It’s been four months since I had Covid-19; wow, seems like an age ago. I can hardly remember it now. This feeling seems similar to the common feeling now that the pandemic is over, that we can go back to the lives we left behind in early 2020, we can forget it ever happened. Most if not all public health restrictions have widely been lifted and we are on our own to protect ourselves and each other. I won’t be travelling on US airlines for a while, that’s for sure. Whether it be the current high levels of infection, the prospect of another variant showing off its receptors or fear among those immunocompromised, including children, their parents and the aged, there is still plenty to worry about. There's also long Covid which has inflicted many and for which evidence continues to accumulate. What to do? Just thinking of going forward seems blurry, even foggy, just as it is with the climate crisis and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
One of the main issues that has arisen over these two pandemic years is the declining trust in authorities, whether they be scientific, medical or government, even between family and friends. Trust has taken a hit. Everyone is now an expert, or so they think.
But what is really disturbing, and concurrent or antecedent to all this, is the spread of lies, half-truths and totally misleading information. The sources of such are vast, on our TVs, radios and smartphones. It’s not anything new, but is now more pervasive and affects all our decision making. Perhaps we can thank the owner of the ‘big election lie’ for his constant daily barrage of lies while he was president, and now it’s in our faces, right front and centre. Remember the trucker convoy? The bizarre announcements now coming from Moscow, following on and exceeding plenty of former barrages and hacks. And how about all that from the struggling fossil fuel companies doing all they can to lock in their slice of the world’s wealth at the expense of collective well-being, much of it all done by deception. Being told that you can’t just invade your neighbour or that you can’t continue to peddle a product that is leading the world to unimaginable disasters is not acceptable. How long can we continue to live with such deception? How can we honestly think of building a future for our families and nations with such lies and privileged greed? How long will we continue to elect governments that only pledge and never deliver? Deception and lies can’t possibly lead to the future we want.
See below to help slice through the fog in today’s Planetary Health Weekly(#16 of 2022) for:
CLIMATE CRISIS UPDATES:
What’s really holding the world back from stopping climate change,
Canada’s new climate plan call for 42% cut in emissions from oil and gas sector,
Russia crisis should ‘supercharge’ climate efforts in build back better 2.0,
World’s biggest oil and gas companies projected to spend more than 800 billion euros on new fields by 2030,
Seven new oil and gas projects approved since IPCC report called for an end to fossil fuels,
10 myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, busted,
Canadian ex-minister Catherine McKenna to head UN greenwash watchdog,
Study highlights the neurologic manifestations linked with Covid-19 in hospitalized children,
Air disinfection for airborne infection control with a focus on Covid-19: why germicidal UV is essential,
WHO monitoring two more Omicron sub-variants known as BA.4 and BA.5,
New sub-variant BS.2.3 accounts for 20% of new cases,
Covid and flu co-infection doubles risk of death (and 4X for ICU) among hospitalized patients, THEN
Bez's Blog #4: Political Determinants of Health
Home care for older adults during the Covid-19 pandemic: lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany to strengthen and expand home care in Canada,
For disabled women of colour, telehealth has been a pandemic lifeline,
Could the next big outbreak be lurking in the water? Pharma pollution blamed for breading superbugs in India,
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever case found in UK for first time since 2014,
West Africa has worst food crisis in a decade,
20 million risk starvation as Horn of Africa drought worsens,
Largest double-sided solar farm in Europe opens in Greece, supplying power to 75,000 households,
The world’s most polluted capital city (New Delhi) and an agricultural intervention to help,
Climate research funded by fossil fuel profits discredits universities and hurts the planet,
Assembly of First Nations Bulletin on Indigenous priorities in the 2022 Canadian federal budget,
Quote by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on climate change,
It took less than 24 hours to order an endangered tiger from Myanmar on Facebook,
Global Risk Analysis (March 2022),
The clean energy employment shift by 2030 illustrated,
An icy mystery deep in Arctic Canada,
New book: “Planetary Health: Safeguarding Human Health and the Environment in the Anthropocene” by Andy Haines and Howard Frumkin,
Massive open index of scholarly papers launches, and lastly
ENDSHOTS of Backyard Buds in Toronto.
I hope you keep reading. Best, david
David Zakus, Editor and Publisher
The Rising Sun at Whitefish Lake, Ontario April 19, 2022 - Bringing a New Day and Constant Hope for Ukraine and the Climate Crisis
The world is on track to shoot far past climate change targets unless countries make drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Fortunately, many of the tools to make these cuts are already here and are continuing to get cheaper. Yet the pledges to lower emissions that countries have made so far are nowhere near enough, and the world is drifting even further off course.
