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WMHPG news, information and resources 13 December 2019

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Sustainable development goals

Premature mortality attributable to socioeconomic inequality in England between 2003 and 2018: an observational study: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(19)30219-1/fulltext “One in three premature deaths are attributable to socioeconomic inequality, making this our most important public health challenge. Interventions that address upstream determinants of health should be prioritised.”

The Psychological Impacts Of Poverty, Digested: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/12/03/the-psychological-impacts-of-poverty-digested/amp/ “The psychological effects on children of growing up poor do make for grim reading. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, of 9- and 10-year-olds who differed only in their socioeconomic status, found striking differences in activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is critical for complex cognition. The PFC response of many of the poor children in response to various tests resembled that of some stroke victims. “Kids from lower socioeconomic levels show brain physiology patterns similar to someone who actually had had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult,” commented lead researcher, Robert Knight, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.”

Dispatches – Growing up poor: Britain’s Breadline Kids: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/68553-001 “In Britain, 4.1 million children are growing up in poverty. Dispatches follows three families to show what life is like if there’s not enough money for life’s essentials.”

Are there 400,000 fewer children in poverty in the UK than there were in 2010? https://theconversation.com/are-there-400-000-fewer-children-in-poverty-in-the-uk-than-there-were-in-2010-128274 “The other two official measures of child poverty published by the Department for Work and Pensions tell a different story. The number of children living in poverty is estimated to have increased between 2010-11 and 2017-18 by 500,000 under the relative low income measure.”

Gap between rich and poor grows alongside rise in UK's total wealth: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/dec/05/gap-between-rich-and-poor-grows-alongside-rise-in-uks-total-wealth “Britain’s total wealth grew by 13% in the two years to 2018 to reach a record £14.6tn, with wealth among the richest 10% of households increasing almost four times faster than those of the poorest 10%. A study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also found that the poorest 10% of households had debts three times greater than their assets compared with the richest 10% who amassed a wealth pile 35 times larger than their total debts.” – Office of National Statistics report here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householddebtingreatbritain/april2016tomarch2018

Measles cases are increasing across the world.

  • 142,000 died from measles last year, WHO estimates: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/05/142000-died-from-measles-last-year-who-estimates “Most of those dying are small children, and thousands more suffer harm including pneumonia and brain damage. New scientific evidence shows survivors are at greater risk soon afterwards because their immune system is impaired. Anti-vax misinformation spread through social media is contributing to a rise in cases in affluent countries such as the UK and US, while problems in health services play a big part elsewhere.”
  • Samoa shuts down in unprecedented battle against measles: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/samoa-shuts-unprecedented-battle-measles-191205002728494.html “Samoa began a two-day shutdown on Thursday as authorities embarked on an unprecedented mass vaccination campaign to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed 62 people, mostly small children, in the Pacific island nation. Officials suspended non-essential government services to allow civil servants to support the vaccination drive, and ordered all businesses to close. Inter-island ferry services were also cancelled.”
  • The Myth about Herd Immunity: https://www.globalhealthnow.org/2019-12/myth-about-herd-immunity “It is troubling that public perceptions of susceptibility to measles have not shifted significantly since the measles outbreak in 2015-16, which was considered the worst in two decades. This year is expected to be even worse, with more than 1,200 cases recorded so far.”

Healthy planning & environment

People, Place and Policy – Vol 13 issue 2: https://extra.shu.ac.uk/ppp-online/ “An independent forum for academic debate on the challenges faced by contemporary society”

I’ve seen mass tree-planting projects go awry around the world – UK politicians should take note: https://theconversation.com/ive-seen-mass-tree-planting-projects-go-awry-around-the-world-uk-politicians-should-take-note-128184 “These tree-planting pledges are certainly a step in the right direction, but there’s a problem. Everything being said is big on rhetoric but light on practicalities. As I know from many years of being involved with mangrove afforestation in the tropics, it’s a lot easier to plant seeds than it is to grow trees. So what lessons does the UK’s next government need to learn before it sends planters all over the countryside?”

