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WMHPG news, information and resources 14 February 2020

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

Gender Matters: https://lankellychase.org.uk/resources/publications/gender-matters/ “…Perhaps the starkest finding of the report is the degree to which violence and abuse in the home are ongoing facts of life, from childhood onwards, for many people facing severe and multiple disadvantage, particularly women.”

UK Poverty 2019/20: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2019-20 “This is a summary of the 2019/20 edition of JRF’s annual report on the nature and scale of poverty across the UK and how it affects people who are caught in its grip. It highlights how poverty has changed in our society recently, as well as over the longer term. It examines overall changes to poverty, with chapters looking at the impact of work, the social security system and housing, and shows how carers and people with disabilities are affected by poverty.”

Health inequality greater than previously thought, report finds: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/12/health-inequality-greater-than-previously-thought-report-finds “Women are living nearly ten years longer in poor health than previous estimates, while men are living an extra seven years, according to a report based on new NHS data launched by the health secretary on Wednesday. The new analysis means that men on average are being diagnosed with their first significant long-term condition at 56 and women at 55. In the poorest areas, women are getting their first significant long-term illness at just 47 and men at 49 years old.”

The report, The Health of the Nation: A Strategy for Healthier Longer Lives, has been written by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Longevity.

What has driven the rise of in-work poverty? https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/what-has-driven-rise-work-poverty “As a society we believe that working families should have a decent standard of living, yet one in eight workers now live in poverty. Building on recent successes in the labour market can turn the tide on in-work poverty.”

The UK Population Is Still Poorer Than It Was In 2008: https://neweconomics.org/2020/02/the-uk-population-is-still-poorer-than-it-was-in-2008 “Today’s first quarter estimates for GDP show that in the three months to Christmas, the UK population was still £97 poorer on average compared to the first three months of 2008 after taking into account rises in inflation as experienced by consumers, according to analysis from the New Economics Foundation (NEF). This is despite the official statistics suggesting average living standards returned to 2008 levels in 2015. The analysis shows that the official statistics do not bear out the lived experience in the economy.”

Healthy planning & environment

The Government has published the updated Environment Bill

  • Environment Bill sets out vision for a greener future: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/environment-bill-sets-out-vision-for-a-greener-future “Our precious natural environment will be better protected for generations to come with today’s introduction of a far-reaching Environment Bill. The speedy return of the Bill to Parliament following the General Election underlines the government’s commitment to tackling climate change and to protecting and restoring our natural environment for future generations.”
  • These three post-Brexit bills bulldoze a hole through environmental protections: https://www.edie.net/news/11/UK-Government-s--gold-standard--Environment-Bill-reintroduced/ “The environment bill, agriculture bill and fisheries bill replace the EU’s comprehensive framework directives, common agricultural policy and common fisheries policy. All three bills contain major flaws that undermine the government’s claims. They leave gaps, fail on enforcement and oversight, open loopholes for future ministers to quietly backslide from existing standards, and turn what is currently a coherent system of long-term, stable regulation into a patchwork of competing and sometimes contradictory proposals.”
  • 43 things you need to know about the Environment Bill: https://www.endsreport.com/article/1672471/43-things-need-know-environment-bill “The Environment Bill has returned to parliament with new powers on plastic waste and a requirement for ministers to review and report on international green law.”
  • UK Government's 'gold standard' Environment Bill reintroduced: https://www.edie.net/news/11/UK-Government-s--gold-standard--Environment-Bill-reintroduced/ “The UK Government's long-awaited Environment Bill has finally been reintroduced to Parliament, outlining powers to stop the exports of plastic waste to developing countries, and revamped governance systems on clean air and biodiversity and two-yearly reviews to update the Bill if required.”

Healthy weight environments: using the planning system: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/healthy-weight-environments-using-the-planning-system “Practical support for local authorities that wish to use the planning system to achieve these important public health outcomes. Set in the context of a whole systems approach to tackling obesity, this document provides a framework and starting point for local authorities to clearly set out in local planning guidance how best to achieve healthy weight environments, based on local evidence and needs. The document sets out a template for a supplementary planning document (SPD).”

