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Taxing the carbon footprint of world trade

With nations entering a new period of protectionist tariffs,  it is time to rethink the regulation of global trade.   Global trade is the driver of climate pollution and climate change.
Call for Carbon Charging: In an article in Nature this month, three leading environmental experts have called for carbon charges rather than trade tariffs.

With President Trump imposing heavy tariffs on goods from China and the EU, and those countries following with retaliatory barriers, they fail to address the real problem of global trade.  That countries are simply exporting pollution and emissions through imports.

The authors point out that with all good intention of the Paris Climate Accord, it is unlikely that the target will be met of keeping warming below the critical 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.  This would be so even if all countries were to meet their targets set out in their individual action plans.
Tackling carbon-intensive global trade Only by tackling the drivers of …
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Weekly Magazine Episode 1

Latest Podcast. A weekly round up of news and views on topical issues. This week: Invasive Rabbits and Hares, pesticides and hummingbirds, Invasive mosquitos, abortion law reform in the UK, and controversl new blood pressure guidelines.



Rabbits and hares a conservation nightmare?

Throughout history, humans have deliberately translocated rabbits and hares (leporids) around the world, so they now occupy every continent, with the exception of Antarctica.

But our bunnies are not always lovable, at least not from a conservationist viewpoint.  They can be a pest, creating economic and ecological mayhem.

A new Mammal Review article examines studies on the twelve leporid species that have been introduced by humans to areas beyond their native ranges, highlighting the effects on the ecosystem at different levels.
Rabbits and Hares breed fast One thing is certain about rabbits. Rabbits breed like rabbits, and that means fast!

Most leporids have multiple litters per year with litter sizes varying from 1 to 11 individuals, and each female produces between 10 and 45 young per year.  This makes them resilient to predation, and enables them to adapt rapidly to environmental change.  They can also rapidly colonise a range of environments.

Thus, measures to eradicate invasive …

Controversial new blood pressure guidelines

When should 'high' blood pressure be regarded as 'hypertension'? When should we be looking at some kind of medication?

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) think the current thresholds are too high, and they released new guideline recommendations for hypertension with lower blood pressure values defining elevated blood pressure, and lower treatment thresholds, than those recommended in current guidelines.

So, how many people would this affect, and at what cost?
Millions would be affectedA new study published by the BMJ today shows that adopting the new guidelines would dramatically increase the number of people labeled as having the condition and being recommended for drug treatment.  Millions more would be classified as having hypertension.

The findings show that, if the guidelines were introduced in the US and China, more than half of those aged 45-75 years in both countries would be considered hypertensive.

So, let's p…

Humans help Invasive tiger mosquitos

Since 2012 Mallorca Island, off the coast of Spain,  has experienced rapid colonisation by the Asian tiger mosquito.  This was not anticipated because the natural climatic conditions on the island were not considered optimal for the species.  So what has been encouraging their colonisation of the Island?  The answer it seems is humans. 
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is a highly invasive species and a vector of multiple pathogens including various viruses, such as chikungunya, dengue, and Zika. A new Medical and Veterinary Entomology study that evaluated the relationship between the mosquito’s presence and habitat variables at a small scale provides important information for planning effective prevention and control campaigns.

Swimming pools Mallorca is a highly populated island of the Balearic archpelago and a major tourist destination, and more than 6% of the island’s surface had been urbanised by 2006.


When investigators examined mosquito populations on Mallorca Island…

Call to decriminalise abortion in UK

In an editorial in The BMJ, published today, editor in chief of BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, on behalf of her editorial board colleagues, calls on British premier, Theresa May, to decriminalise abortion in the UK.   This follows the recent decisions to liberalise abortion laws in the Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Abortion law in UK The UK 1967 Abortion Act was introduced to provide a legal defence against the criminal law passed in 1861,  but the Offences Against the Person Act remains on the statute book.

The women of Northern Ireland are the most vulnerable to this 150 years old, anachronistic piece of Victorian criminal law,  because under the law in the Province allows for no defence,  even in cases of rape or fatal fetal abnormalities. As a result, women who have an abortion in Northern Ireland still  face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The UK government has argued that this is a matter for the devolved Northern Ireland Assem…

Call to allow women in England to take abortion pills at home

Women in England should be allowed to take both the pills required for an early medical abortion at home, just like their peers in Scotland and now Wales, argue healthcare leaders, in an editorial published online in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

Currently in England, women who have an early medical abortion take one drug, mifepristone, in the clinic then need to return to take a second drug, misoprostol, 36-48 hours later.


In Scotland, and soon in Wales, misoprostol can be taken by the woman at home, but in England it must be administered within a licensed hospital or clinic.


Developed in 1973,  misoprostal is commonly used in labour induction and is regarded by the WHO as safe and effective.
Leading clinicians call for change in regulations The heads of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, and the British Society of Abortion Care Providers now call on health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to follow …