Arquivo da tag: Políticas públicas

Science and Policy Collide During the Pandemic (The Scientist)

Science and Policy Collide During the Pandemic
COVID-19 has laid bare some of the pitfalls of the relationship between scientific experts and policymakers—but some researchers say there are ways to make it better.

Diana Kwon

Sep 1, 2020

Science has taken center stage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on, as SARS-CoV-2 started spreading around the globe, many researchers pivoted to focus on studying the virus. At the same time, some scientists and science advisors—experts responsible for providing scientific information to policymakers—gained celebrity status as they calmly and cautiously updated the public on the rapidly evolving situation and lent their expertise to help governments make critical decisions, such as those relating to lockdowns and other transmission-slowing measures.

“Academia, in the case of COVID, has done an amazing job of trying to get as much information relevant to COVID gathered and distributed into the policymaking process as possible,” says Chris Tyler, the director of research and policy in University College London’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP). 

But the pace at which COVID-related science has been conducted and disseminated during the pandemic has also revealed the challenges associated with translating fast-accumulating evidence for an audience not well versed in the process of science. As research findings are speedily posted to preprint servers, preliminary results have made headlines in major news outlets, sometimes without the appropriate dose of scrutiny.

Some politicians, such as Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, have been quick to jump on premature findings, publicly touting the benefits of treatments such as hydroxychloroquine with minimal or no supporting evidence. Others have pointed to the flip-flopping of the current state of knowledge as a sign of scientists’ untrustworthiness or incompetence—as was seen, for example, in the backlash against Anthony Fauci, one of the US government’s top science advisors. 

Some comments from world leaders have been even more concerning. “For me, the most shocking thing I saw,” Tyler says, “was Donald Trump suggesting the injection of disinfectant as a way of treating COVID—that was an eye-popping, mind-boggling moment.” 

Still, Tyler notes that there are many countries in which the relationship between the scientific community and policymakers during the course of the pandemic has been “pretty impressive.” As an example, he points to Germany, where the government has both enlisted and heeded the advice of scientists across a range of disciplines, including epidemiology, virology, economics, public health, and the humanities.

Researchers will likely be assessing the response to the pandemic for years to come. In the meantime, for scientists interested in getting involved in policymaking, there are lessons to be learned, as well some preliminary insights from the pandemic that may help to improve interactions between scientists and policymakers and thereby pave the way to better evidence-based policy. 

Cultural divisions between scientists and policymakers

Even in the absence of a public-health emergency, there are several obstacles to the smooth implementation of scientific advice into policy. One is simply that scientists and policymakers are generally beholden to different incentive systems. “Classically, a scientist wants to understand something for the sake of understanding, because they have a passion toward that topic—so discovery is driven by the value of discovery,” says Kai Ruggeri, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University. “Whereas the policymaker has a much more utilitarian approach. . . . They have to come up with interventions that produce the best outcomes for the most people.”

Scientists and policymakers are operating on considerably different timescales, too. “Normally, research programs take months and years, whereas policy decisions take weeks and months, sometimes days,” Tyler says. “This discrepancy makes it much more difficult to get scientifically generated knowledge into the policymaking process.” Tyler adds that the two groups deal with uncertainty in very different ways: academics are comfortable with it, as measuring uncertainty is part of the scientific process, whereas policymakers tend to view it as something that can cloud what a “right” answer might be. 

This cultural mismatch has been particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as scientists work at breakneck speeds, many crucial questions about COVID-19—such as how long immunity to the virus lasts, and how much of a role children play in the spread of infection—remain unresolved, and policy decisions have had to be addressed with limited evidence, with advice changing as new research emerges. 

“We have seen the messy side of science, [that] not all studies are equally well-done and that they build over time to contribute to the weight of knowledge,” says Karen Akerlof, a professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University. “The short timeframes needed for COVID-19 decisions have run straight into the much longer timeframes needed for robust scientific conclusions.” 

Academia has done an amazing job of trying to get as much information  relevant to COVID gathered and distributed into the policymaking process as possible. —Chris Tyler, University College London

Widespread mask use, for example, was initially discouraged by many politicians and public health officials due to concerns about a shortage of supplies for healthcare workers and limited data on whether mask use by the general public would help reduce the spread of the virus. At the time, there were few mask-wearing laws outside of East Asia, where such practices were commonplace long before the COVID-19 pandemic began.  

Gradually, however, as studies began to provide evidence to support the use of face coverings as a means of stemming transmission, scientists and public health officials started to recommend their use. This shift led local, state, and federal officials around the world to implement mandatory mask-wearing rules in certain public spaces. Some politicians, however, used this about-face in advice as a reason to criticize health experts.  

“We’re dealing with evidence that is changing very rapidly,” says Meghan Azad, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Manitoba. “I think there’s a risk of people perceiving that rapid evolution as science [being] a bad process, which is worrisome.” On the other hand, the spotlight the pandemic has put on scientists provides opportunities to educate the general public and policymakers about the scientific process, Azad adds. It’s important to help them understand that “it’s good that things are changing, because it means we’re paying attention to the new evidence as it comes out.”

Bringing science and policy closer together

Despite these challenges, science and policy experts say that there are both short- and long-term ways to improve the relationship between the two communities and to help policymakers arrive at decisions that are more evidence-based.

Better tools, for one, could help close the gap. Earlier this year, Ruggeri brought together a group of people from a range of disciplines, including medicine, engineering, economics, and policy, to develop the Theoretical, Empirical, Applicable, Replicable, Impact (THEARI) rating system, a five-tiered framework for evaluating the robustness of scientific evidence in the context of policy decisions. The ratings range from “theoretical” (the lowest level, where a scientifically viable idea has been proposed but not tested) to “impact” (the highest level, in which a concept has been successfully tested, replicated, applied, and validated in the real world).

The team developed THEARI partly to establish a “common language” across scientific disciplines, which Ruggeri says would be particularly useful to policymakers evaluating evidence from a field they may know little about. Ruggeri hopes to see the THEARI framework—or something like it—adopted by policymakers and policy advisors, and even by journals and preprint servers. “I don’t necessarily think [THEARI] will be used right away,” he says. “It’d be great if it was, but we . . . [developed] it as kind of a starting point.” 

Other approaches to improve the communication between scientists and policymakers may require more resources and time. According to Akerlof, one method could include providing better incentives for both parties to engage with each other—by offering increased funding for academics who take part in this kind of activity, for instance—and boosting opportunities for such interactions to happen. 

Akerlof points to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science & Technology Policy Fellowships, which place scientists and engineers in various branches of the US government for a year, as an example of a way in which important ties between the two communities could be forged. “Many of those scientists either stay in government or continue to work in science policy in other organizations,” Akerlof says. “By understanding the language and culture of both the scientific and policy communities, they are able to bridge between them.”  

In Canada, such a program was established in 2018, when the Canadian Science Policy Center and Mona Nemer, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, held the country’s first “Science Meets Parliament” event. The 28 scientists in attendance, including Azad, spent two days learning about effective communication and the policymaking process, and interacting with senators and members of parliament. “It was eye opening for me because I didn’t know how parliamentarians really live and work,” Azad says. “We hope it’ll grow and involve more scientists and continue on an annual basis . . . and also happen at the provincial level.”

The short timeframes needed for COVID-19 decisions have run straight into the much longer timeframes needed for robust scientific conclusions. —Karen Akerlof, George Mason University

There may also be insights from scientist-policymaker exchanges in other domains that experts can apply to the current pandemic. Maria Carmen Lemos, a social scientist focused on climate policy at the University of Michigan, says that one way to make those interactions more productive is by closing something she calls the “usability gap.”

“The usability gap highlights the fact that one of the reasons that research fails to connect is because [scientists] only pay attention to the [science],” Lemos explains. “We are putting everything out there in papers, in policy briefs, in reports, but rarely do we actually systematically and intentionally try to understand who is on the other side” receiving this information, and what they will do with it.

The way to deal with this usability gap, according to Lemos, is for more scientists to consult the people who actually make, influence, and implement policy changes early on in the scientific process. Lemos and her team, for example, have engaged in this way with city officials, farmers, forest managers, tribal leaders, and others whose decision making would directly benefit from their work. “We help with organization and funding, and we also work with them very closely to produce climate information that is tailored for them, for the problems that they are trying to solve,” she adds. 

Azad applied this kind of approach in a study that involves assessing the effects of the pandemic on a cohort of children that her team has been following from infancy, starting in 2010. When she and her colleagues were putting together the proposal for the COVID-19 project this year, they reached out to public health decision makers across the Canadian provinces to find out what information would be most useful. “We have made sure to embed those decision makers in the project from the very beginning to ensure we’re asking the right questions, getting the most useful information, and getting it back to them in a very quick turnaround manner,” Azad says. 

There will also likely be lessons to take away from the pandemic in the years to come, notes Noam Obermeister, a PhD student studying science policy at the University of Cambridge. These include insights from scientific advisors about how providing guidance to policymakers during COVID-19 compared to pre-pandemic times, and how scientists’ prominent role during the pandemic has affected how they are viewed by the public; efforts to collect this sort of information are already underway. 

“I don’t think scientists anticipated that much power and visibility, or that [they] would be in [public] saying science is complicated and uncertain,” Obermeister says. “I think what that does to the authority of science in the public eye is still to be determined.”

Talking Science to PolicymakersFor academics who have never engaged with policymakers, the thought of making contact may be daunting. Researchers with experience of these interactions share their tips for success.
1. Do your homework. Policymakers usually have many different people vying for their time and attention. When you get a meeting, make sure you make the most of it. “Find out which issues related to your research are a priority for the policymaker and which decisions are on the horizon,” says Karen Akerlof, a professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University.
2. Get to the point, but don’t oversimplify. “I find policymakers tend to know a lot about the topics they work on, and when they don’t, they know what to ask about,” says Kai Ruggeri, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University. “Finding a good balance in the communication goes a long way.”
3. Keep in mind that policymakers’ expertise differs from that of scientists. “Park your ego at the door and treat policymakers and their staff with respect,” Akerlof says. “Recognize that the skills, knowledge, and culture that translate to success in policy may seem very different than those in academia.” 
4. Be persistent. “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a response immediately, or if promising communications don’t pan out,” says Meghan Azad, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Manitoba. “Policymakers are busy and their attention shifts rapidly. Meetings get cancelled. It’s not personal. Keep trying.”
5. Remember that not all policymakers are politicians, and vice versa. Politicians are usually elected and are affiliated with a political party, and they may not always be directly involved in creating new policies. This is not the case for the vast majority of policymakers—most are career civil servants whose decisions impact the daily living of constituents, Ruggeri explains. 

Natural disasters must be unusual or deadly to prompt local climate policy change (Science Daily)

Date: August 28, 2020

Source: Oregon State University

Summary: Natural disasters alone are not enough to motivate local communities to engage in climate change mitigation or adaptation, a new study has found. Rather, policy change in response to extreme weather events appears to depend on a combination of factors, including fatalities, sustained media coverage, the unusualness of the event and the political makeup of the community.

Natural disasters alone are not enough to motivate local communities to engage in climate change mitigation or adaptation, a new study from Oregon State University found.

Rather, policy change in response to extreme weather events appears to depend on a combination of factors, including fatalities, sustained media coverage, the unusualness of the event and the political makeup of the community.

Climate scientists predict that the frequency and severity of extreme weather events will only continue to increase in coming decades. OSU researchers wanted to understand how local communities are reacting.

“There’s obviously national and state-level climate change policy, but we’re really interested in what goes on at the local level to adapt to these changes,” said lead author Leanne Giordono, a post-doctoral researcher in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “Local communities are typically the first to respond to extreme events and disasters. How are they making themselves more resilient — for example, how are they adapting to more frequent flooding or intense heat?”

For the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, Giordono and co-authors Hilary Boudet of OSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Alexander Gard-Murray at Harvard University examined 15 extreme weather events that occurred around the U.S. between March 2012 and June 2017, and any subsequent local climate policy change.

These events included flooding, winter weather, extreme heat, tornadoes, wildfires and a landslide.

The study, published recently in the journal Policy Sciences, found there were two “recipes” for local policy change after an extreme weather event.

“For both recipes, experiencing a high-impact event — one with many deaths or a presidential disaster declaration — is a necessary condition for future-oriented policy adoption,” Giordono said.

In addition to a high death toll, the first recipe consisted of Democrat-leaning communities where there was focused media coverage of the weather event. These communities moved forward with adopting policies aimed at adapting in response to future climate change, such as building emergency preparedness and risk management capacity.

The second recipe consisted of Republican-leaning communities with past experiences of other uncommon weather events. In these locales, residents often didn’t engage directly in conversation about climate change but still worked on policies meant to prepare their communities for future disasters.

In both recipes, policy changes were fairly modest and reactive, such as building fire breaks, levees or community tornado shelters. Giordono referred to these as “instrumental” policy changes.

“As opposed to being driven by ideology or a shift in thought process, it’s more a means to an end,” she said. “‘We don’t want anyone else to die from tornadoes, so we build a shelter.’ It’s not typically a systemic response to global climate change.”

In their sample, the researchers didn’t find any evidence of mitigation-focused policy response, such as communities passing laws to limit carbon emissions or require a shift to solar power. And some communities did not make any policy changes at all in the wake of extreme weather.

The researchers suggest that in communities that are ideologically resistant to talking about climate change, it may be more effective to frame these policy conversations in other ways, such as people’s commitment to their community or the community’s long-term viability.

Without specifically examining communities that have not experienced extreme weather events, the researchers cannot speak to the status of their policy change, but Giordono said it is a question for future study.

“In some ways, it’s not surprising that you see communities that have these really devastating events responding to them,” Giordono said. “What about the vast majority of communities that don’t experience a high-impact event — is there a way to also spark interest in those communities?”

“We don’t want people to have to experience these types of disasters to make changes.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Oregon State University. Original written by Molly Rosbach. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Leanne Giordono, Hilary Boudet, Alexander Gard-Murray. Local adaptation policy responses to extreme weather events. Policy Sciences, 2020; DOI: 10.1007/s11077-020-09401-3

Scientists launch ambitious conservation project to save the Amazon (Mongabay)

Series: Amazon Conservation

by Shanna Hanbury on 27 July 2020

  • The Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA), an ambitious cooperative project to bring together the existing scientific research on the Amazon biome, has been launched with the support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  • Modeled on the authoritative UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, the first Amazon report is planned for release in April 2021; that report will include an extensive section on Amazon conservation solutions and policy suggestions backed up by research findings.
  • The Science Panel for the Amazon consists of 150 experts — including climate, ecological, and social scientists; economists; indigenous leaders and political strategists — primarily from the Amazon countries
  • According to Carlos Nobre, one of the leading scientists on the project, the SPA’s reports will aim not only to curb deforestation, but to propose an ongoing economically feasible program to conserve the forest while advancing human development goals for the region, working in tandem with, and in support of, ecological systems.
Butterflies burst into the sky above an Amazonian river. Image © Fernando Lessa / The Nature Conservancy.

With the Amazon rainforest predicted to be at, or very close to, its disastrous rainforest-to-savanna tipping point, deforestation escalating at a frightening pace, and governments often worsening the problem, the need for action to secure the future of the rainforest has never been more urgent.

Now, a group of 150 leading scientific and economic experts on the Amazon basin have taken it upon themselves to launch an ambitious conservation project. The newly founded Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) aims to consolidate scientific research on the Amazon and propose solutions that will secure the region’s future — including the social and economic well-being of its thirty-five-million inhabitants.

“Never before has there been such a rigorous scientific evaluation on the Amazon,” said Carlos Nobre, the leading Amazon climatologist and one of the chairs of the Scientific Panel. The newly organized SPA, he adds, will model its work on the style of the authoritative reports produced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in terms of academic diligence and the depth and breadth of analysis and recommendations.

The Amazon Panel, is funded by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network and supported by prominent political leaders, such as former Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos and the elected leader of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin, José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal. The SPA plans to publish its first report by April 2021.

Timber illegally logged within an indigenous reserve seized by IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, before the election of Jair Bolsonaro. Under the Bolsonaro administration, IBAMA has been largely defunded. Image courtesy of IBAMA.

