Highlights of “Turn down the heat” : an assessment prepared for the World Bank of the health, social and environmantal impact of climate change induced by a global warming of 4°C

Highlights by GreenFacts of the executive summary of the Report “Turn down the heat ~ 4°C “

A Report for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics  http://climatechange.worldbank.org/content/climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-century

Turn down the heat

The conclusions of the report in a glance

This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes.

It is a stark reminder that climate change affects everything. The solutions don’t lie only in climate finance or climate projects. The solutions lie in effective risk management and ensuring all our work, all our thinking, is designed with the threat of a 4°C degree world in mind.

 The President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, is very clear in its foreword of the report :  The lack of action on climate change not only risks putting prosperity out of reach of millions of people in the developing world, it threatens to roll back decades of sustainable development.  The scenarios evaluating the consequences of an increase of the global earth temperature of 4°C are indeed devastating:

  • the inundation of coastal cities;
  • increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter;
  • unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics;
  • substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions;
  • increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones;
  • irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.

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Highlights of the report on how produce more food and energy with less pollution – the challenges and risks related to nutrient use and availability.

our nutrient world 2

Highlights by GreenFacts of the report “Our Nutrient World”  prepared by the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management in collaboration with the International Nitrogen Initiative

THE REPORT IN A GLANCE  followed by its Highlights in 8 Questions and answers

1. The aim of this report  This report highlights how nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers are estimated to feed half the human population alive today, and how they will remain critical in the future, especially given increasing population and potential bioenergy needs. The report shows how these problems cross all global change challenges, threatening water, air and soil quality, climate balance, stratospheric ozone and biodiversity. The report also highlights that there is still no intergovernmental framework to address the multiple challenges for nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients.

 2. The specific threats related to nutrients Without swift and collective action, the next generation will inherit a world where many millions may suffer from food insecurity caused by too few nutrients, where the nutrient pollution threats from too much will become more extreme, and where unsustainable use of nutrients will contribute even more to biodiversity loss and accelerating climate change.

 3. Why are nutrients so important The world needs nutrients, especially nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), which are essential to raise crops and animals have more than doubled and their natural cycles are now out of balance, causing major environmental, health and economic problems that have received far too little attention.

4. The most critical environmental risks regarding nutrients The five key environmental threats of too much or too little nutrients are  Water quality , air quality , greenhouse gas balance, ecosystems &  biodiversity and  soil quality.

5.The risks of nutrient shortage On average over 80% of Nitrogen and 25-75% of Phosphorus consumed (where not temporarily stored in agricultural soils) end up lost to the environment, wasting the energy used to prepare them, and causing air and water pollution.  In particular finite phosphorus reserves in particular represent a potential risk for future global food security given that there is no alternative to P as an essential plant nutrient.

 6. How to adress these nutrient challenges Reduce nutrient losses and improve nutrient use efficiency across all sectors simultaneously would provide the foundation for a Greener Economy to produce more food and energy while reducing environmental pollution. This effort must cross the boundaries between economic sectors and environmental media, be underpinned by scientific and other evidence from a robust global assessment process, share best practices, and address the substantial cultural and economic barriers that currently limit adoption.

 7. The actions and outcomes that need to be decided  Ten main domains were identified in the report on which action should be concentrated in the area of agriculture,  transport and Industry, waste and recycling, societal consumption patterns and spatial and temporal optimization of nutrient flows. One option is to strengthen the mandate of the ‘Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities’ (GPA). Continue reading

Highlights of the US-EPA draft report on the health and environmental impact of the production of the transgenic salmon AquAdvantage

A short summary followed by the Highlights of the report in nine questions.

SHORT SUMMARY The salmon evaluated by the FDA is a genetically modified (“engineered” or also “transgenic”) Atlantic salmon to be produced and grown under specified conditions. This fish, named AquAdvantage Salmon, is a triploid (effectively sterile) female fish containing a rDNA construct designed to exhibit a rapid-growth phenotype that allows it to reach smolt  size (or approximately 100 g) faster than non-genetically modified farmed salmon. The objective of the project is to meet increasing demand for fish protein in light of declining stocks and diminishing capture of wild fish.

FDA has made the preliminary determination, based on the evidence collected and evaluated,  that it is reasonable to believe that approval of the AquAdvantage Salmon NADA will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States, and on the populations of endangered Atlantic salmon when produced and grown under the conditions of use for the proposed action. 

The US-FDA regulates animals containing rDNA constructs under the new animal drug provisions of the FD&C Act, must meet environmental review requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and FDA’s regulations.

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has evaluated both the direct and indirect food safety impacts of AquAdvantage Salmon and any potential impacts of the rDNA insertion on target animal safety. CVM has also thoroughly evaluated the potential environmental impacts of approving an NADA for AquAdvantage Salmon.

The potential hazards and harms to the environment include the hypothesis that the transgenic salmon would escape the conditions of confinement but, as the transgenic salmon would be produced and grown-out in secure facilities that have been verified and validated by FDA, the possibility that transgenic fish could escape from containment, survive and reproduce is extremely remote. In addition, because populations produced will be triploid (effectively sterile), all-female animals, the possibility of their reproducing in the wild is likewise extremely remote. FDA, has also considered that approval of the AquAdvantage Salmon will not jeopardize the continued existence of United States populations of threatened or endangered Atlantic salmon.

