How You Can Protect Forests and Wildlife From the Comfort of Your Couch
By Alyson Merlin
The scale of global conservation can seem daunting, and it is hard to incorporate the fight against global deforestation into our daily routines. If you want to help, but don't have the stored-up vacation days to participate in on-the-ground activism, the National Wildlife Federation has good news for you! The places where you rest your feet after work or school—from fancy sectionals to self-assembled futons—are actually key to saving the world's forests!
The furnishings industry (which includes indoor furniture and decorations) is the third greatest user of wood in the U.S. after the construction and paper industries. So, where do manufacturers (and later, retailers) get this wood? Do your favorite companies proudly display on their websites that their products come from certified forests, such as those that the Forest Stewardship Council have vetted for responsible management? Or is the sourcing information of major furniture retailers hard to find? We believe you have a right to know. That's why National Wildlife Federation and the Sustainable Furnishings Council have partnered to bring you our Furniture Scorecard.
How We Did It
We scored 57 major furniture retail companies on the existence, availability and quality of their wood sourcing policies, as well as for visibly selling products made from recycled or reclaimed wood. Then we got to work, reaching out to give every firm the opportunity to dispute or confirm their scoring. Now, we're giving that information to you. On this site, you can browse our collected data, check up on your favorite brands and weigh the environmental cost of that new coffee table you've been eyeing online.
Why Should You Care?
Deforestation and forest degradation are devastating our planet. Currently 13 million hectares of tropical forest are cut down each year– that's an area the size of England– and these forests are home to some of the world's most endangered species. At current rates, habitat loss will drive many species of tigers, elephants, orangutans and numerous other plants and animals to extinction. Not to mention, deforestation accounts for about 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity; protecting forests is essential to halting and moderating the effects of Global Climate Change.
This destruction is more than just statistics. Take for example, the orangutan. All three species of orangutan (Pongo abelii, Pongo pygmaeus and Pongo tapanuliensis) are known for their intelligence and advanced maternal care, and all three are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature RedList. The biggest threat to their existence is habitat loss due to deforestation and forest fragmentation. It is estimated that 61.5 percent of Bornean Orangutan habitat will be lost by 2025. Unless current trends of global deforestation are reversed, these amazing apes will disappear forever.
How to Help From Home
National Wildlife Federation wants to show companies that we, as consumers, care about where our products come from and how they affect wildlife! Start by taking a look at the Furniture Scorecard and then make an informed decision about where you purchase your next loveseat. And sign a pledge to help us demonstrate to brands and retailers that consumers want products that are not associated with habitat destruction. With your pledge, we can all help make a positive change in the market to save forests and wildlife!
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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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