Pope Francis to Hold First-Ever Gathering of Mayors at Vatican to Rev Up Fight Against Climate Change
Pope Francis is certainly putting his muscle where his mouth is when it comes to climate change. Just a month after his groundbreaking Encyclical on the topic, the Vatican will host a workshop called "Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of Cities," followed by a symposium on "Prosperity, People and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities.”
Photo credit: Shutterstock
He has invited mayors from around the world to the gathering, taking place next Tuesday and Wednesday. It's the first time an international group of mayors has gathered at the Vatican and the fact that they're doing so to address the impacts of climate change on the poor shows what a high priority the issue is for Pope Francis. About 60 mayors are scheduled to attend from every corner of the globe, from big cities like Mexico City and New York, and small cities like Soroti, Uganda, with a population of about 40,000. The Pope is expected to address the gathering.
“I am deeply thankful that Pope Francis is tackling issues of such grave importance not only to my city of Minneapolis but to the world," said Mayor Betsy Hodges. "I look forward to learning how Minneapolis can join hands in global efforts around climate change and ending the factors that contribute to 21st century trade in human beings, and to share the successes we that we as a city have achieved.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said, “Seattle is an innovative leader in sustainability and carbon reduction, but too often the benefits of our progress are not equitably shared. Our most at-risk communities, low-income families and communities of color are disproportionally impacted by climate change. Seattle is committed to changing this through our Equity and Environment Initiative to ensure strong social justice outcomes in our environmental policy. I’m humbled to have the opportunity to share this experience with global leaders as we heed the Pope’s call for action."
At a press conference in the Vatican yesterday to talk about the upcoming event, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences which is hosting it, explained that climate change and modern slavery are "interconnected emergencies." "Although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change, they are the most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption," he said.
Bishop Sanchez referred to the Pope's words in the recent Encyclical, "The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life," adding, "As the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has shown in several studies, available as free downloads on our website www.pas.va, this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level. Moreover, it’s difficult not to link it to extreme weather events such as prolonged drought, heat waves and destructive storms, which are becoming more and more frequent. Humanity, therefore, is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it."
He went on to explain the importance of mayors in making these changes.
"Following the Encyclical, our commitment is to make the whole of society aware of these phenomena and of the human responsibilities of these crises and to react firmly, as a new moral imperative for all of humanity in favor of the common good," he said. "In this fundamental moral context, cities and their mayors play a key role. Currently, most of humanity is concentrated in formal and informal urban settlements, and this trend is set to increase. Although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change and often live on the outskirts of the city, they are the most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption."
"We intend for the mayors to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking," said Sanchez. "In short, we would like our cities and urban settlements to become more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and ecologically integrated."
Some of the U.S. mayors who are committed to attending include those from San Francisco, Seattle, Boulder, New Orleans, San Jose, Boston, Minneapolis and Birmingham, Alabama, as well as California Gov. Jerry Brown, who said, "This unprecedented gathering of global leaders is a wake-up call to face up to the common threats of climate change and human exploitation."
New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio is among those who will address the conference.
"Pope Francis has been one of the world’s most powerful voices on fighting income inequality, and Mayor de Blasio shares the pope’s belief that addressing climate change is essential to that fight,” said City Hall spokeswoman Monica Klein.
"This is a call to the marketplace: the biggest energy customer you’ll find is ready to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to renewable power,” said DiBlasio. “Our administration has made an unprecedented commitment to dramatically reducing our environmental footprint, becoming the largest city in the world to commit to 80x50. Now, by leveraging our energy purchasing power, we aim to catalyze new capacity, chart a path to powering 100 percent of city government from renewables and make clear why New York City remains a global leader in the fight against climate change.”
Mayors are also coming from Oslo, Paris, Berlin, Vancouver, Rome, Florence, Naples, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Bogota, Stockholm, Madrid, Algiers, Tehran, Kochi and Kingston in Jamaica. They're traveling from Nigeria, Gabon, South Africa, Botswana, Senegal and Mozambique.
