When I woke the other morning, this Ukrainian woman’s morning experience was the furthest thing from my mind: “When I wake up in the morning and the windows are shaking, and you don’t know whether you’ll get another breath of life, you lose insurance of life.” (From TV channel CP24 at a Ukrainian Independence Day festival in Etobicoke, Toronto on August 20.)
This, too, is opposite to the feeling I had almost exactly 47 years ago, just married, heading out on the road to see and discover the world, full of assurance believing I could accomplish my dreams, and starting the first day of what would end up being ten months of pure adventure and a giant learning curve. How different and in great contrast to my feeling today about life full of environmental and climate crises and the poor state of global health. And as bad as they are, they will only get worse going forward, with little hope of improvement. We must begin to think in longer terms despite its unpleasantness, demand more of our governments and business leaders, and hope we’re not too late. This is our reality.
Climate processes are changing in ways we couldn’t have imagined back then, in 1975, when I was a young man just setting out. Earth’s environment is now changing in so many ways, all at the same time, compounding into a crisis of biodiversity loss and a quickly heating planet, changing so much of what has developed over millions and millions of years by our excessive use of fossil fuels. One of the things I first learned in adult life is that diversity is a strength. The greater and stronger the diversity of the environment, of our society, the healthier things will be. Diversity, not conflict, gives more opportunity, especially in recovering from harm. I was walking along a country road the other day and identified eight species of plants right along the road in just 100 metres, all overseen and shaded by many types of trees. And all this beauty is just one small portion of the road, though nothing compared to all the bio-complexity in the soil. But any disaster with one component can be helped by another that's not affected. Not so now with our world, where we are insulting so much of nature all at the same time. Shouldn't we be stopping this?
Yes, after 47 years the world I travelled back them is so radically changed, danger has heightened and we're losing the insurance we once had. There’s no longer a hiding place, so running away is not even an option. Read on for more insight and information about this in today’s Planetary Health Weekly(#34 of 2022):
CLIMATE & BIODIVERSITY CRISES:
Accelerating towards runaway climate
Scientists welcome landmark US climate bill,
New climate law signed by Biden to slice carbon pollution by 40%,
Rising heat drives crippling sandstorms across the Middle East,
New study says world must cut short-lived climate pollutants as well as carbon dioxide to meet Paris Agreement goals,
China issues first national drought emergency amid scorching temperatures,
Heat in China,
Extreme heat is slamming the world’s three biggest economies all at once,
Report dumps cold water on Canadian LNG exports to Europe ahead of German chancellor’s visit,
Neurological and psychiatric risk trajectories after Covid-19 infection,
Get ready for the forever plague,
How much virus does a person with Covid exhale? New research has answers,
Covid-19 was third leading cause of death in the United States in both 2020 and 2021,
Children hospitalized with Covid-19 commonly experience neurologic complications,
The impact of vaccination and prior infection on the infectiousness of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 Omicron infections in prison settings,
Covid-19 vaccines are proven safe for use in pregnancy,
Study highlights the safety profiles of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines during pregnancy,
The (good news of) BCG vaccine against Covid-19 and other infectious diseases in type 1 diabetic adults,
How well does hybrid immunity protect against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants?
Review: Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants, THEN
Why we should all be worried about a vulture apocalypse,
More than 150 children dead in Zimbabwe measles outbreak,
WFP warns of increased food insecurity in Latin America
Great Barrier Reef sees record coral cover, but its highly vulnerable,
Wagamama (eatery in the UK) replacing 8m delivery bowls with recyclable alternative to save 330 tonnes of plastic a year,
‘You get goosebumps from the data’: hopes rise for new malaria vaccine,
These five steps from UN Chief will help us kick our fossil fuel addiction and save the planet,
Super polluters and carbon emissions: spotlighting how higher-income and wealthier households disproportionately despoil our atmospheric commons,
Dr. Alika Lafontaine becomes Canadian Medical Association's 1st Indigenous leader
Quote on the injustice to future generations from climate change,
Right-wing operatives masquerading as local grassroots groups on Facebook,
Electric vehicle guide,
Repeated hurricane exposure linked to adverse psychological symptoms,
Highest antioxidant foods on Earth,
New book: “The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe” by James Belich,
Global Partnership for Education mentioned in communiqué by Commonwealth heads of government, and lastly
ENDSHOTS of some waning summer beauty.
