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WMHPG news, information and resources 23 August 2019

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

A question from Phil Shreeve from Norfolk County Council – “I've recently reviewed two planning applications which suggest internal noise thresholds are likely to be breached. One is from urban / night time economy noise and the other from a new rural dual carriageway. In both cases mitigation is suggested through double or triple glazed windows with air brick and /or trickle or mechanical vent methods to enable ventilation whilst keeping noise down and windows closed. I'm a bit concerned about how this impacts e.g. indoor air quality and removal of damp from bathrooms or clothes drying where there are flats. Does anyone have views or evidence on the balance between noise and ventilation methods or if building standards allow this and I'm unable to request a rethink? Many thanks. “ If you have an answer, or any evidence, case studies or experience, please send them to me & I’ll forward to Phil via the (very useful) PHE Healthy Places Khub group - https://khub.net/group/healthypeoplehealthyplaces

Sustainable development goals

Gender equality, education and the environment at the forefront of new SDG Advocate campaigns: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/08/1043601 “Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are the direct objectives of Goal 5, but they also play a key role in the achievement of many other goals, as well as supporting the overall success of the SDGs”, said the 33-year-old champion. “There really can be no development that is sustainable without gender equality”

Vaccines: The fights against infectious disease and anti-vaxxers' fears: https://theconversation.createsend.com/t/ViewEmail/r/14BAE2D77978FBF02540EF23F30FEDED/C67FD2F38AC4859C/?tx=0 “What are the frontiers of vaccine science today? What can be done about anti-vaxxers and the fears they have? The challenge of fighting infectious disease raises as many moral and legal questions as it does scientific ones. Over the last few months, we have asked experts at the cutting edge of vaccine research and public health to feed into the global debate. Here we present their analysis and thoughts on key aspects of a crucial international challenge.”

Health inequalities: place-based approaches to reduce inequalities: https://phelibrary.koha-ptfs.co.uk/practice-examples/pba/ “A suite of practice examples provide insights on measurable approaches to reduce health inequalities. We hope these examples will be helpful to inspire collaborative action among multiple partners at the local level. The learning was collected through a number of channels by engaging internal and external Public Health England, Association of Directors of Public Health and Local Government Association networks. The following criteria were used to identify and prioritise these case studies: regional variation, seldom heard, innovation, level of engagement of multiple partners, rural/urban split, outcome-focused.”

Healthy planning & environment

Delivering public health improvements through better planning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTNly9MJDT4&feature=youtu.be “Creating connected communities is one of the ways currently being used to help deliver Scotland's public health priorities.”

City of London tightens rules on skyscrapers over wind tunnel fears: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/20/city-of-london-tightens-rules-on-skyscrapers-over-wind-tunnel-fears-cyclist-pedetrians “Tougher building rules for skyscrapers have been drawn up by the City of London because of concerns that a high-rise, urban microclimate will generate winds capable of knocking over cyclists and pedestrians. Developers will have to provide more comprehensive safety assessments of how proposed buildings will affect people on street level, with more robust testing of roadways and pavements using detailed scale models in wind tunnels and computer simulations.”

Fury as developer advertises for tenants BEFORE getting planning permission: https://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/17846966.fury-developer-advertises-tenants-getting-planning-permission/ “CAMPAIGNERS fighting a proposed distribution centre on green space in Oldbury are furious that developers are advertising for tenants before it has been given planning permission.”

Ash dieback is just the start of killer plagues threatening Britain’s trees: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/15/ash-dieback-killer-plagues-britain-trees “Our disease prevention rules, whose scope is restricted by the European Union and the World Trade Organization, and whose enforcement is restricted by the British government’s austerity, do little to prevent similar plagues afflicting our remaining trees. Several deadly pathogens are marching across Europe.”

Are cities planting the right trees—not just for the present, but for the future? http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/06/are-cities-planting-the-right-trees-not-just-for-the-present-but-for-the-future/ “…But overall, the results “indicate that a substantial proportion of the most common urban trees face climate change risks where they are currently planted,” the researchers write. Irrigation and shading can help some trees survive in unsuitable areas. But that requires more resources, and urban forests are attractive precisely because they are a fairly low-cost and low-impact strategy for climate change adaptation.”

Government's shift to relax shale gas fracking safeguards condemned: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/15/governments-shift-to-relax-shale-gas-fracking-safeguards-condemned “Environmental groups have voiced fears that the government is preparing to row back on fracking regulations after officials said they were considering reviewing earthquake safeguard rules. The limits affecting shale gas fracking are strongly contested by the industry because they bring an immediate halt to fracking if even a minor tremor of 0.5 on the Richter scale is recorded.”

