Weijiang Chen

Thanks to a variety of clean air and water regulations, China's infamously polluted waterways are looking cleaner.

According to a report published today in Nature Geosciences, phosphorous levels in China's lakes declined by 60% between 2006 and 2014. Phosphorous is a crucial nutrient for plant growth, but it's also a common byproduct of industry and used as a fertilizer. Too much of it can trigger the growth of harmful algae that, when it dies and decomposes, can consume the ecosystem's oxygen and kill all animal life.

Why it matters: Phosphorous pollution is a large source of water quality degradation globally that threatens biodiversity and the health of humans near polluted water. In the U.S., economic losses associated with high phosphorus levels in freshwaters is about $2.2 billion each year.

How they did it: Yan Lin of the Norwegian Institute for Water Research in Oslo and his colleagues took monthly measurements of phosphorous concentrations from 862 lakes across China and looked at the source of phosphorous in each lake separately.

What they found: Phosphorous levels have decreased in lakes in western, eastern, and central China. This corresponds with cleaner industry in the area and better sewage systems in the cities. However, in remote and relatively pristine Northeastern China levels of the mineral have increased, suggesting runoff of naturally-occurring phosphorous in the soil could be increasing due to logging.

Looking forward: Lin told Axios that building good sanitation and sewage infrastructure is the best way to stop phosphorous pollution. Although phosphorous levels in lakes decrease when pollution stops, phosphorous does build up in the soil. Lin notes that in places like Scandinavia and the U.S., lake phosphorous has started to increase despite anti-pollution measures. That's because phosphorous from pollutants builds up in the soil, and can continue to bleed into lakes for years to come. It doesn't mean that anti-pollution measures don't work, says Lin.

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Wall Street fears meltdown over election and Supreme Court

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Trump's vow to name her replacement to the Supreme Court before November's election are amplifying Wall Street's worries about major volatility and market losses ahead of and even after the election.

The big picture: The 2020 election is the most expensive event risk on record, per Bloomberg — with insurance bets on implied volatility six times their normal level, according to JPMorgan analysts. And it could take days or even weeks to count the record number of mail-in ballots and declare a winner.

Election clues county by county

Ipsos and the University of Virginia's Center for Politics are out with an interactive U.S. map that goes down to the county level to track changes in public sentiment that could decide the presidential election.

How it works: The 2020 Political Atlas tracks President Trump's approval ratings, interest around the coronavirus, what's dominating social media and other measures, with polling updated daily — enhancing UVA's "Crystal Ball."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,605,656 — Total deaths: 970,934 Total recoveries: 21,747,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,897,432 — Total deaths: 200,814 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths — The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

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