As we, the entitled, sit on our big fat asses in the drive-thru …

As a Canadian, I am absolutely ecstatic when the warm weather FINALLY arrives.  The past month has been beautiful with sun & perfect temperatures of 15-20 degrees Celsius.  It is not totally bizarre that already at least half of the drivers have their windows closed tight with the air conditioning on?  The drive-thru line ups have never been longer.  Even when the weather is so incredibly beautiful – we still somehow cannot get our big, fat, lazy asses out of our vehicles.  As obesity rates skyrocket, as our smog days increase, as more and more of our children develop asthma and as the last of our arctic sea ice disappears … we are our own worst enemy. Idling Canadians spend over 630 million bucks a year going nowhere while belching CO2 and asthma-causing pollutants into the same air we like to breathe. In the grand scheme of things – drive-thrus may be a small contributor to climate change.  But make no mistake – they do contribute & they do contribute to pollution and sickness.  The sad truth is – they are nothing more than a ‘convenience’ to 99% of the population – something we should easily make a choice to give up.  And yet we don’t and we refuse to do so. Because it is ‘our choice’ to pollute others and harm our ecosystem.  Our ‘choice’ has superceded our oldest natural instinct in the world – to protect our children.  How messed up is this?  This is a disturbing and frightening commentary on our society and our values.  A society gone mad.

CO2 hits 800,000-year high at Mauna Loa Observatory

Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii  (USA) Atmospheric CO2 reached 389.47 parts per million (ppm) in the month of April 2009.

Here is another report:


Lancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission

Managing the health effects of climate change

Executive summary | Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century

Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk. During this century, earth’s average surface temperature rises are likely to exceed the safe threshold of 2°C above preindustrial average temperature. Rises will be greater at higher latitudes, with medium-risk scenarios predicting 2–3°C rises by 2090 and 4–5°C rises in northern Canada, Greenland, and Siberia. In this report, we have outlined the major threats—both direct and indirect—to global health from climate change through changing patterns of disease, water and food insecurity, vulnerable shelter and human settlements, extreme climatic events, and population growth and migration. Although vector-borne diseases will expand their reach and death tolls, especially among elderly people, will increase because of heatwaves, the indirect effects of climate change on water, food security, and extreme climatic events are likely to have the biggest effect on global health.

A new advocacy and public health movement is needed urgently to bring together governments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), com-munities, and academics from all disciplines to adapt to the effects of climate change on health. Any adaptation should sit alongside the need for primary mitigation: reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and the need to increase carbon biosequestration through reforestation and improved agricultural practices. The recognition by governments and electorates that climate change has enormous health implications should assist the advocacy and political change needed to tackle both mitigation and adaptation.

Management of the health effects of climate change will require inputs from all sectors of government and civil society, collaboration between many academic disciplines, and new ways of international cooperation that have hitherto eluded us. Involvement of local communities in monitoring, discussing, advocating, and assisting with the process of adaptation will be crucial. An integrated and multidisciplinary approach to reduce the adverse health effects of climate change requires at least three levels of action. First, policies must be adopted to reduce carbon emissions and to increase carbon biosequestration, and thereby slow down global warming and eventually stabilise temperatures. Second, action should be taken on the events linking climate change to disease. Third, appropriate public health systems should be put into place to deal with adverse outcomes.

While we must resolve the key issue of reliance on fossil fuels, we should acknowledge their contribution to huge improvements in global health and development over the past 100 years. In the industrialised world and richer parts of the developing world, fossil fuel energy has contributed to a doubled longevity, dramatically reduced poverty, and increased education and security for most populations.

Conclusions and recommendations

This report raises many challenging and urgent questions for politicians, civil servants, academics, health professionals, NGOs, pressure groups, and local communities. Climate change is potentially the biggest global health threat in the 21st century. Our response requires a new public health movement that is multidisciplinary and multisectoral, and that leads to coordinated thinking and action across governments, international agencies, NGOs, and academic insti-tutions. Any adaptation interventions must sit alongside the need for primary mitigation: reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, recognition by governments and electorates that climate change has enormous health implications should assist the advocacy and political change to tackle mitigation and adaptation.

Whichever mitigation strategies are chosen by governments or agreed at the Copenhagen conference, the move to a low-carbon economy will have global health benefits and these must also be emphasised. More research is needed on win-win solutions, which are equally important in developed and developing countries.

