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Category Archives: Environmental Law

How the pandemic might play out in 2021 and beyond

Nature – This coronavirus is here for the long haul – here’s what scientists predict for the next months and years. “…It is clear now that summer does not uniformly stop the virus, but warm weather might make it easier to contain in temperate regions. In areas that will get colder in the second half of 2020, experts think there is likely to be an increase in transmission. Many human respiratory viruses — influenza, other human coronaviruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — follow seasonal oscillations that lead to winter outbreaks, so it is likely that SARS-CoV-2 will follow suit. “I expect SARS-CoV-2 infection rate, and also potentially disease outcome, to be worse in the winter,” says Akiko Iwasaki, an immunobiologist at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Evidence suggests that dry winter air improves the stability and transmission of respiratory viruses, and respiratory-tract immune defence might be impaired by inhaling dry air, she adds. In addition, in colder weather people are more likely to stay indoors, where virus transmission through droplets is a bigger risk, says Richard Neher, a computational biologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Simulations by Neher’s group show that seasonal variation is likely to affect the virus’s spread and might make containment in the Northern Hemisphere this winter more difficult…”

How to use ventilation and air filtration to prevent the spread of coronavirus indoors

The Conversation: “The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40%… Continue Reading

COVID recovery choices shape future climate

EurekAlert: “A post-lockdown economic recovery plan that incorporates and emphasises climate-friendly choices could help significantly in the battle against global warming, according to a new study. This is despite the sudden reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants during lockdown having a negligible impact on holding down global temperature change. The researchers warn that… Continue Reading

Ocean heatwaves dramatically shift habitats

NOAA – “Thermal displacement” reflects how far species must go to follow preferred temperatures. Marine heat waves across the world’s oceans can displace habitat for sea turtles, whales, and other marine life by 10s to thousands of kilometers. They dramatically shift these animals’ preferred temperatures in a fraction of the time that climate change is… Continue Reading

Coronavirus Brings American Decline Out in the Open

Bloomberg Opinion – Noah Smith: Without fixes for infrastructure, education, health care and government, the U.S. will resemble a developing nation in a few decades. “The U.S.’s decline started with little things that people got used to. Americans drove past empty construction sites and didn’t even think about why the workers weren’t working, then wondered… Continue Reading

Not even scientists can tell these birds apart. But now, computers can

Science – “It’s a fact of life for birders that some species are fiendishly difficult to tell apart—in particular, the sparrows and drab songbirds dubbed “little brown jobs.” Distinguishing individuals is nearly impossible. Now, a computer program analyzing photos and videos has accomplished that feat. The advance promises to reveal new information on bird behaviors…So… Continue Reading

A small federal agency focused on preventing industrial disasters is on life support

Vox: “That agency, the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, investigates accidents and makes recommendations — but it doesn’t regulate the industry. Since 1998, it has looked into some of the nation’s biggest industrial disasters, including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout, which killed 11 workers and dumped an estimated 4 million barrels of oil into… Continue Reading

Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenarios

Washington Post: “The current pace of human-caused carbon emissions is increasingly likely to trigger irreversible damage to the planet, according to a comprehensive international study released Wednesday. Researchers studying one of the most important and vexing topics in climate science — how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to a doubling of the amount of carbon… Continue Reading

Lockdown was the longest period of quiet in recorded human history

MIT Technology Review: “When lockdown started in March, the world went instantly, strangely silent. City streets emptied. Joggers and families disappeared from parks. Construction projects froze. Stores closed. Now a network of seismic monitoring stations around the world has quantified this unprecedented period of quiet. The resulting research into “seismic silence,” published in Science today,… Continue Reading

Google Map revamps its bike routes for easy riding

CNET – “To help people get around this summer in an eco-friendly — and healthy — way, Google Maps has added new features to its offerings for cyclists. Users can now access the most up-to-date bike routes generated by machine learning algorithms, as well as data from government authorities and community contributions.  In addition, Google… Continue Reading