October 2022

1.  Growing recognition of risks from nitrogen dioxide in urban air

HEI State of Global Air Initiative, Air Quality and Health in Cities (17 August 2022). bit.ly/3KbVWIy

See also, Fiona Harvey, “Major cities blighted by nitrogen dioxide pollution, research finds,” The Guardian (17 August 2022).  bit.ly/3pBfvR8
Cities in relatively prosperous countries are blighted by serious levels of air pollution from nitrogen dioxide, often without realising the extent of the problem, research has found.

Moscow is the world’s second worst city for nitrogen dioxide pollution, behind Shanghai in China, while St Petersburg takes fourth place. Other cities near Russia follow close behind, including Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan, and Minsk, capital of Belarus, at seventh and eighth place respectively, according to the research, published on Wednesday.

Pallavi Pant, senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute in the US, who oversaw the research, said: “Finding several Russian cities at the top of the list [for NO2 air pollution] was definitely surprising for us. It is likely to mainly come from traffic pollution and a vehicle fleet that is older.”

2.  Social inequalities in climate change-attributed extreme weather event impacts
Kevin T. Smiley, et al., “Social inequalities in climate change-attributed impacts of Hurricane Harvey,” Nature Communications (25 August 2022).  go.nature.com/3e1IfQH

Climate change is already increasing the severity of extreme weather events such as with rainfall during hurricanes. But little research to date investigates if, and to what extent, there are social inequalities in climate change-attributed extreme weather event impacts. Here, we use climate change attribution science paired with hydrological flood models to estimate climate change-attributed flood depths and damages during Hurricane Harvey in Harris County, Texas. Using detailed land-parcel and census tract socio-economic data, we then describe the socio-spatial characteristics associated with these climate change-induced impacts. We show that 30 to 50% of the flooded properties would not have flooded without climate change. Climate change-attributed impacts were particularly felt in Latina/x/o neighborhoods, and especially so in Latina/x/o neighborhoods that were low-income and among those located outside of FEMA’s 100-year floodplain. Our focus is thus on climate justice challenges that not only concern future climate change-induced risks, but are already affecting vulnerable populations disproportionately now.

3.  Melting glaciers fuel Pakistan’s fatal floods

Ethan Lee, et al., “Accelerated mass loss of Himalayan glaciers since the Little Ice Age,” Nature (2021).  go.nature.com/3pWiHXF

See also, Benji Jones, “How melting glaciers fueled Pakistan’s fatal floods:  Pakistan has more than 7,000 glaciers. Climate change is melting them into floodwater,” Vox (30 August 2022).  bit.ly/3Rmnu0f

“The country is not only a glacier hot spot, but melting in the Himalayas — one of the main mountain ranges in the country — is accelerating, according to a 2021 study.

“Our findings clearly show that ice is now being lost from Himalayan glaciers at a rate that is at least ten times higher than the average rate over past centuries,” Jonathan Carrivick, the study’s lead author, said in a statement when the study came out.

Along with melting snow, glacial runoff can cause rivers to swell, even many miles downstream from the mountains, Kamp said. That’s especially worrisome when it coincides with monsoons, which climate change may also be worsening (partly because hotter air can hold more water).”

4.  Cutting heat loss from houses is more effective in the long term than subsidising bills

Rosa Hodgkin and Tom Sasse, “Tackling the UK’s energy efficiency problem:  What the Truss government should learn from other countries,” Institute for Government (September 2022).

See also, Michael Savage, “UK must insulate homes or face a worse energy crisis in 2023, say experts: Cutting heat loss from houses will be more effective in the long term than subsidising bills, according to analysis,” The Guardian (11 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3Rz798V

“Britain will be plunged into an even worse energy crisis in a year’s time without an immediate plan to improve leaky homes and dramatically reduce demand for gas, ministers have been warned.”

“Research from the Institute for Government (IfG) found the UK scored worse than countries right across Europe with a range of climates in terms of the energy efficiency of its homes. Citing analysis of a 2020 study, it found that a UK home with an indoor temperature of 20C and an outside temperature of 0C lost on average 3C after five hours – up to three times as much as homes in European countries such as Germany.

The analysis concludes that UK households and businesses “are likely to still be facing high energy bills in the winter of 2023 – quite possibly beyond that”. It adds: “If the government focuses only on short-term financial support, and long-term measures unlikely to have a major impact, it will find itself in an even more difficult position in a year’s time.”

5.  Increasing risks from climate tipping points

David I. Armstrong McKay, et al., “Exceeding 1.5°C global warming could trigger multiple climate tipping points,” Science (9 Sept 2022). www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abn7950

See also, Damian Carrington, “World on brink of five ‘disastrous’ climate tipping points, study finds,” The Guardian (8 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3quthph

“The climate crisis has driven the world to the brink of multiple “disastrous” tipping points, according to a major study.

