Thursday, July 25, 2013

Study: Prenatal and early childhood bisphenol A concentrations and behavior in school-aged children


We measured BPA in urine from mothers during pregnancy and children at 5 years of age (N=292). Child behavior was assessed by mother and teacher report at age 7 years and direct assessment at age 9 years.


Prenatal urinary BPA concentrations were associated with increased internalizing problems in boys, including anxiety and depression, at age 7. No associations were seen with prenatal BPA concentrations and behaviors in girls. Childhood urinary BPA concentrations were associated with increased externalizing behaviors, including conduct problems, in girls at age 7 and increased internalizing behaviors and inattention and hyperactivity behaviors in boys and girls at age 7.


This study adds to the existing literature showing associations of early life BPA exposure with behavior problems, including anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity in children. Additional information about timing of exposure and sex differences in effect is still needed.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

USGS: Monsanto's RoundUp Herbicide RAINING on wetlands, forests, non-GM crops in several states

Technical Announcement:
Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in Rain and Streams in the Mississippi River Basin

Released: 8/29/2011 8:19:35 AM
Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Paul Capel 1-click interview
Phone: (612) 625-3082

Kara Capelli 1-click interview
Phone: (571) 420-9408

Glyphosate, also known by its tradename Roundup, is commonly found in rain and rivers in agricultural areas in the Mississippi River watershed, according to two new USGS studies released this month.

Glyphosate is used in almost all agricultural and urban areas of the United States. The greatest glyphosate use is in the Mississippi River basin, where most applications are for weed control on genetically-modified corn, soybeans and cotton. Overall, agricultural use of glyphosate has increased from less than 11,000 tons in 1992 to more than 88,000 tons in 2007.

"Though glyphosate is the mostly widely used herbicide in the world, we know very little about its long term effects to the environment," says Paul Capel, USGS chemist and an author on this study. "This study is one of the first to document the consistent occurrence of this chemical in streams, rain and air throughout the growing season. This is crucial information for understanding where management efforts for this chemical would best be focused."

In these studies, Glyphosate was frequently detected in surface waters, rain and air in areas where it is heavily used in the basin. The consistent occurrence of glyphosate in streams and air indicates its transport from its point of use into the broader environment. 

Additionally, glyphosate persists in streams throughout the growing season in Iowa and Mississippi, but is generally not observed during other times of the year.  The degradation product of glyphosate, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), which has a longer environmental lifetime, was also frequently detected in streams and rain.

Detailed results of this glyphosate research are available in "Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere," published in volume 30 of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and in "Fate and transport of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters of agricultural basins," published online in Pest Management Science. Copies of the reports are available from the journals or from Paul Capel (

Research on the transport of glyphosate was conducted as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. The NAWQA program provides an understanding of water-quality conditions, whether conditions are getting better or worse over time, and how natural features and human activities affect those conditions. Additional information on the NAWQA program can be found online.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

The past 10 years were the warmest since the start of modern measurements

The past 10 years were the warmest since the start of modern measurements 160 years ago and it was also a decade of unprecedented extremes in the climate according to a report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Heatwaves in Europe and Russia, hurricane Katrina in the United States, tropical cyclones in South East Asia, droughts in the Amazon, Australia and East Africa and floods in Pakistan were all features of the last decade indicating a shift in the climate, the WMO said.

Both the northern and southern hemispheres experienced the warmest temperatures for both land and sea, puncturing the myth that global warming has ended. At the same time, there was a rapid melting of Arctic sea ice and an acceleration in the loss of ice from the massive ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic.

As a result of this widespread melting and the thermal expansion of sea water, global mean sea levels rose about 3 millimetres (mm) per year, about double the observed 20th century trend of 1.6 mm per year. Global sea level averaged over the decade was about 20 cm higher than that of 1880, said the report.

"A decade is the minimum possible timeframe for meaningful assessments of climate change," said Michel Jarraud, the WMO's secretary general.

"WMO's report shows that global warming was significant from 1971 to 2010 and that the decadal rate of increase between 1991-2000 and 2001-2010 was unprecedented.  Rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are changing our climate, with far reaching implications for our environment and our oceans, which are absorbing both carbon dioxide and heat," Mr Jarraud said.

The WMO report said atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise. Global-average concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose to 389 parts per million in 2010, an increase of 39 per cent since the start of the industrial era in 1750.


