Category Archives: environment

Big news! Clovis is out | Pesticide Action Network

Sam Clovis — controversial nominee for the top scientist post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — withdrew his name from consideration today. Clovis has come under increasing scrutiny for his inflammatory statements and lack of science credentials, going so far as to decry climate change research as “junk science” that is “not proven.” On top of being clearly unqualified for the position, news came to light this week that Clovis may also have contributed to Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential election.

Source: Big news! Clovis is out | Pesticide Action Network

WHO | Plague – Madagascar

While the declining trend in new plague case reports and reduction in hospitalizations due to plague is encouraging, WHO expects more cases of plague to be reported from Madagascar until the typical plague season ends in April 2018. Sustaining ongoing operations, including active case finding and treatment, comprehensive contact identification, follow-up and antibiotic treatment, rodent and flea control, and safe and dignified burials is crucial during the outbreak and through the plague season as it is critical to minimize bubonic plague infections and human-to-human transmission of pneumonic plague.Based on available information and response measures implemented to date, WHO estimates the risk of potential further spread of the plague outbreak at national level remains high.

Source: WHO | Plague – Madagascar

Avian Flu Diary: WHO SitRep #7: Plague In Madagascar

Current risk assessmentThe risk assessment is in the process of being reviewed based on the evolving situation. While the current outbreak began with one large epidemiologically linked cluster, cases of pneumonic plague without apparent epidemiologic links have since been detected in regions across Madagascar, including the densely populated cities of Antananarivo in the central highlands and Toamasina on the east coast of Madagascar. Due to the increased risk of further spread and the severe nature of the disease, the overall risk at the national level is considered very high.

Source: Avian Flu Diary: WHO SitRep #7: Plague In Madagascar

Scott Pruitt’s EPA Just Shut the Door on Independent Scientists | Earthjustice

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decreed that scientists who receive EPA funding for their research may no longer sit on key scientific advisory boards. This policy will freeze out many academic experts who rely on public grants to conduct independent studies. Pruitt also dismissed independent scientists from several important scientific bodies and replaced them with industry insiders.

Source: Scott Pruitt’s EPA Just Shut the Door on Independent Scientists | Earthjustice

How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic | Vital Signs | The Guardian – “Bingo! What I have been saying for past 5 years.”

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have surprised most of the medical establishment – this is the first such outbreak in the region – but the risk had been steadily rising for at least a decade. The risk had grown so high, in fact, that this outbreak was almost inevitable and very possibly predictable.All that was needed was to see the danger was a bat’s eye view of the region. Once blanketed with forests, West Africa has been skinned alive over the last decade. Guinea’s rainforests have been reduced by 80%, while Liberia has sold logging rights to over half its forests. Within the next few years Sierra Leone is on track to be completely deforested.This matters because those forests were habitat for fruit bats, Ebola’s reservoir host. With their homes cut down around them, the bats are concentrating into the remnants of their once-abundant habitat. At the same time, mining has become big business in the region, employing thousands of workers who regularly travel into bat territory to get to the mines.

Source: How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic | Vital Signs | The Guardian

E.P.A. Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists – The New York Times

Scientists involved in the program said that much of the discussion at the event centers on climate change. Many said they were surprised by the E.P.A.’s last-minute cancellation, particularly since the agency helps to fund the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, which is hosting the conference. The scientists who have been barred from speaking contributed substantial material to a 400-page report to be issued on Monday.The move highlights widespread concern that the E.P.A. will silence government scientists from speaking publicly or conducting work on climate change. Scott Pruitt, the agency administrator, has said that he does not believe human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for the warming of the planet.

Freak storm Ophelia hits Ireland, fatalities reported | News | DW | 16.10.2017

Unprecedented stormBefore being downgraded to a storm ahead of landfall in Ireland, Ophelia was the largest hurricane ever recorded so far east in the Atlantic Ocean and the furthest north since 1939.The storm came exactly 30 years after the Great Storm hit southern England on October 16, 1987, leaving 18 people dead and causing widespread damage.The eye of Ophelia is forecast to move across Northern Ireland and then Scotland. Although it will weaken during its progress, gusts of up to 129 kilometers per hour are still expected in the UK.Other parts of Europe have also been affected by Ophelia, which has indirectly caused unseasonably warm weather in some regions, including Germany. Wind gusts spawned by Hurricane Ophelia have also whipped wildfires in Portugual and Spain, killing dozens of people.

Source: Freak storm Ophelia hits Ireland, fatalities reported | News | DW | 16.10.2017

Penguins starving to death is a sign that something’s very wrong in the Antarctic | John Sauven | Opinion | The Guardian

The awful news that all but two penguin chicks have starved to death out of a colony of almost 40,000 birds is a grim illustration of the enormous pressure Antarctic wildlife is under. The causes of this devastating event are complex, from a changing climate to local sea-ice factors, but one thing penguins, whales and other marine life don’t need is additional strain on food supplies.

Source: Penguins starving to death is a sign that something’s very wrong in the Antarctic | John Sauven | Opinion | The Guardian