The potential effects on the local environments of Canada and Panama have not been considered and evaluated in this draft assessement because the US NEPA does not require an analysis of environmental effects in foreign sovereign countries, except if  there would be significant effects on the environment of the United States.

With respect to food safety, FDA has concluded that food from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption of food from triploid AquAdvantage Salmon.


1. What is the genetically modified (“engineered” or also transgenic) salmon which is evaluated by the FDA?

The development of a genetically modified salmon is the end result of advances in genetic engineering within the past 30+ years. Recombinant DNA technology was first used to produce genetically modified (engineered or transgenic) animals in 1973.  Although initial interest centered primarily on mammals, by the late-1990s, genetically modified (or engineered – GE) carp, trout, loach, tilapia, catfish, and salmon had been produced.

AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. (ABT or the sponsor) has provided data and information in support of a New Animal Drug Application (NADA) for a genetically modified Atlantic salmon1 to be produced and grown under specified conditions. This fish, named AquAdvantage Salmon, is designed to exhibit a rapid-growth phenotype that allows it to reach smolt  size (or approximately 100 g) faster than non-genetically modified farmed salmon.

The AquAdvantage Salmon founder animal was generated in 1989 by micro-injecting a recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) construct, composed of a element from an ocean pout antifreeze protein gene and a protein-coding sequence from a chinook salmon growth hormone gene into the fertilized eggs of wild Atlantic salmon. Continue reading

Environmental impact of micro-plastics present in marine litter: assessment and recommendations for a strategy

Highlights selected by GreenFacts from the executive summary of a report by GESAMP (2010) of microplastics in the marine environment and of the JRC report (2011) on Technical Recommendations for the Implementation to marine litter of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive requirements                                                                                                              (An update of the Highlight edition of Dec, 2010)                                                                       

In short: The question raised by the GESAMP is whether the micro-plastic could contribute to the bioaccumulation of toxic contaminants in marine life. Recent studies seem to reveal no increase in the concentration of these contaminants in areas of accumulation of plastic in the oceans and the solutions lie primarily in the management of waste on land and at sea.

Moreover, a technical subgroup under the Working Group on GES in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC investigated the monitoring approaches for marine litter and provides a set of monitoring tools which can be employed for that purpose.

 1. The report on th GESAMP symposium


1.1. evaluation of the environmental impact of plastic litter and micro-plastics

 It is well documented that plastic litter causes physical harm to marine mammals, fish and invertebrates and instances of death by entanglement, asphyxiation or blockage of organs are common. It is also known that plastic particles tend to accumulate persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic contaminants such as PCBs, DDT and PBDEs. One of the greatest uncertainties is whether this leads to the bioaccumulation of the contaminant load (absorbed and plastic additives), and hence whether micro-plastics represent an additional and significant vector for transferring pollutants.

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Cold snap of February 2012 and climate change: Is there a link ?

The climate is already changing, especially in the Arctic, where permafrost is melting, glaciers are retreating and ice is disappearing.

Changes in the Arctic will not only have an impact on populations and ecosystems, but also the rest of the planet, because the Arctic plays a special role in global climate.

How Arctic climate has changed so far, and how should it evolve ?

Evaluating the impact of climate change in the Arctic (ACIA, for Arctic Climate Impact Assessment) is an international project of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Scientific Committee (IASC ) to evaluate and synthesize knowledge on climate variability, climate change and increased ultraviolet radiation and its consequences. The results of this evaluation were presented to the International Scientific Symposium of the CFIA in 2004 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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EU criteria for risk assessment of persistance, bioaccumulation and toxicity of chemicals

GHS-pictogram-environment dangerA summary prepared by GreenFacts of the COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 253/2011  of 15 March 2011

This regulation is amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards Annex XIII

16.3.2011 Official Journal of the European Union L 69/7


1. The specific importance of persistance, bioaccumulative and toxic properties for managing risks

The identification of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic properties of substances (PBT substances), and very persistent and very bioaccumulative substances (vPvB substances) is important in order to evaluate their intrinsic potential impact to affect human health and the environment and assess the real risks.

This is also the basis on which define regulatory rules regarding their use, substitution or ultimate ban, depending on each specific case (within the global EU chemicals Regulation or more specific Regulations such as the one on electric/electronic equipments (RoHS Regulation) .

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Bee losses, bee colonies losses and the growing concerns about their origin: where are we today ?

On 6 December 2010, the European Commission adopted a Communication providing for a series of specific actions that will help better understand the reasons behind the worldwide issue of high bee mortality and will therefore assist the efforts to find solutions to the problem.

Various EC publications on the subject are grouped on: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/bees/
incuding the communication and Questions and Answers – Honeybee health in the EU

Recently, several international reports were published on the subject.
1. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in late 2009 a report on honey bee mortality and the ways that colony losses are monitored in Europe. The study was funded by EFSA and carried out by a consortium of scientific institutes led by the French national food safety agency Afssa (Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments)[1].

The main conclusions were that there is a general weakness of most of the surveillance systems in the 24 countries investigated; and lack of representative data at country level and comparable data at EU level for colony losses; The consensus of the scientific community was that the origin of colony losses is of multifactorial origin in Europe and in the United States and and that there is insufficient knowledge of causative and risk factors for colony losses.

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