National Butterfly Center: Trump’s Border Wall Threatens Pollinators and Other Wildlife
While Trump's border wall has yet to be completed, the threat it poses to pollinators is already felt, according to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, as reported by Transmission & Distribution World.
Earlier this year, EcoWatch reported that construction equipment showed up around the center, ready to bulldoze more than 70 percent of the butterfly sanctuary's 100 acres, which more than 200 species of butterflies call home.
The National Butterfly Center is not only home to butterflies but also to various species of bees, including some only found around the Rio Grande in southern Texas and northern Mexico. A team of wildlife photographers and scientists documented the wild bees found in the butterfly center that will be displaced if the border wall is constructed. They photographed some species that have never been seen before in the U.S.
"Many of these bees range no more than a few hundred yards from their nests in a lifetime, and so the National Butterfly Center is the only home they've ever known," said Paula Sharp, a lead photographer on the project, to the Revelator. She noted that the butterfly center is safe zone for pollinators since it is ecologically pristine — that is, it is free from pesticides, erosion, invasive species and habitat destruction, which is found in nearby areas of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
"Bees are central to every habitat because they are the pollinators that sustain the plants that feed birds, mammals and other creatures," Sharp said, according to the Revelator. "If you destroy the bees, you do irreparable harm to the environment."
EcoWatch reported earlier this year that "the butterfly center's fate was sealed in December when the Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Defenders of Wildlife to appeal a federal court decision that the Trump administration can waive 28 environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, in order to build 33 more miles of wall, including the section that runs through the refuge."
If Trump's border wall goes up, "vegetation would be eliminated, leading to greater radiant heat temperatures, erosion, lack of water filtration, diminished air filtration" and other serious environmental issues, said Marianna Treviño-Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, as reported by Transmission & Distribution World.
The threats to the environment extend beyond just the National Butterfly Center and continue to the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, 98,000 acres of federally protected land. The 300-mile wildlife corridor in South Texas is home to 17 threatened or endangered species, more than 530 species of birds, 330 butterfly species and 1,200 types of plants. It's one of the most biodiverse places in North America, according to Yale Environment 360.
"Whatever they build, it's going to be destructive to natural habitat," said Bob Dreher, an attorney who heads Defenders of Wildlife conservation programs, as National Geographic reported. "It's about the physical reality of what a permanent barrier will do in one of the most sensitive landscapes in North America."
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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