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September 2020: Monthly Environmental News Roundup

1-Rampant forest destruction will unleash further pandemics

Conservationists and biologists will be advised by the UN Biodiversity Summit, scheduled to be held in New York next month, that there is now compelling evidence of a strong correlation between environmental degradation and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases, such as Covid-19. Delegates will be told that rampant deforestation, unregulated expansion of agriculture and the development of mines in remote regions as well as the abuse of wild animals as food sources, traditional medicines and exotic pets are producing a “perfect storm” for the spill over of diseases from wildlife to humans.

2-A single objective to stop the destruction of nature is not met by the world

According to a devastating new UN report on the state of nature, the world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, released ahead of a key UN summit on the topic later this month, found that natural ecosystems have continued to vanish amid progress in some regions, large numbers of species remain at risk of extinction from human activities, and $500bn of environmentally destructive government subsidies have not been removed. The UN said that the natural world was deteriorating and that failure to act could undermine the objectives of the Paris Climate Crisis Agreement and the objectives of sustainable development.

3- Particles of air pollution in young brains are linked to Alzheimer’s damage

In the brain stems of young people, tiny air pollution particles have been revealed and are closely associated with molecular damage related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In the brainstems of 186 young people from Mexico City who had unexpectedly died between the ages of 11 months and 27 years, the researchers found abundant pollution nanoparticles. After being inhaled into the bloodstream, or through the nose or gut, they are likely to have entered the brain. The study was conducted at the University of Montana, US, by Lilian Calderón-Garcidueña and is published in the journal Environmental Research. It found that the metal-rich nanoparticles matched the shape and chemical composition of those created by traffic, which are abundant in the air of Mexico City and many other cities, through combustion and braking friction.

4-Water companies in the UK have criticised rising environmental pollution  

In 2019, England’s water firms were blamed for their lowest rate of environmental emissions in five years, resulting in ministers and the Environment Agency being condemned. The South West Water, Anglian, Northumbrian, and Southern environment ministers, George Eustice, and Howard Boyd, are calling a conference of the worst-performing companies to demand that they “step up” and do better. The damning evaluation of how water companies handle the ecosystem comes after the revelation of the bad condition of rivers in England last month.

5-Regulators say that modern ever-chemicals contaminate the climate

The authors of the Science Report of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Protection Department of New Jersey (DEP) identified the plant of the company Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, a subsidiary of the Belgian chemical giant Solvay SA, in West Deptford, New Jersey, as the probable source of the pollution. The documents shed light on the challenge faced by regulators in New Jersey to recognize the environmental risks raised at the Solvay factory, as well as the discussion between both sides on how to remediate the replacement compound of the business and restrict the potential use of new forms of PFAS. Environmental and health advocates argue that PFAS should be regulated as a category because it takes years to determine the risk of chemicals such as Solvay’s latest replacement, with new compounds subject to the same regulations as those previously known.

6- September was the ‘hottest on record’ worldwide

It was 0.050 C hotter than last year’s September, which in turn, set the month’s previous record high. Scientists believe it’s a strong sign that pollution from human society is pushing temperatures up. Even if temperatures cool considerably from now on, this year is also expected to become the warmest on record for Europe. Globally, the elevated heat helped record wildfires in California and Australia. The hottest day on record-a searing 54.40C in Death, Valley-also helped fuel it. And it had a hand in the torrential downpours that, with more than half a meter of rain a day, inundated the south of France. Météo-France, the French meeting office, said that once in 100 years they had two in a month, a downpour such as this was expected.

7- Bottle-fed children eat millions of microplastics a day, research shows

Scientists find that bottles shed millions of microplastics and trillions of even smaller nano-plastics because of the recommended high-temperature method for sterilizing plastic bottles and preparing formula milk. The polypropylene bottles tested makeup 82% of the world market, with the primary alternative being glass bottles. Polypropylene is one of the most widely used plastics, and researchers have found that kettles and food containers often produce millions of microplastics per liter of liquid in preliminary studies. Microplastics have also been known to contaminate human food and drink in the atmosphere, but the study shows that the preparation of food in plastic containers can lead to thousands of times higher exposure.