These are some of the conclusions in the latest report of the United Nations’ independent scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The massive 3,000-page document published Monday is a comprehensive review of the latest science on what it would actually take to mitigate climate change and avoid the most devastating scenarios of warming, and the ensuing chaos. Read more at https://www.vox.com/23009894/u...
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government wants a 42% reduction in emissions from the oil and gas sector as part of Canada’s plan meet its 2030 emissions reduction goal. “We’re laying down a clear, reasonable contribution for the (oil and gas) sector to make, so we can drive work forward on our commitment to cap and cut emissions,” Trudeau told a conference in Vancouver. “With record profits, this is the moment for the oil and gas sector to invest in the sustainable future that will be good for business, good for communities, and good for our future.”
Trudeau’s plan promises to make a carbon-capture tax credit available to the industry by 2022, details of which will be released “soon.” It doesn’t however, include specifics on the emissions cap the government plans to impose on the fossil-fuel sector, which accounts for about a tenth of Canada’s total economic output.
The document, introduced on March 29 in parliament by Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, promises an additional C$9.1 billion ($7.3 billion) in new spending to reach Canada’s climate targets. Overall, the government aims to reduce emissions more than 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.
In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Guilbeault said existing policies, including phasing out coal-fired electricity generation and adopting a national carbon tax, already have the country on track to reduce emissions by 36%. Getting across the 40% threshold, he said, would require “a lot of heavy lifting.”
Climate think-tanks called it a “watershed moment” for Canadian climate policy, but warned Trudeau’s government must follow through on the targets. “A plan is just a plan without action. Expedited implementation will be key to success, and Canada now needs to shift into high gear,” said Rick Smith, president of the Canadian Climate Institute.
A progressive climate group is looking to thrust Russia’s war and its impact on the global energy market to the centre of any revived talks on President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, lobbying for the inclusion of more than a dozen investments to boost clean energy and reduce U.S. reliance on oil and gas.
After killing the original version of the massive climate and social spending package last year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) recently signaled his willingness to come to the table on a pared-down version, as long as it specifically focuses on climate change, prescription drug prices and cutting the federal deficit. The $1.7 trillion reconciliation package that House Democrats passed in November included approximately $555 billion in total climate spending.
In a memo shared with HuffPost and set to be distributed to officials on Capitol Hill and in the White House, climate advocacy group Evergreen Action outlined 15 specific climate investments that were part of the House-approved bill that it hopes to see prioritized in any resurrected version. The group says those provisions would go a long way toward speeding up the transition to renewable energies and breaking free of a global oil and gas market that is empowering Russian President Vladimir Putin and other bad actors.
While Evergreen Action supports the full suite of climate provisions in the now-stalled Build Back Better Act, its memo spotlights those that would have the most immediate impact on reducing U.S. demand for oil and gas. They include tax credits on everything from electric vehicles and solar panel manufacturing to energy efficient buildings and green hydrogen production; huge investments to decarbonize the industrial, building and manufacturing sectors and electrify the fleet of federal vehicles; and $29 billion for a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to jump-start the deployment of clean energy infrastructure.
The world’s biggest oil and gas companies, including Shell, Exxon and Gazprom, are projected to spend €857 billion on new oil and gas fields by 2030. This could grow to a staggering €1.4 trillion by 2040, says new research from Global Witness and Oil Change International.
The new analysis comes just a week after UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres called it “moral and economic madness” to invest in new oil and gas. According to the most recent IPCC report, new oil and gas projects would push the world well over safe limits for global warming. World-leading climate scientists warned that we need to reduce fossil fuel use to keep emissions targets in sight.
Russian state company Gazprom topped the list for gas with a predicted spend of €373 billion according to the data from independent energy research firm, Rystad Energy. Qatar Energy came in second with €52 billion followed by Total Energies at €29 billion. Shell placed fourth with a projected spend of €26 billion.
For oil extraction, American firms topped the list with Exxon the highest (€54 billion). Chevron (€52 billion) and Conoco Phillips (€51 billion) made up the rest of the top three.
“From the day the Paris Agreement was signed these companies have been out of compliance,” says Lorne Stockman, research director at Oil Change International. “In the subsequent six years, they have published their statements and honed their PR and lobbying while recklessly pursuing oil and gas production growth.”
He adds that as the window of opportunity for avoiding disaster begins to close, these companies are still looking for ways to grow. “It is past time governments cut them off. No more tax breaks or public finance for oil and gas. We’re beyond second chances.”
There are a number of myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting that must be dispelled. By revealing them, we aim to empower people, so that they can pressure governments and companies to create real solutions, here and now:
Myth 1: Net zero by 2050 is sufficient to solve the climate crisis.Misleading.