Reversing the Amazon Tipping Point

Over the last five decades, the Amazon rainforest lost almost a fifth of its forest cover, putting the biome on the edge of a dangerous cliff. Studies show that if 3 to 8% more forest cover is lost, then deforestation combined with escalating climate change is likely to cause the Amazon ecosystem to collapse.

After this point is reached, the lush, biodiverse rainforest will receive too little precipitation to maintain itself and quickly shift from forest into a degraded savanna, causing enormous economic damage across the South American continent, and releasing vast amounts of forest-stored carbon to the atmosphere, further destabilizing the global climate.

Amazon researchers are now taking a proactive stance to prevent the Amazon Tipping Point: “Our message to political leaders is that there is no time to waste,” Nobre wrote in the SPA’s press release.

Amid escalating forest loss in the Amazon, propelled by the anti-environmentalist agenda of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, experts fear that this year’s burning season, already underway, may exceed the August 2019 wildfires that shocked the world. Most Amazon basin fires are not natural in cause, but intentionally set, often by land grabbers invading indigenous territories and other conserved lands, and causing massive deforestation.

“We are burning our own money, resources and biodiversity — it makes no sense,” Sandra Hacon told Mongabay; she is a prominent biologist at the Brazilian biomedical Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and has studied the effects of Amazon forest fires on health. It is expected that air pollution caused by this year’s wildfire’s, when combined with COVID-19 symptoms, will cause severe respiratory impacts across the region.

Bolivian ecologist Marielos Penã-Claros, notes the far-reaching economic importance of the rainforest: “The deforestation of the Amazon also has a negative effect on the agricultural production of Uruguay or Paraguay, thousands of kilometers away.”

The climate tipping point, should it be passed, would negatively effect every major stakeholder in the Amazon, likely wrecking the agribusiness and energy production sectors — ironically, the sectors responsible for much of the devastation today.

“I hope to show evidence to the world of what is happening with land use in the Amazon and alert other governments, as well as state and municipal-level leadership. We have a big challenge ahead, but it’s completely necessary,” said Hacon.

Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, but researchers say there is enough already degraded land there to support significant cattle expansion without causing further deforestation. The SPA may in its report suggest viable policies for curbing cattle-caused deforestation. Image ©Henrique Manreza / The Nature Conservancy.

Scientists offer evidence, and also solutions

Creating a workable blueprint for the sustainable future of the Amazon rainforest is no simple task. The solutions mapped out, according to the Amazon Panel’s scientists, will seek to not only prevent deforestation and curb global climate change, but to generate a new vision and action plan for the Amazon region and its residents — especially, fulfilling development goals via a sustainable standing-forest economy.

The SPA, Nobre says, will make a critical break with the purely technical approach of the United Nation’s IPCC, which banned policy prescriptions entirely from its reports. In practice, this has meant that while contributing scientists can show the impacts of fossil fuels on the atmosphere, they cannot recommend ending oil subsidies, for example. “We inverted this logic, and the third part of the [SPA] report will be entirely dedicated to searching for policy suggestions,” Nobre says. “We need the forest on its feet, the empowerment of the traditional peoples and solutions on how to reach development goals.”

Researchers across many academic fields (ranging from climate science and economics to history and meteorology) are collaborating on the SPA Panel, raising hopes that scientific consensus on the Amazon rainforest can be reached, and that conditions for research cooperation will greatly improve.

Indigenous Munduruku dancers in the Brazilian Amazon. The SPA intends to gather Amazon science and formulate socio-economic solutions in order to make sound recommendations to policymakers. Image by Mauricio Torres / Mongabay.

SPA participants hope that a thorough scientific analysis of the rainforest’s past, present and future will aid in the formulation of viable public policies designed to preserve the Amazon biome — hopefully leading to scientifically and economically informed political decisions by the governments of Amazonian nations.

“We are analyzing not only climate but biodiversity, human aspects and preservation beyond the climate issues,” Paulo Artaxo, an atmospheric physicist at the University of São Paulo, told Mongabay.

Due to the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative’s initial dates for a final report were pushed forward by several months, and a conference in China cancelled entirely. But the 150-strong team is vigorously pushing forward, and the first phase of the project — not publicly available — is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The hope on the horizon is that a unified voice from the scientific community will trigger long-lasting positive changes in the Amazon rainforest. “More than ever, we need to hear the voices of the scientists to enable us to understand how to save the Amazon from wanton and unthinking destruction,” said Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, on the official launch website called The Amazon We Want.

Banner image: Aerial photo of an Amazon tributary surrounded by rainforest. Image by Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay.

Volta às aulas após quarentena: veja 10 medidas adotadas em 7 países para a retomada do ensino (G1)

G1, 29 de maio de 2020

Alunos do ensino médio voltam à sala de aula em Wuham, província de Hubei, na China, nesta quarta-feira (6). Fonte: AFP.

Após decretarem o afrouxamento do isolamento social para conter a transmissão do novo coronavírus, países que estão voltando às aulas adotam medidas de prevenção para evitar uma nova onda de contaminação.

O G1 analisou a experiência de países como China, Coreia do Sul, Dinamarca, Finlândia, França, Portugal e Israel para saber quais cuidados estão sendo tomados na volta às aulas. No Brasil, as aulas estão suspensas em todos os estados e as escolas seguem fechadas.

Entre as medidas, estão:

  1. desinfecção de escolas
  2. tendas de desinfecção dos alunos na entrada
  3. controle de temperatura
  4. uso de máscaras
  5. lavagem de mãos e instalação de torneiras
  6. grupos menores de alunos
  7. distanciamento
  8. horários diferentes de entrada e saída
  9. arejar a sala
  10. afastar professores do grupo de risco

A reabertura das escolas é um marco no fim do isolamento porque permite que os pais possam voltar ao mercado de trabalho. Apesar dos esforços, ao menos dois dos países analisados voltaram a registrar casos de transmissão de coronavírus: Coreia do Sul e França.

Na Coreia do Sul, mais de 200 escolas foram fechadas nesta sexta-feira (29) dias após reabrirem, devido ao surgimento de novos casos de contaminação. Com isso, Seul adotou novas medidas para evitar a transmissão de casos, como limitar o número de alunos por sala, enquanto os demais ficam em casa, aprendendo por atividades remotas.

Na França, 40 mil escolas foram reabertas no início de maio. Uma semana depois, 70 registraram casos de coronavírus e tiveram que ser fechadas.

As regras de confinamento impostas para conter o avanço da disseminação do novo coronavírus deixaram mais de 1,5 bilhão de crianças e adolescentes fora da escola em 188 países, segundo balanço da Unesco divulgado em abril.

Desinfecção de escolas

20 de maio – trabalhador desinfeta escola em Parque Ivory, na África do Sul. — Foto: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Medidas extras de limpeza são uma recomendação comum. Em diversas partes do mundo, a desinfecção das escolas ocorre antes dos alunos chegarem e durante a permanência deles.

Em Portugal, 17 mil litros de desinfetantes e outros equipamentos de proteção e higiene foram distribuídos para centros educacionais.

Na França, as orientações do Ministério da Educação contêm inclusive quais produtos a serem utilizados para desinfecção das escolas e a frequência da higienização: o chão deve ser limpo uma vez por dia enquanto maçanetas, sanitários e interruptores devem ser higienizados várias vezes.

Tenda de desinfecção dos alunos

China tem volta às aulas do ensino médio com medidas de segurança e medo do coronavírus. — Foto: GREG BAKER / AFP

Na China, escolas instalaram tendas de desinfecção por onde os estudantes precisam passar antes de entrarem na escola.

Controle de temperatura

Termômetro usado para medir a temperatura das pessoas e fazer controle da Covid-19.. — Foto: Steve Parsons / Pool / AFP

O controle da temperatura para detectar se o aluno está com febre, um dos mais comuns sintomas da Covid-19, é uma preocupação em vários países.

Em Pequim,pulseiras inteligentes, que fazem essa medição em tempo real, estão sendo testadas. Os pais monitoram a situação por meio de um aplicativo. Caso a temperatura passe de 37ºC, um alerta é enviado para os professores, que são orientados a alertar a polícia.

Uso de máscara

China retoma aulas do ensino médio em Pequim e Xangai nesta segunda-feira (27). — Foto: GREG BAKER / AFP

O uso de máscaras em geral também é recomendado, mas os critérios variam de país para país.

Na China, as crianças utilizam máscaras o tempo todo, inclusive dentro da sala de aula.

Coronavírus na educação: na França, professora leciona com máscara nesta segunda-feira (18). — Foto: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Em Israel, as crianças da 4ª série em diante tem que usar essa proteção. Na França, as crianças menores também estão dispensadas. No entanto, a escola deve ter máscaras à disposição dos alunos caso eles apresentem sintomas durante as aulas e estejam aguardando para serem retirados.

Uma exceção é a Dinamarca, país onde não existe a recomendação para utilização de máscaras em ambientes públicos.

Lavagem de mãos e instalação de torneiras

Crianças lavam as mãos na escola Gudenåskolen, na Dinamarca — Foto: Lone Mathiesen/ Divulgação/ Embaixada da Dinamarca no Brasil

O incentivo à higiene e lavagem de mãos está sendo constante nas escolas que voltam às aulas.

Na Dinamarca, as escolas chegaram a instalar torneiras fora dos edifícios para que as crianças lavem as mãos quando chegam à escola.

Em Portugal, é obrigatório a lavagem das mãos ao entrar e sair da escola. Na Coreia do Sul, os estudantes receberam material desinfetante para higienizar as mãos.

Grupos menores de alunos

18 de maio de 2020 – Alunos usam máscara em sala de aula no colégio D. Pedro V, em Lisboa, no dia em que parte dos estudantes volta a ter aula em meio à pandemia do novo coronavírus (COVID-19) em Portugal — Foto: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Alguns países adotaram a medida de dividir os estudantes em grupos menores para evitar contatos mais próximos entre eles, como na Finlândia.

Na Dinamarca, as turmas, que têm entre 20 e 28 alunos, foram divididas para que os alunos possam interagir apenas dentro desse espectro menor.

Em Seul, na Coreia do Sul, os jardins de infância e escolas do ensino básico, fundamental e médio poderão receber apenas um aluno a cada três e os demais terão que seguir com o ensino a distância.


15 de maio – Estudantes conversam enquanto praticam o distanciamento social no pátio de uma escola secundária durante sua reabertura em Bruxelas, na Bélgica, durante o surto do coronavírus (COVID-19) — Foto: Yves Herman/Reuters

Em geral, as salas de aula foram reorganizadas de maneira que as mesas dos alunos fiquem a pelo menos um metro de distância entre elas. A recomendação é feita pelo governos da França, Dinamarca. Em Israel, essa distância é de dois metros.

Na Dinamarca, além da distância de um metro entre as mesas dos alunos, o professor deve ficar a dois metros do estudante que senta mais próximo dele.

Alguns países adotam inclusive paredes acrílicas para evitar que gotículas da fala sejam trocadas entre os estudantes e entre estudantes e professores, como é o caso da Coreia do Sul.

Alunos retomam aulas na Coreia do Sul; em algumas escolas, carteiras têm divisórias — Foto: Yonhap / AFP Photo

Para estudantes menores, mantê-los afastados é um desafio. Uma solução lúdica, feita com asas de papelão, foi adotada na província de Shanxi, na China, para lembrá-los a distância que precisam ficar uns dos outros.

Alunos do ensino fundamental usam asas para manter o distanciamento na sala de aula em Taiyuan, na província de Shanxi, no norte da China. Foto tirada em 20 de maio de 2020 — Foto: AFP

Horários diferentes de entrada e saída

Em Portugal, alunos estão sendo organizados em grupos que terão horários de aula, intervalos e períodos de alimentação diferentes entre si, para minimizar o contato.

A mesma medida foi adotada pelos governo da Finlândia e Israel, que determinaram o estabelecimento de horários diferentes para intervalos, entrada e saída para evitar aglomeração.

Na Dinamarca, além dos horários variados, novos portões estão sendo utilizados para que a entrada e saída dos grupos não coincidam. Os pais também são orientados a se despedir dos filhos fora da escola e devem pedir permissão, caso necessitem entrar no estabelecimento.

Arejar a sala

Na França, as escolas são orientadas a manter as janelas abertas antes das aulas, durante o intervalo e depois da partida dos alunos.

Afastamento de professores do grupo de risco

27 de abril – Médicos de um hospital coletam amostras de professores do ensino médio para testes em uma escola após o surto da doença por coronavírus em Yichang, província de Hubei, na China — Foto: China Daily via Reuters

Em Israel, professoras com mais de 65 anos não retomaram as atividades. A medida é para evitar que eles fiquem expostos à uma possível nova onda de circulação do coronavírus.

Angélica Kolody Mammana: Quem não recorre aos livros de história para lê-la está fadado a repeti-la

Angélica Kolody Mammana – Facebook, 20 de maio de 2020

Vou contar uma história longa.
Calma, leiam até o fim. Confiem em mim.
Era uma vez uma doença.
Ela surgiu em um país muito, muito distante.
De repente, começou a se alastrar como faísca sobre pólvora.
Pessoas começaram a morrer, em números enormes, aos montes.
Os jornais começaram a noticiar sobre a doença antes que ela chegasse ao nosso país. Informavam a população, mas as pessoas não acreditavam.
Diziam que era algo distante, que era apenas uma gripe comum, que era tudo um grande exagero.

Algumas pessoas que chegavam de viagem da Europa caiam doentes. Algumas morreram. Mas eram velhas. Tinham doenças. Não havia motivo para pânico.

As pessoas liam os jornais e ficavam indignadas com o exagero da imprensa.
Diziam que era uma jogada politica para derrubar o governo, para espalhar o comunismo pelo mundo.

Na tentativa de conter a doença, que a essa altura já se alastrara por várias nações, países começaram a indicar o uso de máscaras, recomendaram que as pessoas ficassem afastadas, em quarentena, em cidades do mundo todo.

– Quarentena? Como assim? O que será da nossa economia?? – gritavam pessoas indignadas.

Faziam piquetes, manifestações, carregavam cartazes dizendo que se recusavam a usar máscara. E, quando eram obrigadas, usavam placas informando que não concordavam com o uso dela.

Escolas foram fechadas, portas de negócios foram baixadas. Apenas farmácias e mercados poderiam permanecer abertos para abastecer a população.

Teatros e cinemas foram lacrados.
Todos os campeonatos de futebol e outros esportes foram cancelados.

O Rio de Janeiro tornou-se um cenário de tragédia. Hospitais lotados, sem vias de saída, pessoas morrendo em casa. Por toda parte, a falta de caixões e pessoas precisando ser enterradas em valas comuns. Em um único dia, chegam a ser registradas mais de 1.000 mortes.

No Congresso, propôs-se que a formatura dos estudantes fosse antecipada, para que fossem logo para o mercado de trabalho.

Cientistas procuravam loucamente a cura ou o tratamento para aquela doença, até que algum jornal anunciou que um medicamento incrível, até então usado para a malária, parecia ser eficiente.

As pessoas ficaram em polvorosa. Todos queriam o medicamento.
Alguns médicos passaram a anunciar o milagre dessa substância em veículos de comunicação, as pessoas se acumulavam na porta das farmácias e consultórios para recebê-la.

Não havia recomendação científica para o tal remédio, mas as pessoas não se importavam. Estavam desesperadas, qualquer coisa serviria.

Milhares de doentes foram medicados, mas a doença não parecia melhorar com o remédio.

Os veículos de comunicação então chegaram a uma conclusão que parecia óbvia: o remédio não funcionava porque estava sendo administrado tarde demais.

O ideal seria prescrevê-lo o quanto antes, até mesmo preventivamente, como garantia, para evitar a contaminação antes que ela acontecesse.

Alguns outros médicos tentaram alertar a população quanto ao risco do medicamento, mas foi em vão.

Estes médicos foram taxados de conspiracionistas, agredidos, xingados, tomados por comunistas, acusados de estarem contra o interesse da população.

As pessoas passaram a se auto administrar o medicamento para malária, como iriam esperar de braços cruzados?

