Author: Gabriele Klug

COVID-19 Provides Lessons to a Not-So-Well Understood Climate Change Theory

Even as people are now experiencing the effects of climate change, certain environmental conditions like the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet are not well understood. To many, climate change is still an established scientific theory, of which the probability of happening is currently increasing.

The Connection Between Climate Change and COVID-19

While there is no evidence to present that the COVID-19 pandemic is linked to climate change in relation to the melting of permafrost, the health crisis presents lessons about vulnerabilities of countries to high-impact global disturbances. The pandemic had put to a test, the risk mitigating policies of every nation that mostly resulted in failures; not because of the nature of the policies but due to lack of domestic and international coordination.

While epidemiologists have warned years ago that global inter-connectedness, densely populated urban areas and destruction of wildlife habitats can increase the occurrences and risks of pandemics, the warnings fell on deaf ears, even up to now. Nonetheless, even as policymakers need to give priority to addressing the health crisis and in providing economic relief to the underprivileged sector of their respective societies, global efforts to bring down the Earth’s warming temperatures to below 2°C, should not be derailed.

Besides, the pandemic resulted into shifts in business and social activities that could further be adopted as part of climate change mitigation efforts.

Lessons Taught by the COVID-19 and Their LInks to Climate Change Actions

In formulating post-coronavirus policies, government leaders and lawmakers can turn their attention to proposing investments in technologies that can speed up the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2).

It became evident that during the lockdown periods imposed simultaneously and globally, the reduction of global travel by air had a positive effect in the Earth’s atmosphere. As the daily commute of millions of workers were temporarily put to a halt, so did the carbon emissions of the millions of land vehicles that traveled daily in multiple routes and for several times during any given day.

Businesses can adopt work-from-home arrangements to reduce the number of daily commuters. At the same time, companies can maintain and promote their virtual presence online. That being the case, there will be fewer demands for commercial buildings and housing provisions.

Lawmakers and government leaders can take cue from the events that continue to transpire as a result of the global pandemic. Unfortunately, only a handful of governments have been able to address both the COVID-19 crisis and the climate change mitigation efforts. While many leaders and lawmakers remain partisan, neither the pandemic nor the climate change actions have been effectively addressed.

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Mitigating the Detrimental Effects of Climate Change on Horse Health

Horse owners are voicing concerns that the detrimental effects of climate change forewarned years ago by scientists are now taking their toll on horse health.

Despite the care and attention being given by horse owners, the increasing severity of the effects of climate change still affect the health and well being of their horses. The reality however, is that the trend is likely to continue with greater severity, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions that could make caring for the animals even more difficult for horse owners and breeders.

Nonetheless, veterinarians and horse health experts are giving advice on steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects of paramount weather disturbances.

Keeping Horses Stress-Free as Much as Possible

Inasmuch as climate changes can disrupt the training and work routine of horses, consider implementing structural changes that will allow them to carry on with the exercise they need even during severe weather. As much as possible, make certain not to leave the horses without human care and attention during severe weather conditions. Closely monitoring vital signs as indicators of how the horses are reacting to stressful conditions will enable hostlers to take immediate actions.

During extremely warm summers in which cooler conditions are quite impossible to maintain, help the horses adjust by providing more shady areas and constant supply of fresh clean water. Regularly trimming their coat and mane can help keep horses comfortable as days get warmer toward the peak of summer seasons .

Winters are now more severe, bringing on freezing temperature in open horse stables. Make sure the animals are properly sheltered and protected against winter elements, such as using as many horse blankets as necessary. Yet as much as possible, provide your horses with insulated and draft-free barns that could reduce the harshness of extreme cold temperatures. Supplement their diets with additional calories that can help horses maintain levels of body heat. Keeping the animals in robust conditions can help them go through the coldest periods of the winter season.

When located in areas where floods can reach high levels as a result of continuously occurring heavy rains, having an elevated section in which to temporarily shelter horses will help keep them in good condition. That way, in case flooding reaches the corrals, the horses will have access to drier areas instead of letting them endure flooded and muddy conditions, which could potentially lead to foot and hoof diseases.

On the other hand, some geographical locations tend to experience drought instead of flooding, which can be just as problematic as any climate condition. Horses suffer from dehydration as a result of an over-dry climate in which water shortages can occur. Also, lush green fields can turn into dry and arid wastelands that produce too much dust. Mitigate these effects by ensuring a water system that can provide adequate water supply, as well as keep the turf in which horses roam and graze as drought-resistant as possible.