Major and unprecedented reductions in emissions are needed now. Otherwise, our current high emissions will consume the small remaining global carbon budget within just a few years. Net zero targets typically assume that it will be possible to deliver vast amounts of “negative emissions”, meaning removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through storage in vegetation, soils and rocks. However, deployment of the technologies needed for negative emissions at the required scale remains unproven, and should not replace real emissions reductions today.
Myth 2: We can compensate for fossil fuel emissions using so-called “nature-based solutions” (such as carbon sequestration in vegetation and soils). Misleading.
The carbon cycle has two parts: one fast cycle whereby carbon circulates between the atmosphere, land and seas, and one slow cycle whereby carbon circulates between the atmosphere and the rocks which make up Earth’s interior.
Fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) come from rocks (part of the slow cycle). Carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning are today 80 times larger than the natural flow of carbon from Earth’s interior (via volcanoes). Since the return of carbon to Earth’s interior takes millions of years, about half of the emitted carbon remains in the atmosphere for a long time and contributes to global warming.
Myth 3: Net zero targets as well as carbon offsetting increase the incentives to reduce emissions because emissions are allocated a cost. Misleading.
The incentive decreases as long as it is financially more advantageous and socially acceptable to buy low-cost carbon offsets from abroad than it is to reduce emissions at home. Promises of future negative emissions also reduce the incentive to cut carbon emissions now, as their costs in decades to come are heavily discounted.
Myth 4: Carbon offsetting in low-income countries must increase to meet the Paris agreement. Misleading.
Low-income countries have also established climate targets in connection with the Paris Agreement. They will need all the emissions reductions that can be achieved in their own country to deliver on their own climate targets. There is no remaining carbon budget for wealthy high-emitting nations to pass the burden for cutting their emissions on to low-income nations.
Myth 5: Funding renewable energy projects is a good way to compensate for fossil fuel emissions. Problematic.
Expansion of renewable energy in growing economies is crucial, but often only adds to, rather than replaces the fossil fuels in the energy mix. Because renewable energy is now often cheaper than fossil energy, these investments would likely have happened anyway, and should therefore not be counted as offsets. Actors in high-income countries should rather finance renewable energy expansion as a form of climate investment (as opposed to offsetting).
Myth 6: Technological solutions for carbon dioxide removal will solve the problem. Overly optimistic.
Technologies are being developed but they are expensive, energy intensive, risky, and their deployment at scale is unproven. It is irresponsible to base net zero targets on the assumption that uncertain future technologies will compensate for present day emissions.
Myth 7: Tree plantations capture more carbon than leaving old forests undisturbed. Misleading.
Old forests can contain centuries worth of carbon, captured in trees and soils, and can continue to capture carbon for hundreds of years. It is better to cut fewer trees, so that the carbon already stored is not released. The carbon released by felled trees can take a hundred years or more to be recaptured by new trees. We do not have that time.
Myth 8: Planting trees in the tropics is a cost-effective win-win solution for both nature and local communities. Oversimplified.
Myth 9: Each ton of carbon dioxide is the same and can be treated interchangeably. False.
Carbon dioxide removal tomorrow cannot compensate for emissions today. Emissions from luxury consumption should not be considered equal to emissions from essential food production. Storage of carbon in plants and soils cannot compensate for emissions of fossil carbon (see fact box).
Myth 10: Products and travel can be “climate neutral” or even “climate positive”. False.
Products and travel that are sold as “climate neutral” or “climate positive” due to offsetting, do still have a carbon footprint. Such marketing is misleading and may even lead to more emissions as the offsetting incentivizes increased consumption. We contribute more to climate solutions by consuming and travelling less.
Climate change poses existential threats to people, nations, children and to vulnerable groups all over the world. Unprecedented, rapid and sustained emissions reductions, starting here and now, are essential for tackling the climate crisis and living up to the commitments in the Paris Agreement:
We must shift focus from mid-century net-zero targets to immediate, real emissions reductions in our own high-income countries. Reductions of at least 10% per year are needed. This massive transformation of our societies is our only way to fulfil the Paris agreement without relying on risky and unproven, large-scale deployment of negative emission technologies.
It’s “now or never,” said the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published on Monday. It called on governments to start staving off emissions to save the planet from irreversible climate disaster.
Between now and never, some are apparently choosing never, as new projects announced this week continue to fund fossil fuel production around the world.
And yet it seems that in the midst of an energy crisis led by the consequences of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the urgency of the IPCC’s message hasn’t reached everyone.