Please do keep reading. Best, david
David Zakus, Editor and Publisher
Hoping This Is A Good Sign
Whitefish Lake, Seguin, Ontario - August 22, 2022
ALWAYS WITH UKRAINE SEEKING PEACE, SOLIDARITY AND VICTORY
During the past year, we have endured unprecedented scorching heat waves all over the planet and the past seven years have been the hottest on record. Last year, a Canadian record temperature of 49.6 C was recorded at Lytton, B.C., the day before the town burned to the ground. The heat dome that seared the Pacific Northwest was one of the most anomalous extreme heat events ever observed. Read more at National Observer.
Several US government agencies will see a significant influx of cash from a massive climate and tax bill that President Joe Biden has signed. The legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, pledges US$369 billion in climate investments over the next decade and could cut US greenhouse-gas emissions by about 30–40% below 2005 levels by 2030. Scientists worldwide have welcomed the bill, but warn that more work is needed to counter global warming.
Iran, Syria and other Gulf states are no strangers to sand and dust storms (SDSs)
which have historically occurred in the hot months from May to July when strong
northwesterly winds carry large amounts of dust throughout parts of the region. But these days the storms are coming earlier and more
frequently, rising well above the once-normal once or twice a year, starting as
early as March and spreading over a wider area.
As governments struggle to cope with the dusty onslaught,
environmentalists and government officials say what's driving the threat is a
combination of climate change and poor water management practices that together
are turning more of the region's soil into sand. They warn that rising temperatures and changing weather patterns
suggest there's worse to come, unless governments can work together to cut
climate-changing emissions and reduce the health and financial impacts of the
waves of sand sweeping through the region.
The Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) loses about $13 billion a year to the effects of sandstorms, from the
costs of cleanup and recovery to treating health problems and a decline in
productivity, the report says.
climate experts say rising heat coupled with decades of poor water management
and inefficient agricultural practices have degraded land across the region,
making it easier for dust particles to be picked up and swept across vast
report released by the International Monetary Fund in March shows that, since
the 1990s, the Middle East has been heating up twice as fast as
the global average.
Estimating just how catastrophic climate change will be for the global economy has historically proven challenging. But this summer, it's increasingly evident how quickly costs can pile up. Extreme heat and drought conditions are battering the United States, Europe and China, compounding problems for workers and businesses at a time when economic growth is already slowing sharply and adding to upward pressure on prices.
In China's Sichuan province, all factories have been ordered shut for six days to conserve power. Ships carrying coal and chemicals are struggling to make their usual trips along Germany's Rhine river. And people living on America's West Coast have been asked to use less electricity as temperatures soar.
Around the world, rivers that support global growth — the Yangtze, the Danube and the Colorado — are drying up, impeding the movement of goods, messing with irrigation systems and making it harder for power plants and factories to stay cool. At the same time, scorching heat is hampering transportation networks, straining power supply and hurting worker productivity.
"We shouldn't be surprised by the heat wave events," said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the London School of Economics' Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. "They're exactly what we predicted and are part of a trend: more frequent, more intense, all over the world."
China is facing its fiercest heat wave in six decades, with temperatures crossing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in dozens of cities. Parts of California could see temperatures as high as 109 degrees Fahrenheit this week. Earlier this summer, temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius in the United Kingdom for the first time ever.
Globally, nationally and locally, the pandemic continues in many countries. Many though erroneously feel it's over, whereas it just continues with high levels of hospitalization and death and with new founded worries about LC (long covid). Collective action and leadership has all but disappeared.
Over the last week, cases continue at about 700,000/day (down about 20% from last week); deaths were up again, now up about 30% to 3500/day; and vaccinations are about the same as last week at 9 million/day.
Vaccination, despite ongoing concerns about waning immunity, along with other proven public health measures, remain the best ways to keep yourself and others safe from serious consequences, including hospitalization and long Covid. Get all the shots/boosters you can, asap, and practise the other public health measures especially indoors with crowds.
See below for a few global stats and current hotspots:
COVID-19 is associated with increased risks of neurological and psychiatric sequelae in the weeks and months thereafter. How long these risks remain, whether they affect children and adults similarly, and whether SARS-CoV-2 variants differ in their risk profiles remains unclear.
