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Asia-North America: Climate Shift May Have Spurred Migration Across Now Submerged Land Bridge

|| June 25: 2018: University of Southampton News || ά. A new study by Canadian, UK and US researchers has found that climate conditions shifted to become wetter and warmer around 15,000 years ago and contributed to the first human migration between Asia and North America. A stretch of land, known as, the Bering Land Bridge, once connected what is today Russia and Alaska, when sea levels were much lower during the last glaciation.

This was an important bridge because it provided an opening for the dispersal of people and animals from Asia into the Americas. Led by University of Alaska Fairbanks:UAF, working with geographers at the University of Southampton, UK, the research team was able to gauge climate conditions by studying a 12-metre-long sediment core collected from a lake on St Paul Island in the Bering Sea.

By analysing organisms in the core, scientists constructed a climate record of the Bering Land Bridge during the past 18,500 years. Almost, all of the bridge and evidence of its past conditions is now submerged due to sea level rise.

The study, which, also, involves the universities of Arizona, Pennsylvania State, Wisconsin-Madison, Mount Allison, New Brunswick, York, Canada and Plymouth, UK, is published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Professor Peter Langdon, Head of Geography at the University of Southampton, says, “Developing independent climate records are vital for testing theories relating to historic human migration. The temperature record we generated changed significantly at the time, when the first humans appeared in Alaska.”

“We provide a temperature record pretty much from the centre of the now-submerged land bridge.,” says Professor Matthew Wooller, of Marine Biology at UAF, Director of the Alaska Stable Isotope Facility and the Lead Author of the study. “This is a really unique record because of its location and length.”

The researchers were able to show shifting climatic conditions in the past by examining fossils from bugs, plants and spores in the sediment core. Many of these organisms live in specific conditions, so their presence offers evidence about past temperatures and moisture levels.

A marked climate shift to wetter, warmer conditions coincides with the earliest appearance of humans in Alaska. Scientists have found archaeological evidence, that dates human habitation in the area as far back as 14,200 years ago.

This climate shift likely meant a transition from steppe, flat grassland, to forests in Eastern Beringia during this time. Meanwhile, horses declined in interior Alaska as moose appeared, which could have affected human hunting practices and food availability.

Scientists have long debated the factors that, contributed to human migration to North America but this study provides reasons to strongly consider environmental factors among those, that ‘pushed’ people eastward from Asia into the Americas, according to UAF Associate Professor of Anthropology Ben Potter, who contributed to the research.

“To me, this is a springboard for many new ideas. While recent findings from genetics reveal a complex record of population history, studies like this are important to understand the ecological reasons for human migration.” :::ω.

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Scotland Leading the Way for England Northern Ireland and Wales to Rise Up to Do the Same: Born Free Foundation Welcomes the Wild Animal Ban in Circuses and Calls for Others to Follow Suit

|| June 10: 2018 || ά. This news does not make big headline but it should. This happened at the end of May when the international wildlife charity, The Born Free Foundation, welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to instigate a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses across Scotland.  The charity is now encouraging the Westminster Government to stick to its previous pledge of a ban in England by 2020 and for the Welsh and Northern Irish Governments to follow suit. The wild animal circus ban, which went into force in Scotland from May 28, is the first of its kind in the UK.

Dear Reader, please, take a look at this lion and that’s all we need to do to understand, accept, empathise and feel the utter ‘unacceptability’ of this practice and it should not require us to engage in much debate because this is prima facie. This image and the state it portrays of the lion is the statement of evidence that says: this is not acceptable. These animals are not supposed to entertain us by being ‘kept imprisoned’ in ‘cells’, that are not their natural habitats. These animals are to exist in nature and in, with and by their own nature. It is time this practice comes to an end across the United Kingdom and it is good that Scotland has shown leadership and this would be a great thing for the rest of the UK to follow suit. The sooner the better.

The introduction of the new legislation across Scotland marks a successful end to a long campaign by Born Free Foundation and other campaign partners, including, One Kind and Freedom for Animals, to bring down the curtain on the archaic and cruel use of wild animals in the Big Top. Ministers in Westminster previously pledged they would not renew the current regulations in England permitting the use of wild animals in travelling circuses when they expire in 2020, however, Born Free Foundation believes that ‘actions speak louder than words’.

Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare and Captivity for Born Free Foundation, said, “We are delighted that Scotland is leading the way in the UK in bringing an end to wild animal suffering in circuses. What the animals need now is for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to swiftly follow suit.’’