Many urban rivers are hidden underground – ‘daylighting’ them would bring nature back to cities: https://theconversation.com/many-urban-rivers-are-hidden-underground-daylighting-them-would-bring-nature-back-to-cities-128441 “The lost rivers of London are well known, but all cities have them. In my home city of Bradford there is virtually no trace of the small main river, the Bradford Beck, or most of its urban tributaries. In Bradford alone, more than 25km of streams have been covered over and now flow within an engineered structure known as a culvert.”

Government finally releases secret fracking report: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/12/02/government-finally-releases-secret-fracking-report/ “The Cabinet Office has finally released its – still heavily redacted – secret report on the fracking industry, following a 22-month Freedom of Information battle with Unearthed. The document – produced by the Cabinet Office in 2016 but never published – confirms government and industry players were privately downbeat about the prospects for a UK shale boom, even as they talked up the sector’s potential.”

Biodiversity in 2020: the biggest threats and opportunities: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/05/biodiversity-in-2020-the-biggest-threats-and-opportunities-aoe “What are the biggest emerging opportunities and threats the coming year holds for efforts to conserve biodiversity? Nearly two dozen scientists, conservation professionals and future scanners recently came together to answer that question as part of an annual “horizon scan” led by Cambridge University conservation biologist William Sutherland.”

A number of reports and articles about water scarcity this week.

  • The world’s road to water scarcity: shortage and stress in the 20th century and pathways towards sustainability: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep38495 “Water scarcity is a rapidly growing concern around the globe, but little is known about how it has developed over time. This study provides a first assessment of continuous sub-national trajectories of blue water consumption, renewable freshwater availability, and water scarcity for the entire 20th century.”
  • Importance and vulnerability of the world’s water towers: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1822-y “We conclude that the most important water towers are also among the most vulnerable, and that climatic and socio-economic changes will affect them profoundly. This could negatively impact 1.9 billion people living in (0.3 billion) or directly downstream of (1.6 billion) mountain areas. Immediate action is required to safeguard the future of the world’s most important and vulnerable water towers.”
  • Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/07/victoria-falls-dries-to-a-trickle-after-worst-drought-in-a-century “For decades Victoria Falls, where southern Africa’s Zambezi river cascades down 100 metres into a gash in the earth, have drawn millions of holidaymakers to Zimbabwe and Zambia for their stunning views. But the worst drought in a century has slowed the waterfalls to a trickle, fuelling fears that climate change could kill one of the region’s biggest tourist attractions.”

Housing

Understanding Social Housing Landlords’ Approaches To Tenant Participation: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/understanding-social-housing-landlords-approaches-to-tenant-participation/ “This research is based on 21 in-depth interviews with representatives of social housing landlords and ‘stakeholder’ organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a focus group comprising ‘stakeholders’ and social housing landlord officers. While, reflecting the aims of the research, most participants were officers of social housing landlords and ‘stakeholder’ organisations, the study captured the views of eight tenants.”

Opinion - 'Housing First' is a bold, straightforward idea that will help us end homelessness for good: http://www.thisisplace.org/i/?id=f855af3d-583f-4c35-9d99-654cca51ce30 “Housing First makes providing a home a central strategy to ending homelessness, followed by support for health and social needs”

Garden Communities set to deliver over 400,000 homes: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Garden-Communities-set-to-deliver-over-400000-homes/48662 “A new analysis from the consultants Lichfields has found that Garden Communities are set to provide a total of 403,000 homes, up to 180 new primary schools, 56 secondary schools, and 600 hectares of employment land. However, the planning and development consultants’ research shows that just 3% of homes have been completed and only a third (34%) are enshrined in adopted local plans or with outline permission.”

Housing horror stories that show the extent of the UK’s rent crisis: https://www.dazeddigital.com/life-culture/article/47081/1/housing-landlord-renting-crisis-stories-uk-general-election “For a generation regularly derided for its emotional fragility, we’ve certainly endured our fair share of hell. A decade of austerity has ushered in an era of tenant squalor, with one in three privately rented homes failing to meet decent standards, while rent prices have gone up three times faster than incomes since 2010. Damp, mould, leaking roofs, mice infestations, electrical hazards, and gas leaks have become quite literally part of the furniture for Generation Rent.”