This analysis of 2-year retrospective cohort studies of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 showed that the increased incidence of mood and anxiety disorders was transient, with no overall excess of these diagnoses compared with other respiratory infections. In contrast, the increased risk of psychotic disorder, cognitive deficit, dementia, and epilepsy or seizures persisted throughout. The differing trajectories suggest a different pathogenesis for these outcomes. Children have a more benign overall profile of psychiatric risk than do adults and older adults, but their sustained higher risk of some diagnoses is of concern. The fact that neurological and psychiatric outcomes were similar during the delta and omicron waves indicates that the burden on the health-care system might continue even with variants that are less severe in other respects. Read more at Lancet Psychiatry
If the lion is the king of the savannah, the vulture is the hardworking, unsung grounds keeper. A flock of vultures can wipe a dead antelope clean in about 20 minutes, stopping the carcass from turning into a toxic soup leaking into water sources. Maggots and bacteria are the only things more effective at disposing of dead meat.
The birds’ digestive systems are thought to be tough enough to stop bacterial colonies of the plague, anthrax and botulism in their tracks. Some researchers believe vultures indirectly keep rabies infections in check by depriving rats and feral dogs of bountiful food.
Certain species may even help disinfect the ground near carcasses with their highly acidic excrement. But now, many vultures and other raptor species are diving beak first into the abyss.
A catastrophic decline of vulture populations in Africa and Asia is causing alarm among researchers, who fear that a “cascade” effect could lead to the spread of deadly old and new diseases, including plague, anthrax, and rabies. Read more at The Telegraph.
Women queue to have their children immunized against measles in Harare's Mabvuku poor suburb. Credit: AFP
A measles outbreak in Zimbabwe has killed at least 157 children, with more than 2,000 infections reported across the country, the government said last week. Cases have been growing rapidly in the southern African nation since authorities said the first infection was logged earlier this month, with reported deaths almost doubling in less than a week.
"As of 15 August the cumulative figures across the country has risen to 2,056 cases and 157 deaths," Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said briefing journalists after a weekly cabinet meeting. Mutsvangwa said the government was going to step up vaccinations, and has invoked special legislation allowing it to draw money from the national disaster fund "to deal with the emergency.". Read more at the Citizen.
The socioeconomic crisis caused by Covid-19, the impact of the Ukraine conflict, and climate change are currently increasing food insecurity in Latin America, said the World Food Program (WFP). The regional office of the WFP for Latin America and the Caribbean stated that nearly 10 million people are in severe food insecurity in 13 countries due to the impact of multiple crises on vulnerable populations. If it continues, the figure would increase to 13.3 million.
Migratory movements -considered as a symptom of the problems afflicting Latin American countries and seen as a last resort by those who desperately decide on this route for having no resources for food and other basic needs- are one of the reasons of these vulnerable people.
To mitigate the situation, it is important to provide urgent assistance to the most vulnerable people and also address its root causes, said the WFP Regional Director Lola Castro.
WFP´s data indicated that 15% of people living in Latin America and the Caribbean intends to migrate, accounting for an increased 4% compared to 2021. For Central Americans, the figure is higher, 43%. Read more at Prensa Latina
Coral has recovered from storms and bleaching events to record levels across much of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a survey has found.
The reef's northern and central parts have the highest amount of coral cover since monitoring began 36 years ago.
But coral cover in the southern part of the reef has decreased.
The new coral is particularly vulnerable - meaning the progress could be quickly undone by climate change and other threats, officials say.
Each year the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Aims) surveys the reef's health, using aerial surveys and divers slowly towed by boat.
After the fourth mass bleaching in six years was confirmed in March, Aims had grave concerns ahead of this year's study. Read more at The BBC.
Credit: PA Wagamama, a popular UK eatery, is replacing eight million delivery bowls with new recycleable packaging in a move that they say will remove 330 tonnes of plastic from the supply chain every year. The new packaging, made from cPET, will reduce the carbon footprint of the brand’s most popular dish – katsu curry – by 62%.
The eco-friendly swap has taken four years o with the rollout starting this week and going live across all restaurants and kitchens by October. Wagamama will also be launching its bowl return programme ‘Bowl Bank’.
CEO Thomas Heier said: “Reducing our use of virgin plastics is a complicated mission – but one we have been dedicated to for four years. Read more at Evening Standard
“His temperature was very high; he was vomiting. I took him to the hospital,” says Kadhenghi, a schoolteacher in Kilifi, eastern Kenya. Brighton defeated the mosquito-borne disease, and now sits contentedly at the weigh-in clinic at Kilifi county hospital.
More than 600,000 in Africa in 2020 and about 12,500 in Kenya alone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), were not as lucky. Across vast swathes of the continent, malaria remains a leading killer of under fives. So Kadhenghi was relieved to hear there could soon be an effective vaccine. “A lot of people are suffering in this area from malaria,” she says. “So I think it’s a very good thing.”. Read more at the Guardian.