It shows five dangerous tipping points may already have been passed due to the 1.1C of global heating caused by humanity to date.

These include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, eventually producing a huge sea level rise, the collapse of a key current in the north Atlantic, disrupting rain upon which billions of people depend for food, and an abrupt melting of carbon-rich permafrost.”

6.  Illegal marine turtle exploitation

Jesse F. Senko and Kayla M. Burgher, et, al., “Global patterns of illegal marine turtle exploitation,” Global Change Biology (12 July 2022). onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/gcb.16378

See also, Sofia Quaglia, “More than 1.1m sea turtles illegally killed over past 30 years, study finds,” The Guardian (9 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3BwPhpG
“Despite laws to protect them, scientists at Arizona State University estimate that about 44,000 turtles across 65 countries were illegally killed and exploited every year over the past decade.

Sea turtles are hunted for food, for use in traditional medicine and to be sold as artefacts, decor or jewellery. Turtle hunting and trafficking is part of a global illegal wildlife market worth as much as $23bn (£20bn) a year, according to the UN.

The study identified nearly 43,000 turtles as being trafficked between 1990 and 2010, but this is probably a huge underestimate, Senko said.”

7.  Air pollution disparities between the rich and the poor

American Chemical Society, Tracking air pollution disparities — daily — from space (22 August 2022). bit.ly/3BxKu7y

See also, Gary Fuller, “Poorest areas bear brunt of air pollution, US study shows,” The Guardian (9 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3qvL5jQ

“Poor households emitted the least air pollution compared with those in the wealthiest areas. They also owned fewer cars and produced less pollution per kilometre driven. The gap between air pollution in the wealthiest and poorest areas grew in the first decade of the century.

Researchers used sensors mounted on satellites and aircraft to map nitrogen dioxide across 11 major US cities. Clouds and snow on the ground prevented measurement on many days but the researchers were able to map the pollution exposure well enough to compare with census data.

The poorest areas in New York and Newark – defined as those with more than one-fifth of households below the poverty level – had air pollution about 26% greater than wealthier areas.

In Los Angeles, black, Hispanic and Asian communities of the lowest socioeconomic status endured average pollution that was 38% greater than their non-Hispanic, white counterparts – the greatest difference of any of the cities studied.”

8.  Pakistan floods made up to 50% worse by global heating

Friederike E. L. Otto, et al., Climate change likely increased extreme monsoon rainfall, flooding highly vulnerable communities in Pakistan,”  World Weather Attribution (Sept 2022).

See also, Fiona Harvey, “Pakistan floods ‘made up to 50% worse by global heating’,” The Guardian (15 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3BNbe4a

“The intense rainfall that has caused devastating floods across Pakistan was made worse by global heating, which has also made future floods more likely, scientists have found.

Climate change could have increased the most intense rainfall over a short period in the worst affected areas by about 50%, according to a study by an international team of climate scientists.

The floods were a one in 100-year event, but similar events are likely to become more frequent in future as global temperatures continue to rise, the scientists said.”

9.  Environmental risks from artificial nighttime lighting

Alejandro Sanchez DE Miguel et al.,”Environmental risks from artificial nighttime lighting widespread and increasing across Europe,” Science Advances (14 Sept 2022).

See also, Waseem Mohamed, “Increase in LED lighting ‘risks harming human and animal health’” The Guardian (14 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3LlZF7c

“While LED lighting is more energy-efficient and costs less to run, the researchers say the increased blue light radiation associated with it is causing “substantial biological impacts” across the continent. The study also claims that previous research into the effects of light pollution have underestimated the impacts of blue light radiation.

Chief among the health consequences of blue light is its ability to suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep patterns in humans and other organisms. Numerous scientific studies have warned that increased exposure to artificial blue light can worsen people’s sleeping habits, which in turn can lead to a variety of chronic health conditions over time.”


10.  How the climate crisis is fuelling hunger in an already hungry world

“HUNGER IN A HEATING WORLD: How the climate crisis is fuelling hunger in an already hungry world,” Oxfam (5 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3doOMow

See also, Fiona Harvey, “Extreme hunger soaring in world’s climate hotspots, says Oxfam,” The Guardian (16 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3RU8Y0y

“Extreme hunger is closely linked to the climate crisis, with many areas of the world most affected by extreme weather experiencing severe food shortages, research has shown.

The development charity Oxfam examined 10 of the world’s worst climate hotspots, afflicted by drought, floods, severe storms and other extreme weather, and found their rates of extreme hunger had more than doubled in the past six years.

Within the countries studied, 48 million people are currently suffering from acute hunger, up from about 21 million people in 2016. Of these, about 18 million people are on the brink of starvation, according to the Oxfam report published on Thursday.”

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