By David Korten
Our present course puts humans on track to be among the species that expire in Earth's ongoing sixth mass extinction. In my conversations with thoughtful people, I am finding increasing acceptance of this horrific premise.
By Alejandro Argumedo
August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. They were domesticated over thousands of years, and continue to be nurtured, by Indigenous people. On this day we give thanks to these cultures for the diversity of our food.
- 28 Organizations Promoting Indigenous Food Sovereignty - EcoWatch ›
- 10 Indigenous Foods You Should Be Eating - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Olivia Sullivan
One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.
Kamikatsu, Japan. Yuki Shimazu / CC BY-SA 2.0<p>This reveals a worldwide truth: Even products made mostly from easily recyclable materials like paper, aluminum or cardboard can't be sorted and recycled if they contain plastic components that can't be separated.</p><p>The truth is, some materials simply aren't recyclable, and <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782" target="_blank">only 9%</a> of all the plastic ever created has <em>been </em>recycled. As Kamikatsu's residents have painstakingly proven, no matter how many categories consumers sort their waste into or how diligently they scrub down their plastic food containers, most plastics <a href="https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Greenpeace-Report-Circular-Claims-Fall-Flat.pdf" target="_blank">cannot be recycled</a>.</p><p>Meanwhile we keep hearing the <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504091-the-insanity-of-plastic-recycling" target="_blank">industry-driven narrative</a> that recycling can stop plastic from choking our marine life or littering our natural places. That's intentionally misleading.</p><p>Around the world, as in Kamikatsu, plastic is everywhere. With excessive amounts of plastic products and packaging stocked on store shelves, it's clear that zero-waste goals cannot be achieved by consumers alone. Plastic is not a "zero waste" material, so in order to achieve zero waste, companies must stop making so much plastic.</p>
Marine debris collected at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. NOAA<p>We can achieve that. The first steps include banning some of the worst and most polluting single-use plastics, placing a pause on the development of new plastics facilities, and protecting state and local governments' ability to enact more stringent regulations.</p><p>We must also shift the paradigm by holding producers responsible for the waste they create. By requiring new plastic products to contain recycled plastic and making producers fund the collection and recycling of plastic products, producers would be incentivized to design longer lasting products that can <em>actually</em> be reused and recycled.</p><p>These goals — outlined in numerous scientific studies and advocacy reports — have some forward motion. In the United States, a federal bill was recently introduced in both the House and the Senate, the <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5845" target="_blank">Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act</a>. If passed this bill — or others like it on the local, state or national levels — could help move the world beyond single-use plastics and make that needed systemic change a reality.</p><p>The bill hasn't moved forward since it was introduced this past February, but the world is still on a deadline. A recent study published in the journal <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/07/22/science.aba9475" target="_blank"><em>Science</em></a> looked at rising levels of plastic production and said "coordinated global action is urgently needed to reduce plastic consumption, increase rates of reuse, waste collection and recycling, expand safe disposal systems and accelerate innovation in the plastic value chain."</p><p>Requiring producers to stop making nonrecyclable products designed to be thrown out is the first step toward achieving that goal. Only then will Kamikatsu and other towns, cities and countries around the world finally be able to eliminate plastic pollution and reach 100% zero waste.</p><p><em>The opinions expressed above are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of </em>The Revelator<em>, the Center for Biological Diversity or their employees.</em></p><p><a href="https://therevelator.org/author/oliviasullivan/" target="_blank">Olivia Sullivan</a> <em><em>is a zero waste associate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) working on a campaign to move the United States beyond plastic.</em></em></p><p><em><em><span></span>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://therevelator.org/cities-zero-waste/" target="_blank">The Revelator</a>. </em></em></p>
Coronavirus Shines Light on Zoos as Danger Zones for Deadly Disease Transmission Between Humans and Animals
By Marilyn Kroplick
The term "zoonotic disease" wasn't a hot topic of conversation before the novel coronavirus started spreading across the globe and upending lives. Now, people are discovering how devastating viruses that transfer from animals to humans can be. But the threat can go both ways — animals can also get sick from humans. There is no better time to reconsider the repercussions of keeping animals captive at zoos, for the sake of everyone's health.