We have proposed a framework for responding to the health effects through adaptation strategies, which in turn embeds mitigation strategies to improve human health worldwide.

This framework raises several important issues for action:

• Climate change mitigation and adaptation are essential elements to overall development policy. They are not separate issues that can be divided from the agenda for poverty alleviation or for closing the gap on social inequalities and health.

• The most urgent need is to empower poor countries, and local government and local communities everywhere, to understand climate implications and to take action. Health professionals and university academics have an important catalytic role. Multi-disciplinary groups from higher education institutions can have a forceful role in engaging with community leaders, civil society organisations, and students in these debates. There is a need for new financing for global links between developed and developing countries that create a two-way dialogue. Developed countries can help to strengthen capacity for high-quality research and information collection in developing countries, and developing countries can strengthen the ability of developed countries to understand sustainability and low-carbon living. Empowerment is as much about community mobilisation as high-level political action. The empowerment process is likely to be pluralistic and chaotic, but health and academic communities can do much to support and catalyse these processes.

• An agenda for developing countries must be developed through global cooperation. Representation on global task forces to assess the health effect of climate change is heavily skewed in favour of institutions in developed countries. In poor countries, health assessments and high-level climate science and health surveillance research are a priority. New research and advocacy groupings in Africa and south Asia are needed, and the academic community of developed countries must have a role in lobbying for resources and support. Food and water insecurity are early effects of climate change and will be a high priority for poor communities. Distilling academic findings into simple language, policy briefs, and user-friendly media is essential.

• Climate change should be integrated into the entire discourse of our present and should be taken into consideration for all governance actions. An advocacy movement must ensure that the health effects of climate change are placed high on the agenda of every research and development funder, philanthropist, academic journal, scientific conference, professional meeting, and university or school curriculum. Academics should lead advocacy within their own spheres of influence.

• Accountability mechanisms are crucial. We hope that this report will initiate or stimulate new funding and networks to monitor what is happening in government, civil society, academia, local government, and communities, especially in the most vulnerable populations. Accountability indicators should be monitored by the academic community and civil society organisations. It should be possible to agree upon health and climate change goals and targets for the processes of engagement and empowerment. Global and regional conferences and working groups to develop these outputs would be valuable in the same way that previous reports published in The Lancet have stimulated action on child survival, nutrition, and maternal health through the countdown to 2015. A biennial review of progress towards agreed targets would help to accelerate progress through celebration of success and identification of areas where progress is lagging.

• Awareness of health risks can have an important role in strengthening carbon mitigation debates and targets. Joint statements from national institutes of medicine, representative bodies such as royal colleges, journal editors, organisations such as the Climate and Health Council,175 and university leaders worldwide, drawing upon a growing evidence base, can create a solidarity and authority that politicians will find hard to resist. The priority is to send clear messages to the Copenhagen conference in December, Vol 373 May 16, 2009 1729 2009, emphasising the health consequences of climate change, even with a 2°C increase in temperatures (which is now broadly accepted as inevitable), with estimates of the severity of health effects at warming up to 4°C. Public and policy maker recognition of the profound meaning of the existence of threats from climate change to nature’s life processes, to the productive and stabilising ecosystems upon which we depend, and hence to human health and survival, will have great effect on the seriousness and urgency with which we approach this unprecedented challenge.

• The frequently observed state of fragmented health systems, with little attention paid to long-term sustainability, must give way to the development of coherent, population-based, and bottom-up health planning. Health systems must not act only as a platform for the delivery of clinical services but also provide the foundation for an effective public health response to the many climate-induced threats to health. This action will require more attention being paid to the organisational and management deficiencies of ministries of health, including subnational health governance and management structures. Long-term strategies and investments will be needed to develop the clinical and management human capacity of health systems. Some countries will also need to address the currently unregulated and disorganised private sector to harness existing resources to better serve the public interest. Many countries currently lack any coherent long-term and sustainable development agenda for their health systems. This needs to change.

• The move to a low-carbon economy will have global health benefits from both a reduction in the health effects of climate change and improvement in human lifestyles, and these must be emphasised. There must be more research on win-win solutions, which are equally important in rich and poor countries. For example building new green cities in the developed world, which minimise the need for cars and maximise exercise, will contribute to the fight against obesity. In poorer countries, developing water and energy systems, which are operated by local renewable sources of power, cuts reliance on imported fossil fuels and empowers local community groups.

