Healthy Planet, Healthy You: April 2023 Climate News To Know
Living near trees and green spaces could increase your life expectancy
New research on people in Los Angeles County, California, found that those who lived in greener areas, closer to tree canopy and accessible public parks, lived 0.24 to 0.33 year longer on average (after adjusting for 15 other covariables). Though this may not sound like much, researchers predict that if all residents had access to even modest levels of greenery, it would increase life expectancy by a cumulative 155,300 years across the county. (Read the research here1.)
Exposure to ozone can increase Type 2 diabetes risk
Previous research has found that exposure to ground-level ozone, caused by things like car exhaust and industrial emissions, increases oxidative stress and insulin resistance2. And it could have an impact on chronic disease. In a recent systematic research review, exposure to the pollutant was associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, as well as gestational diabetes mellitus during pregnancy. (Read the research here.)
Sleep doctors don't love spring forward—but the planet might
Many sleep experts are advocating to end daylight saving time because of its disruptive impact on sleep schedules and public health. But there's an underappreciated perk of setting the clocks forward an hour in spring: It reduces the amount of energy we use on lighting our homes, and according to a new study, heating and cooling our office buildings, too. (Read the research here.)
Temperature changes are bad news for the bees—and our food supply
An interesting study in the journal Global Change Biology studied how bumblebees reacted to common pesticides at different temperatures (spanning from around 70 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Researchers found that the higher temps negatively impacted how far the bees could fly. "The drop-off in flight performance at the highest temperature suggests a 'tipping point' has been reached in the bees' ability to tolerate the combined temperature and pesticide exposure," lead researcher Richard Gill, Ph.D., said in a statement. Considering how important bees are for keeping the world—and our food supply—in equilibrium, this is a disturbing finding. (Read the research here.)
On the bright side, climate change is a home run in some ways
After diving into the treasure trove of Major League Baseball data, a team of researchers out of Dartmouth found that conditions of climate change have actually been pretty ideal for scoring home runs. They estimate that the warmer, thinner air has helped 500 baseballs clear ballpark walls since 2010, and it could increase home runs by 10% or more by 2100 if trends continue. Talk about a climate curveball. (Read the research here.)
Monthly focus: Fixing the food system
Every five years, Congress reauthorizes a set of laws that governs the U.S. food and farming industry, known as the Farm Bill. 3It was last updated in 2018, meaning this is the year it's due for another update. The comprehensive bill impacts not only farmers but eaters too, covering everything from agriculture conservation to SNAP funding to nutrition programs. It's a prime example of legislation that has the ability to impact our health, and the health of the planet, in one fell swoop.
Passionate about increasing access to healthy food? Hoping to see subsidies on crops that aren't corn, soy, wheat, cotton, and rice? Eager to support more regenerative ways of farming? Take a few minutes in the coming months to write or call your local representatives and tell them about the food issues you care about most and would like to see represented in the next bill.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.