Antonio Guterres: Nero was famously accused of fiddling while Rome burned. Today, some leaders are doing worse. They are throwing fuel on the fire. Literally. As the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ripples across the globe, the response of some nations to the growing energy crisis has been to double down on fossil fuels – pouring billions more dollars into the coal, oil and gas that are driving our deepening climate emergency.
Meanwhile all climate indicators continue to break records, forecasting a future of ferocious storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and unliveable temperatures in vast swathes of the planet. Our world faces climate chaos. New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional. Fossil fuels are not the answer, nor will they ever be. We can see the damage we are doing to the planet and our societies. It is in the news every day, and no one is immune.
I have called on the governments of the Group of 20 industrial and emerging-market nations to dismantle coal infrastructure, with a full phaseout by 2030 for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and 2040 for all others. I have urged financial actors to abandon fossil fuel finance and invest in renewable energy. And I have proposed a five-point plan to boost renewable energy round the world.
►First, we must make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer.
►Second, we must improve global access to supply chains for renewable energy technologies components and raw materials.
►Third, we must cut the red tape that holds up solar and wind projects. We need fast-track approvals and more effort to modernize electricity grids. It takes up to eight years to approve a wind farm in the European Union and 10 years in the United States. In South Korea, onshore wind projects need 22 permits from eight ministries.
►Fourth, the world must shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to protect vulnerable people from energy shocks and invest in a just transition to sustainable future.
►Fifth, we need to triple investments in renewables. This includes multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as commercial banks. All must step up and dramatically boost investments in renewables.
Sept. 1 Deadline: International Health Trends and Perspectives (a new journal based at Toronto Metropolitan University, formerly Ryerson University, Toronto) is dedicating a special issue to the topic of Planetary Health to highlight research, theoretical and community based contributions of scientists, scholars and activists globally. It is inviting manuscripts that are solutions and equity-focused. See the call for papers and details here: https://bit.ly/3tDixHT
Sept. 23 All over the World - Take part in the Climate Strike #FridaysForFuture #PeopleNotProfit There’s just 5 weeks to go for Fridays For Future’s big Global Climate Strike on September 23. Be sure to support your local youth! Here is their call to action: Join in for the Global Climate Strike as we demand policymakers and world leaders to prioritize #PeopleNotProfit! We demand that our Governments listen to MAPA voices  and immediately work to provide Loss & Damage Finance to the communities most affected by the climate crisis. One of the best ways you can help is by amplifying youth voices - if you can’t attend a march in your area (or if there aren’t any), make sure to follow youth groups on social media and amplify their call to action. All events, big or small, add up and politicians and the media take notice. Find out more: fridaysforfuture.org/september23 Official FFF Map (shows Canada events): https://fridaysforfuture.ca/event-map/
The International People’s Health University (IPHU) of the People’s Health Movement (PHM) is organizing a short training course “The Struggle for Health” for young health activists. The course is being organized jointly with Amel Association International and Gender, Justice, and Health Thematic Group of the PHM.
The IPHU short courses enable younger health activists to make new connections, share experiences and study together. They aim to strengthen the PHM’s growing activism. PHM has trained thousands of young activists from around the world over the past few years through the IPHU and built perspectives.
November 21-23, 2022: Canadian Conference on Global HealthJoin us in Toronto for the 28th Canadian Conference on Global Health (CCGH). This year's hybrid event will explore the theme of: "Inclusive Global Health in Uncertain Times: Research and Practice".
Right-wing Operatives Masquerading as Local Grassroots Groups on Facebook
Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott in Squamish, B.C., March 4, 2022. Photo by Jimmy Jeong / Canada's National Observer
Late last October, Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott opened her Facebook feed to an ad calling her corrupt and incompetent. The attack wasn't a complete surprise. Since March 2021, Elliott and most of the town council had been hammered by dozens of similar ads posted by an anonymous, purportedly local Facebook page called Squamish Voices. Although it bills itself as a “community group,” the page lists neither its founders nor its followers.
“Usually I can have a conversation with someone… We can agree to disagree, but at least there's a person and a reason and a motivation,” said Elliott. “The frustrating part of this last year is that I feel like I've been boxing a ghost.”
By answering this short survey, you’ll figure out which electric vehicle (EV) is best for your needs. Then, use our EV Guide to check out cars, calculate how much you could reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save on fuel, and learn about EV incentives in your area.