- Can Your Pets Get and Transmit Coronavirus? - EcoWatch ›
- Jane Goodall: COVID-19 Is Result of Our Unhealthy Relationship ... ›
- North Carolina Pug Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Could Be First ... ›
By Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida
The immediate emergency of COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder that the most valuable things in our lives are our families, friends, and the welfare of our communities.
Thousands of People in the SJV Live Without Reliable Access to Water.<p>California is the wealthiest state in the most prosperous country in the world, and yet, there are close to one million people living without reliable access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. Most of these people are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/us/california-central-valley-tainted-water.html" target="_blank">concentrated in disadvantaged communities</a> in the SJV. California identifies <a href="https://oehha.ca.gov/calenviroscreen/sb535" target="_blank">disadvantaged communities</a> as areas that experience disproportionate levels of a combination of poverty, air and water pollution, high unemployment, and high rates of cardiovascular diseases and asthma. According to a report from the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, residents in these communities are <a href="https://regionalchange.ucdavis.edu/publication/water-justice" target="_blank">over 60% Hispanic</a>.</p><p><span></span>The SJV is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, <a href="https://www.ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/water-and-the-future-of-the-san-joaquin-valley-overview.pdf" target="_blank">producing more than half of California's agricultural output</a> with over 200 different crops and annual revenue of about 20 billion US dollars. The astonishing volume of water that agriculture requires has led to over-exploitation of groundwater and the continuous lowering of groundwater levels that has impacted water quality and quantity.</p><p>Groundwater is the primary source for household water needs and agricultural water supply. Yet, thousands of people are unable to drink and use the water in the SJV, because there are multiple contaminants in it. Some of the water pollution comes from natural sources and includes substances like arsenic, but most of it has emerged due to agricultural practices. These contaminants include pesticides and nitrates, which are linked to cancer, birth defects, and blue baby syndrome.</p><p>In years with average precipitation, water flowing in California's rivers from rain and melted snowpack meets about 60 percent of the state's water demand and groundwater meets the remainder. However, during dry years water supply sources shift and put severe stress on groundwater levels. During the California drought from 2012 to 2016, groundwater use, mostly from agricultural water pumping, <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/droughts-exposed-california-s-thirst-groundwater-now-state-hopes-refill-its-aquifers" target="_blank">grew to 80 percent</a> in some regions of the SJV increasing overdraft. Groundwater overdraft occurs when water extractions exceed recharge into an aquifer. An analogy is your bank account; extract more money than is put in, and your account will go dry. Aquifers are like a shared account, with some people taking out more than others. Consequently, thousands of domestic wells ran dry, unable to reach water due to lowered groundwater levels, in large part due to increased agricultural water pumping, and affecting thousands of people across the valley.</p><p>We think about drought as standalone events, but in reality, human actions triggered by droughts can have effects that continue long after the drought has ended, like permanently lowering the water table. In the SJV, the last drought has permanently reduced the capacity of some aquifers because overdraft left air in between soil particles instead of water, and the soils subsided eliminating the space for water storage. Overdraft also leads to infrastructure damage from land subsidence, that is when the ground levels drop, plus reduction of surface water, and an increase in water quality problems. That range of concerns brought by overdraft formed the basis of SGMA.</p>
Groundwater Sustainability Plans Could Fix Part of the Problem but Are Currently Inadequate.<p>SGMA passed in 2014 and is the first legislation in California to mandate sustainable management of groundwater resources. SGMA is intended to bring about groundwater sustainability by the year 2040. Local water agencies describe the means to achieve this goal in their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). For those interested in the details of SGMA, <a href="https://water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/SGMA-Groundwater-Management" target="_blank">here is a thorough description of it</a>. The focus of this post is on the latest developments.</p><p>The 21 most critically over-drafted groundwater basins submitted their GSPs at the beginning of the year and are now under review by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). External reviews of these plans argue that some of them do not sufficiently address current and future impacts on disadvantaged communities. For example, the Groundwater Leadership Forum (a group of organizations funded by the <a href="https://waterfdn.org/" target="_blank">Water Foundation</a> focused on ensuring the success of SGMA and of which UCS is part) also reviewed several GPSs and found gaps in how drinking water, climate change, stakeholder involvement, managed wetlands, and groundwater-dependent ecosystems were addressed in the plans. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reviewed 36 plans submitted for basins overlapping the SJV. They found Kings Basin (surrounding Fresno) stands out for having the highest number of domestic wells that may go dry, about 600 of them, under the proposed water level sustainable thresholds and yet the local groundwater plan considers that an <a href="https://www.ppic.org/blog/will-groundwater-sustainability-plans-end-the-problem-of-dry-drinking-water-wells/" target="_blank">insignificant impact from continued overdraft</a>. This is concerning and unacceptable. Public comments can be consulted in the <a href="https://sgma.water.ca.gov/portal/gsp/all" target="_blank">SGMA portal from DWR</a>.</p><p>I, and many others are concerned that multiple GSPs have questionable integrations of climate change projections. GSPs are considering numerous projects to tackle their local overdraft, yet they are not planning for the uncertain future that climate change is bringing. To reduce some of the vulnerabilities that we see now, GSPs need to integrate climate change and show benefits on the range of future scenarios.</p><p>Another concern is that on May 14, the <a href="http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf" target="_blank">Governor announced</a> a $40 million cut on funding for SGMA. Part of the money was expected to support 37 new staff positions at DWR to uphold its statutory obligation on reviewing GSPs. While the budget still allocated $26 million of existing Proposition 68 bond funds to help with implementation projects in critically overdraft basin, it is unlikely that DWR will have the capacity to review the GSPs thoroughly. However, the governor's budget did prioritize safe and affordable drinking water and the State Water Board approved <a href="http://californiawaternewsdaily.com/infrastructure/state-water-board-approves-2020-21-funds-to-improve-access-to-healthy-drinking-water/" target="_blank">$130 million for 2020-2021</a> to projects that support such objective on vulnerable communities.</p>
Without Bold Action and Preparation, Climate Change Threats May Bring Similar Impacts to Those of COVID-19.<p>The lack of drinking water causes many residents in the valley to rely on bottled water as their primary source for drinking and cooking. Panic buying at the beginning of the pandemic left stores across the valley without bottled water. In the case of COVID-19, unsafe and unreliable access to water has endangered a multitude of low-income communities by preventing them from performing protective, hygienic acts, handwashing, in particular, and forcing them to go to public water supply kiosks. As we've all learned, hand washing is one of the most necessary measures needed to slow and stop the spread of a virus. Without a correct implementation of groundwater sustainability plans under SGMA, many of these risks will continue.</p><p>Shelter in place orders resulted in people losing their jobs and hence, their source of income and being unable to pay utility services. Small utility services were also impacted because of low economic margins of operations in which small drops in income translate to being unable to provide service. Fortunately, many organizations and individuals wrote a letter to Governor Newsom that prompted him to issue an <a href="https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/04/02/governor-newsom-issues-executive-order-protecting-homes-small-businesses-from-water-shutoffs/" target="_blank">executive order</a> protecting homes and small businesses from water shutoffs.</p><p>We now have the opportunity to give meaning to these current hardships by learning from them to prevent hardships from climate change. Climate change is a threat intensifier. In this case, the threat is a virus, and historical inequities and water vulnerabilities increased its impact on the most vulnerable among us. An example of the unpreparedness of the system to support our vulnerabilities during times of crisis is seen in the case of school children who rely on school lunches as their main meal of the day but are now unable to access this resource due to school closures. Some farmworkers, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/us/coronavirus-undocumented-immigrant-farmworkers-agriculture.html" target="_blank">while cataloged as 'essential' by the federal government</a> during this crisis, are undocumented and were not part of the stimulus package. The height of irony is <a href="https://www.kvpr.org/post/covid-19-deepens-food-insecurity-san-joaquin-valley" target="_blank">farmworkers struggled with access to food distribution</a> when they needed it.</p>
There Is No Scenario Where Water Is Not Absolutely Necessary to Lessen the Impacts During a Crisis.<p>One of my <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/cecilia-moura/covid-19-air-pollution-and-health-impacts-an-interview-with-pediatric-pulmonologist-dr-denise-serebrisky" target="_blank">colleagues wrote</a> that moments of crisis often expose the weak points of a system. In the SJV, the weak points of the water system have been exposed for years and won't be strengthened without managing water resources sustainably. This is evidenced by the number of people in the SJV without access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. Considering that about <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/28/california-water-wells-dry-sgma" target="_blank">95% of valley residents</a> depend on groundwater for at least part of their water, it is critical that GSPs explicitly include strategies for addressing some of the current and future water issues in the SJV.</p><p>Numerous, various kinds of climate threats will come, whether they develop as <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0804-2" target="_blank">floods, heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, or other climate hazards</a>, we need to be prepared and do everything possible to improve sustainable water management for all. While future climate-change-derived crises most likely will be different than COVID-19, there is no scenario where water is not absolutely necessary to lessen the impacts.</p>
By Varshini Prakash and John Podesta
At the 2019 Republican Retreat, Donald Trump promised his allies that he would make this election about climate change: "I want to bring them way down the pike," he said, "before we start criticizing the Green New Deal."
