Ten Environmental Reports

January 2024

1.  Insecticides and decreasing sperm concentration

Lauren B. Ellis, et al., “Adult Organophosphate and Carbamate Insecticide Exposure and Sperm Concentration: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Epidemiological Evidence,” Environmental Health Perspectives (15 Nov 2023). https://bit.ly/3N0mzTD

See also, Tom Perkins, “Exposure to widely used insecticides decreases sperm concentration, study finds,”  The Guardian (24 Nov 2023). bit.ly/3N0mzTD via @guardian

“Exposure to several widely used insecticides probably decreases sperm concentration and may have profound effects on male fertility, new US research finds.

The George Mason University paper analyzed five decades of peer-reviewed studies to determine if organophosphates and carbamate-based pesticides exposure correlated with decreased sperm concentration.

The findings come amid growing concern over global declines in sperm concentration and quality. Recent research estimated sperm concentration has plummeted by about 50% over the last 50 years..”


2.  The possibility of 5-year long continental scale mega-droughts in Europe

Laura Suarez-Gutierrez, et al., Extreme heat and drought typical of an end-of-century climate could occur over Europe soon and repeatedly,” communications earth & environment (30 Nov 2023). bit.ly/47SqgTa


“Extreme heat and drought typical of an end-of-century climate could soon occur over Europe, and repeatedly. Despite the European climate being potentially prone to multi-year successive extremes due to the influence of the North Atlantic variability, it remains unclear how the likelihood of successive extremes changes under warming, how early they could reach end-of-century levels, and how this is affected by internal climate variability. Using the Max Planck Institute Grand Ensemble, we find that even under moderate warming, end-of-century heat and drought levels virtually impossible 20 years ago reach 1-in-10 likelihoods as early as the 2030s. By 2050–2074, two successive years of single or compound end-of-century extremes, unprecedented to date, exceed 1-in-10 likelihoods; while Europe-wide 5-year megadroughts become plausible. Whole decades of end-of-century heat stress could start by 2040, by 2020 for drought, and with a warm North Atlantic, end-of-century decades starting as early as 2030 become twice as likely.”

3.  Arctic warming has far-reaching long-term consequences beyond the region,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  National Arctic Report Card: Update for 2023  bit.ly/3uYzz65

See also, Timothy Gardner and Daniel Trotta, :Arctic warming threatens wider world with rising seas – US report,” Reuters (13 Dec 2023).  bit.ly/41kX31a

“Summer surface air temperatures in the Arctic were the highest since at least 1900 as the Arctic continues to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe because of human-caused climate change…

Warming across parts of northern Canada and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago coincided with below-normal precipitation over those areas, contributing to an extreme wildfire season there.

Greenland lost another 350 trillion pounds (158.7 billion metric tons) of mass from its ice sheet, extending a trend of losing land ice since 1998.”

4.  Octopus DNA and West Antarctic Ice sheet

Sally Lau, et al., “Genomic evidence for West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse during the Last Interglacial,” Biorxiv (20 Dec 2023).  bit.ly/3NEO1GH


“The marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is considered vulnerable to irreversible collapse under future climate trajectories and its tipping point may lie within the mitigated warming scenarios of 1.5-2 °C of the United Nations Paris Agreement. Knowledge of ice loss during similarly warm past climates could resolve this uncertainty, including the Last Interglacial when global sea levels were 5 to 10 m higher than today and global average temperatures were 0.5-1.5 °C warmer than preindustrial levels. Using a panel of genome-wide, single-nucleotide polymorphisms of a circum-Antarctic octopus, we show persistent, historic signals of gene flow only possible with complete WAIS collapse. Our results provide the first empirical evidence that the tipping point of WAIS loss could be reached even under stringent climate mitigation scenarios.”

5.  Commercial wind turbines and nearby home values in US

Eric J. Brunner, et. al., “Commercial wind turbines and residential home values: New evidence from the universe of land-based wind projects in the United States,” Energy Policy (2023). bit.ly/3NEQr8f


We examine the impact of proximity to land-based commercial wind turbines on residential home values in the United States using data on the universe of commercial wind turbines and residential property transactions from 2005 to 2020. Using event study and difference-in-differences identification strategies we find that, on average, homes located within 1 mile of a commercial wind turbine experience approximately an 11% decline in value following the announcement of a new commercial wind energy project, relative to counterfactual homes located 3 to 5 miles away. Event study estimates also reveal important dynamics in the evolution of home values, with property values first declining following project announcement, and then recovering post project construction, with property value impacts becoming relatively small (~2%) and statistically insignificant 9 years or more after project announcement (roughly 5 years after operation began). Homes located within 1–2 miles of a commercial wind turbine experience much smaller impacts and homes located farther than 2 miles away are unaffected. Our results are primarily driven by wind projects located in urban counties with populations greater than 250,000.

