We’re either headed in the right direction or we’re not. The reset (or turnaround) we have been waiting for, re the climate crisis, has been delayed for decades, intentionally. Governments, banks, insurers and fossil fuel industries have keep us believing that our oil and gas addicted lives are fine, don’t worry, just keep on going, keep on pumping over 40 billion tons of CO2 every year into our atmosphere and everything's going to be alright; all’s well…well until…until now (even yesterday). How could it ever be ok, by anyone's reckoning, to grossly pollute our shared atmosphere year after year.
We now realize that we are very close to the point of no return. And we are no where close to the needed reset. In fact, our governments (federal and provincial) are doing the opposite of what’s needed.
Where is Canada’s plan to wind down our fossil fuel industries, our tar sands, our coastal fields, now three years after proclaiming a climate crisis? We know that if we don’t drastically curb our GHG emissions, now, we’ll turn our Ocean into a desert and our deserts into hell.
What we do today will determine our future. It just seems though that so many governments and business leaders, national, local and global, don’t care. Conferences and pledges abound, but where’s the plan? Where's the legislation? In Canada we’re not even discussing what’s needed. We’re not putting on the table any plan to honestly start approaching our 2030 targets, despite them being inadequate and at the lower end of peer country commitments.
Are we only good, then, at making misleading promises? Do we really mean what we say or just believe in our rhetoric? We’re approaching a provincial election here in Ontario and all the incumbent government has to promise for the environment is the approval of a battery factory for electric vehicles, for which there are no provincial incentives to purchase. This is delusion. I wish our civic and business leaders would take the time to learn about what’s really going on in the world and stop their deception, their obfuscation and regurgitation of old lies and tropes. They must stop spreading phoney ones, like their commitment to ‘greening the economy’ and corporate social responsibility, as they watch greenhouse gas emissions rise on their watch. Just be honest.
Do read on in today's Planetary Health Weekly (#18 of 2022) for lots of honesty and interesting anti-phoney ecological and global health news, including:
CLIMATE CRISIS UPDATES:
As the world experiences sea level rise, Iceland’s waters are falling – and flowing to the other side of the planet,
Canada’s banks are making net-zero pledges – and billions in fossil fuel deals,
Wind power, while cheap, stutters without government support,
Key findings from the latest United Nations IPCC Scientific Report on Climate Change,
Governments are investing billions into carbon capture in the (Canadian) Prairies – here’s what you need to know,
Mobile phones and other industrial products have “the number one impact” on climate change,
Human beings are in an evolutionary race with SARS-CoV-2, and we need all the help we can get,
Impact of population mixing between vaccinated and unvaccinated subpopulations on infectious disease dynamics: implications for SARS-CoV-2 transmission,
Large US study examines first 6 month of Covid-19 vaccine safety data,
Innate immune suppression by SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccinations: the role of G-quadruplexes, exosomes and microRNAs,
Myocarditis adverse event less common after Covid-19 vaccine booster,
Vaccine booster dose appears to reduce Omicron hospitalizations,
Biden administration outlines strategy to tackle long Covid, Post-Covid conditions (what is long Covid?), THEN
WHO reveals shocking extent of exploitative formula milk marketing,
How to go gentle on your ‘revenge travel’,
Changes in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 in the US and 21 peer countries,
Living with diabetes puts you at greater risk of 57 other diseases,
B Corp movement gains momentum in Asia as record number of companies certified,
A deep dive into Barbie’s world,
Over 1 million African children protected by first malaria vaccine,
GAVI board approves funding support for malaria vaccine roll-out in sub-Saharan Africa,
New ‘mosquito grounding’ insecticide could revive stalling fight against malaria,
Why is Canada dragging its feet on getting back to normal from Covid?
