Synthetic chemicals as agents of global change

TitleSynthetic chemicals as agents of global change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBernhardt, ES, Rosi, EJ, Gessner, MO
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Pagination84 - 90
Date Published03/2017

Though concerns about the proliferation of synthetic chemicals – including pesticides – gave rise to the modern environmental movement in the early 1960s, synthetic chemical pollution has not been included in most analyses of global change. We examined the rate of change in the production and variety of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other synthetic chemicals over the past four decades. We compared these rates to those for well‐recognized drivers of global change such as rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, nutrient pollution, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss.

Our analysis showed that increases in synthetic chemical production and diversification, particularly within the developing world, outpaced these other agents of global change. Despite these trends, mainstream ecological journals, ecological meetings, and ecological funding through the US National Science Foundation devote less than 2% of their journal pages, meeting talks, and science funding, respectively, to the study of synthetic chemicals.

Short TitleFront Ecol Environ

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