Climate Changes – Allergies and Asthma

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Climate change is expected to affect air quality through several pathways, including production of allergens and increase regional concentrations of ozone, fine particles, and dust. Some of these pollutants can directly cause respiratory disease or exacerbate existing conditions in susceptible populations, such as children or the elderly. US President Obama said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” cited his daughter Malia’s childhood asthma as an example of the harmful effects of climate change.

Warming temperatures in some areas, like the northern United States, extend the periods during which plants release pollen. The combined effect of warming temperatures and more CO2 means that the amount of pollen in the air has been increasing and will continue to increase as climate change worsens.

The manifestations of allergy—sneezing, wheezing, itching, and rashes—are signs of an immune system running amok, attacking foreign invaders that normally mean no harm. Allergens include pollen, dust mites, mold, food, latex, drugs, stinging insects, or any of the other oddball substances to which the body will react. This is because some people’s immune systems recognize the protein sequence in pollen, for instance, as similar to the protein sequence in parasites. When this happens, their bodies attempt to expel the “parasite” through sneezing and other symptoms.

Asthma is a big contributor to keeping allergists in business. This chronic inflammation that causes airways to constrict affects about 20 million Americans, twice as many as 20 years ago. About 4,000 die each year. It is the most common chronic disease of childhood but affects more adults than children. It is characterized by repeated episodes of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, breathlessness causing almost 2 million emergency room visits, 5 million hospitalizations, 3,630 deaths and cost $56 billion per year in US (2007).

In Hong Kong, according to data from the Census Department in 2011, more than 330,000 people suffering from asthma. Every year, Hong Kong has about 70 to 90 deaths caused by asthma attacks; among them, 20 to 30 people passed away in their prime (aged between 15 and 44).

There are little epidemiological data on asthma and allergy in Hong Kong adults. In a review of data from local public hospitals in 2005, asthma ranked fourth and fifth highest as a cause of respiratory hospitalizations (5.7%) and respiratory inpatient bed-days (2.6%), respectively. The overall crude hospitalization rate for asthma in 2005 was 76/100 000, and was high at both extremes of age. The age-standardized mortality rate of asthma increased between 1997 (1.33/100 000) and 1998 (1.82/100 000), but decreased thereafter to 1.4/100 000 in 2005. The overall annual change in asthma mortality was not significantly different between 1997 and 2005. The prevalence of current wheeze increased from 7.5% in 1991/1992 to 12.1% in 2003/2004 among people older than 70 years; the corresponding figures for asthma were 5.1% and 5.8%.

There is a substantial connection between allergies and asthma. The risk factors for allergies and asthma are more severe in vulnerable communities where conditions for good health may be compromised and where environmental risks are at stake. Many people think of asthma and allergies as two completely different things. Both have symptoms that can include persistent coughing, but for the most part, asthma is thought of as a serious condition that requires regular treatment. What many people don’t realize is that allergies can actually, over time, trigger asthma symptoms.

September is usually the month when carbon dioxide is at its lowest after a summer of plants growing and sucking it up in the northern hemisphere. As fall wears on, those plants lose their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. It was reported, however, that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes. Even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, what has already put in the atmosphere will linger for many decades to come. This year, in addition to marking the start of our new 400 ppm world, is also set to be the hottest year on record. The planet has edged right up against the 1.5oC (2.7oF) warming threshold, a key metric in last year’s Paris climate agreement. The significance of which, means an inevitable impact to our health causing more allergies and asthma in the population.


References:

1. Making the Connection: Climate Changes Allergies and Asthma. https://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/apha-calendar/webinar-events/2016/climate-changes-allergies-and-asthma
2. D’Amato, G., Vitale, C., De Martino, A., Viegi, G., Lanza, M., Molino, A D’Amato, M. (2015). Effects on asthma and respiratory allergy of Climate change and air pollution. Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine, 10, 39. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40248-015-0036-x
3. The world passes 400ppm carbon dioxide threshold permanently. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/28/the-world-passes-400ppm-carbon-dioxide-threshold-permanently

Image source: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/04/05/get-facts-how-climate-change-can-affect-your-health

 

支持BYOB3!齊齊「絕膠」!

「膠害」有幾嚴重?