Foi aí que a historia se complicou.
Havia pessoas que não podiam tomar o tal remédio, pois eram portadoras de condições clinicas adversas que eram contra indicação ao uso dele.
Algumas desmaiavam na rua. Correram lendas urbanas de pessoas que chegaram a ser tomadas por mortas e enterradas vivas, em decorrência de paradas cardíacas e arritmias causadas pelo remédio, cuja dose era propagada sem qualquer critério pela própria imprensa.

As pessoas, ao longo do tempo, ao verem que o medicamento não surtia o efeito prometido, passaram a recorrer a soluções populares e caseiras cujos boatos se disseminaram.

Aguardente, associada a limão e mel, seria um tratamento possível. Bares chegaram a ter filas de pessoas em busca de uma dose. O alcoolismo disparou. O preço da fruta atingiu valores jamais vistos e sumiu das prateleiras.

Correu o boato de que hospitais estavam administrando chás envenenados à meia noite, para pacientes terminais, para liberar leitos.

Por quase dois anos, o governo falhou em conseguir implementar um Ministério da Saúde eficiente. As opiniões se dividiam, discutiam o impacto do isolamento sobre o comércio

Da mesma forma que um famoso escritor chegou a descrever:
“Cada médico tinha uma tentativa de explicação diferente; nós não sabíamos no quê e em quem acreditar. Esperávamos por uma explicação que ninguém tinha para dar, como até hoje esperamos para saber o que foi aquela sassânida infernal.”

Enquanto isso, a doença avançava. Em meio a promessas vãs, avançou e avançou.
A única coisa que se provou eficaz para contê-la foram as regiões com alta adesão ao isolamento social e ao uso de máscaras.

Não, não se trata do coronavirus nem da cloroquina.

Trata-se da gripe espanhola e do sal de quinino, medicamento que na época era usado para malária.

O uso indiscriminado do sal de quinino foi promovido pela imprensa na época, a partir de 1918, e levou também inúmeras pessoas à morte. A imprensa em massa passou a prescrever os sais de quinino inicialmente como tratamento, e posteriormente como prevenção à gripe espanhola.

Nunca surtiu efeito.

A gripe espanhola terminou por matar 30 milhões de pessoas, sem que até hoje, 102 anos depois, tenha sido encontrada a cura.

Na época, muitas pessoas acreditavam que ela era uma mentira, um exagero e uma conspiração para alastrar a revolução comunista de 1917 pelo mundo.

A única medida que, retrospectivamente, conteve razoavelmente a doença em algumas regiões, foi o isolamento social.

A economia sobreviveu.

Quem não recorre aos livros de história para lê-la está fadado a repeti-la.

1. A gripe espanhola matou o presidente da República brasileiro, recém reeleito, o Conselheiro Rodrigues Alves, em 1918, logo antes de sua posse.

2. O “medicamento caseiro” inventado para o tratamento da gripe espanhola, à base de aguardente, mel e limão, entrou para a cultura brasileira e hoje atende pelo nome de “caipirinha”.

3. O “chá da meia noite” foi um boato que difamou a Santa Casa do Rio de Janeiro em 1918. Foi apelidada na época de “Casa do Diabo”. Após o final da epidemia, o Chá da Meia Noite foi tema do primeiro bloco de carnaval do Rio, em 1919.

Italians over 80 ‘will be left to die’ as country overwhelmed by coronavirus (The Telegraph)

Hardest-hit region drafts new proposals saying who will live and who will die

By Erica Di Blasi Turin 14 March 2020 • 4:38pm

Coronavirus victims in Italy will be denied access to intensive care if they are aged 80 or more or in poor health should pressure on beds increase, a document prepared by a crisis management unit in Turin proposes.

Some patients denied intensive care will in effect be left to die, doctors fear.

The unit has drawn up a protocol, seen by The Telegraph, that will determine which patients receive treatment in intensive care and which do not if there are insufficient spaces. Intensive care capacity is running short in Italy as the coronavirus continues to spread.

The document, produced by the civil protection deparment of the Piedmont region, one of those hardest hit, says: “The criteria for access to intensive therapy in cases of emergency must include age of less than 80 or a score on the Charlson comorbidity Index [which indicates how many other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5.”

The ability of the patient to recover from resuscitation will also be considered.

One doctor said: “[Who lives and who dies] is decided by age and by the [patient’s] health conditions. This is how it is in a war.”

The document says: “The growth of the current epidemic makes it likely that a point of imbalance between the clinical needs of patients with COVID-19 and the effective availability of intensive resources will be reached.

“Should it become impossible to provide all patients with intensive care services, it will be necessary to apply criteria for access to intensive treatment, which depends on the limited resources available.”

It adds: “The criteria set out guidelines if the situation becomes of such an exceptional nature as to make the therapeutic choices on the individual case dependent on the availability of resources, forcing [hospitals] to focus on those cases in which the cost/benefit ratio is more favorable for clinical treatment.”

Luigi Icardi, a councilor for health in Piedmont, said: “I never wanted to see such a moment. It [the document] will be binding and will establish in the event of saturation of the wards a precedence code for access to intensive care, based on certain parameters such as potential survival.”

The document is already complete and only approval from a technical-scientific committee is needed before it is sent to hospitals. The criteria are expected to apply throughout Italy, government sources said.

More than 1,000 people in Italy have now died from the virus and the number is growing every day. More than 15,000 are infected.

Italy has 5,090 intensive care beds, which for the moment exceeds the number of patients who need them. It is also working to create new bed capacity in private clinics, nursing homes and even in tents. However, the country also needs also doctors and nurses – the government wants to hire them – and equipment.

Lombardy remains the most critical region. However, the situation is also serious in neighboring Piedmont. Here, in just one day, 180 new cases were recorded, while deaths numbered 27. The trend suggests that the situation is not about to improve.

Roberto Testi, president of the coranavirus technical-scientific committee for Piedmont, told The Telegraph: “Here in Piedmont we aim to delay as long as possible the use of these criteria. At the moment there are still intensive care places available and we are working to create more.

“We want to arrive as late as possible at the point where we have to decide who lives and who dies. The criteria relate only to access to intensive care – those who do not get access to intensive care will still receive all the treatment possible. In medicine we sometimes have to make difficult choices but it’s important to have a system about how to make them.”

What Might Africa Teach the World? Covid-19 and Ebola Virus Disease Compared (African Arguments)

By Paul Richards March 17, 2020

A medical official outside an emergency tent installed for patients infected by COVID-19 in Poland- Credit Sky News

Covid-19 is a flu-like illness (symptoms include fever, cough, and breathing problems) caused by a corona virus (SARS CoV-2). Like Ebola, the virus causing Covid-19 circulates within populations of bats and crossed over to humans via the bush meat trade. The first human cases were identified in China in December 2019, and the infection has now (March 2020) reached more than 100 countries.

The disease is now recognised by the World Health Organization as a pandemic. Up to 80 percent of the population of some countries might eventually become infected. Most cases will be mild, and recovery spontaneous. About 5 percent of cases will be life-threatening. Death rates appear to be around 1-2 percent. The elderly are most at risk.[1]

Currently, attention is focused on reducing the rate at which Covid-19 spreads. One aim is to delay the peak of infection beyond the winter flu period in the northern hemisphere, when medical help is stretched. Slowing the epidemic also allows more time for preparation of health systems to cope with large numbers, and for work on vaccine development.

Predictably, some politicians have demanded border closures against immigrants and refugees, even though spread is associated with tourism and normal business travel. Africans internationally stigmatised by Ebola might feel aggrieved that cases of Covid-19 have been introduced from Europe and Asia. But in a globally connected and inter-dependent world blaming and stigmatising helps no one. It is better to share ideas about what can be done to protect.

This is where Africa’s experience of Ebola has something to offer. Communities experiencing Ebola in West Africa in 2014-15 rapidly learnt from scratch how to cope with a deadly new infection, and this provides the rest of the world with important information on strategies to address novel disease threats more generally.

Like Ebola, Covid-19 is a family disease, in the sense that many infections occur in the home. Restrictions on travel can slow the spread of the disease, but it also helps if individuals and families understand infection pathways and implement domestic precautions. This is something in which West Africans confronted by Ebola have had much experience.

History of Pandemics – credit Virtual Capitalists

The name for Ebola in Mende, one of the main languages of Sierra Leone, the worst affected country in 2014-15, was bonda wote, literally ‘family turn round’. In other words, it was clearly recognised that this was a disease requiring families to change behaviour in major ways, especially in how they cared for the sick.

Covid-19 will require similar changes at the family level, especially in terms of how the elderly are protected. The buzz words for epidemic responders include self-isolation and social distancing, but the details of how to implement these vague concepts have been left to local social imagination.

Answers are required for both the uninfected elderly, and for others who are sick.

Should grandpa be packed off to a shed in the garden away from the family for his own protection? What happens when grandma gets lonely and wants to see the grandchildren? Who does the shopping? How does the daily-paid worker ‘self-isolate’ when there is no sick pay? Who collects the children from school when a single mum is sick?

Much depends on actual family arrangements and housing stock. So African solutions for Ebola will not work directly in other parts of the world. But it is important to know that under the challenge of Ebola local people showed much inventiveness in devising solutions to such problems.

Evidence shows that ways can be found to reduce family risks of infection, even with a disease 30 times more deadly than Covid-19.[2]For Ebola, these ranged from the elbow knock that replaced shaking of hands as a public greeting, to the appointment of a single carer in the household to look after the sick while waiting for help, to the carefully choreographed ‘safe and respectful’ funerals that allowed some element of local ritual back into the burial process, a major source of infection.

Every encouragement should be given to this local adaptive creativity, and the authorities should listen carefully to information from below about what would help to make a difference.

However, Covid-19 is not Ebola, and differences have to be taken into account. Some of the major questions about how the disease spreads are as yet unknown, and citizens and households need to be listening for this information as it becomes available and helped to adapt to its implications in real time.

This implies having very good means of two-way communication. In Sierra Leone a telephone helpline, ‘117’, played an important part in arranging emergency Ebola response, but it was much poorer at harvesting feedback from communities about what could be done better.

It seems that the lesson has not been learnt with Covid-19. In Britain, the National Health Service helpline, ‘111’ has now been ‘stood down’ for Covid-19 enquiries relating to domestic testing, since the epidemic is deemed to have passed into a new phase. How then are the authorities to have a conversation with families about the resources most needed for adaptation at household level?

Case-handling is a second area of difference. Ebola does not spread easily. The virologist Peter Piot put it well when he stated that he would have no problem sitting next to someone with Ebola provided they were not vomiting over him. Infection spreads only through contact with body fluids. Covid-19, however, spreads through the air, as well as via bodily contact, and case numbers will be much higher.

With Ebola in West Africa the number of cases turning up at specialist Ebola care facilities at the height of the epidemic numbered in tens or hundreds per week. With Covid-19 the numbers of cases requiring intensive care at the peak of the epidemic may amount to hundreds of thousands.

Even if stretched out over several months infection on this scale implies a large extra demand for medical care.

Ebola taught that epidemics cause deaths from other diseases through their impact on health systems. In all there were about 12,000 Ebola deaths in Upper West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone) in 2014-15 but many additional fatalities resulted from, for example, closure of facilities such as maternity clinics.

So contingency planning is required. A key challenge for Covid-19 is how health system care should best be organized, without severely disrupting other forms of health provision.

For Ebola, the first response was to build large field hospitals (Ebola Treatment Centres).[3]These were seen as the safest option. But they were shunned by families, because so few patients came out alive. They were also often in the wrong place (built behind, not ahead, of the epidemic).

Information started to filter through that some communities were taking their own steps to reduce infection and bury the dead. This raised the question whether there was more scope for community care.

Family do-it-yourself responses proved controversial. International responders were adamant that there would be nothing resembling home care; it was too dangerous. Local communities were equally adamant that there would have to be some form of home care; they could not stand by and watch family members die, when an ambulance to take a patient to an ETC might take days to arrive over bad or non-existent roads.

Families saw it as their duty to be involved in care of the sick. So, they repeatedly asked what to do while waiting for help to arrive. Could they not prepare food for the sick? Could they not be trained to safely bury the dead?

No, they were told. Ebola required specialist management.

Communities answered back. They pointed to areas at the outset of the epidemic, where the epidemic was rolled back with only local resources. In Kailahun District, for example, an intense initial outbreak was reduced to a trickle of cases by local responders organizing quarantine and burial with improvised resources. That cases then declined without outside help implied either that the disease burnt out more readily than anticipated, or that local improvisation worked better than expected. There is evidence to support both interpretations.[4]

Experts knew that Ebola control required prompt diagnosis, before the ‘wet’ symptoms of the disease became apparent. Something had to be done to speed up the presentation of cases. The answer was to build much smaller community care centres (CCC) close to where active transmission was taking place.[5]This also changed the relationship between families and Ebola responders from fear to active cooperation.

Staff of CCC were for the most part local volunteers – trained nurses who had not been absorbed on to the payroll of the Ministry of Health, or villagers willing to take on high-risk chores for a decent wage. The fact that staffing was local meant patients saw familiar faces, and this built trust. CCC also normalized Ebola by bringing treatment within a framework of general medical assistance.

As a result, patients were presented more promptly than was the case with the distant ETC. Ebola (indistinguishable from malaria or typhoid in its early phase) was more rapidly identified and isolated. One study estimates that CCC contributed up to one third of the infection control ending the epidemic in Sierra Leone.[6]

This example of responders modifying their approach to infection control better to accommodate family requirements may hold lessons for Covid-19.

Specifically, cases may have to be kept out of main hospitals as much as possible, Thus, there may be a need for field treatment facilities not dissimilar to CCC, as a half-way house between home isolation and intensive care. In effect these facilities would isolate and triage the most vulnerable cases, as was the case with Ebola CCC.

There is also a possibility that any such facilities might be run up by military personnel[7]and staffed by medically trained ‘volunteers’ (retired doctors and nurses), as in Sierra Leone.

Interesting to note, the chief medical advisor for England was previously one of the proponents of the introduction of CCC in Sierra Leone, and we may be about to see some lessons directly transferred.[8]

Quarantine for Ebola in Sierra Leone is also an issue from which Covid-19 responders might wish to draw lessons. Much of it was organised and imposed by the state, and was at times heavy-handed. But communities also organised their own quarantine. They understood that self-isolation was in their own interest, and this sometimes worked surprisingly effectively.

Use was made of an approach used during the civil war of 1991-2002 of mobilising community youth to identify infiltrators. Visitors who might have been carrying the virus were turned away. But in other cases the approach was more focused on sequestering those who were well. Rural families sometimes decamped from villages with outbreaks to settle down for a few weeks in their farms, where sleeping quarters were sometimes built for the purpose.

In this respect, Sierra Leonean rural communities showed a clear appreciation of the fact that there were two distinct kinds of quarantine – self-isolation and protective sequestration. Both kinds are being used as part of the response to Covid-19, but at times without adequate discussion of how the two types differ and have different social motivations – self-protection and altruism towards neighbours. It is not wise to talk about self-isolation for the sick and the elderly in the same breath. The different motivations need to be more clearly explained.

In conclusion, it is also important to say something about what Africa can learn from its own experience of Ebola. The point made above should be reiterated – about the differences as well as similarities between Covid-19 and Ebola.

Prompt case finding, contact tracing and quarantine are being applied to Covid-19 as they were for Ebola.[9]Good hygiene practices, such as hand washing, also remain applicable. African countries with experience of Ebola know how to do these things, and this will be helpful in dealing with early cases.

However, African countries also have to be prepared to learn to adapt to the specific features of this new disease as more data emerge. This will pose more of a challenge, since this will require rapid knowledge-based domestic adaptation to new information on how Covid-19 spreads (perhaps most notably, why it affects the old more than the young, and how older people might be best protected from its effects).

The main lesson for both Africa and other parts of the world from Ebola for Covid-19, however, is that shared learning between communities and medical professionals is a key aspect of human adaptive response to emergent diseases. In any disease in which community mobilization is an important aspect families need to think like epidemiologists, but equally epidemiologists need to think like families.

Paul Richards’ Ebola book front cover, part of the African Arguments book series


[1]Xu, J., Zhao, S., Teng T., Abdalla, A.E., Zhu, W., Xie, L., Wang, Y., Guo, X. (2020) ‘Systematic comparison of two animal-to-human transmitted human coronaviruses: SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV’, Viruses 12, 244.