- Kamala Harris Becomes Latest 2020 Dem to Support a Green New ... ›
- 5 Key Questions About the Green New Deal - EcoWatch ›
- 81% of Voters Support a Green New Deal, Survey Finds - EcoWatch ›
By Joseph J. Fins and Samuel Bagenstos
When President George Herbert Walker Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990, we doubt he was thinking about protecting people with disabilities during a pandemic. How could he? It was unimaginable to conjure up the catastrophe wrought by the coronavirus. We can excuse that oversight.
By Bill McKibben
The upcoming election looks to be an apocalyptic turning point for our democracy—and our planet. In Turnout! Mobilizing Voters in an Emergency, political visionaries and movement leaders such as Bill McKibben define the urgency of this moment and provide a manual for turning out voters in an age of extreme inequality, climate change, and pandemic.
- Trump Seeks to Frack the 2020 Election - EcoWatch ›
- Latino Voters Worried About Climate Change Could Swing 2020 ... ›
- Climate Change Is a Top Concern in 2020 Election - EcoWatch ›
By Jennie Gosché
In late 2019, before the world was completely upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, I was presented a last-minute chance to photograph polar bears outside one of the northernmost villages in the United States — Kaktovik, Alaska. It was an opportunity I couldn't refuse, and as the COVID-19 pandemic now stretches into summer 2020, I'm grateful I accepted.
Polar bears adorn the sign leading into Kaktovik. Jennie Gosché<p>Kaktovik is an Inupiat native village of around 250 people on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, located on barrier islands at the edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. My first trip there took place in September 2016, and I traveled with the purpose to photograph the <a href="https://www.usgs.gov/news/southern-beaufort-sea-polar-bear-population-declined-2000s#:~:text=The%20polar%20bear%20was%20listed,ice%20loss%20on%20their%20populations." target="_blank">threatened Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear population</a>. The coastal region of the Arctic Refuge in fall is a special place to photograph these magnificent animals, as they congregate on dirt and sand spits of land waiting for the winter ice of the Beaufort Sea to make its way to the Alaska shore.</p><p>During the late summer and early fall, Inupiat boat owners from Kaktovik guide "tourist" photographers out to view polar bears from a safe distance in the placid lagoon adjacent to the raging waves of the Beaufort Sea. I joined one such group of photographers led by <a href="https://hughrosephotography.com/" target="_blank">Hugh Rose</a>, a professional photographer and geologist who lives in Fairbanks, and we took a short charter flight from Deadhorse to Kaktovik, landing in a morning snowstorm. But by afternoon, the sun was out and we had three and a half days of sunshine that combined with the ice and snow to create great conditions in which to photograph polar bears.</p>
The welcome sign at the Waldo Arms Hotel. Jeff Stamer / www.firefallphotography.com<p>We were out in the lagoon twice a day, breaking only for lunch at our hotel, the modest but welcoming <a href="http://www.waldoarmshotel.net/" target="_blank">Waldo Arms Hotel</a> owned by Walt "Waldo" Audi and Merlyn Trainer — one of only two options for places to stay in Kaktovik when visiting. The boat guides are skilled, and they have to be, because knowledge and awareness of depths in the lagoon is critical to prevent a boat from getting stuck in shallow water.</p>
Polar bear viewing is done by boat for the safety of both people and polar bears. Jennie Gosché<p>This trip we were in a boat with a heated cabin, a perk since we were there later in the season. Our boat driver, however, told us that at that very same time the previous year, the lagoon was completely frozen over. He shared this as we floated on the lagoon in open water, though ice was visible in places and we occasionally heard pieces rubbing against the hull of the metal boat.</p><p>____________________________________________________________________________________________________________</p><p>With rapidly rising temperatures, <a href="http://forestry.alaska.gov/Assets/pdfs/firestats/2019%20Alaska%20Fire%20Statistics.pdf" target="_blank">increases in wildfires</a>, thawing permafrost, receding glaciers, <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/11/21/new-report-sheds-more-light-on-climate-change-impacts-to-alaska-native-villages/" target="_blank">eroding coastlines</a> and disappearing sea ice, <a href="https://www.cjr.org/special_report/whats-become-of-arctic.php" target="_blank">Alaska and the Arctic are on the front lines of climate change</a>. It has hit Alaska's rural communities and <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/11/21/new-report-sheds-more-light-on-climate-change-impacts-to-alaska-native-villages/" target="_blank">Alaska Native villages