根據《2014香港固體廢物監察報告》:

  • 塑膠廢物佔全港都市固體廢物總量的21%
  • 每日132PET瓶被棄置於堆填區,約等於700萬枝膠樽飲品 (一個PET瓶約重19克)。
  • 只有大約26%塑膠廢物能被回收再造。

gj1308844908026811741524含氯的塑膠會釋出有害的物質,污染土壤。

4e696d85a929bbc5f9cbbe8b2af27696

現時約有700種海洋生物備受塑膠垃圾威脅。野生動物會遭膠袋纏繞而勒死,或因誤吃塑膠垃圾而堵塞消化系統。

PET膠樽於高溫或長時間存放後, 會釋出鄰苯二甲酸酯 (PAEs)等有害物質,干擾人體荷爾蒙分泌,有害物質能通過食物鏈層層積聚,威脅整個生態系統及人類。

一齊BYOB!向樽裝水說「不」!

只有從源頭減廢,減少使用即棄膠樽、膠袋及發泡膠盒,才能減少「膠害」!

 不少人認爲樽裝水較乾淨和味道較好,甚至比自來水更有營養。根據美國自然資源保護委員會(NRDC)的研究,樽裝水不一定比自來水乾淨;美國和加拿大亦有研究指出,樽裝水的含細菌量比自來水高,同時,樽裝水含有可干擾人體荷爾蒙分泌的有害物質——鄰苯二甲酸酯(Phthalates)。PET塑膠樽於高溫或長時間存放後,會釋出鄰苯二甲酸酯。雖然這些研究都指出樽裝水中的鄰苯二甲酸酯沒有超出安全標準,但我們並不能忽視鄰苯二甲酸酯對人體的長遠影響。從健康角度來看,樽裝水並不比自來水適合飲用。

而從環境角度來看,飲用樽裝水會製造大量不必要的塑膠垃圾。環保署公布的「香港固體廢物監察報告——2014年的統計數字」顯示,塑膠樽是香港主要固體廢物之一,每天有132噸PET瓶被棄置於堆填區。一個空膠樽約重50克,這代表香港人每天約飲用200萬枝即棄膠樽飲品(Waterforfree.org)。

很多國家都鼓勵當地市民自備水樽 (BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle) 及安裝水機,解決過量使用膠樽的問題。例如三藩市將於本年落實法例,禁止售賣21安士或以下的飲品膠樽飲品;台北大部分的捷運站、超市和便利店都有安裝水機,供自備水樽或水杯的市民隨時免費使用。而香港只有政府轄下的公衆場所如體育館、運動場及游泳池都有設置飲水機,人流較多的公共場所如港鐵站、商場則欠缺水機設備。

樽裝水雖然便宜,但自備水樽和使用免費的公共飲水機更符合環境和經濟效益。自備水樽已是全球趨勢,我們希望政府及公私營機構能在更多公共場所設立水機供市民使用。

自備水樽小貼士 用什麼瓶子喝水才安全 

要成為自攜水樽族, 首先要搞清潔甚麼瓶子才安全。自攜式膠水瓶也是塑膠製品,所以瓶底同樣有塑料回收編號,若瓶底沒有標示,千萬不要買,因為難以得知水瓶會釋出什麼有害物質。

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PET瓶的塑膠回收編號是「1」, 並有「PET」或「PETE」字樣。

編號為「7」的自攜式水樽,必須有「BPA free」字樣才好使用。不過說到底, 最安全的瓶子, 還是不鐤鋼或玻璃容器。

 

 

Image source: http://www.earthdecks.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/China-plasticbottles.jpg
                            http://ww.daliulian.net/cat90/node636074
                            http://big5.soundofhope.org/node/685771

 

保護生態系統!國際森林日

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“在實施2030年可持續發展議程的第一年,國際森林日的重點是在於維持供水系統…

投資森林因此是對地球的保險。”

聯合國秘書長潘基文

國際森林日

聯合國大會在2012年12月21日通過,將每年3月21日定為國際森林日。

 

背景

森林覆蓋了地球陸地面積的三分之一,在世界各地肩負重要的功能。全球約16億人 – 包括2000多種土著文化 – 依靠森林為生。

森林是陸地上,最具有生物多樣性的生態系統,孕育80%以上的陸地動物,植物和昆蟲物種。森林還提供住房,就業和依賴森林社區的發展。

然而,儘管森林擁有珍貴的生態,亦提供經濟,社會和健康效益,全球毀林繼續以驚人的速度增長 – 每年銷毀14萬公頃森林毀林亦佔導致氣候變化的全球溫室氣體排放量的12%〜20%

 

你知道嗎?