[2]Richards, P. (2016) Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, London: Zed Books.

[3]Richards, P., Mokuwa, E., Welmers, P., Maat, H., Beisel, U. (2019) ‘Trust, and distrust, of Ebola Treatment Centers: a case-study from Sierra Leone’, PLoS ONE14(12): e0224511.

[4]Glynn, Judith R. et al. (2017) ‘Asymptomatic infection and unrecognised Ebola virus disease in Ebola-affected households in Sierra Leone: a cross-sectional study using a new non-invasive assay for antibodies to Ebola virus’,Lancet Infectious Diseases17(6), 645-653. On local case finding, quarantine and burial procedures see Richards (2016) op. cit.

[5]Mokuwa, E.Y., Maat, H. (2020) ‘Rural populations exposed to Ebola Virus Disease respond positively to localised case handling: evidence from Sierra Leone’, PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(1): e0007666.

[6]Pronyk, P., Rogers, B., Lee, S., Bhatnagar, A., Wolman, Y., Monasch, R., Hipgrave, D., Salama, P., Kucharski, A., Chopra, M., and on behalf of the UNICEF Sierra Leone Ebola Response Team, (2016) ‘The effect of community-based prevention and care on Ebola transmission in Sierra Leone’,American Journal of Public Health 106, 727–32,

[7]Aaaron Walawalkar and Jamie Grierson, The Guardian,8 March 2020, 14.12 GMT.

[8]Whitty, C.J.M., Farrar, J., Ferguson, N., Edmunds, W.J., Piot, P., Leach, M., Davies, S.C. (2014) ‘Tough choices to reduce Ebola transmission’, Nature515, 13 November, 192–4; see also Ian Sample and Lisa O’Carroll ‘Prof Chris Whitty – the expert we need in the coronavirus crisis’, Guardian,4 March 2020.

[9]Hellewell, J. et al. (2020) ‘Feasibility of controlling Covid-19 outbreaks by isolation of cases and contacts’, Lancet, 28 February 2020,

How Spanish flu helped create Sweden’s modern welfare state (The Guardian)

The 1918 pandemic ravaged the remote city of Östersund. But its legacy is a city – and country – well-equipped to deal with 21st century challenges

Brian Melican

Wed 29 Aug 2018 07.15 BST Last modified on Mon 3 Feb 2020 12.47 GMT

Archive black and white picture Östersund
Spanish flu reached Östersund a century ago. Photograph: Alamy

On 15 September 1918, a 12-year-old boy named Karl Karlsson who lived just outside Östersund, Sweden, wrote a short diary entry: “Two who died of Spanish flu buried today. A few snowflakes in the air.”

For all its brevity and matter-of-fact tone, Karlsson’s journal makes grim reading. It is 100 years since a particularly virulent strain of avian flu, known as the Spanish flu despite probably originating in America, ravaged the globe, killing somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people. While its effects were felt everywhere, it struck particularly hard in Östersund, earning the city the nickname “capital of the Spanish flu”.

“Looking back through contemporaneous accounts was quite creepy,” says Jim Hedlund at the city’s state archive. “As many people died in two months as generally died in a whole year. I even found out that three of my forbears were buried on the same day.”

There were three main reasons why the flu hit this remote city so hard: Östersund had speedy railway connections, several army regiments stationed in close quarters and a malnourished population living in cramped accommodation. As neutral Sweden kept its armed forces on high alert between 1914 and 1918, the garrison town’s population swelled from 9,000 to 13,000.

By 1917, when navvies poured in and construction started on an inland railway to the north, widespread food shortages had led to violent workers’ demonstrations and a near mutiny among the army units.

The city became a hotbed of political activism. Its small size put the unequal distribution of wealth in early industrial society under the microscope. While working-class families crowded into insalubrious accommodation, wealthy tourists from other parts of Sweden and further afield came for the fresh mountain air and restorative waters – as well as the excellent fishing and elk hunting (passionate angler Winston Churchill was a regular visitor).

“The catastrophic spread of the flu was in no small part down to the authorities’ bewilderment and often clumsy reactions” – Hans Jacobsson, historian

“Many of the demonstrators’ concerns seem strikingly modern,” says Hedlund, pointing to a copy of a political poster that reads: “Tourists out of our buildings in times of crisis. Butter, milk and potatoes for workers!”

It wasn’t just the urban proletariat demanding better accommodation. At Sweden’s first ever national convention of the indigenous Sami peoples held in Östersund in early 1918, delegates demanded an end to discriminatory policies that forced them to live in tents.

Social inequality in the city meant the Spanish flu hit all the harder.

As the epidemic raged in late August, when around 20 people were dying daily, the city’s bank director Carl Lignell withdrew funds from Stockholm without authorisation and requisitioned a school for use as a hospital (the city didn’t have one).

View of Ostersund
‘You can drop your kids off at kindergarten on the way to work and be out hiking or skiing by late afternoon.’ Photograph: Sergei Bobylev/TASS Advertisement

“If it hadn’t been for him, Östersund might quite literally have disappeared,” says Hedlund. For a brief period, Lignell worked like a benevolent dictator, quarantining suspected cases in their homes – and revealing the squalor in which they lived.

As his hastily convened medical team moved through Östersund, they found whole families crowded into wooden shacks, just a few streets away from the proud, stone-built civic structures. In some homes, sick children lay on the floor for want of beds.

The local newspaper Östersunds-Posten asked rhetorically: “Who would have thought that in our fine city there could be such awful destitution?”

People of all political convictions and stations in life started cooperating in a city otherwise riven by the class divisions of early industrial society. Östersunds-Posten itself moved from simply reporting on the epidemic to helping to organise relief, publishing calls for money, food and clothing, and opening its offices for use as storerooms. The state had proven itself inadequate, as historian Hans Jacobsson wrote: “The catastrophic spread of the Spanish flu in 1918 was in no small part down to the authorities’ bewilderment and often clumsy reactions.”

“After the epidemic, the state made tentative steps towards a cooperative approach to social reform” – Jim Hedlund, archivist

He cites the fact that Stockholm High Command refused to halt planned military exercises for weeks, despite the fact that regimental sickbays were overflowing. “What is interesting is that, after the epidemic, the state dropped investigations against Lignell and made tentative steps towards a cooperative approach to social reform. Issues such as poor nutrition and housing were on the political agenda,” says Hedlund. Anyone trying to date the inception of Sweden’s welfare state cannot overlook the events of autumn 1918.

One hundred years on, there are few better places than Östersund to see the effects of Sweden’s much-vaunted social model. The city is once again growing rapidly, but nothing could seem further away than epidemics and political radicalism. The left of centre Social Democrats have been in power in city hall since 1994, and council leader AnnSofie Andersson has made housing a priority – new developments are spacious, well-ordered and equipped with schools and playgrounds.

“There’s nothing that shows confidence like building stuff,” she says. “In fact, our local authority building partnership should, in my view, keep a small excess of flats in hand, because without a reserve people won’t move here.”

Östersund attracts a net inflow of people from southern Sweden. “It’s partly a quality of life issue,” says Andersson. “You can drop your kids off at kindergarten in the morning on the way to work and be out hiking or skiing by late afternoon.”

The city has recovered from the relocation of the Swedish armed forces fighter jet squadron in the 1990s by playing to its strengths: sports and tourism. A university now occupies the old barracks with a special focus on sports materials and technology. The airbase has become a thriving airport, handling half a million passengers a year.

Despite the net inflow of working-age people however, Östersund is facing a demographic challenge as baby boomers begin to retire. The shortages are being felt most acutely at the regional health authority, which occupies the Epidemisjukhusthe building hastily converted into wards during the Spanish flu by Carl Lignell. Clinical staff are proving hard to find and retain, and the region’s health service is underfunded. Some residents still suggest solving that lack of funding from central government “the Jämtland way”, like Lignell once did.

History doesn’t repeat itself identically, though. Sweden’s consensus-orientated political model now tends to defuse conflict even in proud cities with a liking for mavericks. One of Andersson’s strategies for dealing with the approaching lack of labour, for instance, is cooperating with local and national institutions to train up the young refugees the city has welcomed since 2015.

“School starts tomorrow – for the last time,” confides Karl Karlsson to his journal on 4 September 1918. “I leave in spring and it feels melancholy. I like farming, but I would still prefer to continue at school and study. But it’s impossible.” Ten days later, he notes that his family’s food stores are running low. “We’re almost out of flour and bread, the barley hasn’t dried yet, and we shan’t get any more rations, everything is being requisitioned.”

One hundred years later, a city – and a society – once unable to educate or even feed its youth is now one of the world’s wealthiest and fairest.

Coronavírus e as quebradas: 16 perguntas ainda sem resposta sobre impacto da pandemia nas periferias (Periferia em Movimento)

Publicado porThiago Borges –

Precisamos falar sobre o novo coronavírus, mas sem pânico.

Nesta quinta-feira (12/03), o Brasil acordou com 52 pessoas infectadas pelo coronavírus e foi dormir com 69 casos confirmados. Em todo o mundo, são 122 mil casos confirmados e mais de 4.500 mortes registradas. A Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) declarou pandemia, isto é, o vírus deixou de ser restrito determinadas regiões e passa a ser uma questão de saúde pública global.

A taxa de mortalidade do novo vírus, ainda sem vacina, é considerada baixa – em torno de 3% dos casos – e atinge principalmente pessoas com maior vulnerabilidade, como idosos ou com doenças pré-existentes (como diabetes, câncer, etc.).

Com mais de 50 casos no País, o Ministério da Saúde do governo de Jair Bolsonaro alerta que a transmissão deve se dar de forma geométrica – isto é, deixa de ser restrita a pessoas que se infectaram em outras regiões do mundo e passa a acontecer no próprio território.

Segundo o Instituto Pensi do Hospital Infantil Sabará, após atingir 50 casos confirmados o total de infectados no Brasil pode aumentar para 4.000 casos em 15 dias e cerca de 30.000 depois de 21 dias.

Com isso, o vírus deve se expandir rapidamente nas próximas semanas e o Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS) precisaria de 3.200 novos leitos em UTI (Unidade de Terapia Intensiva) para dar conta da demanda – 95% dos 16.000 leitos de hoje já estão ocupados.

Dito isso, nós moradoras e moradores de periferias urbanas, povos da floresta e marginalizados em geral, precisamos nos atentar com as medidas de prevenção (confira no gráfico abaixo) mas também com efeitos colaterais dessa pandemia no nosso dia a dia.

Muito se fala no impacto da pandemia sobre a economia global. Mas em um País marcado por desigualdade social, machismo, racismo e LGBTfobia, com cortes em políticas públicas e desemprego recorde, o coronavírus tem potencial de impactar não apenas nossa saúde como também nossa frágil convivência em sociedade. Precisamos de solidariedade e vigilância nesse momento.

Por isso, a Periferia em Movimento faz 16 perguntas ainda sem resposta (a lista continua em atualização) sobre esse novo cenário:

1. As periferias vão receber recursos da saúde de forma proporcional às nossas necessidades?

2. O governo vai adotar medidas de confinamento ou restrição de circulação de pessoas?

3. Como fazer quarentena em área de aglomeração, como periferias e favelas?

4. Os governantes vão acionar a Polícia Militar pra controlar a população nas periferias?

5. Se rolar quarentena, quem vai dirigir os ônibus, fazer o pão de cada dia e entregar a comida do ifood no apartamento da classe média?

6. Com o desemprego recorde e o mercado informal em alta, pessoas que vivem de bico vão conseguir fazer dinheiro como?

7. Se as aulas forem suspensas, com quem ficarão as crianças que frequentam creches em período integral?

8. Sem aulas, sem merenda: estudantes em situação de insegurança alimentar vão passar fome se não forem pra escola?

9. Ainda sobre a suspensão das aulas, qual é o risco da explosão de casos de violência sexual contra crianças e adolescentes – que passarão mais tempo em casa?

10. O maior tempo em casa também aumenta o risco de mulheres sofrerem violência de seus companheiros?

11. E com mais pessoas com circulação restrita, o risco de conflitos em comunidades também aumenta?

12. Como os governantes avaliam as possibilidades de aumento em todos os tipos de violência com essa pandemia?

13. Como idosos em situação de vulnerabilidade serão assistidos pelo governo?

14. De que forma, a pandemia deve impactar a população em situação de rua?

15. Como ficam os presidiários, que já vivem em situações de aglomeração, tortura e com doenças que estão controladas no mundo externo?

16. E como serão atendidos os indígenas, que necessitam de estratégias específicas de saúde devido à menor imunidade a doenças transmitidas desde a invasão europeia ao continente americano?

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ARTIGO: Pandemia de coronavírus é um teste de nossos sistemas, valores e humanidade (Nações Unidas Brasil)

Publicado em 13/03/2020. Atualizado em 13/03/2020

Em artigo publicado na imprensa internacional, a alta-comissária da ONU para direitos humanos, Michelle Bachelet, e o alto-comissário da ONU para refugiados, Filippo Grandi, afirmam que a doença provocada pelo novo coronavírus, a Covid-19, é um teste não apenas de nossos sistemas e mecanismos de assistência médica para responder a doenças infecciosas, mas também de nossa capacidade de trabalharmos juntos como uma comunidade de nações diante de um desafio comum.

“É um teste da cobertura dos benefícios de décadas de progresso social e econômico em relação aqueles que vivem à margem de nossas sociedades, mais distantes das alavancas do poder.”

Um jovem refugiado lava as mãos em Mafraq, na Jordânia, onde um sistema de aquecimento movido a energia solar, instalado com o apoio da IKEA Foundation e da Practical Action, ajuda a fornecer água quente. Foto: ACNUR/Hannah Maule-ffinch

Um jovem refugiado lava as mãos em Mafraq, na Jordânia, onde um sistema de aquecimento movido a energia solar, instalado com o apoio da IKEA Foundation e da Practical Action, ajuda a fornecer água quente. Foto: ACNUR/Hannah Maule-ffinch

Por Michelle Bachelet e Filippo Grandi*

Se nós precisávamos lembrar que vivemos em um mundo interconectado, o novo coronavírus tornou isso mais claro do que nunca.

Nenhum país pode resolver esse problema sozinho, e nenhuma parcela de nossa sociedade pode ser desconsiderada se quisermos efetivamente enfrentar este desafio global.

O Covid-19 é um teste não apenas de nossos sistemas e mecanismos de assistência médica para responder a doenças infecciosas, mas também de nossa capacidade de trabalharmos juntos como uma comunidade de nações diante de um desafio comum.

É um teste da cobertura dos benefícios de décadas de progresso social e econômico em relação aqueles que vivem à margem de nossas sociedades, mais distantes das alavancas do poder.

As próximas semanas e meses desafiarão o planejamento nacional de crises e os sistemas de proteção civil — e certamente irão expor deficiências em saneamento, habitação e outros fatores que moldam os resultados de saúde.

Nossa resposta a essa epidemia deve abranger e focar, de fato, naqueles a quem a sociedade negligencia ou rebaixa a um status menor. Caso contrário, ela falhará.

A saúde de todas as pessoas está ligada à saúde dos membros mais marginalizados da comunidade. Prevenir a disseminação desse vírus requer alcance a todos e garantia de acesso equitativo ao tratamento.

Isso significa superar as barreiras existentes para cuidados de saúde acessíveis e combater o tratamento diferenciado há muito tempo baseado em renda, gênero, geografia, raça e etnia, religião ou status social.

Superar paradigmas sistêmicos que ignoram os direitos e as necessidades de mulheres e meninas ou, por exemplo, limitar o acesso e a participação de grupos minoritários será crucial para a prevenção e tratamento eficazes do COVID-19.

As pessoas que vivem em instituições — idosos ou detidos — provavelmente são mais vulneráveis ​​à infecção e devem ser especificamente incluídas no planejamento e resposta à crise.

Migrantes e refugiados — independentemente de seu status formal — devem ser plenamente incluídos nos sistemas e planos nacionais de combate ao vírus. Muitas dessas mulheres, homens e crianças se encontram em locais onde os serviços de saúde estão sobrecarregados ou inacessíveis.

Eles podem estar confinados em abrigos, assentamentos, ou vivendo em favelas urbanas onde a superlotação e o saneamento com poucos recursos aumentam o risco de exposição.

