Goldsmiths, University of London announced the beef ban Monday as part of a series of steps designed to help the institution, which has declared a climate emergency, go carbon neutral by 2025. Other measures include an extra 10 pence charge for bottled water and single-use plastic cups and the installation of more solar panels on its campus in Southeast London.
Goldsmiths’ new Warden Professor Frances Corner has announced an ambitious drive for the College to be carbon neutral by 2025.— Goldsmiths (@GoldsmithsUoL) August 12, 2019
The plan includes the removal of all beef products from campus outlets and a 10p levy on plastic bottles https://t.co/sYRHZ0gxxa
"Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words," Goldsmiths' new Warden Prof. Frances Corner said in a statement. "I truly believe we face a defining moment in global history and Goldsmiths now stands shoulder to shoulder with other organisations willing to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use."
Goldsmiths' announcement comes about a week after a draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended a global shift towards vegetarian diets in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Agriculture and other land use practices contribute almost 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while cattle and rice fields are responsible for half of all methane emissions, the report found. Another study released last month calculated that beef consumption had to fall in order for Earth's current resources to be able to feed the 10 billion people expected to be living on this planet in 30 years. Europeans would have to eat 22 percent less beef for everyone else to have enough food, the study found.
At least one Goldsmiths student is ready to give up campus burgers for the planet.
"I think it's a really positive move—Goldsmiths is recognising its own power and accountability in being more environmentally conscious," 20-year-old psychology student Isabelle Gosse told The Guardian. "Banning the sale of beef meat on campus, phasing out single-use plastics and the other pledges that the new warden has made highlights the current climate emergency that the world is facing."
The Goldsmiths Students' Union also supports the decision, HuffPost reported.
The beef ban will go into effect at the start of the coming academic year. The school will also switch to a 100 percent renewable energy supplier as soon as its current contract ends, according to The Guardian. Further, its endowment fund will cease investments in companies that earn more than 10 percent of their revenue from fossil fuel extraction starting December 2019.
"It's encouraging to see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a climate emergency, but acting on it," Greenpeace UK Climate Emergency Campaigner Rosie Rogers told The Guardian. "From energy use, to food sales and plastic pollution—all universities and organisations with campus sites can make changes across their facilities that are better for our planet. We call on others to urgently follow suit, and to include cutting all ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate emergency response."
Goldsmiths currently emits around 3.7 million kilograms (approximately 8.2 million pounds) of carbon per year, according to figures released by the university. That number is down nearly 10 percent from what it was three years ago, Goldsmiths said.
But for Goldsmiths Students' Union President Joe Leam it's still too high.
"It is clear our university has a huge carbon footprint," he wrote in a blog quoted by HuffPost. "The promise to have ended this by 2030 at the latest, with the hope of doing so by 2025, is one which is needed. Whilst this plan/action is only the beginning, and much work is yet to be done, it is fantastic to see Goldsmiths taking responsibility and responding to its impact on the climate."
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A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.
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By Julia Vergin
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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Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure life in the oceans. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.
EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.
Climate models are predicting faster warming of the North Atlantic Ocean, which will shift the Gulf Stream. NASA
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As a United Nations agency released new climate projections showing that the world is on track in the next five years to hit or surpass a key limit of the Paris agreement, authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years.
<div id="1a097" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3be1f37aee62477983e577219c84d7a9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281182404116385792" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">https://t.co/3sNdmN8mCz New study covered by @guardiannews, we look at CO2 levels in the Late Pliocene (~3 million… https://t.co/xRhhLcpdJ5</div> — Tom Chalk (@Tom Chalk)<a href="https://twitter.com/ChalkyOceans/statuses/1281182404116385792">1594292663.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="23d44" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a800573625ce69a53bedfe537b572116"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281123005695959040" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Annual mean global temperature likely to be at least 1° C above pre-industrial levels in each of coming 5 years (20… https://t.co/WOBeEOhbCe</div> — World Meteorological Organization (@World Meteorological Organization)<a href="https://twitter.com/WMO/statuses/1281123005695959040">1594278501.0</a></blockquote></div>
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