Born Free has worked closely with campaign partners over many years to end the use of wild animals in circuses in Scotland by engaging with Government, presenting evidence in the Scottish Parliament and working to raise the public profile of this issue.

“This wonderful victory has been made possible by the tireless efforts of our supporters who always responded to our calls for action, helped maintain pressure to act on the Scottish Government and, importantly, helped us to demonstrate that people no longer want to see wild animals being exploited in the Big Top. Thank you to everyone, who played a part in this campaign, and thank you to MSPs for supporting this important step.” said Dr Draper.

About Born Free Foundation: Born Free Foundation’s mission is to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild.

Born Free promotes Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs of and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. Born Free seeks to have a positive impact on animals in the wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity, for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world. ::: ω.

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The World Health Organisation High-Level Commission Calls for Urgent Action Against Non-Communicable Diseases That Kill 41 Million Every Year

|| June 07: 2018 || ά. A new report from the World Health Organisation:WHO Independent High-Level Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases:NCDs calls for urgent action to address chronic diseases and mental health disorders. It demands high-level political commitment and the immediate scaling up of actions to address the epidemic of NCDs, the world’s leading causes of death and ill health. Collectively, cancer, diabetes, lung and heart diseases kill 41 million people annually, accounting for 71% of all deaths globally, 15 million of which occur between the ages of 30 and 70 years.

The report focuses attention on growing but, often, neglected, challenges like mental disorders and obesity. President of Uruguay, Dr Tabaré Vázquez,  called on world leaders to redouble efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target to reduce premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030 and to promote mental health and wellbeing. ‘’Preserving and improving people’s quality of life is a way of enhancing human dignity in order to make progress in terms of economic growth, social justice and human coexistence.” said Dr Vázquez, who presented the report to WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva earlier this week.

“Health is essential for peace and democracy. It is not a matter of spending a lot but of making good investments.”

The Commission makes six recommendations in its report: i: Heads of States and Governments should take responsibility for the NCD agenda, rather than delegating it to ministers of health alone, as it requires collaboration and cooperation across many sectors; ii: Governments should identify and implement a specific set of priorities within the overall NCD and mental health agenda, based on public health needs.

iii: Governments should reorient health systems to include NCDs prevention and control and mental health services in their universal health coverage policies and plans; iv: Governments should increase effective regulation, appropriate engagement with the private sector, academia, civil society and communities.

v: Governments and the international community should develop a new economic paradigm for funding actions on NCDs and mental health and vi: Governments need to strengthen accountability to their citizens for action on NCDs and simplify existing international accountability mechanisms.

“We know the problem and we have the solutions but unless we increase financing for NCDs and demand all stakeholders be held responsible for delivering on their promises, we won’t be able to accelerate progress.” said Commission Co-chair Dr Sania Nishtar. “The NCDs epidemic has exploded in low and middle income countries over the last two decades. We need to move quickly to save lives, prevent needless suffering, and keep fragile health systems from collapsing.”

Fulfilling the promise of universal health coverage, to ensure all people everywhere can access quality health services without suffering financial hardship, is one of WHO’s top priorities. The Commission’s report will help guide countries as they make progress toward health for all and tackle both NCDs and infectious killers.

“WHO was founded 70 years ago on the conviction that health is a human right to be enjoyed by all people, and not a privilege for the few.” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The recommendations of this report are an important step towards realizing that right by preventing the suffering and death caused by noncommunicable diseases.”

By calling on Heads of States and Governments to take ultimate responsibility for NCDs, the report, which was, also, published simultaneously in the medical journal The Lancet, recognises the need to ensure that health ministries have the influence they require to ensure the issue is backed with the political will and funding it merits.

Delivering the report to the WHO Director-General is the first activity of the Commission, which will continue to provide high-level support to the NCD community by catalysing action and financing, especially, in countries.

On September 27, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly will host the Third High-level Meeting on NCDs in New York. The Commission’s report will help advise WHO as it prepares for this crucial occasion.

The Commission’s Co-chairs include the presidents of Finland, Sri Lanka and Uruguay, the Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation and Dr Sania Nishtar, a leading NCDs expert and advocate and a former federal minister of health from Pakistan. The Commission comprises health and development leaders from governments, civil society and business.

Non-Communicable Diseases:NCDs, including, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and mental disorders, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from a NCD.

Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as, palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs. WHO recognises that air pollution is a critical risk factor for NCDs.

Read WHO Independent High-level Commission on NCDs Report at who.int/ncds/management/time-to-deliver/en ::: ω.

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