UNICEF and WHO warn of perfect storm conditions for measles outbreaks, affecting children,
University system to pay full tuition for Native American students from federally recognized tribes,
Brazil court rejects massive Canadian Amazon gold mine project,
Quote on carbon pollution taxes by Canada’s environment commissioner,
New event added: Provocation Ideas Festival May/June, 2022,
Video stories of change (solutions to non-communicable diseases),
20 African countries with the best electricity access,
10 countries with the most expensive household electricity prices in Africa,
Consumer, industrial products overtake transportation as source of urban air pollution,
Ukraine: people with chronic diseases face massive challenges in accessing health care,
Two new pandemic novels: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart,
Researching for solutions to gender equality around the world, and lastly
ENDSHOTS of Spring At Last in Rennie Park, Toronto.
Lots, as always, to keep up with. Do keep reading. Best, david
David Zakus, Editor and Publisher
First Spring Forsythia, Rennie Park, Toronto, Ontario, May 4, 2022 - May this sign of renewal foster hope for Ukraine and the Climate Crisis
Bringing the catch home is becoming an increasingly treacherous task in this Icelandic fishing village. As much of the world worries about sea levels rising and swallowing up land, the community here has the opposite problem — the sea level is falling.
Sea lagoons that surrounding the village of Höfn — pronounced hup, as if you have the hiccups — are becoming shallower and harder to navigate. The tides come in and out with less force than they used to, causing the channel that fishing boats pass through to slowly fill up with sediment.
Höfn sits in the shadow of Iceland’s largest ice cap, Vatnajökull. For centuries, the mighty weight of Vatnajökull has compressed the ground underneath it. But global warming is causing these ice caps and glaciers to melt rapidly, now faster than at any point in the last 200 years. As they disappear, the ground is literally rising.
GPS measurements show the ground in Höfn has been rising by as much as 1.7 centimeters per year. The closer the land is to the melting glacier, the faster the rise — some 20 minutes’ drive to the north, the ground is rising by as much as 3.8 centimeters every year. Read more at CNN
Despite making promises to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, Canada’s biggest banks play an outsized role in propping up the global fossil fuel economy: RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO and CIBC all find themselves among the world’s top 20 financiers of fossil fuels.
These five banks alone have pumped approximately $911 billion into coal, oil and gas companies since the Paris Agreement was signed in late 2015, and they are on track to cross the $1-trillion threshold later this year. That money is used to expand fossil fuel production, build new pipelines, construct liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities and more, frequently at the expense of Indigenous rights.
Now, with a global energy transition underway, Canada’s bankers find themselves neck-deep in oil money with a choice to make: Turn their backs on fossil fuels — the main driver of climate change — or continue financing the very activity threatening all life on Earth.
Global warming requires renewables to grow at a pace that may outstrip the rules of economics. For capital intensive and complex wind power, energy experts say it’s not money that’s needed, but the easing of bureaucratic bottlenecks.
In 2020, while Covid-19 brought the world to a standstill, the wind power industry reported a windfall – a record 95.3 gigawatts worth of new projects were built. That was a 57% increase compared to 2019.
Last year, new installations fell to 93.6 gigawatts, according to figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), a Belgium-based international trade association.
The drop was largely due to financial incentives ending in China and the United States. Mild boom-bust cycles have also plagued the market in the past decade.
But such hiccups are becoming increasingly costly for a world relying on the proliferation of clean sources of power to quickly address climate change and energy insecurity.
Wind energy, along with solar, are among the most effective solutions by cost and carbon-saving potential, said scientists in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Global carbon emissions need to drop nearly 50% by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and keep humanity safe from the worst climate risks.
To hit such heady targets, annual wind power installation needs to hit 390 gigawatts by 2030, or four times the current rate, according to the International Energy Agency. For solar power, 630 gigawatts needs to be generated by 2030, up from about 183 gigawatts last year, predicts analytics firm BloombergNEF.
Every six to eight years the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, undertakes a massive review of the latest science around climate change. Right now, we are near the end of one of these cycles of scientific review.
The guest today, Ryan Hobert, is the managing director of the United Nations Foundations climate and environment team. We kick off discussing the process behind these IPCC reports before diving deep into some of the specific findings of the latest report, released April 4.
What is the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?
