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WMHPG news, information and resources 30 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.

Sustainable development goals

UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2019 report: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/glaas-report-2019/en/ “GLAAS findings on the status of WASH systems are varied. Most countries have requisite components in place, but many countries responded that they have yet to operationalize and fully implement measures to support and strengthen their national WASH

systems. GLAAS findings highlight gaps and vulnerabilities in WASH systems and the need for further strengthening to assure sustainable and effective WASH service delivery in countries.”

Healthy environments: Why do they matter, and what can we do? https://www.who.int/phe/publications/healthy-environments/en/ “Globally, 23% of all deaths could be prevented through healthier environments – and scaled-up action is required. This document presents an overview of sectoral actions that can be taken by various actors – and the support that is being offered by the World Health Organization – to create healthier environments, including in priority settings such as workplaces, cities, dwellings, health care facilities, and emergency settings. Key risk areas are addressed, such as air pollution; water, sanitation and hygiene; chemical safety and radiation; and climate change.”

The King’s Fund - What is population health? https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/audio-video/population-health-animation “What is a 'population health' approach? And what role do we all play in keeping our communities healthy? Watch our new animation to find out.”

First Death in a Spate of Vaping Sicknesses Reported by Health Officials: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/health/vaping-death-cdc.html “A patient in Illinois is the first to die of a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping, public health officials announced on Friday. The death occurred as doctors and hospitals nationwide report an increasing number of vaping-related respiratory illnesses this summer: 193 cases have now been reported in 22 states, including 22 cases in Illinois, officials said.”

The problem with industry-sponsored vaping research: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/the-problem-with-industry-sponsored-vaping-research/ “Use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products including Juul is soaring, especially among youths. Between 2017 and 2018, the prevalence of current e-cigarette use among U.S. high school students increased from 12% to 21%. Andy Tan, assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences, recently co-authored a Lancet article examining how Juul is funding scientific research—and why this is problematic.”

Healthy planning & environment

Flat-packed cities: wooden skyscrapers sprout over concrete concerns: http://www.thisisplace.org/i/?id=59e87fbe-681a-47a8-8a6a-16f7a78b5700& “With concrete a major source of climate-changing emissions, cities around the world are looking at high-rise wooden buildings instead”

How we discovered UK shale gas reserves are at least 80% smaller than thought: https://theconversation.com/how-we-discovered-uk-shale-gas-reserves-are-at-least-80-smaller-than-thought-122076 “Our findings, now published in the journal Nature Communications, are the result of 11 years work developing a way to simulate in a lab the conditions that rocks would be exposed to deep underground, and therefore figure out how much oil or gas these rocks would “generate”. We then applied this method to shale gas, which meant we were able to measure and estimate shale reserves.” – original research here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11653-4

Lancashire fracking: 2.9 magnitude tremor recorded: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-lancashire-49471321 “An earthquake with a magnitude of 2.9 has been recorded near the UK's only active shale gas site in Lancashire. The tremor near Blackpool was recorded at about 08:30 BST and is stronger than those that forced Cuadrilla to suspend test fracking in 2011 . Cuadrilla said it was investigating the tremor and said no fracking was being carried out at the time. The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said fracking would be suspended while it assessed recent seismic activity. The latest quake is the third recorded in less than a week.”

Natural Assets North: Water in the Northern Powerhouse: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/natural-assets-north-water-in-the-northern-powerhouse “Without a reliable and sustainable supply of clean water, and effective and efficient wastewater systems, activity in the Northern Powerhouse would quickly grind to a halt. To date, conversations about the future of the region and its economy have largely taken the North’s water resources for granted.”

Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3 “Compared to no nature contact last week, the likelihood of reporting good health or high well-being became significantly greater with contact ≥120 mins (e.g. 120–179 mins: ORs [95%CIs]: Health = 1.59 [1.31–1.92]; Well-being = 1.23 [1.08–1.40]). Positive associations peaked between 200–300 mins per week with no further gain. The pattern was consistent across key groups including older adults and those with long-term health issues. It did not matter how 120 mins of contact a week was achieved (e.g. one long vs. several shorter visits/week).”