How conserving nature’s ‘umbrella’ species could benefit whole habitats: https://theconversation.com/how-conserving-natures-umbrella-species-could-benefit-whole-habitats-119122 “We had a unique opportunity to test the idea with one of the largest field experiments in Europe. In a region called Breckland in the East of England, we used a tractor to churn tall grassland into bare, sandy plots for Eurasian stone-curlew, a rare summer visitor. The disturbed soil provides excellent camouflage for stone-curlew nests and chicks, and Breckland holds the majority of the UK’s breeding population.”

Cooling goo sidewalks and other strange new weapons in the war on urban heat: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/aug/21/cooling-goo-sidewalks-and-other-strange-new-weapons-in-the-war-on-urban-heat “Los Angeles faces a doubling of its extreme heat days but has fresh ideas to keep residents cool - and tackle the inequality of who suffers”

Housing

TACKLING THE UK HOUSING CRISIS: IS SUPPLY THE ANSWER? https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/tackling-the-uk-housing-crisis-is-supply-the-answer/ “Examining official data on housing volumes and the day-to-day cost of putting a roof over one’s head the report makes the case that supply growth has in fact been sufficient to restrain upward pressure on house prices. However, much more powerful countervailing forces have driven them to record multiples of income. This implies that the current policy focus on boosting supply does not offer a solution to the housing crisis and a fundamental rethink is badly needed. The paper has been published alongside peer-review commentary pieces”

Weekly Economics Podcast: The Rent Is Too High: https://neweconomics.org/2019/08/weekly-economics-podcast-the-rent-is-too-high?mc_cid=21737f596d&mc_eid=a15a43d447 “Rents are sky high. Saving for a deposit can take a decade or longer. And for many people, property ownership seems unachievable. But what if we could do something about it? Could rent controls be the answer? To help answer this question, Ayeisha is joined by Hanna Wheatley, researcher here at the New Economics Foundation and co-author of a NEF report on rent controls, and Eva Freeman, private renter and member of the London Renters Union.”

Climate change & sustainability

Arctic sea ice over the past 1,450 years: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature10581 “Here we use a network of high-resolution terrestrial proxies from the circum-Arctic region to reconstruct past extents of summer sea ice, and show that—although extensive uncertainties remain, especially before the sixteenth century—both the duration and magnitude of the current decline in sea ice seem to be unprecedented for the past 1,450 years.”

The global and regional impacts of climate change under representative concentration pathway forcings and shared socioeconomic pathway socioeconomic scenarios: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab35a6 “For the temperature-based indicators, the largest source of scientific uncertainty is in the estimated magnitude of equilibrium climate sensitivity, but for the indicators determined by precipitation the largest source is in the estimated spatial and seasonal pattern of changes in precipitation. By 2100, the range across socio-economic scenario is often greater than the range across the forcing levels.”

At the bottom of a glacier in Greenland, climate scientists find troubling signs: https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/08/19/weather/greenland-nasa-climate-battle-intl/index.html “NASA oceanographer Josh Willis and his team are investigating how the ice is being attacked not only by rising air temperatures but also by the warming ocean, which is eating it away from underneath.”

Teenage activists and an IPCC triumph: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02425-7 “The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a well-timed blueprint for action. Decision makers must now pay attention — a nascent youth movement is showing them how.”

Committee on Climate Change - Letter: The future of carbon pricing: https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/letter-the-future-of-carbon-pricing/ “This is a letter from CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, to Rt Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Lesley Griffiths AM and Dr. Denis McMahon about the future of carbon pricing. It was sent in response to a request from the UK Government, Scottish Government and Welsh Government of May 2nd to the Committee on Climate Change on the future of carbon pricing in the UK, specifically in relation to the successor to the EU Emissions Trading System after EU exit. In the absence of a Minister, senior Northern Ireland Officials have indicated their support for advice being sought.”

Wind power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/08/wind-power-prices-now-lower-than-the-cost-of-natural-gas/ “This week, the US Department of Energy released a report that looks back on the state of wind power in the US by running the numbers on 2018. The analysis shows that wind hardware prices are dropping, even as new turbine designs are increasing the typical power generated by each turbine. As a result, recent wind farms have gotten so cheap that you can build and operate them for less than the expected cost of buying fuel for an equivalent natural gas plant.”

What do Alaska Wildfires Mean for Global Climate Change? https://blog.ucsusa.org/carly-phillips/alaska-wildfires-climate-change “While these fires pose risks to human life and infrastructure, they also exacerbate climate warming by releasing millions of tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere as Alaska’s vegetation and carbon rich soils burn, meaning that the impact of this year’s fires could reverberate for generations.”

Iceland's Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-49345912 “Mourners have gathered in Iceland to commemorate the loss of Okjokull, which has died at the age of about 700. The glacier was officially declared dead in 2014 when it was no longer thick enough to move. What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano.”

