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In ode to Halloween, Ellina Webb looks into the real threats that should be giving you the heebie-jeebies. 

Did you know, according to a 2017 survey by Chapman University in America, global warming and climate change scored as number 8 in the top 10 American fears (out of a total of 80 fears). With Halloween around the corner, ghosts, clowns, zombies and blood didn’t even make the cut, which goes to show that this Halloween there are many more scary things to hide behind the pillow from…

So based on the top 10 list, here are the real scary costumes I recommend you wear this All Hallows' Eve. 

Pollution of Oceans, Rivers and Lakes

This fear came in at number 3 on the top 10 list with over 53% of responders being afraid or very afraid of it. Pollution of open water will have a major effect on marine life and is a serious ecological threat. Essentially toxic substances enter the water, make it contaminated and degrade its quality. This water may also enter the public water system and affect drinking water. 

Open water pollution has also become quite a popular topic in the media since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The pollution of the local water put over 1,400 athletes at risk of illness due to contact in sports such as sailing, rowing and open water swimming. In fact a study by Associated Press showed viral levels at up to 1.7m times over what would be considered problematic in the US.

Burning of fossil fuels and the increase in other human pollutants is also having a big effect on the acidification of oceans, again having a massive effect on marine life. And of course, plastic in the ocean and other open water sources has been a huge topic this year as experts predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. It actually takes about 450 years for a plastic bottle to completely break down and in that time, the broken debris is ingested by marine animals.

It also washes up onto beaches, trapping and injuring animals like birds, seals and penguins.

So how would you make a costume of this? Easy! Dress as your favourite marine animal - like a Seal for example (Seal onsie can be found here), stick a can holder on one wrist, a plastic bag on the other arm and a straw up your nose. Sorted.

Pollution of Drinking Water

The fear of polluted drinking water came in at number 4 on the list with over 50% of responders being afraid or very afraid of it. Drinking water in the US however is generally clean and safe, although that wasn’t always the case before the 1970s where Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974 – followed by tougher amendments in 1986 and 1996. However as this article on The Guardian notes, a recent study has found that micro plastic particles are being found in drinking water. In fact the US has the highest contamination rate at 94% and plastic particles were ironically found in tap water sampled at sites including the Congress building.

So for the costume I think again you could go easy with this, just grab a white boiler suit, some goggles and a scientific beaker which you need to fill with water, a bit of mud and a few nasty floating plastic bits. For added affect you could even add a toxic sticker!

Contaminated water
Polluted water You can't say seeing this outside your window wouldn't scare you!

Global Warming & Climate Change

As I mentioned previously this fear came in at number 8 with 48% of responders being afraid or very afraid of it – possibly because in the US extreme weather such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey have made Americans more aware of the direct impact climate change and global warming will have on their lives.

Although the survey doesn’t actually differentiate between the two, there is actually a difference between them.

Global warming is the increase in temperature across the Earth due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions – in fact there is a brilliant infographic showing the shocking temperature anomalies over the past 100 years here.

Climate change however encompasses a range of issues caused by human activities like burning fossil fuels. These issues include sea level changes, melting of polar ice caps and extreme weathers – all of which will have major impact on humans, animals and plant life.

In fact, as this article posted on The Independent last week points out, climate change might actually be worse than scientist first thought, highlighting how climate change is advancing at an unprecedented rate - which is the scariest thing I've heard all year!

With the increase in awareness of climate change through literature, films, documentary, celebrity influence and more, my colleagues and I have become quite the climate change experts as these articles below will show:

Houston, we have a problem and it's not just the fire ants! - By Russell Jones

The effects of climate change in London – Part 1 - By Ellina Webb

Are companies doing enough to combat Climate Change? - By Gemma Lakin

Now my favourite costume to help you represent this fear is the melting polar ice cap – with added polar bear. All you need to do is buy a white sheet, cut out a hole for your head to go through (people have seriously done it, I’ve Googled the results!), soak the bottom of the sheet for added “melting affect” and stick a sad polar bear on your shoulder.  

The real monsters A haze of pollution in the air, global warming, toxic car fumes... who really cares about the zombie?

Air Pollution

Air pollution prematurely kills an estimated 6.5 million people in the world every year, if fact to put that into perspective – every year more people are prematurely killed per year by pollutants including toxic air, than by all war and violence, so it’s no wonder it scored 10th place on the list with over 44% of responders being afraid or very afraid of it. 

According to this article by Inhabitant pollution it is also responsible for more deaths than AIDs and malaria combined, as noted in a study by the Lancet medical journal. And if that didn’t bother you, the 9 million pollution related deaths estimated in 2015 caused about $4.9trillion in annual losses!

For this final outfit you could go a bit Dick Van Dyke with a sooty face and dirty clothes (bad cockney accent is optional). Just so people understand its air pollution however I would put one of those anti-pollution masks on too and why not add a dirty “I love London” t shirt on because in the UK London is one of the highest polluted cities, hence schemes like the T-charge have now been introduced. 

So where did our typical gruesome Halloween monsters come?

Out of 80 fears, even after the recent release of Stephen King’s IT, clowns scored low at 76 with only around 6% of responders being afraid, blood scored 5.5%, zombies 5.3% and ghosts 4.3%.

So I don’t know about you but I know what I’ll be dressing up as this Halloween!

And for those of you who wondered what else made the top 10 list, please see below – or for the full list of 80 fears, click here:

Top Ten Fears of 2017 % Afraid or Very Afraid

  1. Corrupt Government Officials 74.5
  2. American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare 55.3
  3. Pollution of Oceans, Rivers and Lakes 53.1
  4. Pollution of Drinking Water 50.4
  5. Not having enough money for the future 50.2
  6. High Medical Bills 48.4
  7. The US will be involved in another World War 48.4
  8. Global Warming & Climate Change 48
  9. North Korea using weapons 47.5
  10. Air Pollution 44.9

Ellina Webb is a Senior Marketing Executive at Mitsubishi Electric

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