Green Trends That Impact Quality of Life

From indoor air quality issues with gas appliances to the impact of overall green living on longevity, here are some news highlights you need to read.

New research by international scientists indicates that exposure to parks, trees, and other green spaces can slow how fast a person’s cells age. The study , published in Science of the Total Environment , found that people who lived in green neighborhoods had longer chromosomal telomeres, which are associated with longer lives and slower aging.

According to study co-author Aaron Hipp, a professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., green space promotes physical activity and community interaction, which both contribute to better health outcomes.

Neighborhoods with plenty of trees and greenery are also often cooler, more flood-resistant, and have less air pollution, the study notes.

Researchers examined more than 7,800 medical records and responses to a survey conducted between 1999 and 2002. Findings showed that a 5 percent increase in a neighborhood’s green space led to a 1 percent reduction in cellular aging. But participants who lived in green neighborhoods that were also plagued by pollution and segregation did not have longer telomeres than similar communities with less greenery. 

“Green space still matters,” Hipp says. “It just shows how important it is that we get to a level playing field first, so that people have the time and space to go out and enjoy them.” 

exposure to parks, trees, and other green spaces can slow how fast a person’s cells age

A person’s lifeline is tied to the length of a person’s telomeres, found at the ends of chromosomes. A greener environment can mean a longer telomere, which can mean slower aging. Credit: Md Babul Hosen


Natural Gas Firms Use Builders As GHG Pushers

U.S. natural gas utilities are offering builders and contractors incentives to keep fossil fuels in buildings. According to a report in The Guardian , the initiatives are part of gas interests’ decades-long effort to encourage builders, contractors, and real estate agents to continue to promote the merits of natural gas.

Extending a relationship between natural gas producers and the construction sector could be a major impediment to decarbonizing buildings. These account for roughly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to Karlee Weinmann, research and communications manager for the clean energy watchdog organization Energy and Policy Institute.

Use of natural gas has fallen out of favor in recent years. In 2023, all-electric heat pumps outsold gas furnaces for the first time. The Biden administration is working toward quadrupling the pumps’ use in U.S. homes by 2030. And, more than 100 municipalities have taken action to halt gas expansion.

According to The Guardian, at least 27 utility programs serving 17 states offer incentives to builders and contractors for installing gas appliances in buildings. Gas interests also present training programs for builders and realtors, focused on promoting the benefits of installing gas appliances. 

Incentives range from a $50 payout to a builder for every gas stove installed, to all-expenses-paid vacations for entire companies. 

Natural Gas Firms Use Builders As GHG Pushers

Phasing out natural gas for clean energy would be impeded by gas providers’ efforts to buy the support of builders Credit: Richard P. Long/iStock

U.S. Flood Insurance Has Major Flaws

A rapidly increasing number of federally insured properties have flooded repeatedly, a sign of the need for state and federal action to improve protections for homeowners, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Nearly 45,000 “severe repetitive loss properties” have flooded five times on average from 2018 to 2022, an almost 20 percent increase since the last analysis in 2020.

According to “Losing Ground: Severe Repetitive Flooding in the United States,” fewer than 25 percent of the repeatedly flooded properties have received assistance to mitigate their flood risks, while many more owners of these threatened homes have just dropped their flood insurance altogether.

States that have been battered by repeated hurricanes—primarily Florida, Louisiana, and Texas—have seen the biggest jump in these flood-prone properties. Claims in two states—Texas and Louisiana—accounted for almost half of the total payouts for these properties.

“The bottom line is that the flooding risks to communities are increasing faster than officials are dealing with them,” says Anna Weber, a senior policy analyst at NRDC. “Homeowners desperately need new measures that can help them afford flood insurance, reduce the risk of flooding, and give those who want it a real opportunity to move to safer ground.” 

US Flood Insurance Has Major Flaws

Houses damaged by persistent flooding are an annual thing for many homeowners, who often can’t get the help they need to rebuild. Credit: Banks Photos/iStock


Earth Reached Its Hottest Ever in 2023

Scientists have confirmed what many people already believed: 2023 was the hottest year on Earth on record, due to ever-rising carbon emissions. Temperatures rose by an average of 2.7 degrees F, the most since 2016. 

And, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA’s) National Centers for Environmental Information, this could be the start of a stretch where annual temperature records aren’t just broken but smashed.

Record temperatures began accumulating in June 2023, followed by a new record every month for the rest of the year. There is a 1 in 3 chance that 2024 will be warmer than 2023, and a 99 percent chance that 2024 will rank among the top five warmest years, NOAA notes. The 10 hottest years have occurred in the past decade.

The impacts of the higher temperatures are being seen in the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, which are shrinking; ocean heat content, which now consists of 90 percent of Earth’s excess heat (up from 88 percent in the 1980s); sea ice, which was among the 10th-lowest on record in 2023; and the number of tropical storms and hurricanes, which was within the top 20 on record, NOAA reports.  

Earth Reached Its Hottest Ever in 2023

Last year was the world’s hottest, with its average temperature rising almost 3 degrees. It could become an annual occurrence. Credit: piyaset/iStock

webinar ad