Does Health Promotion Harm the Environment?

“Health promotion involves social and environmental interventions designed to benefit and protect health. It often harmfully impacts the environment through air and water pollution, medical waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and other externalities. We consider potential conflicts between health promotion and environmental protection and why and how the healthcare industry might promote health while protecting environments.

After probing conflicts between promoting health and protecting the environment we highlight the essential role that environmental resources play in health and healthcare to show that environmental protection is a form of health promotion. We then explore relationships between three radical forms of health promotion and the environment: (1) lowering the human birth rate; (2) transforming the food system; and (3) genetically modifying mosquitos.

We conclude that healthcare and other industries and their institutions and leaders have responsibilities to re-consider and modify their priorities, policies, and practices.”

Read more (open access): Cheryl C. Macpherson, Elise Smith & Travis N. Rieder (2020) Does Health Promotion Harm the Environment?, The New Bioethics, DOI: 10.1080/20502877.2020.1767918

Human Powered Neighbourhood: The Community Kitchen

It’s 2030 and the 14,000 residents of the first carbon neutral neighbourhood in the Netherlands gather at the communal fires, where they cook and eat together.

Read more: Human Powered Neighbourhood: The Community Kitchen.

Scientists’ Warning on Affluence

“For over half a century, worldwide growth in affluence has continuously increased resource use and pollutant emissions far more rapidly than these have been reduced through better technology. The affluent citizens of the world are responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions. We summarise the evidence and present possible solution approaches. Any transition towards sustainability can only be effective if far-reaching lifestyle changes complement technological advancements. However, existing societies, economies and cultures incite consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change.”

Read more (open access): Wiedmann, T., Lenzen, M., Keyßer, L.T. et al. Scientists’ warning on affluence. Nat Commun 11, 3107 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16941-y

Notes from a Tech-Free Life

“Around eleven p.m. the night before the winter solstice of 2016 I unplugged my laptop and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be forever. I had just put the finishing touches to a straw-bale cabin that I’d spent the summer building on the three-acre, half-wild smallholding where I live. The following morning I intended to begin a new life without modern technology. There would be no running water, no fossil fuels, no clock, no electricity or any of the things it powers: no washing machine, internet, phone, radio, or light bulb.”

Read more:  Not So Simple. Notes from a Tech-Free Life, Mark Boyle. Plough Quarterly Magazine, July 2019.

Constant Pressure Compressed Air Storage

Reader Paul Blais sends us an interesting idea:

“I’ve been following your website for years and I like it very much. I’ve been reading your article from 2018 about off-grid compressed air energy storage and I’ve been thinking about a possible solution regarding the varying pressure problem which you mention about small scale, low pressure vessels.

What about using a constant pressure reservoir? My idea is to use a long airtight bag stored in a trench and covered with sand, that would inflate and deflate pushing the sand up and down. The height of the sand column would determine the inside pressure of the bag, which would remain constant across it’s whole inflation range. The sand would also act as a thermal mass, taking and restoring heat to the air.

I’ve read that similar storage ideas exist [1] but involve putting the bags deep underwater, which is not practical for off-grid purposes. Unlike a deep-water reservoir, a bag put under sand would not try to float, so there would be no need for complex anchors at the bottom.”

[1] http://euanmearns.com/a-review-of-underwater-compressed-air-storage/

The Future is Public: Remunicipalisation

“Resistance to privatisation has turned into a powerful force for change. (Re)municipalisation refers to the reclaiming of public ownership of services as well as the creation of new public services. In recent years, our research has identified more than 1,400 successful (re)municipalisation cases involving more than 2,400 cities in 58 countries around the world.”

“But this book is about more than just numbers. It shows that public services are more important than ever in the face of the climate catastrophe, mounting inequalities, and growing political unrest. Together, civil society organisations, trade unions, and local authorities are crafting new templates for how to expand democratic public ownership to all levels of society and opening up new routes to community-led and climate conscious public services.”

“The Covid-19 crisis has made clear the disastrous effects of years of austerity, social security cuts, and public service privatisation. But it has also demonstrated that public services and the people who operate them are truly the foundation of healthy and resilient societies. As privatisation fails, a growing international movement is choosing (re)municipalisation as a key tool for redefining public ownership for the 21st century.”

Read more and download the book. Via Aaron Vansintjan.