Ten Environmental Reports

July 2024

1.  Billions in benefits from increasing use of renewable energy

Dev Millstein, et. al., “Climate and air quality benefits of wind and solar generation in the United States from 2019 to 2022,”  Cell Reports Sustainability (28 June 2024). bit.ly/4c3Xam8

See also, Dharna Noor, “Increasing use of renewable energy in US yields billions of dollars of benefits,” The Guardian (29 May 2024).  bit.ly/3yUYbyk via @guardian

By increasing its use of renewable energy, the US has not only slashed its planet-warming emissions but also improved its air quality, yielding hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits, a new report has found…

“From 2019 through 2022, wind and solar generation increased by about 55%,” said Dev Millstein, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “By 2022, wind and solar provided roughly 14% of total electricity needs for the US.”

“During that time period, by reducing the use of fossil fuel power plants, the nation’s use of wind and solar power cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 900m metric tons, the authors found. That’s the equivalent of taking 71m cars off the road every year.”

“All told, the emission reductions from SO2 and NOx provided $249bn of climate and health benefits to the US, the authors found – a figure Millstein said he found was “noteworthy”.

2.  Cutting air pollution from shipping may be adding to global warming

Tianie Yuan, et al., “Abrupt reduction in shipping emission as an inadvertent geoengineering termination shock produces substantial radiative warming,” Communications Earth & Environment (30 May 2024).  bit.ly/4bP99V2

See also, Emma Gatten, “Rules that cut air pollution from shipping may be adding to global warming, study shows,” Irish Independent (30 May 20224).  bit.ly/4bZjCg2

“Measures to reduce air pollution from shipping may have inadvertently increased global warming, a new study has found.

Global regulations introduced in 2020 cut the sulphur content in shipping fuel by 80pc to reduce its impact on air pollution.

But shipping emissions also have a cooling effect on the planet, because sulphur dioxide reacts with water vapour in the atmosphere to produce clouds that are bigger and brighter, and reflect sunlight back to space.

As a result, cutting the sulphur dioxide emissions from shipping may contribute as much as 0.16C of warming to the atmosphere within a decade, researchers at the Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre found.”

3.  Environmental conditions affect on sleep beviour of wild boar

Euan Mortlock, et. al., “Sleep in the wild: the importance of individual effects and environmental conditions on sleep behaviour in wild boar,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (29 May 2024). bit.ly/3VrV49W

See also, Jade Wilson, “Dramatic shifts in extreme weather conditions likely to affect sleep patterns, study finds,” The Irish Times (29 May 2024). bit.ly/4aKs1mz

“The findings show that sleep quantity, efficiency and quality are all significantly reduced on warmer, humid days, while colder temperatures, as well as greater snow cover and rainfall, promote an increase in sleep quality…

“The study recorded the sleeping behaviour of nearly 30 wild boar in two locations in the Czech Republic over a period of three years.”

“Given the major role sleep plays in overall health, our results signal that global warming, and the associated increase in extreme climatic events are likely to negatively impact sleep, and consequently health, in wildlife, particularly in nocturnal animals. This too could potentially apply to humans…”

4.  Climate change led to 20& more intense heavy storms in Ireland and UK from October 2023 to March 2024

MET Eireann, Human-caused Climate Change Brings Increased Storm Rainfall (22 May 2024).  bit.ly/3Kx48Eu

“Human-induced climate change made the heavy storm downpours that caused devastating flooding across Ireland and the UK between October 2023 and March 2024 about 20% more intense, according to a rapid attribution analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists as part of the World Weather Attribution group. The study also highlights how the floods had cascading effects in the population, impacting human health and food production, as well as contributing to further increase the cost of living.”

See also, Kevin O’Sullivan, “Storm downpours with devastating flooding 20% more intense due to climate change, Ireland-UK study finds,” The Irish Times (22 May 2024).  bit.ly/3RfBSKo

5.  African savannah elephants call one another by ‘name’

Pardo, M. A. et al. African elephants address one another with individually speciic name-like calls. Nat. Ecol. Evol.    doi.org/10.1038/s41559-024-02420-w (2024).

See also, Agence France-Presse in Paris, “Elephants call each other by name, study finds, The Guardian (10 June 2024). bit.ly/3KFInlV

“… a team of international researchers used an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyse the calls of two wild herds of African savanna elephants in Kenya.

The research “not only shows that elephants use specific vocalisations for each individual, but that they recognise and react to a call addressed to them while ignoring those addressed to others”, the lead study author, Michael Pardo, said.”