especially hard</a>, including villages like <a href="https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/11/25/changes-in-climate-make-alaskas-traditional-ice-cellars-unreliable/" target="_blank">Kaktovik</a>. Warming waters and the disappearing Arctic ice cap are also impacting ocean life, from plankton to <a href="https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/Polar-bears-face-swimming-to-land-or-ecological-trap-as-sea-ice-diminishes-567243261.html" target="_blank">polar bears</a> to whales. And the decline in sea ice is making it <a href="https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/seaice/environment/indigenous_impacts.html" target="_blank">increasingly unsafe for humans and wildlife to travel across it</a> to hunt marine mammals like seals, walrus and bowhead whales.</p>
Coastal erosion is causing permafrost to thaw and break off, here along the Arctic coastal plain in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area of the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska. Brandt Meixell, U.S.Geological Survey<p>The Inupiat are primarily subsistence hunters and whalers, harvesting whales each summer (in addition to caribou and other wildlife), the meat from which is shared by the entire village. It is a staple of their diet and has been for thousands of years, but as temperatures warm, the lack of ice combined with changes in whale migration patterns and timing could make hunting progressively more difficult.</p><p>The Inupiat <a href="https://www.fws.gov/refuge/arctic/pbcommunity.html" target="_blank">share their whale meat with the polar bears</a>, something they have done for many years. This gesture provides much needed food for polar bears, especially as they spend longer periods of time on land due to the receding sea ice. When I visited Kaktovik in 2016, my most memorable photo is of a cub on top of whale bones, shaking what looks like animal skin in its mouth.</p>
Bears have learned to scavenge whale carcasses left over from successful whaling hunts. Jennie Gosché<p>As I returned to the village in late 2019, however, they had moved the bone pile away from the lagoon to an area off-limits to tourists. I was told the bone pile now only stays on land for a short time, and then the bones are pushed into the ocean. Eventually, this change could affect the overall health of the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears, as many of them increasingly den on land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and utilize the shared whale meat for sustenance during the summer and early fall before they enter their maternal birthing dens in November.<br>____________________________________________________________________________________________________________</p>
Oil production facilities dominate the region around Prudhoe Bay, to the West of the Arctic Refuge. Florian Schulz / www.florianschulz.org<p>Helping to prevent development in the <a href="https://www.alaskawild.org/places-we-protect/arctic-refuge/" target="_blank">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> — a place that supports the greatest variety of plant and animal life in the entire circumpolar north — is very important to me, not least of all because the <a href="https://www.alaskawild.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/USGS-wildlife-report-statement-1-26-2018-FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">U.S. government has admitted</a> it simply doesn't have enough information about the impacts of oil and gas development on the coastal plain to protect its wildlife and other values. Oil drilling <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2019/11/20/477495/trumps-energy-policies-put-alaska-climate-crosshairs/" target="_blank">will compound the devastating climate impacts</a> already being felt by villages in the region, increasing carbon emissions, worsening climate pollution and further harming front line communities.</p><p>Especially now, in the midst of an uncertain present and looking forward to an uncertain future, we need to press pause on Arctic Refuge development. Instead of recklessly rushing ahead, more research over extended periods of time is needed so that we can fully understand the potential impact oil drilling will have on local villages, our climate and wildlife like the majestic polar bear.</p>
A mother nurses her cubs. Jennie Gosché<p><em>Jennie Gosché has traveled to the Arctic seven times to photograph polar bears. Having visited the five countries where polar bears are found (Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, the United States and Canada), Kaktovik, Alaska, has become her favorite place to photograph them. Jennie's photography has been exhibited in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and Maryland. She is a member of Alaska Wilderness League.</em></p>
By Jennifer A. Mallow
COVID-19 has led to a boom in telehealth, with some health care facilities seeing an increase in its use by as much as 8,000%.