Video: The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/08/video-the-north-atlantic-ocean-current-may-be-slowing/ ““We are 50 to a hundred years ahead of schedule with the slowdown of this ocean circulation pattern, relative to the models,” according to Mann. “The more observations we get, the more sophisticated our models become, the more we’re learning that things can happen faster, and with a greater magnitude, than we predicted just years ago.””

Architectural history offers clues to low-carbon relief from the heat: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/08/architectural-history-offers-clues-to-low-carbon-relief-from-the-heat/ “Examples of this aesthetic can be found in traditional building styles that evolved over centuries in response to local environments and cultures. In India’s warm, humid regions, builders gravitated toward thin-walled structures with raised floors in order to promote air flow. In the country’s hot, arid zones, thick, windowless walls were used to keep out the sun’s heat, while courtyards promoted ventilation and fountains provided evaporative cooling.”

Global sea level rise began accelerating ‘30 years earlier’ than previously thought: https://www.carbonbrief.org/global-sea-level-rise-began-accelerating-30-years-earlier-than-previously-thought “Global sea level rise began to accelerate in the 1960s, 30 years earlier than suggested by previous assessments, a new study finds.”

The 5+ Effects of Oppressive Heat Waves: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-5-effects-of-oppressive-heat-waves/?amp “A heat wave is an extended period of intense heat, often caused by hot air trapped in place by high pressure systems. Last week saw record breaking temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere and cities like Chicago, Paris, and New Delhi have seen historic heat waves in the last decade. Climate change will bring with it not just hotter summers but also more intense and more frequent heat waves. What is at risk in this increased heat?”

China and allies challenge UN chief’s climate vision: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/08/15/china-allies-challenge-un-chiefs-climate-vision/ “Emerging economies are calling on rich countries to meet their pre-2020 climate targets and ramp up climate finance, at a meeting in Brasilia… In a pointed message to UN chief António Guterres, they wrote that the climate summit he is hosting in New York next month “should be fully respectful of the principles and provisions of the [UN climate convention]”. That is code for countries with bigger historic emissions and more money shouldering greater responsibility for action.”

Here’s How Climate Change Is Viewed Around the World: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-06-26/here-s-how-climate-change-is-viewed-around-the-world “The crisis might be global, but glaring disparities make a united response more complicated.”

Why the Guardian is putting global CO2 levels in the weather forecast: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/05/why-the-guardian-is-putting-global-co2-levels-in-the-weather-forecast “The Guardian will now publish the Mauna Loa carbon count, the global benchmark, on the weather page of the paper every day. “When I read the letter from Guardian reader Daniel Scharf encouraging us to include information on climate change in our weather forecasts, we thought it was a fantastic idea,” said the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner.”

Climate Deniers Receive More Media Attention Than Climate Scientists — Research: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/08/13/climate-deniers-receive-more-media-attention-climate-scientists-research “Journalists should have moved beyond this supposed debate that really doesn’t exist, and should move onto other aspects of climate change communication – for example discussing how policy should proceed to really take action. Yes, there’s a small pool of these sceptics but it’s not clear to me why they’re even in the conversation.”

Pacific islands will survive climate crisis because they 'pick our fruit', Australia's deputy PM says: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/16/pacific-islands-will-survive-climate-crisis-because-they-can-pick-our-fruit-australias-deputy-pm-says “Pacific island nations affected by the climate crisis will continue to survive “because many of their workers come here to pick our fruit”, Australia’s deputy prime minister has said. Michael McCormack’s comments were made after critical talks at the Pacific Islands Forum that almost collapsed over Australia’s positions on coal and climate change. Fears are growing the situation might come at a diplomatic cost for Australia in a region where China has become increasingly influential.”

Sewn up: G7 deal with retailers aims to bury fast fashion: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/21/fashion-g7-summit-sustainability-kering-inditex-macron “The deal to be concluded in Biarritz at the weekend comes as the global fashion industry faces an unprecedented backlash from young people concerned that it is contributing more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined. Without action, the industry could account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.”

Active travel & transport

Glasgow council launches car-free zones around schools: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Glasgow-council-launches-car-free-zones-around-schools/47992 “The scheme will see temporary pedestrian areas created for limited periods in the morning and afternoon to help ensure pupils can arrive and leave school safely. It follows a series of concerns such as poor and risky driving outside schools, obstructive parking that forces pupils on to the road, as well as issues created by congestion and harmful emissions.”

How will we travel the world in 2050? https://theconversation.com/how-will-we-travel-the-world-in-2050-121713 “If the aviation industry was a country, it would rank among the world’s top ten emitters of carbon dioxide (CO₂). Aviation emissions have risen by 70% since 2005 and as demand increases in rich and poorer countries, they’re forecast to increase by between 300% and 700% by 2050.”