6.  Children near airports experience more respiratory problems and use inhalers more,

Esther S. Lenssen, et al., “Beyond the Runway: Respiratory health effects of ultrafine particles from aviation in children,” Environment International (June 2024).  bit.ly/3x9qCbH

See also, Gary Fuller, “Children near Amsterdam airport use inhalers more, study finds,” The Guardian (14 June 2024).  bit.ly/4c2SSfd

“…. researchers from the Netherlands have found greater inhaler use in children living near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Air pollution measurement equipment was installed in three primary schools, each about a kilometre from the airport fence. The researchers took weekly measurements of the lung function of 161 children at the schools and 19 asthmatic children living near the airport. With schools to the north and south of the airport, the children experienced airport UFP at different times.

The children were also taught how to take their own lung measurements at home in the mornings and evening. It was these records that revealed the most significant finding from the study.

… On days with high aviation-related UFP, children experienced substantially more respiratory symptoms and used more symptom-relieving medication.” These symptoms included coughing, wheeziness and phlegm.”

7.  How top banks are greenwashing their role in fossil fuel projects in the Amazon

“Greenwashing the Amazon: How Banks Are Destroying the Amazon Rainforest While Pretending to be Green” (June 2024). Exit Amazon Oil and Gas.  bit.ly/4bZcrow

See also, Jonathan Watts, “World’s top banks ‘greenwashing their role in destruction of the Amazon,’ The Guardian (11 June 2024).  bit.ly/4c2p0Q6

“Five of the world’s biggest banks are “greenwashing” their role in the destruction of the Amazon, according to a report that indicates that their environmental and social guidelines fail to cover more than 70% of the rainforest.

The institutions are alleged to have provided billions of dollars of finance to oil and gas companies involved in projects that are impacting the Amazon, destabilising the climate or impinging on the land and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples.

The banks say they follow ethical policies that help to protect intact forests, biodiversity hotspots, indigenous territories and nature reserves. However, the investigation says it has found geographical and technical limitations on their ability to monitor and achieve these stated goals.”

8.  Ireland’s 42.6% increase in solar capacity, with 373MW from domestic rooftops

Irish Solar Energy Association, Scale of Solar 2024 Report bit.ly/3XBFWsa

Ireland has experienced a remarkable 42.6% increase in solar capacity, now reaching 1,185MW. This surge is equivalent to powering 280,000 homes annually, reduce carbon emissions by 270,000 tonnes, and includes 373MW from domestic rooftops.

The report underscores solar energy’s pivotal role in Ireland’s renewable future, with insights from key leaders shaping the nation’s sustainable energy landscape.

9.   Study suggests exposure to PFAS chemicals manufactured to resist water and heat likely to affect health of offspring

DruAnne L. Maxwell, et al., “Mixtures of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) alter sperm methylation and long-term reprogramming of offspring liver and fat transcriptome,” Environment International (April 2024). bit.ly/4exSerH

See also, Tom Perkins, “Research reveals toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ accumulate in testes,” The Guardian (22 June 2024).  bit.ly/3xsZBjw

New research has found for the first time that PFAS “forever chemicals” accumulate in the testes, and the exposure probably affects children’s health.

The toxic chemicals can damage sperm during a sensitive developmental period, potentially leading to liver disease and higher cholesterol, especially in male offspring, the paper, which looked at the chemicals in mice, noted.

The research is part of a growing body of work that highlights how paternal exposure to toxic chemicals “can really impact the health, development and future diseases of the next generation…”.

10.  Climate engineering off US coast could increase heatwaves in Europe

Jessica S. Wan, “Diminished efficacy of regional marine cloud brightening in a warmer world,” Nature Climate Change (21 June 2024).  go.nature.com/4bfZuFF

See also, Jonathan Watts, “Climate engineering off US coast could increase heatwaves in Europe, study finds,” The Guardian (21 June 2024). bit.ly/3RAfxaf via @guardian

“A geoengineering technique designed to reduce high temperatures in California could inadvertently intensify heatwaves in Europe, according to a study that models the unintended consequences of regional tinkering with a changing climate.

The paper shows that targeted interventions to lower temperature in one area for one season might bring temporary benefits to some populations, but this has to be set against potentially negative side-effects in other parts of the world and shifting degrees of effectiveness over time.

The authors of the study said the findings were “scary” because the world has few or no regulations in place to prevent regional applications of the technique, marine cloud brightening, which involves spraying reflective aerosols (usually in the form of sea salt or sea spray) into stratocumulus clouds over the ocean to reflect more solar radiation back into space.”

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