Ryan Hobert [00:02:34] The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is essentially the United Nations climate science body. It was created in 1988 by two UN entities, the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Program, and its role is to provide governments with scientific information and regular assessments to inform their climate policies. It also has played an important role, as you can imagine with the international negotiation process, and its universal, so it has all 195 country governments of the UN are members of the IPCC, so just a couple of things. So, one is it doesn’t produce any original research. It assesses peer reviewed scientific literature, and it pieces together a complete picture of where things stand on climate change, and it also involves a very diverse group of hundreds of scientists from all those 195 member governments. And that’s why it’s seen as the ultimate authority on climate science and represents the consensus on climate change. So, the way it works is that the IPCC operates through multiyear assessment cycles, so those cycles last anywhere from five to seven years, usually on the longer end of that time frame. And so there will be usually in the process of the cycle, there will be several what they call special reports. And then in about a two-year period at the end of any cycle, there will be three working group reports and then one synthesis report. They kind of sum up everything that has been gathered over that time period.
WHAT ARE THE SYNTHESIS REPORTS THAT THE IPCC ASSESSES? WHAT ARE THE IPCC’S WORKING GROUP REPORTS?
Mark L. Goldberg [00:04:37] And it’s these synthesis reports that are like the big deal reports in terms of the output of the IPCC?
Ryan Hobert [00:04:45] So the synthesis reports are the big deal in terms of summarizing everything from the cycle, but the three working group reports themselves each have what’s called a summary for policymakers, and those reports themselves are negotiated by governments based on the underlying science in the Working Group report. So just very quickly, the three working group reports—in this cycle, we had working group one that came out in August (2021), and that was on the physical science basis of climate change. So, kind of the basic science. Working group two came out in late February (2022) and it covered impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. And then working group three just came out in April and it covered mitigation so the solutions aspect. But each of those working group reports have their own processes, their own technical leads, et cetera. And they each end in a week to two-week negotiation among governments with the IPCC and the lead scientists. Read more at UN Dispatches
Billions of public dollars are being earmarked for carbon capture, utilization and storage projects in both Alberta and Saskatchewan as they grapple with federal climate targets, investor flight from fossil fuels and a changing world. In Alberta, $1.24 billion has already been spent on just two operational projects, while Saskatchewan has not committed any funding for carbon capture projects but has expanded a current tax credit to carbon pipelines. It’s just the beginning. But it’s not without controversy.
Top: New wind installations worldwide. Bottom: Wind and solar installation targets for 2030 in the International Energy Agency’s net-zero pathway. Data: GWEC industry report 2021, 2022, IEA, BloombergNEF. Credit: Eco-Business
Globally, nationally and locally, the pandemic continues, but with cases and especially deaths declining. But it remains far from being over in all regions of the world. Please remember that the virus is still circulating and take care, and ensure you've got your booster against serious and long illness.
Over the last week there were about 4 million new cases (down ~20% though testing is sorely insufficient and this is likely a huge underestimation) and ~16,000 deaths (down about 20%), and about 80 million people received a Covid-19 vaccine (down ~25%).
While the best vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, it takes a coordinated campaign to stop a pandemic. Infectious-disease experts have said that vaccinating 70% to 85% of the population could enable a return to normalcy, with booster shots needed to keep the virus in check.
On a global scale, that’s a daunting level of vaccination. Currently, 75 places have given at least one dose to 75% of the population. At the current pace of vaccinations, the goal of halting the pandemic remains elusive. Some countries are now reassessing their pandemic-era policies—weighing the current risk of severe illness against fatigue with public health measures. Read more at Bloomberg
"It is the plague in seemingly all sincerity." Bob Woodward
Travelers wait to board a plane at Miami International Airport, April 22, 2022. Credit: AFP via Getty Images
Two weeks ago, the BBC reported that a patient who had tested positive for COVID-19 a record 505 straight days had died. That same day, NBC News reported that a woman in Spain had contracted the omicron variant of COVID-19 just 20 days after contracting an infection from the delta variant.
These situations are at the extremes. The patient with the extremely long case of COVID-19 had serious medical conditions that suppressed their immune system. The woman with the two cases in less than three weeks was a health care worker whose job placed her at high risk of exposure. But there is something to draw from both these cases—something that was true a year ago, and is still true today.
