Climate protesters around the world started two weeks of demonstrations on Monday, engaging in acts of civil disobedience to demand action on cutting carbon emissions.
In London, police arrested 276 people who blocked bridges and roads, while in Berlin, around 1,000 protesters blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle at the Victory Column.
The protests, organized by the Extinction Rebellion group, drew crowds of around several hundred people in cities across the world, including Austria, Australia, France, Spain and New Zealand.
In New York City, protesters threw fake blood on the Wall Street bull to display fears of a global economic meltdown caused by an environmental catastrophe. Police say they arrested around a dozen people who staged a sit-in at the bull.
Dutch police say they arrested 90 people who occupied a bridge outside the popular Rijksmuseum art gallery.
Extinction Rebellion says it expects protests to be carried out in 60 cities over the next two weeks. The group, which rose to prominence in April when it blocked traffic in central London for 11 days, says it is calling for governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Australian researchers have called to add climate change as an official cause of death after a study published on Thursday found that heat-related deaths have been under-reported in the country.
The study, published by Australian National University (ANU), found that excessive natural heat has been responsible for at least 50 times more fatalities than recorded on death certificates, reports Xinhua news agency.
A statistical analysis found that 36,765 deaths in Australia over the past 11 years could have been attributed to heat, but there were only 340. “Climate change is a killer, but we don’t acknowledge it on death certificates,” Arnagretta Hunter, a co-author of the study from the ANU Medical School, said in a media release. “If you have an asthma attack and die during heavy smoke exposure from bushfires, the death certificate should include that information.
“We can make a diagnosis of disease like coronavirus, but we are less literate in environmental determinants like hot weather or bushfire smoke,” Hunter said, adding that heat is the most dominant risk posed from climate change in Australia. According to the study, excessive natural heat was responsible for approximately 2 per cent of all deaths in Australia.
Hunter said the country’s death certificates must be modernized to capture the impact of global warming. “Climate change is the single greatest health threat that we face globally even after we recover from the coronavirus.
“We know the summer bushfires were a consequence of extraordinary heat and drought and people who died during the bushfires were not just those fighting fires – many Australians had early deaths due to smoke exposure,” she said. (IANS)
IANSlife spoke to Dr Vikas Maurya, Director & Head, Department of Pulmonology & Sleep Disorders, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi to find out more about the association of pollution with lung cancer
We know that today lung cancer is the most common cancer and is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Around 1.6 million people die every year. Tobacco smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. But it can also occur in people who have never smoked as well. As per literature, 15% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer have no history of tobacco use. And 20% of women who developed lung cancer have never smoked. In recent years a large number of patients are being diagnosed all over the world, including India, in whom there is no such history of tobacco smoking. The common causes of lung cancer in non smokers are: air pollution both outdoor and indoor, exposure to secondhand smoke, i.e passive smoking, Asbestos exposure, Radon gas exposure, diesel exhaust fumes and genetic predisposition.
Air pollution and Lung cancer
The risk of lung cancer is sometimes said to be similar to what is seen with passive smoking. The risk increases with increase in the level of air pollution. Presently, as per WHO, air pollution have increased significantly in some parts of the world, mostly in low and middle income countries with large populations like India. There are two main types of outdoor air pollution: ozone and particle pollution. Both are harmful to our health, and particle pollution, in particular, is found to be associated with lung cancer.
Particle pollution is a mix of solid and liquid particles, which are comprised of different chemicals and biological components. They come from power plants, burning wood, diesel and fossil fuels. The particles that are most dangerous are the ones that are 2.5 microns or smaller (less than 1/7 the diameter of a human hair) also known as PM2.5 (Particulate Matter 2.5). PM2.5 is the best understood air pollutants, the risk of developing lung cancer increases as the level of PM2.5 increases. These particles are deposited in the lungs and are not destroyed by the body defense mechanisms and with less understood mechanism leads to changes in the cells and tissue and over a long period of time can cause cancer.
In the UK, it has been found that an estimated 7.8% of lung cancers each year are thought to be caused by PM2.5 air pollution exposure.
Indoor air pollution, the most common causes are cooking and heating the home with solid fuels (wood and coal) or cooking over open flames. This type of cooking paired with poor ventilation leads to high levels of indoor air pollution which can also contribute to lung cancer. Women and children are more likely to be affected by this indoor pollution due to their proximity to the cooking fire, and time spent in the household. Lower income populations across the world, like in rural India, China, are often where these high levels of indoor air pollution occur.
Who is at risk
Anyone who lives where particle pollution levels are high is at risk.
Children, elderly, people with lung and heart disease and diabetes, people with low incomes, and people who work or exercise outdoors are at higher risk.
Also those who use solid fuels for cooking and heating at home are also at increase risk for developing lung cancer.
How to protect ourselves from air pollution and thus decreasing the risk of lung cancer
Certain measures can be adopted to protect ourselves from air pollution.
Important to be aware of the air quality index forecast for the day and limit the activity and thus exposure if pollution levels are high.
Avoid exercising along heavily travelled main roads or highways regardless of the overall forecast.
If it is necessary to go outside, wear the mask like Cambridge or Zukam mask (washable and reusable), or N99/N95 mask or at least simple cloth mask if none available.
Keep your indoor clean and ventilate at an appropriate time.
Can keep indoor plants at home to improve the quality of air at home.
Eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables and being healthy will also help in keeping us away from lung cancer by improving our immunity and defense mechanisms.
As individuals, we can take steps to limit our contributions to local pollution sources by not burning wood or trash and not idling vehicles, especially diesel engines.
In developed countries with strict legislation and measures to decrease air pollution, there is a significant decrease in exposure to pollution and lung cancer, but it is still a major problem in other parts of the developing world, like India. (IANS)
Climate change rallies have been held in Australia by thousands of protesters critical of the government’s handling of the bushfire crisis. A demonstration in Sydney has reportedly attracted 30,000 people, while events have also been held in other major cities.
“Sack the prime minister,” protesters chanted as they turned on Australia’s conservative leader, Scott Morrison. He is accused of not taking global warming seriously and of underplaying its role in the bushfire emergency. Protesters believe that “fossil fuel loving politicians” have overseen “decades of climate destruction.”
They want the Morrison government to phase out the use of fossil fuels. That is unlikely given their immense value to the Australian economy. Coal generates much of the nation’s electricity and earns billions of dollars through exports to China, India and other countries.
The prime minister has previously defended his energy and climate policies as adequate and responsible, but at least one protester in Sydney is demanding he give a more sensitive response to the bushfire emergency.
“Humanely, with empathy. I think that is a huge thing,” the protester said. “I think the way Scott Morrison has handled this and his lack of empathy to the whole situation is embarrassing. I would like the firefighters to be funded more, I would like more schemes to be set up, and just money and to actually admit that climate change is real, like it is clearly happening and this is what we are doing about it. We are marching.”
Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews had urged the organizers of a rally in Melbourne to postpone the protest because it would put pressure on police resources during the bushfire crisis. But despite that plea, and heavy rain, hundreds of people turned out to join a nationwide chorus of anger and frustration.
Dozens of fires continue to burn, mostly in southeastern Australia. Cooler conditions are forecast for the next week, which will help the firefighting effort. In New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, 147 bush and grass fires are burning. Sixty-five have yet to be contained.
Since September, at least 27 people have died in Australia’s bushfires. More than 10 million hectares (24 million acres) of land — an area bigger than Portugal — have been scorched. (VOA)