Climate change could reverse all reductions in child mortality over the last 25 years

May 8, 2018 by  
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Kids could be especially vulnerable to climate change -related health risks, and a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) article once again sounds the alarm. The authors say climate change “threatens to reverse the gains in global child health and the reductions in global child mortality made over the past 25 years.” While the impacts of climate change could be felt by all humans, the authors say they’ll be disproportionally felt by poor people and children . 88 percent of diseases attributable to climate change appear in kids under five, according to the World Health Organization. The new paper delves into studies about how climate change could impact children’s health and calls for better preparation. CNN cited paper co-author and Memorial University pediatrics chairman Kevin Chan as saying weather events tied to climate change that have impacted kids’ health include Hurricanes Harvey or Irma . Pathogens like the Zika virus or extreme heat could also put children’s health at risk. Related: AAP warns of the impact of global warming on children’s health Chan told CNN he, along with the paper’s other author Rebecca Pass Philipsborn of the Emory University School of Medicine , aimed to reveal “there’s very little research and evidence around children. A lot of the research is very, very broad and tends to look more at adult populations. I don’t think they factor in the specific impacts on children themselves, and I think more research is needed in that arena.” Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health executive director Mona Sarfaty, who wasn’t involved in this new AAP article, told CNN, “The danger to children is real and is already witnessed by physicians in the US…They are more vulnerable to the heat-related increases in air pollution that come from fossil fuel exhaust, because their lungs are still developing. Outdoor play also makes them more prey to insect vectors carrying dangerous infections.” Chan told CNN, “We really need more efforts into addressing climate change to protect our children.” + American Academy of Pediatrics Via CNN Images via Pixabay and Eoghan Rice/Trócaire via Trocaire on Flickr

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Climate change could reverse all reductions in child mortality over the last 25 years

The EPA wants to limit what science can be used to create regulations

April 25, 2018 by  
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Just weeks after this year’s March for Science ,  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is taking a shot at science — “secret science,” in his words . Pruitt recently proposed a rule that would limit the kinds of research the agency could draw on in crafting regulations. Reuters described the move as “an apparent concession to big business” which has angled for the restrictions for a long time. Pruitt’s proposal would mean the EPA wouldn’t be able to use scientific research based on confidential data. That means the agency would only be able to draw on studies that make all their data publicly available for everyone to scrutinize, according to NPR . The administrator said in a statement, “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end. The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.” The EPA’s statement said the proposal is consistent with scientific journals like Nature and Science ‘s data access requirements. Related: Leaked memo shows that EPA staffers were told to downplay the reliability of climate science But some scientists are worried — the move could place crucial data off limits. NPR quoted Sean Gallagher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science ‘s senior government relations officer, as saying, “Our concern with this is they are quite literally limiting the best available science that can be used by the EPA.” Epidemiological studies are often utilized in the agency’s regulatory decisions, and Gallagher said, “Those studies involve people like you and me, signing confidentiality agreements that the scientists doing the studies won’t reveal my personal health information, like my vital statistics, or my death certificate, if I die during the course of the study. This is the kind of science that the EPA relies on, whether it looks at chemicals or particulates and their mortality or health effects. It involves private data.” The proposal won’t enter into force yet; Reuters said there will be a 30-day comment period and the proposal would need to be finalized. + Environmental Protection Agency Via Reuters and NPR Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and NRDC pix on Flickr

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The EPA wants to limit what science can be used to create regulations

Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

April 2, 2018 by  
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Bike-sharing took off in China , where many city dwellers battle smog and bikes offered a potential clean alternative. Now, without the infrastructure to support them, and an over-saturation in the sharing market, abandoned bikes have piled into massive graveyards in cities like Shanghai and Beijing  – forcing us to ask: are bicycles polluting metropolises they were intended to aid? The Atlantic reported  bike sharing growth surpassed demand and  Deutsche Welle (DW) said  that bikes are piling up into massive graveyards. 16 to 18 million bikes hit streets in China from around 60 companies, TIME said , and most cities weren’t prepared to handle the influx. There aren’t any set docking stations or bike stands, so most bikes are just parked on the side of the road, according to the publication. Back in December, Fortune reported the co-founder of bike-share startup Ofo , Zhang Siding, said, “The bike-sharing phenomenon has grown very quickly in the last few years, but the layout and infrastructure [of] cities in China aren’t something that can be changed as quickly to accommodate this new trend.” Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Bike graveyards have grown as some bike-sharing companies fold, and their surplus bicycles sprawl in vacant lots. DW said police now have to gather unwanted vehicles from roads and parks, and pile them in fields out of city centers. According to Fortune, last year Ofo launched a credit score system: users would be penalized for antisocial behavior like traffic violations or bike dumping, and rewarded for positive behavior, like reporting damaged or lost bikes. If users’ points were all deducted, they’d be barred from the service. They were also reportedly working with interest groups in cities to come up with new strategies — for example, in Guangzhou, traffic wardens or local groups can send feedback to the company if bikes are accumulating and Zhang said, “we’ll send people down to deal with it.” Health and air quality benefits are still present with bike-sharing, and The Atlantic said the trend is still popular, and bike-sharing will likely keep growing — just maybe at a slightly more sustainable rate. Via The Atlantic , TIME , Deutsche Welle , and Fortune Images via Philip Cohen on Flickr , Chris on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

The ground under a West Texas oil patch is moving ‘at alarming rates’

March 23, 2018 by  
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Local residents, infrastructure, and oil and gas pipelines could be at risk from the ground heaving and sinking in West Texas after years of fossil fuel production, according to a new study from Southern Methodist University (SMU) scientists. In an SMU statement , research scientist Jin-Woo Kim said, “This region of Texas has been punctured like a pin cushion with oil wells and injection wells since the 1940s and our findings associate that activity with ground movement.” Two large sinkholes around Wink, Texas, may just be the start, according to Kim and SMU professor and geophysicist Zhong Lu. Scientific Reports published their research online earlier this month: Kim and Lu drew on radar satellite images revealing significant ground movement in an area of 4,000 square miles. One spot saw movement of up to 40 inches in two and a half years. Lu said the ground movement isn’t normal. Related: Massive sinkhole opens up in the middle of a Brazilian farming town Imagery and oil well production data from the Railroad Commission of Texas helped the researchers connect the ground movement to oil activity. Pressurized fluid injection into what SMU described as “geologically unstable rock formations” in the area is one of those activities; the scientists discovered ground movement corresponded with “nearby sequences of wastewater injection rates and volume and CO2 injection in nearby wells.” And, outside the 4,000 square mile area, more dangers may lurk. Kim said, “We’re fairly certain that when we look further, and we are, that we’ll find there’s ground movement even beyond that.” SMU said the region is vulnerable to human endeavors because of its geology , including shale formations and water-soluble salt and limestone formations. Lu said, “These hazards represent a danger to residents, roads, railroads, levees, dams, and oil and gas pipelines, as well as potential pollution of ground water . Proactive, continuous detailed monitoring from space is critical to secure the safety of people and property.” + Southern Methodist University + Science Reports Images via Nicolas Henderson on Flickr and Zhong Lu, Jin-Woo Kim, SMU

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The ground under a West Texas oil patch is moving ‘at alarming rates’