Telehealth Technologies<p>There are three main types of telehealth: synchronous, asynchronous and remote monitoring. Knowing when to use each one – and having the right technology on hand – is critical to using telehealth wisely.</p><p><a href="https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth/live-video-synchronous" target="_blank">Synchronous telehealth</a> is a live, two-way interaction, usually over video or phone. Health care providers generally prefer video conferencing over phone calls because aside from tasks that require physical touch, nearly anything that can be done in person can be done over video. But some things, like the taking of blood samples, for example, simply cannot be done over video.</p><p>Many of the limitations of video conferencing can be overcome with the second telehealth approach, remote patient monitoring. Patients can use devices at home to get objective data that is <a href="https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth/remote-patient-monitoring-rpm" target="_blank">automatically uploaded to health care providers</a>. Devices exist to measure blood pressure, temperature, heart rhythms and many other aspects of health. These devices are great for getting reliable data that can show trends over time. Researchers have shown that remote monitoring approaches are as effective as – and in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnr134" target="_blank">some cases better than</a> – in-person care for many chronic conditions.</p><p>Some remaining gaps can be filled with the third type, <a href="https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth/store-and-forward-asynchronous" target="_blank">asynchronous telehealth</a>. Patients and providers can use the internet to answer questions, describe symptoms, refill prescription refills, make appointments and for other general communication.</p><p>Unfortunately, not every provider or patient has the technology or the experience to use live video conferencing or remote monitoring equipment. But even having all the available telehealth technology does not mean that telehealth can solve every problem.</p>
Ongoing Care and First Evaluations<p>Generally, telehealth is right for patients who have ongoing conditions or who need an initial evaluation of a sudden illness.</p><p>Because telehealth makes it easier to have have frequent check-ins compared to in-person care, managing ongoing care for chronic illnesses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01057.x" target="_blank">diabetes</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1474515119826510" target="_blank">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1258/jtt.2009.090812" target="_blank">lung disease</a> can be as safe as or better than in-person care.</p><p>Research has shown that it can also be used effectively to diagnose and even treat new and short-term health issues as well. The tricky part is knowing which situations can be dealt with remotely.</p><p>Imagine you took a fall and want to get medical advice to make sure you didn't break your arm. If you were to go to a hospital or clinic, almost always, the first health care professional you'd see is a primary care generalist, like me. That person will, if possible, diagnose the problem and give you basic medical advice: "You've got a large bruise, but nothing appears to be broken. Just rest, put some ice on it and take a pain reliever." If I look at your arm and think you need more involved care, I would recommend the next steps you should take: "Your arm looks like it might be fractured. Let's order you an X-ray."</p>
Balancing Risk<p>With the right technology and in the right situations, telehealth is an incredibly effective tool. But the question of when to use telehealth must also take into account the risk and burden of getting care.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2020.04.016" target="_blank">COVID-19 increases the risks of in-person care</a>, so while you should obviously still go to a hospital if you think you may be having a heart attack, right now, it might be better to have a telehealth consultation about acne – even if you might prefer an in-person appointment.</p><p>Burden is another thing to consider. Time off work, travel, wait times and the many other inconveniences that go along with an in-person visit aren't necessary simply to get refills for ongoing medication. But, if a provider needs to draw a patient's blood to monitor the safety or effectiveness of a prescription medicine, the burden of an in-person visit to the lab is likely worth the increased risk.</p><p>Of course, not all health care can be done by telehealth, but a lot can, and research shows that in many cases, it's just as good as in-person care. As the pandemic continues and other problems need addressing, think about the right telehealth fit for you, and talk to your health care team about the services offered, your risks and your preferences. You might find that that there are far fewer waiting rooms in your future.</p>
By Kevin J. Krizek
Sticking closer to home because of COVID-19 has shown many people what cities can be like with less traffic, noise, congestion and pollution. Roads and parking lots devoted to cars take up a lot of land. For example, in Phoenix, Los Angeles and New York City these spaces account for over one-third of each city's total area.
