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WMHPG news, information and resources 06 December 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

Climate crisis could reverse progress in achieving gender equality: https://theconversation.com/climate-crisis-could-reverse-progress-in-achieving-gender-equality-127787 “Researchers are in a race against time to predict how climate change will affect these communities and help them adapt, with drought and flood resistant crops and cattle breeds for example. But it’s often overlooked that climate change will affect one half of humanity significantly more than the other. Longstanding gender inequality means that within regions of the world that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, women are likely to suffer more than men.”

Polio outbreaks in Africa caused by mutation of strain in vaccine: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/nov/28/polio-outbreaks-in-four-african-countries-caused-by-mutation-of-strain-in-vaccine “The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners identified nine new cases caused by the vaccine in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Angola last week. Along with seven other African countries with outbreaks, cases have also been reported in Asia.”

'Unprecedented' rise in infant mortality in England linked to poverty: https://www.thejournal.ie/infant-mortality-poverty-england-4835780-Oct2019/ “An “unprecedented” rise in infant mortality in England is linked to poverty, according to new research. An additional 570 infant deaths, compared to what would have been expected based on historical trends, were recorded in the country from 2014-2017. About one-third of those deaths, which related to children under the age of one, were linked to rising poverty.”

Reframing inequality? The health inequalities turn as a dangerous frame shift: https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/article/39/4/653/2874250 “Medicalizing inequality is more appealing to most politicians than tackling income and wage inequality head-on, but it results in framing the problem of social inequality in a way that makes it technically quite difficult to solve. Policy-makers should consider adopting more traditional programs of taxation, redistribution and labor market regulation in order to reduce both health inequalities and the underlying social inequalities.”

Huge increase in ‘Victorian diseases’ including rickets, scurvy and scarlet fever, NHS data reveals: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/victorian-disease-gout-rickets-vitamin-d-mumps-scurvy-measles-malnutrition-nhs-hospital-admitted-a8795686.html “Rickets, scarlet fever and other diseases more commonly seen in the Victorian era are sending increasing numbers to hospital, NHS data for England has revealed. In 2017-18 there were 284,901 admissions for scurvy, vitamin D deficiency, gout and other maladies familiar to the pages of a Dickens novel – up 24 per cent on the year before. Many of the conditions on the rise go hand in hand with economic inequalities and child food poverty has been linked to the UK’s rising rates of malnutrition and obesity.”

How can we actually create happy societies? https://theconversation.com/how-can-we-actually-create-happy-societies-124711 “So how can we create a happy society? The Buddhist nation of Bhutan was the first society to determine policy based on the happiness of its citizens, with the king of Bhutan famously claiming in 1972 that Gross National Happiness (GNH) was a more important measure of progress than Gross National Product (GNP). Many other countries have since followed suit – looking to move “beyond GDP” as a measure of national progress. For instance, the UK developed a national well-being programme in 2010 and has since measured the nation’s well-being across ten domains, not too dissimilar to Bhutan’s approach. More recently, New Zealand introduced its first “well-being budget”, with a focus on improving the well-being of the country’s most vulnerable people.”

Healthy planning & environment

RTPI - Child Friendly Planning Policy in the UK: A review: https://www.rtpi.org.uk/childrenplanning “The aim of this project is to assess the extent to which planning policies across UK nations can be considered 'child-friendly' with relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child…  Planning systems in the UK are failing to consider the rights and needs of children, leading to detrimental effects on their health, wellbeing and future prospects - “If we are honest and serious about building inclusive and diverse communities, we have to take into account children’s needs and rights. Planning systems across the UK have obligations to meet these needs through both UK government commitments to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), as well as Equalities and child-specific legislation.””

Hydropower Pressure on European Rivers: the story in numbers: https://riverwatch.eu/en/general/news/europe%E2%80%99s-rivers-are-damned-dams-plans-more-8700-new-hydropower-plants “The first pan-European inventory of existing and planned hydropower plants shows the immense pressure on rivers throughout the continent. In addition to the 21,387 existing hydropower plants, another 8,785 are planned, mainly in the Alps and the Balkans. Previously untouched rivers – especially in the Balkans – are to be destroyed. More than a quarter (2,500) of these hydropower projects are situated in protected areas, mainly in national parks and Natura 2000 sites.”

