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Next Decade's Big Enviro Stories

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Climate change dominates the headlines this month, and that's likely to continue well in the new decade. But green issues don't stop there. EWG predicts the next big stories on the environmental front:

1. Rising infertility, early puberty, obesity linked to endocrine-disrupting chemicals

The evidence, still circumstantial, is expected to expand as dozens of new studies focus on the myriad health hazards of hormonally-active pollutants. 2. Water Riots

Dwindling water supplies trigger conflicts. In some places, climate change is the culprit. In others, poor conservation practices.

3. Hydrofracking threatens more water supplies

The natural gas drilling technique, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, injects tons of chemicals into oil shale deposits. It's only beginning in the Marcellus Shale that underlies New York and Pennsylvania.

4. Mad Max landscape realized as trees are burned for energy

Biomass energy means clearing and burning forests.

5. Polar cap melting swamps coastal cities

That investment Nevada beachfront property doesn't look so crazy now.

6. Antibiotic-resistant microbes rampant

Overuse of anti-bacterial cleansers during the H1N1 (viral) flu epidemic hasn't helped.

7. Corn in everything

All corn, all the time. Good Magazine's YouTube video, based in part on EWG's work tracking corn subsidies to corn, is fun, and serious.

8. But corn ethanol tanks

The biofuel bubble bursts as corn ethanol's environmental costs overwhelm benefits.

9. Pacific gyre bloats

The northern Pacific garbage patch, an ugly clot of plastic from discarded drink bottles and other non-biodegradable stuff, could be the next intercontinental land bridge, unless people mend their trash habits. 10. Epigenetics

The next scientific frontier is research into endocrine-disrupting chemicals and other factors that alter the body's epigenetic mechanisms, changing the way genes switch on and off.


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