Ten Environmental Reports

1.  Inadequacy of national commitments to lower GHG  emissions

United Nations, Nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Synthesis report by the secretariat (17 Sept 2021).    https://bit.ly/3lCzgFF

See also, Rachel Ramirez, “The planet is on a ‘catastrophic’ global warming path, UN report shows,” CNN (17 Sept 2021). cnn.it/3CsRhwK.  Scientists have said that the planet needs to slash 45% of its emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century. But under current emissions commitments from countries there will be a 16% increase in emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 levels, according to the report.  That would lead the planet to warm to 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the report says

2.   Air pollution and mental health

Joanne B. Newbury et al.). “Association between air pollution exposure and mental health service use among individuals with first presentations of psychotic and mood disorders: Retrospective cohort study.” The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1-8. doi:10.1192/bjp.2021.119 (2021).  Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 August 2021

Also, Damian Carringtron, “Air pollution linked to more severe mental illness – study The Guardian (27 August 2021). bit.ly/3jsnaPo

3.  Dementia and traffic

Manuella Lech Cantuaria, Frans Boch Waldorff,  Lene Wermuth, Ellen Raben Pedersen, Aslak Harbo Poulsen, Jesse Daniel Thacher, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Matthias Ketzel, Jibran Khan, Victor H Valencia, Jesper Hvass Schmidt, Mette Sørensen, Residential exposure to transportation noise in Denmark and incidence of dementia: national cohort study BMJ 2021;374:n2120  bit.ly/3kfGZdv

And, Editorial: “Noise exposure and dementia: a rising concern in ageing populations,” BMJ (9 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/2YWVVF1
Also, Andrew Gregrory, “Transport noise linked to increased risk of dementia, study finds:  Large survey involving two million adults found links between road and rail traffic and Alzheimer’s in particular,” The Guardian (9 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/2XnDngK

4.  Foods from animals and plants

Xiaoming Xu et al., “Global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods,” Nature go.nature.com/3k7b7rd

Global GHG emissions from the production of food were found to be 17,318 ± 1,675 TgCO2eq yr−1, of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food (including livestock feed), 29% to plant-based foods and 14% to other utilizations. Farmland management and land-use change represented major shares of total emissions (38% and 29%, respectively), whereas rice and beef were the largest contributing plant- and animal-based commodities (12% and 25%, respectively), and South and Southeast Asia and South America were the largest emitters of production-based GHGs

Also, Oliver Milman, “Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production, study finds: Production of meat worldwide emits 28 times as much as growing plants, and most crops are raised to feed animals bound for slaughter,” The Guardian (13 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/3EgK9FG

5.  Cut big oil production, or else

Carbon Tracker, Oil companies must plan for major production drop by the 2030s to meet 1.5°C Paris target (9 September 2021). bit.ly/3nAISmT

Big Oil needs to cut production by 50% to hit climate targets.  Think tank claims fossil fuel industry ‘still betting against’ global effort to address climate change.   Eoin Burke-Kennedy, The Irish Times (9 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/3hyK0Ua

6.   Troubled water in the UK

Troubled Waters: Why poor water quality in UK is threatening some of our best places for nature and
how we can fix it.  bit.ly/3lu423o  RSPB, with the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts, the Rivers Trust, Wales Environment Link and Afonydd Cymru

Poor water quality is threatening our freshwater habitats including rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands, and the wildlife that depends on them. Troubled Waters seeks to highlight how the UK population values and perceives the water environment, whilst investigating the systemic threats to poor water quality and the solutions required.

Drawing on case studies from protected sites across England, Wales and Northern Ireland [Upper Lough Erne] this report exposes some of the major underlying issues impacting water quality across the UK, including inadequate planning systems, pollution from agriculture and the misuse of sewage overflows

7.  The unfolding stratospheric polar vortex disruption

Judah Cohen, Laurie Agel, Methew Barlow, Chaim I. Garfinkel and ian White, “Linking Arctic variability and change with extreme winter weather in the United States,” Science (3 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/39t0gBP

Despite the rapid warming that is the cardinal signature of global climate change, especially in the Arctic, where temperatures are rising much more than elsewhere in the world, the United States and other regions of the Northern Hemisphere have experienced a conspicuous and increasingly frequent number of episodes of extremely cold winter weather over the past four decades. Cohen et al. combined observations and models to demonstrate that Arctic change is likely an important cause of a chain of processes involving what they call a stratospheric polar vortex disruption, which ultimately results in periods of extreme cold in northern midlatitudes (see the Perspective by Coumou).

8.  Getting to net zero by 2050

International Energy Agency (IEA), Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector (May 2021)
This special report is the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth. It sets out a cost-effective and economically productive pathway, resulting in a clean, dynamic and resilient energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels. The report also examines key uncertainties, such as the roles of bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioural changes in reaching net zero.

9.  Turning away from conventional farming

Christian Aid, Climate Resilient Agriculture – The transformation needed for global resilience, food security and net zero
by 2050 (September 2021).  bit.ly/39ym7HY

Kevin O’Sullivan, “Farming inflicts great damage on planet, Christian Aid says: New report calls for ‘transformation to agroecology’ ahead of UN summit,” The IrishTimes (23 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/39uoBXV

10.  The bleak future for the world of youths

Wim Thiery et al, “Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes,” Science (26 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/3kRxgKJ

See, also, Damian Carrington, “Children set for more climate disasters than their grandparents, research shows,” The Guardian (27 Sept 2021).  bit.ly/3CN8FN9
The analysis showed that a child born in 2020 will endure an average of 30 extreme heatwaves in their lifetime, even if countries fulfil their current pledges to cut future carbon emissions. That is seven times more heatwaves than someone born in 1960. Today’s babies will also grow up to experience twice as many droughts and wildfires and three times more river floods and crop failures than someone who is 60 years old today.


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.


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