Let me ask a simple question. Shouldn’t our governments be in our pockets, the pockets of its citizens, the electorate, rather than in those of giant corporations who extort excess profits from our purchases and then ship them off to tax havens or just buy back shares? Shouldn’t our elected politicians be working on our behalf rather than the already rich oligarchs of our societies? So what if the big corporations employ lots of people, generally well paid. Those people would all still be well employed in other forms of employment if these corporations weren’t getting back their employees' wages through giant tax breaks and other types of subsidies. Its just wrong, and worse, it’s destroying Earth, our beautiful home which took millions upon millions of years of evolution to get to present day. Why are we letting these thieves take out our only home, our great gift from the Creator? WHY?
Is it because our political system is short-sighted and our politicians can’t see beyond the next election cycle? Why do they act like that and think it's ok? In Canada we have a former environmental ‘activist’ Minister of Environment and Climate Change. But, why is it that once such a steadfast advocate gets into government he bends over frontwards to assuage the pockets of the already wealthy and won't bring our carbon emissions down and keeps the subsidy trough overflowing? I can’t understand why anyone would want to preside over the destruction of our future, after they swear to protect it. I’m really sick of it all. A revolution in politics is needed; we need politicians who can see the writing on the wall and act accordingly. But, we just don't seem to have any. We just keep letting them get away with destroying not only the present but also the future and a beauty unique in all the known Universe. What is wrong with us? When will we stop putting up with this travesty.
Just a confirmation. What do you hear every morning as you rise and tune into the news? Along with Russia’s horrible and illegal war on Ukraine and perhaps something about the economy (now it’s inflation), the reporters then turn to ‘historic’, ‘once in a lifetime’, ‘once in a generation’, and ‘highly unusual’ weather events, day after day after day. It’s happening all over the world with amazing regularity, and all as predicted by climate scientists. But why don’t our politicians and oligarchs also tune into this reailty, learn about what’s going on and get with the program? I’m sick of them and the whole system that we’ve not only inherited but also support, just by getting out of bed.
Just the other day I toured the ruins of the second capital of the ancient Siamese Kingdom, Ayutthaya, here in Thailand. Several hundred years ago they knew how to manage water to such a degree that they created one of the largest cities in the world at the time. Now, for other reasons, they must keep understanding water management to survive, considering its huge current capital, Bangkok, is under constant threat from ocean expansion, being built on a flood plain just kilometres from the Gulf of Thailand and featuring prominently the huge Chao Phraya River slithering through it. Unexpectedly, to me, that after some three years of lockdown, the city seems more vibrant, clean, quiet and modern than ever before. Good on them, and I hope all the water around them treats them well.
Interesting, too, and unexpected is the clientele at the hotel I just checked out of today in Phuket, a large tropical island in the south of the country. It seems to be at least half Russian, mostly young families along with in-laws. With current events I had a strong weird feeling when sitting amongst them at breakfast. How can they be vacationing when their country is at war, killing thousands of their neighbours and destroying cities like it’s a video game? I hope they’re watching the TV at the hotel. I wish, too I had a Ukrainian t-shirt for such occasions.
Such contradictory occasions are the name of the game these days. Such is the state of our world. As a step forward let's stop the extortion and subsidizing self-destruction. Read on in today’s Planetary Health Weekly (#9 of 2023) for updates on this and more.