  • 森林流域和濕地提供全球可用淡水的75%
  • 世界上大約有三分之一最大的城市都是直接從森林保護區取得他們的飲用水
  • 世界人口近80% 受到水安全的威脅
  • 改進水資源管理會有相當經濟收益
  • 森林可以作為天然水過濾器
  • 氣候變化正在改變水流和水源
  • 森林對建設和加強地球復原力肩負至關重要的作用

 

森林彈性

彈性是指森林吸收外界的壓力和回饋而達到平衡狀態。彈性森林生態系統是依賴於不同層次的生物多樣性,以維持和恢復因應人類活動所引起的壓力,因此是一個重要的“保險單”可以防範及降低氣候變化的影響。

森林生態系統的不斷變化是取決於它的生物和生態資源,特別是(ⅰ)物種的多樣性,包括微生物,(ⅱ)物種內的遺傳變異性(即,遺傳性狀的多樣性物種數量),和(iii)物種和生態系統的區域。

彈性也受森林生態系統的大小影響(一般,較大的和比較完整越好),以及周圍地形的特點。人工林和改良天然林會面臨更大的障礙和風險,是因為他們普遍比較少生物多樣性。但風險可以通過堅持一些森林管理的建議得到緩解:

  • 避免收穫只有某些樹木以保持森林遺傳多樣性。
  • 保持整個森林地域的貫通,恢復丟失的棲息地(森林類型),擴大保護區網絡,並建立生態走廊。
  • 保持物種的多樣性。
  • 通過控制入侵物種減少非天然的競爭,並減少對非本地林木樹種種植,造林,再造林項目的依賴。
  • 透過預測未來氣候,以一個生態可持續的方式種植半天然林。例如,根據氣候模型,從區域種源樹。
  • 透過維持生物多樣性(立場,地形,生物區)和元素(基因,物種,社區),例如,保護孤立間斷的樹群,源棲息地和避難所保持生物多樣性網絡。

 

Source : http://www.un.org/en/events/forestsday/

http://www.fao.org/forestry/91091/en/

International Day of Forests Resolution

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“In this first year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

 the International Day of Forests focuses on their role in supporting water systems…

Investing in forests is an insurance policy for the planet."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

International Day of Forests Resolution

The United Nations General Assembly adopted on 21 December 2012, which declared that 21 March of each year is to be observed as the International Day of Forests.

 

Background

Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

 

Did you know?

  • Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater
  • About one-third of the world’s largest cities obtain a significant proportion of their drinking water directly from forested protected areas
  • Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population – 8 out of 10 people – is exposed to high levels of threat to water security
  • Improved water resource management can show considerable economic gains
  • Forests act as natural water filters
  • Climate change is altering forests role in water flows and the availability of water resources
  • Forests have a crucial role in building and strengthening resilience

 

Forest Resilience

Resilience is the capacity of a forest to absorb external pressures and return, over time, to its pre-disturbance state. When viewed over an appropriate time span, a resilient forest ecosystem is able to maintain its ‘identity’ in terms of taxonomic composition, structure, ecological functions, and process rates.  The available scientific evidence strongly supports the conclusion that the capacity of forests to resist change, or recover following disturbance, is dependent on biodiversity at multiple scales. Maintaining and restoring biodiversity in forests promotes their resilience to human-induced pressures and is therefore an essential ‘insurance policy’ and safeguard against expected climate change impacts.

The resilience of a forest ecosystem to changing environmental conditions is determined by its biological and ecological resources, in particular (i) the diversity of species, including micro-organisms, (ii) the genetic variability within species (i.e., the diversity of genetic traits within populations of species), and (iii) the regional pool of species and ecosystems.