Climate change & sustainability

Greta Thunberg named 2019 Person of the Year: https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg-choice/ “It began with a story line familiar to every parent of every generation in every corner of the globe: an indignant teenager and a sudden burst of rebellion. It became one of the most unlikely and surely one of the swiftest ascents to global influence in history. Over the course of little more than a year, a 16-year-old from Stockholm went from a solitary protest on the cobblestones outside her country’s Parliament to leading a worldwide youth movement…”

Mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2018: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1855-2 “Between 2013 and 2017, the total rate of ice loss slowed to 217 ± 32 billion tonnes per year, on average, as atmospheric circulation favoured cooler conditions15 and as ocean temperatures fell at the terminus of Jakobshavn Isbræ16. Cumulative ice losses from Greenland as a whole have been close to the IPCC’s predicted rates for their high-end climate warming scenario17, which forecast an additional 50 to 120 millimetres of global sea-level rise by 2100 when compared to their central estimate.”

The necessity of pulling carbon dioxide out of the air: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/12/07/the-necessity-of-pulling-carbon-dioxide-out-of-the-air “Of the wisdom taught in kindergartens, few commandments combine moral balance and practical propriety better than the instruction to clear up your own mess. As with messy toddlers, so with planet-spanning civilisations. The industrial nations which are adding alarming amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere—43.1bn tonnes this year, according to a report released this week—will at some point need to go beyond today’s insufficient efforts to stop. They will need to put the world machine into reverse, and start taking carbon dioxide out. They are nowhere near ready to meet this challenge.”

Reduction in surface climate change achieved by the 1987 Montreal Protocol: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab4874 “As of today, as much as 1.1 °C warming has been avoided over parts of the Arctic. Future climate benefits are even stronger, with 3 °C–4 °C Arctic warming and ~1 °C global average warming avoided by 2050; corresponding to a ~25% mitigation of global warming. The Montreal Protocol has thus not only been a major success in repairing the stratospheric ozone hole, it has also achieved substantial mitigation of anthropogenic climate change both today and into the future.”

Accelerating the low carbon transition: The case for stronger, more targeted and coordinated international action: https://www.brookings.edu/research/accelerating-the-low-carbon-transition/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief “This report is for the governments and businesses that are interested in accelerating deep decarbonisation of the world economy. We aim to highlight where their actions can have the greatest impact, by bringing together knowledge from three areas.”

Reports from the COP25 conference.

  • Cop25 Bulletin: ‘Spaghetti plate’: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/12/09/cop25-bulletin-spaghetti-plate/ “As countries pour billions of dollars into climate projects around the world, claiming credit for the carbon cuts, what happens to the communities in their path? Recent history shows that without strong safeguards, projects aimed at tackling climate change can lead to human rights abuses. Yet protections are being weakened, not strengthened, at Cop25 in Madrid.”
  • COP25 video: What needs to happen by COP26 to keep the Paris Agreement on track? https://www.carbonbrief.org/cop25-video-what-needs-to-happen-by-cop26-to-keep-the-paris-agreement-on-track “As negotiations at COP25 in Madrid progress slowly, Carbon Brief has been asking a range of scientists, party delegates and NGO representatives for their views on the year ahead.”
  • COP25 RECAP: DAY 7: http://climatetracker.org/cop25day7/ “Things are starting to heat up at the UN climate talks in Madrid. Yesterday’s plenary, where countries were due to close the technical bits of the negotiations, finished at 2:30 am with many open and postponed questions on the table.”
  • COP25 RECAP: DAY 8: http://climatetracker.org/cop25day8/ “After a tumultuous night at the negotiations which saw many-core negotiating issues pushed back or even pushed aside to next year, Environmental Ministers addressed the UN highlighting their priorities in the fight against climate change. Here we present to you yesterdays’ key moments from island states, developing and developed countries.”
  • Climate change: Major emitters accused of blocking progress at UN talks: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50736617 “Delegates from developing countries have reacted angrily to what they see as attempts to block progress at the COP25 meeting in Madrid. One negotiator told the BBC that the talks had failed to find agreement on a range of issues because of the blocking actions of some large emitters. Carlos Fuller from Belize said that Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and China were "part of the problem".

