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EU-approved 'safe' air pollution levels causing early deaths - study

Air pollution in the European Union is causing premature deaths even when levels meet quality guidelines, a report has shown. Even in areas where pollution was much lower than the limit, scientists found there is a higher-than-normal risk of death.

The study, published by the British Medical Association’s journal The Lancet, found that Europeans who have had prolonged exposure to pollution from industrial activities or road traffic have a higher chance of premature death. The increased risk to a person’s health is linked to tiny particles of soot and dust than can get lodged in the lungs and cause respiratory illnesses.

The study, carried out by Utrecht University in the Netherlands, found the particles measure 2.5 microns or 2.5 millionth of a meter. Exposure for “up to a few months” to particles of 2.5 microns can increase the risk of premature death.

As part of the study the researchers drew on 22 previously published studies that documented the health of 367,000 people in 13 countries in Western Europe over 14 years. Beelen and his team then traveled to the areas where the participants lived and took traffic pollution readings that they used to calculate how much pollution local residents were exposed to.

During the investigation, 29,000 of the 367,000 participants recruited in 1990 died. In order to increase accuracy, investigations also took into account such factors as physical exercise, body mass, education and smoking habits.
European Union guidelines set the maximum exposure to particles of 25 micrograms per cubic meter. Beelen says the results of this study are evidence the EU needs to reset its safety limits to 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

The World Health Organization has classified outdoor pollution as one of the principal causes of cancer and estimates around 3.2 million people die every year globally as a result of prolonged exposure.

Source: rt.com

B.N

Wildlife Workshop: EncouragingScientific, Environmental Research

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Participants in the workshop held recently on the wildlife and the state of  the bald ibis designated communication points  specialized in endangered species to activate communication with all local and international parties in this regard, and to encourage academic scientific research in the field of environment.


Participants stressed the importance of the role of local communities in environmental culture in general and birds in particular and the need to motivate them financially and morally in order to achieve future goals of the components of bio-diversity and endangered species.

 

Participants underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation between government institutions and partner NGOs in the protection of bio-diversity and wildlife and national capacity-building in all government institutions and civil organizations concerned in order to serve the protection of wildlife in all its components and activate the implementation of the laws of hunting.

Vice -President of the Syrian Society for the Protection of Wildlife, Dr. Akram Darwish pointed out the importance of assessing the status of nature reserves in Syria, referring to the role of the follow-up of  bodies concerned to contribute to the protection of bio-diversity and endangered species and rehabilitation of reserves, especially those that are suitable habitat for bird life.


Dr. Darwish stressed the importance of cooperation between the Ministries of State for Environmental Affairs and Interior to monitor human activities affecting bio-diversity such as hunting and factories.

 

Specialists in the field of birds discussed ways of protection and rehabilitation of their habitats and regulate hunting in cooperation and coordination between the parties, the ministries and departments concerned.

 

They also discussed the orientations of the Ministry of Agriculture and its vision in the field of the protection of birds, local  legislations and international agreements relating to the protection of birds and the World Council of birds' vision regarding the ibis and its current status.

 

Sh. Kh.

Global Precipitation Linked to Global Warming

The rain in Spain may lie mainly on the plain, but the location and intensity of that rain is changing not only in Spain but around the globe.

A new study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists shows that observed changes in global (ocean and land) precipitation are directly affected by human activities and cannot be explained by natural variability alone. The research appears in the Nov. 11 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Emissions of heat-trapping and ozone-depleting gases affect the distribution of precipitation through two mechanisms. Increasing temperatures are expected to make wet regions wetter and dry regions drier (thermodynamic changes); and changes in atmospheric circulation patterns will push storm tracks and subtropical dry zones toward the poles.

"Both these changes are occurring simultaneously in global precipitation and this behavior cannot be explained by natural variability alone," said LLNL's lead author Kate Marvel. "External influences such as the increase in greenhouse gases are responsible for the changes."