A diversity of plants helps stabilize ecosystems: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/08/plant-diversity-stabilizes-ecosystems/ “Our results expand by several orders of magnitude the spatial scale of evidence that high biodiversity strengthens the resistance of key ecosystem features to climatic fluctuation,””

UK ‘is failing to protect wildlife habitats’, new EU report shows: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/25/uk-failing-to-protect-wildlife-new-eu-report-shows “Member states have to report every six years on progress. But the draft figures for the UK for 2013-2018 show it faring worse than many other member states and making no progress on key measures. During the period, the draft data show 82% of the UK’s designated habitats to be in “bad” or “poor” condition, unchanged from the last reporting period of 2007-12. The percentage in a “bad” state was 71%, compared with 36% in Germany and 32% in France.”

Scoop: Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.: https://www.axios.com/trump-nuclear-bombs-hurricanes-97231f38-2394-4120-a3fa-8c9cf0e3f51c.html “Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president's private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments.”

Nuclear weapons and hurricanes don't mix, NOAA advises: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-49471093 “Using nuclear weapons to destroy hurricanes is not a good idea, a US scientific agency has said, following reports that President Donald Trump wanted to explore the option.” – it is a little surprising that this needed to be said.

Housing

Bleak Houses: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/bleak-houses/ “Growing up in a stable, healthy and secure home is so important for any child. Yet we know there are thousands of children in England who are living in homeless families, stuck in poor quality temporary accommodation, often with low prospects of finding something permanent. There are many others who are at risk of ending up homeless. This report shines a light on this homelessness crisis and shares the experiences of some of those children.”

Homeless person dying every 19 hours in UK, figures show: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/homeless-deaths-homelessness-housing-rough-sleeping-a9055671.html “The new data, published by the Museum for Homelessness, suggests more than 30 per cent of fatalities since 2017 have occurred where people were in emergency or temporary accommodation, raising concerns that services provided to the most vulnerable people regularly fail to meet an acceptable standard.”

Tackling The UK Housing Crisis: Is Supply The Answer? https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/tackling-the-uk-housing-crisis-is-supply-the-answer/ “UK average house prices have risen by over 160% in real terms since the middle of 1996. Home ownership remains around its lowest level for a generation. Among political leaders, policymakers and commentators there is a broad consensus that these problems are largely down to one failing: decades of undersupply of housing. But this paper argues that the housing shortage story is unconvincing… 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.”

Climate change & sustainability

Global concern and coverage over the burning of the Amazon rainforest;

And some articles that take a wider look at the issues;

Commons Science and Technology Committee - Government’s target for ‘net-zero’ by 2050 undeliverable unless clean growth policies introduced: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2017/clean-growth-report-published-17-19/ “The Committee welcomes the Government’s decision to strengthen its long-term emissions reduction target, to effectively eliminate all emissions by 2050. However, the Committee on Climate Change has warned that the UK is not even on course to meet its existing legally binding targets for 2023 to 2032. The Committee’s Report on clean growth highlights that urgent Government action is needed to reverse the current policy trend of cut backs and slow progress.”

UK government planning fuel duty cut in emergency budget - Sunday Times: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-fuelduty/uk-government-planning-fuel-duty-cut-in-emergency-budget-sunday-times-idUKKCN1VF09C “he British government is planning to cut fuel duty for the first time in eight years in a possible emergency October budget, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.”

Amplification of mega-heatwaves through heat torrents fuelled by upwind drought: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0431-6 “Since subtropical droughts are projected to aggravate during this century, in light of our results, this may be accompanied by consequent intensification of midlatitude mega-heatwaves. We therefore recommend considering not only local, but also upwind land cover and land-use management in the design of adaptation strategies against compound drought–heatwave events.”

