TEN ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTS
1. Energy efficiency, not tax breaks for fossil fuel companies
Euan Graham,Tax relief for oil and gas is trouble for UK bills and energy transition, E3G bit.ly/3NJZKkT
See also, Damian Carrington, Sunak’s UK oil subsidy could have insulated 2m homes, says thinktank,” The Guardian (31 May 2022). bit.ly/3N3HkMg
“Rishi Sunak announced the 91% tax break alongside a windfall tax on the huge profits of oil and gas companies last week. The E3G thinktank calculated that the tax break would hand between £2.5bn and £5.7bn back to the oil companies over three years, while an energy efficiency programme of £3bn over the same period would upgrade 2.1m homes making them less reliant on gas.
Soaring international gas prices are expected to more than double energy bills in a year by October, pushing a third of households into fuel poverty. Proponents of energy efficiency, including loft and wall insulation, say it is a no-regrets investment that cuts bills for good, slashes the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis and boosts jobs. Green groups said the chancellor’s grants to households partly funded by the windfall tax were only a “sticking plaster”.”
2. Tar and microplastics mixing together for new form of pollution
Cristopher Dominguez-Hernandez, e al., “Plastitar: A new threat for coastal environments,” Science of the Total Environment (15 Sept 20220. bit.ly/3aRc9oZ
See also, Ashifa Kassam, “Plastitar: mix of tar and microplastics is new form of pollution, say scientists,” The Guardian (13 June 2022). bit.ly/3xIHfIA
“Researchers in Canary Islands coin term for new type of marine pollution they say could be leaking toxic chemicals into oceans
When it comes to plastitar, its formation is simple: as residue from oil spills in the ocean evaporates and weathers, it washes ashore as tar balls that cling to the rocky shores of the Canary Islands. “It acts like Play-Doh,” Hernández Borges said. “And when waves carrying microplastics or any other kind of marine debris crash on to the rocks, this debris sticks to the tar.”
As time goes on, the formation hardens, with everything from bits of discarded fishing gear to plastic pellets and remnants of polyester and nylon becoming fused to the tar.”
3. Disability and climate crises
Status Report on Disability Inclusion in National Climate Commitments and Policies, McGill University and the International Disability Alliance (June 2022). bit.ly/3mGahlK
See also, Fiona Harvey, “Disabled people being ‘systematically ignored’ on climate crisis, says study,” The Guardian (10 June 2022). h
Few countries make provisions for the needs of people with disabilities when they make plans for adapting to the effects of climate breakdown, and none mention disabled people in their programmes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the first comprehensive review of the issue.
Yet people with disabilities were among the most vulnerable to climate impacts, partly because of the nature of their disabilities and also because of the social disadvantage that often accompanies this. “These are some of the people who are most marginalised in our societies,” said Jodoin. “They tend to be poorer, to have fewer resources.”
4. Delay instead of denial for opponents of climate action
Jennie King, Lukasz Janulewicz, Francesca Arcostanzo, Deny, Deceive, Delay: Documenting and Responding to Climate Disinformation at COP26 and Beyond, Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition bit.ly/3zFv14Z
See also, Matthew Taylor, “Climate policy dragged into culture wars as a ‘delay’ tactic, finds study,” The Guardian (9 June 2022). bit.ly/3aQURIH.
“Climate policy is being dragged into the culture wars with misinformation and junk science being spread across the internet by a relatively small group of individuals and groups, according to a study.
The research… shows that the climate emergency – and the measures needed to deal with it – are in some cases being conflated with divisive issues such as critical race theory, LGBTQ+ rights, abortion access and anti-vaccine campaigns.
The study, published by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition, found that although outright denials of the facts of the climate crisis were less common, opponents were now likely to focus on “delay, distraction and misinformation” to hinder the rapid action required.
“Our analysis has shown that climate disinformation has become more complex, evolving from outright denial into identifiable ‘discourses of delay’ to exploit the gap between buy-in and action,” said Jennie King, head of climate disinformation at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.”