The amount of plastic in the ocean could triple in 10 years

March 21, 2018 by  
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Plastic in the ocean could triple between 2015 and 2025, according to a new report for the United Kingdom government. The Foresight Future of the Sea report said the marine environment faces “unprecedented change as a result of direct human activity and climate change ,” and the authors are calling for further investigation. Professor Edward Hill of the UK National Oceanography Center told the BBC, “We really need a mission to planet ocean — it’s the last frontier.” Related: Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam” According to Hill, the ocean is “critical to our economic future. Nine billion people will be looking to the ocean for more food. Yet we know so little of what’s down there. We invest a lot of money and enthusiasm for missions to space — but there’s nothing living out there. The sea bed is teeming with life.” The report recommends reducing pollution by preventing plastic from entering the ocean, utilizing biodegradable plastic , or even creating public awareness campaigns for ocean protection. It also states that the ocean faces threats beyond simple plastic pollution. By 2100, the ocean could warm 1.2 to 3.2 degrees Celsius, depending on emissions — leading to coral bleaching and a slump for cold-water fish species. The report states that ocean warming “is likely to lead to new species in UK waters,” while marine biodiversity could take a hit from climate change and over-exploitation. However, the global ocean economy could double to $3 trillion by 2030, with opportunities like deep-sea mining and offshore renewable energy . The report’s authors recommend developing “accurate and useful valuations of the marine environment through the goods and services it provides (including food, capturing carbon , mitigating flooding , and supporting human health ) so that environmental externalities can be made clear and their value incorporated into decision making.” + Foresight Future of the Sea Via the BBC Images via Depositphotos and Ingrid Taylar on Flickr

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The amount of plastic in the ocean could triple in 10 years

Newly launched GOES-S satellite will help scientists make accurate predictions about extreme weather

March 21, 2018 by  
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No matter what the current presidential administration wants you to think, the climate is changing . Storms have become more powerful, and natural weather disasters are more common than ever. Today’s meteorological infrastructure, however, is having trouble keeping up with the sheer size and scope of these changes — until now.  The GOES-S Satellite , launched by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) in March 2018, plans to fill in those gaps, changing how we look at weather forecasting in many ways. GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environment Satellites. These satellites, once launched, are placed in what is known as a geostationary orbit — they circle the Earth at the same speed as the planet’s rotation, allowing the satellites to effectively stay in one place. Because they sit over a specific target area and take pictures as often as every 30 seconds, the satellites enable disaster trackers to see problem areas as they’re developing — instead of after they’ve already become a problem. This feature can be essential for things like wildfire tracking — in some cases, the satellites have spotted potential wildfires before people on the ground even reported the fires. The satellites can also detect hurricanes or typhoons in their infancy, allowing people in the storm’s path more time to prepare. Meteorology and disaster prediction may never become an exact science, especially with the changes happening to the climate worldwide, but GOES can give meteorologists and researchers a leg up when it comes to preparing for whatever the world’s brewing. These satellites are also changing the way meteorologists look at weather forecasting. Instead of warning people after the storm forms, GOES allow meteorologists to watch the storms as they’re building. Areas that could develop severe weather are spotted much earlier and, as a result, residents receive notification sooner. Even if a tornado doesn’t touch down, those at risk will receive more time to prepare and react—two of the most important strategies for surviving many natural disasters . Related: New satellite paves the way for full-color, full-motion video from space GOES, including GOES-S, are not perfect prediction tools — many variables still make meteorology an educated guessing game. Meteorologists may never be able to tell you exactly where a hurricane is going to make landfall or where a wildfire is going to spread, but with tools like GOES, weather teams can make much more accurate predictions and, in doing so, help residents deal with extreme weather throughout the United States. + NOAA Images via NOAA on Flickr

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Newly launched GOES-S satellite will help scientists make accurate predictions about extreme weather