David Zakus, Editor and Publisher
SUNSET IN DOWNTOWN BANGKOK
February 25, 2023
IN COMPLETE SOLIDARITY WITH UKRAINE SEEKING PEACE AND VICTORY
"IN INFECTIOUS HUT" Professor of the Medical Department of Kiev University, V. Pokrovsky (1838-1877) examines typhus patients in Kiev Military Hospital. Here he was infected and soon after died. In: "The Way Artists See It" (1994) by A. Grando, founder and director of the Central Museum of Medicine of Ukraine in Kyiv. ISBN
ENDSHOTS of "IN THAILAND FROM MODERN CAPITAL TO ANCIENT CAPITAL TO TROPICAL ISLE"
CLIMATE & BIODIVERSITY CRISES UPDATES
It's Official: The Green Economy Is Booming
Traditionally, countries with the largest CO2 emissions also saw the most economic growth. However, economic growth and CO2 emissions are starting to decouple—or detach from each other. Credit: World Bank, The Maddison Project, Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research, Global Carbon Project and Bank of Canada calculations
The ONS has reported that the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy grew over 30% in 2021 - no other part of the economy even comes close
It might not always feel like it, but the green economy is booming. No less an authority than the U.K. Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday underscored the scale of the sector's success, with new data for 2021 revealing how the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy (LCREE) saw revenues soar by more than 30% to £54.4bn. Employment rose by 16% to almost 250,000 full time employees. Part of this growth can be attributed to the post-covid recovery following 2020's year of lockdowns, but much of it was down to surging green investment. UK GDP in 2021 rose by just 7.5%, which suggests green industries grew four times faster than the rest of the economy.
IEA Raps Oil And Gas Sector For Failing To Cut Methane Emissions
Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica
The International Energy Agency (IAE) on 21 February published its latest global annual methane tracker, confirming that agriculture was the largest source of methane emissions in 2022, followed by the energy sector. Energy accounted for some 40% of total methane emissions attributable to human activity.
Action on methane is increasingly being recognized as crucial to limiting the global temperature increase. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas in terms of its global warming potential, with the IEA attributing almost one-third of the increase in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution to the gas.
The IEA’s new tracker confirms a slight increase in methane emissions from energy year-on-year, with the total in 2022 standing at 135 million tonnes. Coal, oil and natural gas operations are each responsible for around 40 million tonnes of these emissions, with the remainder accounted for by incomplete combustion of biomass and from leaks from end-use oil and gas equipment.
Record high methane emissions from the energy sector were tracked by the IEA in 2019, when the total stood at just over 135 million tonnes.
For Nestlé, planting millions of trees in and around plantations supplying its coffee is an ideal “net zero” fix.
This – the Swiss giant says – not only captures carbon from the atmosphere, generating credits to be claimed against its climate targets, but it also protects crops, reduces water reliance and supports workers on the very farms the company sources materials from.
This practice is called insetting, a term creeping into the “net zero” plans of a rising number of corporations.
Instead of buying carbon credits from unrelated third parties – as they would in traditional offsetting schemes – through insetting, companies invest in carbon reduction or removal projects on their own land or the land of their suppliers.
The New Climate Institute (NCI), a German campaign group, says insetting is simply offsetting in disguise and is plagued by the same integrity issues.
The report also raises concern over companies “successfully” lobbying standards-setters to rubber-stamp the inclusion of insetting claims within their net zero pledges.
In particular, the report points the finger at the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), a corporate climate target watchdog supported by NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund and World Resources Institute. The report accuses it of “legitimizing” insetting.
Since 30 January 2023, a series of wildfires started in the South American country of Chile. By early February, it developed into a large wildfire outbreak of at least 406 individual fires, several dozen of them 'red alert fires', burned more than 430,000 hectares (1,100,000 acres) and killed 24 people, causing the government to declare a state of emergency in multiple regions of the country.
Chile has been suffering from a megadrought since 2010 – the worst for a thousand years. These drought conditions exacerbate summer fires because the vegetation becomes more flammable.
Since 30 January 2023, the Ñuble region has maintained a preventive early warning due to the threat of forest fires as a result of high temperatures. The fires coincided with an unprecedented heat wave in the south of the country, with temperatures reaching 40C in southern areas.
René Garreaud from the University of Chile said the extremely high temperatures are driven by warm, naturally-recurring Puelche winds blowing from the east, superimposed on a warmer climate. The interior minister, Manuel Monsalve, confirmed that 17 people had been arrested for possibly starting fires by such activities as welding or burning wool.