Call for Abstracts - The City and Complexity – Life, Design and Commerce in the Built Environment: https://architecturemps.com/london-2020/ “Five decades after complexity theory was first applied to our reading of the city, this conference revisits its consequences. It reconsiders the city as an adaptive, self-organising and unpredictable system of interconnecting interventions, forces and perspectives. It asks how these competing and mutually reinforcing factors came into play and how they operate today. It questions how the city has been, and continues to be, informed by the practices of multiple disciplines. Seeing the urban phenomenon as not reducible to single issues, this conference asks you to bring your disciplinary expertise to a forum examining the city through the lens of complexity theory – as inevitably fragmented but simultaneously interconnected and changing. As such it welcomes contributions on the following strands (click for details): 1) Urban Design | Architecture | Interiors | Landscape. 2) Engineering | Infrastructure | Sustainability. 3) Housing | Public Health | Sociology | Human Geography. 4) Economics | Business | City Management | Government Policy and Planning. 5) Cultural Studies | Art History | Social History.”


Digital solutions for tackling homelessness: https://epha.org/digital-solutions-for-tackling-homelessness/ “…the “Surviving in Brussels” app provides up-to-date, comprehensive information provided by participating organisations for the benefit of homeless people and their supporters. It provides information about where and how 24 different basic needs can be met, ranging from finding a safe place to sleep to free toilet and shower facilities, to food and drink options and tips about legal entitlements.”

More entrenched rough sleepers to be handed keys to Ipswich houses in radical homelessness campaign: https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/housing-first-ipswich-suffolk-expanded-1-6409365 “A radical homelessness campaign in Ipswich - which sees people given the keys to their own homes - has been expanded after helping entrenched rough sleepers transform their lives.”

London landlord fined £420,000 over unlawful HMO conversion: https://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1667295/london-landlord-fined-420000-unlawful-hmo-conversion “A landlord who illegally converted her west London home into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) has been ordered to pay more than £400,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).”

Climate change & sustainability

Lancet Countdown 2019 report: http://www.lancetcountdown.org/2019-report/ “An unprecedented challenge demands an unprecedented response. Our 2019 Report tracks the relationship between health and climate change across five key domains and 41 indicators. See an overview of the 2019 key findings below, or download the full report.”

  • Lancet Countdown report – Explore Our Data: http://www.lancetcountdown.org/data-platform/ “Welcome to the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change data explorer. This new platform allows users to engage with our findings and explore the 2019 report data at country specific, regional and income group level. The data visualisations are free to use and share, and we encourage you to include them in your work.”

Coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference - COP25

The polar regions in a 2°C warmer world: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/12/eaaw9883 “With low biodiversity, Antarctic ecosystems may be vulnerable to state shifts and species invasions. Land ice loss in both regions will contribute substantially to global sea level rise, with up to 3 m rise possible if certain thresholds are crossed. Mitigation efforts can slow or reduce warming, but without them northern high latitude warming may accelerate in the next two to four decades. International cooperation will be crucial to foreseeing and adapting to expected changes.”

The impact of high ambient temperatures on delivery timing and gestational lengths: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0632-4 “We find that extreme heat causes an increase in deliveries on the day of exposure and on the following day and show that the additional births were accelerated by up to two weeks. We estimate that an average of 25,000 infants per year were born earlier as a result of heat exposure, with a total loss of more than 150,000 gestational days annually. Absent adaptation, climate projections suggest additional losses of 250,000 days of gestation per year by the end of the century.”

CMIP6: the next generation of climate models explained: https://www.carbonbrief.org/cmip6-the-next-generation-of-climate-models-explained “Climate models are constantly being updated, as different modelling groups around the world incorporate higher spatial resolution, new physical processes and biogeochemical cycles. These modelling groups coordinate their updates around the schedule of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports, releasing a set of model results – known as “runs” – in the lead-up to each one. These coordinated efforts are part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects (CMIP). The 2013 IPCC fifth assessment report (AR5) featured climate models from CMIP5, while the upcoming 2021 IPCC sixth assessment report (AR6) will feature new state-of-the-art CMIP6 models.”

Proglacial freshwaters are significant and previously unrecognized sinks of atmospheric CO2: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/36/17690 “Using the glacierized Lake Hazen watershed (Nunavut, Canada, 82°N) as a model system, we found that weathering reactions in the glacial rivers actively consumed CO2 up to 42 km downstream of glaciers, and cumulatively transformed the High Arctic’s most voluminous lake into an important CO2 sink. In conjunction with data collected at other proglacial freshwater sites in Greenland and the Canadian Rockies, we suggest that CO2 consumption in proglacial freshwaters due to glacial melt-enhanced weathering is likely a globally relevant phenomenon, with potentially important implications for regional annual carbon budgets in glacierized watersheds.” – more here - Glacial Rivers Absorb Carbon Faster Than Forests — But Only Because Glaciers Are Melting Faster: https://theswaddle.com/climate-change-and-glacial-rivers/

Greta Thunberg: People underestimate 'angry kids': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50644395 “Climate activist Greta Thunberg said that adults should stop making young people "angry" over global warming. Ms Thunberg was speaking after her arrival in Lisbon, Portugal, after a two-weeks-plus journey across the Atlantic from her starting point in Virginia, US. "People are underestimating the force of angry kids," she told reporters.”