Here’s a list of all the new gas and oil projects announced after the IPCC reports came out on 4 April.
A new offshore project for Exxon in Guyana
UK: More drilling in the North Sea
UK: Fracking still on the table
Portugal hopes to build new gas plants in Mozambique
A new deal between China and the US
Israel’s Delek Group expands its presence in UK’s North Sea
Canada approves Bay du Nord oil
Last week there was climate heartbreak as Canada’s government gave the green light to the controversial $12 billion (€11 billion) Bay du Nord offshore oil project.
The project will be managed by Equinor for about 30 years, during which the company will operate a floating offshore oil and gas production facility in the Flemish Pass, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected that more than 60 wells will be drilled during three decades of operations.
Canada’s government said that the project will help the country meet energy demands through a difficult time of transition.
The approval followed months of debates and a four-year-long review of the project, but the government, which conducted an environmental assessment of Bay du Nord, concluded that it will not cause significant negative effects to its surrounding environment “when mitigation measures are taken into account. These mitigation measures include 137 conditions Equinor will have to satisfy while operating the project, including protecting wildlife, human health and native access to resources.
Most environmental activists strongly disagree with the government’s decision.
The UN has tasked a high-profile committee with drawing up standards so that businesses and sub-national governments “walk the talk on their net zero promises”. Within twelve months, the 16-member group (made up of 8 women and 8 men) is to publish recommendations on how to judge net zero commitments and translate them into national and international regulations.
It will be called the High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities (HLEG) and be supported by a small full-time staff at the UN’s New York headquarters.
Announcing the group, the UN’s secretary-general António Guterres said: “Governments have the lion’s share of responsibility to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. Especially the G20. But we also urgently need every business, investor, city, state and region to walk the talk on their net-zero promises.”
He added: “To avert a climate catastrophe, we need bold pledges matched by concrete action. Tougher net-zero standards and strengthened accountability around the implementation of these commitments can deliver real and immediate emissions cuts.”
The group will be chaired by Catherine McKenna. She was Canada’s environment minister and infrastructure and communities minister under Justin Trudeau’s government before leaving politics last year to focus on “[her] kids and the climate”.
Commenting on her appointment, she said: “The recent avalanche of net-zero pledges by businesses, investors, cities and regions will be vital to keep 1.5C alive and to build towards a safe and healthy planet, but only if all pledges have transparent plans, robust near-term action, and are implemented in full.”
Climate scientist and campaigner Bill Hare, another member of the group, said: “Governments are being held to account, but for non-state actors the situation is a lot more murky, and without guidelines, many net zero claims risk being simply [public relation] campaigns without verification”.
The group’s 16 members include climate campaigners, scientists, energy analysts, businesspeople, economists, finance experts, bankers and former politicians and civil servants.
Globally, nationally and locally, the pandemic continues, but with fewer cases and deaths. But it remains far from being over. Please remember that and take care, and ensure you've got your booster.
Over the last week there were about 5 million new cases (down ~30%, though testing is sorely insufficient and this is likely a huge underestimation) and 19,000 deaths (down ~20%), and about 80 million people received a Covid-19 vaccine (down ~40%).
Some countries currently have very high daily case rates, including: South Korea, which is beginning to recover but still sorely suffering, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Finland, Greece and Belgium.
"It is the plague in seemingly all sincerity." Bob Woodward
BEZ'S BLOG #4
Political Determinants of Health
Credit: Hawai'i Department of Health
Last month we looked at evidence that economic inequality and social spending are the critical factors in producing health in a society. These issues make health a political construct. This is not a new idea. It was voiced by the Greeks eons ago. It appears regularly since the famous statement by Rudolf Virchow over 150 years ago. Virchow, the father of modern cellular pathology, was investigating a typhus outbreak in Europe when he voiced public health's greatest single idea. "Medicine is a social science, and politics nothing but medicine at a larger scale." Medicine means public health, a term that came into more common use in the 20th Century.
That our health, yours and mine, depends on choices in the political arena is not common knowledge. We are constantly told to make healthy choices, whether it be the food we eat, tracking our fitbit, limiting alcohol intake, or following our doctor's advice. Our personal health behaviours, the work we do, the incredibly expensive healthcare industry we support, and the various ways we pursue well-being matter most. Right!? Maybe not. Let's consider the bigger political picture.
Consider from Chomsky "politics is an interaction among groups of investors who compete for control of the state." To rephrase consider "Politics is about: Who speaks, who is being spoken to, and for what purpose." Politics is about power, who has it and how it is used.
