The Daily Dose: The U.K. toughens pollution laws; Shambolic return to school for U.S. universities

After some criticism, the United Kingdom has moved to enact tougher pollution laws. According to the BBC, “Ministers will confirm a legally binding PM 2.5 target in two years’ time, alongside goals for waste reduction, wildlife, and water. The announcement follows criticism that the government’s 2020 Environment Bill failed to include binding targets.” PM 2.5s are pollutants that have been shown to harm the lungs and heart. They are produced by burning fuels in power generation, domestic heating and in vehicle engines.

To vaccinate or not vaccinate? It’s the worldwide sideshow to the race to develop the first COVID-19 vaccine and it has hit another plot point, this time in Australia. According to reports, “Australian PM Scott Morrison has backtracked after saying that he wanted a new coronavirus vaccine to be ‘as mandatory as possible’. Some experts voiced concern that such a discussion could be counterproductive and even dangerous given the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has not yet been shown as effective or safe. Mr Morrison later said there were ‘no compulsory vaccines in Australia’.” The straw man strikes again.

Like everything else regarding the United States’ attempts at dealing with the current pandemic, the return to school for millions of university students has been shambolic (and that’s putting it mildly). A significant amount of schools are returning to business as usual only to shut down their campuses because of first-week-of-school-outbreaks. Undeterred, some schools insist on soldiering on in what amounts to a massive, unplanned COVID-19 experiment at the expense of the country’s future. “Bringing so many university students to crowded campuses is uniquely risky in the United States, which has seen the largest number of deaths to COVID-19 of any country and has active community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the pandemic. Other large countries with surging infection rates, such as India and Brazil, are not opening up campuses to the same degree.” The lack of leadership in the United States when it comes to the global pandemic continues to kneecap prospects for a speedy recovery. But hey, there’s always miracles.

While we’re on the topic of the United States and kneecapping… The country’s Health and Human Services Department essentially hobbled important research that entails the use of human fetal tissue, even though they had been previously approved by the government’s own scientific advisors. “The Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, appointed by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, reviewed the 14 proposals last month. Its recommendations that 13 of them be rejected, delivered to Azar and to Congress today, were the first under a new regime implemented last year by the Trump administration, in which projects by extramural, NIH-funded scientists using human fetal tissue need to pass an extra layer of ethics review.” What is it they say in the business world about uncertainty? It’s not helpful.

Finally, some potentially good news to close with. It appears that wildlife conservation took a positive, albeit incremental, step in the right direction. According to the Associated Press, “Ten eggs were harvested from the female rhinos at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The scientists said Tuesday they hope to use them to create viable embryos that would be transferred into surrogates since neither Najin and Fatuwill can carry a pregnancy to term.” The question is: who would want to bring little baby rhinos into this miserable world we live in? Either way, we hope it works out.

Thanks for reading and let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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