The mayors planning to attend expressed excitement about the importance of this event and what it could accomplish.
"I am very much looking forward to discuss sustainable development of our cities to reduce global climate change and, by arranging this symposium, the Vatican is contributing to finding the viable long-term solutions we all work towards," said Oslo Mayor Stian Berger Røsland. "When we say humans must, and can, reduce our climate gas emissions, people do not envision a good public transport system or responsible building legislation. But when cities emit 70 percent of the world’s CO2, clearly, we do have game-changing tools."
“Boulder is honored to join in discussion with Pope Francis and this group of global cities that have shown leadership through their actions to address the climate crisis," said Mayor Matthew Appelbaum. "The City of Boulder has long prioritized environmental stewardship and sustainability. Boulder and all local governments have essential roles in developing and implementing policies and technical solutions to mitigate, and adapt to, climate change, and working together to find innovative and responsible environmental actions that can be adopted globally.”
"Here in Jamaica we are constantly reminded of our contribution to and the effects of human-induced climate change as we experience hotter days and nights, less rainfall and longer periods of drought," said Kingston Mayor Dr. Angela Brown Burke. “And even as global and economic development are top of the agenda, we are mindful of our symbiotic relationship with the environment—the oxygen that is produced by plants is vital to our continued existence and plants cannot survive without the carbon dioxide we exhale. I am grateful that we have been afforded the opportunity to participate in these meetings where we can explore and share ideas on how we can live up to our God-given mandate as ordained custodians of the Earth.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Karin Jäger
"They begin on a fall night, preferring the light of a full moon … Driven by the currents, they're pulled to the mouth of the river and out into the ocean," writes the WWF, rather poetically, of the European eel's long journey from the rivers of Central Europe to the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.
Think Beyond Borders to Protect Species<p>When an animal crosses so many territories, how can it be protected? That's where the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS), sometimes known as the Bonn Convention, comes in. Every three years, the European Union and an additional 129 countries signed up to the CMS meet to discuss cross-border measures to protect eels and other animals on the move.</p><p>In February 2020, the convention met in Gandhinagar, India, where 10 migratory species, including the Asian elephant, jaguar and the oceanic whitetip shark, were added to the international wildlife treaty for the first time.</p><p>Nature's travelers face specific challenges, particularly as humans encroach more on animal habitat and carve up the landscape with roads and settlements, say experts. Wildlife needs to be taken into consideration at the planning stages of such infrastructure projects.</p><p>"Improving connections between habitats is important if we want to stop or even reverse extinctions," said Arnulf Köhncke, an ecologist with conservation group WWF. "You need to look at where an area cuts through as few migration routes and habitats as possible and plan and implement corresponding, cross-border (wildlife migration) corridors."</p><p>Such planning also requires cooperation between states.</p><p>Several bilateral agreements to protect migratory species already exist within the framework of the Bonn Convention. For instance, Chile and Argentina have committed to saving the endangered south Andean deer, which moves up and down the South American Andes, crossing through both countries as it does.</p>
Unprecedented Global Biodiversity Loss<p>Not all animals move across borders of their own accord. International trade in animals also requires international protection efforts. In the case of the eel, considered a delicacy from Europe to Asia, criminals smuggle young European "glass eels" in and out of countries, although international trade is strictly regulated under CITES, an international treaty governing trade in wildlife.</p><p>The trade is in animals caught in the wild. Breeding eels in captivity has so far proved impossible because of their complicated life cycle, which until recently, scientists still knew little about.</p><p>It's a lucrative gig and one that is driving down eel numbers. Although, the trade is regulated, enforcement is often lacking. People should avoid eating the animals, according to WWF. And we should avoid consuming too much fish and meat in general to halt species loss, says the conservation group.</p><p>Veronika Lenarz, who works with the secretariat of the Bonn Convention, agrees. But several major countries, like the USA, Russia and China, aren't party to the convention, while Japan refuses to sign up because of its whaling industry.</p><p>"We are in a crisis that threatens global biodiversity," said Lenarz.</p><p>In a major assessment of the world's wildlife published in September 2020, the UN warned of "unprecedented biodiversity loss" and said the global community had failed to fully achieve any of the 20 biodiversity targets set by the international organization 10 years ago.</p><p>While migratory animals are also impacted, not enough is known about many of the species to gauge to what extent. Researchers estimate there could be anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 migratory species, ranging from storks and butterflies, to dolphins and wolves.</p>