This is still a very new virus with an association with Homo sapiens that is just getting started. And it’s never been more important to limit the number of infections, reduce the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ opportunities to produce trillions of new attempts to break barriers, and not let everything that’s happened so far become only a prelude.Read more at Daily Kos
Myocarditis is a rare but serious adverse event associated with COVID-19 mRNA vaccination. To assess whether this adverse event was also associated with booster doses administered to adolescents, the authors analyzed reports submitted to the VAERS system and v-safe between December 9, 2021, and February 20, 2022.
During the study period, roughly 2.8 million US adolescents received a BNT162b2 booster dose. About 92% of the 914 reports submitted to VAERS were not serious. Improper vaccine storage, dizziness, and fainting were the most common nonserious events.
Serious reports included 64 myocarditis cases. Provider interviews and chart reviews confirmed that 32 of these cases—all of which occurred among boys—met the CDC’s myocarditis definition. Of the confirmed cases, 27 patients required hospitalization, but all were discharged and had recovered or were recovering. The confirmed myocarditis rate after a booster dose was 11.4 per 1 million administered doses among adolescent boys aged 12 to 17 years. By comparison, the myocarditis rate after the second dose in the primary vaccine series was 70.7 per 1 million among 12- to 15-year-olds and 105.9 per 1 million doses among 16- to 17-year-olds.
effectiveness of 2 vaccine doses against hospitalization was 85% during the
periods of the study when Alpha and Delta dominated but 65% during the Omicron
period—late December 2021 through mid-January 2022. The effectiveness of 3
vaccine doses during the Omicron phase was 86%.
of which strain was circulating at the time, COVID-19 severity, based on the
World Health Organization clinical progression scale, was lower for vaccinated
than for unvaccinated patients. Vaccination, including 2 or 3 doses, was 76%
effective for preventing progression to invasive mechanical ventilation or
death with the Alpha variant and around 45% effective with Delta or Omicron
Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions. These conditions can present as different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time.
Formula milk companies are paying social media platforms and influencers to gain direct access to pregnant women and mothers at some of the most vulnerable moments in their lives. The global formula milk industry, valued at some US$55 billion, is targeting new mothers with personalized social media content that is often not recognizable as advertising.
Through tools like apps, virtual support groups or ‘baby-clubs’, paid social media influencers, promotions and competitions and advice forums or services, formula milk companies can buy or collect personal information and send personalized promotions to new pregnant women and mothers.
The report summarizes findings of new research that sampled and analyzed 4 million social media posts about infant feeding published between January and June 2021 using a commercial social listening platform. These posts reached 2.47 billion people and generated more than 12 million likes, shares or comments.
Formula milk companies post content on their social media accounts around 90 times per day, reaching 229 million users; representing three times as many people as are reached by informational posts about breastfeeding from non-commercial accounts. Read more at WHO.
A train in Thailand travelling through rural areas. Credit: Liang Lei/ Eco-Business.
The Omicron Covid-19 wave is receding, summer is approaching, and people are packing for overseas trips after hunkering down for a good two years.
Air travel in February this year was up 116 per cent year-on-year, according to trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA). Analysis group Economist Intelligence Unit expects total flights this year to reach 70% of pre-pandemic levels.
For many in the globe-trotting, middle classes of the world, it is almost back to the good old times. But that good old time is also a brewing sustainability disaster.
For Earth Day, Eco-Business looked at ways tourists can lighten their environmental footprints and support local communities. Read more at Eco-business
Prior studies reported that US life expectancy decreased considerably in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with estimates suggesting that the decreases were much larger among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black populations than non-Hispanic White populations. Studies based on provisional data suggested that other high-income countries did not experience the large decrease in life expectancy observed in the US; this study sought to confirm these findings according to official death counts and to broaden the pool of comparison countries. Read more at JAMA Network
We have long known that people living with diabetes have a higher risk of developing other serious health problems. A new study has put a number to those other issues — 57.
The study by the University of Cambridge found that people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of 57 other health conditions. These include cancer, kidney disease and neurological illnesses. On average, they develop the conditions five years sooner than other people, according to a press release from Diabetes UK.