The team compared climate model predications with the Global Precipitation Climatology Project's global observations, which span from 1979-2012, and found that natural variability (such as El Niños and La Niñas) does not account for the changes in global precipitation patterns. While natural fluctuations in climate can lead to either intensification or poleward shifts in precipitation, it is very rare for the two effects to occur together naturally.

"In combination, manmade increases in greenhouse gases and stratospheric ozone depletion are expected to lead to both an intensification and redistribution of global precipitation," said Céline Bonfils, the other LLNL author. "The fact that we see both of these effects simultaneously in the observations is strong evidence that humans are affecting global precipitation."

Marvel and Bonfils identified a fingerprint pattern that characterizes the simultaneous response of precipitation location and intensity to external forcing.

"Most previous work has focused on either thermodynamic or dynamic changes in isolation. By looking at both, we were able to identify a pattern of precipitation change that fits with what is expected from human-caused climate change," Marvel said.

By focusing on the underlying mechanisms that drive changes in global precipitation and by restricting the analysis to the large scales where there is confidence in the models' ability to reproduce the current climate, "we have shown that the changes observed in the satellite era are externally forced and likely to be from man," Bonfils said

N.H.Khider

Source : Science daily

World Ocean Systems Undermined by Climate Change by 2100

An ambitious new study describes the full chain of events by which ocean biogeochemical changes triggered by humanmade greenhouse gas emissions may cascade through marine habitats and organisms, penetrating to the deep ocean and eventually influencing humans.

Previous analyses have focused mainly on ocean warming and acidification, considerably underestimating the biological and social consequences of climate change. Factoring in predictable synergistic changes such as the depletion of dissolved oxygen in seawater and a decline in productivity of ocean ecosystems, the new study shows that no corner of the world ocean will be untouched by climate change by 2100.

"When you look at the world ocean, there are few places that will be free of changes; most will suffer the simultaneous effects of warming, acidification, and reductions in oxygen and productivity," said lead author Camilo Mora, assistant professor at the Department of Geography in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UH Mānoa). "The consequences of these co-occurring changes are massive -- everything from species survival, to abundance, to range size, to body size, to species richness, to ecosystem functioning are affected by changes in ocean biogeochemistry."

The human ramifications of these changes are likely to be massive and disruptive. Food chains, fishing, and tourism could all be impacted. The study shows that some 470 to 870 million of the world's poorest people rely on the ocean for food, jobs, and revenues, and live in countries where ocean goods and services could be compromised by multiple ocean biogeochemical changes.

Mora and Craig Smith with UH Mānoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) worked with a 28-person international collaboration of climate modelers, biogeochemists, oceanographers, and social scientists to develop the study, which is due for publication October 15 in the scientific journal PLOS Biology.

The researchers used the most recent and robust models of projected climate change developed for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to inform their analysis. They quantified the extent of co-occurrence of changes in temperature, pH, oxygen, and primary productivity based on two scenarios: a business-as-usual scenario wherein atmospheric CO2 concentrations could reach 900 ppm by 2100, and an alternative scenario under which concentrations only reach 550 ppm by 2100 (representing a concerted, rapid CO2 mitigation effort, beginning today).

They discovered that most of the world's ocean surface will be simultaneously impacted by varying intensities of ocean warming, acidification, oxygen depletion, or shortfalls in productivity. Only a very small fraction of the oceans, mostly in polar regions, will face the opposing effects of increases in oxygen or productivity, and nowhere will there be cooling or pH increase.

"Even the seemingly positive changes at high latitudes are not necessary beneficial. Invasive species have been immigrating to these areas due to changing ocean conditions and will threaten the local species and the humans who depend on them," said co-author Chih-Lin Wei, a postdoctoral fellow at Ocean Science Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

The researchers assembled global distribution maps of 32 marine habitats and biodiversity hotspots to assess their potential vulnerability to the changes. As a final step, they used available data on human dependency on ocean goods and services and social adaptability to estimate the vulnerability of coastal populations to the projected ocean biogeochemical changes.

