Fracking's Health Risks, Earth's Hottest Month and a Lizard's Extinction

This week's investigative reporting, analysis and environmental news.
The Revelator

No. 92, Aug. 8, 2019

Hello Revelator readers,

Are you worried about the health impacts of fracking? You should be. Public health experts have concluded that fracking and related activities are extremely harmful to humans, with communities of color and low-income neighborhoods being the most at risk. But of course, the dangers don't end there. Methane leaks that occur at every stage of the fracking process also drive greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbate climate woes. Read all about the risks.

Speaking of climate woes, July was the hottest month in recorded human history — and that's just the tip of the melting iceberg when it comes to threats facing the planet. But has another kind of future started to emerge? We have a look at the potential shape of things to come.

Later this month the nations of the world will meet to discuss thorny issues related to wildlife trafficking — including proposals to legalize the sale of rhino horns and allow the dehorning of rhino calves. But what's a rhino without its horn?

Sad news this week: A New Zealand lizard called the speckled skink has been declared extinct. But new genetic tests also reveal that the skink was actually six different species all along, and the five remaining ones still exist — for now. Can they be saved?

Subscriber bonus: The Wild 5

Let's go a little deeper. Here are five additional stories we're watching this week.

1. July's record heatwaves have "rewritten climate history," says the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization.

2. A new study on neonicotinoid pesticides finds that their widespread use has amplified their toxicity, such that they're now 48 times more toxic to insects than they were 25 years ago.

3. San Francisco International Airport will be the first airport in the United States to ban the sale of plastic water bottles.

4. New Mexico's governor has slammed the EPA for its failure to aid in the cleanup of cancer-causing "forever chemicals" from a military base.

5. Can wildlife adapt to climate change? New research examined thousands of scientific studies and found that the answer is often yes — but not fast enough to help them.

In case you missed it:

This week we learned that the population of Southern Resident killer whales has fallen to a low of just 73. Check out our op-ed from last year, "What Would It Take to Save Southern Resident Killer Whales From Extinction?"

What should we cover next?

Drop us a line anytime. We welcome your ideas and inside scoops.

Coming up:

Come back to the site tomorrow for a look at the terrible cost environmental activists around the globe have paid for their important work.

Next week we'll have more about the species potentially affected by the upcoming CITES wildlife-trafficking meeting, as well as a new article about coral reefs.

Look for our links in next week's newsletter — or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the headlines as they go live. We also share other news there, too, so feel free to join us and keep the discussion going.

As always, thank you for reading.

John Platt

John R. Platt
Editor, The Revelator


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