Resilience is also influenced by the size of forest ecosystems (generally, the larger and less fragmented, the better), and by the condition and character of the surrounding landscape. Plantations and modified natural forests will face greater disturbances and risks for large-scale losses due to climate change than primary forests, because of their generally reduced biodiversity. The risks can partly be mitigated by adhering to a number of forest management recommendations:

  • Maintain genetic diversity in forests by avoiding practices that select only certain trees for harvesting based on site, growth rate, or form.
  • Maintain connectivity across forest landscapes by reducing fragmentation, recovering lost habitats (forest types), expanding protected area networks, and establishing ecological corridors.
  • Maintain functional diversity and eliminate the conversion of diverse natural forests to monotypic or reduced-species plantations.
  • Reduce non-natural competition by controlling invasive species and reduce reliance on non-native tree crop species for plantation, afforestation, or reforestation projects.
  • Manage plantation and semi-natural forests in an ecologically sustainable way that recognizes and plans for predicted future climates. For example, reduce the odds of long-term failure by apportioning some areas of assisted regeneration for trees from regional provenances and from climates that approximate future climate conditions, based on climate modelling.
  • Maintain biodiversity at all scales (stand, landscape, bioregional) and of all elements (genes, species, communities) by, for example, protecting tree populations which are isolated, disjunct, or at margins of their distributions, source habitats, and refuge networks.

 

Source : http://www.un.org/en/events/forestsday/

http://www.fao.org/forestry/91091/en/

專訪EARTH DAY RUN大使——林奕匡

(資料來源:http://timable.com/en/blog/1101273)

「你快樂過生活.我拼命去生存.幾多人位於山之巔俯瞰我的疲倦」今天的林奕匡 (Phil) 相信已經擺脫低谷,以高山為目標,努力向前奔跑中!由加大拿隻身來港追尋音樂夢,Phil有的是勇氣與毅力,憑著《高山低谷》一曲嶄露頭角。平時熱愛運動的他更成為今年首次來到香港的國家地理頻道Earth day Run大使!同大家一齊跑過高山同低谷!
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P: 林奕匡 Phil | T: Timable

 

T: 以前一直於加拿大生活,後來才來香港入行發展?

P: 係呀,以前住喺溫哥華對面一個小島嘅小鎮上,當地人口只有六千人,係一個退休生活好地方。由細到大都有留意香港,會聽廣東歌、睇香港電視劇,所以都學到唔少廣東話!嚟香港發展係因為之前參加全球華人新秀拎到唔錯嘅成績,有唱片公司俾機會,但因為自己想完成學業而錯過咗。但就令我開始想嘗試以音樂為事業,所以畢業後再嚟香港搵唱片公司。

 

T: 加拿大與香港最大的分別是?

P: 香港係一個City,地少人多,去邊都好方便。而加拿大就郊區比較多,有時想買嘢都要搭幾程車,娛樂亦相對少啲。
T: 平日喜歡做什麼運動?

P: 鍾意做Gym,會打籃球、跑步,好多運動都會試吓玩,但就冇樣精,哈哈~ 如果天氣好會鍾意約朋友跑步,覺得由A點跑到B點好有成功感,比起跑步機感覺更好!

 

T: 做運動時會否一邊聽歌?

P: 本身對音樂拍子好敏感,唔同歌嘅拍子都會影響自己步伐,所以平時比較少聽,但長跑比賽就會聽,特別係去到中後段要鼓勵自己,需要多啲Energy就會聽快歌。
T: 除了音樂、運動,覺得生活中有什麼是最不可缺少?

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T: 除了音樂、運動,覺得生活中有什麼是最不可缺少?

P: 食嘢啦哈哈!當然仲有係朋友,好鍾意約朋友食飯、傾偈、行街。好好彩係近幾年可以識到唔少可以交心嘅圈中朋友,會互相明白大家嘅辛苦、難處。我哋得閒都會約出嚟,食下飯、做運動。

 

T: 作曲靈感多數源自什麼?

P: 平日聽好多唔同嘅音樂,香港主要嘅音樂係情懷歌或者有Story嘅歌,自己作快歌嘅靈感都係由其他音樂而來,No music is totally original!

 

T: 除了作曲,有嘗試填詞?如果自己作曲,又會否與填詞人溝通自己想表達的意念?

P: 有自己填詞呀!但因為中文唔好,所以多數填英文詞落Demo,唱完有時都會放上網俾fans聽,覺得Demo比較有最原本嘅靈魂。大部分歌都唔使特別同填詞人溝通,因為佢地好有觸覺,知咩詞適合個歌手。好似《高山低谷》咁,公司搵陳詠謙寫嘅時候,話如果依首歌再冇反應,可能就係我嘅最後一首歌,跟住謙就用咗好耐時間寫咗《高山低谷》出嚟,係想表達當你淨返一口氣,你會想講咩。

 

T: 覺得自己走到山的什麼位置?