8- Title of Coastal Ecological Ecosystem Conservation Global Model 

In September 2020, during the opening of its Eco-Museum Phase 1 exhibition space, Forest City released the Forest City Ecological Growth Action Plan. From the beginning of project creation in 2014, the plan outlined the priorities and objectives of eco-city development, activity, and management for the future. Following this strategy, as a cornerstone, Forest City would develop green infrastructure, exploit high-tech industries to increase urban economic growth, and eventually become a green and vibrant city with diverse industries and cultures. Forest City will be a smart and green futuristic city that blends urban design with the philosophy of business integration planning to create an ideal living and working space ecosystem that is idyllic and technology-driven.

9- For our climate and our wellbeing, indigenous trees are good

If you think “native,” think of plants that occur naturally without direct or indirect human interference in the country, state, ecosystem, or habitat. Native trees such as magnolias, oaks, swamp titis, yaupons, Virginia willows, fetterbushes, cypress pond, native fringe trees, Swamp tupelos, indigenous persimmons, and pawpaws will make the yard look amazing and provide valuable opportunities for wildlife. The priority of the 30-year-old organization used to be planting trees for the beautification of the landscape of the area, said Christopher Cooper, a Baton Rouge Green program specialist. Cooper said we need to add native plants to our communities, corporate ecosystems, and land-bordering infrastructure, including in dense cities, to help transform our cultivated ecosystems into productive biological corridors.

10- Six times quicker, new super-enzymes eat plastic bottles

The super-enzyme, derived from bacteria that have developed the ability to consume plastic naturally, allows the bottles to be entirely recycled. Scientists claim that combining it with enzymes that break down cotton may also make it possible to recycle mixed-fabric clothing. Today, millions of tonnes of such garments are either discarded or incinerated in landfills. The entire planet has been polluted by plastic waste, from the Arctic to the deepest oceans and it is now understood that people ingest and breathe microplastic particles. In order to make new ones from old, it is currently very difficult to break down plastic bottles into their chemical constituents, ensuring that more new plastic is made every year from oil. By connecting two different enzymes, both of which were present in the plastic-eating bug present at a Japanese waste site in 2016, the super-enzyme was engineered. In 2018, researchers unveiled an engineered version of the first enzyme, which is a few days that began to break down the plastic. But six times quicker, the super-enzyme gets to work.

11- Rare white sea turtle discovered on a beach in South Carolina

On a South Carolina beach, volunteers inspecting sea turtle nests came across a rare sight: a white sea turtle hatchling creeping across the sand. The town of Kiawah Island reported on its Facebook page that alone the white baby sea turtle was found on Sunday by the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol. Instead of the more common grey or green of a sea turtle, the pictures show a tiny turtle that is a creamy white colour. The town says it is suspected that the hatchling has a hereditary disorder called leucism, which causes pigmentation to decrease in animals. A sea turtle conservation organization, the Olive Ridley Project, says sea turtles with leukaemia usually have a hard time surviving because of a lack of camouflage.

12- More than 14 million tonnes of plastic are at the bottom of the ocean

A study of ocean sediments as deep as 3 km shows that at the bottom of the world’s ocean there may be more than 30 times as much plastic as there is floating on the surface. Researchers looked at 51 samples and found that every gram of sediment contained an average of 1.26 microplastic pieces after removing the weight of the water.

Microplastics are 5 mm or less in diameter and are often the product of breaking apart into ever smaller parts of larger plastic objects. It has emerged as a major international challenge to stem the flow of plastic entering the rivers and oceans of the planet. Between 288 km and 349 km from the shore, at depths of between 1,655 meters and 3,016 meters, the cores were drilled in March and April 2017.