European Parliament declares symbolic 'climate emergency' ahead of summit: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-accord-eu/european-parliament-declares-symbolic-climate-emergency-ahead-of-summit-idUSKBN1Y21JZ “With increasingly erratic weather patterns from wildfires in Australia to floods in Europe being linked to climate change, governments are under scrutiny to find urgent solutions at the United Nations’ summit in Spain on Dec. 2-13. After a debate on Monday night, the European Union (EU) legislature voted in favor of the declaration with 429 lawmakers for, 225 against and 19 abstaining. “It is not about politics, it is a matter of our common responsibility,” said parliament’s environment committee chairman Pascal Canfin of the Renew Europe group.”

Opinion: How Do We Convince Climate Change Deniers? That’s The Wrong Question: https://ensia.com/voices/climate-change-deniers/ “…In other words, the efficient move now is to take the time and energy we want to expend on convincing deniers and use it instead to assemble the critical mass to turn the tide. With a few exceptions — speaking truth to leaders in power and helping loved ones recognize the magnitude of the threat — we need to shift our way of approaching climate communication from changing minds to giving people already on board concrete tasks on which to take action.”

Health Care’s Climate Footprint: https://noharm-global.org/sites/default/files/documents-files/5961/HealthCaresClimateFootprint_092319.pdf “This is the first in a series of research and policy papers Health Care Without Harm and its partners, including Arup, aim to produce over the next three years. The series will define health care’s climate footprint and outline a set of actions the sector can take to align itself with the ambition of the Paris Agreement while simultaneously achieving global health goals.”

China’s climate paradox: A leader in coal and clean energy: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/china-plans-new-coal-plants-trims-support-for-clean-energy/2019/12/02/e19c9d0a-14ca-11ea-80d6-d0ca7007273f_story.html “China burns about half the coal used globally each year. Between 2000 and 2018, its annual carbon emissions nearly tripled, and it now accounts for about 30% of the world’s total. Yet it’s also the leading market for solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles, and it manufactures about two-thirds of solar cells installed worldwide. “We are witnessing many contradictions in China’s energy development,” said Kevin Tu, a Beijing-based fellow with the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “It’s the largest coal market and the largest clean energy market in the world.””

Greenwash watch: can the fashion industry become sustainable? https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/11/28/black-friday-sustainable-fashion/ “A carbon footprint equal to Europe’s. A garbage truck of clothes landfilled or incinerated every second. Nearly £30m of unsold stock burnt to protect Burberry’s brand image. The fashion industry is no stranger to environmental abuses. As Black Friday dawns, consumption trends continue to grow- and so too does the environmental price tag. Last year a cross-party group of MPs challenged the government to do something about it. Their report – by the Environmental Audit Committee said that the fashion industry is in desperate need of a new business model that is not based on overproduction, or environmental and human rights abuses.”

Massive Attack on music industry carbon emissions: https://theecologist.org/2019/nov/29/massive-attack-music-industry-carbon-emissions “Massive Attack are teaming up with climate scientists to map the carbon footprint of the band while they are on tour. Data from the Bristol-based group's forthcoming tour schedule - including band travel and audience transportation - will be collected and analysed in a joint collaboration with the University of Manchester's Tyndall Centre.”

Active travel & transport

Accessibility in Cities: transport and urban form: https://lsecities.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/LSE-Cities-2014-Transport-and-Urban-Form-NCE-Cities-Paper-03.pdf “This paper focusses on one central aspect of urban development: transport and urban form and how the two shape the provision of access to people, goods and services, and information in cities. The more efficient this access, the greater the economic benefits through economies of scale, agglomeration effects and networking advantages. This paper discusses how different urban accessibility pathways impact directly on other measures of human development and environmental sustainability.”

