Author: Gabriele Klug

Understanding the Global Importance of the Amazon Region

The Amazon region in Brazil and Bolivia is still burning. Raging fires had engulfed most of the Northern part of Mount Roraima and subsequently affecting its borders Acre, Amazonas, Rondonia, Mato Grosso do Sul and Bolivia.

Rondônia with its thick jungle foliage and climate that is warm and humid throughout the year, has long been recognised as one of the most threatened sections of Brazil’s Amazon in terms of depletion and deforestation.

Bolivia, like Brazil has also encouraged clearing of forest areas to support its cattle and farming industry, and has likewise seen flames that had already razed at least 2.4 million hectares of Bolivia’s section of the Amazon. The destruction has burned down 1.15 million protected land, destroyed around 40 million trees and killed about a thousand vertebrate animal species inhabiting the area.

World Leaders are Showing Grave Concern about the Raging Amazon Fire

Why is the Amazon Forest so important that European countries like Norway and Germany, have contributed millions of dollars as subsidies to the Amazon Fund for the region’s protection? However, the two countries halted their contribution, as the raging fire brought to light the fact that Brazil was not putting up a fight against the deforestation of the Amazon.

What is it about the Amazon that the leaders in the G7 informal meeting, representing France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan, and the United States, as well as the European Union bloc, raised more than $20 million to aid Brazil in putting out the fires. As a matter of fact, the UK and Canada pledged an additional $12 million and $11 million respectively.

The G7 aid though came with a stern warning against the incumbent Brazilian president to take serious action in protecting the Amazon. In separate pronouncements, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland said they intend to veto an important European Union trade deal entered with Mercosur, if President Bolsonario does not act accordingly for Amazon’s protection. Mercosur is the South American bloc seeking to improve trade relationships with other countries.

The Global Importance of the Amazon Region

The Amazon region and its collection of mountain ranges is important not only to the nine countries in which about 7.4 million square kilometres of tropical forests lie, namely: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Dubbed as the “Lungs of the Earth,” the region is home to one third of the planet’s primary forests. It is also home to the Amazon River, which through its tributaries, globally provides as much as 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water.

The Amazon region, by way of its dense forests has been storing as much as 100 years worth of the world’s human-produced carbon emissions. That being the case, Amazon has been playing a vital role in slowing down the effects of global warming.

However, the amount of destruction caused by the still ongoing forest fire will adversely affect efforts at minimizing the enormous amount of carbon that goes to the Earth’s atmosphere in order to mitigate climate change.

Recently, scientists warned that the biomass burning caused by the Brazilian and Bolivian Amazon forest fires, is bound to increase environmental problems. Biomass burning produces large quantities of greenhouse gases and aerosol particles that can bring further changes in both regional and global climates.

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UCS Warns of Longer Days of a Heat Wave in the Future if No Further Actions will be Taken

Climate researchers of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have collected data showing that the U.S. population is bound to experience more than double the number of extremely hot days there is today, as the climate crisis progresses toward the end of the century.

The peer-reviewed study arrived at a conclusion that by mid-century temperatures of 37.7 degrees Celsius or hotter could last at an average of 36 days in a year. Moving forward toward the end of the century, the number of extremely hot days can be expected to increase to 54 days in a year .

UCS lead climate analyst Erika Spanger-Siegfried said they are basically looking at increments in the kinds of oppressive heat wave currently spreading throughout ⅔ of the eastern U.S. regions. Conditions that spurred the spate of advisories and warnings released in nearly half of the country.

Co-author to the group’s report Kristina Dahl said that

“Even in the next few decades, nearly everywhere, people will experience more days of dangerous heat.”…“Data shows a hotter future that is hard to imagine today.”

The data referred shows what is likely to happen in the future if the current climate policies under the Trump administration continues.

Based on present forecasts by the National Weather Service, the heat index, which refers to the degree of hotness people feel from the combination of air temperatures and moisture, can go as high as 43 degrees Celsius in certain places. Yet there are continuous global reductions of the heat-trapping emissions coming from cars, power plants and other human activities, and such actions can keep summer seasons from becoming as hot.
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According to the UCS researchers, even slow actions to cut emissions could help Washington D.C. avoid 11 days a year of experiencing hotter than 37.7 degrees Celsius by mid-century, as well as help the city avoid experiencing 32 days a year of heat as high as 43 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

What the UCS Researchers Foresee if No Further Actions will be Taken

The UCS researchers have already noted that global temperatures have already risen at about 1 degree Celsius since industrialization, and is still on track to rise by almost 3.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. .

If no further actions will be taken to reduce the heat trapping pollution, certain parts of Texas and Florida will experience temperatures of 37.7 degrees Celsius or hotter for a period of five months within a year. The off-chart periods noted by the researchers are occuring today but only in the Sonoran Desert located within the border of southern Arizona and California.

Without further actions, one third of the U.S. population will experience at least one week of those dessert-like temperatures by the end of the century.

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ATS Warns Air Pollution Still Harmful Despite Past Declines in PM2.5 Levels

In a 2019 air pollution report published by the American Thoracic Society (ATS): “Trends in Excess Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Air Pollution above ATS-Recommended Standards, 2008 to 2017,” researchers gathered information indicating that mortality impacts of PM2.5 pollution dropped by almost half during the recent past decade.