The phrase social determinants of health (SDOH) has come to be more commonly used by public health organizations this century. One way to try to link health production comes from what is perhaps the U.S.'s healthiest state Hawai'i. Consider a 2011 report by its Department of Health "Chronic Disease Disparities Report 2011: Social Determinants." On page 2 is a compelling graphic (below) that conceptualizes societal health production using a metaphor common in Hawai'i. At the top, a mountain ridge with a low point, then a raging waterfall ending in a river flowing into the ocean. MAKAI (meaning by the sea) or downstream effects are the common chronic diseases that we in most industrial societies face. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and others you all know about. We will set aside COVID-19 and represent that in a later blog. There are two banks where the river flows into the ocean. On one are presented common risk factors we recognize such as smoking, physical inactivity and obesity. The other bank is labelled Access to Health Care. The river winds downstream from the base of the waterfall. On either side of that torrent are what are classically considered SDOHs. Racism, poverty, pollution, crime, education, income and wealth. But the Hawai'i Department of Health diagram doesn't stop there.
Above the waterfall and below the low mountain ridge are two terms strategically placed below MAUKA (Hawaiian for toward the mountains) or UPSTREAM "Root Causes." The lower phrase is Social/Economic Conditions. Above that is the key - "Political Context & Governance." We are led back to Virchow's key idea.
Medicine is a social science that speaks to the factors in a society that produce health. Politics looks at the forces affecting the society at large. If the level of economic inequality produced and the way spending on people is carried out are the critical levers producing health then that relationship is established politically by the interaction among investors who compete to control the state.
Consider the healthcare industry and its investors. In the United States that business accounts for a sixth of the total economy. This powerful industry speaks very loudly to us though massive advertising sanitized as public relations. Whether it be the ubiquitous drug ads beginning with "ask your doctor about..." or full-page ads or TV spots touting a clinic or hospital, or news of great medical progress, it is impossible to escape this barrage. The investors reap incredible profits even from the ones labelled non-profit. We play into this with our choice of words. We say we access health, we pay for health, we get health; all the while it is healthcare that we access, pay for and get. The language we use represents this power nexus.
Most people consider being healthy as something under individual control. Eat right, exercise, don't drink too much or smoke and seek medical care when sick are considered important dictums to follow. Even an apple a day. While those are important, the way our society is structured matters much more. If it is done to produce health, that is if we have the right societal structure in place, then perhaps this can explain why Japan is the longest lived country despite having a much higher proportion of men smoking than in the United States. This will be covered in a future blog where we look at the role of culture in producing health—the least-well understood part of public health. Put simply: Do you ever see a lone Japanese tourist? They do things together. Do you ever see a long Canadian or American tourist?
In my decades of teaching this material, getting students to distinguish health from healthcare and to accept the limitations of personal behaviours on health production has been my biggest challenge. In May we will consider our biology from within cells to organs to individuals to populations. If we work to produce healthy populations then the constituents of that population, namely individuals, organs and cells will be healthy as a by-product. Read more at PlanetaryHealthWeeklyBlogs
Of hospitalized children who tested or were presumed positive for SARS-CoV-2, 44% developed neurological symptoms, and these kids were more likely to require intensive care than their peers who didn't experience such symptoms, according to a new study led by a pediatrician-scientist at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The most common neurologic symptoms were headache and altered mental status, known as acute encephalopathy. Published in Pediatric Neurology, these preliminary findings are the first insights from the pediatric arm of GCS-NeuroCOVID, an international, multi-center consortium aiming to understand how COVID-19 affects the brain and nervous system.
"The SARS-CoV-2 virus can affect pediatric patients in different ways: It can cause acute disease, where symptomatic illness comes on soon after infection, or children may develop an inflammatory condition called MIS-C weeks after clearing the virus," said lead author Ericka Fink, M.D., pediatric intensivist at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and associate professor of critical care medicine and pediatrics at Pitt. "One of the consortium's big questions was whether neurological manifestations are similar or different in pediatric patients, depending on which of these two conditions they have." Read more at Medical News
This Issue Note summarizes our understanding of how the pandemic has affected the home care sector in Canada compared to three countries with well-developed home care services: the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. Lessons for Canada draw from both the published literature and consultations with experts.
The main insight about home care in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is that sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences. Prior to the pandemic, these comparator countries had invested heavily in a robust, comprehensive and integrated home care infrastructure for those choosing to 'age in place.' This meant that many older adults were supported at home rather than in congregate care facilities. Yet, even with this strong foundation, the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in their home care systems, as it has in Canada.
