Rugby World Cup Highlights Climate Injustice
The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.
"[F]ew, if any, of the most polluting competitors have credible plans to cut their emissions to safe levels—suggesting the World Cup's theme song is just an empty promise," the report summary says.
The report from Christian Aid — the official relief and development agency of 41 Protestant and Orthodox churches in the United Kingdom and Ireland — blasts the Rugby World Cup for its false show of unity when the actions of the industrialized nations are a direct threat to the people and the future security of Pacific Islanders, according to the Samoa Observer.
"Climate change is the ultimate injustice issue and nowhere is that captured more clearly than among the nations taking part in the Rugby World Cup," said Dr. Katherine Kramer, Christian Aid's Global Climate Lead, as the Samoa Observer reported. "The main culprits for causing the climate crisis are European nations as well as major coal burners like Australia, the USA, and Japan. Not only have they caused the current dire situation, but they are dragging their feet on making the needed transition to a zero-carbon economy."
The report notes that the Pacific island nations competing in the World Cup face a frightening future, with the prospect of catastrophic storms and sea level rise.
"Together these climate change impacts threaten to undermine the islands' economies, deter tourists, making life increasingly tough and driving young people away, putting strain on the countries' ability to field competitive rugby teams," says the Christian Aid report. "Researchers warn of mass migration from the islands as a result of climate change in the coming decades."
Christian Aid also noted that wealthier nations pluck the best players from the Pacific island nations, in a move that parallels the way the industrialized world exploits and discards the tiny island nations, as the BBC reported.
The BBC reported that current stars like England's Manu Tuilagi and Ireland's Bundee Aki both have Samoan roots but moved to play with richer nations.
The feeling of the industrialized nations toward the Pacfic islanders was callously on display last month when Australian deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, said, "I also get a little bit annoyed when we have people in those sorts of countries pointing the finger at Australia and say we should be shutting down all our resources sector so that, you know, they will continue to survive. They'll continue to survive because many of their workers come here and pick our fruit," as the Guardian reported.
The report also criticized World Cup host Japan for its continued reliance on coal power and its plans to still have coal generating one-third of its power by 2030, even though it has suffered from two straight summers of crippling heat waves, which scientists says are caused by man-made climate change, as the Samoa Observer reported.
The need to address the climate crisis resonates with players whose homes are under threat from it.
"As a Pacific island rugby player, tackling the climate crisis is close to my heart," said former Samoan international flanker Jonny Fa'amatuainu, who played for Bath as well as clubs in Wales and Japan, as the BBC reported. "My grandparents and other families who lived in a village on the coast in Samoa moved inland two years ago because of climate change."
"The Pacific islands are the soul of our sport, and we have produced some of the most dynamic and exciting players on the planet," he added. "Yet as this report underlines, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji are all facing increased risks from rising sea levels and extreme weather."
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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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