Long-term PM2.5 Exposure and Neurological Hospital Admissions in the Northeastern United States

by Thy Annie Nguyen

Many prior studies have suggested that particulate matter (PM) exposure may induce an inflammatory response that leads to neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline. PM has been known to carry heavy metals, induce free radicals, and contain carcinogens. Especially with PM2.5 (particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm) being small enough to potentially cross the blood brain barrier, it is worth studying how these aerial pollutants may affect neurological health. In a study from 1999 to 2010 in the northeastern United States, Kioumourtzoglou et al. (2016) found a correlation between long-term exposure in dense, urban cities that produced large quantities of PM2.5 and accelerated disease progression in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), and dementia. Approximately 9.8 million residents in 50 cities were surveyed while air pollution data was collected from the EPA’s Air Quality System Database. Although the design of the study prohibited an analysis of the role of PM2.5 in disease onset, researchers were able to measure the effects PM2.5 concentrations had on the current population of neurological patients who had already exhibited the onset of disease. Continue reading

Tourism Causing Behavioral Changes of Whale Sharks in Western Australia

by Isabelle Ng

Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) is one of the few locations in the world where whale sharks are known to aggregate, which makes it a popular destination for nature-seeking tourists. Tourism levels are high between March and July, when whale sharks aggregate in high nutrient waters. While tourism may benefit from these aggregations, the whale shark is threatened and listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, most likely a result of human impacts such as tourism. The whale shark tourism industry is managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife under a species and management program, which is supposed to exercise “sustainable best practices” through a code of conduct. Continue reading

Is Climate Change to Blame for the Rise in Shark Attacks?

by Alex McKenna

After the release of Jaws in 1975, people started thinking twice before getting in the water. Decades later, they still remember the stories, newspaper articles, and photographs of swimmers collapsed on the shore, covered in shark bites. But do they have reason to be concerned? Recent trends in climate change suggest that they actually do. Over the past 30 years, the frequency of unprovoked shark attacks has drastically increased, with the majority of bites being recorded in Florida, South Africa, Australia, and the Bahamas. While researchers argue that there are many reasons behind this influx, Dr. Blake Chapman, professor at Bond University in Australia, points to climate change as one of the principle explanations. He believes that rising temperatures, heavy rains, and anomalous weather patterns, all results of climate change, fundamentally alter marine ecosystems and are ultimately to blame for the recent spike in shark attacks. Continue reading

The Blind Side of Climate Change Economics

by Rachel Ashton Lim

How accurate are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) economic estimates of Climate Change-induced damage? A post-Paris agreement review of its Fifth Assessment Report (Stern, 2016) calls for an imperative revision to its economic model. The review’s main suggestion is for the social science to become better integrated with the natural sciences in order to accurately evaluate the economic consequences of Climate Change, which are direr than is currently estimated. However, the review also suggests that the benefits of transitioning to low-carbon growth are underestimated in the report and must be evaluated more holistically. Combined, these two factors will enable the public, private and non-profit sectors to make decisions that will drive the world into the net-zero carbon economy it must achieve within this century. Continue reading

Climate Change and Mass Migration

by Ethan Lewis

An African Independent writer from the Washington Post investigated the large scale issue of mass human migration stemmed from climate change. The writer met with ANM Muniruzaman, a Bangladesh Politician, who recently attended an international migration policy meeting and said “The international system is in a state of denial.” He then continued to say “If we want an orderly management of the coming crisis, we need to sit down now.” Displacement of humans due to climate change is already ongoing with natural disasters like droughts, floods, and storms. Saying exactly how many people will have to migrate in the future is difficult, but statistics from previous years can help form an estimate. Roughly 203 million people were displaced between 2008 and 2015 due to natural disasters. Continue reading

The Impacts of Climate Change on Children

by Ethan Kurz

When thinking about climate change, usually children do not come to mind. However, according to Rema Hanna and Paulina Oliva (2016), children in developing countries are an important aspect to remember when discussing climate change. Climate change is more dangerous to children in developing countries than in developed countries because of the developing countries’ limited social safety nets, extreme poverty, poor or no health care systems, and weak governments unable to help the poorest of the poor adapt to climate change. Children in developing countries already start off at a disadvantage, and climate change just increases the difficulty in raising a healthy and thriving child. Most of the population in developing countries relies on agriculture for income. With climate change and the resulting new extreme weather patterns, agriculture becomes even less reliable as an income source. A drought could cut off the chances of a child getting medical attention because the family cannot afford it. Children in developing countries also face greater risks of interaction with air or water pollutants. Because of the lack of a strong central government or regulation, children in developing countries have fewer things protecting them from airborne and waterborne contaminants. They also face threats from more parasitic diseases, plagues, and anything that can be contributed to changes in weather pattern or climate change. Continue reading

Improving Blue and Green Infrastructure to Counteract Increasing Urban Temperatures

by Deniz Korman

Urban areas experience higher temperatures compared to rural areas, and it is likely that this will lead to health risks within urban communities due extreme heat in the future. However, we have the power to minimize this effect by improving the infrastructures of our cities. An effective way to lower urban temperatures is increasing vegetation and water surfaces, which also provides the added benefit of increasing urban biodiversity, and improving air quality. While this known to be a valid strategy, the magnitude of the climate impact that such an improvement will have when applied on a city scale is unknown. Žuvela-Aloise et al. (2016) have modeled the potential of improving green and blue infrastructure within Vienna, and identified the ways in which changes should be applied in order to counteract urban warming as effectively as possible.

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