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Easy Recycling

The Story of Reuse

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Source: EPA
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

How can you make recycling easy? How can you get your children involved? What are the benefits to recycling?

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A new report has highlighted that no country is immune from the health impacts of climate change, and that the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to take urgent action.

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The 2020 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, published in The Lancet, raises concerns that climate change will pose an increasing threat to health across the globe, causing disruptions to livelihoods and overwhelming healthcare systems.

The authors say that a joint response to converging crises offers the chance to improve public health, create a sustainable economy, and protect the environment.

The report, a collaboration between experts from more than 35 institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, was led by University College London.

Heat-related deaths

The report highlights that there has been a 54% increase in heat-related deaths in older people over the past two decades, with a record 2.9 billion additional days of heatwave exposure affecting over-65s in 2019 – almost twice the previous high. The 120 world-leading health and climate change academics and clinicians who are behind the report say that urgent action is needed to tackle climate change through the implementation of plans to limit global temperature increases.

They highlight that limited temperature increases would also reduce the risk of future pandemics as the drivers of climate change can also drive zoonotic pandemic risk.

Dr Ian Hamilton, executive director of the Lancet Countdown, said: “The pandemic has shown us that when health is threatened on a global scale, our economies and ways of life can come to a standstill. The threats to human health are multiplying and intensifying due to climate change, and unless we change course our healthcare systems are at risk of being overwhelmed in the future. This year’s devastating US wildfires and tropical storms in the Caribbean and Pacific, coinciding with the pandemic, have tragically illustrated that the world doesn’t have the luxury of dealing with one crisis at a time.”

Dr Wenjia Cai, director of the newly-launched Lancet Countdown Regional Centre for Asia, based within Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, said: “On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, we must confront the worst outlook for public health our generation has seen. Failure to meet our climate commitments could take some key Sustainable Development Goals out of reach as well as our ability to limit warming.”

How climate impacts health

Climate-related health problems could be caused in the future if we are unable to anticipate the impacts of extreme heat, such as growing levels of heat-related mortality among vulnerable people in all parts of the world. This will risk livelihoods across the globe, leading to adverse economic implications.

For example, in 2019 the UK saw over 12 million ‘above-baseline’ days of heatwave exposure affecting its elderly population, and heat-related deaths in the over-65s have more than doubled since the early 2000s. The economic cost of this mortality was the equivalent of 1.29% of the UK’s Gross National Income.

Other environmental and human health implications such as heat and drought are also driving sharp increases in wildfires, resulting in burns, heart, and lung damage from smoke, as well as the displacement of communities. The report highlights the ability to deal with these problems is limited as healthcare capacity is still not enough despite recent improvements in healthcare systems, with only half of countries surveyed having drawn up national health and climate plans.

Professor Hugh Montgomery, the Lancet Countdown co-chair and an intensive care doctor, based at University College London, said: “Climate change drives a cruel wedge which widens existing health inequalities between and within countries. Our report shows that – just as for COVID-19 – older people are particularly vulnerable, and those with a range of pre-existing conditions including asthma and diabetes are at even greater risk.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the current ability of healthcare and wider health systems to cope with the sorts of future health shocks that climate change may generate. Flames, floods and famine do not respect national borders or bank accounts: a nation’s wealth offers no protection against the health impacts of even a 1.2°C global average temperature rise.”

The climate and zoonotic pandemic risk

Another Lancet editorial, published alongside the new report, highlights that climate change and zoonotic pandemic risk share common drivers, which damage the environment through urbanisation, intensive agriculture and unsustainable food systems, air travel and tourism, trade, and lifestyles powered by fossil fuels. This all creates conditions that encourage zoonoses.

Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, said: “If we wish to reduce the risk of future pandemics, we must prioritise action on the climate crisis – one of the most powerful forces driving zoonoses today. Now is the time for us all to take the environmental determinants of health more seriously – we must address the climate emergency, protect biodiversity, and strengthen the natural systems on which our civilisation depends. This is a moment we cannot afford to ignore. Just as we have seen with COVID-19, delayed action will cause avoidable deaths.”

The report says that limiting temperature to below 2°C and by aligning the climate and pandemic recovery, countries across the globe will be able to deliver on health.

There are currently seven million annual deaths from air pollution associated with the combustion of fossil fuels. For example, the UK saw an estimated 17,700 deaths linked to ambient fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) from human activities in 2018, and industry and households were responsible for almost 3,100 of these deaths in 2018.

Despite this, steps across the WHO Europe region to mitigate pollution and increase cleaner energy have helped to slightly decrease deaths from ambient air pollution.

Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization, said: “With trillions being invested globally in economic support and stimulus there is a genuine opportunity to align the responses to the pandemic and climate change to deliver a triple win – one that improves public health, creates a sustainable economy and protects the environment.

“But time is short. Failure to tackle these converging crises in tandem will lock in huge amounts of fossil fuels, moving the world’s 1.5°C target out of reach and condemning the world to a future of climate-induced health shocks.”

Click here to read the full report.

How could climate change have contributed to COVID 19? How could climate change or global warming contribute to the increase of disease? How could climate change or global warming contribute to another pandemic?

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Cycling picks up speed in Oxford amid COVID pandemic

Photo provided by Paul Reidy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Paul Reidy rides about 9,000 miles a year.

By Charis Whalen and Paul Reidy
December 4, 2020
Source: The Oxford Observer

Oxford’s efforts toward a more bike-friendly future gained mileage in 2020 in spite of and perhaps thanks to the pandemic.  

Reidy joined Miami University as an assistant professor of Kinesiology, Nutrition and Health in the fall of 2019 after moving to town from Salt Lake City, Utah, just months before life changed for everyone. Since his arrival, the 35-year-old husband and father of four has been working to integrate the biking communities of Miami and Oxford while inspiring people to stay active.  

