European Commission proposes stronger rules for cleaner air and water

THe Commission is proposing stronger rules on ambient air, surface and groundwater pollutants, and treatment of urban wastewater. Clean air and water are essential for the health of people and ecosystems. Air pollution alone means nearly 300,000 Europeans die prematurely each year, and the proposed new rules willreduce deaths resulting from levels of the main pollutant PM2.5 above World Health Organization guidelines by more than 75% in ten years. Across air and water, all of the new rules provide clear return on investment thanks to benefits in health, energy savings, food production, industry, and biodiversity. Learning the lessons from current laws, the Commission proposes to both tighten allowed levels of pollutants and to improve implementation to ensure pollution reduction goals are more often reached in practice. The proposals are a key advance for the European Green Deal‘s zero pollution ambition of having an environment free of harmful pollution by 2050. They also respond to specific demands of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said: “Our health depends on our environment. An unhealthy environment has direct and costly consequences for our health. Each year, hundreds of thousands Europeans die prematurely and many more suffer from heart- and lung diseases or pollution-induced cancers. The longer we wait to reduce this pollution, the higher the costs to society. By 2050, we want our environment to be free of harmful pollutants. That means we need to step up action today. Our proposals to further reduce water and air pollution are a crucial piece of that puzzle.

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COP27 Climate Classroom

The Climate Classroom @COP27 is an innovative learning experience designed to help those attending get quickly up-to-speed on key climate issues. Throughout COP27, our team of experts will deliver free online and in-person 45-minute classes that expose and introduce learners to a range of climate change topics – allowing delegates, professionals, and other interested parties to follow and contribute to climate discussions.

Click here for further information

Top 10 Greenhouse Gas Emitters

A small number of countries contribute the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, with the top 10 emitters accounting for over two-thirds of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Most of them also have large populations and economies, together accounting for over 50% of the global population and 75% of the world’s GDP. China is the biggest emitter at 26.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, followed by the United States at 12.5%, India at 7.06%, and the European Union at 7.03%.

Global Health Trends

Whilst news of Covid-19 dominates the news agenda there is other news.

Globally, life expectancy has increased by more than 6 years between 2000 and 2019 – from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.4 years in 2019. While healthy life expectancy (HALE) has also increased by 8% from 58.3 in 2000 to 63.7, in 2019, this was due to declining mortality rather than reduced years lived with disability. In other words, the increase in HALE (5.4 years) has not kept pace with the increase in life expectancy (6.6 years)

So the challenge for WHO and governments around the world, is to seek ways of trying to increase the healthy life expectancy (HALE) of our global population.


And of COVID-19…globally, as of 1st October 2021, there have been 233,503,524 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,777,503 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 29 September 2021, a total of 6,143,369,655 vaccine doses have been administered.

For further information on a wide range of global health data click here

Smoking: How large of a global problem is it? And how can we make progress against it?

Smoking primarily contributes to early deaths through heart diseases and cancers. Globally, more than one in five cancer deaths are attributed to smoking.

This means tobacco kills more people every day than terrorism kills in a year.

Smoking was very much a 20th century problem. It was rare at the beginning of the century, but then – decade after decade – it became steadily more common. By the 1960s it was extremely widespread: on average, American adults were buying more than 10 cigarettes every day.

The statistical work that identified smoking as the major cause of the rise in lung cancer deaths began in the post-war periods and culminated in the 1964 report of the US Surgeon General. This report is seen as a turning point in the history of smoking as it made clear to the public just how deadly it was.

Once people learned that smoking kills, they could act on it. It took some time, but they did.

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Foreign Scientist in the Wuhan Lab Speaks Out

Blomberg News reports: “Danielle Anderson was working in what has become the world’s most notorious laboratory just weeks before the first known cases of Covid-19 emerged in central China. Yet, the Australian virologist still wonders what she missed.

An expert in bat-borne viruses, Anderson is the only foreign scientist to have undertaken research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s BSL-4 lab, the first in mainland China equipped to handle the planet’s deadliest pathogens. Her most recent stint ended in November 2019, giving Anderson an insider’s perspective on a place that’s become a flashpoint in the search for what caused the worst pandemic in a century.

The emergence of the coronavirus in the same city where institute scientists, clad head-to-toe in protective gear, study that exact family of viruses has stoked speculation that it might have leaked from the lab, possibly via an infected staffer or a contaminated object. China’s lack of transparency since the earliest days of the outbreak fueled those suspicions, which have been seized on by the U.S. That’s turned the quest to uncover the origins of the virus, critical for preventing future pandemics, into a geopolitical minefield.