The Dangerous, Expensive Automobile<p>In large U.S. cities, nearly half of all car trips are <a href="https://doi.org/10.32866/10777" target="_blank">less than four miles</a>. Using cars to travel such short distances has many costs.</p><p>For example, consider traffic fatalities. Two pedestrians or cyclists die every hour on U.S. city streets, a national trend that's been <a href="http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/180624.aspx" target="_blank">worsening</a> in recent years, even though cycling and walking rates are <a href="https://bikeleague.org/content/new-data-bike-commuting" target="_blank">steady or declining</a>. Pollution from cars contributes to climate change and worsens air quality. Designing cities around cars <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-are-stranded-in-transit-deserts-in-dozens-of-us-cities-92722" target="_blank">marginalizes individuals who don't have them</a>.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b5c9ddfda1e03726192181fedaef4a35"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/h-I6HFQXquU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>In my view, this is the time to move beyond the "grab the keys" mentality on the way out the door, as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2015.1057196" target="_blank">millennials</a> and <a href="https://washpirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/don%E2%80%99t-believe-hype-%E2%80%93-millennials%E2%80%99-transportation-habits-are-changing" target="_blank">GenXers</a> already are doing. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/opinion/ban-cars-manhattan-cities.html" target="_blank">New visions</a> for streets, where cars use less space and are replaced by smaller vehicles built for individual riders, are gaining currency.</p><p>These modes of transport might be <a href="https://electrek.co/2020/06/19/cityqs-enclosed-electric-car-ebike-begins-taking-pre-orders/" target="_blank">new forms of e-bikes</a>, e-scooters or hoverboards. These novel vehicles, which were already <a href="https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/06/17/four-signs-this-might-be-micromobilitys-big-moment/" target="_blank">attracting attention</a> before COVID-19, complement conventional bicycles, whose <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/nyregion/bike-shortage-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">sales have boomed</a> during the pandemic.</p>
New Thinking, Different Results<p>Increasingly, thinking about the future of cities suggests that chiefly relying on cars as a form of transport <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/opinion/us-infrastructure-plan.html" target="_blank">has run its course</a>. By minimally modifying the existing infrastructure, it is possible for city leaders to repurpose roads and parking spaces while ensuring the same ease of being able to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2020.102336" target="_blank">reach daily services</a>.</p><p>Emerging forms of mobility and changing mindsets can help deliver these opportunities. Bicycles and bicycle-like vehicles provide a catalyst to shift how city streets are used.</p><p>Research demonstrates that people will adopt new ways of getting around town when they are confident that an entire route, including intersections and parking lots, is safe for travel. Some COVID-19-induced street changes that have emerged recently, such as <a href="https://globaldesigningcities.org/publication/global-street-design-guide/designing-streets-people/designing-for-motorists/traffic-calming-strategies/" target="_blank">reducing the number of traffic lanes</a> and <a href="https://www.insider.com/cities-closed-streets-for-pedestrians-covid-lockdowns-2020-5#eventually-new-york-city-aims-to-open-a-total-of-100-miles-of-streets-for-free-use-to-pedestrians-2" target="_blank">closing streets to traffic</a>, are a good first step. But they lack the network component.</p><p>Networks quickly develop the more people use them. The quickest way to build one that is scaled and purposed for people begins by identifying streets used to make short trips. These are places near neighborhood retail districts, schools and other activity centers.</p><p>Informed by local data, leaders can make decisions about which streets should give priority to vehicles such as bicycles, not cars. Changes might include physically demarcated lanes and signs making statements like "Cars are guests." Initially, these changes might require waivers to exempt them from adhering to current engineering guidelines and standards – restrictions that stifle innovation.</p>
<div id="96008" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3bf9becba1577cd577d5dbdcf6a08dc6"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1264305002203492352" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Avenue B, as it should B, as it was meant to B, serving a variety of active road users AND promoting social distanc… https://t.co/KPWPu4wdzu</div> — madamwestbikes (@madamwestbikes)<a href="https://twitter.com/madamwestbikes/statuses/1264305002203492352">1590268776.0</a></blockquote></div>
- Will Trains Play a Key Role in the European Green Deal? - EcoWatch ›
- Elon Musk Unveils Tesla Model 3: Accelerating Sustainable ... ›
- Using Uber and Lyft Might Not Be as Green as You Think - EcoWatch ›