Ten Environmental Reports

June 2024

1. How PFAs move through the atmosphere and water

Chunjie Xia, et al., “The Ins and Outs of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in the Great Lakes: The Role of Atmospheric Deposition,” Environ Sci. Technol. (16 May 2024).  bit.ly/3QN8F9q

See also, Tom Perkins, “Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ ubiquitous in Great Lakes basin, study finds,” The Guardian (18 May 2024).  bit.ly/4dJBUnj via @guardian

“Toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” are ubiquitous in the Great Lakes basin’s air, rain, atmosphere and water, new peer-reviewed research shows.

The first-of-its-kind, comprehensive picture of PFAS levels for the basin, which holds nearly 95% of the nation’s freshwater, also reveals that precipitation is probably a major contributor to the lakes’ contamination.

PFAS are a class of 15,000 chemicals used across dozens of industries to make products resistant to water, stains and heat. The chemicals are linked to cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, decreased immunity, liver problems and a range of other serious diseases.

They are dubbed “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and are highly mobile once in the environment, so they continuously move through the ground, water and air. PFAS have been detected in all corners of the globe, from penguin eggs in Antarctica to polar bears in the Arctic.

The new paper is part of a growing body of evidence showing how the chemicals move through the atmosphere and water.”

2.  Glyphosate found in samples from French infertility clinic raising questions about controversial chemical’s impact on fertility

Claudine Vasseur, et al., “Glyphosate presence in human sperm: First report and positive correlation with oxidative stress in an infertile French population,” Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety ( 15 June 2024).  bit.ly/3K6TgN9

See also,  Tom Perkins, “High levels of weedkiller found in more than half of sperm samples, study finds” The Guardian (17 May 2024). bit.ly/4booCLo

“More than 55% of sperm samples from a French infertility clinic contained high levels of glyphosate, the world’s most common weedkiller, raising further questions about the chemical’s impact on reproductive health and overall safety, a new study found.

The new research also found evidence of impacts on DNA and a correlation between glyphosate levels and oxidative stress on seminal plasma, suggesting significant impacts on fertility and reproductive health.

“Taken together, our results suggest a negative impact of glyphosate on human reproductive health and possibly on progeny,” the authors wrote.”

3.  The Macroeconomic Impact of Climate Change

Adrien Bilal & Diego R. Kanzig, “The Macroeconomic Impact of Climate Change: Global vs. Local Temperature,” National Bureau of Economic Research (May 2024). bit.ly/4bqA6Ok

See also, Oliver Milman, “Economic damage from climate change six times worse than thought – report,” The Guardian (17 May 2024).  bit.ly/3QSid2Z via @guardian

“The economic damage wrought by climate change is six times worse than previously thought, with global heating set to shrink wealth at a rate consistent with the level of financial losses of a continuing permanent war, research has found.

A 1C increase in global temperature leads to a 12% decline in world gross domestic product (GDP), the researchers found, a far higher estimate than that of previous analyses. …

A 3C temperature increase will cause “precipitous declines in output, capital and consumption that exceed 50% by 2100” the paper states. This economic loss is so severe that it is “comparable to the economic damage caused by fighting a war domestically and permanently”, it adds.”

4.  Reduction in insect numbers contributes to drop in bird population, with more than a third of bird species surveyed

Heywood, J.J.N., et al., “The Breeding Bird Survey 2023,”  British Trust for Ornithology (May 2024).  bit.ly/3UPgp

See also, Phoebe Weston, “Swallow, swift and house martin populations have nearly halved, finds UK bird survey,” The Guardian (16 may 2024).  bit.ly/3UMuRSe via @guardian

“Swallows, swifts and house martins were once a common sight over UK towns and cities, dextrously catching insects on the wing. But these spring and summer visitors are becoming increasingly rare, according to the definitive survey of the country’s birds.

Populations of these insect-eating birds have dropped by 40% or more in the past decade, according to the latest Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) report.

The decline of insects means there is less food around for these birds and their chicks. There are also fewer places for them to nest as old houses are renovated, leaving fewer gaps in roofs and eaves.”

5.  A new Superfund law covering the costs of the effects of climate change, to be paid by fossil fuel interests

Katie Surma, “The Vermont Legislature Considers ‘Superfund’ Legislation to Compensate for Climate Change:  Instead of hazardous waste, this “Superfund” would clean up the mess left by climate-induced storms, floods and heat waves created by fossil fuel companies.” Inside Climate News (21 May 2024).  bit.ly/3R3nMvg

On July 11, 2023, Vermont was hit by historic, catastrophic rain storms that left the state swimming in flood damage, with water rising over 20 feet in some areas. In part of Burlington, a fertile 100-year floodplain perfect for farming, up to 6 feet of water covered the fields.

“Now, a novel bill in Vermont is carving out a pathway to cover some of those costs, for farmers, businesses and taxpayers affected by the harms of climate change. The Climate Superfund Act rests on the established environmental doctrine of “polluter pays” for hazardous waste remediation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and adapts that to climate change. It would hold fossil fuel companies accountable for cleaning up the messes they have made. The bill passed the state’s senate on a 26-3 vote on April 2, and it now heads to the state’s House of Representatives, where two-thirds of members have voiced support.

