Costa Rica President Announces 'Titanic and Beautiful Task' of Abolishing Fossil Fuels
Carlos Alvarado, the new president of Costa Rica, announced the country's "titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies."
He made the remarks at his inauguration speech Wednesday in front of a crowd of thousands, the Independent reported.
The 38-year-old former journalist also wants the country to be a global example in decarbonization.
"Decarbonization is the great task of our generation, and Costa Rica must be among the first countries in the world to achieve it, if not the first," he said.
Para la COP 26 del año 2020, así como de cara al Bicentenario, Costa Rica deberá estar ya liderando los acuerdos de… https://t.co/Lz0NLKjPp5— Carlos Alvarado Quesada (@Carlos Alvarado Quesada)1525796798.0
The Central American nation already derives most of its electricity without using fossil fuels. Last year, the country of 4.8 million people ran for 300 consecutive days on its renewable energy mix of hydropower, wind and geothermal. That impressive feat bested its 2015 record of 299 days of 100 percent renewable production. It also went 271 days using only renewable energy production in 2016.
Despite a 98 percent renewable power grid, Costa Rica has a gasoline-dependent transportation sector, with roughly half of its emissions coming from transport.
Still, the government has been working hard to green its fleet. Former president Luis Guillermo Solís signed a law that eliminates sales, customs and circulation taxes for electric vehicles and allows them to use municipal parking facilities free of charge.
Alvarado, who arrived to his inauguration ceremony at the Plaza de la Democracy on a hydrogen bus, campaigned on modernizing and electrifying older modes of transport, promoting research and development in hydrogen and biofuels, and banning oil and gas exploration in the country.
In a speech last month, he announced intentions to ban fossil fuels for transportation by 2021, the year Costa Rica reaches 200 years of independence.
Energy experts, however, cast doubt on the plan, as Reuters reported. They warn that the plan to eliminate fossil fuels in a handful of years is unrealistic.
Oscar Echeverría, president of the Vehicle and Machinery Importers Association, said the switch to clean transport cannot be rushed because the market is so far undeveloped.
"If there's no previous infrastructure, competence, affordable prices and waste management we'd be leading this process to failure. We need to be careful," Echeverría explained to the news service.
But economist Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia, praised the government's focus on weaning off polluting energy sources.
"Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that's starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies," she told Reuters. "Tackling resistance to change is one of the most important tasks we have right now."
Costa Rica Wants to Become World's First Country to Eliminate Single-Use Plastics https://t.co/KNV2A37kxo @HealTheBay @savingoceans— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1502226912.0
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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