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.

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Photo by Phoenix Han on Unsplash

Toby Kiers and Merlin Sheldrake: A powerful and underappreciated ally in the climate crisis? Fungi

Mycorrhizal fungal networks are a major global carbon sink. When we destroy them, we sabotage our efforts to limit global heating
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

The world’ strongest ocean current is gaining speed due to global warming

The speeding up of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current could have wide-ranging consequences across the globe.

Climate change is blamed for dramatic flooding in British Columbia

British Columbia, devastated by wildfires last summer, is now coping with severe flooding — both dramatic examples of the impact of climate change.

La Niña impacts temperature, precipitation but not climate change: WMO

La Niña has developed for the second consecutive year and is expected to last into early 2022, but the World Meteorological Organisation says it will not have a direct impact on climate change.

Photo by Artam Hoomat on Unsplash

New book tells 1,001 firsthand stories of climate change from around the world

Evidence of climate change is all around us. But when presented in data and graphs, it can feel disconnected from real life.

Photo by Vincent Lin on Unsplash

Carbon neutrality goal can save China $134 trillion by 2100: Study

The goal of reaching carbon neutrality before 2060 could help China avoid $134 trillion in climate change losses by 2100, according to a study from Tsinghua University.

From our Newsroom

Feeling anxious about climate change? Experts say you're not alone

Research shows more people are feeling anxious about the climate crisis and their numbers will only increase in the coming years. Experts are concerned it's taking a toll on mental health.

​​How to address the looming crisis of climate anxiety

As climate change worsens, the need will grow for mental health services. Some therapists are recommending climate action to ease worry. Others are advocating for community-based therapies to fill the gap.

Silent Earth: Averting the insect apocalypse

As insects become more scarce, our world will slowly grind to a halt, for it cannot function without them.

Worsening heat waves are hammering the disabled community

EHN talked to people with disabilities put in increased danger during last summer's Pacific Northwest heat waves. Activists say accessible cooling centers and air conditioning are key to combating this injustice.