CO2 and Temperature Changes Are Correlated for 800,000 Years

Summary:  Global warming and cooling cycles over geological time scales are correlated with increasing and decreasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, respectively.  This post documents correlated changes occurring  a) during the recent post-industrial period of global warming, b) over the last one thousand years, and c) over the past 800,000 years. 
Except for the industrial period, these changes reflect only global physical processes not involving actions by mankind, showing that the greenhouse effect is an established physical phenomenon.  Each geological warming or cooling trend, coupled with its change in carbon dioxide concentration, occurs very slowly, lasting thousands of years.  The current man-made warming trend, in contrast, is occurring at least 60 times faster, and its pace is accelerating.
Introduction. The previous post discussed variations over time in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the major greenhouse gas.  Recent changes in CO2 concentration measured directly since 1958 were contrasted with a slightly broader record, extending back to 1700 CE, and finally with the geologic record of atmospheric CO2 cataloging concentrations as far back as 800,000 years before the present. 
The post summarized the findings as
a)     geological changes in CO2 levels have practically never exceeded 280 ppm, the level that existed just before humanity embarked on the industrial revolution;
b)     on a time scale relevant to human experience and lifetimes geological changes in CO2 levels change extremely slowly, over periods of many thousands of years;
c)     physical properties of atmospheric CO2 today show unequivocally that the excess CO2 that has arisen in the past century comes from burning fossil fuels;
d)     virtually the entire increase in contemporary CO2 levels has resulted in concentrations so high that they have never been found in the geological record for 800,000 years;
e)     contemporary CO2 levels continue to increase unabated and at a rate 60 times or greater than in the geological record; and
f)      the rate of growth of contemporary CO2 levels is accelerating.
Correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature today.  CO2, being a greenhouse gas, causes atmospheric temperatures to rise as the gas accumulates in the atmosphere.  Over the span of the industrial revolution the increase in the CO2 concentration and the increase in the long-term global average temperature each follow the same trend with time.  This is seen in the graphic below.

Overlaid curve for annual global average temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration.  The scale for CO2 concentration runs from about 280 to about 390 parts per million.  The scale for temperature runs from about 13.6 to about 14.6ºC (about 56.5 to about 58.2ºF). 
The graphic shows that the long-term global average temperature is closely correlated with the CO2 concentration.  (The temperature trend shows many spiky bounces because, in addition to the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the global temperature responds to other factors in the atmosphere, effects on land and especially effects occurring in the oceans.)

Climate science models show unequivocally that the temperature increase is caused by the additional CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere.

Thousand-Year Correlation.  The CO2-temperature correlation is even more striking when viewed for the time from the year 1000 CE to the present time, shown in the graphic below.

Correlation between CO2 concentration and global average temperature (including geological proxy data) for the period 1000-2000 CE.  For CO2 the blue points are from ice cores and the red points at the right are from direct atmospheric measurements.

It is seen that the trends for CO2 concentration and global average temperature follow each other extremely closely over the last 1000 years.  Both are largely unchanged over the period from 1000 to about 1800 CE, then both change in correlated fashion as industrialization began at about that time.  Industrialization depended on burning fossil fuels as a source of energy, a process which did not occur prior to its beginning.  The consequence of industrialization has been the correlated rise in CO2 and global average temperature seen in the two graphics above.

Correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature over geologic time scales.  Climate scientists have aligned results obtained from ice cores for atmospheric CO2 concentrations for the last 800,000 years with data for the temperature of the climate for the last 1 million years obtained from temperature proxies in the geological record.  The results are shown in the graphic below.

Atmospheric CO2 concentration (orange line) and estimated global average temperature (navy blue line) from the present (right end of horizontal axis, not including information since industrialization) and as much as 1 million years ago (left end of horizontal axis). 
Source:  Slide 13 in Coursera course on Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations,; based on temperature proxy data in Zachos et al., 2001, Science Vol. 292, p. 686,  as transformed by Hansen and Sato, 2012; and CO2 measurements in Luthi et al., 2008, Nature Vol. 453|doi:10.1038/nature06949. 

The graphical presentation of the CO2 concentration above is the same as was shown in the previous post.  It is important to note that each small division on the horizontal axis represents a very long time, 50,000 years.  For example, the minima in both temperature and CO2 at the extreme right on the graph represent the last ice age.

The most important feature of the above graphic is that over the last 800,000 years, an extended time scale, the global average temperature and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 have been highly correlated.  Many of the changes appear abrupt on the compressed time scale shown above. However, in the previous post one example of a sharp change in CO2 concentration was expanded using the original data.  The expanded change for the instance selected, between 128,609 and 135,603 years ago, extends over 7,000 years, and cannot be considered abrupt on the scale that we as humans experience.  Over these 7,000 years the CO2 concentration increased very slowly indeed.

The greenhouse effect from CO2 causes changes in temperature over the millennial time scales shown in the graphic.  Over the entire time period shown the changes in temperature and the changes in CO2 concentration are closely coupled.  In some cases the change in temperature occurs “first” whereas in others the change in CO2 concentration occurs “first”, and on the compressed time scale shown, some changes in temperature and CO2 appear to occur together.  Even if the onset of one of these changes was not caused by a prior change in the other, over the many thousands of years that the increases or the decreases occur, the changes are amplified by positive feedbacks of the processes under way, as explained in the next paragraph, inset below.  Therefore we may conclude that, once an increasing or decreasing trend begins, the greenhouse effect from atmospheric CO2 reinforces that trend.

