Miami Beach Declares Climate Emergency Inspired by Youth Action
The youth activists who demonstrated in front of Miami Beach's City Hall last month as part of September's global climate strike handed a climate emergency resolution to Chief Resilience Officer, Susy Torriente. Rather than see the declaration fall into the abyss, Torreinte handed it into the mayor's office, which led to the resolution being introduced and passed unanimously, according to the Miami Herald.
The resolution calls on Miami Beach to push the state and the rest of the country to issue an "emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate." It makes Miami Beach the latest of the 1,143 jurisdictions in 22 countries to declare a climate emergency, including the United Kingdom, New York City, and even Pope Francis.
While the climate emergency declaration does not offer specific policies, environmental activists say the language is important.
"This is more of a first step and gives us a lot of leverage," said John Paul Mejia, a 17-year-old Miami Beach Senior High School student and member of several Miami-based climate action groups, to the Miami Herald. "We need to shift the narrative to understand this as a crisis because that's what it really is."
The city of Miami Beach will send copies of the declaration to the U.S. House of Representatives; the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell; Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott; all Florida U.S. representatives; Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and all the commissioners; and every city and town in the county, according to the Miami Herald.
"It's not just us holding up signs now. There's literally legislation that says we need to put this at the top of the agenda," said Mejia to the Miami Herald.
Few places in the country are as vulnerable to the climate crisis as Miami where sea level rise threatens to change the landscape of the city as investors start to buy up land on higher ground. The city investing $650 million to raise the city streets, since the Union of Concerned Scientists predicted that 30 percent of Miami Beach will be underwater by 2045, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Earlier this month, the state's Department of Environmental Protection kicked off an initiative to invest $116.4 million initiative to replace diesel busses with an electric-powered fleet, according to the News Service of Florida.
"It's a testament to how being active and being engaged and being part of the conversation makes governments change," said Torriente to the Miami Herald. "I just think it's a testament to the movement, the young organizers."
"I think it would be wonderful if other cities can realize the sense of urgency that needs to take place and they start taking action," Torriente added.
The youth activists also earned praise from local climate activists, not only for campaigning for the declaration but also for their vow to attend city council meetings to keep the climate crisis at the top of the political agenda.
"We are so proud of the youth leaders and their allies who worked hard to make this declaration a reality. We hope the City of Miami Beach will continue this leadership trend by taking concrete action to reduce emissions, like transitioning to 100 percent clean and renewable energy," said Emily Gorman, a Sierra Club representative and steering committee chair of the Miami Climate Alliance, said in a statement, as the Miami Herald reported.
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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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