How peat could protect the planet: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00355-3 “Across the globe, drained peatlands are emitting billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Scotland has emerged as a leader in efforts to restore bogs to health.”

222 scientists say cascading crises are the biggest threat to the well-being of future generations: https://theconversation.com/222-scientists-say-cascading-crises-are-the-biggest-threat-to-the-well-being-of-future-generations-131551 “The report includes a survey of 222 leading scientists from 52 countries who identified five global risks: failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; extreme weather events; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; food crises; and water crises.”

Deforestation is leading to more infectious diseases in humans: https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/science/2019/11/deforestation-leading-to-more-infectious-diseases-in-humans? “It’s pretty well established that deforestation can be a strong driver of infectious disease transmission,” says Andy MacDonald, a disease ecologist at the Earth Research Institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s a numbers game: The more we degrade and clear forest habitats, the more likely it is that we’re going to find ourselves in these situations where epidemics of infectious diseases occur.”

Bumblebees’ decline points to mass extinction – study: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/06/bumblebees-decline-points-to-mass-extinction-study “Bumblebees are in drastic decline across Europe and North America owing to hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures, scientists say. A study suggests the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30% in the course of a single human generation. The researchers say the rates of decline appear to be “consistent with a mass extinction”.”

England’s beavers are back, and they've already made a big impact: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/beavers-england-water-floods “Researchers involved say the beavers’ activities over the past five years have helped manage water flow, raising the possibility that their dams could help reduce the risk of flooding further along river systems. The beavers’ handiwork has created new habitats for wildlife living around the river, including water voles, otters, and wading birds, according to the trust. It says their building is also giving plants more direct access to sunlight and encouraging the regrowth of native species such as willow.”

Our Future on Earth: https://futureearth.org/publications/our-future-on-earth/ “Humanity is at a critical stage in the transition to a more sustainable planet and society. Our actions in the next decade will determine our collective path forward. Our Future on Earth 2020 aims to tell the story of where we are on our collective journey by connecting the dots between what society is currently experiencing – from fires to food shortages to a rise in populism – with recent developments in the research community.”

Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health: https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health “A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate.”

Housing

Housing charity 'farmed' half a million pounds in benefits while people lived and died in squalor: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/housing-charity-farmed-half-million-3813741.amp “Two people who ran a bogus housing charity made more than half a million pounds between them in the space of just two years by taking housing benefit from scores of vulnerable people and putting them up in slum conditions. They are among the findings of a Charity Commission inquiry into Alternative Housing, a now-defunct organisation which was named a couple of years ago as one of Britain’s most prosecuted charity.”

Homeless Mothers: Key Research Findings: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/publications/homeless-mothers-key-research-findings/ “Responding to an identified gap in evidence this reports explores and makes visible the experiences of homeless mothers and their interaction with housing and other social services. Based on qualitative interviews with 26 homeless mothers living in in the north of England, and consultation with organisations that offer housing and other support to women and families, the research findings raise questions about whether policy and legislation is adequately protecting and supporting this group of women.”

Scotland has ‘highest rate’ of homeless deaths in Britain, figures reveal: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Scotland-has-highest-rate-of-homeless-deaths-in-Britain-figures-reveal/49955 “Deadly “day-night hot extremes” are increasing across the northern hemisphere due to climate change, a new study finds. And the number of people exposed to such events, also known as “compound hot extremes”, is likely to increase “several-fold” as temperatures continue to climb in the coming decades, the study authors tell Carbon Brief.”

The Science of a Happy Home: Briefing for Policymakers: https://buildpathio.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/assets/happy_homes/resi%7Cbriefing_for_policymakers.pdf “This document is a supplementary document to Resi’s 2020 report, ‘The Science of a Happy Home’. Our report provides the public with a guide to our research findings and what it means for how they live in their homes. The full report can be downloaded here. A Literature Scan Summary, Methodology, Industry Insights paper and a copy of the national data set used to develop these findings can be found here.”