Air quality & pollution

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/microplastics-in-drinking-water/en/ “This report critically examines the evidence related to the occurrence of microplastics in the water cycle (including both tap and bottled drinking-water and its sources), the potential health impacts from microplastic exposure and the removal of microplastics during wastewater and drinking-water treatment. Recommendations are made with respect to monitoring and management of microplastics and plastics in the environment, and to better assess human health risks and inform appropriate management actions, a number of key knowledge gaps are identified.”

Environmental pollution is associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders in the US and Denmark: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000353 “These results show that air pollution is significantly associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders. We hypothesize that pollutants affect the human brain via neuroinflammatory pathways that have also been shown to cause depression-like phenotypes in animal studies.”

Traffic-related air pollutants increase the risk for age-related macular degeneration: https://jim.bmj.com/content/early/2019/07/11/jim-2019-001007 “Compared with the lowest exposure quartile, the highest quartile of each air pollutant was associated with an increased risk for AMD. The adjusted HR was 1.91 (95% CI 1.64 to 2.23, p<0.001) for the highest NO2 quartile, and was 1.84 (95% CI 1.5 to 2.15, p<0.001) for the highest CO quartile. In this study, chronic exposure to the highest quartile of ambient NO2 or CO significantly increases the risk for AMD.”

Sefton Council Public Health Annual Report- Air Quality and Health in Sefton: https://sefton.gov.uk/public-health/public-health-annual-report.aspx “The report for 2018/19 highlights the issue of air quality in Sefton”

Study to probe air pollution on macro level: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/08/19/study-to-probe-air-pollution-on-macro-level/ “The University of Surrey and Imperial College London have been awarded a share of a £2.79m grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to investigate the impact indoor and outdoor pollution has on people’s physical health.”

PM2.5 levels exceeded at one in four England hospitals: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/08/19/pm2-5-levels-exceeded-at-one-in-four-england-hospitals/ “One in four hospitals in England are in areas that exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of particulate matter (PM2.5), research has found. These were the findings of a British Lung Foundation and UK100 study which analysed the location of 484 NHS trusts in England with air pollution data.”

Leeds university trees removing 350kg of pollutants every year: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/08/14/leeds-university-trees-removing-350kg-of-pollutants-every-year/ “During the summers of 2017 and 2018, over 1400 trees were surveyed by volunteer staff and students on the University of Leeds campus, with more than 130 different species identified. By combining measurements of the trees with software called i-Tree Eco, the scientists were able to estimate the benefits being provided by the campus trees. The trees were particularly effective at soaking up nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from the area, removing 124kg from the air every year which scientists say is the equivalent to around 1 million cars driving past the campus. The trees also remove 12kg of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and 7kg of particulate matter (PM2.5) from the atmosphere every year.”

Mystery lung illness linked to vaping reported in nearly 100 people: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/vaping-safe-lung-illness-ecigarettes-disease-control-prevention-us-a9063276.html “US health officials are investigating around 100 cases of mysterious lung illnesses believed to be linked to vaping and e-cigarette use in 14 states. Many of those who have fallen ill are teenagers and young adults. A large number have been hospitalised, with some in intensive care and on ventilators. Medical authorities said it is unclear whether patients will fully recover. Clinicians and the public have been told to stay alert for a severe and potentially dangerous lung injury.”

Designing new ways to make use of ocean plastic: https://theconversation.com/designing-new-ways-to-make-use-of-ocean-plastic-120180 “But this beachcombing, recycling and re-use of larger plastic items does not even scratch the surface of the problem. The smaller fragments of plastic that are harder to collect are more likely to enter the food chain, or be drawn back into the sea. Storms cutting away at riverbanks often reveal an alarming plastic geology, with layers of plastic fragments in the soil several feet below the surface.”

Food & food security

No-deal Brexit: key points of Operation Yellowhammer report: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/18/no-deal-brexit-key-points-of-operation-yellowhammer-report “A government report on Operation Yellowhammer was leaked on Sunday, revealing the probable consequences of the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement, which is due to happen on 31 October. Here are the key points”

Goldsmiths bans beef burgers as it declares 'Climate Emergency': https://www.edie.net/news/9/Goldsmiths-bans-beef-burgers-as-it-declares--Climate-Emergency-/ “To complement the University’s new carbon-neutral vision, Corner has introduced a ban on the sale of beef products from campus outlets, due to come into effect at the start of the new academic year next month. She has additionally moved to add a 10p levy to bottled water and single-use plastic cups sold on campus, with funds raised in this way to be earmarked for a green student behaviour change scheme.”

It's a global death sentence to keep eating like this: dinnertime at the Foreclaws: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/13/its-a-global-death-sentence-to-keep-eating-like-this-dinnertime-at-the-foreclaws “A quarter of worldwide emissions is from food production. No more engastrated confit wagyu chicken, mother!”

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