California puts solar procurement on hold despite production records

March 12, 2018 by  
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California set two new solar power records this month, Greentech Media reported . But utilities seem to be slowing down their procurement of new capacity. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proposed utilities procure almost no extra renewables this year — but critics worry how this affects the State’s renewable energy targets. Solar energy is thriving in California. Power plants sourced 0.5 percent of electricity from solar in 2010 in the state, according to the Los Angeles Times , but that figure had risen to 10 percent last year. Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric, the state’s three investor-owned utilities , which “comprise approximately three quarters of electricity supply” according to the California Energy Commission, are all ahead of schedule on clean energy procurement plans, and are on their way to meeting California’s mandate of sourcing 33 percent of energy via renewables by 2020. Related: The U.S. just generated 10% of its electricity from solar and wind for the first time But these investor-owned utilities didn’t procure any new renewable energy capacity last year, and CPUC has proposed they procure nearly none in 2018. Independent Energy Producers Association CEO Jan Smutny-Jones told Greentech Media, “They’re basically saying, ‘There’s too much going on; we don’t know what to do, so we’re not going to do anything for a while.’” The state is still setting records. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) saw solar serve a peak percentage of demand at 49.95 percent on March 4. The peak prior to that was 47.2 percent in May 2017. CAISO senior public information officer Anne Gonzales told Greentech Media, “The record is a result of a cool, sunny day. Because it was a weekend, and the weather was mild, the minimum load was relatively low, around 18,800 megawatts. Meanwhile, solar production was more than 9,400 megawatts.” The next day, March 5, CAISO set another record: solar production hit a peak of 10,411 megawatts. The record before that was 9,913 megawatts, set in June 2017. Smutny-Jones told Greentech the CPUC is “too absorbed in modeling”, adding, “For me, it’s a little hard to sit in a meeting and talk about 100 percent renewables when our chief regulator isn’t moving the ball.” Via Greentech Media Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr and Depositphotos

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California puts solar procurement on hold despite production records

Trump fails to evade climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youths

March 8, 2018 by  
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21 young people have been taking on the United States government over climate change in the lawsuit Juliana v. U.S. since 2015, and President Donald Trump failed at attempts to dodge them. The plaintiffs just won a victory: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the case can indeed move towards a trial, Bloomberg reported . 21-year-old plaintiff Kiran Oommen said in a statement , “The question of the last few years has not been ‘do we have a case’ but rather ‘how far will the federal government go to prevent justice.’ We have seen that they are willing to go to many lengths to cover up their crimes and maintain the status quo, but not even the Trump administration can go far enough to escape the inevitable tide of social progress.” Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s “drastic and extraordinary” petition for writ of mandamus in the landmark climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, brought by 21 youth supported by Our Children’s Trust. The Court ruled that the Juliana case can proceed toward trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and that the Trump administration had not satisfied the factors necessary for an extraordinary writ of mandamus. #youthvgov A post shared by Our Children's Trust (@youthvgov) on Mar 7, 2018 at 12:13pm PST The 21 plaintiffs — mostly teenagers , according to Bloomberg — say the government, in backing a climate change-inducing energy system, has violated their rights to property, liberty, and life, and hasn’t protected vital public trust resources. Barack Obama’s administration first attempted to extinguish the case in 2016, according to Bloomberg, and the Trump administration said the case is based on “utterly unprecedented legal theories.” Bloomberg said they utilized a rare procedural maneuver to contend a federal judge overstepped her authority — in 2016, she refused to dismiss this case. But the three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit was unanimous, deciding the issues the federal government raised are “better addressed through the ordinary course of litigation.” Jacob made a sign, had his photo taken with his sign, & now it's posted online. Be like Jacob. #youthvgov A post shared by Our Children's Trust (@youthvgov) on Feb 6, 2017 at 3:05pm PST Related: Trump tries to keep 21 kids’ climate change lawsuit from going to trial Julia Olson, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust , one of the organizations supporting the kids, said the Ninth Circuit’s move signaled a “green light for trial.” She said they’ll ask for a trial date in 2018. The question of the last few years has not been “do we have a case” but rather “how far will the federal government go to prevent justice.” We have seen that they are willing to go to many lengths to cover up their crimes and maintain the status quo, but not even the Trump administration can go far enough to escape the inevitable tide of social progress. The Ninth Circuit’s decision affirms that we are on the side of justice, and for justice we are moving forward. #seeyouincourt #youthvgov #julianavsus #ourchildrenstrust A post shared by Kiran Oommen (@kiran_oommen) on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:20pm PST Oommen summed it up this way: “We’ll see you in court.” + Our Children’s Trust Via Bloomberg Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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Trump fails to evade climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youths