O apoio internacional é urgentemente necessário para ajudar os países anfitriões a intensificar os serviços — tanto para refugiados e migrantes quanto para as comunidades locais — e incluí-los nos acordos nacionais de vigilância, prevenção e resposta. Não fazer isso colocará em risco a saúde de todos — e o risco de aumentar a hostilidade e o estigma.

Também é vital que qualquer restrição nos controles das fronteiras, restrições de viagem ou limitações à liberdade de movimento não impeça as pessoas que possam estar fugindo da guerra ou perseguição de acessar a segurança e proteção.

Além desses desafios muito imediatos, o coronavírus também testará, sem dúvida, nossos princípios, valores e humanidade compartilhada.

Espalhando-se rapidamente pelo mundo, com a incerteza em torno do número de infecções e com uma vacina ainda a muitos meses de distância, o vírus está provocando ansiedade e medos profundos em indivíduos e sociedades.

Sem dúvida, algumas pessoas sem escrúpulos procurarão tirar vantagem disso, manipulando medos genuínos e aumentando as preocupações.

Quando o medo e a incerteza surgem, os bodes expiatórios nunca estão longe. Já vimos raiva e hostilidade dirigidas a algumas pessoas de origem do leste asiático.

Se continuar assim, o desejo de culpar e excluir poderá em breve se estender a outros grupos — minorias, marginalizados ou qualquer pessoa rotulada como “estrangeira”.

As pessoas em deslocamento, incluindo refugiados, podem ser particularmente alvo. No entanto, o próprio coronavírus não discrimina; os infectados até o momento incluem turistas, empresários internacionais e até ministros nacionais, que estão localizados em dezenas de países, abrangendo todos os continentes.

O pânico e a discriminação nunca resolveram uma crise. Os líderes políticos devem assumir a liderança, conquistando confiança através de informações transparentes e oportunas, trabalhando juntos para o bem comum e capacitando as pessoas a participar na proteção da saúde.

Ceder espaço a boatos, medos e histeria não apenas prejudicará a resposta, mas poderá ter implicações mais amplas para os direitos humanos e para o funcionamento de instituições democráticas responsáveis.

Atualmente, nenhum país pode se isolar do impacto do coronavírus, tanto no sentido literal quanto econômico e social, como demonstram as bolsas de valores e as escolas fechadas.

Uma resposta internacional que garanta que os países em desenvolvimento estejam equipados para diagnosticar, tratar e prevenir esta doença será crucial para proteger a saúde de bilhões de pessoas.

A Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) está fornecendo experiência, vigilância, sistemas, investigação de casos, rastreamento de contatos, pesquisa e desenvolvimento de vacinas. É a prova de que a solidariedade internacional e os sistemas multilaterais são mais vitais do que nunca.

A longo prazo, devemos acelerar o trabalho de construção de serviços de saúde pública equitativos e acessíveis. E a maneira como reagimos a essa crise agora, sem dúvida, moldará esses esforços nas próximas décadas.

Se nossa resposta ao coronavírus estiver fundamentada nos princípios de confiança pública, transparência, respeito e empatia pelos mais vulneráveis, não apenas defenderemos os direitos intrínsecos de todo ser humano; usaremos e criaremos as ferramentas mais eficazes para garantir que possamos superar essa crise e aprender lições para o futuro.

*Michelle Bachelet é a alta-comissária da ONU para direitos humanos. Filippo Grandi é o alto-comissário da ONU para refugiados. Este artigo foi originalmente publicado no site The Telegraph.

Here’s Why Coronavirus And Climate Change Are Different Sorts Of Policy Problems (Forbes)

Editors’ Pick | Mar 15, 2020, 07:05pm EST

Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash

Contributor Green Tech

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, on March 13, 2020, amid an outbreak of COVID-19, the new coronavirus. Photo by OLAF KRAAK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images.

Climate protection and public health have striking similarities. The benefits of both can be enjoyed by everyone, even by individuals who do not contribute to the collective efforts to address these problems. If climate change slows down, both drivers of gas-guzzlers and electric cars will benefit – although the former did not help in climate efforts. Similarly, if the spread of Coronavirus is halted (the so-called flattening the curve), individuals who refused to wash their hands, as well as the ones who washed them assiduously, will enjoy the restored normal life.

Most countries have gotten their acts together, although belatedly, on Coronavirus. Citizens also seem to be following the advice of public health officials. Could then the Coronavirus policy model be applied to climate change? We urge caution because these crises are different, which means that policies that worked well for Coronavirus might not be effective for climate change.

Different Penalties for Policy and Behavioral Procrastination

Climate change is the defining crisis of our times. Floods, hurricanes, forest fires, and extreme weather events have become more frequent and severe over the years. Although climate change generates passionate discussions in big cities and university campuses, there is inadequate public clamor for immediate action. Some types of decarbonization policies are certainly in place. However, carbon-intensive lifestyles continue (with “flying shame” in Scandinavia being an exception). Today In: Green Tech

This policy lethargy and behavioral inertia are due to many reasons, including concerted opposition by the fossil fuel industry to deep decarbonization. But there are other reasons as well. Climate change is cumulative and does not have a quick onset. Its effects are not always immediate and visible. Many individuals probably do not see a clear link  between their actions and the eventual outcome. This reduces the willingness to alter lifestyles and tolerate personal sacrifices for the collective good.

In contrast, Coronavirus is forcing an immediate policy response and behavioral changes. Its causality is clear and its onset quick. Lives are at stake, especially in western countries. The stock markets are tanking, and the economy is heading towards a recession. Politicians recognize that waffling can lead to massive consequences, even in the short-term. Corona-skeptic President Trump has reversed course and declared a national emergency.

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In the US, there is federal inaction on climate change. But Coronavirus seems different. 2020 is a Presidential election year, and perhaps this motivates the federal government to (finally) act decisively so that Coronavirus does not become Hurricane Katrina type of political liability.

Spatial Optimism

Climate policies are hobbled by “spatial optimism,” whereby individuals believe that their risk of getting affected by climate change is less than for others. This reduces the willingness to tolerate personal sacrifices for deep decarbonization.

Coronavirus episode began with some level of spatial optimism in the Western world. After all, it was happening in China. But this confidence has quickly disappeared. Globalization means a lot of international travel and trade. China is the main global supplier of many products. Prominent companies such as Apple (AAPL) and Tesla (TSLA) depend on China for manufacturing and sales of their products. Spatial optimism has been overwhelmed by international travel as well as globalized supply chains and financial markets.

Belief in the Efficacy of Adaptation

Some might believe that climate change can be “managed.” Innovators will probably develop commercial-scale negative carbon technologies and societies will adapt to sea-level rise by building seawalls, or maybe relocating some communities to safer areas.

Coronavirus offers no such comfort. Unlike the seasonal flu, there is no vaccine (yet). It is difficult to adapt to the Coronavirus threat when you don’t know what to touch, where to go, and if your family members and neighbors are infected. Not to mention, how many rolls of tissue paper you need to stock before the supplies run out at the local grocery store.

Different Incentives to Attack Scientific Knowledge

On Coronavirus, citizens seem to be willing to follow the advice of public health professionals (at least when it comes to social distancing as reflected in empty roads and shopping centers). Every word of Dr. Anthony Fauci counts.

Why has this advice not drawn scorn from politicians who are suspicious of the “deep state”? After all, the same politicians attack scientific consensus on climate change.

Climate skeptics probably see substantial political and economic payoffs by delaying climate action. Stock markets have not penalized climate skepticism in the US: markets hit record high levels in the first three years of the Trump presidency. And, climate opposition is not leading to electoral losses. On the contrary, the climate agendas in liberal states, such as Oregon and Washington, have stalled.  

Nobody seems to gain by attacking scientific consensus to delay policy action on Coronavirus. Airlines, hospitality, and tourism industries, who have taken a direct hit from social-distancing policies, probably want the problem to be quickly addressed so that people can get back to their “normal” lives.

US politicians who talk about the “deep state,” may want Coronavirus issue resolved before the November 2020 election. Attacking science does not further their political objectives. After all, the looming recession and the stock market decline could influence the election outcomes.

Depth, Scale, and Duration of Changes

Climate policy will cause economic and social dislocation. Decarbonization means that some industries will shut down. Jobs will be lost, and communities will suffer unless “just transition” policies are in place.

Coronavirus policies will probably not cause long-term structural changes in the economy. People will resume flying, tourists will flock to Venice, Rome, and Paris, and the basketball arenas will again overflow with spectators.

However, some short-term measures could lead to long-term changes. For example, individuals may realize that telecommuting is easy and efficient. As a result, they may permanently reduce their work-related travel. Coronavirus may provide the sort of a “nudge” that shifts long-term behavioral preferences.

In sum, the contrast between the rapid response to Coronavirus and policy waffling on climate change reveals how citizens think of risk and how this shapes their willingness to incur costs for the collective good. Further, it suggests that politicians respect science when its recommendations serve their political ends.

Nives Dolsak is Stan and Alta Barer Professor in Sustainability Science and Director of the School of Marine & Environmental Affairs. Aseem Prakash is the Walker Family Professor and the Director of the Center for Environmental Politics. Both are at the University of Washington, Seattle.  

You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism – from within (The Guardian)

What does it look like when an ideology dies? As with most things, fiction can be the best guide. In Red Plenty, his magnificent novel-cum-history of the Soviet Union, Francis Spufford charts how the communist dream of building a better, fairer society fell apart.

Even while they censored their citizens’ very thoughts, the communists dreamed big. Spufford’s hero is Leonid Kantorovich, the only Soviet ever to win a Nobel prize for economics. Rattling along on the Moscow metro, he fantasises about what plenty will bring to his impoverished fellow commuters: “The women’s clothes all turning to quilted silk, the military uniforms melting into tailored grey and silver: and faces, faces the length of the car, relaxing, losing the worry lines and the hungry looks and all the assorted toothmarks of necessity.”

But reality makes swift work of such sandcastles. The numbers are increasingly disobedient. The beautiful plans can only be realised through cheating, and the draughtsmen know it better than any dissidents. This is one of Spufford’s crucial insights: that long before any public protests, the insiders led the way in murmuring their disquiet. Whisper by whisper, memo by memo, the regime is steadily undermined from within. Its final toppling lies decades beyond the novel’s close, yet can already be spotted.

When Red Plenty was published in 2010, it was clear the ideology underpinning contemporary capitalism was failing, but not that it was dying. Yet a similar process as that described in the novel appears to be happening now, in our crisis-hit capitalism. And it is the very technocrats in charge of the system who are slowly, reluctantly admitting that it is bust.

You hear it when the Bank of England’s Mark Carney sounds the alarm about “a low-growth, low-inflation, low-interest-rate equilibrium”. Or when the Bank of International Settlements, the central bank’s central bank, warns that “the global economy seems unable to return to sustainable and balanced growth”. And you saw it most clearly last Thursday from the IMF.

What makes the fund’s intervention so remarkable is not what is being said – but who is saying it and just how bluntly. In the IMF’s flagship publication, three of its top economists have written an essay titled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?”.

The very headline delivers a jolt. For so long mainstream economists and policymakers have denied the very existence of such a thing as neoliberalism, dismissing it as an insult invented by gap-toothed malcontents who understand neither economics nor capitalism. Now here comes the IMF, describing how a “neoliberal agenda” has spread across the globe in the past 30 years. What they mean is that more and more states have remade their social and political institutions into pale copies of the market. Two British examples, suggests Will Davies – author of the Limits of Neoliberalism – would be the NHS and universities “where classrooms are being transformed into supermarkets”. In this way, the public sector is replaced by private companies, and democracy is supplanted by mere competition.

The results, the IMF researchers concede, have been terrible. Neoliberalism hasn’t delivered economic growth – it has only made a few people a lot better off. It causes epic crashes that leave behind human wreckage and cost billions to clean up, a finding with which most residents of food bank Britain would agree. And while George Osborne might justify austerity as “fixing the roof while the sun is shining”, the fund team defines it as “curbing the size of the state … another aspect of the neoliberal agenda”. And, they say, its costs “could be large – much larger than the benefit”.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde with George Osborne.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde with George Osborne. ‘Since 2008, a big gap has opened up between what the IMF thinks and what it does.’ Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Two things need to be borne in mind here. First, this study comes from the IMF’s research division – not from those staffers who fly into bankrupt countries, haggle over loan terms with cash-strapped governments and administer the fiscal waterboarding. Since 2008, a big gap has opened up between what the IMF thinks and what it does. Second, while the researchers go much further than fund watchers might have believed, they leave in some all-important get-out clauses. The authors even defend privatisation as leading to “more efficient provision of services” and less government spending – to which the only response must be to offer them a train ride across to Hinkley Point C.

Even so, this is a remarkable breach of the neoliberal consensus by the IMF. Inequality and the uselessness of much modern finance: such topics have become regular chew toys for economists and politicians, who prefer to treat them as aberrations from the norm. At last a major institution is going after not only the symptoms but the cause – and it is naming that cause as political. No wonder the study’s lead author says that this research wouldn’t even have been published by the fund five years ago.

From the 1980s the policymaking elite has waved away the notion that they were acting ideologically – merely doing “what works”. But you can only get away with that claim if what you’re doing is actually working. Since the crash, central bankers, politicians and TV correspondents have tried to reassure the public that this wheeze or those billions would do the trick and put the economy right again. They have riffled through every page in the textbook and beyond – bank bailouts, spending cuts, wage freezes, pumping billions into financial markets – and still growth remains anaemic.

And the longer the slump goes on, the more the public tumbles to the fact that not only has growth been feebler, but ordinary workers have enjoyed much less of its benefits. Last year the rich countries’ thinktank, the OECD, made a remarkable concession. It acknowledged that the share of UK economic growth enjoyed by workers is now at its lowest since the second world war. Even more remarkably, it said the same or worse applied to workers across the capitalist west.

Red Plenty ends with Nikita Khrushchev pacing outside his dacha, to where he has been forcibly retired. “Paradise,” he exclaims, “is a place where people want to end up, not a place they run from. What kind of socialism is that? What kind of shit is that, when you have to keep people in chains? What kind of social order? What kind of paradise?”

Economists don’t talk like novelists, more’s the pity, but what you’re witnessing amid all the graphs and technical language is the start of the long death of an ideology.

Gangbusters: How the Upsurge in Anti-Gang Tactics Will Hurt Communities of Color (Truthout)

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:00 By Josmar Trujillo, Truthout | News Analysis 

Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Bronx activist Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son, who was killed by police, and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Dozens of alleged gang members were arrested in December when police raids swept through public housing developments in the Bronx, following similar raids in September and July of 2015. A December multipart Daily News special investigation, packaged behind a “Gangs of New York” front-page cover, reported on the prevalence of gangs throughout New York City, even publishing a map detailing alleged “ganglands.” New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton, in an op-ed published in the same edition, called the gang activity “violence for its own sake.”

As arrests and indictments pile up to form a media narrative of senseless violence and seemingly irredeemable youth, there are public housing and criminal justice reform advocates who want a different approach. They say that poverty is the underlying root cause of violence – one that cops and gang raids cannot solve.

Shanice Farrar, 42, is the mother of Shaaliver Douse, a teenager killed by cops in 2013 while, police say, he was chasing and shooting at another young man. Farrar is a single mother who has worked as a fire guard (someone who patrols areas lacking functioning fire protection systems) for almost eight years, at times working in the same Bronx public housing development, the Morris Houses, where she and her son lived. She always had dual concerns for Shaalie, as his friends called him: the neighborhood violence and the police who harassed him. She vividly remembers the night he didn’t come home. After calling and texting Shaalie’s phone all night, Farrar woke up on the morning of August 4, 2013, to the sounds of cops banging on her door. NYPD detectives told Farrar that her son had been killed in a shoot-out with police. They said Shaalie was shot in the face after ignoring orders to drop a gun.

Ray Kelly, the NYPD police commissioner at the time, said that Shaalie’s death was justified. Police said they had surveillance footage of him running with a gun. But footage released by the NYPD is incomplete. Images show a young man in a white shirt, purportedly Shaalie, chasing someone around a corner on 151st Street in the Melrose section of the Bronx. The confrontation with cops, where police claim he was told to drop the gun, isn’t seen. Farrar says she’s been denied access to other video angles, as well as the names of the rookie cops who shot her son.