We conclude that improving access to home care would allow more Canadians to 'age in place' and is, thus, an important part of 'building back better' from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more at CanCovid
A channel leading into the Musi River shows clear signs of pollution, as a layer of white foam gathers on the surface. The water from this channel is used to irrigate nearby fields CREDIT: Catherine Davison/The Telegraph
At first, they look like blisters, gathered in clusters at the base of her fingers. But as Gangadevi Sattamma rolls up her sleeves, the extent of the infection, winding its way up her forearms, becomes apparent.
“Most of the people get infected, this skin infection,” the 40-year-old paddy worker says. She gestures to a line of women, barefoot and ankle-deep in muddy water, transplanting rice seedlings into the flooded field behind her. “So many people working here get stomach pain and fever regularly.”
But whilst the water which the women are standing in, channelled in from the nearby River Musi, is essential for irrigating the paddy fields, it may also be the source of their health problems.
Hyderabad, the town in southern India which Sattamma’s paddy field sits on the outskirts of, is one of the largest producers of pharmaceuticals in the world. Its water bodies have long borne the brunt of pollution from industrial effluent.
But researchers fear that antimicrobial residues from these industries are now entering the River Musi, breeding drug-resistant bacteria which then spreads downstream, where it poses a risk to populations further afield – and, in areas where polluted river water is used for irrigation, may even be entering the food chain. Read more at The Telegraph
UK officials say they have found a confirmed case of a viral illness called Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in England.
The woman, who is being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London, had recently travelled to Central Asia, where this tick bite infection is endemic.
The disease does not spread easily between people, meaning the risk to the public is very low, say experts. It is not carried by ticks in the UK.
It is the third known case of the fever in the UK, with prior cases reported in 2012 and 2014. The disease can be caught from contact with infected blood or tissues from a person or animal.. Read more at BBC
A group of international aid organizations says West Africa is facing its worst food crisis in a decade due to increasing conflict, drought, flooding and the war in Ukraine that is affecting food prices and worsening an already disastrous situation.
Since 2015 the number of people in need of emergency food assistance has nearly quadrupled from 7 million to 27 million in West African nations including Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali and Nigeria, where thousands have also been displaced because of rising Islamic extremist violence. Read more at ABC Action News
Twenty million people are at risk of starvation this year as delayed rains worsen an already brutal drought in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, the UN warned on Tuesday.
A months-long drought has left the Horn of Africa on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, destroying crops and livestock and forcing huge numbers of people to leave their homes in search of food and water.
As long-awaited rains fail to materialise nearly a month into the current rainy season, "the number of hungry people due to drought could spiral from the currently estimated 14 million to 20 million through 2022," the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said.
The Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, recently inaugurated a new solar park. It is the biggest system with two-sided, or bifacial, panels in Europe.
Mitsotakis promised to speed up permits for renewable energy projects as the country seeks to wean itself off polluting and costly imported fossil fuels. Greece aims to almost double its installed capacity from renewables to about 19 gigawatts by 2030. This could be revised upwardly as part of the European Commission's fresh drive to accelerate transition to green energy and end reliance on Russian gas by 2027, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Read more at Euro News
The onset of spring brings relief in more ways than one to Delhi. The air is cool and crisp, and with the milder weather come light showers that make the vegetation more lush. Around April, south-westerly winds sweep through the region, and the blanket of acrid smog that covers the city in the autumn and winter months begins to disperse. But it never really goes away.
Twenty-one of the world's 30 cities with the worst levels of air pollution are in India, according to data compiled in the 2021 World Air Quality Report. Six Indian cities are in the top 10. New Delhi has the highest exposure to toxic air in the country. People in India had the fifth highest annual recordings of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a particularly harmful form of air pollution. The year-round average for PM2.5 pollution in New Delhi was the worst of any capital city in the world by a large margin.
For the last 10 years, Shaheen Khokhar has witnessed this annual cycle as a resident of Gurugram, south-west of Delhi in the Northern Indian state of Haryana. Around October, when she drives into the city, the unnaturally grey, seemingly overcast skies creep up without warning. "One minute, there's sunshine, and the next, you're engulfed in this dark, smoky haze," she says. "Every day, we see a deeply distressing, visual reminder of the pollution that we're forced to live with."
On a pleasant afternoon in September 2021, Dhruv Sawhney, an engineer and COO of nurture.farm, a digital platform for sustainable agricultural solutions, was addressing an audience of 200 men and women – all farmers in a village near Karnal in Haryana. He explained how switching to a new method of clearing agricultural residue could help the farmer earn more, and in the long-term, would improve the health of the soil.
