Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Top 5 Environmental Stories of 2017

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Top 5 Environmental Stories of 2017

Article excerpt

Here's my list of the top five environmental stories for 2017.

Changes in federal environmental policy. Soon after taking office in January, President Donald Trump started rolling back environmental regulations designed to limit pollution and climate change, protect endangered and threatened species, and preserve pristine public lands. In June, Trump announced that the United States would no longer participate in the Paris climate accord.

The U.S. State Department approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would repeal the clean power plan, which encouraged states to switch from coal to cleaner energy sources. The administration has cut funding for organizations and federal agencies conducting environmental and human health research.

Second hottest year on record. Globally, 2017 will likely come in second to 2016 as the hottest year on record. In fact, 16 of the last 17 years were the hottest years since recordkeeping of global surface air temperatures began in 1880.

For the United States, 2017 will likely be the third-hottest year on record. As Climate Central reports: "Through the end of September, the U.S. is having its warmest consecutive 24, 36, and 48 months on record [with 93% of the energy from human-caused warming going into the oceans]. This means the planet is experiencing a more intense water cycle, which is behind the observed global increase in heavy precipitation" (see "On the web").

Hurricanes. In 2017, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, respectively. Many other countries in the Caribbean and Europe were also hit by hurricanes and strong storms.

Learn the basics about hurricane formation in a one-minute video from National Geographic (see "On the web").

Wildfires. Deadly wildfires struck northern California in the fall, with thousands of people evacuated, dozens killed, and widespread property damage. The October fires in California's wine country set records for number of acres burned and buildings destroyed.

Pollution kills. An international study (see "On the web") reported that pollution is the biggest killer in the world, taking the lives of approximately nine million people annually. …

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