While the wildfires may have been directly caused by human elements, the underlying drought conditions which have contributed to the severity of the wildfires have been attributed to a mix of worsening climate change conditions and the Pacific weather pattern known as La Niña. Though South America has a long history of drought, Chile is among the most vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather events, changes in seasonal temperatures and rainfall, wildfires, and sea-level rise (flooding). Poor territorial planning has been blamed for the ease of spread of the wildfires.
Most Baby Formula Health Claims Not Backed By Science: Study
Credit: Michael Hession
Paris: The vast majority of health
claims used to advertise baby
formula worldwide are not
supported by rigorous scientific
evidence, a study said,
leading researchers to urge that
breast milk substitutes be sold in
The study comes a week after a
group of doctors and scientists
called for a regulatory crackdown
on the $55-billion formula industry for "predatory" marketing which they said exploits the fears of new parents to
convince them not to breastfeed.
However that recommendation is followed for less than half of infants globally,
according to the WHO.
Daniel Munblit, an honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College London and an
author of the new study, said researchers were not on a "crusade" against infant
formula, which should remain an option for mothers who cannot or choose not to
"But we are very much against inappropriate infant formula marketing, which
provides misleading claims not backed up by solid evidence," Munblit told AFP.
Munblit and an international team of researchers looked at the health claims made
for 608 products on the websites of infant formula companies in 15 countries,
including the United States, India, Britain and Nigeria.
The most common claims were that formula supports brain development,
strengthens immune systems and more broadly helps growth.
Half of the products did not link the claimed health benefit to a specific ingredient,
according to the study published in the BMJ journal. Three quarters did not refer to
scientific evidence supporting their claims. Of those that provided a scientific
reference, more than half pointed to reviews, opinion pieces or research on
Formula Milk Companies Use Foul Tactics To Undermine Breastfeeding: Lancet
Credit: Monashee Alonso/Alamy
New Delhi: A Lancet series on breastfeeding
details strategies used by
commercial formula manufacturers to undermine breastfeeding to turn the feeding
of infants and young children into a multibillion-dollar business generating
revenues of about $55 billion each year. Lancet has issued an urgent call to
Formula milk marketing tactics are exploitative, and regulations need to be
urgently strengthened and properly implemented, the three-paper series argued.
The authors of the series argue that apart from influencing political organisations,
formula milk companies also draw on the credibility of science by sponsoring professional organisations,
publishing sponsored articles in
scientific journals, and inviting
leaders in public health onto
advisory boards and committees,
leading to unacceptable conflicts
"The formula milk industry uses
poor science to suggest, with little
supporting evidence, that their
products are solutions to common
infant health and developmental
challenges. Adverts claim specialized formulas alleviate fussiness, help with colic,
prolong night-time sleep, and even encourage superior intelligence. Labels use
words like 'brain', 'neuro' and 'IQ' with images highlighting early development, but
studies show no benefit of these product ingredients on academic performance or
long-term cognition," stated Professor Linda Richter, Wits University, South Africa.
Bike-Ageddon: The Country With The Worst Motorcycle Death Rate In The World
Togo’s largest trauma unit struggles to treat patients wounded in road accidents Credit: Simon Townsley/The Telegraph
The white-tiled floor of Togo’s largest trauma unit is awash with the blood of motorcycle riders. The patients’ limbs are fractured, their scalps gashed and feet grotesquely twisted. Every day is the same – a relentless production line of injury which the hospital must triage.
Due to a shortage of beds, paramedics place the latest victims of motorcycle carnage on plastic sheets on the ground. Power cuts are frequent – but there is no panic; the doctors stitching up a motorbike-taxi passenger continue resourcefully by torchlight, like battlefield medics.
In this chaotic emergency ward, they know all too well that every motorcycle journey on the death-trap streets of the capital Lomé is a roll of the dice.
“On the worst days we have 40 admissions from motorcycle accidents,” says Dr Ariste Dantio, a medic at Sylvanus Olympio Hospital. “But we never have fewer than 20. There is never any pause.
Malawi’s neighbours Mozambique and Zambia have also recently reported cases, while elsewhere, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are responding to outbreaks amid a harsh drought that has left millions in dire humanitarian need.