Climate change & sustainability

Climate change driving surge in ‘day-night hot extremes’ in northern hemisphere: https://www.carbonbrief.org/climate-change-driving-surge-in-day-night-hot-extremes-in-northern-hemisphere

They Came From The Pacific: How changing Arctic currents could contribute to an ecological regime shift in the Atlantic Ocean: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019EF001394 “In conclusion, we note that while tipping points for ecological connectivity are species‐dependent, even the most direct routes require multi‐annual connectivity timescales.”

Explainer: Nine ‘tipping points’ that could be triggered by climate change: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-nine-tipping-points-that-could-be-triggered-by-climate-change “...And while climate records are being routinely broken, the cumulative impact of these changes could also cause fundamental parts of the Earth system to change dramatically and irreversibly. These “tipping points” are thresholds where a tiny change could push a system into a completely new state.”

How climate change affects mental health: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/02/how-climate-change-affects-mental-health/ “There are two distinct but connected ways that climate change can affect mental health. First, people can experience psychological responses to direct exposure to the consequences of climate change, such as living through a disaster. The other way that climate change can affect mental health is through indirect exposure – such as watching a disaster unfold from afar or reading about a dire new scientific report.”

The Heartland Lobby: https://correctiv.org/en/top-stories-en/2020/02/11/the-heartland-lobby/ “A joint investigation from CORRECTIV and Frontal21 reveals how the American Heartland Institute is supporting climate change deniers in Germany with the goal of undermining climate protection measures. We went undercover to meet with the institute’s chief strategist. He told us how the network of climate change deniers works, how donations are disguised and how they intend to use a German YouTuber affiliated with the AfD to reach young people. In the end, he made us a concrete offer.”

Wind Turbine Blades Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-05/wind-turbine-blades-can-t-be-recycled-so-they-re-piling-up-in-landfills? “A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer.”

How Thawing Permafrost Is Beginning to Transform the Arctic: https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-melting-permafrost-is-beginning-to-transform-the-arctic “The frozen layer of soil that has underlain the Arctic tundra for millennia is now starting to thaw. This thawing, which could release vast amounts of greenhouse gases, is already changing the Arctic landscape by causing landslides, draining lakes, and altering vegetation.”

Buildings mad of “moss-growing concrete” could remove more CO2 and air pollution than thousands of trees: https://returntonow.net/2020/02/03/new-living-concrete-allows-plants-to-grow-right-out-of-the-wall/ “Spanish researchers have developed a porous, acidic concrete that acts almost like soil for moss, lichen, fungi and other drought-tolerant vegetation. They are using the material to construct prototypes of office building capable of sucking more CO2 and pollution out of the air than thousands of trees, while emitting fresh oxygen for us to breathe.”

Revealed: big oil's profits since 1990 total nearly $2tn: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/feb/12/revealed-big-oil-profits-since-1990-total-nearly-2tn-bp-shell-chevron-exxon “BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades as their exploitation of oil, gas and coal reserves has driven the planet to the brink of climate breakdown, according to analysis for the Guardian. The scale of their profits is revealed as experts say the fossil fuel boom is coming to an end, with big oil entering a “death knell” phase, according to one prominent Wall St commentator.”

Active travel & transport

The Government has given approval to completion of the whole HS2 programme. There has been wide coverage and discussion of the decision and the impact, both environmental and economic.

The PM must put the forthcoming national bus strategy at the heart of his climate strategy: https://www.transporttimes.co.uk/news.php/The-PM-must-put-the-forthcoming-national-bus-strategy-at-the-heart-of-his-climate-strategy-491/ “Transport has become the largest emitting sector of the UK economy accounting for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the only sector to have increased emissions over the last carbon budget. This increase is largely the result of rising demand for car and van travel. We need a major switch from private to public transport. This is not only vital to reduce carbon emissions. The disbenefits of our current transport system become painfully more apparent by the day.”

