By Andy Rowell
This resistance is needed now more than ever, as global temperatures edge towards the 400 parts per million (ppm) mark for the first time in millions of years, something that is seriously worrying scientists. “It looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat,” argues Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist, Ralph Keeling.
One person who is part of this resistance is a young American activist Brian Eister, who has worked with John Kerry’s presidential campaign, League of Conservation Voters, Green Party, Public Citizen and was involved in the Occupy Movement.
But now he has put his body on the line for climate change. He is on day 29 of a planned 30 day hunger strike. For nearly the last month, all he has consumed is water, salt and potassium.
Eister is currently camped outside the American Petroleum Institute (API) in Washington, DC, the oil industry’s most powerful lobby group.
He is trying to raise awareness about climate change. “I am on hunger strike,” Eister writes, “because I can think of no action which could adequately express the urgency of humanity’s present situation. There are more than a few trends which, left unchecked, are likely to make life impossibly difficult for future generations.”
He argues that, “Given the urgency of what is coming, every one of our lives should, first and foremost, be dedicated to preventing this coming catastrophe.”
Over the weekend, Eister gave an interview as to why he is taking what many would argue is radical action. His anger is channeled towards those in power: politicians, the press and of course the oil industry itself.
“There are the policymakers, who treat this issue as though we had all the time in the world to fix it. They already know better,” he argues. “There are members of the press, who bury stories about the impending ruination of the world’s economy by global warming on page 13 of the newspaper, while consistently placing stories about members of congress wrangling over budgets on front page. They already know better.”
Perhaps saddest of all, he says: “there are educated, intelligent people who surely love their children working for groups like the American Petroleum Institute and Americans for Clean Coal Electricity. They already know better.”
The lobbyists at the API do know better, but like the tobacco barons before them, they are trying to still spin a web of denial and deception over the science and urgency of climate change.
As the world hurtles towards 400 ppm, the window for meaningful action on climate is rapidly closing. But, as Eister says, politicians, the press and the oil industry, all know better but carry on as if nothing is the problem.
If President Obama is to start listening to people like Eister, one first small step would be to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. But that would only be the first small step of true meaningful action.
Eister argues, “In our minds, we imagine that somehow, someway, this problem will be solved: how, after all, could a world full of responsible adults allow all of our children’s lives, and their children’s lives, to be ruined?"
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
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In Major Win for Indigenous Rights, Supreme Court Rules Much of Eastern Oklahoma Is Still a Reservation
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
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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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