6.  Status of multi-hazard early warning systems

UN Office of Disaster Risk Reducition and World Meteorological Organizatioon (WMO), Global Status of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems, 2023. bit.ly/3GVBxHe

“A new report from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) finds that Africa has doubled the quality of early warning systems coverage, but still falls below the global average. Less than half of the Least Developed Countries and only 40% of small island developing States have a multi-hazard early warning system. In the Arab States, risk knowledge to underpin early warning systems was found to be particularly low.”

7.  Countries with worse infrastructure and flimsier homes face larger costs after a climate disaster

Oliver Pearce and Sindra sharma, “Counting the Cost 2023: A year of climate breakdown,” Christian Aid, bit.ly/3REyLLf

See also Helena Horton, “2023’s costliest climate disasters show poor lose out in ‘global postcode lottery’,” The Guardian (27 Dec 2023).  bit.ly/47gT3An

“The research by the charity Christian Aid found that devastating wildfires and floods are hitting those who can least afford to rebuild, and the countries that have contributed least to the climate crisis by burning far fewer fossil fuels than wealthy nations, which have faced fewer climate disasters.

The cost ranges from more than $4,000 (£3,155) per person due to a wildfire in Hawaii to $9 (£7) per person due to flooding in Peru….

The analysis published on Wednesday highlights that countries with worse infrastructure and flimsier homes face larger costs after a climate disaster as their inhabited areas are more easily destroyed. In the areas where people have faced the highest costs, many are employed in agriculture, which is vulnerable to extreme weather, and the government is less likely to invest in prevention or rebuilding.

8.  Long term, local governance is best way to save forests

Harry W. Fischer, et al., “Community forest governance and synergies among carbon, biodiversity and livelihoods,” nature climate change (23 Nov 2023).  bit.ly/3v883mz

See also, Maria Parazo Rose, The best forest managers? Indigenous peoples, study says: Scientists suggest that long term, local governance is the best way to save forests,” Grist (4 Dec 2023).

New research from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has identified a key to successful forest restoration: long-term, local governance by Indigenous peoples or local communities. The more formalized the land tenure rights, the better the outcomes. Research shows that Indigenous and rural communities are the best stewards of the forests they live in, but the study’s novel finding is that community-managed forests yield better, more positive results for both environmental and social outcomes.”

9.  The hotter it gets, the more critical is efficiency in air conditioners

Nicholas Howath et al., “Keeping cool in a hotter world is using more energy, making efficiency more important than ever,” International Energy Agency (IEA) bit.ly/47fscEE

“The world just experienced its hottest June on record, and unprecedented temperatures have not let up this July – endangering millions of lives and pushing electricity grids to their limits as people crank up their air conditioners, if they have them, to keep cool…

This extreme heat also has major consequences for global energy systems. Record-shattering temperatures are feeding demand for air conditioning and driving surges in demand for electricity – which can result in a vicious cycle of increased greenhouse gas emissions that in turn make the world even hotter…

The more temperatures rise, the more people turn to their air conditioning. In Texas, for example, every 1°C increase in the average daily temperature above 24°C drives a rise of about 4% in electricity demand. In India, where air conditioner ownership is lower, the same temperature increase drives a 2% rise. Power grids in both India and the Southeastern United States have hit record levels of peak demand in the last two months, along with those in 10 other countries, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.”

10.  Creating a new sanctuary for Africa penguins in South Africa

Kiley Price, “African Penguins Have Almost Been Wiped Out by Overfishing and Climate Change. Researchers Want to Orchestrate a Comeback: A hatchery in Cape Town breeds birds for release in a newly established sanctuary for penguins 146 miles east, where a few early signs suggest the penguins may have found a new home. Inside Climate News (25 Dec 2023).  bit.ly/41JaIzC

“Over the past century, African penguin populations have plummeted, dropping from around one million breeding pairs in the early 1900s to less than 10,000 in 2023 as environmental conditions have worsened due to increased fishing pressure and climate change, which have both decreased fish populations on which penguins rely…

… scientists say that one of the main causes of the seabirds’ decline is the intense fishing pressure on sardines and anchovies, the penguin’s main diet…

“… some of these penguins are destined for a different destination: a rocky outcropping along the Eastern Cape of South Africa within the De Hoop Nature Reserve.

There, scientists and conservationists are working to establish a new penguin colony, which they hope will become a stronghold for the entire African penguin species.”




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