Breast cancer spread connected to amino acid in asparagus

February 16, 2018 by  
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Scientists have linked the spread of the disease breast cancer in mice to a compound that’s in asparagus and several other foods, The Guardian reported . Studies with mice revealed asparagine drives the advance of the cancer , and when researchers reduced asparagine, the amount of “secondary tumors in other tissues” dropped. Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute director Greg Hannon told The Guardian, “This is a very promising lead and one of the very few instances where there is a scientific rationale for a dietary modification influencing cancer.” Research with mice showed the amino acid asparagine is important for breast cancer to spread, and scientists think the process could be similar in humans. Researchers found that blocking the amino acid hampered the spread of the cancer. Hannon said in a statement , “It could be that manipulating levels of asparagine in the body might be used as a way to boost a patients’ cancer treatment.” Related: Many anti-aging products contain ingredients that can cause breast cancer The researchers blocked asparagine in mice tested, which had an aggressive type of breast cancer, to reduce the cancer’s ability to spread with the drug L-asparaginase. Giving the mice a low-asparagine diet worked to a lesser extent, according to The Guardian. There’s still a lot work to be done. The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute cautioned research is in the early stages and “doesn’t form the basis for DIY diets at home.” This work also doesn’t seem to offer a cure for cancer; per the press release, “So far the story suggests that lowering asparagine levels blunts the ability of cancer cells to spread in mice, but doesn’t affect the original tumor.” Lowering asparagine didn’t prevent breast tumors from forming, the researchers found. Hannon said, “The difficulty is finding ways to study this in the lab that are relevant to patients. It’s a challenge, but I think it’s worth pursuing.” The journal Nature published the research online this week . 21 scientists at institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States contributed. + Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Stephanie Studer on Unsplash and Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr

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Breast cancer spread connected to amino acid in asparagus

Pepsi launches new drink option with reusable bottle

February 16, 2018 by  
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Soda is struggling, with sales of non-diet soda dropping by over 25 percent during the last 20 years, according to Co.Design . In response, PepsiCo is trying something new: a product they’re calling Drinkfinity with reusable, BPA-free bottles . Users mix the contents of ingredient Pods into water to create beverages that Drinkfinity’s website boasts are “unapologetically less sweet.” PepsiCo piloted Drinkfinity in 2014 in Brazil, and now they’re launching the product in the United States. Users choose flavors like Mango Chia Flow or Elderflower Chill in Pods they place over the top of the reusable bottle, which they call a Vessel, and press down to release the flavor inside and mix it with water inside the bottle. The company says they don’t use artificial flavors or sweeteners. Related: New study finds PET bottles of five huge soda brands contain harmful heavy metals Vice President of Global Business Innovation Hernan Marina said in a statement , “Drinkfinity was made to do more than just hydrate — it was created with a simple vision to make a beverage that connects the dots between wellness and versatility, while trying to balance the needs of both people and the planet.” What about the waste from the Pods? PepsiCo’s press release says the Pods use up around 65 percent less plastic than a 20 ounce bottle. But Co.Design pointed out the Pods themselves can’t be recycled easily. When checking out from Drinkfinity, a consumer can obtain a postage-paid envelope to send 30 Pods to a company for recycling. An average recycling facility won’t be able to process them, according to Co.Design, because they contain materials that aren’t generally recycled together. Marina hopes in a few years they can offer Pods that are more easily recyclable, according to Co.Design. The Drinkfinity reusable bottle, which is dishwasher-safe, costs $20. Pods come in packs of four and cost between $5 and $6.50. As of now, the products are available only online, according to the press release. Drinkfinity plans to donate $1 for every purchase in the United States in 2018 to Water.org , up to $100,000, to provide clean water for people in developing countries . + Drinkfinity + Drinkfinity press release Via Co.Design Images via Drinkfinity/PepsiCo

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Pepsi launches new drink option with reusable bottle

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