• Building low-carbon and climate-resilient cities in emerging economies that adapt to continuing rural–urban migration, driven both by economic development and climate effects, is important. More than a third of the world’s population now live in urban areas in low-income or middle-income nations. Even Africa has 40% of its population in urban areas, a number that is larger than that in North America. Worldwide, the numbers of people injured or killed by storms and floods, and the amount of economic damage caused and insurance claims made, especially in these urban areas, have increased.

• Three priorities for action in urban areas are to improve the capacity and accountability of local and municipal government, to change their relation to informal settlers, and to ensure that government policies encourage rather than hinder the con-tributions to adaptation made by individuals, community organisations, and private enterprise.70 Urban developments could use climate-resilient engineering on sites at low risk of water or food stress, and provide sustainable low-carbon transport and other infrastructure. A new approach to urban planning to ensure healthy food supplies, adequate exercise, clean air, clean water, devolved health service structures, and education might provide a model of what we mean by a climate-adapted public health response.

High-income countries have caused almost all the anthropogenic climate change that has occurred to date, and they must now face extremely challenging political and economic choices if climate change mitigation is to be achieved. The UCL Lancet Commission has recognised Antonio Gramsci’s pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will in tackling this issue. The academic community has a crucial role in facing up to the challenge of climate change, the health consequences we shall bequeath to our children and grandchildren (panel 7), and in helping to inform and support a policy process that will challenge us all.

What is a practical way to take the challenge forward? We call for a collation of global expertise on the health effects of climate change leading up to a major conference within the next 2 years, which will define the priorities for management, implementation, and monitoring. Representation from developing countries should be emphasised. The conference should bring representatives of all interested groups together to share experiences, and to discuss and endorse a set of key indicators and targets (climate and health adaptation goals developed by an international expert working group) for concerted global action. A key element of this action programme should focus on ways in which the poor nations can develop their own capacity to monitor problems, and to improve the evidence base for policy makers and planners. We believe a biennial review of progress towards agreed targets would help to accelerate progress through celebration of success and identification of areas in which progress is lagging.


Exerpt from Peak-Oil Prophet James Howard Kunstler on Car Dependancy & the Obvious Link to Obesity in North America

KT: A study has just come out showing that although the French spend two hours eating each day — roughly twice as long as we do — they’re among the slimmest of the 18 nations in the study. Americans were the fattest, with more than 1 in 3 Americans qualifying as obese. How would you explain this phenomenon? What compels Americans to eat so many of our meals in our cars?

JHK: Americans eat so many meals in cars because: 1) The infrastructure of daily life is engineered for extreme car dependency, and 2) because the paucity of decent quality public space and so-called third places (gathering places) for the working classes (and lower) — and remember, it is the working classes and poor who are way disproportionately obese. The people portrayed in Vanity Fair magazine are not fat. I suspect that the amount of time Americans spend in their cars is roughly proportionate to the amount of time French people spend at the table.

Fast food is not a new phenomenon in the USA, however. Frances Trollope’s sensational travel book of the 1830s, The Domestic Manners of the Americans dwells on the horrifying spectacle of our hotel dining rooms, where people bolted their food with disgusting manners. Americans have been in a tearing rush for 200 years.

To read the full AlterNet Interview:

Council bans new fast-food outlets in South L.A.

From the Los Angeles Times

The one-year moratorium, proposed by Councilwoman Jan Perry, is aimed at attracting restaurants serving healthier fare to the area, where a study found 30% of children are obese.

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and David Zahniser
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

July 30, 2008

A law that would bar fast-food restaurants from opening in South Los Angeles for at least a year sailed through the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday.

The council approved the fast-food moratorium unanimously, despite complaints from representatives of McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr. and other companies, who said they were being unfairly targeted.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who has pushed for a moratorium for six years, said the initiative would give the city time to craft measures to lure sit-down restaurants serving healthier food to a part of the city that desperately wants more of them.

“I believe this is a victory for the people of South and southeast Los Angeles, for them to have greater food options,” she said.

The ban covers a 32-square-mile area for one year, with two possible six-month extensions.

The area contains about 500,000 residents, including those who live in West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park.

The law defines fast-food restaurants as “any establishment which dispenses food for consumption on or off the premises, and which has the following characteristics: a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders and food served in disposable wrapping or containers.”

A report released last year by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found 30% of children in South L.A. were obese, compared with 25% of all children in the city.