Climate Change: An Ever-Present Threat<p>Regions in which the climate is changing most rapidly and on a large scale present a particular danger for migratory species. The animals, following a deeply embedded evolutionary instinct, will search for seasonal habitats in search of food and shelter. However, food is increasingly scarce in these places due to climate change.</p><p>Some animals are adapting. Compared to 20 years ago, fewer migratory birds are flying to their wintering grounds. But because these nomads are dependent on the many different habitats they use as resting points on their journeys, they are more vulnerable than their settled counterparts. By staying put, they're also in increased competition for scarce winter food supplies.</p><p>And while animals can adapt, not many can keep up with the pace of climate change.</p><p>"Reports from the UN climate group IPCC show that only a few species can move with the speed of climate change. And often alternative habitats are already occupied by humans," said Köhncke from the WWF.</p><p>The climate crisis and species loss shouldn't be viewed as unrelated issues, because both are damaging to the planet, added Köhncke.</p><p>"Migratory species help to maintain life on Earth. They contribute to the structure and functions of ecosystems as pollinators and seed dispersers, deliver food to other animals and regulate the number of species," said Köhncke. </p>
Creating Conditions to Thrive<p>Ensuring the conditions for the survival of these species should be considered when planning measures for dealing with the consequences of climate change, he added, referring to the WWF study "Wildlife in a Warming World."</p><p>Published in 2018, the study found that around 50% of species in some of the world's key natural regions, such as the Amazon, could disappear if climate change continues unabated.</p><p>Reindeer for instance, some of which migrate in the northern hemisphere, are no longer able to find enough food. Usually in winter, the animals clear snow with their hooves to uncover the lichens and moss they feed on. But temperatures now vary wildly, causing snow to melt or fall as rain instead. When the ground cools again, ice forms and the reindeer cannot get to their grub. </p>
Simple Solutions to Protect Endangered Species<p>Looking to the example of Mexico, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has shown protecting endangered migratory species doesn't have to be complicated.</p><p>Industrial farming has contributed to the jaguar's habitat shrinking by 50% in South and Central America in the last century. As a result, they began roaming near villages looking for food and attacking villagers' dogs. People retaliated by killing them. The IFAW hired community members to build dog houses, meaning the canines are no longer out roaming at night when they could run into big cat predators.</p><p>However, with the global conservation failures of the past decade looming, all eyes will be on the UN Biodiversity Conference scheduled to take place in China in 2021 and whether it can pull off a plan for protecting migratory and non-migratory animals like.</p>
- Monarch Butterflies' Migration Is at Risk but Plan Aims to Save It ... ›
- Thousands of Migrating Birds Found Dead or Injured in Greece ... ›
- Ocean Warming Is Causing Deep-Sea Creatures to Migrate Toward ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Scientists found that vampire bats in the wild will socially distance when they feel sick, according to a new study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.
- Vampire Bats Could Expand Their Range into US as Climate Warms ›
- Clue to Stopping Coronavirus: Knowing How Viruses Adapt From ... ›
- Devastating Bat-Killing Disease Spreads From Eastern U.S. to ... ›
Do you feel embarrassed due to the foul odor coming from your mouth? Or your oral hygiene isn't as good as before, and you are suffering from gingivitis (inflammation of gums)?
Well, these oral problems are skyrocketing, and even young people are suffering from oral issues that result in a lack of confidence.
It's common to change your toothpaste by seeing the TV commercials that claim to free you from bad breath or sensitive teeth, but these products don't always work.
Fighting oral issues isn't that easy, even if you religiously follow what your primary school teacher has taught, to "Brush two times a day!"