Over these millennia an “initial” increase in temperature, say, results in lowering the solubility of CO2 in the warmer waters of the oceans.  This releases more CO2 into the atmosphere, amplifying the warming process already under way due to the increased greenhouse effect.  Alternatively, an “initial” decrease in temperature, say, results in raising the solubility of CO2 in the cooler oceans, removing more CO2 from the atmosphere, thus amplifying the cooling process already under way due to the decreased greenhouse effect.  Likewise, an “initial” increase or decrease in CO2 concentration raises or lowers the global average temperature, which amplifies the further release of CO2 from, or increased absorption back into, the waters of the oceans.  These changes in atmospheric CO2 levels amplify the processes already under way.


1.On the time scale that we directly experience as humans, excess injection of CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is causing an increase in the long-term global average temperature.

2.During the last one thousand years the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the global average temperature have been tightly correlated.

3.Over geological time scales extending back 800,000 years from the present, the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the global average temperature are highly correlated.

4.For the period represented by industrialization these changes arise primarily because of the greenhouse effect due to mankind’s burning of fossil fuels for energy and creation of other greenhouse-active gases.  For geological time scales the close coupling between temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration shows that the greenhouse effect has operated to affect the temperature of the planet for hundreds of thousands of years, although it occurs at a far slower rate than presently with industrialization.

The emission of CO2 since industrialization began has elevated the atmospheric CO2 to levels never seen during the preceding 800,000 years in the geological record.  This is occurring at a rate 60 times or more faster than changes have proceeded in geological cycles.  The pace of adding new CO2 is itself getting faster, as industrialization in developing countries requires burning more and more fossil fuels for energy. 

Global warming is just that, a global problem; once emitted, CO2 becomes distributed in the atmosphere worldwide.  The harmful effects of global warming are widely known and becoming more apparent as time passes.  For this reason nations of the world must work to set aside differences in their perceived interests and reach agreement to limit worldwide emissions, as soon as possible. 

© 2013 Henry Auer

Wild and domestic cattle will drastically shed weight as the climate warms

Cattle weight loss means slimmer profits in a warmer world
Burgers may not shrink in the near future, but cattle might, erasing billions of dollars of profit from the agriculture sector. Photo by Mark H. Anbinder/flickr.
July 4, 2013

A study of bison in the U.S. predicts that wild and domestic cattle will drastically shed weight as the climate warms – compromising food security and stripping billions from farm profits

By Tim RadfordClimate News Network
LONDON – Cherish your hamburger today, America. Tomorrow it could be skimpier.

The nation's cattle herds will shrink – not in number, but in weight and yield – as the climate warms, according to new research that delivers an ominous warning for farmers.

Animals from warmer, drier grasslands weigh considerably less on average than those from cool, wet ranges.
An extensive study of bison – those great wild cattle that evolved to graze the prairies of North America – has confirmed that animals from warmer, drier grasslands weigh considerably less on average than those from cool, wet ranges.

600 pounds lighter

Kansas State University researcher Joseph Craine reports in the Public Library of Science journal PloS One that he analyzed weight, age and sex data from 290,000 bison in 22 herds throughout the United States.

It all lines up to suggest that climate change will cause grasses to have less protein, and cause grazers to gain less weight in future. - Joseph Craine, Kansas State Univ.
He found that the average seven-year-old male bison in South Dakota weighed 856 kilograms (around 1,900 pounds), while counterparts in Oklahoma clocked in at 596 kg (1,300 lbs).

The difference in mean annual temperature between the two ranges was 11° Celsius, and the two sets of values told an ominous story of change in a warming world – not just for wild bison, but also for domestic cattle.

The world is almost certain to warm by more than 2°C on average in this century, and the rise could be as great at 4°C.

Less protein

"We know that temperatures are going to go up," Craine said. "We also know that warmer grasslands have grasses with less protein, and we now know that warmer grasslands have smaller grazers. It all lines up to suggest that climate change will cause grasses to have less protein, and cause grazers to gain less weight in future."

As temperatures rise, precipitation is likely to fall, with consequences for plant growth. If the same reduction in weight gain applies to beef cattle as to bison, as researchers suspect, the finding is "a pretty clear indication" of bad news for food security and for the grazers.

There are around 500,000 bison in the United States – the species was all but extinguished during the 19th century – and more than 90 million cattle. Craine calculates that each 1°C rise in average temperatures could cost farmers $1 billion in profits, either through direct reduction in weight gains or in the costs of additional supplementary feeds.

The research is in line with other findings this year. Evidence from 55 million years ago – when the world warmed by 6°C – unearthed during the National Science Foundation's Bighorn Basin Coring Project in Wyoming indicated that animal size tended to dwindle with rising temperatures, almost certainly in response to changes in nutritional value.

The implication that mammals could dwarf and humans shrink towards hobbit-like stature under a changing climate was tragically confirmed by a study of body heights among children in north-east Brazil.
In response to near-starvation conditions, children brought up on a diet of rats, snakes and cacti reached an average adult size of only 1.35 meters, or 4.5 feet.

Tim Radford is an editor at Climate News Network, a journalism news service delivering news and commentary about climate change for free to media outlets worldwide.
Photo: Cattle near Ladonia, Texas, by CameliaTWU/flickr.
The Daily Climate is an independent news service covering climate change, energy and the environment. Contact Douglas Fischer at dfischer [at]