The Weekend Reader: Apes, floods and child lead levels

The Weekend Reader: Apes, floods and child lead levels

The news on our environment, health and climate that changed the world for the week of Oct. 30 to Nov. 5.


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The week in Trump

Sam Clovis, the non-scientist named to be USDA's top scientist, found himself mired in the middle of the Papadopolous-a-palooza.

He informed President Trump on Wednesday he would no longer seek the post, as the Washington Post reported, "given the controversy surrounding the fact that he was one of the top officials on the Trump campaign who was aware of efforts by foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to broker a relationship between the campaign and Russian officials.

Trump agriculture nominee Sam Clovis confirms he has no hard-science credentials, withdraws over ties to Russia probe (Washington Post)

Donald Trump's unqualified USDA chief scientist withdraws, cites 'political climate' (Salon)

The U.S. Global Change Research Program – sort of a domestic IPCC – released its latest assessment of climate research, and the result was unambiguous: Humans are driving climate change.

The real surprise was how forcefully major media outlets contrasted those findings with Trump and his cabinet's stance on the issue.

Associated Press' Seth Borenstein: "It is the latest example of collisions between Trump's environmental policies and the facts presented by his government's experts."

U.S. scientists contract Trump's climate claims (Associated Press)

Related: Emily Atkin, writing in the New Republic, warns that you cannot end the war on coal without starting a war on public health.

The new coal crisis (New Republic)

The week's top commentary

Five op-eds to keep you engaged:

  1. In Grand Staircase-Escalante, coal and fossils lie side by side. What could be lost as monument opponents push for mining. (Rebecca Worby, High Country News)
  2. What do Jellyfish teach us about climate change? A new study shows that the biological effects of two ecosystem changes can be greater than their individual impacts (John Abraham, The Guardian)
  3. Pruitt is turning his back on transparency at the EPA. The agency should be a fishbowl, not a black box — or it will crumble. (William D. Ruckelshaus, Washington Post)
  4. Reject outrageous fee hike for national parks. There are better ways to fund national parks than an exorbitant fee increase proposed by the Trump administration. (Editorial board of the Seattle Times)
  5. As communities rebuild after disaster, we must keep nature in mind. To minimize future harm, protecting nature and the services it provides should be at the top of our post-disaster to-do list. (Anita van Breda, Ensia)
See all of our curated opinion pieces on EHN.org/opinion.

Top news for Sunday, Nov. 5

Trending on kid's health

Trending news story this week at the journal Environmental Health Perspectives:

What happens next for children with elevated blood lead?

Reporter Charles Schmidt connected with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center pediatrician and medical director Nicholas Newman to chart the future for the half million children identified in the U.S. with elevated blood lead levels.

"When there's a strong family structure to support our efforts, I find the outcomes are better."

Read the full story.

climate change plastic
Credit: UNEP

Op-ed: Ending toxic threats to Alaska from plastics and petrochemicals

An ambitious Plastics Treaty that controls plastic production and eliminates the use of toxic chemicals would begin to rectify the environmental injustices experienced by Indigenous Peoples.

Flames, belching smoke, and black carbon in the sky—on nights when I (Rosemary) saw 20 or more flares, I knew sick people would be coming.
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Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
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Global climate impacts are set to drastically reduce average income levels by 2050

A new study reveals that by 2050, global incomes will decrease by almost 20% on average due to severe climate impacts, which will cost significantly more than proactive measures to limit temperature rises.

Jonathan Watts reports for The Guardian.

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Biden's Arctic policy curbs drilling
Credit: JLS Photography - Alaska/Flickr

Biden's Arctic policy curbs drilling and blocks road construction

President Biden curtails fossil fuel extraction in Alaska, aiming to preserve the region's pristine habitats.

Maxine Joselow reports for The Washington Post.

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New rule prioritizes conservation on US public lands

A new rule introduced by the Biden administration aims to balance conservation with economic activities on America's public lands, enhancing protections and sustainable use.

Catrin Einhorn reports for The New York Times.

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Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Credit: Florida Sea Grant/Flickr

The lasting impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill on marine life

A recent expedition to the Gulf of Mexico has revealed ongoing environmental damage from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, showing little signs of recovery for the marine ecosystem.

Xander Peters reports for Hakai Magazine.

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Impact of climate change on Indigenous communities documented in global study

Indigenous and local communities' firsthand experiences with climate change are vividly detailed in a new extensive study.

Sonam Lama Hyolmo reports for Mongabay.

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From our Newsroom
New EPA regulations mean a closer eye on the nation’s petrochemical hub

New EPA regulations mean a closer eye on the nation’s petrochemical hub

Houston’s fenceline communities welcome stricter federal rules on chemical plant emissions but worry about state compliance.

plastic composting

Bioplastics create a composting conundrum

Biodegradable food packaging is a step in the right direction, experts say, but when composted carries risks of microplastic and chemical contamination.

plastic treaty

Groups push Biden administration to take leadership role at upcoming plastic treaty talks

The US has taken a “middle of the road position” so far, environmental groups say.

chemical recycling Youngstown

Listen: Why communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are fighting chemical recycling plants

EHN reporter Kristina Marusic discusses her new three-part series on the controversies surrounding chemical recycling.

chemical recycling

Latest chemical recycling plant closing spurs concern over the industry’s viability

Oregon’s Regenyx plant announced its closing in late February, with those involved calling it a success, despite never reaching planned capacity and millions of dollars lost.

plastic treaty

Everything you need to know for the fourth round of global plastic pollution treaty talks

Countries will meet this month in Ottawa to move forward on the historic treaty — but obstacles remain.

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