Accelerating the low carbon transition: https://www.brookings.edu/research/accelerating-the-low-carbon-transition/ “This report is for the governments and businesses that are interested in accelerating deep decarbonisation of the world economy. We aim to highlight where their actions can have the greatest impact, by bringing together knowledge from three areas.”

Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/07/oceans-losing-oxygen-at-unprecedented-rate-experts-warn “Oxygen in the oceans is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with “dead zones” proliferating and hundreds more areas showing oxygen dangerously depleted, as a result of the climate emergency and intensive farming, experts have warned.”

Tackling degraded oceans could mitigate climate crisis – report: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/04/tackling-ocean “Halting overfishing and the plastic pollution of the oceans could help tackle the climate emergency by improving the degraded state of the world’s biggest carbon sink, a report has found. The oceans absorb both the excess heat generated by our greenhouse gas emissions, and absorb carbon dioxide itself, helping to reduce the impacts of climate chaos. But we are rapidly reaching the limits of the oceans’ absorptive capacity as our pillage of marine life is disrupting vital ecosystems and the natural carbon cycle.”

New South Wales bushfires: 'Mega blaze' warning near Sydney: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-50680083 “About 100 bushfires are raging in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), with the most severe forming into a "mega blaze" north of Sydney. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling bushfires, which escalated in intensity late on Thursday. Footage of one blaze on the southern fringe of the city showed firefighters fleeing as flames surged forward. Australia's largest city has been blanketed by thick smoke all week, causing a rise in medical problems.”

National greenhouse gas reporting needs an overhaul – it’s time to directly measure the atmosphere: https://theconversation.com/national-greenhouse-gas-reporting-needs-an-overhaul-its-time-to-directly-measure-the-atmosphere-125085 “How much greenhouse gas is emitted by any individual country? With global emissions of carbon dioxide hitting a record of 36.8 billion tonnes this year, and delegates gathering in Madrid for the latest UN climate talks, it’s a pressing question… Yet these reports are based on what are known as inventory (or “bottom-up”) methods. To simplify, this means that governments figure out how much greenhouse gas is emitted by a typical car, cow, or coal plant, and then add up all the cows, cars and so on to get an overall emissions figure.”

This small German town took back the power – and went fully renewable: https://theconversation.com/this-small-german-town-took-back-the-power-and-went-fully-renewable-126294 “With 100% of its electricity coming from renewable sources (and more to spare), the German town of Wolfhagen is particularly demonstrative of what can be achieved when municipalities adopt innovative approaches to the ownership and governance of key infrastructure. Significant lessons can be drawn from Wolfhagen’s hybrid model of ownership, which can – and must – be applied to sectors beyond energy production.”

Windy weather sets new renewable power record for Britain: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/windy-weather-sets-new-renewable-power-record-for-britain-38766813.html “This weekend’s windy weather set a new renewable power record – and saw some households paid to charge their electric cars to help balance the grid. Wind farms generated more than 16 gigawatts of power – five times the output expected from the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant – in Britain for the first time on Sunday evening, figures from National Grid revealed.”

Extinction Rebellion – Our Demands: https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands/ “ We have three demands in the UK: 1) Tell the truth. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. 2) Act now. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. 3) Beyond politics. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.”

An introduction to the state of energy storage in the U.S.: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/12/an-introduction-to-the-state-of-energy-storage-in-the-u-s/ “Finding effective ways to store solar and wind energy when the sun isn't shining and the winds aren't blowing is critical to increasing the use of renewable energy sources.”