Researchers examined the health data of 3 million people above 30 years old (average age 50) in the largest study to date of health differences in middle age between those with and without type 2 diabetes. They assessed the link between type 2 diabetes and the incidence of 116 long-term, noncommunicable conditions that commonly affect UK adults in middle age.
Type 2 diabetes was linked to a higher incidence of 57 of the conditions. Notably, the research shows that those living with type 2 diabetes face the following risks:
9% more likely to get cancer
5.2 times more likely to have end-stage kidney disease
4.4 times more likely to have liver cancer
3.2 times more likely to have macular degeneration (loss of central vision)
higher risk of developing 23 out of 31 circulatory conditions. Read more at NCD Alliance
Danone-owned Indonesian bottled water brand Aqua first received the B Corp certification in 2018. It became the first consumer goods brand in Indonesia to be B Corp certified. Credit: Aqua Indonesia
Interest in B Corp certification has surged in Asia since the start of the year, with a record number of companies in the region achieving B Corp status in the first quarter of 2022.
B Corp—short for beneficial corporation—was founded in the United States in 2006 and is one of the most challenging sustainability certifications to attain. Firms must meet comprehensive standards for environmental and social sustainability, transparency, and inclusion. The relatively high cost of certification — which costs between US$500 and US$50,000 a year — and stringest requirements are a natural filter that favour businesses committed to sustainability.
The number of B Corps in Asia reached 161 in March, eclipsing last year’s full-year tally of certifications. Read more at Eco-business
As World Malaria Day approaches, more than 1 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have received one or more doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine, thanks to a pilot programme coordinated by WHO. The malaria vaccine pilots, first launched by the Government of Malawi in April 2019, have shown that the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) vaccine is safe and feasible to deliver, and that it substantially reduces deadly severe malaria.
These findings paved the way for the historic October 2021 WHO recommendation for the expanded use of RTS,S among children living in settings with moderate to high malaria transmission. If widely deployed, WHO estimates that the vaccine could save the lives of an additional 40,000 to 80,000 African children each year.
More than US$ 155 million has been secured from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to support the introduction, procurement and delivery of the malaria vaccine for Gavi-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa. WHO guidance is available to countries as they consider whether and how to adopt RTS,S as an additional tool to reduce child illness and deaths from malaria. Read more at WHO
On May 2, Switzerland and Greece are set to remove all COVID-related travel restrictions. Visitors will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a recent negative test. The Swiss, who are 70% fully vaccinated — a rate much lower than Canada’s approximate 81% — removed virtually all domestic pandemic restrictions a month ago, and friends and family there tell me that life is back to pre-pandemic times. Most European countries have either removed, or are in the final stages of removing, pandemic restrictions. In the United States, most of President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandates have been gutted by the courts and lie in tatters. Most U.S. states have rolled back pandemic restrictions wholly or in large measure. Throughout much of Asia, with the notable exception of China, life has largely returned to normal. Read more at National Post.
An increase in measles cases in January and February 2022 is a worrying sign of a heightened risk for the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and could trigger larger outbreaks, particularly of measles affecting millions of children in 2022, warn WHO and UNICEF.
Pandemic-related disruptions, increasing inequalities in access to vaccines, and the diversion of resources from routine immunization are leaving too many children without protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
The risk for large outbreaks has increased as communities relax social distancing practices and other preventive measures for COVID-19 implemented during the height of the pandemic. In addition, with millions of people being displaced due to conflicts and crises including in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan, disruptions in routine immunization and COVID-19 vaccination services, lack of clean water and sanitation, and overcrowding increase the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.. Read more at WHO.
Dancers from Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America and Indigenous students pray during an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration on Oct. 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. Credit: Getty Images
In a state with more than 100 federally recognized tribes, the University of California system (of nine campuses) announced earlier this month that it will be offering Native American students free tuition and fees. The students must be in-state residents and belong to federally recognized Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native tribes, according to a letter system President Michael Drake wrote chancellors of the University of California campuses.