Shaalie’s name and reputation were scrutinized immediately following his death. The newspapers’ presentation of his past arrests as an affirmation of his criminality weren’t fair to him or his family, Farrar says. The New York Daily News described Shaalie as a young man with a “growing rap sheet” and a follow-up story used unnamed sources to claim that Shaalie was, in fact, in a gang. Criminal charges her son was facing were bogus, Farrar insists. In 2012, Shaalie, then 13, was charged with attempted murder. Shaalie told his mom that he’d in fact been robbed at gunpoint by some boys from another housing complex. When cops showed up, everyone ran. Cops caught Shaalie, who didn’t want to cooperate. They told him that if he didn’t tell them whose gun it was, they’d pin the gun, which they found abandoned in some nearby grass, on him. Attempted murder charges were dropped to weapons possession charges when witnesses recanted. After several court dates, the judge in the case suggested that the whole case would soon be thrown out, Farrar says.

New York’s Turn Toward Gang Conspiracy Charges

Building criminal cases and indicting young men with gang conspiracy charges is quickly becoming a favored law enforcement approach in New York – one that’s getting more sophisticated. The NYPD and some of the city’s top prosecutors are targeting mostly young men, usually those living in public housing, with a blend of modern surveillance and conspiracy charges developed in the 1970s to take down the mafia. Raids are usually the final leg of the NYPD’s Operation Crew Cut, a police tactic that targets “crews” – a looser grouping of young people often compared to gangs – by building criminal cases often off of what is obtained from their online activity. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has been involved in gang raids in East Harlem, indicting 63 men in 2013, and West Harlem, indicting 103 in 2014 – the city’s largest raid ever. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson launched several smaller raids in the Bronx in 2015.

If attempts to get young people to turn away from violence can be described as either carrot or stick approaches, then Operation Ceasefire, a law enforcement initiative based largely on the work of John Jay College’s David Kennedy, is said to offer some carrots. With the help of Susan Herman, a former Pace University professor turned NYPD deputy commissioner, Kennedy’s ideas have gained traction at the police department under Bratton. Herman’s husband, John Jay College president Jeremy Travis, works with Kennedy and used to work for Bratton in the 1990s. With a nearly $5 million grant from the Department of Justice and early influence on the president’s national police reform agenda, Kennedy is one of the most in-demand criminal justice minds in the country.

Like Crew Cut, Ceasefire focuses on a small amount of alleged perpetrators, said to be responsible for a large portion of shootings and murders. This so-called “focused-deterrence” strategy also claims to offer pathways away from violence for suspected perpetrators as cops and community figures partner to dissuade young people from violence. A similar NYPD program focused on robberies, the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (J-RIP), has, even by police accounts, shown no effect. The Ceasefire model, perhaps, can differ from city to city. In New York, the chief of department sat down with alleged gang members, mandated to attend through parole agreements, to eat pizza and inform them that they’re being watched. In other cases, cops simply keep close tabs on who they say are the city’s most likely killers, busting them for small infractions like jaywalking. In the 12 precincts where Ceasefire is being formally implemented, shootings are down, but murders are up.

While Ceasefire ostensibly offers a multilayer approach, described by Bratton as a mix between “intensive enforcement” and “genuine offers of assistance,” there is a clear emphasis on the enforcement side as police efforts “pretty much hang a sword over (gang members’) heads.”

“Look, if you or your gang is involved in violent activities then we’re all going to come after you. It’s not just going to be local authorities but the feds and we’ll try to get you every which way we can,” Bratton warned. “When we get them convicted, we get them shipped off to federal prisons so they’re not going to be able to hang out with all their buddies up in the state prisons.”

Criticisms of the Ceasefire Approach to Policing

Alex Vitale, an associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, says that some of the city’s efforts to fight violence seem “contradictory” and make little sense. “On the one hand, we’ve seen small increases in the amount of money being devoted to community-based violence reduction efforts in the form of peer violence interrupters and increased services for high-risk youth,” he told Truthout. “On the other hand, the city has invested heavily in new policing strategies that rely on intensive punitive enforcement measures targeting these same populations of young people.” Vitale believes that the law enforcement approach can “actually disrupt the efforts of community-based groups to encourage young people off the streets and into school and employment.”

Programs like Crew Cut and Ceasefire “rely on threats and punishment” and often “run counter to the efforts to reduce youth crime,” Vitale said. He thinks violence intervention work and community-based peer violence mediation offer much more promising alternatives without hinging on police raids or lengthy prison sentences. “Intensive policing undermines those efforts and destabilizes the relationships they are building with these young people,” he added. Wraparound social services, and not gang raids, should be the focus, Vitale says, because poor communities “need more access to real resources that can provide these young people real avenues out of poverty and despair.”

Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Lessons From New Orleans

Ethan Brown is a licensed investigator in Louisiana. He works on the defense side of drug cases in New Orleans and moved there from New York in 2007. Brown is a critic of Ceasefire and of Kennedy, whom he describes as “this generation’s George Kelling” (a prominent criminologist who is credited with developing the “broken windows” theory of policing). Brown says New Orleans’ supposed success with its own Ceasefire-style efforts, which it launched in 2012, isn’t necessarily backed up by the numbers. Post-Katrina New Orleans has been the murder capital of the United States almost every year. It had the highest murder rate for a US city every year between 2000 and 2011, except for 2005. Brown says that despite dedicating tremendous police resources to fight violence, the city has only seen a modest reduction in the murder rate.

New Orleans offers an interesting test case, since the city has also employed a historically abusive police force – creating a barrier between police and the community with which they’re supposed to collaborate. In 2012, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) was placed under a federal consent decree after authorities described the police there as “lawless.” Federal investigations had gone back to the 1990s, but the monitoring program was an overt acknowledgement that the department could not reform itself.

The stories were the stuff of nightmares. Henry Glover was killed by cops in 2005, a few days after Hurricane Katrina struck. His body was found shot and burned inside a car, the fire used as a cover-up by police officers. The infamous Danziger Bridge incident, where NOPD cops shot six people, killing two, and lied that they had been shot at, invited national outrage. There was also the tale of Melvin “Flattop” Williams, the infamously aggressive Black cop ultimately convicted of killing an unarmed man in 2012, fracturing his ribs and rupturing his spleen.

In 2010, a new mayor, Democrat Mitch Landrieu, became the first white mayor of New Orleans since 1978, when Moon Landrieu, his father, ran the city. Landrieu’s administration brought with it promises of police reform and a new police chief, Ronal Serpas. While Serpas was expected to deal with the controversial misconduct and killings at the NOPD, he instead sought to tackle the murder rate. In 2012, he and Landrieu brought in Kennedy to help form “NOLA for Life,” an anti-violence initiative built largely on the Ceasefire model. Reductions in the murder rate seemed promising, falling in 2013 and 2014. However, the murder rate rose again in 2015. And, in fact, murders had already begun to fall from 2011 to 2012, before NOLA for Life. Other cities, like Los Angeles, have seen similarly mixed results. Boston, where Ceasefire originated, initially had big drops in murders, but saw those numbers climb again as the model proved unsustainable.

While NOLA for Life promotes an inspiring array of “carrots,” like job postings and mentoring, the law enforcement “stick” was more like a “bazooka” in New Orleans, according to Brown. “Since 2012, there’ve been an extraordinary number of gang indictments. The sentences that people face are immense, like ones you’d give to drug cartels,” he told Truthout. Brown also thinks that police and prosecutors are casting too wide a net when gangs are targeted.

“The notion of a ‘crew’ or ‘gang’ affiliation is spread so wide, the definition becomes completely elastic,” he said. In this regard, Brown sees business as usual. “[Ceasefire] is presented as some radically new law enforcement approach … but actually, particularly at the federal level, these things have been going on for decades,” he said. And the “carrot” side of the equation? “The cure is unspecified social services that no one has been able to figure out.”

More Sticks Than Carrots

A 2007 Justice Policy Institute report by Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis found not only that the Ceasefire model failed to deliver on some of its violence-reducing claims, but also that the “carrot” side of the model “always lagged behind the suppression side,” or the “stick.” Greene and Pranis criticized the broader gang enforcement tactics that operate on the suppression end as “ineffectual, if not counterproductive.” Specifically, the report points to efforts of police to intensely target gang “leaders” as problematic because destabilizing gangs, which can produce new leaders, can also risk more violence.

Resources spent on gang suppression include money spent on arrests, prosecutions and jail terms. Neighborhood costs include young people being carted off to jail for things they may or may not have done, or simply said they might do, and serving long sentences in prisons – where gangs thrive – only to come home in as bleak a situation as they went in. More importantly, however, is that the police-community partnership narrative that Ceasefire promotes hinges on a questionable equivalency of power between police and community, which can affect how resources are divvied up. Public and private funding made available for social services, or “carrots,” will likely go to groups with established, deferential relationships with law enforcement. In other words, law enforcement is always in control.

Benny, 31, grew up in the Morris Houses in the Bronx. He says the hunt for gangs is unfair to people who live in the community and grow up together, especially young men. “Black lives do matter. When you grow up in a neighborhood like this, they judge you. You see this group right here,” he said, pointing to a group of men and women hanging out on nearby benches. “They’ll consider this like gang activity, even though all we did was grow up together. Next thing you know they’ll be hitting you with conspiracy [charges].” On an unusually warm Friday afternoon in December, people are sitting around on park benches. People of all ages, from teenage boys to older women pushing shopping carts, stop to talk and laugh.

“They’re taking my friends and they’re not helping,” a young woman named Daisy said about police. Daisy, 19, was Shaalie’s friend. She mourned not only Shaalie’s death, but also that of Jujuan Carson, a 19-year-old friend of hers and Shaalie’s who was just killed in November 2015. “They still haven’t found the person who killed Jujuan, but yet they indicted his friends the day before his funeral,” she said angrily. Daisy says she doesn’t trust police. “Whatever comes out of their mouths are lies.”

Jumping to Conclusions About Gang Activity

The Morris Houses stretch down the east side of the Metro North railroad, which runs along Park Avenue, separating them from the Butler and Morris senior houses on the other side. The New York Daily News’ gang map lists “Washside” as an active gang based in the Morris Houses. Farrar objects to that label. “Washside” is the name some Morris kids identify with, but isn’t an actual gang, she says. While she doesn’t deny gun violence, she vividly remembers how her son was characterized as a gang member for all sorts of reasons. If he posted a picture of himself pointing to a new pair of sneakers or holding a new belt, people would say that those were gang hand signs. “Shaalie’s World,” the words on shirts and sweaters Farrar made after Shaalie’s death, is now rumored to be a gang.

Shaalie’s friends often make tributes to him in songs and on social media. Farrar worries that law enforcement may be deliberately conflating a song, tweet or Instagram post with a sign of gang activity. Amateur music videos that mention Shaalie or refer to “Washside” are probably being collected as cops and prosecutors build cases on more young men, she suspects. In 2015, a Brooklyn man was sentenced to 12 life sentences for a string of murders after prosecutors used rap lyrics of songs he posted on YouTube against him.

“I feel it’s like a cycle. That’s how I feel. It’s like this shit is designed for you to either end up dead or in jail,” Benny said as he tested out his new remote-controlled helicopter. “Right now, my little brother got 10 years for conspiracy,” he said. “It’s guilt by association, who you hang with.” Benny knows police are surveilling them, using all of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and NYPD cameras posted around the neighborhood. “I could be chillin’ with you, you makin’ money, but you been my man since we was kids, and now they taking pictures of us. Let me walk out here with a hoodie tonight and watch me get stopped five times.” Farrar quickly jumps in to recall how Shaalie started wearing hoodies after the death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida boy killed by a neighborhood vigilante. “They really killed him because he was wearing a hoodie, ma?” she recalled him asking.

The Morris Houses are the targets of national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)The Morris Houses are the targets of a national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Farrar, like many of her neighbors, is distrustful of the police and of these new efforts to target alleged gang members. Sitting at some park benches near her building on Washington Avenue, about a mile from where Shaalie died, she and her friends talk about the neighborhood and both the violence and poverty that plague it. For them, poverty is inextricable from the violence – which is something police can’t solve.

“The Kids Need Somewhere to Play”

While Farrar will be the first to agree that youth violence is a problem, the neighborhood’s antagonistic relationship with cops puts them between a rock and a hard place. It was the police, she says, who locked up the basketball courts for two months during the summer. She points at the fence, describing how people were forced to cut and crawl through openings just to play basketball. If cops locked up the courts to prevent violence, then they failed to do even that, some say. A man walks over and says closing the park “wasn’t the solution.” “Now you make it worse,” said the man, who didn’t want to be identified. “Now they got nothin’ to do. Now all they gon’ do is fight now.”

“The kids need somewhere to play,” said Dee, a 35-year-old trainer and boxer who used to train Shaalie. He wants the younger generation to come off of the street and stop fighting with each other, but he says they need resources. He recalls block parties when he was younger that have since become too few and far between. The city-funded health tables and community programming nowadays are directed at very young children and the elderly, not the teens and young adults most susceptible to violence. Worse yet is that programs are limited in scope and time: “They go from like 10 [am] to 12 [pm] and that’s it,” Dee said.

Ms. Betty is 58 and has raised three boys in the Morris Houses. “They’ve got nothing for them to do, that’s our problem. If they find something to do, maybe they’ll stop fighting each other,” she said. For her, the lack of fully functioning community centers contributes to the violence. “It doesn’t make sense. Families got to be crying over their kids and kids fighting for no reason.” While she feels that police are needed, she’s taken aback at the way cops crack down on many in the neighborhood just for hanging out around the buildings. “We just want to be out here like normal people,” she said. She recalls playgrounds inexplicably closed and benches removed from the front of buildings. Asked about the city’s efforts to lease some NYCHA property for private development, she says what the neighborhood needs is an expanded community center. “That don’t make no sense. And they know that.”

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

“I gave my son a lot of attention. But my son was the child of a single parent who felt his mother, you know, was struggling too hard,” Farrar told Truthout. Asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, Farrar is supportive of marches and protests in response to police killings, but she’s also painfully aware of the fact that many may not jump to stand behind her son’s life because of the questions around his case. Shaalie’s funeral was attended by Constance Malcolm and Frank Graham, the parents of Ramarley Graham, a young man fatally shot by cops who chased him into his grandmother’s house. However, few others in the anti-police brutality movement have made her pain their pain. Asked about the future of the movement, Farrar wants the scope to extend beyond cops. “I’d like Black Lives Matter to help the community come together, do things for kids, help stop the beefing,” Farrar said.

During a march that Farrar and her friends put together a few years back in memory of Shaalie, some of his friends began to chant “Fuck the police, RIP Shaalie” to the cops walking alongside. These were Shaalie’s friends, all from the surrounding buildings. Farrar pulled out her camera phone and kept watch of the cops as the march continued to the spot Shaalie died. The group, too large for the sidewalk, formed a big circle. A police car pulled up and a cop insisted the event clear out because it was blocking the road. Farrar told them they wouldn’t be going anywhere until they were done. They released white balloons into the sky and promised never to forget Shaalie’s name.

Josmar Trujillo is an activist and organizer with New Yorkers Against Bratton. Follow him on Twitter: @Josmar_Trujillo.

Comissão mista discutirá posição do Brasil em torno de novo acordo do clima (Agência Senado)

A COP 21 será realizada em Paris no final deste ano com a missão de chegar a um acordo global sobre mudanças climáticas para substituir o Protocolo de Kyoto

A Comissão Mista Permanente sobre Mudanças Climáticas (CMMC) promoverá na quarta-feira (29) audiência pública sobre a COP 21 e as possibilidades de negociações em torno de um novo acordo climático global.

Foram convidados para o debate o embaixador José Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho, subsecretário-geral de Meio Ambiente, Energia, Ciência e Tecnologia do Ministério das Relações Exteriores; Tasso Azevedo, coordenador do Observatório do Clima; e um representante do Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

Na Conferência das Partes (COP), são realizados os encontros dos países que assinaram os acordos sobre biodiversidade e mudanças climáticas na Rio 92.

