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.

Facing floods and fires, undocumented immigrants have nowhere to turn for help

Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for aid after disasters like Hurricane Ida and wildfires. Some people are trying to change that.

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Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Global south suffering gap in climate change research as rich countries drive agenda, studies suggest

Developing countries suffer from a significant gap in terms of scientific research related to climate change, a new study shows, even though they contain the communities and people most vulnerable to extreme weather, rising sea levels and other serious impacts of climate change. 

Drought in northern Kenya pushes millions towards hunger

In northern Kenya, the ribs of dead sheep stretch towards the blazing sun as parched herders trudge past, a day's march from water. The value of their skinny goats is falling as fast as the prices scrawled on the sacks in the market are shooting up.

'Community ownership' might be the best way to fight deforestation

Forests owned, managed and governed by their communities naturally preserve biodiversity and have very low levels of deforestation.

Manchin fires back after Sanders pens op-ed in West Virginia paper

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ move to land an op-ed in Manchin’s backyard seems to have crossed the line for the West Virginia senator.

In elk, a Kentucky professor sees an opportunity to help revitalize Appalachia

One professor is advocating for further expansion of the elk population through a conservation corridor across Appalachia. But, it could be a heavy lift.

How the climate crisis is transforming the meaning of ‘sustainability’

Companies have been taking a ‘sustainability-as-usual’ approach to the climate crisis—a slow and voluntary adoption of commitments—but that may soon come to an end.