P: 唔知自己係咩位,但會一直努力向前,以更高為目標,只要一直keep住前進,一定會更好。

phil-lam-interview_b

T: 作為Earth Day Run大使,有什麼使命呢?

P: 一個人嘅力量好少,我會盡所能將環保訊息傳俾年輕人,同時自己都學多啲點去環保,為地球出一分力。

 

T: 今次受惠機構是地球之友,你本身是不是環保的人?

P: 覺得自己可以再做好啲,例如去做運動時自備水樽,可以減少使用即棄膠樽。最唔鍾意係有啲人太懶,試過見到有鄰居將垃圾就咁扔係大廈門外,其實垃圾站行多幾步就有,見到就覺得嬲!

 

T: 現在的香港人普遍不太開心,你認為如何可以令大家多一點正能量?

P: 好多時問題出現了,好少人會反思自己嘅過失,我喺自己低谷嘅時候,都會問自己有冇責任,係咪應該謙虛啲、學多啲嘢。大家都愛護同一個地方係好重要,因為個城市係屬於大家嘅,互相守護先會有美麗嘅事情出現,好似我首歌《頌讚詩》咁。留意多啲身邊美好嘅事物,係唔滿足嘅時候,諗吓世上有好多不幸嘅人,而我地好幸運可以係福地生活。

 

T: 剛出了唱片,今年有什麼計劃?

P: 我個人比較簡單,鍾意一步步咁實踐自己嘅工作,可以入行同走出低谷係因為寫歌,所以希望今年可以寫多啲歌,不論係寫俾人定係自己,至於開音樂會就要睇緣份。

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國家地理頻道將於4月17日於香港首次舉辦Earth Day Run,活動於白石角海濱長廊舉行,有10公里及3公里賽事。Earth Day Run是以環保為主題的慈善跑, 善款將全數撥捐地球之友。是次活動旨在令公眾認識世界地球日(4月22日) ,齊齊關注環保,發放綠色正能量!國家地理頻道Earth Day Run 2016宣傳大使林奕匡當日亦會參與,約定你一起為地球而跑!有關活動詳情及報名方法,請瀏覽香港國家地理頻道Facebook專頁或按以下連結: http://goo.gl/7z0mOy , 現已接受報名, 名額有限,立即行動啦!

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關於「世界地球日」的三大問

  1. 「世界地球日」是哪一天?

每年的4月22日是「世界地球日」。

 

  1. 「世界地球日」的由來?

最早的地球日活動起源於1970年代於美國校園興起的環保運動,這項活動在90年代從美國走向全世界,成為全世界環保主義者的節日,不同國籍的人在這天都以不同的方式宣傳和實踐環境保護。

 

  1. 我們應如何響應「世界地球日」?

最佳響應「世界地球日」的方法,就是在生活中實踐環保,例如:

 

  1. 源頭減廢
  2. 循環再用
  3. 升級再造
  4. 適食.惜食
  5. 多菜少肉
  6. 善用空調
  7. 多用公交
  8. 步行.騎車
  9. 綠化.耕種
  10. 本土.公平交易

 

另外,你還可以參加由國家地理頻道舉辦的Earth Day Run 2016 為地球而跑! 詳情請按此

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Photo: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3d/ea/c5/3deac541941ccebe7258d4e9ece678f3.jpg

Q &A on “Earth Day”

  1. When is “Earth Day”?

“Earth Day” is an annual event celebrated on April 22.

 

  1. What is the origin of “Earth Day”?

The first Earth Day was originated in USA in 1970, due to a campus environmental movement. In 90s, this movement expanded from USA to the world. People of different nationalities advocate the practices of environmental protection on “Earth Day”.

 

  1. How should we respond to “Earth Day”?

The best way to respond is to TAKE ACTION to protect our earth, for example,

 

  1. Refuse.Reduce
  2. Recycle.Reuse (BYOB3)
  3. Redesign.Repair
  4. Order Less.Waste Less
  5. Less Meat.More Green
  6. Turn Off.Turn Down Air-con
  7. Drive Less.More Mass Transit
  8. Hike.Bike
  9. Urban Greening.Farming
  10. Buy Locally.Responsibly

 

In addition, you may also join EARTH DAY RUN 2016 organized by National Geographic Channel – To run for the earth! Click here for details.

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Photo: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3d/ea/c5/3deac541941ccebe7258d4e9ece678f3.jpg