Covid-19 continues to spread globally; it is not going away. The pandemic continues, but now to a lower extent, and it seems the only ones paying attention are the families of the 1000/day dying and the 140,000/day registered sick. Information about Covid-19's presence in our communities and outcomes is hard to find, and many erroneously feel it's over. In Canada, it is still infecting many and killing about 30/day (down very slightly since last week) with total deaths now well over 50,000.
Collective action, data reporting and leadership have all but disappeared and the world marches on, more worried about many other things.
Over the last week, reported cases are the same at about 140,000/day; deaths same at about 1000/day; and vaccinations way down to about 1 million/day.
Vaccination, despite ongoing concerns about waning immunity and much misinformation, along with other proven public health measures, remain the best ways to keep yourself and others safe from serious consequences.
See below for more global stats and current hotspots.
Note now only a few high risk areas, a continuing good sign.
"It is the plague in seemingly all sincerity." Bob Woodward
WHO Abandons Plans For Crucial Second Phase Of COVID-Origins Investigation
An expert team convened by the World Health Organization met Chinese researchers in Wuhan in February 2020 to review when and how SARS-CoV-2 might have emerged. Credit: Top Photo Corporation/Shutterstock
The World Health Organization (WHO) has quietly shelved the second phase of its much-anticipated scientific investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing ongoing challenges over attempts to conduct crucial studies in China, Nature has learned.
Researchers say they are disappointed that the investigation isn’t going ahead, because understanding how the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 first infected people is important for preventing future outbreaks. But without access to China, there is little that the WHO can do to advance the studies, says Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. “Their hands are really tied.”
In January 2021, an international team of experts convened by the WHO travelled to Wuhan, China, where the virus that causes COVID-19 was first detected. Together with Chinese researchers, the team reviewed evidence on when and how the virus might have emerged, as part of phase one. The team released a report in March that year outlining four possible scenarios, the most likely being that SARS-CoV-2 spread from bats to people, possibly through an intermediate species. Phase one was designed to lay the groundwork for a second phase of in-depth studies to pin down exactly what happened in China and elsewhere.
But two years since that high-profile trip, the WHO has abandoned its phase-two plans. “There is no phase two,” Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, told Nature. The WHO planned for work to be done in phases, she said, but “that plan has changed. The politics across the world of this really hampered progress on understanding the origins,” she said.
This figure shows projected annual growth in direct GHG emissions from agriculture together with annual growth in the estimated net value of production of crop and livestock commodities covered in the Outlook (measured in constant USD 2014-16 prices). Credit: OECD-FAO (2022).
Mitigating climate change and the degradation of natural resources while increasing the production of safe and nutritious food to eradicate hunger and ensure food security for a rapidly growing population is the most important and urgent challenge facing humanity today.
While the use of conservation technologies can do a lot to improve the environmental sustainability of food systems, only some regions in the world have managed to increase productivity through the use of sustainable production systems. Latin America and the Caribbean is projected as one of the most sustainable regions for food production.
Will The West Be Serious About Crimes Against Humanity This Time?
Credit: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine a year ago today, hardly anyone would have imagined that the war there would now still be underway. Though we cannot predict when or how the war might end, it seems certain that Russia will not succeed in subjugating and recolonizing Ukraine. Also, it is evident that Russia has succeeded in greatly strengthening the Western alliance and in ensuring its determination to resist Russian aggression.
Reporting from the Munich Security Conference last week, The New York Times ran a headline: “Allies Vow to Help Kyiv ‘As Long as Necessary.’” At Munich, Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, and Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz all made such commitments. Their statements in Munich were quickly followed by President Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv, where he said, “I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about U.S. support for Ukraine in the war.”
Though scores of thousands of civilians and combatants have been killed in Ukraine, many more have been injured, and millions have been forcibly displaced, comparable numbers endured such suffering in the former Yugoslavia. Yet governments such as those of France and the U.K. strenuously resisted any military support for the Bosnians who were at the top of the list of Milošević’s victims. They imposed an arms embargo on all sides, which left the Bosniaks without weapons while the Bosnian Serbs who attacked them had the weapons of Milošević’s Yugoslav Army.
