Before you do anything else, you might like a difficult Washington Post quiz…



A changing climate has widespread implications for human health. The World Health Organization writes that “over the last 50 years, human activities — particularly the burning of fossil fuels — have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate.

“In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85°C. Each of the last 3 decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

“Although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health — clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.”

Flooding, heat events, starvation, fires, more infectious disease, drought, unsafe drinking water and less access to food are clearly bad for people’s health! Pictures of polar bears on shrinking ice floes grab at our heartstrings, but this is about our grandchildren, our neighbors, and our friends. In 2009 the prestigious British medical Journal, The Lancet got it exactly right in calling climate change “the biggest global health threat of this century”.

Today’s clinicians see the toll climate change is taking on the health, safety, and well-being of our patients and our communities.  We see our patients and our grandchildren wheezing and coughing when smoke from wildfires pollutes our air.  All over the world including the US, we see excess deaths from heat events, and destruction and death related to flooding and excess rain. And the twin sibling of climate change, air pollution, has been associated with 8-10 excess deaths on the planet today. Climate change and air pollution share the same root cause (using fossil fuel to create energy), but while impacts of climate change are baked into the atmosphere for decades almost no matter what we do, the positive impacts of cleaner air accrue very quickly!

While there have been several previous “mass extinctions” on earth, this is the first of them that is “anthropogenic”(ie, created by human activity). A partial list of consequences of climate change and air pollution includes lung cancer, chronic lung disease, asthma, heart disease, increased premature death, ER visits, and hospitalizations, school and work absenteeism, violence, depression, suicide, substance abuse, increased infant mortality and decreased cognitive development of children, and deaths and injuries related to floods, draughts, heat events, and other extreme weather events and expansion of infectious disease. These consequences are not evenly distributed among people. Many are most common in impoverished and minority communities, the very young, the very old, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions.

Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines, said “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.”  There is time to avoid the worst, and our hope is that having a better understanding of the human health impacts of climate change and air pollution will create the collective will, the energy, and the commitment to respond to this crises with the depth, breadth, and decisiveness that it requires. There is simply no time to waste.


The Willow Project Would Be a Public Health Crisis for Alaska

By Yessenia Funes 03/06/23
Siqiniq Maupin, an Iñupiaq person born in Alaska’s North Slope city of Utqiagvik but raised in Fairbanks, has known too many people whose lives were cut short by cancer or suicide. Across the state, Alaska…
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Will global warming make temperature less deadly?

By Harry Stevens 02/16/23
The scientific paper published in the June 2021 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change was alarming. Between 1991 and 2018, the peer-reviewed study reported, more than one-third of deaths from heat exposure were linked…
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Improved Asthma Symptoms, Air Pollution Linked to Electric Vehicle Use in California

By Pearl Steinzor 02/08/23
Drivers choosing zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), otherwise known as battery electric, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen fuel cell cars, have been increasing in California, with efforts to tackle climate change. However, little is known about the…
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Valley fever could spread from Southwest, driven by climate change, researchers warn: ‘New cases emerging’

By Melissa Rudy 02/02/23
For most people who are suffering from fever, cough and fatigue, the likely culprits are cold, flu or COVID-19.
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Air quality can affect health. Climate change is worsening both.

By Jan Ellen Spiegel 01/22/23
Sandra Rapp has had breathing problems for at least 20 years. She was a heavy smoker — a habit she gave up 30 years ago — spent many years working in manufacturing and has lived…
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Study Says Climate Change Fear-Mongering Severely Impacting Children’s Mental Health

By Kevin Killough 01/15/23
Since environmental activist Greta Thunberg gave her “how dare you” speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019 when she was 17, young people have been drawn into a debate about climate change.
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Older adults can be particularly vulnerable during weather disasters

By YCC Team 01/03/23
It’s an urgent issue as extreme weather grows more common. The post Older adults can be particularly vulnerable during weather disasters appeared first on Yale Climate Connections. ...
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How Does Deforestation Lead To Human Diseases?