“The University of California is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Native Americans,” Drake wrote. “I am proud of the efforts the University has made to support the Native American community, including the creation of the UC Native American Opportunity Plan, and appreciate our conversations to date on all the ways in which we can better support Native American student." Read more at Daily Kos
“This is another victory for the Indigenous and riverine people of Volta Grande do Xingu,” federal prosecutor Felício de Araújo Pontes Jr. said in a text message. “They know that a mining project can have devastating impacts on the region. The judgment shows the resilience of this population.” Read more at National Observer
Quote Of The Week:
Credit: The Canadian Press
Canada's environment commissioner says the country's carbon pricing system is disproportionately hard on Indigenous communities and small businesses and not hard enough on the biggest emitters.
Jerry DeMarco issued five audit reports on carbon pricing, transitioning workers away from fossil fuel industries, hydrogen energy, climate-related infrastructure policies and the government's efforts to cut its own emissions.
The carbon pricing audit comes three years after the federal Liberals implemented a law requiring provinces to have a minimum price on greenhouse gas emissions, or use a federal system instead. The price began in 2019 as $20 a tonne of emissions, and hit $50 on April 1. It is to rise by $15 a year annually now until 2030.
DeMarco says there is a "broad consensus" among experts, including the World Bank, the OECD and the International Monetary Fund, that carbon pricing is a critical tool for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
“As is recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada and many international organizations, effective carbon pollution pricing drives changes in consumer and producer behaviour that in turn reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions,” he says in a written statement. “Carbon pricing is therefore essential if Canada is to finally succeed in significantly reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.”
But he says Canada's system hasn't done enough to ensure the carbon price is applied fairly to the biggest industrial emitters.
DeMarco's report also says the government is both "unprepared and slow off the mark"
responding to the need to help more than 170,000 fossil fuel workers prepare for a transition to a cleaner energy economy.
The government has been promising legislation for what it calls the "just transition" for more than two years but has yet to deliver it. A just transition plan is a critical part of getting public buy-in for moving away from fossil fuels and toward lower-emitting and zero-emitting sources of energy. DeMarco's audit says there is no implementation plan and no monitoring or reporting system to support this transition.
Read more at National News Watch: Carbon pricing too hard on Indigenous groups, small biz, too weak on industry: audit
International Health Trends and Perspectives (a new journal based at Toronto Metropolitan University, formerly RyersonU, Toronto) is dedicating a special issue to the topic of Planetary Health to highlight research and theoretical contributions of scientists and scholars globally. It is inviting manuscripts that are solutions and equity-focused. See the call for papers and details here: https://bit.ly/3tDixHT
November, 2022: Canadian Conference on Global Health Join us in November 2022 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". Stay tuned for more information.
FYI#1 SPOTLIGHT ON MEDIA
Video Stories of Change (Solutions to Non-Communicable Diseases)
Credit: NCD Alliance
Solutions to the world’s most pressing health challenge – noncommunicable diseases – told in video format. Explore examples and evidence from around the world of people, communities, organisations and governments stepping up to protect health, promote rights and save lives.
Business Insider Africa presents 20 African countries with the best electricity access. This list is courtesy of Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report, a global dashboard dedicated to registering progress on energy access. Electricity access simply entails the percentage of people, within a given location or country, who have stable access to electricity.
Rwanda: This East African country has the most expensive household electricity price on the continent. According to Statista, Rwandan households pay an average of $0.26 for every kilowatt hour of electricity they get. So, assuming that Rwandans get to have 24-hour electricity, this would translate to $6.24 per day and $194.44 per month.
Sierra Leone: Finally, we have Sierra Leone where households pay an average electricity price of $0.15 per one kilowatt hour of electricity. This would translate to $3.6 per day and $111.6 per month.