Every child in England to be offered cycle training: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/every-child-in-england-to-be-offered-cycle-training “The commitment will see an additional 400,000 training places offered on the scheme each year, providing children with the core skills to cycle safely and confidently on the road. More than 80% of children aged between 8 and 10 years old own a bike and since its launch in 2006, more than 3 million children have taken part in the Bikeability scheme.”

Winter wheelies: Finland blazes trail in keeping citizens cycling and healthy: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/07/finland-blazes-trail-in-keeping-citizens-cycling-and-healthy “The temperature, even at 9.30am, is -13C, and light snow is falling on the already white-blanketed playground. But dozens of primary-age children are out, and doing something you might not expect in such conditions: riding bikes. Teachers say about half of the children at Joensuu normal school in eastern Finland usually arrive by bicycle, even during the icy winters. Even more have done so today, as an external instructor is here to lead them around a snowy bike obstacle course and other fun challenges.”

Cycling is the healthiest way to get around cities: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/187688/cycling-healthiest-around-cities/ “People who cycled in cities were found to have better self-perceived general health, better mental health, greater vitality, lower self-perceived stress and fewer feelings of loneliness.”

Air quality & pollution

BreatheGB: How Tackling Air Pollution Can Unleash the Potential of UK Sport: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e37f65b59e605777fcea4ec/t/5e41cc3ae14f6e738f112328/1581370434842/Breathe+GB+-+Air+pollution+Report+10+Feb+2020.pdf “UK children who play sport in urban areas are regularly exposed to illegal levels of air pollution, which inhibits their lung function. This report proposes that measures to reduce air pollution will have significant beneficial impacts both on children’s health and the future of UK sport as a whole.”

Check if you'll be charged to drive in a Clean Air Zone: https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge “Use this service to find out if there will be a daily charge to drive your vehicle in a Clean Air Zone. You might need to pay to drive in a Clean Air Zone if your vehicle does not meet emissions standards. Birmingham and Leeds will have the first Clean Air Zones in 2020.”

Joining the dots between climate change and air quality: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/02/11/joining-the-dots-between-climate-change-and-air-quality/ “‘You can argue that air pollution came first, but as with many aspects of environmental systems it’s never quite as simple as this,’ says Dr Porter. ‘With the industrial revolution and consequent air pollution in the West, emissions rose, enhancing post-glacial warming, while simultaneously atmospheric particulate pollution levels increased. However, if we consider a concept called “global dimming”, increased particle pollution can potentially increase cloud formation,’ he adds.”

Food & food security

Academics, farmers and consumers to tackle threats to food security: https://environmentjournal.online/articles/academics-farmers-and-consumers-to-tackle-threats-to-food-security/ “The University of Sheffield has received £1.2m of funding to bring together academics, farmers, consumers and policymakers to help address global food security challenges by creating sustainable and resilient food systems.”

Food fight: controversy over red meat guidelines rumbles on: https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m397 “Few studies have landed with quite such a bang as the dietary guideline recommendations published last October in the Annals of Internal Medicine. After a thorough meta-analysis that largely discounted all but the highest quality randomised studies, an international review panel reached a conclusion directly contrary to the public health advice we’ve heard for years. They suggested that adults should continue their current consumption of both red and processed meat.”

To reduce food waste, we actually need more grocery stores: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/02/to-reduce-food-waste-we-actually-need-more-grocery-stores/ “Researchers have described an unexpected solution to food waste: simply build more places where people can buy groceries. While that would seem to fuel excessive consumerism, it actually does the opposite, their new study shows – reducing the quantities of food that people buy, and thus leaving less leftover to fester in landfills and belch greenhouse gases into the air.”

UK willing to face border checks as government looks to move away from EU food standards  https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/02/03/brexit-trade-deal-food-standards-border-checks/ “The government is willing to accept that food products coming in and out of the EU will face checks and additional paperwork at the border, as it looks to secure a swift free trade agreement with the bloc, according to a leaked document seen by Unearthed.”

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