By Andrew Wight 12/07/22
Colombian disease ecologist Juliana Hoyos is part of a multidisciplinary team studying the links between deforestation and diseases like Chagas disease and American cutaneous leishmaniasis.
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When health inequities and climate disasters collide

By Ayurella Horn-Miller 12/06/22
Researchers released a toolkit Tuesday designed to help free and low-cost clinics in the U.S. to better deal with heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires and floods in underserved communities. The big picture: Despite treating those most…
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Harvard team launches climate resilience toolkit for front-line health care clinics

By Sharon Udasin 12/06/22
A team of Harvard University public health experts has launched an initiative to help front-line medical clinics protect their patients from climate risks. The project, called the Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics Toolkit, provides clinical…
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As heat wave grips the West, millions in California are urged to set thermostats to 78 degrees to conserve electricity today

By Aya Elamroussi 09/01/22
An intense heat wave will blanket much of the West this week, prompting officials in California to urge residents to slash their energy consumption for the second day in a row to avoid straining the…
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Nature can affect human well-being in many more ways than you think

By Allyson Chiu 08/05/22
Humans have long benefited from nature’s offerings. But beyond being an essential source of food, water and raw materials, the natural world can contribute to people’s overall well-being through a host of intangible effects —…
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If you see no icon in front of an entry, it means the entry covers more than one subject.

The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels

The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown is published as the world confronts profound and concurrent systemic shocks. Countries and health systems continue to contend with the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19…

U.S. EPA and WHO partner to protect public health

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The agreement continues EPA-WHO collaboration on a wide range of specific and crosscutting environment and…

Environmental Health Coalition

Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) works for environmental justice in the San Diego/Tijuana region and throughout California.

EWG’s Tap Water Database

Since 2013, water utilities' testing has found pollutants in Americans' tap water, according to an EWG drinking water quality analysis of more than 31 million state water records.

The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the U.S.

ProPublica’s analysis of five years of modeled EPA data identified more than 1,000 toxic hot spots across the country and found that an estimated 250,000 people living in them may be exposed to levels of…

Lancet Countdown: Policy brief for the United States Of America

This fifth annual Policy Brief is supported by a diverse group of health experts from over 70 institutions, organizations, and centers who recognize that climate change is first and foremost a health crisis. It uses…

Systematic mapping of global research on climate and health: a machine learning review

The global literature on the links between climate change and human health is large, increasing exponentially, and it is no longer feasible to collate and synthesise using traditional systematic evidence mapping approaches. We aimed to…

The number of lives that clean energy could save, by U.S. state

The United States can achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while creating half a million new jobs, modernizing the energy infrastructure, and avoiding hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, according to the comprehensive Net Zero…

Systematic mapping of global research on climate and health: a machine learning review

The global literature on the links between climate change and human health is large, increasing exponentially, and it is no longer feasible to collate and synthesise using traditional systematic evidence mapping approaches. We aimed to…

Coming Storms: Climate Change And The Rising Threat To America’s Coastal Seniors

A new Climate Central sea-level-rise analysis identifies the assisted living and nursing homes at risk in five states. Experts say waiting to evacuate during storms is not the answer.

Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1.  Policy.  Our Nation has an abiding commitment to empower…

WHO global strategy on health, environment and climate change

The burden of disease attributable to the environment is high and persistent, and amounts to 13 million deaths each year (one quarter of all deaths), and further health concerns are posed by global challenges such…

Global risk of deadly heat

Climate change can increase the risk of conditions that exceed human thermoregulatory capacity.

Raising Awareness of the Health Impacts of Coal Plant Pollution

In 2000, 2004 and again in 2010, the Clean Air Task Force issued studies based on a methodology and model created by Abt Associates, U.S EPA’s own health benefits consultant, based on peer-reviewed, published studies…

Investors Join Calls for a Food Revolution to Fight Climate Change

A series of new reports shows how climate change is intertwined with the world’s worsening health, and suggests changes in the global food production system.

The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report

Malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks, is the leading cause of poor health globally. In the near future, the health effects of climate change will considerably compound these health…

Global Climate Change and Children’s Health

Climate change poses threats to human health, safety, and security, and children are uniquely vulnerable to these threats.