Well, there is a much-hyped supplement in the market that claims to help you fight all of these oral issues: The Steel Bite Pro.
Steel Bite Pro is an oral supplement that claims to cure bad breath and other such oral issues like sensitivity and gum problems.
But does the supplement really work, or is it just like the useless toothpaste that you tried before? Let's find out in this review.
Who Should Use Steel Bite Pro?
The best part about Steel Bite Pro is that anyone can use the supplement to get rid of oral issues. The supplement contains natural ingredients such as turmeric, zinc, alfalfa, jujube seeds, and much more, so there are no chemicals at all.
No matter whether you are 20 or 60, you can use this supplement to overcome oral issues and get the confidence back that you are missing due to bad odor and sensitive teeth.
Steel Bite Pro Review: Overview of the Supplement
Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural supplement that contains a mix of natural supplements to rebuild your gums and teeth.
The supplement contains 29 different foods that help you reduce the gum pain and other dental problems you have been facing for years.
More than 55,000 people have used Steel Bite Pro till now, and the results of the supplement are pretty impressive. Furthermore, the supplement is prepared in an FDA-approved facility in the USA.
It is available in the form of pills that you can consume anytime, so using the supplement is incredibly convenient. There are numerous benefits of using the Steel Bite Pro as it solves a plethora of dental problems.
Pros and Cons: Steel Bite Pro
To understand the supplement better, it is essential to know about its pros and cons.
Convenient to Use
The dietary supplement is convenient to use as it comes in the form of pills. You can take the pill anytime, even when you are in your office or somewhere else. Now there is no need to use multiple kinds of toothpaste and splurge money by visiting a dentist.
All the ingredients present inside the supplement are natural, and there are no chemicals that can harm your teeth or gums.
When you compare the cost of 1 bottle with the cost of a special toothpaste with the fee that your dentist charges, Steel Bite Pro will seem much more affordable. The supplement is available in multiple packages, so you will find it affordable to use.
No Side Effects at All
There are no side effects to using Steel Bite Pro, so you can rest assured that you won't face any headaches or other issues while curing the oral issues. The reason why Steel Bite Pro has no side effects is due to its natural ingredients.
Designed by Experts
The supplement is designed by experts that have been in the industry for years.
No Additional Medicines Are Required
When you are using Steel Bite Pro, you can avoid using other medicines that you have been taking to cure oral issues.
Attacks on the Pain
There are several ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro that attack tooth and gum pain so that you get some instant relief with the supplement.
Comes With a Money Back Guarantee
The supplement comes with a 60-day money back guarantee, so you can claim a full refund if you find the supplement isn't working for you, or if it isn't doing what the manufacturer has promised.
You Can Purchase It From the Official Site Only
The supplement is only available for purchase from the Official Website. Sometimes the supplement gets out of stock, so you have to wait for it to get back in stock.
A Single Bottle Costs More
If you buy a single bottle of the supplement, it'll cost you more than other packages with multiple bottles.
Ingredients in Steel Bite Pro
All the ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro are natural and have proven benefits for humans. Here is a list of supplements explained in detail and how they can benefit you if you start using Steel Bite Pro.
As per a study, there are innumerable benefits of using turmeric on your teeth. The natural herb has antimicrobial properties that help remove the plaque effectively from the teeth, exterminate bacteria and help cure sensitivity.
Moreover, turmeric is good for fighting oral inflammation issues. When applied on teeth, the ingredient gives instant relief from pain and is effective in curing mouth ulcers as well.
Berberine is a natural herb with proven antioxidant power to help you get rid of microorganisms developing inside the mouth. Furthermore, the ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for curing oral issues caused due to viruses and bacteria.
It is another natural ingredient that is used in a range of health supplements due to its healing power. The ingredient naturally heals the gums and the damage caused to the teeth by bacteria and microorganisms.
As per a study, it helps reduce the infection, oral pain, and cures other dental issues.
