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fossil_fuels
On October 9, Glasgow University set a precedent for the UK, following suite with other parts of the world. The university announced that it will sell any of its shares invested in companies who produce fossil fuels. This translates to the withdrawal of £18 million of investments over the coming years.

David Newall, secretary of the university’s governing body, made a statement, “The university recognises the devastating impact that climate change may have on our planet, and the need for the world to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

A heavily involved student campaign of over 1300 students championed for these efforts. The campaign included rallies and even fake oil spills. The campaign is taking other active steps in reducing harm to the environment. For example, their carbon consumption will be significantly reduced.

The universal campaign is gaining support not only from Glasgow, but from 13 American universities who have also pledged to divest any support from fossil fuel companies. Fossil Free’s website provides a comprehensive list of various religious organizations, cities, counties, and universities in the U.S. who have also pledged to divest any investment in the fossil fuel industry.

In fact, Seattle, Washington, home of The Borgen Project, was the first U.S. city to do so. Their commitment took place near the end of 2012. Other universities who have done so include Stanford University and the University of Dayton in Ohio.

According to a Sept. article by The Guardian, even heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune have chosen to divest. Thus $50 billion will be redirected from fossil fuel investments, sending a tremendous example to the rest of the world.

With less of a reliance on fossil fuels, the world can change its focus to safer, more efficient and more economical energy sources. The more the world learns to rely on solar and wind energy to power our cars and our homes, the more energy can be a resource for more of the global population.

People living in more poverty-stricken areas of the world do not necessarily have the funds for oil, but with the purchase or donation of a solar panel that could last a lifetime, they will finally have electricity opportunities that could in turn lead to a furthered education, a more literate population, healthier people and longer life spans.

So far, despite this activism, little effect has been seen on the trillion dollar franchise of the oil industry, but with increased participants and awareness this is likely to change. It’s promising that a majority of this change is beginning with the voices of our young people. And with people like those members of the Rockefeller foundation on board, these young people now have a means to make their influence known.

Kathleen Lee

Sources: BBC, Fossil Free, The Guardian
Photo: Flickr

diabetes in India
In today’s world where diets are high in refined sugars and lifestyles are low in exercise, more and more individuals than ever are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This problem is especially bad in people of South Asian origin who are six times more likely to contract diabetes than Caucasians.

Type 2 diabetes differs from type 1 in that type 1 sets in at a very young age and is considered to be caused mostly by genetics whereas type 2 diabetes is viewed as a “lifestyle disease,” although genetic disposition may play a role. High amounts of sugar consumption combined with a lack of exercise can result in damaging the pancreas’ ability to produce and regulate insulin.

While diabetes is generally considered to be a manageable illness in countries like the United States, it is a different story for those diagnosed with diabetes in India and other, poorer countries. A higher number of Indians have diabetes than residents of the U.S. do, and many of them must endure without treatment. Indian hospitals are host to many patients suffering from diabetes’ worst consequences, including blindness, kidney failure, coma and death.

India is a developing nation, meaning it is in a transitional economic phase, like Britain was during the Industrial Revolution. This means more and more people are working sedentary jobs and eating out more often. Working a nine-to-five office job leaves little time for exercise, and restaurant food is generally considered to be worse than food prepared at home due to the large portion sizes and high amounts of calories and saturated fats. This changing lifestyle combined with Indians’ predisposition to diabetes is resulting in a skyrocketing number of cases, with an estimated 65 million people in India currently living with diabetes. This number is expected to increase to 109 million over the next 20 years.

While it is unclear why South Asians have this genetic predisposition to diabetes, there are many theories to attempt to explain it. One such theory is a study from Glasgow University that claims South Asians’ muscles do not burn fat as efficiently as European’s muscles do. The study found that the genes responsible for fat metabolism were significantly lower in South Asians, and this may be the reason why people of South Asian descent more easily gain weight and develop diabetes. Additionally, because diabetes is genetic, there is concern that the number of people developing type 2 diabetes now will lead to a higher number of babies born with diabetes in the future.

Diabetes is a condition that stays with people all their lives. There is no cure or easy solution. Treatment is costly, and for Indians living on less than $2 a day, their income is not enough to afford the everyday management that the condition requires. Even many people who have bypassed the poverty line do not have the means to treat their illness. In fact, many people do not even know they have diabetes until symptoms become severe. In a country like India where only 10 percent of the population has health insurance, the best course of action is to educate people on diabetes prevention.

Diabetes can be avoided by eating healthy foods like fruit and vegetables, and exercising regularly. However, even in countries like the U.S. where people know how they should be living, people find it difficult to change their lifestyle. People of South Asian descent will have to work even harder than other races to prevent diabetes due to their genetics, and whether or not they will is worrisome. An aggressive anti-diabetes campaign, better nutrition for children and an improved health care system will all be needed to combat the diabetes epidemic in India. Other countries that are struggling with this disease include China, Indonesia and Pakistan.

— Taylor Lovett 

Sources: Diabetes.co.uk, BBC, New York Times
Photo: Health Me Up