Climate change and health

Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and…

Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance

“Things like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, domestic abuse, all these things tend to go up in the aftermath of a natural disasters,” says psychologist Susan Clayton of the College of Wooster,…

Planting healthy air: Trees, particulate matter pollution and extreme heat

This study from the Nature Conservancy reviews the positive cooling effects of urban trees planting on hot city climates and the quality of their air.

New Lancet report: The Global Syndemic: Uniting Actions to Address Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change

The Lancet has been busy.  Last week, it published a blockbuster report on the need for worldwide dietary changes to improve human health and that of the environment. And here is another post about this…

Weekend reading: The Lancet / EAT Forum report on healthy and sustainable diets

I’ve saved this for Weekend Reading because it will take a weekend to get through it. The report is a blockbuster: 37 authors, 47 pages, 357 references.

Major Health Study Shows Benefits of Combating Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, by 150 experts from 27 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, is blunt: “A rapidly changing climate…

8 ways the climate apocalypse could affect your health

Public health journal The Lancet released a report Wednesday warning that climate change is causing a long list of health risks.

California health systems form alliance to advise on climate change laws, regulations

As deadly fires and record-breaking heat waves ravage California, four of the state's largest health systems joined to form the California Health Care Climate Alliance ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in September to…

Climate change is making people sick: A U.S. medical report

From rising levels of air pollution to increased water contamination and a widening range for disease-carrying mosquitoes, climate change is making people sick, a coalition of 11 US medical groups said Wednesday.


Should ‘Eco-Anxiety’ Be Classified as a Mental Illness?

By Jordan Davidson   09/17/19  
As the climate crisis takes on more urgency, psychologists around the world are seeing an increase in the number of children sitting in their offices suffering from ‘eco-anxiety,’ which the American Psychological Association described as…
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I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change

By Caroline Hickman   09/15/19  
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilises. Already, studies have found that 45% of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional…
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30,000 lives could be saved with cleaner air, CMU professor says

Pittsburgh’s air quality has improved dramatically over the past 20 years, but a Carnegie Mellon University researcher says that’s no reason for area residents to be satisfied. Allen Robinson, director of CMU’s Center for Air…
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Sick and dying workers demand help after cleaning coal ash

A backlash is growing against the Tennessee Valley Authority over the nation's worst coal ash spill a decade ago, as cleanup workers say they have contracted cancers and lung diseases.
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People breathing dirty air more likely to have mental health problems

People exposed to high levels of air pollution have much greater odds of suffering from a psychiatric illness such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to a new study. While no mental illness can…
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How climate change threatens public health

By Samantha Harrington   08/19/19  
From prolonged droughts to dangerous sun exposures, the weather affects human health in numerous ways, and climate change has already ratcheted environmental health threats up a notch.
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Climate crisis already causing deaths and childhood stunting, report reveals

'Insidious' health-related impacts in Australia and Pacific include lowered cognitive capacity and spread of diseases.
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Red Cross to world’s cities: Here’s how to prevent heat wave deaths

The disaster relief agency issued new guidlines to help city leaders cope with rising global temperatures.
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Has Your Doctor Talked To You About Climate Change?

By Martha Bebinger   07/13/19  
When Michael Howard arrives for a checkup with his lung specialist, he's worried about how his body will cope with the heat and humidity of a Boston summer. "I lived in Florida for 14 years…
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U.S. medical groups warn candidates: Climate change is a ‘health emergency’

'I’ve seen a lot, but this scares me,' one doctor said. Ahead of the first debates, 70-plus health groups call for moving away from fossil fuels.
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Smoke from US wildfires boosting health risk for millions

By Matthew Brown   06/25/19  
Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a…
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77 Health Organizations Call for Climate Action to Fight Public Health Emergency

More than 70 leading public health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that the climate crisis is also a health emergency. NoneSo far 77 organizations representing nurses, doctors,…
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84% of fracking studies show the industry harms human health

A group of doctors and scientists have released a report showing that 84 percent of studies published from 2009-2015 on the health impacts of fracking show that the industry causes harm to human health.The report,…
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Summer storms are a spectacle, but the dust is bad for your health

They're a force of nature, and a deadly one. And summer dust storms aren't going anywhere. They're going to get worse.
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Potentially deadly valley fever is hitting California farmworkers hard, worrying researchers

