Here’s our week-in-review roundup of the top environmental stories of the week, with reports on climate impacts and action, threats to public health and species, progress in the fight to end plastic pollution, efforts to safeguard science, and more.
Stripping Protections and Silencing Science? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reportedly has plans to dissolve the Office of the Science Advisor (Coral Davenport, New York Times). The EPA also placed the head of its Office of Children’s Health on leave (Coral Davenport and Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times).
Public health experts said that, since the start of the Trump administration, they had seen a clash between the E.P.A.’s top leadership, appointed by a president who has pushed for weakening environmental rules, and the children’s health office. The E.P.A. has reduced the size of other offices with mandates that sometimes clash with Mr. Trump’s anti-regulatory agenda, such as the Office of Environmental Justice, which is charged in part with protecting poor and minority populations from the health effects of pollution….More…
California is plugging ahead with plans to reduce greenhouse gases on the road with clean car standards, despite the Trump administration’s plans to rollback federal standards.
While we continue to work to keep 1 national program, CA will act to ensure strong #cleancarstandards are in place here through 2025 & beyond
Today’s vote ensures that CA & 12 other states will not fall victim to the administration’s rollback should its proposal be finalized https://t.co/hJeNeyD8Z4
— Mary Nichols (@MaryNicholsCA) September 28, 2018
They’re not denying climate change, just shrugging it off: A report from the Trump Administration notes that because the planet is projected to warm an alarming 7 degrees fahrenheit by 2100, actions to reduce greenhouse gases would be futile. (Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis, Chris Mooney, Washington Post)
The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020. While the proposal would increase greenhouse gas emissions, the impact statement says, that policy would add just a very small drop to a very big, hot bucket…. More…
The UN Environment’s Global Plastics Platform was launched with nations committed to encouraging new actions to help end plastic pollution.
The event, hosted on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, offered the opportunity for governments to officially join a ‘Race to the Top’ through the Global Plastics Platform, a network that will encourage new commitments to reduce plastic pollution and explore innovative ways to change the habits of design, production, consumption and disposal of plastics around the world, supporting the transition to a more circular economy….More…
A new report links rising ocean temperatures to recent hurricanes. (Seth Borenstein, AP)
“We will see more active hurricane seasons like 2017 in the future,” said lead author Hiro Murakami, climate scientist and hurricane expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…. More…
Killer whale populations continue to decline as a result of toxic pollution. (Damian Carrington, The Guardian)
Although the poisonous chemicals, PCBs, have been banned for decades, they are still leaking into the seas. They become concentrated up the food chain; as a result, killer whales, the top predators, are the most contaminated animals on the planet. Worse, their fat-rich milk passes on very high doses to their newborn calves….More…
Arctic sea ice continues to melt at an alarming rate. (NASA)
Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent on Sept. 19, and then again on Sept. 23, 2018. @NASA_ICE & @NSIDC watched as the ice shrunk to 1.77 million square miles on both dates, tied with 2008 & 2010 for the sixth lowest sea ice minimum on record. https://t.co/oTntz8qrBT pic.twitter.com/LihZLbM5Os
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) September 27, 2018
The solar farms in North Carolina sustained only minor damage from Hurricane Florence, while other electricity systems struggled or failed. (Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News)
Duke Energy said 1.7 million of its 3.4 million customers in North Carolina had power outages at some point during or in the aftermath of the storm. As of Thursday morning, power had been restored to all but about 80,000, and the company expected power to be fully restored next week. Duke and Strata Solar, two of North Carolina’s largest owners and operators of solar farms, said they found almost no damage in initial inspections… More…
A federal court ruled that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service should not have stripped the Yellowstone grizzly bear of its threatened species status. (Jim Robbins, New York Times)
Yellowstone-area grizzly bears, scheduled to be hunted this month for the first time in decades, were granted a reprieve by a federal judge who ordered the animal restored to full protections under the Endangered Species Act…. More…
A new interactive map shows how the globe has warmed, and continues to warm. (Carbon Brief)
— Carbon Brief (@CarbonBrief) September 26, 2018
During Climate Week in New York and the UN General Assembly, nations, organizations and businesses made commitments to take more action on climate change.
“Heatwaves, forest fires, storms and floods are leaving in their way a trail of death and devastation” https://t.co/1MiMyM9Va8 @UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa made a passionate call for #ClimateAction at this week’s #UNGA pic.twitter.com/T3hhYOLvjN
— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) September 26, 2018
“We are not doing enough, we need to be courageous, and we must act today” https://t.co/bvEmjNWx8f Secretary-General @antonioguterres outlines his expectations for #ClimateAction at #UNGA #ParisAgreement #COP24 pic.twitter.com/Hx74ZPTyGm
— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) September 26, 2018