Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Climate Change-related Health Effects Tied to the Decline of Pollinators such as Bees and Butterflies [Reblog]

From a July 2015 post at RFF Library blog
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[AFP via Yahoo! Health] The unprecedented degradation of Earth’s natural resources coupled with climate change could reverse major gains in human health over the last 150 years, according to a sweeping scientific review published late Wednesday.

“We have been mortgaging the health of future generations to realize economic and development gains in the present,” said the report, written by 15 leading academics and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.

“By unsustainably exploiting nature’s resources, human civilization has flourished but now risks substantial health effects from the degradation of nature’s life support systems in the future.”

Climate change, ocean acidification, depleted water sources, polluted land, over-fishing, biodiversity loss — all unintended by-products of humanity’s drive to develop and prosper — “pose serious challenges to the global health gains of the past several decades,” especially in poorer nations, the 60-page report concludes…

“This is the first time that the global health community has come out in a concerted way to report that we are in real danger of undermining the core ecological systems that support human health,” said Samuel Myers, a scientist at Harvard University and one the authors.

A companion study on the worldwide decline of bees and other pollinators, led by Myers and also published in The Lancet, illustrates one way this might happen.

The dramatic decline of bees has already compromised the quantity and quality of many nutrient-rich crops that depend on the transfer of pollen to bear fruit…

 

 

Read the entire post here

July 20, 2015 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Human health, wealth require expanded marine science, experts say

From the 9 October 2014 EurekAlert!

In Rome, European experts publish a ‘common vision’ of priorities for marine research and action through 2020

Some 340 European scientists, policy-makers and other experts representing 143 organizations from 31 countries spoke with one voice today, publishing a common vision of today’s most pressing marine-related health and economic threats and opportunities.

In a declaration concluding a three day meeting in Rome, EurOcean 2014 participants also released an agreed, five-year roadmap to achieve expanded, more integrated and effective policy-oriented ocean scrutiny.

In addition to a rising tide of ocean-related threats to human health and economics, the conference statement points to major opportunities in such areas as marine biotechnology, offshore energy, and sustainable aquaculture to create much-needed jobs after one of the worst economic crises in recent history.

Making such “blue growth” sustainable, however, requires a greater investment in science —research to deliver knowledge, tools and advice on sustainable management of marine resources and a better understanding of ecosystems underpinning the maritime economy.

Demands on the seas for food, energy, raw materials and transport are steadily increasing, the statement notes. And while oceans “can provide solutions to many European and global policy challenges … (they) are neither inexhaustible nor immune to damage. In the context of rapid global change and human population growth, it is imperative to balance economic benefit with environmental protection and human wellbeing.”

“As a research community, it’s now time to reassess and reinvigorate our efforts to support these policy ambitions.”

Participants identified four high-level policy goals:

1. Valuing the ocean

Promoting a wider understanding of the importance of the seas and oceans in the everyday lives of European citizens.

2. Capitalizing on European leadership

Building on our strengths to reinforce Europe’s position as a global leader in marine science and technology

3. Advancing ocean knowledge

Building a much greater knowledge base through ocean observation and fundamental and applied research

4. Breaking scientific barriers

Addressing the complex challenges of blue growth and ocean sustainability by combining expertise and drawing from a full range of scientific disciplines.

 

October 13, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] The Human Health Costs of Losing Natural Systems: Quantifying Earth’s Worth to Public Health

From the 19 November press release posted at Natural History Wanderings

Scientists Urge Focus on New Branch of Environmental Health

NEW YORK (November 19, 2013) — A new paper from members of the HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages) consortium delineates a new branch of environmental health that focuses on the public health risks of human-caused changes to Earth’s natural systems.

Looking comprehensively at available research to date, the paper’s authors highlight repeated correlations between changes in natural systems and existing and potential human health outcomes, including:

Forest fires used to clear land in Indonesia generate airborne particulates that are linked to cardiopulmonary disease in downwind population centers like Singapore.

Risk of human exposure to Chagas disease in Panama and the Brazilian Amazon, and to Lyme disease in the United States, is positively correlated with reduced mammalian diversity.

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 http://www.wcs.org/files/pdfs/PNAS-2013-Human-health-impacts-of-ecosystem-alteration.pdf

When households in rural Madagascar are unable to harvest wild meat for consumption, their children can experience a 30% higher risk of iron deficiency anemia—a condition that increases the risk for sickness and death from infectious disease, and reduces IQ and the lifelong capacity for physical activity.

In Belize, nutrient enrichment from agricultural runoff hundreds of miles upstream causes a change in the vegetation pattern of lowland wetlands that favors more efficient malaria vectors, leading to increased malaria exposure among coastal populations.

Human health impacts of anthropogenic climate change include exposure to heat stress, air pollution, infectious disease, respiratory allergens, and natural hazards as well as increased water scarcity, food insecurity and population displacement.

“Human activity is affecting nearly all of Earth’s natural systems—altering the planet’s land cover, rivers and oceans, climate, and the full range of complex ecological relationships and biogeochemical cycles that have long sustained life on Earth,” said Dr. Samuel Myers of the Harvard School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “Defining a new epoch, the Anthropocene, these changes and their effects put in question the ability of the planet to provide for a human population now exceeding 7 billion with an exponentially growing demand for goods and services.”

Read the entire press release here

November 27, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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