Still, several fast-food workers told the council that the panel was ignoring the good things their franchises accomplish. The workers argued that fast-food establishments provide residents with job opportunities and, in recent years, nutritious menu options.

“McDonald’s believes in healthy choices,” said Don Bailey, who has owned and operated the company’s restaurants in South Los Angeles for 22 years.

Another foe of the measure was Madelyn Alfano, whose company, Maria’s Italian Kitchen, has restaurants in Sherman Oaks, Brentwood and other parts of the city. Alfano said the law would create new red tape and force restaurateurs to spend thousands more to start businesses.

“The intent of this bill, and this proposal, is a very good one. There is an obesity problem,” said Alfano, whose company recently opened an express version of the restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. But “I don’t think the restaurant industry is to blame.”

Moratoriums frequently last as long as two years at City Hall, to give planning officials enough time to craft new zoning rules. Perry said businesses can apply for a “hardship exemption” if they are intent on opening a fast-food restaurant.

The councilwoman also said she expected city officials to come up with financial assistance for some restaurants.

“This will buy us time to aggressively market the district and show potential developers that we are not only open for business, but have some substantive incentives to make it worth their while to develop in South L.A.,” she said.


Plan for ‘fast food’ toys ban, a step closer

LIVERPOOL last night moved a step closer to introducing a unique by-law banning fast food companies from promoting unhealthy meals in the city with toys.

Both Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors agreed to act on the findings of an inquiry earlier this year which accused burger giants such as McDonald’s and Burger King of contributing to the city’s child obesity crisis.

They approved for the council to investigate how specific Liverpool-wide legislation preventing toys being given away with fatty food such as burgers, chips and chicken nuggets could be introduced.

The council also called on the Government to “investigate banning the targeting of children and young people, through the use of toys and promotions, to pressurise them to purchase and consume unhealthy food and drink”.

City leaders hope the idea could have a similar impact to the pioneering Smokefree campaign which eventually led to a nationwide ban on smoking in indoor public places.

Fast food companies have previously defended the distribution of toys, with McDonald’s insisting the fat, salt and sugar content of its Happy Meals has dramatically reduced in recent years.

Cllr Paul Twigger, who headed the council’s child obesity inquiry, said toy giveaways left parents open to “pester power”.

Last night, he said: “This motion is not about instigating a nanny state, it’s about the health and well-being of our children.

“Personally, I think this council needs to stand up and fight for the right of our children to lead healthy lives.

“I am not saying ‘let’s ban happy meals’. I am not saying ‘let’s take away people’s choices’.”

He insisted he just wanted to make food healthier and stop the promotion of unhealthy food.

Cllr Ron Gould, executive member for health, said the council needed to hold a “big debate” about health. He also suggested the introduction of a kite mark for healthy food in restaurants.

Former education leader, Lib-Dem Cllr Paul Clein, said he was unable to fully support the idea.

“I think it’s a little bit of a nanny state issue. I have no problem calling on government to do it. But I can’t support this city council looking to bring in a by-law to legislate into such matters.”


We Will Reverse the Epidemic of Childhood Obesity – Report


An excerpt from the report:

In 1965, 43 percent of us smoked cigarettes.17
Today only 20.9 percent of us light up.18
In 1982, drunk drivers killed about 22,000 people.
In 2005, the toll had fallen to just over 12,000.19
In 1983, only 24 percent of us used seatbelts.20
Today 82 percent of us buckle up.21
These statistics tell a story of radical transformations in
individual behavior that were impossible to achieve without
simultaneous policy, social and cultural change.

The lives saved are countless and the misery avoided is incalculable,
all because the country chose to change to survive.
Now it is time to do it again, and the stakes are even higher.
When David Satcher was Surgeon General, he said,
“Overweight and obesity may soon cause as much preventable
disease and death as cigarette smoking.”22
A controversial prophesy, certainly, but one America cannot
afford to ignore. The growing body of evidence is too powerful.

Study finds growing diabetes epidemic among children

By Libby Cluett

Health care experts warn about serious and lasting health complications for future generations of Americans stemming from increasingly expanding children’s waistlines.

In an article in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Joyce Lee warns that the most damaging effects of childhood obesity have yet to surface.

Lee’s findings suggest childhood obesity will likely result in an epidemic of type 2 diabetes among young adults, which could lead to a greater number of diabetes complications, and ultimately, lower life expectancy.