Called the Pusa Decomposer, it is composed of seven different species of fungus naturally present in the soil, says Singh. After many lab trials, these species of fungi were found to be extremely effective in decomposing the stubble for energy and nutrients. This microbial spray would completely and rapidly decompose the stubble still left in the fields after the paddy was harvested. Within three weeks, the old stubble would integrate with the soil, acting as compost for the next growing season. Read more at BBC
A flare burns natural gas at an oil well on Aug. 26, 2021, in Watford City, N.D. Credit: Matthew Brown / Associated Press
Last month, more than 500 leading academics, climate experts and university affiliates called for an end to the fossil fuel industry funding university climate research. The reason: Faced with the climate crisis, the academic community must play a leading role in developing a renewable-energy future. Brokering financial partnerships with polluters prevents universities from fulfilling that goal and conducting conflict-free research.
The movement to get large institutions to divest from fossil fuel companies has gained enormous steam. Harvard (the world’s richest university) major philanthropic organization the Ford Foundation and the European Union’s biggest pension fund, ABP, all made divestment commitments since last fall. Universities in the U.S. and the United Kingdom should build on that momentum and once again take a firm stand against oil and gas companies, which are blocking the transition to clean energy to protect their profits. Read more at LA Times
The Canadian federal budget was tabled in the House of Commons on April 7, 2022. Budget 2022 commits a total of $11 billion over 6 years for Indigenous priorities, an average of $1.8 billion per year.
The $11 billion is a substantial reduction from the rate of investment this government had made over its first 6 years in office and falls short in addressing the urgent and long-term needs identified by First Nations.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is pleased to see the investment in child and family services, specifically the $4 billion to support the full application of Jordan’s Principle.
The AFN conducted a thorough analysis of First Nations housing needs, identifying a required investment of $44 billion over 10 years. The $3 billion over five years for First Nations housing falls short of the AFN’s well-researched identified need.
Many of the priorities identified in the AFN’s pre-budget submission, such as governance, implementing the MMIWG Calls to Justice and post-secondary education, saw no new investments. This will slow First Nations’ recovery and participation in the economy.
The AFN will continue to advocate for consistent and sustained investments to support the ongoing healing of First Nations and to close the socio-economic gap. Read more at Nation Talk
Quote Of The Week:
“Today (April 7), we celebrate World Health Day and the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s theme – ‘Our planet, our health’ – reminds us that our health and well-being is fundamentally connected to the health of our planet. The crises of climate change and rapid biodiversity loss are health crises too.
“Taking real action to confront the climate crisis and protect our environment will deliver clean air and clean water for Canadians – as well as their associated health benefits – now and into the future.
“Canadians are seeing the impacts of climate change in their communities right across the country through wildfires, floods, drought and other extreme weather events. These disasters threaten our air quality, our supply of safe, clean water, and impact our food safety and security.
“Climate change is also a driver of infectious disease spread, such as Lyme disease, which has become more prominent in Canada as blacklegged ticks move farther north as the climate warms. Climate-related disasters directly affect people’s mental health, particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and intensify the anxiety, grief, and trauma that they experience.
“The Government of Canada is taking real action to confront the climate crisis and adapt to its impacts. Just last week, we released the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada’s Next Steps to Clean Air and a Strong Economy, an ambitious and achievable roadmap to reach our climate target of cutting emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and put us on track toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. By the end of the year, our government will deliver Canada’s first-ever National Adaptation Strategy, in collaboration with partners across the country – including provincial, territorial, and municipal governments and Indigenous Peoples. Together, these actions will fight climate change, protect Canadians and our communities from its impacts, and deliver better health outcomes for everyone.
“As we have seen in recent years, global health crises like the pandemic and climate change affect us all. By continuing to take real action on climate change, we will deliver clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment for generations to come.”
International Health Trends and Perspectives (a new journal based at Ryerson University, 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
It Took Us Less Than 24 Hours to Order an Endangered Tiger (from Myanmar) on Facebook
“If the price is right, you get it,” he said through a voice note in Burmese, a parrot screeching in the background, after VICE World News found him advertising his wares on a public Facebook group. “When we meet up in Yangon, we will make payment in cash. If you confirm and we have the tiger, I will call you.”
It took just half a dozen messages and less than 24 hours to line up the deal. Thanks to Facebook, it’s about as easy to find someone selling an endangered jungle cat as it is to adopt a domestic shorthair.
Other specimens, including some of the world’s most critically endangered species, are even more easily obtainable. Within three days, using nothing but public Facebook groups and Messenger, VICE World News was also able to track down and all but execute the purchase of an Asiatic black bear ($1,000), two leopard cat cubs ($280 for both), a wolf ($67) and a slow loris ($45)—a species of vulnerable primate that is often illegally traded as an exotic pet or for traditional medicine.