Additional Recommendations from Past the Wire News Website

In closing, horse racing news provider “Past the Wire” also warns of stagnant and murky waters where biting insects breed and become carriers of infectious diseases. Moreover, as transmissions of viral infections initially occur in animals, make sure that horses are properly protected by way of vaccinations. In addition, through the news website’s article “The BloodHorse — From Print to Digital Masterpiece,” owners and breeders of blood horses can derive important information that can provide answers to other concerns about horse health.

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New Study Unravels Mediterranean’s Vulnerability to Climate Change

Researchers at the MIT analyzed different global climate models and have unraveled the anomalous effects of climate change in the Mediterranean region.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate student Alexander Tuel and MIT Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Elfaith Eltahir, found out that all the global climate models they analyzed agree on one outcome. In the coming decades, the Mediterranean will experience a lower by 40 percent precipitation during the rainy and winter season. The finding simply suggests that the region will be significantly arid, likely to become a climate change hotspot in the near future.

What the MIT Researchers Found as Reason Behind the Mediterranean’s Significantly Drier Future

The pair of researchers Tuel and Professor Eltahir, learned from their analysis that the Mediterranean’s future as a hotspot region will be caused by the meeting together of two different climate change effects. One is a dynamic change that occurs in upper atmosphere circulation, while the other is a decreased difference in temperature between land and sea.

On their own, neither effect would sufficiently account for the anomalous reduction of rainfall in the Mediterranean. Yet as predicted by several global climate models, the phenomena will combine due to the Mediterranean’s geographic location. The position of the mountains affects the flow of air in the atmosphere, which as a result will create high pressure areas over the region. Those high pressure areas in turn, will have little precipitation that is likely to create a dry zone.

That first effect will combine with the second effect which is the reduction of the difference in temperatures between land and sea. The impact posed by the reduced temperature difference is that land will warm up at a faster rate than the sea.

The main difference of the Mediterranean’s geography when compared to other regions is that here, a big part of the sea is enclosed by several continents. Inasmuch as local topography is also a factor, the global climate models project that two Mediterranean areas will be hardest hit by the drying occurrence. The northwestern Africa, which includes Morocco, and the eastern Mediterranean region, where Turkey and the Levant are located.

MIT Professor Calls on Planners in the Mediterranean Region to Include the Global Climate Projections

The drying trend in the Mediterranean is actually more than just a projection since the MIT researchers have already detected declines in precipitation in the Middle East and North Africa. The findings were based on their documentation of observed precipitations.

Currently, Professor Eltahir has been helping government agencies in Morocco to translate the MIT findings into information they will use in making concrete plans. The MIT Professor asserts that since the underlying physical processes are now known and understood, planners in the region should seriously take into account the related projections.

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2019 : Earth’s 2nd Warmest Year NASA

Joint NASA and NOAA analyses of the 2019 global surface temperature revealed it was the 2nd warmest, when compared to that of 2016. The findings show that during the recent five years, the planet continues to experience the warmest temperatures ever recorded during the past 140 years and since 1880, when modern-record keeping first began.

Using data derived from statistical analysis of global temperatures and climate models, NASA and NOAA scientists arrived at a conclusion, confirming that the main drivers of global warming are the human-produced greenhouses gases, particularly carbon dioxide. According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Director Gavin Schmidt, temperatures had already crossed past the warming territory of above 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the year 2015, to which there was no going back.

Their analyses show that what has been transpiring persistently in the past five years is indicative of a long term trend, and not a fluke caused by some weather phenomenon. GISS Director Schmidt said that they also know that the growing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been driving the increase in temperatures. He remarked that

”Since the 1960s, it was clear that every decade was warmer than the decade before.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the other hand, found out that the annual mean temperatures in the Arctic reached more than the warmer-than-average mean temperature exhibited by the rest of the world. The rise in temperature in the Arctic occurred faster by as much as three times more.

As a result, the continuously rising temperatures caused massive melting in Greenland and Antarctica, and spurred rises in ocean levels that contributed to the development of extreme and violent natural events. Most of which brought about intense precipitations, heatwaves, earthquakes and wildfires.

Devastating Events that Transpired in the Year 2016

Inasmuch as the year 2016 was the warmest, it was also the year when the most devastating events occurred in several countries.

1. Winter Storm Jonas a.k.a “The Storm of the Century”.

2. The 6.4 Earthquake in Taiwan that toppled buildings in the City of Tainan.

3. Series of California Wildfires that totaled 6,938 fires, which caused the burning of about 565,070 acres of land during the year.