“The full impact of the childhood obesity epidemic has yet to be seen because it can take up to 10 years or longer for obese individuals to develop type 2 diabetes,” said Lee, a member of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at Mott. “Children who are obese today are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as young adults.”

“It use to be called Adult-Onset Diabetes and we saw it in adults, later in their life,” said Palo Pinto General Hospital’s Dr. Edgar Lockett. “Two years ago [a study revealed] 50 percent of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes were age 18 and under.”

Lockett said the cause is not the quantity of food kids eat, but a “general trend toward poor nutrition.”

“[Americans] are literally starving with plenty of ‘food’ around,” he said, adding that the vast majority of diabetes cases are caused by poor nutritional choices.

“There’s no nutrition in the diet,” said Lockett. “Americans are eating the wrong fats, there’s an overabundance of corn syrup, white rice, white bread (white flour) and sugar in everyday diets.”

He said all of this “taxes the [body’s] system and can propagate the onset of type 2 diabetes.”

Lockett said the trend toward poorer nutrition began in the 1970s, with the onset of fast food and convenience foods.

“Each successive generation gets sicker quicker,” he said. “Children in general are becoming susceptible to disease,” Lockett said, because of their diets.

Lee’s recent article states that the longer a person has diabetes, the more likely he or she is to develop devastating complications.

“It’s hard to tell someone they can’t eat certain things,” said Lockett. However, he added, “If poorly regulated, diabetes causes organ damage, blindness, heart attacks, stroke and loss of limbs – starting with the lower extremities.”

He added that among other side effects, improper nutrition also leads to poor immune systems and an epidemic of asthma in children – seen younger than ever before – in addition to eventual type 2 diabetes.

Why should the community care about a potential epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children?

“First of all it will be a tremendous taxation of health care resources,” said Lockett. “That’s if [type 2 diabetes] is recognized [early]. Many cases go undiscovered.”

“Anytime we have this type of onslaught on the health care system, it diverts more healthcare dollars to something that is a preventable disease,” he added.

While he said there are genetic tendencies toward diabetes, Lockett maintains it’s a result of an accumulation of a lot of bad habits, “So the question is, ‘Is it really a disease?’”

Also on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidelines, which have stirred debate among pediatricians. The guidelines suggest some children, as young as 8, be given cholesterol-lowering drugs to ward off future heart problems.

According to an Associated Press report, this is the strongest guidance ever given on the issue by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy also recommends low-fat milk for 1-year-olds and wider cholesterol testing.

Lockett calls prescribing statins for children, “the epitome of the ludicrous.”

“This sounds like a pharmaceutical-based initiative being promoted through the American Academy of Pediatrics,” he added.

He maintains that the issues surrounding diabetes and high cholesterol can be remedied without using drugs and instead implementing a plant-based diet.

“If it’s cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver problems, there’s one diet that can impact everything,” he said. “Really there’s one disease – the cells of your organs are not functioning well. Two reasons for this are the lack of quality raw materials – ‘you are what you eat’ – and, or an accumulation of toxins or poisons.”

Lockett shared information from a study conducted by Dr. James Anderson who researched the effects of a diet consisting of high-fiber, high complex-carbohydrates and low in fats on 25 type1 diabetics and 25 type 2 diabetics.

“Whole plant foods and a cold cut or two a day was the basis of the diet,” cited Lockett.

He said he uses this study and findings from others in talks he gives, because of the results of the diet.

This includes:

• Type 1 patients had lowered insulin requirements by 40 percent and their cholesterol levels dropped by 30 percent.

• All but one Type 2 diabetics were able to get off their medication within a few weeks.

The University of Michigan Health System’s “Newswise” Web site and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

The Impact of the Built Environment on the Health of the Population

Over the past 150 years, clear connections have emerged between our health and the
environment in which we live. But it has not been until the last several decades that
research has been able to provide evidence of these connections. The evolution of the
profession of public health in North America has in large part been all about the
associations between health and the built and physical environment. Although many of
the issues have remained constant since the 1800’s, what is different is the nature of
the ailments and health conditions. From an emphasis on infectious and communicable
diseases in the early 19th century, the focus of health impacts associated with the built
environment in the 21st century is on chronic disease. Cancer, diabetes, respiratory
problems, obesity, cardiovascular disease – all of these highly prevalent diseases are
linked, in part, to the environment in which we live.