Sport England - Active Lives Children And Young People: https://www.sportengland.org/research/active-lives-survey/active-lives-children-and-young-people/ “The world-leading survey gives a detailed picture of the activity levels of children and young people in England. Children’s activity levels are on the rise, according to our second annual Active Lives Children and Young People Survey. The report, covering the academic year 2018/19, was published today with figures showing an increase of 3.6% in the number of children in England doing an average of 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. That means that 46.8% of the nation’s children and young people are meeting the recommended level, with the increase driven by more out of school activity – including increases in active play, team sports and walking.”

Everyone should have the right to feel welcome and comfortable on our streets: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/opinion/2019/november/everyone-should-have-the-right-to-feel-welcome-and-comfortable-on-our-streets/ “Tim Burns, Senior Policy and Partnerships Advisor at Sustrans, discusses why we are calling on the next UK government to take action on the inequalities that exist in mobility.”

Air quality & pollution

PM2.5 on the London Underground: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019313649?via%3Dihub “PM2.5 concentrations in the LU are many times higher than in other London transport Environments. Failure to include this environment in epidemiological studies of the relationship between PM2.5 and health in London is therefore likely to lead to a large exposure misclassification error. Given the significant contribution of underground PM2.5 to daily exposure, and the differences in composition compared to urban PM2.5, there is a clear need for well-designed studies to better understand the health effects of underground exposure.” – more here - New study reveals high levels of pollution on London Underground: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/new-study-reveals-high-levels-of-pollution-on-london-underground

Pro-Oxidative and Pro-Inflammatory Effects After Traveling from Los Angeles to Beijing: A Biomarker-Based Natural Experiment: https://ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.042054 “Traveling from a less-polluted to a more-polluted city induces systemic prooxidative and pro-inflammatory effects. Changes in the levels of HETEs and HODEs as well as paraoxonase and arylesterase activities in the blood, in association with exposures to PAHs, might have important implications in preventive medicine as indicators of increased cardiovascular risk caused by air pollution exposure.”

Living in areas of high air pollution linked to glaucoma risk: https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/living-in-areas-of-high-air-pollution-linked-to-glaucoma-risk/ “The research team found that people in the most-polluted 25 per cent of areas were at least 6 per cent more likely to report having glaucoma than those in the least-polluted quartile. They were also significantly more likely to have a thinner retina, one of the changes typical of glaucoma progression.”

How to get the public onside in the fight against air pollution: https://www.edie.net/blog/How-to-get-the-public-onside-in-the-fight-against-air-pollution/6098704 “More people now know that air pollution kills and a growing number also understand that air quality can play a role in all sorts of conditions, from dementia and heart disease to lung cancer and asthma. However, while the majority of people are concerned about air pollution, less than half know what to do to protect their health and even fewer are actually doing these things. This concern-knowledge gap is worrying. Especially as, according to our research at Global Action Plan, only 16% of the UK public know where to go to for information and advice on air pollution.  And this is why this week [26 November] we have launched the Clean Air Hub (cleanairhub.org.uk) to the public.”

Food & food security

Nourishing Database: https://www.wcrf.org/int/policy/nourishing-database “Our database of implemented polices to promote healthy diets & reduce obesity. We developed the NOURISHING framework to highlight where governments need to take action to promote healthy diets and reduce overweight and obesity. The framework is accompanied by a regularly updated database (last updated 8 May 2019), providing an extensive overview of implemented government policy actions from around the world.”

Uncovering the relationship between food-related discussion on Twitter and neighborhood characteristics: https://academic.oup.com/jamia/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jamia/ocz181/5601669?searchresult=1 “Twitter provided weak but significant signals concerning food-related behavior and attitudes at the neighborhood level, suggesting its potential usefulness for informing local health disparity reduction efforts.”

It’s time to redefine what it means to be a farmer in the 21st century: https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/its-time-redefine-what-it-means-be-farmer-21st-century?cid=EXT_WBBlogTweetableShare_D_EXT “can farmers adopt more sustainable farming practices that not only protect but also restore natural resources?  What is the right mix of policy incentives, market signals, regulations, and public investment to support this urgent transition?”

13 new books and reports about the future of food: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/11/13-new-books-and-reports-about-the-future-of-food/ “This month’s selection of books and reports addresses this fundamental question from a variety of perspectives. Their answers may cause you to look more closely at what’s on your plate over the holiday.”

'Sugar overload' warning for festive hot drinks: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/health-50628962 “Seasonal lattes and hot chocolates being sold by some High Street coffee chains can contain up to 23 spoonfuls of sugar per cup, a study has found. Action on Sugar analysed more than 200 drinks and found "shockingly" large amounts of sugar in many of them.”

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