4. The 3 strong earthquakes in Italy that occurred one after another in a span of three months. The initial quake killed hundreds of people when medieva-agel stone buildings collapsed.

 

5. Hurricane Matthew, touted as the strongest storm to have occurred in the Atlantic, which rose briefly to a Category 5 status.

6. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake in New Zealand that was followed by a tsunami.

7. The 2016 Fukushima Earthquake in Japan and the combining tsunami that brought waves measuring 3-meters tall. The earthquake shook the entire world since the forces of the calamities caused damages to the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant.

9. The 7.8-magnitude Earthquake that struck @estern Indonesia, followed by another 6.5 quake before the end of the year, which killed at least a hundred.

The year 2019 saw more of the devastations caused by powerful hurricanes, stronger earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires and the occurrences of intense heat waves in different global regions. In India, the country nearly duplicated its 2016 all-time record high of 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius).

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University of New Mexico Researchers Point Out Financial Value of Damages Caused by Cryptocurrency Mining

Cryptocurrency proponents and advocates promote the benefits of using digital currency, since its lack of physical existence does not require third party involvement such as traditional banks and government regulators. That being the case, digital currency transactions will not be subject to bank charges and related government taxes.

Cryptocurrency exchanges merely work by way of peer-to-peer communication within a community of digital currency players; using encrypted messages recorded in a ledger known as blockchain. A unit of digital currency is produced every time a cryptocurrency miner solves a block of complex computing algorithms, which serves as a validation of every digital exchange.

Since a unit of digital currency is created as a reward for the miner who solves a block of algorithms, miners compete in order to earn the right to produce a unit of digital currency, ahead of the others. .

Yet University of New Mexico (UNM) researchers (UNM) argue that the mining practices present potential damage to human health, as well as add to the worsening effects of climate change.

According to UNM Economics assistant professors Andrew Goodkind and Benjamin Jones, and Economics professor Robert Berrens, there are financial values attached to the air pollution and adverse human health impact brought about by the electricity consumed in mining for cryptocurrency.

Using their expertise and a host of economic valuation techniques, the three economics professors were able to estimate the financial equivalent of the damages caused by cryptocurrency exchanges.

How Cryptocurrency Mining Causes Environmental Harm

Professor Berrens elaborated on a particular issue in the blockchain process of decoding new blocks of encrypted transactions. He pointed out the supply rules that a miner needs to comply with in order to create and earn new units of digital currency. Such rules include the predominant Proof-of Work (POW) scheme employed in solving encryptions linked to digital transactions.

Completing a POW requires a continuously increasing use of computing power and energy to solve complex algorithms under a winner-take-all scheme, which basically, is also a competition to secure new blocks in the cryptocurrency exchange chain.

Their study revealed that in cryptocurrency-mining, independent production of cryptocurrencies use specialized computer hardware that requires intensive use of electricity. Large-scale crypto-mining operations in so called mining camps therefore, use many of those energy-consuming computer hardware. Mining camps are usually established in any geographic locations across the globe, where energy source is cheapest and where Internet connection is the fastest.

In their research paper published in the “Energy Research & Social Science” journal, titled as “Cryptodamages: Monetary Value Estimates of the Air Pollution and Human Health Impacts of Cryptocurrency Mining,” the UNM researchers stated that the rising electricity required by every crypto coin generated, regardless of whether energy used is green or not, can result in inevitable cliffs of adverse net social benefit. Assistant Professor Goodkind said,

“We looked at greenhouse gas emissions of electricity used in mining, and their effect on climate change, as well as the impacts of local air pollution when carried downward, across local communities.”

The Monetary Values of the Cryptodamages as Assessed by the UNM Economics Researchers

The UNM researchers looked into large amounts of electricity produced by burning fossil fuels. The data gathered shows that at one point in 2018, the equivalent cost of damages that resulted in connection with Bitcoin production, matched the monetary value of the cryptocurrency exchange itself.

Increased pollutants such as fine particulate matter, CO2, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, likewise heightened exposure to elements that increased risks of premature death.

The UNM researchers approximated that in 2018, every one dollar worth of Bitcoin created yielded an equivalent cost of $49 in climate and human health damages across the United States. The huge amounts of electricity used by cryptocurrency mining camps showed links to the increased CO2 emissions and worsening air quality that affected families in communities across the country, including those in the state of New Mexico.

In publicizing the related costs of health and adverse climate impacts caused by such mining schemes, the UNM researchers hope that operators of cryptocurrency camps will seek alternative low-energy methods of mining.

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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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