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UNEP Frontiers Report

UNEP Frontiers Report:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released its latest annual Frontiers report.

  • This is the fourth edition of the Frontiers Report, which was first published in 2016 with an alert to the growing risk of zoonotic diseases, four years before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Report identifies and offers solutions to three environmental issues that merit attention and action from governments and the public at large.

Highlights of the report:

  • Urban noise pollution, wildfires and phenological shifts – the three topics of this Frontiers report – are issues that highlight the urgent need to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.
  • Wildfires are predicted to worsen in the coming years and decades.
  • The trends towards more dangerous fire-weather conditions are likely to increase due to rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the attendant escalation of wildfire risk factors.
  • There has been a rapid expansion of cities towards forest areas in many regions in recent decades.
  • This wild land-urban interface is the area where wildfire risks are most pronounced. For example, rising fires in California, United States.
  • With rising forest fires, the world is very likely to see more frequent incidences of lightning.
  • Fire-induced thunderstorms are a new danger posed by rising wildfires. These thunderstorms contribute to more dangerous conditions for fires on the ground.
  • Noise pollution in cities is a growing hazard to public health: Unwanted, prolonged and high-level sounds from road traffic, railways, or leisure activities impair human health and well-being.
  • Phenological shifts occur when species shift the timing of life cycle stages in response to changing environmental conditions altered by climate change. The concern is that interacting species in an ecosystem do not always shift the timing in the same direction or at the same rate.
  • These phenological shifts are increasingly disturbed by climate change, pushing plants and animals out of synch with their natural rhythms and leading to mismatches, such as when plants shift life cycle stages faster than herbivores.