EPA: Two Most Widely Used Pesticides Likely Harm Majority of Endangered Species
The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the endocrine-disrupting pesticide atrazine and cancer-linked pesticide glyphosate are each likely to harm more than 1,000 of the nation's most endangered plants and animals.
The finalized evaluations found that use of the herbicide glyphosate is likely causing harm to 1,676 of the plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Atrazine is likely harming 1,013 protected species.
"It's no surprise that these chemical poisons are causing severe harm to imperiled wildlife since U.S. use exceeds 70 million pounds of atrazine and 300 million pounds of glyphosate every year," said Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity . "It's long past time for atrazine to be banned, and the EPA needs to crack down on the reckless overuse of glyphosate. Without real conservation action, these pesticides will continue to push our most endangered wildlife closer to extinction."
Earlier this year the makers of atrazine agreed to changes that would end all use of the pesticide in Hawaii, allowing the EPA to determine that more than 500 species on the islands will no longer be harmed. But for endangered species found outside the proposed ban areas, the finding of harm was nearly 100%.
Today's findings come after both glyphosate and atrazine were reapproved for widespread use across the country in the past two years. The EPA's evaluations now go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service in the final step of the consultation process to determine what on-the-ground conservation measures are needed to minimize harm to these species and ensure these pesticides do not push any endangered species towards extinction.
The risk of ongoing widespread harm from atrazine was found despite use restrictions announced by the EPA last year that effectively banned the pesticide in Hawaii, on forests, on Christmas tree farms and along roadsides.
Hundreds of millions of pounds of glyphosate are used each year in the United States, mostly in agriculture but also on lawns, gardens, landscaping, roadsides, schoolyards, national forests, rangelands, power lines and more. According to the EPA , glyphosate is sprayed on 298 million acres of crop land each year, while similarly large amounts are used in homes, schools and other non-agricultural areas.
Atrazine is a widespread pollutant of groundwater and drinking water. It has been linked to increased risk of cancer and reproductive problems in people and can chemically castrate male frogs at extremely low concentrations, including those allowed in drinking water. Despite being banned in more than 35 countries, including the entire European Union, it remains the second-most used herbicide in the United States after glyphosate.
The EPA has for decades refused to comply with its obligation under the Endangered Species Act to assess the harms of pesticides to protected plants and animals. But it was finally forced to do this evaluation under the terms of a 2016 legal agreement with the Center and Pesticide Action Network.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.(520) 623-5252
The former U.S. vice president accused the United Arab Emirates of "abusing the public's trust" by naming the CEO of its national oil company as president of COP28.
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said Sunday that fossil fuel interests have effectively seized the reins of the United Nations climate summit process, preventing the kind of ambitious action that scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic warming and all of its cascading impacts.
"This industry is way more effective at capturing politicians than they are at capturing emissions," Gore told Reuters on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai. "And they have captured the COP process itself now and overreached, abusing the public's trust by naming the CEO of one of the largest and least responsible oil companies in the world as head of the COP. It's an abuse of the public's right to have confidence in the processes by which the decisions about humanity's future are made."
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, COP28 president and chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)—which is planning a massive expansion of oil and gas production in the coming years—has insisted that any deal reached at the critical climate summit must include fossil fuels .
Gore's interview with Reuters came after he delivered a presentation highlighting the UAE's rising greenhouse gas emissions. Citing data from Climate TRACE—an emissions tracking coalition that he co-founded—Gore said the UAE's planet-warming emissions rose 7.5% last year compared to 2021, while the rest of the world's rose 1.5%.
A Human Rights Watch report published Monday notes that the UAE's "dangerously high air pollution levels" are "creating major health risks for its citizens and residents." Pointing to World Health Organization estimates, the group observed that more than 1,800 people die from air pollution every year in the UAE.
"Even as the United Arab Emirates government works to burnish its image as a global climate leader," the report notes, "the country's vast fossil fuel production and use spew toxic pollutants into the air and contribute to climate change."
"This dismisses decades of work by IPCC scientists," said one expert. "Disgraceful."
Scientists and climate advocates responded with outrage Sunday to COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber's claim that there is "no science" behind the push to rapidly phase out planet-warming fossil fuels, which Al Jaber's company is extracting on a large scale .
Al Jaber's comments, first reported by The Guardian on Sunday, came in response to questioning from Elders chair Mary Robinson during a virtual She Changes Climate discussion. Robinson told Al Jaber that "we're in an absolute crisis that is hurting women and children more than anyone... and it's because we have not yet committed to phasing out fossil fuel."
The COP28 chief and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) CEO responded dismissively, saying he "accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation" and not to take part in "any discussion that is alarmist," according to audio published by
"There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phaseout of fossil fuel is what's going to achieve 1.5°C," Al Jaber added. "Please help me, show me the roadmap for a phaseout of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves."
That position runs directly counter to the outspoken stance of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who said Friday that "the 1.5°C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels," arguing that "the science is clear."
Joelle Gergis, a climate scientist and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report , called Al Jaber's remarks "disgraceful."
"This dismisses decades of work by IPCC scientists," Gergis wrote on social media.
