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Italy’s glaciers retreated by 40 percent: WWF

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Rome: Alpine glaciers in Italy have lost an estimated 40 percent of their area over the last three decades, a recent report released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has said.

“The situation of glaciers on the Italian side of the Alps is very worrying,” Xinhua news agency on Friday quoted Gianfranco Bologna, scientific director of WWF-Italy and co-author of the report as saying.

The Hot Ice report was unveiled earlier this week, ahead of a crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference due to be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11.

The report suggested that drastic measures should be adopted at the Paris summit to prevent further deterioration of the glaciers in Italy and worldwide.

With respects to the Italian Alps, the report stated glaciers currently cover a total area of about 368 sq kms compared to 609 sq kms in the 1980’s.

Friday’s figures came from the New Italian Glacier Inventory, which was presented at the 19th Alpine Glaciology meeting held in May in Milan.

The figures were compared with the 1989 World Glacier Inventory (WGI) based on data collected in the 1980’s.

The comparison suggested an area reduction of over 39 percent.

Researches said glacier melting is undoubtedly caused by human activities, and the WWF report said, “the extent of interactions between the biosphere and the human species in recent centuries is unprecedented.”

“The scientific community has been coordinating the collection of standardised data about glaciers worldwide since the end of 18th century,” Bologna said.

“We have seen them retreating slowly for over a century, and much more sharply in the last 50 years.”

The melting process is affecting the Arctic and Antarctica the most, but also glaciers around the world, such as in the Himalayas, Patagonia, Alaska, the Ural Mountains, and the Alps.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities and most responsible for global warming, have indeed risen to 35.3 billion tonnes per year in 2013 from 22.6 billion tonnes in 1990, according to the European Union Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).

“On this aspect, we must also emphasise the progressive effect of global warming,” Bologna said.

“Firstly, ice is part of the water cycle. Thus, ice melting affects the availability of water for humans, and the life of the fauna and flora in mountain areas,” the expert said.

“Alpine glaciers specifically give rise to many Italian rivers, including the Po, Italy’s longest river,” Bologna said.

(inputs from IANS)

 

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Child Vaccination Mandate Still Under The Confusion Reigns in Italy

According to a 2010 survey of 27 EU states, plus Norway and Iceland, 15 countries do not have any mandatory vaccinations; the other 14 have at least one

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A doctor injects vaccine into a patient's arm, in Rome, Italy, Feb. 23, 2018.
A doctor injects vaccine into a patient's arm, in Rome, Italy, Feb. 23, 2018. (VOA)

Italians are divided between those who think parents should have the right to decide whether to vaccinate their children and those who feel immunization programs must be decided by the government, which they believe has better access to information. Vaccine regulations differ widely across Europe, and the current situation in Italy is in limbo.

Italians enrolling their children in state-run nursery schools currently are uncertain if they need to provide evidence their children have had 10 vaccinations required by a law that came into effect in March. A week ago, the upper house of parliament voted through an amendment to remove that obligation. But to become law, it must also be approved by the lower house.

Parents have been told that for the time being they can simply provide a self-signed declaration that their children have been vaccinated. Many remain unclear whether their children will be allowed to go to school if they fail to provide a declaration or other evidence of the vaccinations.

A surge of more than 5,000 measles cases last year – the second largest outbreak in Europe – led the government run then by the Democratic Party to pass a bill requiring mandatory vaccinations. However, in the run-up to general elections this year, the 5-Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio and the League led by Matteo Salvini said they would do away with the law. Now in power, they appear to be keeping their promise

Speaking at a recent political rally near Florence, Salvini admitted he had vaccinated his own children and said that parents who have the best interests of their children at heart should be able to make that choice. He added that 10 vaccines are simply too many for some children and it is unthinkable that Italian children may not be able to enroll in school because they have not been vaccinated.

vaccination
Confusion Reigns in Italy Over Child Vaccination Mandate. VOA

Salvini said a state that requires 10 vaccines must also give parents the certainty that nothing will happen to their children through pre-vaccine tests, which today do not exist. There are 15 European countries, he added, that do not even have a single mandatory vaccine. Noting that Italy now has the most compulsory vaccinations of any country in Europe, Salvini expressed the concern that some multinational or pharmaceutical company may have chosen Italian children as a testing ground.

Italy’s health minister, Giulia Grillo, a doctor and a member of the 5-Star Movement, has made clear the government believes the right balance must be struck between the right to education and the right to health.

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Grillo said the 5-Star Movement is not opposed to vaccines and recognizes their importance and usefulness. She added that citizens need to be informed properly about vaccinations and that the National Health Service must provide support to parents and children before and after they are inoculated.

According to a 2010 survey of 27 EU states, plus Norway and Iceland, 15 countries do not have any mandatory vaccinations; the other 14 have at least one. The most common mandatory vaccine is against polio, followed by diphtheria and tetanus. (VOA)