The work of the lab and the director of its emerging infectious diseases section—Shi Zhengli, a long-time colleague of Anderson’s dubbed ‘Batwoman’ for her work hunting viruses in caves—is now shrouded in controversy. The U.S. has questioned the lab’s safety and alleged its scientists were engaged in contentious gain of function research that manipulated viruses in a manner that could have made them more dangerous.

It’s a stark contrast to the place Anderson described in an interview with Bloomberg News, the first in which she’s shared details about working at the lab.”

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2020 Global Nutrition Report

The latest Global Nutrition Report has been published providing data for all around the globe. The summary for Atrica is provided below:

Africa: The burden of malnutrition at a glance

In the Africa region, there has been slight progress towards achieving global nutrition targets. The global target for overweight among children under 5 years of age has 28 countries on course to meet it, wasting among children under 5 years of age and exclusive breastfeeding among infants aged 0 to 5 months each have 17 countries on course, while stunting among children under 5 years of age has five countries on course. However, not a single country in the region is on course to meet the targets for anaemia in women of reproductive age (aged 15 to 49 years), low birth weight, diabetes among men, diabetes among women, obesity among men, and obesity among women. 20 countries in the region have insufficient data to comprehensively assess their progress towards these global targets.

The latest data shows that anaemia affects an estimated 39.0% of women of reproductive age. Some 13.7% of infants have a low weight at birth in the Africa region. The estimated average prevalence of infants aged 0 to 5 months who are exclusively breastfed is 43.6%, which is lower than the global average of 44.0%. Although it performs relatively well against other regions, Africa still experiences a malnutrition burden among children aged under 5 years. The average prevalence of overweight is 4.7%, which is lower than the global average of 5.6%. The prevalence of stunting is 29.1% – higher than the global average of 21.3%. Conversely, the Africa region’s prevalence of wasting is 6.4%, which is lower than the global average of 6.9%.

The Africa region’s adult population also faces a malnutrition burden: an average of 8.6% of adult (aged 18 and over) women live with diabetes, compared to 8.3% of men. Meanwhile, 18.4% of women and 7.8% of men live with obesity.


Ventilation and COVID-19

The Europen Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has issued a guidance note on the importance of ventilation in reduced COVID transmission. “Poor ventilation in confined indoor spaces is associated with increased transmission of respiratory infections. There have been numerous COVID-19 transmission events associated with closed spaces, including some from pre-symptomatic cases.

Coronavirus – John Hopkins University

The role of ventilation in preventing COVID-19 transmission is not well-defined (i.e. by preventing dispersal of infectious particles to minimise the risk of transmission, or preventing transfer of an infectious dose to susceptible individuals). COVID-19 is thought to be primaril y transmitted via large respiratory droplets, however, an increasing number of outbreak reports implicate the role of aerosols in COVID-19 outbreaks. Aerosols consist of small droplets an d droplet nuclei which remain in the air for longer than large droplets.

Studies indicate that SARS-CoV-2 particles can remain infectious on various materials, as well as in aerosols in indoor environments, with the duration of infectivity depending on temperature and humidity. So far, transmission through fomites has not been documented, but it is considered possible.

Several outbreak investigation reports have shown that COVID-19 transmission can be particularly effective in crowded, confined indoor spaces such as workplaces (offices, factories) and during indoor events – e.g. churches, restaurants, gatherings at ski resorts, parties, shopping centres, worker dormitories, dance classes, cruise ships and vehicles. There are also indications that transmission can be linked to specific activities, such as singing in a choir or during religious services that may be characterised by increased production of respiratory droplets through loud speech and singing.

In a study of 318 outbreaks in China, transmission in all cases except one occurred in indoor spaces. The only case of outdoor transmission identified in this study involved two people. However, outdoor events have also been implicated in the spread of COVID-19, typically those associated with crowds, such as carnival celebrations and football matches, highlighting the risk of crowding even at outdoor events. However, exposure in crowded indoor spaces is also very common during such events.


Vertical Farms Can Out-Produce ‘Flat Farms’

Article by John Koetsier Forbes:

“According to Nate Storey, the future of farms is vertical. It’s also indoors, can be placed anywhere on the planet, is heavily integrated with robots and AI, and produces better fruits and vegetables while using 95% less water and 99% less land.

‘Plenty’ in the USA takes the flat farm and performs an Inception transformation on it: ripping up horizontal rows of plants and hanging them vertically from the ceilings. Sunlight from above is replaced by full-spectrum LED lights from all sides. Huge robots grab large hanging racks of growing vegetables and moves them where they’re needed. Artificial intelligence manages all the variables of heat and light and water, continually optimizing and learning how to grow faster, bigger, better crops. Water lost by transpiration is recaptured and reused. And all of it happens not 1,000 miles away from a city, but inside or right next to the place where the food is actually needed.