Kids play in Arctic seas as 22C heatwave grips North Pole at climate change frontline: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/kids-play-arctic-seas-22c-19016180.amp “A heatwave is gripping The Arctic, melting away Greenland’s ice sheet on an unprecedented scale and threatening a global rise in sea levels – an urgent reminder of the climate crisis we are now all facing. Kids splashing each other in the sea and locals wearing t-shirts were unheard of here in August 10 years ago. But now, alongside teenage girls wearing skirts to school and increasing mosquitoes, it is a common occurrence for the residents of Qaanaaq, in north-west Greenland, one of the world’s most northerly cities situated 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Information about the 9 August power cut and the ESO: https://www.nationalgrideso.com/information-about-great-britains-energy-system-and-electricity-system-operator-eso “On this page, you’ll find information relating to the power cut in Great Britain on 9 August 2019 and a link to materials to help you understand the energy system and role of the ESO.”

Solar power could replace all US hydro dams using ‘just 13% of the space’: https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-power-could-replace-all-us-hydro-dams-using-just-13-of-the-space “Banks of solar panels would be able to replace every electricity-producing dam in the US using just 13% of the space, according to a new study.”

Carbon emissions from U.S. buildings could be cut by nearly 80% – here’s how: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/08/carbon-emissions-from-u-s-buildings-could-be-cut-by-nearly-80-heres-how/ “So researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory built an open-source software program, dubbed Scout, that models how specific energy-saving technologies deployed in particular types of buildings in different climates are likely to affect energy use and carbon emissions at a national scale. They used the new software to show that cutting nearly four-fifths of building emissions by midcentury is possible – but it will be a heavy lift, requiring simultaneous action on multiple fronts.”

UK weather: Hottest late August bank holiday weekend on record: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49466596 “It has been the hottest late August bank holiday weekend ever - with temperatures reaching 33.3C (91.94F) in west London. The Met Office confirmed the new record temperature, which was set at Heathrow. It beats the previous record of 31.5C (88.7F), set in 2001 and again at Heathrow. And BBC Weather said UK temperatures could reach similar levels on Monday - with highs of up to 33C in south-east England.”

Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09959-4 “These results demonstrate why climate scientists should increasingly exert their authority in scientific and public discourse, and why professional journalists and editors should adjust the disproportionate attention given to contrarians.”

How climate change threatens public health: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/08/how-climate-change-threatens-public-health/ “Those pathways include heat, air pollution, extreme weather, vector-borne diseases, and access to safe water and food. The health risks posed by climate change already disproportionately harm marginalized groups including people with disabilities or infirmities, low-income families and individuals – and climate change is likely to deepen those disparities.”

Underground line to heat up north London homes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-london-49482840 “Heat from London Underground tunnels will be used to keep homes in Islington warm under a new scheme, Transport for London (TfL) has said. Warm air from a disused Northern Line station will support a heat network supplying up to 1,000 homes and businesses by the end of the year.”

Travel the world without destroying it – Imagine newsletter #5: https://theconversation.com/travel-the-world-without-destroying-it-imagine-newsletter-5-121269 “In this fifth issue of Imagine, we asked researchers to scan the horizon of air travel. Does the climate crisis demand we turn our backs on the skies and remain permanently grounded? Or could a technological breakthrough keep our travel obsessions afloat?”

Five weird and wonderful ways nature is being harnessed to build a sustainable fashion industry: https://theconversation.com/five-weird-and-wonderful-ways-nature-is-being-harnessed-to-build-a-sustainable-fashion-industry-119840 “Here are five ways nature is being explored by individuals, research teams and industry to help make fashion more sustainable. Scientists are uncovering and exploiting underlying mechanisms and models found in nature to design new materials, processes and products as well as systems of production for the future.”