"Other studies have looked at small-scale impacts, but this is the first time that we've been able to look the entire world ocean and how co-occurring stressors will differentially impact the earth's diverse habitats and people," said co-author Andrew Thurber, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon State University. "The real power is in the quantitative, predictive approach using IPCC climate models that allow us to see how much it will all change, and also how confident we can be in our estimates."

By 2100, global averages for the upper layer of the ocean could experience a temperature increase of 1.2 to 2.6° C, a dissolved oxygen concentration reduction of ~2% to 4% of current values, a pH decline of 0.15 to 0.31, and diminished phytoplankton production by ~4% to 10% from current values. The seafloor was projected to experience smaller changes in temperature and pH, and similar reductions in dissolved oxygen.

Of the many marine habitats analyzed in the study, researchers found that coral reefs, seagrass beds, and shallow soft-bottom benthic habitats would experience the largest absolute changes in ocean biogeochemistry, while deep-sea habitats would experience the smallest changes.

Co-author Lisa Levin, a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, notes: "Because many deep-sea ecosystems are so stable, even small changes in temperature, oxygen, and pH may lower the resilience of deep-sea communities. This is a growing concern as humans extract more resources and create more disturbances in the deep ocean."

"The deep-sea floor covers most of the Earth's surface and provides a whole host of important ecosystem services including carbon sequestration in seafloor sediments, buffering of ocean acidity, and providing an enormous reservoir of biodiversity," said Smith. "Nonetheless, very little attention has been paid to modeling the effects of climate change on these truly vast ecosystems. Perhaps not surprisingly, many deep seafloor ecosystems appear susceptible to the effects of climate warming over the next century."

"The impacts of climate change will be felt from the ocean surface to the seafloor. It is truly scary to consider how vast these impacts will be," said co-author Andrew K. Sweetman, who helped to convene the original team of investigators and now leads the deep-sea ecosystem research group at the International Research Institute of Stavanger, Norway. "This is one legacy that we as humans should not be allowed to ignore."

Source:Science Daily

R.S

Awareness, Information Strategy Approved

DAMASCUS, (ST) - The Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs recently approved the national strategy to raise awareness and the environmental media in Syria in order to develop the knowledge and skills of the segments of the society to preserve the environment , protect and develop the skills of the cadres of the working bodies in the field of media and environmental awareness to preserve the components of the environment and promotion of community participation in environmental management.

During the meeting of the National Committee to raise awareness and environmental  media, the Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, Dr. Naira Sarkis, pointed out that the ministry adopted the strategy after it had been presented to the parties participating in the membership of the National Committee to raise awareness and the environment media and discussing the observations and amendments to the proposed strategy set by the ministry.

The Minister of State for Environmental Affairs stressed on the need to accelerate the application of the terms of the strategy on the ground and carry out field activities that focus on raising awareness about environmental issues and problems faced by Syria and the definition of the negative consequences that these problems leave in the future on humans and the environment.

Dr. Sarkis stressed that the ministry is coordinating with all government and private bodies and civil society in order to promote environmental awareness among different segments of society as well as to carry out projects and campaigns to raise awareness with these bodies , noting the importance of educating citizens, especially in the current stage which requires the awareness of citizens and directing them to preserve natural resources and the environment.

Director of Awareness and Environmental Information at the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Nader Ghazi, reviewed the proposals, ideas and amendments made by the bodies involved regarding the strategy its objectives, justifications and characteristics , as well as the role required of each party to do in promoting environmental awareness.

It is worth mentioning, that the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs reshaped the National Committee to raise awareness and environmental  media in order to promote environmental awareness and ensure the sustainability of natural resources, chaired by the Ministry of Environment and with the participation of representatives of all bodies concerned at the level of state and private sector.

Sh. Kh.