Earth Day Will Fight for Climate Action on Its 50th Anniversary
Earth Day 2019 just passed, but planning has already begun for Earth Day 2020, and it's going to be a big deal.
"Climate change represents the biggest challenge to humanity's future and the systems that make our world habitable," Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers said in a press release. "2020 has to be the year of transformative change that seizes the positive action underway and makes it bigger and bolder worldwide."
Warming since the first #EarthDay (March, since April 2019 isn’t finished yet. https://t.co/uK6ykO78y7) https://t.co/rgKNrDqK96— Gavin Schmidt (@Gavin Schmidt)1555941743.0
A major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released last year found that greenhouse gas emissions needed to fall to 45 percent of 2010 levels in order for the world to meet the Paris agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That means world leaders now have 11 years to make changes that the IPCC said had "no documented historic precedent."
Ahead of its 50th anniversary, the Earth Day Network seeks to encourage change through a series of initiatives.
1. Vote Earth: In 2019 and 2020, there will be more than 60 major national elections around the world. This initiative encourages voters to engage with candidates on climate and vote for the would-be leaders with the best environmental policies. It also seeks to register one million voters around Earth Day 2020.
2. Earth Challenge 2020: This initiative seeks to organize the largest ever citizen scientist initiative to report on environmental health. An Earth Challenge 2020 app will be launched at the start of the year.
3. Billion Acts of Green: The network will update its landmark Billion Acts of Green program with a goal of 3.5 billion environmentally-friendly acts completed and logged in 2020.
4. Great Global Cleanup: The Earth Day Network plans to learn from cleanups in U.S. cities this year to scale up towards what it hopes will be the largest environmental volunteer event ever, coordinating people around the world to pick up billions of pieces of trash.
Denis Hayes, the lead organizer of the original Earth Day, told reporters at the National Press Club Monday that he was optimistic about Earth Day 2020, and the planet's overall future.
"2020 will be for climate what 1970 was for other environmental issues," Hayes said, as ThinkProgress reported.
Heyes said he was especially encouraged by the youth activism around climate, such as the school strikes inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and the Sunrise Movement's push for a Green New Deal in the U.S. Hayes acknowledged that President Donald Trump had "appointed the two worst EPA administrators in history," but thought the tide would turn against his pro-fossil-fuel policies.
"I'm confident that the end is in sight. When conditions are right, people are ready to demand change, and America can turn on a dime," Hayes said, as Voice of America reported.
This was partly born out by Hayes own experience with the original Earth Day, which he helped organize when he was just 25 years old, ThinkProgress reported.
Denis Allen Hayes, an advocate of solar power, left Harvard after being selected by Senator Gaylord Nelson to organ… https://t.co/WHfYrQUb6c— NBC News Archives (@NBC News Archives)1555947248.0
After 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day, "powerful laws that had been unthinkable in 1969 became unstoppable by the end of 1970," he said.
Those laws included the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
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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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