5. Need to keep repeating accurate messages about climate change
Brendan Nyhan, Ethan Porter, and Thomas Wood, “Time and skeptical opinion content erode the effects of science coverage on climate beliefs and attitudes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (21 June 2022). bit.ly/3ytuXEi
See also, Fiona Harvey, “Truthful climate reporting shifts viewpoints, but only briefly, study finds,” The Guardian (20 June 2022). bit.ly/3y4LFcW
“Researchers who ran an experiment in the US to find out how people responded to media reporting on the climate found that people’s views of climate science really were shifted by reading reporting that accurately reflected scientific findings. They were also more willing to back policies that would tackle the problem.
But the effect quickly faded, especially when people were exposed to other media that cast doubt on climate science, according to the paper, to be published on Friday in the peer-review journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
[Thomas Wood] “suggested one way to reinforce the impacts of accurate science reporting was to repeat it more often… “What we found suggests that people need to hear the same accurate messages about climate change again and again. If they only hear it once, it recedes very quickly.”
6. Climate and social factors affect extreme weather events
Ben Clarke et al., “Extreme weather impacts of climate change: an attribution perspective,” Environmental Research: Climate (June 2022). bit.ly/3NGrg2B
See also Sofia Quaglia, “Climate change role clear in many extreme events but social factors also key, study finds,” The Guardian (28 June 2022). bit.ly/3HZNZVT
“In the study published in the journal Environmental Research: Climate from IOP Publishing, Otto’s team used “attribution science” to pore over available international data, literature and climate models – as well as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports – and calculate how human-induced climate change is affecting the impact of five types of extreme weather events: heatwaves, heavy rainfall, drought, wildfires and tropical cyclones.
7. High crop yields with less artificial fertilisers
Chloe MacLaren, “Long-term evidence for ecological intensification as a pathway to sustainable agriculture,” Nature sustainability go.nature.com/3AacEFf
See also, Fiona Harvey, “Using far less chemical fertiliser still produces high crop yields, study finds: Climate-friendly practices can increase yields while improving ecosystem of farms, scientists say,” The Guardian (27 June 2022). bit.ly/3Nqei8Y
“Farmers could continue to produce high crop yields with far less use of artificial fertilisers if they adopted environmentally sustainable practices, an academic study has shown for the first time.
Techniques such as adding manure and compost to soils, growing nitrogen-fixing plants between crops, and cultivating a wide range of produce instead of sticking to the same crops, can all increase yields while protecting and improving the natural ecosystems of farms.Adopting these practices would be enough to replace a substantial proportion of chemical fertiliser, the price of which has soared owing to high fuel prices and the war in Ukraine, the study found.”
8. Flood resistant crops
Zeguang Liu, et el., Ethylene augments root hypoxia tolerance via growth cessation and reactive oxygen species amelioration, Plant Physiology, 2022;, kiac245, doi.org/10.1093/plphys/kiac245
See also, Grace van Deelen, “Scientists Are Pursuing Flood-Resistant Crops, Thanks to Climate-Induced Heavy Rains and Other Extreme Weather,” Inside Climate News (26 June 2022). bit.ly/39Y7thi
Flooding claims lives, ruins infrastructure and threatens agriculture—and jeopardizes food security. In a House Agriculture Committee hearing last week, U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) called recent Midwest flooding “devastating” and said flooding was “already affecting the way our farmers produce and distribute food.”
Now, new research could aid farmers in the eye of the storm. A study by Utrecht University researchers, published in May in Plant Physiology, identifies a possible way to increase flood resistance in crops by treating them with ethylene, a compound produced by plants that helps with growth and ripening. Researchers hope the findings will translate to better climate resilience in the global food supply, especially as more agricultural land becomes susceptible to more frequent flooding.
