|WIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 07, No. 3 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1995, 16 pages)|
· Researchers have definitely established a subarctic warming using the forest trees as barometers. They found throughout the 20th century a definite northward movement of the northernmost limit for pine trees in Finland. The Global Treeline Project has been working on this problem since the 1950s, and they have observed over half a century of coniferous treeline movement.
SOURCE:Global Warming Int'l Center, 1995.
· 500,000 women die each year from pregnancy, childbirth, and unsafe abortions. Most of these deaths could be prevented by suitable medical care. An estimated 120 million women around the world want to limit or delay childbirths, but lack appropriate information to do so, as well as the physical means and social support. In some world areas, as many as 30% of female populations are infected with HIV.
SOURCE; EarthAction, Sept.
· A recent study of the records of over 4,000 male births performed in Copenhagen found that poor social conditions, especially economically underprivileged young and unwed mothers, contributed significantly to producing criminal and sociopathic behavior by age 19. Another important factor was determined to be emotional rejection, such as can result from unwanted pregnancies and the institutionalization of infants. The authors of the research suggest that disruption of the mother-infant bond leads directly to callous affectionless, unempathetic individuals. Birthing complications, common among young, underprivileged, pregnant women, may affect the developing brain, impairing a child's control of explosive impulses.
SOURCE: Psychiatrist's Clinical
· Amounts of protective ozone over the northern hemisphere set record lows above some arctic areas last winter, but did not dip far enough to qualify as a hole in the ozone layer. Over North America, including the United States, concentrations of atmospheric ozone fell below normal levels. Natural weather patterns and pollution are believed to be responsible.
SOURCE: Science News,
· Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg found that there exists only a l-in-20 chance that temperatures rose during the 20th century because of natural conditions. Other researchers, who are less certain that human forces caused Earth's atmosphere to warm, point to the uncertainties that afflict climate studies worldwide. In the United States, a recent weather study conducted at the National Climatic Data Center found that precipitation and temperature have reached extremes 1.5% more often since 1976 than over the past 65 years. This pattern fits predictions of a greenhouse world to the degree that it is statistically likely that the greenhouse gases emitted from human activity are causing climate change. However, other contributing causes remain possible, if unlikely.
SOURCE: Science News,
· An environmentally unfriendly United States Congress is currently engaged in a concerted effort to roll back two decades of legislation designed to protect and conserve America's natural resource base. In July, Congress voted to suspend the rule of law on millions of acres of the public domain, especially protected wild and natural forest lands. Known as the Rescission Act, such efforts constitute the first in what will most likely prove to be a salvo of attempts over the next several years to deprive ordinary citizens of their natural resource heritage in favor of economic exploitation.
SOURCE: Unesco Sources, April
First Call for
Children, July-September 1995
· According to the World Bank, a global potable water crisis looms in the immediate future. Bank analysts project an estimated $600 million will have to be spent to augment existing water sources, as demand spurred by urbanization and agriculture outstrips available supplies. While water is plentiful in many parts of the world, some 80 nations are currently experiencing acute shortages.
SOURCE: World Bank, World Development
· Agenda 21, the plan of action document signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, has significantly transformed national policy-making for sustainable development. Unfortunately, industrialized, economically privileged nations are backsliding on their agreed upon commitments, yet the overall process for environmental resources conservation is advancing.
· The United Nations estimates that, in addition to the more than 100 million land mines already planted in some 64 countries, between 2-5 million more are laid each year. The International Red Cross reports that each month land mines kill over 800 people and severely maim thousands more. Problems associated with land mines have become so severe that the U.N.'s Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) has been designated to establish a system-wide mechanism for clearance and response to health risks.
SOURCE: UN Int'l News,
· A 2-cent solution of vitamin A can save the lives of millions of children, yet only 35 nations supply the programs necessary for its distribution. Over 200 million children under the age of five suffer from vitamin A deficiencies, which cause blindness and death as well as immune system impairment. Of the estimated 13 million global child deaths each year, about half are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and measles.
· The lack of dietary iodine which affects large areas of Asia and Africa is one of the most calamitous and least-known health problems in the world today. Lack of iodine has condemned millions of people to cretinism, tens of millions to retardation, and hundreds of millions to milder degrees of physical and mental impairment. In total, about 1.6 billion people in over 100 nations are currently at risk. One solution is to iodize all salt at a cost of about five cents per person per year. Although at the beginning of the 1990s most affected countries agreed to iodize at least 90% of edible salt by 1995, only about 50 nations have a realistic chance of attaining that goal.
· According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) population pressures and unsustainable logging practices could make the Philippines the first Asian nation to lose all of its naturally forested land by the year 2000.
SOURCE: UNDP Update,
· Chlordane, a highly toxic termite control pesticide, causes lingering neurotoxicity among exposed humans, as well as brain damage, asthma, hair loss, seizures, and other health impairments.
SOURCE: Science News,
· The annual depletion of ozone high over Antarctica has steadily worsened over the past ten years and has reached the most severe levels possible. According to scientist Jonathan Shanklin, a co-discoverer of atmospheric ozone depletion, the situation has not slowed at all and, if anything, has accelerated. Ozone is a form of oxygen that shields harmful ultra-violet rays generated by the sun. The depletion of this important atmospheric layer is caused chiefly by pollution.
SOURCE: Associated Press,
· Mount Mitchell used to be known as "Black Dome" for its dense cover of virgin evergreens. It's now, to quote the venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica, "a ghost forest of dead trees." Acid rain and air pollution have deepened the scars left by environmental mismanagement in one of the world's most biologically diverse temperate regions - the Southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States.
SOURCE: UNESCO Sources, #69,
"There can be no social development or sustained economic growth without health. We must look beyond our short-term policies which provide minimal safety nets only, or we run the risk of helping poverty become institutionalized."