IHP news 482: Highlights of the week

By on August 10, 2018

Planet at Risk of Heading Towards Apocalyptic, Irreversible ‘Hothouse Earth’ State


Scientists issued a new warning about climate change this week, as a  major study reported its findings on the risk of earth entering a hothouse state. “Hothouse Earth”, an apocalyptic nightmare in which the global average temperature and sea levels would significantly higher than at any time in Earth’s recent history, would cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies” and make large parts of the Earth uninhabitable. The authors remind us of the need to “become responsible planetary stewards in the next ten years”, if we are to avoid finding ourselves at this point of no return.

Reproductive Rights in Latin America: A luta continua

Sad news from Argentina, where lawmakers have rejected a bill to legalize elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The Catholic Church remains very powerful in Pope Francis’s homeland, but abortion rights activists remain hopeful that safe and legal access is just a matter of time: “We might not have a law today, but it is going to happen. Argentina is not going back to this, it is important for the women, especially for the young women.” Amnesty International estimates that more than 3,000 women have died in Argentina in the past 25 years as a result of an unsafe abortion.

Meanwhile in Brazil, the Supreme Court is in the midst of hearings that could result in the decriminalization of abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Feminist campaigner and anthropology professor Debora Diniz has been forced into hiding after receiving death threats.

Ebola Vaccinations Begin in North Kivu

The WHO announced on Wednesday that vaccinations have begun in the volatile North Kivu Province, site of the latest Ebola outbreak in the DRC. They are using an experimental vaccine that showed early successes during the recent outbreak in Equateur Province, but security concerns are complicating vaccination efforts.

Italy Backtracks on Mandatory Vaccination

Italy’s upper house has approved an amendment that removes mandatory vaccination for school children. Once it passes the lower house, it will suspend a child vaccination law that was introduced last year by the Democratic Party during an outbreak of measles. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Italy accounted for 34% of all reported measles cases in the European Economic Area in 2017. The skepticism about vaccinations reflects broader a distrust of institutions.

Venezuelan problems for Columbia’s new president

Crisis in neighboring Venezuela poses a tough challenge for Ivan Duque, Colombia’s new President who took office this week. Thousands of refugees continue to cross the border each day, and while Colombia has been granting them residency and work papers, increasing numbers will certainly put pressure on the country’s already stretched resources.

NCD Alliance: UN Draft Political Declaration Lacks Required Strength and Ambition

In a media release put out on Wednesday, the NCD Alliance criticized the draft Political Declaration to be adopted at the third UN High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases in New York on September 27th. The omission of a sugar tax was one of the highlighted weaknesses of the declaration.

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