NYC Public Schools to Excuse Climate Strikers
Students will need consent from their parents to attend, and younger students will only be able to leave the school with a parent, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) said when it announced its decision Thursday.
"We applaud our students when they raise their voices in a safe and respectful manner on issues that matter to them. Young people around the world are joining the #ClimateStrike this week — showing that student action will lead us forward," the DOE tweeted.
The strike is being organized to push for action on the climate crisis ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit, which begins Sept. 23 in New York. In the U.S., there are at least 800 demonstrations planned in 50 states, and organizers hope it will be the nation's largest climate protest to date. The New York City DOE's decision could further this goal.
Olivia Wohlgemuth, a senior at Manhattan's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, told The New York Times that the announcement convinced students who had been unsure if they would attend the strike.
"This completely changes things, and it's our doing," 17-year-old Beacon High School senior Xiye Bastida told The New York Times. She said she and other activists had persuaded 15 City Council members to request the excused absences from the DOE.
It is too soon to tell if other districts will follow New York City's lead. A Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman told The New York Times that the district was still "finalizing" its plans. The Cambridge, Massachusetts City Counsel is discussing whether or not to excuse students Tuesday.
In New York City, however, students have the support of the mayor himself.
"Today's leaders are making decisions for our environment that our kids will have to live with," Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Thursday, as MSN reported. "New York City stands with our young people. They're our conscience. We support the 9/20 #ClimateStrike."
We have ten years to save the planet.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) September 12, 2019
Today’s leaders are making decisions for our environment that our kids will have to live with.
New York City stands with our young people. They’re our conscience. We support the 9/20 #ClimateStrike.
For some, that support was controversial.
"All this is out-and-out government sponsorship of a particular point of view — not just that human activity contributes significantly to climate changes, but that this is an extinction-level threat that justifies specific radical action," The New York Post Editorial Board wrote. (The "view" that human activity contributes to climate change is shared by around 99 percent of scientists, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in 2018 that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require social and technological change for which "there is no documented historic precedent.")
Others expressed doubt that the school district should support striking over classroom instruction. A Queens teacher told The New York Post he supported the rally itself, but thought giving students a whole day off from school went too far.
"Maybe they would be better served learning about the subject in class," he said. "Maybe I'm behind the times."
The U.S. Youth Climate Strike is organized by eight youth-led climate groups, and they have put forward the following demands for Friday's event:
- A Green New Deal: Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and ending fossil fuel extraction.
- Respect of Indigenous Land and Sovereignty: Ending all extraction or infrastructure projects on indigenous land and legally recognizing the Rights of Nature.
- Environmental Justice: Investing in frontline communities and welcoming those displaced by the climate crisis.
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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>
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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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