Active travel & transport

House of Commons Transport Committee – Active Travel: increasing levels of walking and cycling in England: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmtrans/1487/1487.pdf?mc_cid=c3e9e5cc87&mc_eid=f209095101

DfT – Reported road casualties in Great Britain: main results 2018: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/820562/Reported_road_casualties_-_Main_Results_2018.pdf “There were 1,782 reported road deaths in 2018, similar to the level seen since 2012, which followed a period of substantial reduction in fatalities from 2006 to 2010.”

  • Brake comments as stagnation in Britain’s road safety record continues: http://www.brake.org.uk/media-centre/1938-brake-comments-as-stagnation-in-britain-s-road-safety-record-continues?mc_cid=722121be36&mc_eid=f209095101 “Once again, we are talking about a stagnation in Britain’s road safety record, a situation which must change. Whilst the Government’s new road safety action plan set out last week is a step in the right direction, there is always more that can be done to end the unacceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. We are calling for a clear commitment by Government to a Vision Zero approach, striving to eliminate road death and serious injury, with clear targets set out to achieving this goal. We would never accept such carnage in rail or aviation so why should we on the road?”

Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non-cyclists: Insights based on health and transport data from an online survey in seven European cities: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S259019821930017X “Therefore, this data suggests that e-bike use leads to substantial increases in physical activity in e-bikers switching from private motorized vehicle and public transport, while net losses in physical activity in e-bikers switching from cycling were much less due to increases in overall travel distance.”

Effects of city-wide 20 mph (30km/hour) speed limits on road injuries in Bristol, UK: https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2019/07/25/injuryprev-2019-043305.full “These findings highlight the potential benefits of city-wide 20 mph speed limits. We hypothesise that this city-wide approach may encourage a general behaviour change in drivers that, in turn, may contribute to reducing injuries across the city.”

Rearranging elephants on the Titanic: the astonishing absence of the carbon reduction imperative in transport policy and research: https://www.creds.ac.uk/rearranging-elephants-on-the-titanic-jillian-anables-keynote-presentation-from-utsg-annual-conference/ “Why is it that we – including transport academics – have so continuously and fundamentally failed over carbon mitigation? Climate change remains a peripheral issue within core transport research and teaching efforts and academics have not yet catalysed a meaningful mitigation agenda. Where does the balance of responsibility lie between wilful delusion versus well-intentioned political pragmatism? As we face losing our integrity over this issue, how can we embed hard-hitting debate and fresh perspectives that focus on radical as opposed to incremental change? And have we left it all too late?”

HS2 thrown into uncertainty as Boris Johnson asks former boss to conduct review into rail project: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hs2-boris-johnson-review-rail-project-transport-tory-leadership-contest-a8963986.html “Boris Johnson has been accused of throwing the future of HS2 into uncertainty after it emerged he has asked a former boss of the £56 billion pound rail project to conduct a review into “whether and how” it should proceed.”

Cyclists demand access to rural footpaths: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Cyclists-demand-access-to-rural-footpaths/48006 “he group British Cycling argues that countryside paths should be opened up to everyone – cyclists and ramblers alike – so that everyone can enjoy them. ‘We need to open up our countryside paths to be enjoyed responsibly by everyone, in a healthy, non-polluting way. That’s what I want for my kids and family,’ British Cycling’s policy advisor, Chris Boardman, said.”

London set for three times more transport investment than the North: https://www.transport-network.co.uk/London-set-for-three-times-more-transport-investment-than-the-North/16094 “London is in line for almost three times more transport investment per person than the North of England - adding up to £2,389 more per head - according to IPPR North.”

Dutch take cycling to a new level, with world's biggest multistorey bike park: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/aug/19/dutch-take-cycling-to-a-new-level-with-worlds-biggest-bike-park “In a nation with more bikes than people, finding a space to park can be a problem. The Dutch city of Utrecht is unveiling an answer at its railway station on Monday morning: the world’s largest multistorey parking area for bicycles. The concrete-and-glass structure holds three floors of gleaming double-decker racks with space for 12,500 bikes, from cargo bikes that hold a family to public transport bikes for rent.”