By Twilight Greenaway   06/17/19  
Getting an accurate count of the number of people affected by valley fever is a challenge because the majority of those who are infected never know they have it.
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Climate Crisis Could Spread Dengue Fever Through Most of Southeast U.S.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise until 2080, dengue fever could spread through much of the southeastern U.S. by 2050. NoneThat's one of the findings in a study published in Nature Microbiology Monday on…
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Kids Face Rising Health Risks from Climate Change, Doctors Warn as Juliana Case Returns to Court

By Nina Pullano   06/04/19  
A federal appeals court heard arguments as the government tried again to get the children’s climate lawsuit dismissed.
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Hospitals Need to Step Up on Climate Change, Lawmakers Told

By Joyce Frieden   05/15/19  
'Too many hospitals and nursing homes are not doing quite enough'
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How climate change affects your mental health

By Britt Wray   05/01/19  
"For all that's ever been said about climate change, we haven't heard nearly enough about the psychological impacts of living in a warming world," says science writer Britt Wray. In this quick talk, she explores…
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Dr. DeJarnett explains how climate change threatens public health

Dr. DeJarnett explains how climate change threatens public health By Sara Wanous Each month, Citizens’ Climate Lobby hosts an online meeting featuring a guest speaker to educate listeners on topics related to climate change, carbon…
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By Maria Ojala   02/20/19  
We are in unprecedented territory when it comes to climate change. How young people choose to tackle this problem will be a major factor that sets the world on its future path.
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Increasing temperatures from climate change may harm babies’ hearts

Increasing temperatures from climate change could drive up the number of babies born with congenital heart defects, warns a new study from the Journal of the American Heart Association. The report, released today, warns that…
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Study links air pollution to early death

By Scott Tong   11/19/18  
What’s the benefit of cleaner air? An extra two years of life for the average person in the world, a new study finds.
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Lyme disease is thriving thanks to climate change

By Marlene Cimons   11/12/18  
German physician Alfred Buchwald had no clue that the chronic skin inflammation he described in 1883 was the first recorded case of a serious tick-carrying disease, one that would take hold in a small Connecticut…
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Deadly Heat Waves Threaten Third of the World

By Megan Trimble   06/20/17  
Scorching heat grounded planes in parts of the U.S. on Monday, the same day researchers released a study that finds the globe is only getting hotter and, as a result, potentially deadlier. Currently, nearly a…
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Nourishing Patients and the Planet: The Role of Hospital Food Service in Climate Leadership

By Health Care Without Harm   04/22/16  
In committing to food procurement that is protective of the climate, food leaders are safeguarding a healthier future for everyone.
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Climate Change’s Hidden Victim: Your Mental Health

By Ciara O'Rourke   01/24/19  
A controversial new class argues that you can’t begin to address the environmental impacts of global warming until you address the psychological ones
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Here’s One More Political Assault on Public Health

By Gretchen Goldman, Ploy Achakulwisut   06/17/19  
Corporate interests, including the fossil fuel, auto and tobacco industries, are searching for ways to undermine the science that says particulate pollution kills
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You’re Likely Inhaling 11 Tiny Bits of Plastic Per Hour

By Erica Cirino   06/17/19  
Pulling on a white cotton lab coat, researcher Alvise Vianello stepped into a stark white room filled with whizzing machines. The contraptions were analyzing foreign materials found in soil, drinking water, the oceans, wastewater, and…
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Without swift action on climate change, heat waves could kill thousands in U.S. cities

By Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky   06/16/19  
If global warming sometimes seems like a distant or abstract threat, new research casts the phenomenon in stark, life-or-death terms. It predicts that in the absence of significant progress in efforts to curb emissions of…
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EPA veteran: Changing math on air pollution is deadly

By Christiane Amanpour   05/23/19  
Fmr. Associate EPA Director John Bachmann talks to Amanpour about the agency's controversial plan to change how it calculates the health risks of air pollution.
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Climate change is making allergy season worse

By Jen Christensen   04/12/19  
You're sneezing your head off, and your eyes sting. The air around you is yellow -- along with your house, your car, your pets. Yes, of course, you already know that allergy season has arrived.…
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‘Extreme Pollen’ Blankets North Carolina in a Sneeze-Inducing Yellow Haze

