Science highlights: threats to global health, and apple trees are dying

Air pollution is one of the greatest threats to people's health worldwide.
Air pollution is one of the greatest threats to people’s health worldwide.

See the WHO’s 10 threats to global health in 2019. Diabetes, cancer, and heart disease account for more than 70% of all deaths globally–driven by tobacco use, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diets, and/or air pollution and climate change. These factors also drive mental illness; half of all mental illness starts by age 14, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds.

(World Health Organization, 21 March 2019).

Rapid Apple Decline is killing young apple trees in North America
Rapid Apple Decline is killing young apple trees in North America.

“Rapid/sudden apple decline”–where rows of young apple trees quickly die–is occurring and spreading in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, British Columbia, and elsewhere in North America. No certain cause has yet been found–weather-related stress (severe cold and drought), certain root stocks, herbicides, unknown pathogens, insects, and/or high-density planting may play a role. Apples are a very valuable crop–worth $4 billion in the U.S. alone.

Read the article (Erik Stokstad, Science, 21 March 2019).

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