Repeated Hurricane Exposure Linked to Adverse Psychological Symptoms
Findings, published online in JAMA Network Open, are critical for understanding the psychological impacts of recurring natural disasters, particularly in the context of the escalating threat of climate change. Rather than individuals becoming acclimated to repeated exposure to disasters, results demonstrated that over time, responses to subsequent hurricanes become more negative.
"We show that people are not likely to habituate, or get used to, climate-related natural disasters that will increase in frequency and severity in the years to come. Our results suggest a potential mental health crisis associated with those who themselves directly experienced the storm or knew someone who did, as well as those who spent several hours engaged with media about the hurricane," said Dana Rose Garfin, UC-Irvine assistant adjunct professor of nursing and public health, and first author of the report.
The first-of-its-kind longitudinal study was conducted by Garfin and her colleagues. The team assessed Florida residents in the hours before Hurricane Irma made landfall and examined those same individuals again following Hurricanes Irma and Michael to detect any mental health changes that might have occurred over time. Both were Category 5 storms that hit in succession -- Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
Antioxidants are a must in your diet if you want to age in a healthy way. Their well-documented health benefits include slowing the effects of aging, which means they’ll help you feel younger for longer. That’s why it’s so important to be consuming antioxidant rich foods on a regular basis. They feed your body at the cellular level and keep its protective defenses working full-force.
As more studies have been done on antioxidants, we have more insight into which foods contain the most. The highest antioxidant foods on earth are little known to many people and may surprise you. However, there are also plenty of more common foods high in antioxidants that can go right on your shopping list, as you’re about to see.
Here’s a closer look at the story behind antioxidants, why you need to be eating them, and which foods are the best.
"The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe" by James Belich
Credit: Book Cover
THE HEADLINES IN mid-June were unequivocal. “Ground zero for the Black Death finally found after 600 years,” one read. The news that researchers, primarily from Scotland and Germany, had identified northern Kyrgyzstan as the origin point for the medieval plague garnered attention around the world. “Our study puts to rest one of the biggest and most fascinating questions in history and determines when and where the single most notorious and infamous killer of humans began,” one of the scientists said.
One had to read the fine print to learn the qualifications of the claims. The study, published in Nature, relied on a small sample size, and there needs to be data on more places, individuals, and times before this discovery can be considered conclusive. Nothing is put to rest yet.
James Belich’s new book, “The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe,” shows the depth and longevity of the controversy over the sources and impacts of an era-defining scourge. Belich, an Oxford University historian, suggests that what is now known as the Black Death was so consequential that its effects equal those of the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, and the Renaissance. It’s a staggering implication, but he makes a decent case for it in this bold, tremendously researched work. From illustrating the plague’s effects globally to showing how central it was to Europe’s ascension, Belich demonstrates that the medieval pandemic influenced many aspects of human life. James Belich’s new book, “The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe,” shows the depth and longevity of the controversy over the sources and impacts of an era-defining scourge. Belich, an Oxford University historian, suggests that what is now known as the Black Death was so consequential that its effects equal those of the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, and the Renaissance. It’s a staggering implication, but he makes a decent case for it in this bold, tremendously researched work. From illustrating the plague’s effects globally to showing how central it was to Europe’s ascension, Belich demonstrates that the medieval pandemic influenced many aspects of human life.
Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Mentioned in Communiqué by Commonwealth Heads of Government
Credit: Global Partnership for Education
Leaders of the 56 countries that are part of the Commonwealth, representing 2.5 billion people, met in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 25 under the theme “Delivering a common future: Connecting, innovating, transforming”.
The communiqué they issued at the end of the meeting notes the importance of the right to education and 12 years of quality and inclusive education for all. It also recognizes the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children’s learning.
Commonwealth leaders noted their support to the call to action for education financing spearheaded by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and adopted at the GPE Global Education Summit last July; and said they are “committed to efficient and innovative financing of education in accordance with country contexts.”
Publisher and Editor: Dr. David Zakus Production: Aisha Saleem & Julia Chalmers Social Media: Mahdia Abidi, Shalini Kainth and Ishneer Mankoo Website, Index and Advisory: Eunice Anteh, Gaël Chetaille, Carlos Jimenez, Evans Oppong, Jonathan Zakus, Dr. Aimée-Angélique Bouka & Elisabeth Huang
Bloggers: Edward Milner, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, Aisha Saleem and Dr. Jay Kravitz