London’s ‘Healthy Streets Officers’ to encourage people out of their cars: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/08/16/londons-healthy-streets-officers-to-encourage-people-out-of-their-cars/ “Transport for London (TfL) will appoint a network of ‘Healthy Streets Officers’ to encourage people to walk and cycle in the city and discourage vehicle idling. The new network will be managed by the charity Sustrans and will also support boroughs with London-wide events including World Car Free Day, Walk to Work Week and Road Safety Week.”

Air quality & pollution

DEFRA - Report: Non-Exhaust Emissions from Road Traffic: https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/reports.php?report_id=992 “The available data indicate that brake, tyre and road-surface wear contribute approximately

equally to UK sources of NEE, and are predominantly derived from cars because of the much greater vehicle-km travelled for this class of vehicle. NEE particles are also an important source of metals to the atmosphere; the national inventory estimates NEE contributions of 47% and 21% for Cu and Zn, primarily associated with brake and tyre wear, respectively. The national inventory does not include estimates of road dust resuspension.”

New study links air pollution to heart disease treatment: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/08/27/new-study-links-air-pollution-to-heart-disease-treatment/ “‘The study shows that the incidence of acute coronary syndromes treated with PCI (stents) was higher in winter and rose along with increasing pollution, and this rise was higher in regions with initially cleaner air, if taking the same increment in pollution into account. ‘This is further evidence that more needs to be done to lower pollution levels and protect the public’s health.’”

Toxic air at the doors of the NHS: https://www.blf.org.uk/take-action/campaign/nhs-toxic-air-report “The report outlines that more than 2,000 health centres are located in areas with levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) above the World Health Organisation’s limit. PM2.5 are minuscule particles invisible to the naked eye that are small enough to pass through the lungs, and enter the bloodstream. The report contains six case studies: Birmingham, London, Nottingham, Worthing, Aberdeen and Cardiff.”

Most of London’s ​NHS facilities​ exceed legal air pollution limits: https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/most-of-londons-%E2%80%8Bnhs-facilities%E2%80%8B-exceed-legal-air-pollution-limits/ “Air pollution at most of London’s NHS facilities, including hospitals and GP surgeries, is well above legal limits, according to new data from King’s College London and the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change. It provides additional proof that London’s air is toxic and harms the most vulnerable in society, including children, older adults and people with pre-existing conditions who need to travel regularly to health centres.”

World Health Organization – Microplastics in drinking-water: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/microplastics-in-drinking-water/en/ “We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere -  including in our drinking-water,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health, at WHO. “Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we need to find out more. We also need to stop the rise in plastic pollution worldwide.”

Amazon under fire for new packaging that cannot be recycled: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/20/amazon-under-fire-for-new-packaging-that-cant-be-recycled “While supermarkets and other retailers have been reducing their use of single use plastics, the world’s biggest online retailer has started sending small items in plastic envelopes, seemingly to allow more parcels to be loaded on to each delivery truck.”

'Plastic recycling is a myth': what really happens to your rubbish? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/17/plastic-recycling-myth-what-really-happens-your-rubbish “You sort your recycling, leave it to be collected – and then what? From councils burning the lot to foreign landfill sites overflowing with British rubbish, Oliver Franklin-Wallis reports on a global waste crisis”

Food & food security

Stanford experts explain oceans’ role in solving food insecurity: https://news.stanford.edu/2019/08/20/food-security-oceans/ “The world will have an additional 2 billion people to feed over the next 30 years – and doing that without decimating the planet’s resources will require exploring as many options as possible. Yet, a significant option – seafood – is often overlooked in global food security planning and discussions about future diets.”

Improving low fruit and vegetable intake in children: Findings from a system dynamics, community group model building study: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0221107 “Several actions to improve children’s FV intake by improving the local food environment were identified, which will be co-designed further and tested by a collaborative group involving community leaders. This project highlights the effectiveness of group model building for engaging a local community in systems change to improve child nutrition, and supplies a blueprint for future qualitative system dynamics research.”

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