A COP 21 será realizada em Paris no final deste ano com a missão de chegar a um acordo global sobre mudanças climáticas para substituir o Protocolo de Kyoto, de 1997. O acordo deve entrar em vigor em 2020 e a conferência deve adotar um tratado que inclua todos os países.

O Protocolo de Kyoto não foi assinado pelos Estados Unidos, o que desobrigou os países em desenvolvimento de reduzir as emissões de gases de efeito estufa, responsáveis pelo aquecimento global e pelas mudanças climáticas.

A audiência pública começa às 14h30, na sala 13 da Ala Senador Alexandre Costa.

(Agência Senado)

Mudanças Climáticas – Plano de adaptação sai até julho e terá metas (Observatório do Clima)

7/4/2015 – 12h18

por Clauido Angelo, do Observatóri do Clima

Izabella Teixeira fala em São Paulo. Foto: MMA

Conservação e recuperação de ecossistemas serão adotadas como medidas para atenuar impactos da mudança climática

A ministra do Meio Ambiente, Izabella Teixeira, prometeu nesta quinta-feira (23/04) que o país terá um plano nacional de adaptação às mudanças climáticas em consulta pública até julho. E afirmou que é “claro” que ele terá metas.

“Você já viu plano sem meta? Não é plano, é carta de intenção”, declarou a ministra a jornalistas, durante o seminário Gestão de Água em Situações de Escassez, encerrado nesta sexta-feira em São Paulo.

Embora não tenha adiantado que metas serão essas, a ministra afirmou que, no caso da água, elas dialogarão com o Plano Nacional de Segurança Hídrica e com o CAR (Cadastro Ambiental Rural), que estabelece os parâmetros para a recuperação de áreas degradadas e desmatadas, como matas ciliares – fundamentais para a manutenção dos recursos hídricos.

“As pessoas degradam as nascentes a 200 quilômetros daqui e acham que não tem consequência”, disse Izabella. “Tem CAR para ser feito, vamos recuperar nascentes, cabeceiras de rio, tem que fazer o que outros países fizeram”, prosseguiu, citando a experiência de Nova York. A megalópole americana evitou uma crise hídrica ao pagar fazendeiros de uma região montanhosa próxima para preservar as matas ciliares em torno dos rios onde a água da cidade é captada.

O Plano Nacional de Adaptação estabelecerá as medidas que o Brasil deverá adotar ao longo dos próximos anos para evitar os piores efeitos das mudanças climáticas. Vários países têm inserido metas para adaptação em suas INDCs (Contribuições Nacionalmente Determinadas Pretendidas), as propostas de combate ao aquecimento global que cada país está fazendo para o acordo de Paris, no fim do ano.

A lógica é que, mesmo que o mundo tenha sucesso em cortar emissões de carbono, muitos efeitos da mudança do clima são inevitáveis e as sociedades devem adaptar-se a eles.

No Brasil, conforme indicam dados do estudo Brasil 2040, que até março vinha sendo conduzido pela Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos, esses efeitos incluem redução de áreas agrícolas e de vazão de rios que alimentam algumas das principais hidrelétricas do país, na Amazônia e no Sudeste/Centro-Oeste.

Conduzido pelo Ministério do Meio Ambiente, o PNA (Plano Nacional de Adaptação à Mudança do Clima) deverá propor ações em pelo menos dez grandes áreas: energia, zona costeira, recursos hídricos, desastres naturais, segurança alimentar/agropecuária, ecossistemas, cidades, transporte e logística, indústria e saúde.

O desenho preliminar do plano vinha sendo criticado dentro do próprio governo por não conter metas objetivas – apenas diretrizes gerais para a elaboração de metas de adaptação pelos Estados. O esboço do capítulo de Ecossistemas, por exemplo, fazia uma recapitulação de políticas públicas já existentes e traçava uma série de diretrizes genéricas, como “incluir a perspectiva de adaptação à mudança do clima nos Planos de Prevenção e Controle do Desmatamento e no Plano de Recuperação da Vegetação Nativa”. Ainda não se sabe como ficará o plano final para que ele não seja apenas uma “carta de intenções”, como definiu a ministra do Meio Ambiente.

Resiliência verde

Um dos elementos que deverão integrar o PNA é a chamada adaptação baseada em ecossistemas. Trata-se de uma série de medidas de baixo custo para usar serviços de ecossistemas como escudo contra impactos da mudança do clima.

Um caso clássico dessa modalidade de adaptação é a recuperação de manguezais como forma de proteger zonas costeiras de ressacas, que estão ficando mais fortes devido à elevação do nível do mar.

“É muito mais vantajoso do que construir estruturas de concreto, como quebra-mares”, disse Guilherme Karam, da Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza. Ele é coautor de um estudo publicado no ano passado pela fundação e pelo Iclei – Governos Locais pela Sustentabilidade que identifica oportunidades de adaptação baseada em ecossistemas para o Brasil.

O estudo mapeou cem experiências dessa modalidade de adaptação no mundo todo, 11 delas no Brasil, e mostrou que é possível adotar ações em ecossistemas em todas as áreas do PNA. Isso é especialmente evidente em cidades, onde o reflorestamento pode ajudar a mitigar enchentes e ilhas de calor urbanas, em desastres naturais e em água e energia – por meio da restauração de áreas de preservação permanente.

No caso da água, aponta Karam, a recuperação de áreas naturais dá mais resultado do que investimentos na chamada “infraestrutura cinza” (obras de engenharia) e a um custo menor. Nem sempre isso é verdade, porém, alerta o pesquisador: há casos na Ásia nos quais se constatou que a infraestrutura cinza dá mais resultado, apesar de custar muito mais, então o ideal é combinar as duas abordagens.

O Ministério do Meio Ambiente decidiu incorporar as recomendações do estudo ao plano nacional. (Observatório do Clima/ #Envolverde)

* Publicado originalmente no site Observatório do Clima.

Câmara aprova projeto que torna lei a Política Nacional de Combate à Seca (Agência Câmara Notícias)

JC 5125, 26 de fevereiro de 2015

Proposta lista diversas ações que caberão ao poder público, como o mapeamento dos processos de desertificação e degradação ambiental e a criação de um sistema integrado de informações de alerta quanto à seca

O Plenário da Câmara dos Deputados aprovou nesta quarta-feira (25) o Projeto de Lei 2447/07, do Senado, que torna lei a Política Nacional de Combate à Desertificação e Mitigação dos Efeitos da Seca e cria a Comissão Nacional de Combate à Desertificação (CNCD). Devido às mudanças, a matéria retorna ao Senado.

O projeto foi aprovado na forma de um substitutivo da Comissão de Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável, elaborado pelo ex-deputado Penna (PV-SP). O texto original era do ex-senador Inácio Arruda.

Desde 1997, o Brasil já conta com uma Política Nacional de Controle da Desertificação, aprovada pelo Conselho Nacional do Meio Ambiente (Conama) e surgida após a ratificação da Convenção Internacional das Nações Unidas de Combate à Desertificação, de 1996.

De acordo com o substitutivo, são vários os objetivos da política nacional, entre os quais destacam-se o uso de mecanismos de proteção, preservação, conservação e recuperação dos recursos naturais; o fomento de pesquisas sobre o processo de desertificação; a educação socioambiental dos atores sociais envolvidos na temática; e o apoio a sistemas de irrigação socioambientalmente sustentáveis em áreas que sejam aptas para a atividade.

Para cumprir os objetivos, o poder público deverá seguir várias diretrizes, como gestão integrada e participativa dos entes federados e das comunidades situadas em áreas suscetíveis à desertificação no processo de elaboração e de implantação das ações.

Devem ser observados ainda aspectos como a incorporação e valorização dos conhecimentos tradicionais sobre o manejo e o uso sustentável dos recursos naturais e a articulação com outras políticas (erradicação da miséria e reforma agrária, por exemplo).

Ações públicas
O substitutivo lista diversas ações que caberão ao poder público, tais como o mapeamento dos processos de desertificação e degradação ambiental; sistema integrado de informações de alerta quanto à seca; capacitação dos técnicos em extensão rural para a promoção de boas práticas de combate à desertificação; implantar tecnologias de uso eficiente da água e de seu reuso na produção de mudas para reflorestamento; e implantar sistemas de parques e jardins botânicos e bancos de sementes para a conservação de espécies adaptadas à aridez.

Emenda aprovada pelo Plenário, do deputado Moses Rodrigues (PPS-CE), prevê ainda a perfuração de poços artesianos onde houver viabilidade ambiental para isso.

Outra emenda do deputado trata do estímulo à criação de centros de pesquisas para o desenvolvimento de tecnologias de combate à desertificação.

Já emenda do deputado Sibá Machado (PT-AC) determina que os planos de prevenção e controle do desmatamento servirão de instrumento para a política nacional.

Comissão nacional
A comissão nacional, que funciona atualmente com base em decreto do Executivo federal, terá natureza deliberativa e consultiva e fará parte da estrutura regimental do Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

Compete à comissão promover a integração das estratégias, acompanhar e avaliar as ações de combate à desertificação, propor ações estratégicas e identificar a necessidade e propor a criação ou modificação dos instrumentos necessários à execução da política nacional.

No Brasil, as principais áreas suscetíveis à desertificação são as regiões de clima semiárido ou subúmido seco, encontrados no Nordeste brasileiro e norte de Minas Gerais.

Essa região abrange 1.201 municípios, em um total de 16% do território e incorpora 11 estados: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte e Sergipe. A região também concentra 85% da pobreza do País.

Durante o debate do projeto em Plenário, alguns deputados avaliaram que a Política Nacional de Combate à Seca também poderá dar uma resposta para o cenário de falta d’água na região Sudeste.


Íntegra da proposta: PL-2447/2007

(Eduardo Piovesan / Agência Câmara Notícias)

Vídeo mostra como o Brasil monitora os riscos de desastres naturais (MCTI/INPE)

JC 5125, 26 de fevereiro de 2015

Os sistemas de monitoramento e prevenção de seus impactos no Brasil também integram o vídeo educacional lançado pelo INCT-MC

Os desastres naturais e os sistemas de monitoramento e prevenção de seus impactos no Brasil são tema do vídeo educacional lançado pelo Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia para Mudanças Climáticas (INCT-MC).

material integra o projeto de difusão do conhecimento gerado pelas pesquisas realizadas durante os seis anos de vigência do INCT-MC (2008-2014), sediado no Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe/MCTI).

Dirigido a educadores, estudantes de ensino médio e graduação, e formuladores de políticas públicas, o vídeo traz informações sobre as causas do aumento do número de desastres naturais nos últimos anos e como o País está se preparando para prevenir e reduzir os prejuízos nos diversos setores da sociedade. Pesquisadores e tecnologistas do Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (Cemaden/MCTI) mostram como é feito o monitoramento de áreas de risco 24 horas por dia. Também são apresentadas as dimensões humanas, ou seja, como os desastres interferem e prejudicam a vida das pessoas e como o surgimento de novos cenários de risco pode e deve ser evitados.

Até junho, serão concluídos outros cinco vídeos educacionais, abordando temas relacionados às pesquisas do INCT para Mudanças Climáticas: segurança alimentar, segurança energética, segurança hídrica, saúde e biodiversidade.


O conhecimento produzido durante seis anos de pesquisas realizadas no âmbito do INCT para Mudanças Climáticas está sendo reunido em um portal na internet, a ser lançado neste semestre. O ambiente virtual oferecerá conteúdos com linguagem adequada para os diversos públicos de interesse: pesquisadores, educadores, estudantes (divididos por faixas etárias) e formuladores de políticas públicas. O material estará organizado em seis grandes áreas temáticas: segurança alimentar, segurança energética, segurança hídrica, saúde humana, biodiversidade e desastres naturais.

Leia mais.

(MCTI, via Inpe)

Crise da água em SP: Especialistas apontam cenários para quando a água acabar e lições a serem tomadas pelo colapso estadual (Brasil Post)

Publicado: 21/01/2015 11:29 BRST  Atualizado: 21/01/2015 11:53 BRST 


Promessa de campanha do governador Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), a falta de água em São Paulo é uma realidade há meses em diversos pontos do Estado. Na semana passada, ele admitiu que há sim racionamento (diante da repercussão, tentou voltar atrás), algo que a população – sobretudo a dos bairros mais carentes – já sabia. O que também já se sabe é que, sim, a água vai mesmo acabar. Se não chegar a zerar, terá níveis baixíssimos que afetarão a vida de todos, a partir de março.

Os especialistas ouvidos pelo Brasil Post viram com bons olhos o fato de que o governo paulista, com atraso, reconheceu o racionamento. Também aprovaram a aplicação de multa contra aqueles que consomem muita água – embora a medida, tardia, devesse ser uma política sempre presente, e não para ‘apagar incêndios’ como agora. Contudo, o cenário que se colocará com a chegada do período de estiagem, entre o fim de março e começo de abril, se estendendo até outubro, vai requerer novos hábitos, seja dos gestores ou da população.

“Quando acabar a água serão interrompidas atividades que não são consideradas essenciais, com cortes para o comércio, para a indústria e o fechamento de locais com muito uso de água, como shoppings, escolas e universidades”, analisou o professor Antonio Carlos Zuffo, especialista na área de recursos hídricos na Unicamp. Parece exagerado, mas não é. Segundo o jornal O Estado de S. Paulo desta quarta-feira (21), os seis mananciais que abastecem 20 milhões de pessoas na Grande São Paulo têm registrado déficit de 2,5 bilhões de litros por dia em pleno período no qual deveriam encher para suprir os meses de seca.

Já em 2002, a Saneas, revista da Associação dos Engenheiros da Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo (AESabesp), publicava um texto no qual apontava “uma inegável situação de estresse hídrico”, a qual podia “ter um final trágico, com previsões de escassez crônica em 15 anos”. A Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA) apontava, na outorga de uso do Sistema Cantareirade 2004, que era preciso diminuir a dependência desse sistema. Em plena crise, na tentativa de renovação em 2014, havia uma tentativa de aumentar, e não diminuir, o uso do Cantareira. Ou seja, algo impraticável e ignorando as previsões. Não, a culpa não é de São Pedro.

“Hoje a situação é muito pior que no ano passado. Em janeiro de 2014 tínhamos 27,2% positivos no Cantareira, hoje temos 23,5% negativos. Ou seja, consumimos 50% do volume nesse período. Mantida a média de consumo, a água acaba no fim de março. É preciso lembrar que janeiro é o mês com maior incidência de chuva em SP, seguido por dezembro. No mês passado, choveu 25% a menos do que a média. Esse mês só choveu 22%, 23% da média. A equação é simples: não vai ter água para todo mundo”, completou Zuffo.

Informação e transparência

Para a ambientalista Malu Ribeiro, da ONG SOS Mata Atlântica, a demora em admitir o óbvio por parte das autoridades trouxe mais prejuízos do que benefícios ao longo dos últimos 13 meses. “A sociedade precisa ter a noção clara da gravidade dessa crise. Quando as autoridades passam certa confiança, como era o caso do governo Alckmin, a tendência é que não se alerte da forma necessária e as pessoas se mantenham em uma situação confortável. Muita gente não acredita na proporção dessa crise, muito se agravou e agora é preciso cautela”, avaliou.

As mudanças na Secretaria de Recursos Hídricos e na presidência da Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo (Sabesp), com as entradas de Benedito Braga e Jerson Kelman, respectivamente, também foram benéficas, já que colocam em posições estratégicas dois especialistas no tema. Entretanto, isso não basta. A necessidade de discutir a gestão da água sob o âmbito estratégico, algo muito teórico e pouco prático no Brasil, é vista como fundamental em tempos de crise.

“Há ainda muita ocupação em áreas de mananciais, por exemplo. Então vemos que o comportamento, apesar da crise não ser nova, não mudou. Veja em Itu, onde eu moro, onde a crise foi muito pior e, agora que choveu um pouco, as pessoas acham que não precisam mais poupar, que tudo voltou ao normal. O combate ao desperdício deve ser permanente e temos de ter prevenção. É preciso doer no bolso, por isso a multa deve ser permanente”, disse Malu.

“A falta de informação resultou em uma insegurança, sem informar à população sobre o seu papel na crise. A ONU já apontava que a década entre 2010 e 2020 seria da água, e não por acaso, mas no Brasil há uma timidez nesse sentido. É preciso mudar essa cultura de abundância que se tem no Sudeste e desenvolver um plano estratégico, com mais poder aos comitês de bacia. É absurdo o desperdício de água na agricultura, e isso não é discutido. É hora de acordar”, completou a ambientalista.