By Dan Levin   04/11/19  
Spring can feel like the end of the world for allergy sufferers, but in North Carolina this week, it looked that way, too. And it has a name to match: “Pollenpocalypse.”
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A Dose of Reality: How Climate Change Affects Our Kids, Straight from a Pediatrician

By Dr. Susan E. Pacheco   04/08/19  
Dr. Susan Pacheco is a pediatrician and Climate Reality Leader – and she’s made it her life’s work to raise awareness about the impact climate change has on public health, especially the health of children.
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This is how climate change takes a toll on the heart

By Sarah DeWeerdt   03/19/19  
Doctors know that cold temperatures can trigger heart attacks. But the effect of hot weather on heart attack risk has been more difficult to establish. Now, a team of German researchers has found evidence that…
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The Imperative for Climate Action to Protect Health

By Andy Haines   01/17/19  
Climate change is already adversely affecting human health and health systems,1,2 and projected climate change is expected to alter the geographic range and burden of a variety of climate-sensitive health outcomes and to affect the…
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How Climate Change Is Challenging American Health Care

By Vann R. Newkirk II   12/06/18  
Experts say mounting environmental pressures will make people sicker, and that the health-care system will play a major role in averting disaster.
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Study Warns of Cascading Health Risks From the Changing Climate

By Somini Sengupta and Kendra Pierre-Louis   11/28/18  
Crop yields are declining. Tropical diseases like dengue fever are showing up in unfamiliar places, including in the United States. Tens of millions of people are exposed to extreme heat.
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EPA quietly telling states they can pollute more

By Rene Marsh, Gregory Wallace and Ellie Kaufman   10/31/18  
The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly signaled it may allow states to release more ozone air pollution, commonly known as smog, dirtying the air in those states and neighboring ones, but the agency did not…
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The Energy 202: Three misleading things about Trump’s clean air tweet

By Dino Grandoni   10/23/18  
President Trump boasted on Twitter Monday that the United States has the "Cleanest Air in the World - BY FAR!" He backed up that claim by tweeting out a map depicting little lung-choking soot hanging…
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Your Poop is Probably Full of Plastic

By Robbie Gonzalez   10/22/18  
Every minute, a dumptruckful of plastic plops into the world's oceans. That's eight million metric tons every year1. Once waterborne, whatever doesn't wash ashore eventually breaks down into itty bits. The puniest pieces—the ones smaller…
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Fracking chemicals dumped in the Allegheny River a decade ago are still showing up in mussels: Study

By Kristina Marusic   09/26/18  
Chemicals from fracking wastewater dumped into Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River before 2011 are still accumulating in the bodies of freshwater mussels downstream, according to a new study.
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Climate change, water and the spread of diseases: Connecting the dots differently

by Lenore Manderson   09/17/18  
A half-century ago, concerns about climate change, environment vulnerability, population density and the sustainability of earth systems reached a broad audience. 
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Rising CO2 will leave crops—and millions of humans—less healthy

By Brian Bienkowski   08/28/18  
Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will render some major crops less nutritious and leave hundreds of millions of people protein and zinc deficient over the next three decades, according to a new…
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Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals

By Damian Carrington and Lily Kuo   08/27/18  
Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health.
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Air Pollution Is Shortening Your Life. Here’s How Much.

By Somini Sengupta   08/22/18  
Air pollution is shaving months — and in some cases more than a year — off your life expectancy, depending on where you live, according to a study published Wednesday.
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Beer, Drinking Water And Fish: Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere

By Christopher Joyce   08/20/18  
Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what's out there. Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have…
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Which cities are liveable without air conditioning – and for how much longer?

By Nolan Gray and Antonio Vice   08/14/18  
Mapping the world’s cities where you can live comfortably without heating or air conditioning reveals how few boast such ideal climates – and how global warming may further narrow the field.
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Obesity and diabetes: 2 reasons why we should be worried about the plastics that surround us

By Bruce Blumberg and Raquel Chamorro-Garcia   08/13/18  
Today, nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults and 21 percent of youth are obese. This trend is on the upswing and the worldwide population is becoming more obese – which is increasing the risk of…
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