As for the U.S., it took several years before it intervened, but only after such atrocities as the genocidal massacre of some 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica.
“Pëkëya” is the name of the ancestral heartland of the Siekopai people in their native language, Paicoca and is located along the Lagartococha River. The Peru-Ecuador war between 1941 and 1998 forced the Siekopai out of Pëkëya. Credit: Amazon Frontlines
Many Indigenous peoples can identify their heartland: an area so critical to their physical and cultural livelihood that without it, their existence is imminently threatened. For the Siekopai (Secoya), a nation at risk of cultural and physical extinction, this ancestral heartland is Pëkëya or Lagarto Cocha, a hypnotic labyrinth of blackwater lagoons and flooded forests on the border between the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador and Peru.
Among Amazon river dolphins, caimans, and a multitude of birds whose colorful plumage rivals with the multicolored tunics of the Siekopai, over 200 community members traveled by canoe to Pëkëya last month for the nation’s second bi-national gathering. It couldn’t have been any timelier. This small transborder nation, which numbers just 800 on the Ecuadorian side and 1,200 in Peru, is waging legal battles that could determine the survival of their culture and people – and set precedent for many Amazonian Indigenous communities seeking to regain control of their ancestral territories. In both countries, the Siekopai Nation has launched strategic litigation to take back over half a million acres of their ancestral lands from State hands, while at the same time overturning outdated laws and breaking down administrative barriers to guarantee true Indigenous ownership of tens of millions of acres of Amazonian territories.
‘There Are No Bodies’: Judge’s Comments Shock KIRS Survivor As Land Defenders Given Jail Time
Secwépemc Hereditary Chief Saw-ses stands outside of Tkʼemlúps (Kamloops) courthouse in Secwepemcúl’ecw during the first day of his sentencing on Thursday, Feb. 23. Saw-ses was sentenced to 28 days in jail for resisting Trans Mountain’s construction in his homelands. Credit: Aaron Hemens
The former Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) is about a 10 minute drive from the courthouse where six water and land defenders — including a survivor — were sentenced this week for resisting Trans Mountain’s construction in Secwepemcúl’ecw.
The evidence indicating the presence of 215 children’s remains at KIRS — uncovered through an investigation led by Tkʼemlúps te Secwépemc in 2021 — is still a raw subject for the many affected families, some of whom were present in court.
But that didn’t stop Shelley Fitzpatrick, the judge who has been presiding over the land defenders’ case for two years, from making her opinion about the findings at KIRS known.
She stated that “there are no bodies” there and participated in a tense exchange with a lawyer that resulted in outrage from the room filled with Indigenous people.
For Secwépemc Hereditary Chief Saw-ses, who endured 10 years at KIRS, her comments — which appeared to be entirely out of pocket — were surprising and enraging. “I was pretty mad,” said Saw-ses, who was not present in the courtroom at the time of the comments but heard about it afterwards.
Then, a few days later, Fitzpatrick sentenced Saw-ses to 28 days in jail. Saw-ses was one of eight water and land defenders charged with criminal contempt for disrupting the development of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX) in his homelands. Six of them were given jail time this week, between 28 and 32 days.
An Investigation Of Structural Violence In The Lived Experience Of Food Insecurity
Credit: Maskot/DigitalVision/Getty Images
In Australia, like many high-income countries, food insecurity is associated with increased risks of chronic diseases, sub-optimal development outcomes in children, and mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. Food insecure households employ a range of strategies, including the use of food charity, to help alleviate hunger and meet cost of living pressures. The aim of this paper is to investigate the lived experience of food insecurity for welfare-dependent households, and to examine these experiences within a structural violence framework. Structural violence investigations seek to understand the distal causal factors that can help explain poor health patterns and inequities. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with customers (n = 78) of food pantries, soup kitchens, and community development programs (June 2018 to January 2019) in the state of Victoria, Australia.
