By Nicole Leonard
To close out 2019, we wanted to do something special. It's not just the end of the year — it's the end of an incredible decade of climate activism and a transition to the next. The challenge ahead is enormous, but if this year has taught us anything, it's that more of us than ever before are ready to rise.
So enjoy the top 10 people-powered moments of 2019 from around the world. And for highlights from the last 10 years, be sure to checkout the 350.org 10-year timeline.
We'll be back in 2020 with more Fossil Free News updates from around the world. From everyone at 350.org, we wish you a healthy, happy new decade – with climate justice for all.
1. Brazilian States Ban Fracking
In a historic victory after years of campaigning, the state of Paraná in Brazil passed a law in July to permanently ban fracking – and Santa Catarina state followed weeks later. It means Latin America's largest shale reserves will go untapped, with 18 million people safe from the direct impacts of fracking. The wins energized a national debate to ban fracking across the whole country; municipal bans have already passed in hundreds of cities and towns across Brazil. Read more.
2. Divestment Milestone
In September, the amount investors committed to divest from oil, coal, and gas companies reached more than $11 trillion USD, blowing past the goal set last year of $10 trillion divested by the end of 2020. And since September, we've already hit $12 trillion! Follow the cities, companies, and institutions divesting with our divestment commitment tracker.
3. Promise to Protect
Indigenous leaders and allies held a March-May training tour for 1,160 people in nine U.S. cities. They were answering the call to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and protect water and ancestral lands. Construction continues to be debated and delayed – but people across the U.S. are prepared for creative resistance in case it resumes. Watch the wrap-up video from the tour.
4. Lamu, Saved
After years of resistance, in June a Kenya tribunal cancelled a developer's license to build a new coal plant at Lamu, a stunning coastal UNESCO world heritage site. It was a huge victory, made even sweeter by the fact that the court recognized the lack of public participation and risks to people and the environment. See the celebration.
5. Williams Pipeline Moratorium
Activists pushed New York's Governor to halt the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline, which would bring fracked gas to New York City. The company has re-applied for construction permits, but people are demanding a permanent ban and a Green New Deal to make sure it never gets built. Watch the recap.
6. Afrika Vuka Launch
A new platform to unite grassroots campaigns across Africa is bringing together learnings and resources from groups working to halt fossil fuel infrastructure and promote a transition to renewable energy. Thanks to local campaigning, in April South Africa's Nedbank became the first African bank to stop project financing for coal, after they decided not to fund Thabametsi and Khanyisa coal plants.
7. Fossil Free EIB
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the world's biggest international public bank and the €555 billion lending arm of the European Union. Thousands of people pressured the bank to axe fossil fuels from its lending policy, and last month it permanently ended support for most fossil fuel projects! Read more.
8. Asian Banks Dump Coal
The world's fifth largest bank, Japan's MUFG, tightened its lending policy in May, when it announced an end to new project finance for coal power. Campaigners continue to target the Asian banks financing coal, especially in Japan. And we're chipping away: Singapore's big three banks also announced ending financing to new coal plants earlier this year.
9. Europe’s Gas Does Not Pass
Three iconic fights against gas won big victories in Europe this year. The MidCat pipeline between Spain and France, and Gothenburg terminal in Sweden were both cancelled, while fracking was banned in the UK. Read more.
10. Millions Strike for the Climate
September's climate strikes were groundbreaking, with 7.6 million people in 185 countries taking part. Together, we snatched front pages of news outlets around the globe and put the fossil fuel industry on notice, setting the tone for what's to come. Read more.
A Decade of Climate Action
Back in 2009, at the end of the last decade, the climate movement was small and scrappy. Together, we've grown into a diverse, powerful movement ready to take on the fossil fuel industry into the 2020s: a mission-critical decade for averting the worst of climate crisis.
Take a look at 350.org's path through the past decade and the people-powered wins we've celebrated along the way.
That's all for now. See you in the new year!
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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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By Jessica Corbett
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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Jane Goodall on Conservation, Climate Change and COVID-19: 'If We Carry on With Business as Usual, We're Going to Destroy Ourselves'
By Jeff Berardelli
While COVID-19 and protests for racial justice command the world's collective attention, ecological destruction, species extinction and climate change continue unabated. While the world's been focused on other crises, an alarming study was released warning that species extinction is now progressing so fast that the consequences of "biological annihilation" may soon be "unimaginable."
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Anyone entering a U.S. Starbucks from July 15 will have to wear a face mask, the company announced Thursday.
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On Monday and Tuesday of the week that President Donald Trump held his first rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the county reported 76 and 96 new coronavirus cases respectively, according to POLITICO. This week, the county broke its new case record Monday with 261 cases and reported a further 206 cases on Tuesday. Now, Tulsa's top public health official thinks the rally and counterprotest "likely contributed" to the surge.
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Rainforests are an important defense against climate change because they absorb carbon. But many are being destroyed on a massive scale.
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