Consumer, Industrial Products Overtake Transportation as Source of Urban Air Pollution: New Study Finds Surprisingly High Contribution From Paints, Pesticides, Perfumes As Vehicle Emissions Drop
Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory and air pollution. Credit: DAVID ILIFF
Consumer products such as shampoo, cleaning products and paint now contribute as much to urban air pollution as tailpipe emissions from vehicles, according to
a new studyled by NOAA and including researchers at the University of California, Davis. The results are published Feb. 16 in the journal
Science. “What’s exciting about this work is that it shows that everyday consumer choices can have an impact on air quality in the U.S.,” said Christopher Cappa, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis and a co-author on the paper. People use a lot more fuel than they do petroleum-based compounds in chemical products—about 15 times more by weight, according to the new assessment. Even so, lotions, paints and other products contribute about as much to air pollution as does the transportation sector. In the case of one type of pollution—tiny particles that can damage people’s lungs—particle-forming emissions from chemical products are about twice as high as those from the transportation sector, the team found.
Ukraine: People with Chronic Diseases Face Massive Challenges in Accessing Health Care, According to New WHO Survey
Credit: WHO Europe
1 in 3 households in Ukraine is home to at least 1 person with a chronic condition who is unable to secure medication and care
At the 2-month mark of the war in Ukraine, a new WHO survey illustrates the devastating impact of the humanitarian emergency on the health and well-being of millions of civilians, and the severe challenges facing the Ukrainian health system.
Preliminary results from an ongoing nationwide health needs assessment, conducted in partnership with Premise, indicate that of the 1000 households that have responded so far, 1 in 3 (30%) that have at least 1 person with a chronic disease reported challenges in accessing care for those conditions. The survey also shows that 2 out of 5 households (39%) have at least 1 member with a chronic illness, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer.
Less than a third (30%) of respondents sought out health-care services recently; of those, 39% cited the security situation as the main reason, while 27% reported that no health-care services were available at all in their area.
FYI #5: EARLY MAY READING: TWO NEW PANDEMIC NOVELS
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Credit: Book Cover
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon five hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.
When members of the creative class (the ones who could afford it, at least) fled from their customary urban habitats to the safety of rural retreats last year, the literary reference that seemed to come to nearly everyone’s mind was Boccaccio’s The Decameron, a collection of tales traded by characters waiting out the Black Death in a Tuscan villa. But the novelist Gary Shteyngart, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, found a much richer vein to mine: the plays of Anton Chekhov, particularly Uncle Vanya, the apparent inspiration for his fifth novel, Our Country Friends. A handful of characters cooped up together in a rundown country estate, complaining about cold samovars and unfulfilled dreams, falling in love and drinking too much and confronting one another over ancient betrayals: This was Chekhov’s dramatic element, but who knew it could also be Shteyngart’s? His novels have always leaned more toward mobile, antic satire, sharp but often broad, and typically at the expense of a Shteyngartian protagonist, a striving schlemiel pelted by setbacks in pursuit of some variation on the American dream, even if he has to go overseas to get it. The low-key, reflective, intimate fiction that was Chekhov’s forte? Not so much. Read more of this review at SLATE
Researching for Solutions to Gender Equality Around the World
Matisha Napit, left, is in class 10 at Shree Krishna Ratna School in Chautara, Ward 5, Sindhupalchowk District, Nepal, June 2019. Credit: GPE / Kelley Lynch
During the COVID-19 pandemic, activists around the world have had to develop innovative ways to advocate for the causes they care about. As girls’ education and gender equality activists ourselves, we used out time at home to develop Feminae Carta, a digital advocacy tool aiming to make gender equality a policy priority globally.
In the first phase of the project, we worked alongside more than 20 researchers from six continents to develop a background guide highlighting the most pertinent issues faced by women and girls, and how we can resolve them.
We highlighted the areas of women’s well-being, voices and participation. We emphasized the importance of education, but also ensuring that women’s health, and their opportunities following their education, are met through government policies.
In this blog, some of our researchers share insights from their research.
Publisher and Editor: Dr. David Zakus Production: Aisha Saleem and Julia Chalmers Social Media: Mahdia Abidi, Shalini Kainth and Ishneer Mankoo Website, Index and Advisory: Eunice Anteh, Gaël Chetaille, Evans Oppong, Jonathan Zakus, Dr. Aimée-Angélique Bouka & Elisabeth Huang Blogs: Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, Aisha Saleem and Dr. Jay Kravitz