Thematic analysis established evidence of controlling, demeaning and depriving practices in the interactions between the participants and the services and staff at national welfare providers and food charities. The same providers and charities nominally set up to address the exact situations in which participants found themselves. The findings of this study suggest that food and social services are an on-the-ground setting through which structural violence is enacted and experienced.
‘A Different Perspective’: The Journalist Reporting The Amazon Through Fresh Eyes
Credit: Elaíze Farias, editor of Amazônia Real, dedicated to telling stories about the violation of Indigenous, environmental and human rights in the Brazilian Amazon.
Elaíze Farias’ phone is buzzing. Sitting at a restaurant in central Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in Brazil, just weeks before the presidential election, Farias is in demand. She is fielding requests from domestic and international organisations to comment, give lectures and speak on panels about her work as a journalist in the Amazon.
Amid the election buzz, Farias is committed to ensuring her less high-profile stories do not get forgotten. “We want to tell the stories of people who are excluded from mainstream media,” she says.
Farias is the editor of Amazônia Real, a digital media outlet dedicated to telling stories about the violation of Indigenous, environmental and human rights in the Brazilian Amazon, that she cofounded 10 years ago with journalists Kátia Brasil and Liege Albuquerque.
Farias, frustrated by the way traditional journalism perpetuates colonialist mentalities, created Amazônia Real with the goal of doing journalism differently. However, the platform is about more than seeking to tell untold stories about injustice: it is a laboratory for thinking about what a new, post-colonial journalism could look like.
“We keep the basic principles of journalism, like listening to different sides and following a certain code of ethics,” she says about Amazônia Real’s newsroom. “But I see a need to rethink some basic media concepts.”
From an early age, at home in Parintins, a municipality on the banks of the Amazon, Farias was interested in social issues. Of Indigenous origin, she was always passionate about telling stories, often listening to those passed down from her grandparents. But journalism was not her goal.
COVID School Closures Cost Children One-Third Of A Year’s Learning
Credit: When countries locked down at the start of the pandemic, school closures were widespread.Credit: David Gray/Getty
Children lost out on more than one-third of a school years’ worth of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, an analysis has found. Their mathematics skills were more affected than their reading abilities.
The study, published in Nature Human Behaviour on 30 January, shows that efforts to prevent further learning losses after the pandemic have been successful, but school-aged children have not caught up on the loss of knowledge and skills that they experienced at the start of the pandemic, during which school closures were widespread.
“This is going to be a real problem for this generation that experienced the pandemic in school,” says Bastian Betthäuser, a sociologist at the University of Oxford, UK, and a co-author of the study. If not addressed, these learning losses will affect this generation’s success in the labour market, he adds.
CLIMATE INEQUALITY REPORT 2023 - FAIR TAXES FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH
by Lucas Chancel (Sciences Po and World Inequality Lab – Paris School of Economics), Philipp Bothe (World Inequality Lab – Paris School of Economics), and Tancrède Voituriez (CIRAD, Iddri Sciences Po)
Credit: Book Cover
The climate crisis has begun to disrupt human societies by severely affecting the very foundations of human livelihood and social organization. Climate impacts are not equally distributed across the world: on average, low- and middle-income countries suffer greater impacts than their richer counterparts. At the same time, the climate crisis is also marked by significant inequalities within countries. Recent research reveals a high concentration of global greenhouse gas emissions among a relatively small fraction of the population, living in emerging and rich countries. In addition, vulnerability to numerous climate impacts is strongly linked to income and wealth, not just between countries but also within them.
The aim of this report is twofold. It endeavours first to shed light on these various dimensions of climate inequality in a systematic and detailed analysis, focusing on low- and middle-income countries in particular. It then builds on these insights, together with additional empirical work and interviews with experts, to suggest pathways to development cooperation, and tax and social policies that tackle climate inequalities at their core.
“The most important thing to remember is that, miracle of miracles, we’re still here. We still have time to turn things around, no matter how late the hour.”