"'Sending us back to caves' is the oldest of fossil fuel industry tropes: it's verging on climate denial."
The IPCC, which has synthesized the research of hundreds of climate scientists from around the world, has argued that any successful effort to prevent catastrophic planetary warming "will involve a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use."
"More than a century of burning fossil fuels as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use has led to global warming of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels," the IPCC said following the release of its latest report earlier this year. "This has resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world."
Other recent research has warned that rich nations must completely halt oil and gas production by 2034 to give the world a 50% chance of limiting warming to the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Agreement.
Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics, told The Guardian that Al Jaber's response to Robinson was "extraordinary, revealing, worrying, and belligerent."
"'Sending us back to caves' is the oldest of fossil fuel industry tropes: it's verging on climate denial," said Hare.
Al Jaber's comments, which he says have been misrepresented , were seen as further confirmation that he is ill-suited to lead a climate summit given his simultaneous role as the top executive at one of the world's largest fossil fuel firms. A Global Witness analysis released over the weekend found that ADNOC is on track to become the second-largest oil producer in the world by 2050, and Al Jaber has been accused of using his position as COP28 president to pursue oil and gas deals.
"ADNOC plans to produce more oil than any of the 'Big 5' supermajors—ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, TotalEnergies," Global Witness found. "In fact, its projected output will positively dwarf that of the European majors; ADNOC's 35.9 billion barrels is 49% higher alone than the projected 24.1 billion barrels production of Shell, BP, and Total combined."
On Monday, the COP28 presidency published a summary of the World Climate Action Summit, a gathering of more than 150 heads of state aimed at facilitating coordinated climate action.
The document states that world leaders "highlighted the opportunities to cut emissions in every sector and to accelerate the technology innovation to address scope 3 emissions, as well as the phase-down of fossil fuels in support of a transition consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C."
Romain Ioualalen, global policy lead at Oil Change International , said in a statement that "strong support from the leaders' summit to address fossil fuels in the final COP28 agreement is a promising sign, but it is just good enough."
"Leaders must raise their ambition above a phase-down, and agree to immediately stop new fossil fuel expansion, and build a fast, full, fair, and funded phaseout of all fossil fuels while rapidly phasing in renewables," said Ioualalen. "Contrary to the COP28 president's assertions, the science is abundantly clear that warming will continue as long as we keep producing and burning fossil fuels."
"The last thing Americans need is a Bezos-backed investment company further consolidating single-family homes and putting homeownership out of reach for more and more people. Housing should be a right, not a speculative commodity."
Among the three richest people on the planet, mega-billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos received some praise last week for announcing approximately $120 million in donations to a number of groups fighting the scourge of homelessness in the United States.
"It's a privilege to support these orgs in their inspiring mission to help families regain stability," Bezos wrote in an Instagram post touting the multiple grants to 38 individual nonprofits in 22 states.
But hold your applause.
Just days after word of the charitable gifts—a minuscule drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $170 billion fortune he possesses—a Bezos-controlled company called Arrived dropped $500 million of new investment in single-family homes with a venture fund that critics warn will make the nation's housing crisis even worse.
According to GV Wire :
Since its inception in 2021, Arrived has attracted nearly a half a million customers, operating as a fractional real estate investing platform. The company’s model is similar to buying a slice of the American pie, allowing investors to purchase shares of single-family rentals for as little as $100.
The fund itself—called the Single Family Residential Fund—allows investors to purchase portions of various homes and later trade, hold, or redeem their "chips" on a rolling basis like players at a casino.
While many Americans, especially younger people and working-class families, have been steadily priced out of homeownership by soaring costs and, more recently, higher interest rates, Arrived preys on that reality by selling the idea that owning a piece of a home as an investment is an "American Dream" akin to owning the home one lives in.
Speculative investors, however, are likely not among those struggling to make ends meet but this kind of investment behavior, warn critics, is certain to drive home prices even higher.
(D-Calif.)—who has co-authored legislation to halt the rent-gouging and inflated home prices that result from such investment schemes—ripped Bezos' latest move.
"The last thing Americans need is a Bezos-backed investment company further consolidating single-family homes and putting homeownership out of reach for more and more people," Khanna tweeted on Friday. "Housing should be a right, not a speculative commodity."
As the author writing under the name Homeless Romantic on Medium noted last week, a primary concern "raised by critics is the monopolization of housing" that Arrived is pushing.
"By acquiring a large number of single-family homes," reads the post, "Bezos and other investors could consolidate control over the housing supply, giving them significant influence over rental prices and market dynamics. This could make it more difficult for ordinary individuals and families to find affordable housing, particularly in high-demand areas."
It wasn't lost on many that there was a disconnect between his relatively paltry gift to organizations valiantly standing on the frontlines to fight homelessness with the one hand, while simultaneously using his massive fortune to exacerbate the crisis with a for-profit venture on the other.
What else could he do? People had ideas.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it would cost a mere $20 billion annually to end homelessness in the United States.
In response to the latest revelations about his charitable giving, a few people said a person worth nearly $200 billion like Bezos "could literally end homelessness by himself if he wanted to."