To keep both locals and students involved in the socially distant sport, Reidy started the Miami University Bike Club in August of 2019 and more recently launched a group called Oxford and Area Cycling, catering more to the Oxford community.  

While Reidy’s decision to begin the campus club was multi-pronged, his love for the sport is fueling the initiatives. Reidy began cycling at an early age and started to take it more seriously later in graduate school. 

“When I was 7, I had a paper route and I had it until college started, so I biked everywhere on my paper route and that was part of me,” he said. 

Cycling even played a role in his marriage to Mollie Reidy. After he totaled his car the summer he planned to propose to her, he had to bike everywhere. “I was going to actually drive to Michigan that summer and propose…I couldn’t drive so I decided to bike there — 237 miles,” he said. 

Reidy recounted training for the trip, reasoning that “…if (I) went that far, she would not say ‘No’.” 

Reidy, who bikes around 9,000 miles per year, created Miami’s bike club to introduce students to biking and inspire them to stay active and be healthy. 

“Students need outlets, especially now. Why not provide them an opportunity to use these things and train them how to do it and open their eyes to other opportunities where they can socialize?” he said. 

While the club has not fully taken off yet, Reidy said that Miami’s Student Life office, which works to engage students in campus culture, showed interest in promoting the club as early as the spring semester of 2021. 

The Oxford and Area Cycling Club, meanwhile, has been a huge hit. Launched in January with 20-some participants, the group now has over 120 members, Reidy said. Following the COVID-19 lockdown, “people realized that ‘Hey, this is one of the few things we can do’ and so that’s been really cool to see,” Reidy explained. 

Since 2016, when Gregory Crawford became president of Miami, the push for more bike lanes on campus and around town has helped fuel local enthusiasm for biking. Crawford and his wife, Renate, have completed five “Road to Discovery” rides, totaling almost 15,000 miles, to raise money for research on Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a neurological disorder. As cycling is a part of their lives, they’ve sought to incorporate it into the Miami culture as well. In 2018, Miami was recognized as a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.

In addition to about 7.5 miles of bike lanes on its main streets, the City of Oxford recently finished phase two (out of four) of the Oxford Area Trails System, which upon completion will total 12 miles of walkable and bikeable trails around the city’s perimeter.  

Reidy is keen on pushing cycling safety, in addition to promoting cycling as a healthy activity for students.

“One thing I’ve noticed many times on campus is there are plenty of examples of poor choices with bike habits,” he said. “Last year…a kid was going the wrong way on the wrong side of the street and cut off right in front of a police car on his bike.” 

Miami graduate engineering student and Bike Club member Dave Pearl is among the newer cyclists in Oxford. Whereas Reidy grew up with cycling, Pearl was introduced to it after his dad gave him an old bike to ride to classes. 

“It was faster than walking,” Pearl confessed. “My buddy was into biking and made a couple comments about how there was a ‘sweet old Cannondale’ locked up outside, and I had it in my head that my dad told me that’s what I was riding.” 

Sure enough, Pearl came to find out that he was riding a “very cool” 1992 Cannondale SR400, which caught his interest and helped develop his love for mountain biking. 

Today, Pearl can’t seem to get enough of the sport. He owns four bikes (in addition to a fully functioning car), and helps out at the local bike shop, BikeWise Oxford. 

“There are lots of ways to ride a bike. The way I like to ride is as fast as I can and very competitively,” Pearl said. “It keeps me outside, and it keeps me active. Around Oxford, too, sometimes it’s a lot faster and more interesting… especially around 4 or 5 o’clock.”

Reidy said that although Oxford is small and bike-friendly, surveys have shown that about 40% of people who live within a mile of Miami still drive to campus. 

Pearl, meanwhile, favors travel by bike. “In this world we run from discomfort and pain and everything, but hopping on a bike is cheaper, easier, better for you, better for the environment, better for the town, and at the worst is a little bit uncomfortable. The pros outweigh the cons.”

But student bikers do create at least one problem for Oxford: too many abandon their bikes every spring when they leave campus. 

As a solution, Miami’s Strategic Procurement office, in conjunction with the Miami Police Department, hosts an annual bike auction.  

The auction’s purpose is two-fold, according to Brent Leishman, assistant director of strategic procurement. “Essentially what happens every year is when the students are graduating in May and they leave, the bicycles that are left around campus outside of the building are rounded up by the Miami Police Department,” Leishman said.  

The bikes are held for approximately three months to allow the students an opportunity to retrieve them, before they are auctioned off. 

“The bikes are auctioned off and the proceeds of that go to MUPD to offset their effort and their cost in rounding up and storing the bikes,” Leishman said. 

MUPD Sgt. Andy Rosenberger, who has been with the department for 18 years, recently took on the role of bike patrol officer. 

“There are usually anywhere between 100 and 250 bikes that get rounded up,” he said. “It takes about two full days of three or four officers going around campus collecting them.”

This year’s auction, which was held a little bit later than normal on Oct. 10 due to the university’s five-week, remote-learning period, resulted in nearly $5,000 in profit, while last year’s auction turned out over $8,700, according to MUPD records. 

The auction is a practical way for students to get their hands on cheap, second-hand bikes, which is a rare opportunity in the midst of a world-wide, COVID-induced bike shortage.  

Reidy hopes more students will take advantage of biking going forward – whether with their own bikes or ones they buy in the auction.

“This is one of the great opportunities for students to get out,” he said. During the pandemic, “There’s a lot of restrictions, but this is one thing where you can find freedom.  You just need a bike.”

Bikes are huge in Norfolk, VA. They also do not burn carbon and are a source of exercise. What are some other ways you can contribute to the environment? Where are you located? Are you a community Champion?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.