise, eh?!
It seems that they’ve been working up the alarmism on mercury since November 2007 (if not before). As I had reported almost two years ago, after their January 2013 six-day confab, this is a “battle” that may well have been brewing since 1984.
At least according to the 700 members of the heretofore unknown (at least to me!) International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) who – for some reason I have yet to fathom – were aligned with Human Rights Watch on this particular issue. And/or vice versa! But I digress …
According to the latest and greatest from the UNEP’s mercuryconvention.org site:
The major highlights of the Minamata Convention on Mercury include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, control measures on air emissions, and the international regulation of the informal sector for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
The Convention draws attention to a global and ubiquitous metal that, while naturally occurring, has broad uses in everyday objects and is released to the atmosphere, soil and water from a variety of sources. Controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle has been a key factor in shaping the obligations under the convention.
And lest there be any <gasp> doubt in your mind, dear reader, be sure to take a look at the following (from October 2013) … Yet another in the UNEP’s tick-tick boom-boom doom-doom series of videos:
How scary is that, eh?! Oh, btw … in what seems to have become typical UNEP fashion there’s a notation beneath the video:
Sorry, comments have been disabled by the owner of this video
So do feel free to add your comments below ;-)
This same site, btw, indicates that while 395 days have elapsed since the Convention was “adopted”, only 128 signatures have been acquired (although they do not specify from whom) and eight “ratifications” have been obtained.
And if the IISD’s report on the latest and greatest (i.e. Nov. 3-7, 2014) gathering of the great and the good (aka “The sixth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury (INC6)”) is to be believed, there are many hurdles to be overcome. Not the least of which include (according to the IISD’s Summary):
INC6 was very much about setting the stage for the entry into force and implementation of the Minamata Convention. Recognizing the complexity of some of work ahead, the Committee frontloaded some of the most challenging issues, such as elaboration of the rules that will guide the functioning of the Conference of Parties, including rules for decision-making for the COP, with some delegates advocating a provision for voting and others calling for consensus-based decision-making only. Delegates also struggled to reach agreement on reporting, debating how flexible reporting mechanisms could be without compromising effective compliance with parties’ obligations under the Convention.
Overall, discussions of technical issues suffered from a familiar problem in this negotiating process: delegates must reach agreement on some difficult issues before they are able to unlock others. For example, before parties can formally establish a permanent Secretariat to facilitate implementation, they must agree on financial rules. Similarly, agreement on rules of procedure will be required for the COP to hold its first meeting. [emphasis added -hro]
Now, reading the above (and between the lines of the whole IISD report of this gathering), the one thing that really puzzles me is the apparent optimism of UNEP head honcho, Achim Steiner, who is primarily known for his uncanny ability to summon up doom and gloom (unless, of course, we all act now … if not sooner).
Yet, one finds the following in this particular report’s IISD summary:
Highlighting UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner’s description of the Minamata Convention as the “happy convention,” Chair Fernando Lugris encouraged delegates to demonstrate strong commitment to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury by working cooperatively and constructively on the tasks before them. […]
The “happy convention“?! Has Steiner not seen the video above?! Is he not aware of the financial – and many other – hurdles to be overcome?! One might well ask, “What has he been smoking – and/or reading?!”
Although, it is not beyond the realm of UNEP possibility that Steiner, in his “transformational” wisdom, has … uh … redefined “happy” ;-)