The bill is noteworthy on many fronts: It could be the first of its kind to become law in any state; it offers a marked shift from climate mitigation to adaptation; and it is rooted in a rapidly growing field of climate attribution science, one that allows scientists to confidently draw the line from carbon emitter to extreme weather events.

The act hinges upon a fund to be set up by the Vermont State Treasurer. It’s here, in calculating how much money should be paid into the fund—and by whom—that the interest and tension lie. The treasurer must then also determine, over a six-month period, how much of the money will go to whom for damages suffered as a result of climate-amplified storms, wildfires and sea level rise.”

See S.259.  An act relating to climate change cost recovery legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2024/S.259

6.  Climate change and environmental destruction are becoming increasingly central to the human rights movement.

Amnesty International, The State of the World’s Human Rights: April 2024” bit.ly/3R2Oe8B

See also, Katie Surma, “Significant Environmental and Climate Impacts Are Impinging on Human Rights in Every Country, a New Report Finds: In its annual State of the World’s Human Rights report, Amnesty International also concludes that threats to environmental activists are growing globally,” Inside Climate Change (21 May 2024).  bit.ly/3UYEoFV

Climate change and environmental destruction are becoming increasingly central to the human rights movement.

Droughts, toxic pollution, water shortages, desertification, severe storms and related events touched the lives of millions of people around the world last year, according to Amnesty International’s annual “State of the World’s Human Rights” report covering 2023.

… the report released last month scrutinized for the first time countries’ records on upholding the right to a healthy environment, which the U.N. General Assembly unanimously recognized in July 2022. That recognition is part of a larger trend toward the understanding that environmental issues and human rights are entwined—human health, access to food and water, the ability to make a living and have a family all depend on a healthy environment.

7.    Exposure to parks, trees and other green spaces can slow the rates at which our cells age.

S. Scot Ogletree, et. al, “The relationship between greenspace exposure and telomere length in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” Science of the Total Environment (Dec 2023).  bit.ly/3R1BSgE

See also, Katherine Gammon, Cells of people living in greener areas age more slowly, research finds,” The Guardian (2 Dec 2024). bit.ly/4aUggKB

Many studies have shown that people living in greener neighborhoods have several health benefits, including lower levels of stress and cardiovascular disease. But new research indicates that exposure to parks, trees and other green spaces can slow the rates at which our cells age.

The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that people who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had longer telomeres, which are associated with longer lives and slower ageing

8. Pregnant women living near farm fields show “significantly” increased concentrations of glyphosate weedkiller in their urine

Cynthia L. Curl, et. al., “The Effect of Pesticide Spray Season and Residential Proximity to Agriculture on Glyphosate Exposure among Pregnant People in Southern Idaho, 2021,” Environmental Health Perspectives (6 Dec 2023).  bit.ly/3WYXz4M

See also, Carey Gillam, “Pregnant women near farms had higher weedkiller levels during spraying season,” The Guardian (6 Dec 2023). bit.ly/3R30ype

Pregnant women living near farm fields show “significantly” increased concentrations of glyphosate weedkiller in their urine during periods when farmers are spraying their fields with the herbicide, according to a new scientific paper published on Wednesday.

The research team said the findings were concerning, given recent studies that have found gestational exposure to glyphosate is associated with reduced fetal growth and other fetal problems. Glyphosate separately has been linked to cancer and other health problems.

9.  Possible 30% increase in uncomfortably hot days in UK

Nicole D. Miranda et al., “Change in cooling degree days with global mean temperature rise increasing from 1.5 °C to 2.0 °C,” Nature Sustainability (13 July 2023).  go.nature.com/4bB1f1g


Limiting global mean temperature rise to 1.5 °C is increasingly out of reach. Here we show the impact on global cooling demand in moving from 1.5 °C to 2.0 °C of global warming. African countries have the highest increase in cooling requirements. Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Norway (traditionally unprepared for heat) will suffer the largest relative cooling demand surges. Immediate and unprecedented adaptation interventions are required worldwide to be prepared for a hotter world.

10.  Cargo bikes deliver faster and cleaner than vans

Ersilia Verlinghieri et. al., “The Promise of Low-Carbon Freight Benefits of cargo bikes in London,” Possible: Inspiring climate action  (August 2021).  bit.ly/3Klyiuk

See also, Damian Carrington, “Cargo bikes deliver faster and cleaner than vans, study finds,” The Guardian (5 August 2021).  bit.ly/4dZoCmI

“Electric cargo bikes deliver about 60% faster than vans in city centres, according to a study. It found that bikes had a higher average speed and dropped off 10 parcels an hour, compared with six for vans.

The bikes also cut carbon emissions by 90% compared with diesel vans, and by a third compared with electric vans, the report said. Air pollution, which is still at illegal levels in many urban areas, was also significantly reduced.

Home deliveries have soared in recent years, spurred by online shopping and the coronavirus pandemic. Vans can travel along clear stretches of road at higher speeds than cargo bikes but are slowed by congestion and the search for parking. Cargo bikes bypass traffic jams, take shortcuts through streets closed to through traffic and ride to the customers door.”




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