Your liver has a significant impact on your oral health, and that's where milk thistle works. The natural ingredient eliminates toxins from the liver and detoxifies your mouth as well.
Here is a study that proves how milk thistle is beneficial in detoxifying the liver.
The decaying of teeth is the initial phase of damage caused by bacteria thriving inside your mouth. Alfalfa works by reducing tooth sensitivity drastically and repairs the tooth decay caused by the bacteria.
It even stops the bacteria from growing further so you can expect good oral health.
A lot of natural supplements for teeth contain ginger because of its benefits on the teeth and the stomach. This ingredient present in the Steel Bite Pro reduces nausea and inflammation.
As per this study, there are umpteen other benefits of ginger as well, such as it maintains the pH inside your mouth.
Jujube seeds are good for boosting the immunity. Also, the ingredient has excellent antioxidant properties and is rich in Vitamin C, which is beneficial for the teeth and overall oral health.
Dandelion is a natural ingredient extracted from herbs. The ingredient is rich in minerals and has immense benefits such as fighting the bacteria and preventing the infections occurring inside your mouth.
Zinc is essential for teeth, and that is why many toothpaste brands advertise that their product contains a good amount of zinc. Further, zinc is a natural immunity booster and fights against bacteria to prevent gum disease and cavities.
Moreover, zinc repairs the enamel on your teeth that's damaged due to toothpaste or any other reasons. Here is a study that shows the benefits of zinc for your teeth and mouth.
Chicory root acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other ingredients. The reason why you get instant relief from pain after using Steel Bite Pro is due to the presence of chicory root in the pills.
Bacteria result in bad odor and can create cavities in the teeth. Furthermore, some bacteria result in tooth decay and harm the gums. The celery seeds fight these bacteria and prevent further growth.
To stay healthy, the teeth need to absorb the minerals present in the saliva. When your teeth are damaged for any reason, they stop absorbing the minerals, and the damage continues further.
Yellow dock helps the teeth to absorb the minerals while reducing the inflammation. Various studies have proven the efficacy of yellow dock for teeth and gums, and it is a natural and effective ingredient to keep the teeth healthy.
Raspberry, Chanca Piedra, and Artichoke
These three natural ingredients have similar properties and contribute a lot to the effectiveness of Steel Bite Pro. The ingredients have good amounts of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.
The purifying agents will remove bacteria and other impurities from the mouth so that the other ingredients work well by repairing the teeth and gums.
The worst thing about oral issues is the pain that you have to go through. Steel Bite Pro claims to help with the pain as it contains feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever. The ingredient suppresses oral and dental pain so you will feel better instantly.
As per a study, there are some other benefits of feverfew, because it is a medicinal plant that suppresses other pains as well. Also, there are no side effects of feverfew at all.
The root of the burdock plant comes loaded with antioxidants that improve the gum health and the overall health of your mouth.
The best thing about Steel Bite Pro is that the ingredients are present in exact quantities, so you can rest assured that there will be no side effects. Every ingredient is tested in the labs for its efficiency, and that's what makes the Steel Bite Pro a considerable option if you want to improve your oral and dental health.
How Does Steel Bite Pro Work?
It is crucial to understand how the supplement works so that you can decide whether to invest in it or not. Below is a step by step process that will help you understand Steel Bite Pro on the go.
When you start consuming the supplement, the pills break down in your mouth. The ingredients then mix with saliva to perform their particular actions.
The ingredients fight the bacteria and heal issues such as wounds while reducing the inflammation caused in the mouth.
The supplement cements the root of the teeth so that there are no further oral and dental issues. Also, it heals the gums and repairs the enamel to provide you relief from sensitivity.
The minerals present in these ingredients strengthen the crown area of the teeth while repairing the cracks so that the damage can be stopped.
The supplement also has some impact on your overall health as the ingredients detoxify the liver by flushing away the toxins.
Consuming the supplement regularly will help you maintain the shield on the teeth that fights against bacteria and microorganisms. Also, it improves the condition of the teeth and curtails bad breath.