However, improvements occurred only as far as PM2.5 is concerned, as O3 or “bad ozone” pollution remained doggedly high at levels that still adversely impact human and animal health.

Even if the country saw a decline in the number of deaths and serious illnesses associated with air pollution during the past decade, the lowered mortality impact of the PM2.5 improvements went on a leveling off course by 2017, The year saw PM2.5 rising above recommended levels, which caused an increase of 5,600 morbidities. On the other hand, O3 or ground-level ozone, which constantly remained above recommended levels brought on 10,080 morbidities.

The ATS warns that if federal and local governments will not apply further efforts to reduce the PM2.5 and O3 occurring in the Earth’s atmosphere, adverse health impacts are likely to increase over time, since growth in population will also transpire.

What Exactly is PM2.5 and Why is It Harmful?

PM stands for particulate matter. When such matter measures a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometer, it is labeled as PM2.5. Described as small and light, PM2.5 pollution becomes detrimental to human health when the air breathed in contains high levels of PM2.5. Level elevations tend to occur during days when there is little or no wind at all.

Inasmuch as PM2.5 pollutants are so minute and light, they linger longer in the air if compared to heavier pollutant matters. Increased levels of PM2.5 beyond the ATS’ recommended level of 11 micrograms/cu.m. yearly concentrations and 25 micrograms/cu.m. for short-term concentrations, correspondingly increase the chances of particles entering and clogging human and animal respiratory systems.

Aside from penetrating the lungs, the minuteness of PM2.5 makes it possible for the pollutant matter to also enter the circulatory system. The link between excessive PM2.5 levels and health problems is that they are known to trigger or aggravate chronic illnesses of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders, and even heart ailments.

What Exactly is O3 and Why is It Harmful?

O3 is also known as ground-level ozone because it represents the layer of toxic gaseous substances created by the chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and compositions of volatile organic compounds when occurring in the presence of sunlight.

Ground-level ozone is branded as bad ozone because when breathed in, it is capable of triggering or aggravating an assortment of health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, throat irritation, cough, congestion and chest pain. Constant exposure to ground-level ozone can also permanently damage or scar tissues due to impaired lung function and repeated inflammation of lung linings.

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An Understanding of the United Nations 2019 Global Environment Outlook Report

The United Nations Organization recently released its 6th Global Environment Outlook ( GEO 2019). The report substantially contains sound scientific knowledge that policy and decision makers can use as guide in steering national and local governments, as well as business organizations and every citizen, toward building a truly sustainable world by year 2050.

The organization brought together hundreds of scientists and peer reviewers who collaborated with partners and institutions. To which the underlying purpose is to come up with useful information in achieving the previously established Sustainable Development Goals and the Internationally Agreed Environment Goals as embodied in the Paris Agreement.

Goal of the 2019 GEO: “Healthy Planet, Healthy People”

This year’s GEO goal is based on the premise that in order to make the planet healthier, inhabitants particularly the people residing in it, must lead healthy lifestyles. Yet as the report states, people’s opportunities in life depend on what are afforded to them as sustainable economic and social prosperity, which in most cases are not at all equal. The reality is that there are disparities in wealth and income.

Therefore recognition must be made that economic, social and environmental aspects are bound to each other. Poverty, inequality and gender discrimination, resulting to sizable loss of human productivity, does not contribute to the present innovations required for living sustainable lives.
Previous GEOs have provided evidence that there is pollution, environmental degradation, climate changes, and resource depletion, which the 2019 GEO recognizes as having links to disparities in income and wealth.

Inequality here is also in terms of global locations in which poverty of a population as results of violent conflicts or wars, cultural erosion, poor governance, resistance to globalization and similar conditions that can impoverish a nation. The key indication of the linkage is the need to create a new framework for sustainability that embraces all factors as integral parts; for all aspects and in all levels of sustainable development, be it global, regional and national.

Understanding the 2019 GEO Report

Based on our understanding of the 2019 GEO Report, the ability of a population to contribute to attainment of sustainable goals depends on the economic, social and environmental conditions present in the region. It is as simple as saying that if a large part of the population making up the region cannot afford to buy sustainble products that can lessen, if not eliminate plastic wastes that contribute to pollution, that region cannot be expected to contribute to the attainment of sustainability goals.

A sustainable product as simple as a glass baby feeding bottle, is not a popular choice to replace the non-biodegradable plastic bottles if majority of households in that region cannot afford to buy the sustainable kind. More so the latest best bottles for anti colic innovation, which can make caring for infants less difficult. Often times, a mother has to stay home to care for the baby, frequently foregoing opportunities to earn additional income that could improve the economic condition of the family.

Based on premises similar to the example provided above, the 2019 GEO calls on policy and decision makers, not to singly consider economic, social or environmental impact. Mainly because such elements share a natural link. That if the imoact of one is overlooked, goals to create healthier lifestyle for the people cannot be achieved, and therefore impede actions and innovations designed toward building a healthy environment populated by healthy people.

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