Tighter climate policies could erase $2.3 trillion in companies value: report: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-investor-climatechange/tighter-climate-policies-could-erase-2-3-trillion-in-companies-value-report-idUKKBN1YD00H “Any abrupt policy shifts risk severely disrupting current investment strategies, U.N.-backed Principles of Responsible Investing (PRI), a group representing investors with $86 trillion of assets under management, said in a report.”

A-Z of climate anxiety: how to avoid meltdown: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/08/a-z-of-climate-anxiety-how-to-avoid-meltdown “There are hundreds of people contacting us, looking for support,” says Caroline Hickman of the Climate Psychology Alliance. It’s not just individuals either. “We’ve reached a level where organisations are asking for professional help to support their staff: civil servants, museums, universities… They’re noticing massive increases in anxiety and concern.”

Active travel & transport

Volkswagen to install free EV charging points at 600 Tesco stores: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/12/05/volkswagen-to-install-free-ev-charging-points-at-600-tesco-stores/ “The car manufacturer said the rollout is already underway and EV drivers at 100 Tesco stores are now able to top up their battery for free while shopping. All electricity used to charge cars at the Tesco sites comes from renewable sources.”

Air quality & pollution

Nine fatal diseases are associated with air pollution: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/12/04/nine-fatal-diseases-are-associated-with-air-pollution/ “In a study of 4.5 million U.S veterans, researchers found that exposure to PM2.5 contributes to deadly conditions such as heart disease, strokes, chronic kidney disease, COPD, dementia, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer and pneumonia.”

See How the World’s Most Polluted Air Compares With Your City’s: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/02/climate/air-pollution-compare-ar-ul.html “We visualized the damaging, tiny particles that wreak havoc on human health. From the Bay Area to New Delhi, see how the world’s worst pollution compares with your local air.”

CONSULTATION: The Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air, Healthy Wales: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2019-12/consultation-a-clean-air-plan-for-wales.pdf “This twelve week consultation seeks views on the Welsh Government’s Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air: Healthy Wales. This plan sets out our policy direction and proposed actions to reduce air pollution to support improvements in public health and

our natural environment.” – more here - Wales targets cars, wood-burners, bonfires in new Clean Air Plan: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/12/10/wales-targets-cars-wood-burners-bonfires-in-new-clean-air-plan/

BPA chemical levels in humans drastically underestimated, study finds: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/05/bpa-chemical-levels-humans-study “Humans are probably being exposed to far more of a widely used dangerous chemical – found in plastics, canned goods and receipt paper – than previously understood, according to a new study. The analysis, in the peer-reviewed scientific journal the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, uses a new method for evaluating exposure to BPA, or bisphenol-A.”

SHUTTING DOWN A TOXIC TRADE: https://meta.eeb.org/2019/12/05/shutting-down-a-toxic-trade/ “With nearly 100 countries on board, an international agreement which bans the exporting of toxic waste from developed to developing countries has entered into force. While this landmark move will help protect the environment and ensure that poor countries do not become dumping grounds for the rich, the absence of dozens of countries from the deal undermines its effectiveness.”

Food & food security

Socioeconomic status and changes in appetite from toddlerhood to early childhood: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666319304908 “The results indicate that appetite may be a behavioural mediator of the well-established link between childhood deprivation and obesity risk.” – summary here - Social deprivation linked to changes in eating styles in early childhood: https://theconversation.com/social-deprivation-linked-to-changes-in-eating-styles-in-early-childhood-127766

Effects of physical activity calorie equivalent food labelling to reduce food selection and consumption: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies: https://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2019/11/24/jech-2019-213216 “Based on current evidence PACE (physical activity calorie equivalent) food labelling may reduce the number of kilocalories selected from menus and decrease the number of kilocalories/grams of food consumed by the public, compared with other types of food labelling/no labelling.”

The dark side of plant-based food – it’s more about money than you may think: https://theconversation.com/the-dark-side-of-plant-based-food-its-more-about-money-than-you-may-think-127272 “If you were to believe newspapers and dietary advice leaflets, you’d probably think that doctors and nutritionists are the people guiding us through the thicket of what to believe when it comes to food. But food trends are far more political – and economically motivated – than it seems.”

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