The working of Steel Bite Pro is really simple, as there are no complex ingredients present in the supplement. It is easy to use, and all you have to do is consume the pill regularly to keep your oral and dental health up to the mark.
Benefits of Steel Bite Pro
There are many benefits of using Steel Bite Pro since it is an all-natural supplement that has no side effects at all. Here are some benefits you need to consider before buying it.
Prevents Bleeding and Improves Gum Health
The reason why your teeth bleed is due to the loose gums. The space between the tooth and the gum results in bleeding, and that's where Steel Bite Pro helps. The supplement tightens the gums so that there is no bleeding at all.
Whitens the Teeth Naturally
The ingredients present in the supplement, such as zinc and milk thistle, whiten the teeth naturally. There is no need to invest in expensive teeth whitening toothpaste if you are using Steel Bite Pro.
Reduces Bad Breath
The supplement contains ingredients that improve the overall health of the teeth, and it automatically reduces bad breath.
Helps Cure Tooth Pain
Steel Bite Pro has feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever ingredient. The ingredient cures tooth and gum pain and can have instant results after you consume Steel Bite Pro.
Side Effects of Using Steel Bite Pro
You may find it surprising, but Steel Bite Pro has no side effects at all as the supplement contains natural ingredients and has exact quantities so that there are no ill effects on your health. If you keep using the supplement as prescribed, then it can have some excellent results.
Who Should Refrain from Steel Bite Pro?
Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural dietary supplement to improve your dental and oral health.
Anyone can use the supplement, including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. There are no harms of using the supplement.
However, it would be great to consult a doctor before using the supplement to find out if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.
Dosage and Tips to Start
To get the most from Steel Bite Pro, you should consume two pills with water every day. Take both capsules together anytime that's convenient for you.
To get the best results, follow a brushing regime, and massage your teeth regularly with some good-quality oil to increase the effectiveness of the pills.
Where to Buy Steel Bite Pro, and Guarantees?
You can only buy Steel Bite Pro from the Official Site, as the supplement is not available anywhere else for purchase. You can choose from three available options:
●1 bottle (60 pills) $69
●Three bottles (180 pills) $117
●Six bottles (360 pills) $294 (Best Deal)
You get a 60-day money back guarantee with all the packages, no matter if you go for one bottle or six bottles. You are eligible to claim the full refund within 60 days of the date of purchase.
Steel Bite Pro Reviews: Closing Thoughts
After this definitive review, it will be easier for you to find out whether you should use Steel Bite Pro or not. The supplement contains a mix of 29 natural ingredients that have proven benefits and are tested in labs.
It is essential to get rid of oral and dental issues before things get out of control and you have no option left despite visiting a dentist.
Getting a good quality supplement is essential, so Steel Bite Pro is a viable option if you need a supplement with no side effects.
Anyone can use this supplement irrespective of age, sex, and medical conditions. Lastly, buy the supplement only from the official site so that you can easily claim the refund if required.
- 'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups ... ›
- Fed's Corporate Debt-Buying Could Mean Big Oil Bailout - EcoWatch ›
Along the Atlantic coast, ghost forests provide haunting signs of sea-level rise. These stands of bleached and broken tree trunks are all that remain after salty water inundates a forest.
Matt Kirwan is with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He says ghost forests are not a new phenomenon, but they're moving inland faster as seas rise.
"Eventually they'll fall apart and become stumps surrounded by marshland," he says. "And so when you see a ghost forest now, you're seeing where the marsh will be in the future."
Marshes are valuable ecosystems, so in some ways, that's positive.
"Ghost forests are a surprising indicator of ecological resilience in coastal systems," Kirwan says. "They mark how marshes naturally migrate in response to sea-level rise."
But that migration comes at a cost.
"Places that people have lived for hundreds of years are becoming too wet and too salty to grow crops on, in some cases," Kirwan says. "And of course, the forest resources are being lost. And in some cases, people are forced to move from their homes as the land becomes too flooded."
So ghost forests have become eerie symbols of rapid change.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.