close up of tiger

DAILY DOSE: Environmental pledges made and broken; Covid-19 antibody study clarifies levels of protection.

Putting a stop on extinctions:

The United Nations Biodiversity Conference has been held in Kunming, China and has resulted in a declaration by participating nations to address the on-going threat to animal species around the world. Unfortunately, the agreement is nothing more than a pledge. Per Reuters, “Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu told delegates to a U.N. Biodiversity Conference in the city of Kunming that the declaration they adopted was a document of political will not a binding international agreement. The Kunming Declaration calls for ‘urgent and integrated action’ to reflect biodiversity considerations in all sectors of the global economy but crucial issues – like funding conservation in poorer countries and committing to biodiversity-friendly supply chains – have been left to discuss later.” To be honest, it always feels as if non-binding pledges made by countries are nothing more than dog and pony shows designed to placate activists.

B is for Backsliding:

Just as the Biodiversity Conference with all those noble pledges is taking place in China, the host nation has declared its intention of backsliding on carbon emissions responsibilities. According to the Guardian, “China plans to build more coal-fired power plants and has hinted that it will rethink its timetable to slash emissions, in a significant blow to the UK’s ambitions for securing a global agreement on phasing out coal at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow. In a statement after a meeting of Beijing’s National Energy Commission, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, stressed the importance of regular energy supply, after swathes of the country were plunged into darkness by rolling blackouts that hit factories and homes.” Like we said, non-binding pledges are just about worthless. To be fair, Beijing is not alone in its delinquency. Major carbon emission countries around the world need to do better but aren’t.

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U.S. to reopen its borders:

In a sign that countries are beginning to implement strategies of co-existing with Covid-19, the United States is the latest country to reopen its borders to nonessential travelers. Per the Associated Press, “The U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the earliest days of the pandemic. The new rules, announced Wednesday, will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason for travel starting in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions is set to kick in for air travel into the country. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., like truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.”

Getting a grip on antibody levels:

A study investigated antibody levels in individuals that had been previously infected prior to being vaccinated compared with those who had only received both doses of vaccines. Per Nature, “While both groups retained neutralization capacity against all variants, plasma from previously infected vaccinated individuals displayed overall better neutralization capacity when compared to plasma from uninfected individuals that also received two vaccine doses, pointing to vaccine boosters as a relevant future strategy to alleviate the impact of emerging variants on antibody neutralizing activity.” Mind you, infection alone does not elicit a stronger or longer lasting immunity compared with people who were infected and vaccinated. So get it if you haven’t.

Covid-19 crushes the fight against hunger:

The global pandemic has set back international efforts to combat hunger. The latest news comes out of India. Per Al-Jazeera, “In 2020, India’s COVID-19 lockdown resulted in a tremendous collapse of livelihoods, causing an epidemic that India has been trying to fight off for decades: hunger. While 50 percent of the households in rural India were forced to reduce the number of meals ever since the lockdown was imposed as part of an immediate adjustment for food security, about 68 percent of the households reduced the number of items in their meals, according to a study by the People’s Archive of Rural India.” It is encouraging that at least the problem is in people’s sights. Next thing is to address the problem.

Oh Captain, My Captain:

We just want to wish William “Captain Kirk” Shatner a safe trip into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepherd rocket. Godspeed!

Thanks for reading. Let’s be carefully out there.

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