9. Rising temperaure, falling sleep
Kelton Minor, et al., “Rising temperatures erode human sleep globally,” One Earth (20 May 2022). bit.ly/3nstBDr
See also, Victoria St. Martin, “Warmer Nights Caused by Climate Change Take a Toll on Sleep: A massive data crunch reveals how much sleep people across the planet could lose by the end of the century,” Inside Climate News (31 May 2022). bit.ly/3y0Gg5v
“A study released last week by a team of climatologists found that by the end of this century, sleeplessness related to global warming will be so pervasive that our descendants will likely lose roughly two and a half days of sleep per year compared to the levels that typical adults enjoy today.
The findings, published in a peer-reviewed study in the journal One Earth, used data from more than 10 billion sleep-duration measurements from tracking wristbands across 68 different countries and combined that with local weather and climate data.
“We found that warmer than average nights harmed human sleep globally and unequally so people sleep less and the probability of having a short night of sleep steeply increases as the temperatures warm outside,” said Kelton Minor, a doctoral student at the University of Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science and the lead author of the study.
“And I think importantly, we found that this hidden human cost of heat is not distributed equally in the population,” Minor said, noting that he and his colleagues found that sleep loss per degree of warming occurs approximately twice as much among the elderly as compared to younger or middle aged adults. That rate was approximately three times higher for lower income versus high income countries.”
10. England may have about 2m ancient and veteran trees, but only 115,000 are on record
Nolan, Victoria; Reader, Tom; Gilbert, Francis; Atkinson, Nick, “The Ancient Tree Inventory: a summary of the results of a 15 year citizen science project recording ancient, veteran and notable trees across the UK,” University of Nottingham (AUGUST 2020). bit.ly/3NCN4M9
See also, Helena Horton and Patrick Barkham, “Study suggests existence of up to 2.1m ancient and veteran trees in England: Researchers find there could be many more ancient trees than previously recorded, amid calls for better protections,” The Guardian (30 June 2022). bit.ly/3I0XeoV
“There could be more than 2m ancient and veteran trees in England, many times more than previously recorded, researchers have found.
Campaigners are calling on the government to give ancient trees the same protections as wildlife and old buildings.
A study by the University of Nottingham has found there could be 1.7m to 2.1m ancient and veteran trees in England, of which only 115,000 are on record. Most of these are unlikely to be protected by any conservation methods, policy or legislation, so it is impossible to know how many are at risk.
Now, using work from the Woodland Trust, the researchers have estimated where these trees could be. To create a map, scientists used an ancient tree inventory created by the trust, and created a number of different mathematical models, called species distribution models, to predict where the trees may be.”
EDITORS NOTE (August 2021) re revision to Reports section
In August 2021, we revised the Reports section of the magazine. In the past we used the Reports section to provide digests of generally long, complex and usually technical discussions of environmental issues or developments. The authors of these reports were typically environmental agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), or academics. The intent was to make these reports more accessible to a wide, general audience so readers could get a sense of what the reports covered and what they concluded. Readers then could connect to the link for the reports and delve further into the details and findings.
Over the past dozen years publications of technical reports have included executive summaries, often written in simpler language than the reports themselves. At the same time there has been a rapid growth in environmental studies across the globe and just finding relevant or interesting reports through the internet is a challenge.
So we have converted the Reports section to a list of ten of the most interesting, long form examples of writing on key environmental issues and developments. We will include the information necessary to find the writing — authors, title and link to publication — and we will add a short subheading to provide more clues about what is covered in the writing, much like a subheading expands on the headline for a newspaper article. We interpret the term “reports” liberally to include almost any format that provides us with data, information, and opinion on environmental matters. For instance, in the first of these new reports, we included a website, The Geography of Future Water Challenges, derived from a written report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency with the same name and found at bit.ly/3fgSK0n
On one level this list of reports will do for long-form writing what our News section does for newspaper articles.
With the explosion of information across the internet, just finding what’s out there can be difficult. We hope this new version of the Reports is helpful.
As with the other material in the irish environment magazine, the focus is on environmental matters on the island of Ireland, and that necessarily requires coverage of developments in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. We will also continue to include material from across the globe as developments everywhere can inform developments anywhere.