13- Botswana believes the mystery of mass elephant die-off has been solved

Between May and June, the unexplained death of 350 elephants in the Okavango delta puzzled conservationists, with leading hypotheses claiming that a rodent virus is known as EMC (encephalomyocarditis) or toxins from algal blooms killed them. 70 percent of elephants died near water holes containing algal blooms, which can create poisonous microscopic organisms called cyanobacteria, according to local reports. Toxins were originally removed because, with the exception of one horse, no other animals died, but scientists now suspect that elephants may be especially vulnerable because they spend a lot of time bathing and consuming vast amounts of water.

14- ‘Real and impending’ risk of extinction for whales

More than half of all animals are concerned with conservation, with two on the “knife-edge” of extinction, they claim. The lack of action on contaminated and over-exploited oceans means that within our lifetimes, many will be considered extinct, the letter says. Even the famous large whales aren’t healthy. The letter, signed by experts around the world, was organized by a visiting research fellow at the University of Bristol, UK, and a senior marine scientist with Humane Society International. Although impacted ecosystems have had an opportunity to recover from organized hunting in most areas of the world, they are now facing myriad threats from human actions, including plastic contamination, loss of habitat and prey, climate change, and ship collisions.

15- World health officials call for a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis

More than 200 groups representing at least 40 million health professionals have signed an open letter to the G20 leaders and their chief medical advisors, representing nearly half of the global medical workforce, referring to the 7 million premature deaths than air pollution leads to every year around the world. The letter encourages Chief Medical Officers and Chief Scientific Advisors to be closely involved in the design of the stimulus packages now underway to ensure that they include public health and environmental concerns. They argue that public health systems should be improved and alert about how the deterioration of the environment could help to unleash potential diseases.

The signatories also want changes to subsidize fossil fuels, with public support turning for cleaner air, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to improve economic growth by nearly $100tn over the next three decades.

16- Research shows that children raised in greener areas have a higher IQ

The survey of more than 600 children aged 10-15 showed a 3% rise in their neighborhood’s greenness, increasing their IQ score by an average of 2.6 points. In both wealthier and poorer regions, the impact was seen. There is already important evidence that green spaces promote different aspects of the cognitive growth of children, but this is the first study to investigate IQ. The cause is unknown but may be connected to lower levels of stress, more social interaction, and play, or a quieter environment. For those children at the lower end of the continuum, the rise in IQ points was especially important, where minor changes could make a big difference, the researchers said.

17- In less than 30 years, Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice

The researchers, based at the universities of Leeds and Edinburgh and University College London, characterize the extent of ice loss as “staggering” and warn that their study indicates that by the end of the century, sea level rises, caused by melting glaciers and ice sheets, could exceed a meter. The researchers also warn that the melting of ice in these amounts is now dramatically reducing the ability of the earth to reflect solar radiation back into space.

White ice is melting and more and more heat is absorbed by the dark sea or soil exposed underneath it, further raising the planet’s warming. In addition, the melting of cold freshwater from glaciers and ice sheets is causing significant disturbances to the biological health of the Arctic and Antarctic waters, while the depletion of mountain glaciers is threatening to wipe out the freshwater supplies on which local communities rely.

18- Climate change:’ Unparalleled’ ice loss as the record breaks in Greenland

Scientists claim that last year, the loss of ice in Greenland lurched forward again, smashing the previous record by 15%. A recent study says that in documents dating back to 1948, the size of the melt was “unprecedented.” High-pressure systems that were blocked last summer over Greenland were the immediate cause of the enormous losses.

But the authors suggest that continuing carbon emissions are moving Greenland into a more intense melting age. The contribution of Greenland to global sea levels has risen dramatically over the past 30 years as ice losses have increased. Last December, a major international study on Greenland concluded that it was losing ice seven times faster than during the 1990s. Using data from the satellites Grace and Grace-FO, as well as climate simulations, the authors conclude that Greenland lost 532 gigatons of ice over the full year-a large improvement over 2012.

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