The risks included in this report were based on certain events or factors (triggers) that may emerge over the coming six months. Such triggers would point towards a hazard materializing, which would deteriorate the humanitarian situation in the context of the monitored crises.
ACAPS analysts conduct daily monitoring and independent analysis of more than 150 countries, including risk analysis and risk analysis updates. ACAPS closely monitors previously identified risks to see if they materialize. You can find updates on the risks identified in the October 2021 Global Risk Analysis at the end of this report. For the complete list of risks ACAPS’ analysts identified during their daily monitoring and analysis, you can consult the ACAPS Risk List.
ACAPS is a non-profit, non-governmental project that provides international, independent humanitarian analysis. Founded in 2009 and based in Geneva, ACAPS provides daily monitoring and analysis of the situations in 150 countries, to support humanitarian aid workers. This analysis is freely provided to the NGOs, UN agencies and donors.
With many countries and companies
pledgedto reduce emissions, the clean energy transition seems to be an inevitability. And that transition will undoubtedly have an impact on employment. New sources of power don’t just require new and updated equipment, they also require people to operate them. And as demand for cleaner fuels shifts attention away from fossil fuels, it’s likely that not every sector will see a net gain of employment. This graphic shows projected global employment growth in the clean energy sector and related areas, under announced climate pledges as of 2021, as tracked by the IEA’s
World Energy Outlook. Which Sectors Will Gain Jobs By 2030? In total, the clean energy transition is expected to generate 10.3 million net new jobs around the world by 2030. Though fuel generation will definitely be affected by the clean energy transition, the biggest impact will be felt in
The plane banked to the right, hard. As we took a first sweep at the runway – or, rather, the short stretch of bumpy land in the Arctic tundra that would serve as one – an alarm sounded, the lights above the emergency exits flashed red and the sound of the aircraft's engines roaring back into action filled the main cabin. My stomach lurched.
It was an exhilarating introduction to the far north of Quebec, in a region known as Nunavik. Comprising the top third of Canadian province (larger than the US state of California and twice the size of Great Britain) fringed by frayed edges of a peninsula known as Ungava, most people don't even know it exists. But that wasn't always the case.
Back in 1950, this area was splashed across newspapers globally and pegged as the eighth wonder of the world. Not because of the wilderness, and not due to any manmade structure, but because of the distinct land feature I was now flying over enroute to take another shot at the runway: Pingualuit Crater.
With a diameter of nearly 3.5km and a circumference well over 10km, it wasn't only its size that distinguished it, but also its symmetry. Almost perfectly circular and filled with water, the crater seemed as though a giant had discarded a compact mirror on the ground, which our tiny Twin Otter aircraft was now reflected in, appearing as no more than a tiny speck of dust.
"Now we know beyond doubt that it is a meteor crater," said Pierre Philie, a French cultural geographer with a strong interest in anthropology and resident of Kangiqsujuaq (Nunavik's most northern settlement and gateway to this geographical wonder). He was sent begrudgingly on assignment to this part of Quebec 40 years ago, fell in love with it and a local woman, and never left.
Planetary Health: Safeguarding Human Health and the Environment in the Anthropocene by Andy Haines and Howard Frumkin
Credit: Book Cover
We live in unprecedented times - the Anthropocene - defined by far-reaching human impacts on the natural systems that underpin civilization. Planetary Health explores the many environmental changes that threaten to undermine progress in human health, and explains how these changes affect health outcomes, from pandemics to infectious diseases to mental health, from chronic diseases to injuries. It shows how people can adapt to those changes that are now unavoidable, through actions that both improve health and safeguard the environment.
But humanity must do more than just adapt: we need transformative changes across many sectors - energy, housing, transport, food and health care. The book discusses specific policies, technologies and interventions to achieve the change required, and explains how these can be implemented. It presents the evidence, builds hope in our common future, and aims to motivate action by everyone, from the general public to policymakers to health practitioners.
An ambitious free index of more than 200 million scientific documents that catalogues publication sources, author information and research topics, has been launched.
The index, called OpenAlex after the ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt, also aims to chart connections between these data points to create a comprehensive, interlinked database of the global research system, say its founders. The database, which launched on 3 January, is a replacement for Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG), a free alternative to subscription-based platforms such as Scopus, Dimensions and Web of Science that was discontinued at the end of 2021.
“It’s just pulling lots of databases together in a clever way,” says Euan Adie, founder of Overton, a London-based firm that tracks the research cited in policy documents. Overton had been getting its data from various sources, including MAG, ORCID, Crossref and directly from publishers, but has now switched to using only OpenAlex, in the hope of making the process easier.
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