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Rainfall, storms, grasshoppers, wildfires, drought. We've got 'em all right now, folks, in biblical proportions. And yet climate change is still stuck back in the action queue.
Here's just a small taste of what we're dealing with:
- Last month saw stunning new temperature records set in famously cool places like Portland, Oregon (116°F) and a satellite-recorded 118°F in Siberia above the Arctic Circle;
- Hellacious blazes cover the West, and their drifting smoke is now a daily feature over Boston, New York and Washington, DC. It will likely reach Europe for the second consecutive year;
- Unprecedented, extended deluges have washed away old German villages and streets in the desert town of St. George, Utah;
- Warming waters around the Chinese port city of Qingdao developed an algae-clogged "dead zone" in mid-July – far sooner than any year since it first appeared 15 years ago. Like its Gulf of Mexico cousin, the algae bloom shuts down Qingdao's fishing industry and reportedly stinks to high heaven.
Climate change denial lives on
All of these things might tempt you to think we've reached a moment of enlightenment on climate action — and climate denial would give way to a torrent of on-the-ground evidence that the climate crisis is underway and that action is long overdue.
But no. At least not in America.
It didn't shock me when a sharply winnowed-down infrastructure bill limped out of negotiations on Thursday and many of its climate considerations were gone. They were given away as bargaining chips for what Democrats see as more reasonable ways to find middle ground with Republicans.
From its leadership down to its oh-so-colorful base, the GOP has teased, if not embraced, doubt and conspiracy theories about vaccines and mask-wearing, our primary tools against COVID-19. Never mind what science says about the stack of 600,000 -and-growing COVID corpses.
For that matter, there's that other pile of American corpses – the one from gun violence – for which the presumed antidote is more guns.
Yeah, I know, guns are a bit off our normal environmental turf here at EHN. But drawing obvious conclusions on human health, human suffering, and human mortality isn't.
That's why I can't swallow the notion that Congressional Republicans are on the verge of a Come-to-Jesus moment on climate. And the historically reliable pattern of the party in power taking a drubbing in the midterms means that the climate crisis may be lacking some US Congressional help for years to come.
His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.
Banner photo: National Weather Service GOES image of western North America on the morning of July 27, 2021. Most of the west is covered by smoke from many wildfires. (Credit: Stuart Rankin/flickr)
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German chemical company Bayer A.G. announced Thursday that it would replace the herbicide glyphosate from all lawn and garden products sold in the United States by 2023.
The move is part of a five-point plan to address future glyphosate litigation risk. As part of the plan, the company also said it would set aside $4.5 billion to cover the company's potential long-term exposure to lawsuits.
"It is important for the company, our owners, and our customers that we move on and put the uncertainty and ambiguity related to the glyphosate litigation behind us," Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said during an investor call, according to a company statement.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, one of the most popular herbicides sold in the United States. Globally the market for glyphosate was valued at $6 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow, despite concerns about the chemical's threat to human health, to $14 billion by 2026, according to market research firm Data Intelo.
Bayer, which makes and sells Roundup, has been "losing trials left and right," according to the federal judge overseeing the litigation, in claims brought by people suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma who say exposure to Monsanto's Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides were the cause.
In May that judge, Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California, denied Bayer's effort to limit legal liability from future cancer claims associated with its glyphosate-based herbicides, citing numerous "glaring flaws."
Bayer said the move away from glyphosate is "exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns." Glyphosate will be replaced with "new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients," the company wrote.
The vast majority of claims come from domestic lawn and garden product users, the company said. It plans no change to glyphosate formulations in its U.S. professional and agricultural market products.
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