Risk researcher Daniel Zimmer says that it’s not a bad thing that people have become inured to the message behind the Doomsday Clock, which reflects how close humankind is to global ruin. It means that more people are already aware of the grave risks the world faces — and are motivated to do something about them.
Credit: Getty Images
Ranked: Biotoxins In Nature, By Lethal Dose
Credit: Visual Capitalist
Biotoxins: Poisons of the Natural World
Biotoxins are harmful substances that come from living organisms. They can take many forms, from the venom of a snake or spider to the neurotoxins produced by certain types of algae or microbes.
In the infographic above, we look at some common biotoxins in the natural world and rank them based on how deadly they are to an average 70 kg (154 lb) human being.
Ranking Biotoxins on a Toxic Scale
A basic concept in toxicology is that “only the dose makes the poison”. Everyday harmless substances like water have the potential to be lethal when consumed in large enough concentrations. Measuring a lethal dosage is very difficult.
First, living things are complex: factors like size, diet, biochemistry, and genetics vary across species. This makes it difficult to qualify toxicity in a universal way.
Second, individual factors like age or sex can also affect how deadly a substance is. This is why children have different doses for medications than adults.
Third, how a poison is taken into the body (orally, intravenously, dermally, etc.) can also impact its deadliness.
As a result, there are many ways to measure and rank toxicity, depending on what substance or organism is under investigation. Median lethal dose (LD50) is one common way for measuring toxicity. LD50 is the dose of a substance that kills 50% of a test population of animals. It is commonly reported as mass of substance per unit of body weight (mg/kg or g/kg). In the graphic above, we curate LD50 data of some select biotoxins found in nature and present them on a scale of logarithmic LD50 values.
What’s surprising is just how potent some toxins can be.
On Supporting Science In Ukraine One Year After the Invasion
Credit: MAP BY MARTIN WALZ
Just over one year ago, on 24 February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale military offensive in Ukraine. Since then, countless Ukrainian families have mourned the loss of their loved ones, and many others have been forced to flee their homes. Attacks on civil infrastructures have brought immense hardship to millions of civilians. We should do everything possible to protect human life. We also should do everything possible to protect the science and higher education sector in Ukraine from the war-inflicted decline, the growing generation gap, and a “brain drain.”
On 2 June 2022, a number of national academies of sciences convened in Warsaw to work on an action plan for science in Ukraine. The results of this meeting, along with the 10-point action plan, were shared with the scientific community in Science, Vol. 376 (6599), p. 1249. Since then, we have taken a number of steps to support scholars from and in Ukraine, aligned with the 10-point action plan:
We launched a program to enable scientists who had left Ukraine to stay in science. In total, we have hosted 218 Ukrainian fellows for up to 10 months.
We organized a number of training opportunities addressed to Ukrainian scientists in English or Ukrainian. In total, nearly 600 participants have attended these workshops.
We launched a grant program for Ukrainian research teams with a Ukrainian PI being hosted at a research unit in Poland plus his or her research team members, including predoctoral researchers, staying outside or inside Ukraine.
All of the above would not be possible without intensive cooperation between academies of sciences and the friendly support of international scientific organizations in Europe and beyond.
June 22-23, 2023: Positive Zero Transport Futures and Mobility Network will host the Emerging Mobility Scholars Conference at the University of Toronto. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across Canadian institutions are invited to join in person at the University of Toronto to exchange ideas and showcase research relative to mobility and climate change.
Publisher and Editor: Dr. David Zakus Production: Julia Chalmers and Emily Aurora Long Social Media: Shalini Kainth, Mahdia Abidi and Ishneer Mankoo Website, Index and Advisory: Edward Milner, Carlos Jimenez, Eunice Anteh, Gaël Chetaille, Evans Oppong, Jonathan Zakus, Dr. Aimée-Angélique Bouka & Elisabeth Huang
Bloggers: Edward Milner, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, Aisha Saleem and Dr. Jay Kravitz (RIP)