Earth Hour 2018: Globe Unites to Celebrate People’s Connection to Planet
Individuals, businesses and organizations in a record 188 countries and territories worldwide joined WWF's Earth Hour Saturday to spark unprecedented conversation and action on stopping the loss of nature, a day after 550 scientists warned of a "dangerous decline" in global biodiversity.
Close to 18,000 landmarks switched off their lights in solidarity as people across the globe generated more than 3.5 billion impressions of #EarthHour, #connect2earth and related hashtags to show their concern for the planet. The hashtags trended in 33 countries.
"Once again, the people have spoken through Earth Hour," said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International. "The record participation in this year's Earth Hour, from skylines to timelines, is a powerful reminder that people want to connect to Earth. People are demanding commitment now on halting climate change and the loss of nature. The stakes are high and we need urgent action to protect the health of the planet for a safe future for us and all life on Earth."
From Colombia to Indonesia to Fiji, Earth Hour 2018 mobilized people to join efforts to protect forests and mangroves. In Romania, hundreds of people showed their commitment to safeguarding nature by writing symbolic letters to rivers, forests and wildlife. In Africa, 24 countries celebrated Earth Hour to highlight the most pressing conservation challenges they face such as access to renewable energy, freshwater resources and habitat degradation.
Earth Hour 2018 celebrations in ScotlandWWF
This Earth Hour, for the first time, people across the globe also joined the conversation on connect2earth to share what nature means to them, in the places they live in and care about. The platform, created in partnership with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity and supported by Germany's Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety with funding from the International Climate Initiative, aims to build mass awareness on the values of biodiversity and nature to our lives, health and well-being.
"The science is clear: the loss of nature is a global crisis. Wildlife has declined by close to 60 percent in just over 40 years. Our planet is at a crossroads and we cannot have a prosperous future on a depleted, degraded planet. Together as a global community we can turn things around. People must mobilize and join governments and companies toward stronger action on biodiversity and nature—the time to act is now," added Lambertini.
The impacts of accelerating biodiversity loss and climate change on the planet are profound, as are the consequences for humanity. As French President Emmanuel Macron stated in a special message for Earth Hour, "The time for denial is long past, we are losing our battle against climate change and the collapse of biodiversity. If this trend continues, our planet's ecosystems will collapse, along with the clean air, water, food and stable climate that they provide."
To drive further global awareness and action on nature and the environment, WWF has also joined forces with the World Organization of the Scout Movement this Earth Hour. The energy and voices of 50 million scouts worldwide send a resounding message to decision-makers worldwide that the time to act on nature, for nature is now.
WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world will continue to empower individuals, communities, businesses and governments to be a part of environmental action. In his video statement for Earth Hour, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated the need for people to work together to build a sustainable future for all. Strengthened by the support shown, teams will renew the charge to tackle issues such as sustainable lifestyles, deforestation, plastic pollution and ocean conservation across continents.
Earth Hour 2018 celebrations in RussiaWWF
Earth Hour 2018: Facts and figures (based on initial estimates on March 25, 2018):
- 188 countries and territories focused on environmental action and issues such as protecting biodiversity, sustainable lifestyles, deforestation, plastics and stronger climate policy;
- Lights out at around 17,900 landmarks including the Sydney Opera House (Sydney), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (London), the Tokyo Sky Tree (Tokyo), the Empire State Building (New York), the Pyramids of Egypt (Cairo), Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Abu Dhabi), Christ the Redeemer statue (Rio de Janeiro) and the Eiffel Tower (Paris);
- 3.5 billion + impressions of official campaign hashtags between January and March 2018. Related hashtags also trended in 33 countries;
- Around 250 celebrities and influencers worldwide also raised their voice for the planet including Andy Murray, Jared Leto, Ellie Goulding, The Killers, Amitabh Bachchan, Li Bingbing, Park Seo-joon, Claudia Bahamon and Roger Milla;
- Earth Hour partners include Zinkia Entertainment Ltd, creators of popular cartoon character Pocoyo, and crowdsourcing platform Userfarm.
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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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