‘Água cara’ veio para ficar

De acordo com os especialistas, a crise da água expõe também um cenário já esperado, já que a Terra passa por ciclos alternados entre seca e chuvas a cada 30 anos. O atual, iniciado em 2010 e que segue até 2040, será recheado de períodos de seca em regiões populosas, quadro a se inverter apenas daqui a 25 anos. Assim, é preciso mudar hábitos, antes de mais nada. Mesmo em tempos de calor excessivo, há quem ainda não tenha se dado conta disso.

“Muita gente se vê alheia ao problema e, com o calor, acaba correndo para compras piscininhas e usa a água para o lazer. O Carnaval que está chegando também ajuda a tirar o cidadão comum do foco, como ocorreu durante as eleições. Isso não é mais possível. Há a responsabilidade dos gestores, mas também é preciso que o cidadão se atente ao seu papel, sob pena de termos novas ‘cidades mortas’, como no Vale do Paraíba ou no Vale do Jequitinhonha, onde os recursos naturais foram exauridos”, afirmou Malu.

E que ninguém se anime com a promessa da Sabesp de que ainda há uma terceira cota de 41 bilhões de litros do volume morto do Cantareira, cujo uso deve ser solicitado pelo governo paulista junto à ANA nos próximos dias. “Sabemos que 45% do Cantareira que não é captado é volume morto. A terceira cota restante não é toda ela captável. Teríamos com ela mais uns 10%, suficiente só para mais algumas semanas”, comentou Zuffo.

Medidas sugeridas ao longo da crise, o reuso da água e a dessalinização são medidas caras e que dependem de outros aspectos para serem implementadas – e, com o possível racionamento de energia elétrica, podem não sair do papel. Ou seja, não são a solução a curto prazo. O uso de mais água de represas como a Billings (com sua notória poluição) também dependem de obras – outro entrave para quem gostaria de não ver a falta de água por dias seguidos se tornar uma realidade por meses a fio. Sem chuva, só há um caminho a seguir.

“Há uma variabilidade cíclica natural, que nada tem a ver com o aquecimento global, mas não temos engenharia para resolver a questão no curto prazo. Temos é que ter inteligência para nos adaptar e reduzir de 250 litros para 150 litros, ou ainda menos, o consumo de água por cada pessoa. Há países europeus em que o uso não passa de 60 litros/pessoa. É preciso usar menos e tratar a água de maneira que ela possa ser reutilizada. Tudo depende de tecnologia e novos hábitos”, concluiu Zuffo.


– Brasil desperdiça 37% da água tratada, aponta relatório do governo federal

– Ao invés de seguir a lei federal, governo Alckmin promete brigar na Justiça para sobretaxar consumo

– Especialistas sugerem menos obras e mais políticas de reflorestamento para gestão de recursos hídricos

– Professor da Unicamp afirma que volume captado do Sistema Cantareira tinha de ter sido reduzido há anos

Grupo de especialistas divulga previsão do clima para o próximo trimestre (MCTI)

Na primeira reunião de 2015 do Grupo de Trabalho em Previsão Climática Sazonal do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, pesquisadores alertam que haverá chuvas abaixo da média no Norte e Nordeste e acima da média no Sul do País

Chuvas abaixo da média na região Semiárida do Nordeste e na região Norte do Brasil, com possibilidade de queimadas e incêndios em Roraima, e continuidade de precipitação acima da média na região Sul. Essas são as tendências climáticas para os próximos três meses (fevereiro, março e abril). Elas foram apresentadas nesta sexta-feira (16) na primeira reunião de 2015 do Grupo de Trabalho em Previsão Climática Sazonal (GTPCS) do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (MCTI).

Paulo Nobre, pesquisador do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe/MCTI), atribuiu os resultados da avaliação do grupo à continuidade do fenômeno El Niño. “Temos uma condição sazonal dessas três regiões onde é possível hoje cientificamente e tecnologicamente fazer essas previsões”, afirmou o especialista que conduziu as atividades do primeiro encontro do GTPCS.

Participam do grupo de trabalho, instituído pelo MCTI em novembro de 2013, as principais lideranças na área de previsão climática no País. A cada mês os especialistas se reúnem para traçar prognósticos para o trimestre seguinte. O objetivo é dar subsídios aos tomadores de decisões sobre o cenário climático que se aproxima.

O secretário de Políticas e Programas de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento do MCTI, Carlos Nobre, alertou que a previsão climática para o próximo trimestre inspira atenção. “O Brasil está vivendo um momento de diferentes extremos climáticos em diferentes partes do país com impactos na economia e na sociedade”, destacou o secretário que também coordena do GTPCS. “As informações geradas pelo grupo de trabalho alimentam imediatamente ministérios e a presidência da República para que sejam tomadas as medidas necessárias.”

Na abertura do encontro, que aconteceu pela primeira vez em Brasília, o ministro da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, Aldo Rebelo, enfatizou a importância de haver previsão climática de curto prazo. “O trabalho dos pesquisadores do GTPCS já contribuiu no ano passado para reduzir os danos da seca no Nordeste e das enchentes em Rondônia”, exemplificou.

Participam do grupo pesquisadores do Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC) do Inpe; do Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre (CCST); do Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (Cemaden/MCTI); e do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (Inpa/MCTI). A cada reunião um dos membros conduzirá as atividades. Nesta sexta, o meteorologista Paulo Nobre, pesquisador do Inpe, coordenou os trabalhos.

Para outras regiões do país não há previsibilidade climática, a exemplo do Sudeste. “O Nordeste, por exemplo, é a região com maior previsibilidade sazonal porque tem a dependência do Oceano e um tempo de variação bem lento. Na região Sudeste, o que causa chuva são as frentes frias que tem um tempo de previsibilidade de uma semana, no máximo duas”, explica Paulo Nobre, pesquisador do Inpe. No limite do conhecimento científico o que se pode afirmar é que as chuvas continuarão abaixo da média neste período.

Acesse aqui o relatório completo emitido pelo GTPCS.


CNPq cria Rede para otimizar produção de animais em laboratórios (JC)

Rebiotério prevê estimular produção e assegurar qualidade nos biotérios

Ao mesmo tempo em que corre para desenvolver métodos alternativos a fim de reduzir o número de animais em testes de laboratórios –  pela chamada Rede Nacional de Métodos Alternativos (RENAMA) – o governo decidiu criar uma Rede para adequar a produção em biotérios de todos os animais para propósitos científicos e didáticos, como ratos, camundongos e coelhos.

A intenção é atender de forma adequada e organizada à demanda nacional. O entendimento é de que o uso de animais ainda é imprescindível nos testes in vivo e que hoje existe um desequilíbrio entre a oferta e a procura no País, em razão do aumento considerável da produção científica nacional.

Na  prática, o Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), principal agência financiadora de pesquisa experimental do País, criou a chamada Rede Nacional de Biotérios de Produção de Animais para Fins Científicos, Didáticos e Tecnológicos (Rebiotério), informou Marcelo Morales, diretor da área de Ciências Agrárias, Biológicas e da Saúde do CNPq e que comandará a rede, com exclusividade ao Jornal da Ciência.

A Rebiotério, segundo Morales, vai mapear, monitorar,   otimizar e dar suporte à produção de animais utilizados em experimentos científicos e em sala de aula. Todos  os biotérios distribuídos pelo País serão cadastrados na rede. Para Morales, essa é uma tentativa de atender aos anseios da comunidade científica pela pesquisa de qualidade envolvendo animais.

Sem querer estimar o número de animais produzidos hoje em laboratórios, para fins científicos, Morales destaca a atual necessidade da produção qualificada de animais em biotérios de produção para atender a demanda científica. Hoje, segundo disse, pesquisadores aguardam na fila um período de dois a cinco meses para receber animais com qualidade (principalmente os desprovidos de patógenos, Specific Pathogen Free – SPF) e que possam ser utilizados em experimentos científicos.  Atualmente,  a produção com qualidade é vinculada apenas a alguns biotérios que os produzem para atender as próprias necessidades e poucos são aqueles que produzem para outras Instituições.   Além disso, a importação desses animais se torna inviável, diante de barreiras sanitárias e do alto custo de importação.

No caso de roedores, responsáveis por cerca de 70% do total de animais utilizados em pesquisas científicas, Morales afirmou que a necessidade estimada de produção é de 5 milhões/ano desses animais.

Normas e legislações 

Além de propor políticas de fomento para a produção de animais em biotérios qualificados, a Rebiotério prevê, ainda, acompanhar a implementação efetiva de normas e legislações especificas adotadas para uso de animais em experimentos científicos, conjuntamente com o  Conselho Nacional de Controle de Experimentação Animal (Concea). Deverá também estimular a qualidade de produção nos  biotérios e atender aos padrões internacionais de boas práticas de bem-estar animal.

Outra função é assegurar o controle sanitário e genético, averiguando o nível de patógenos, por exemplo, e reforçar os padrões éticos adotados para os animais produzidos em biotérios.

Capacitação profissional

Para garantir a qualidade de produção dos biotérios, a Rebiotério terá o papel, dentre outros, de estimular a capacitação e qualificação de profissionais da área no exterior e no Brasil (bioteristas, veterinários, pesquisadores e etc). Assim, garantir que a produção de animais seja compatível com os padrões internacionais.

“Nossa intenção é fortalecer a produção de animais de experimentação, com ética e qualidade, fazendo com o que o País torne-se referência nessa área no mundo”, disse Morales, também professor associado da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), ex-coordenador do Conselho Nacional de Controle de Experimentação Animal (Concea) e ex-presidente da Sociedade Brasileira de Biofísica (SBBF).

Para fazer frente a tais desafios, o CNPq aprovou a viabilidade de parcerias internacionais que possam assegurar a produção sustentável e de qualidade nos biotérios. A intenção é ampliar o interesse de empresas internacionais, com expertise em tal área, que hoje já organizam e negociam instalação no Brasil.

Segundo Morales, a parceria com empresas estrangeiras pode ser por intermédio de transferência de tecnologia relacionada às práticas modernas de bioterismo; e pelo apoio à formação de pesquisadores e técnicos brasileiros dessa área no exterior.

Sem querer entrar no mérito do orçamento do CNPq, Morales informou que a qualificação desses profissionais pode ocorrer também pelas bolsas do Programa Ciência sem Fronteiras.

Composição da Rebiotério

Além do CNPq, a Rebiotério será composta pela comunidade científica, pela Secretaria de Políticas e Programas de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (Seped/MCTI); e Secretaria de Ciência, Tecnologia e Insumos Estratégicos do Ministério da Saúde (SCTIE), do Ministério da Saúde. Terá ainda participação do Conselho Nacional de Controle de Experimentação Animal (CONCEA), órgão vinculado ao MCTI, e de membros da Finep (Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos).

Da comunidade científica, haverá representantes da Sociedade Brasileira de Ciência em Animais de Laboratórios (SBCAL), da Sociedade Brasileira para o Progresso da Ciência (SBPC), da Academia Brasileira de Ciências (ABC) e do Conselho Nacional das Fundações Estaduais de Amparo à Pesquisa (Confap).

“Nossa intenção é que a rede tenha uma abrangência nacional”, observa Morales.

(Viviane Monteiro/ Jornal da Ciência)

Without swift influx of substantial aid, Ebola epidemic in Africa poised to explode (Science Daily)

Date: October 23, 2014

Source: Yale University

Summary: The Ebola virus disease epidemic already devastating swaths of West Africa will likely get far worse in the coming weeks and months unless international commitments are significantly and immediately increased, new research predicts.

Artist’s conception (stock illustration). Credit: © Jim Vallee / Fotolia

The Ebola virus disease epidemic already devastating swaths of West Africa will likely get far worse in the coming weeks and months unless international commitments are significantly and immediately increased, new research led by Yale researchers predicts.

The findings are published in the Oct. 24 issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

A team of seven scientists from Yale’s Schools of Public Health and Medicine and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Liberia developed a mathematical transmission model of the viral disease and applied it to Liberia’s most populous county, Montserrado, an area already hard hit. The researchers determined that tens of thousands of new Ebola cases — and deaths — are likely by Dec. 15 if the epidemic continues on its present course.

“Our predictions highlight the rapidly closing window of opportunity for controlling the outbreak and averting a catastrophic toll of new Ebola cases and deaths in the coming months,” said Alison Galvani, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health and the paper’s senior author. “Although we might still be within the midst of what will ultimately be viewed as the early phase of the current outbreak, the possibility of averting calamitous repercussions from an initially delayed and insufficient response is quickly eroding.”

The model developed by Galvani and colleagues projects as many as 170,996 total reported and unreported cases of the disease, representing 12% of the overall population of some 1.38 million people, and 90,122 deaths in Montserrado alone by Dec. 15. Of these, the authors estimate 42,669 cases and 27,175 deaths will have been reported by that time.

Much of this suffering — some 97,940 cases of the disease — could be averted if the international community steps up control measures immediately, starting Oct. 31, the model predicts. This would require additional Ebola treatment center beds, a fivefold increase in the speed with which cases are detected, and allocation of protective kits to households of patients awaiting treatment center admission. The study predicts that, at best, just over half as many cases (53,957) can be averted if the interventions are delayed to Nov. 15. Had all of these measures been in place by Oct. 15, the model calculates that 137,432 cases in Montserrado could have been avoided.

There have been approximately 9,000 reported cases and 4,500 deaths from the disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea since the latest outbreak began with a case in a toddler in rural Guinea in December 2013. For the first time cases have been confirmed among health-care workers treating patients in the United States and parts of Europe.

“The current global health strategy is woefully inadequate to stop the current volatile Ebola epidemic,” co-author Dr. Frederick Altice, professor of internal medicine and public health added. “At a minimum, capable logisticians are needed to construct a sufficient number of Ebola treatment units in order to avoid the unnecessary deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people.”

Other authors include lead author Joseph Lewnard, Martial L. Ndeffo Mbah, Jorge A. Alfaro-Murillo, Luke Bawo, and Tolbert G. Nyenswah.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Journal Reference:

  1. Joseph A Lewnard, Martial L Ndeffo Mbah, Jorge A Alfaro-Murillo, Frederick L Altice, Luke Bawo, Tolbert G Nyenswah, Alison P Galvani. Dynamics and control of Ebola virus transmission in Montserrado, Liberia: a mathematical modelling analysis. Lancet Infectious Diseases, October 24, 2014 DOI:10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70995-8

Cruz Vermelha prevê ao menos quatro meses para controlar ebola (Agência Brasil)

A epidemia já causou mais de 4,5 mil mortes na África Ocidental

A epidemia de ebola vai demorar pelo menos quatro meses para ser contida se todas as medidas necessárias forem tomadas, disse hoje (22) o responsável geral da Cruz Vermelha, Elhadj As Sy, alertando para “o preço da inação”. A epidemia já causou mais de 4,5 mil mortes na África Ocidental e os especialistas alertam que a taxa de infecção poderá chegar a 10 mil por semana no início de dezembro.

Ainda não há vacina aprovada para o ebola, que também atingiu profissionais da saúde na Espanha e nos Estados Unidos.

Elhadj As Sy listou uma série de medidas que poderiam ajudar a colocar o ebola sob controle, incluindo “um bom isolamento, bom tratamento dos casos confirmados, e bom, seguro e digno enterro às pessoas falecidas”. “Será possível, como era possível no passado, conter esta epidemia dentro de quatro a seis meses” se a resposta for adequada, acrescentou.

“Eu acho que esta é a nossa melhor perspectiva e nós estamos fazendo todo o possível para mobilizar nossos recursos e nossas capacidades para travar o surto”, destacou. As Sy, que falava em uma conferência da Cruz Vermelha da Ásia-Pacífico, acrescentou que “há sempre um preço pela inação”.

Novas medidas serão adotadas hoje nos Estados Unidos, entre as quais os voos dos países mais afetados – Libéria, Serra Leoa e Guiné-Conacri – serão encaminhados para cinco aeroportos e os passageiros passarão por exames mais completos de saúde.

Entretanto, especialistas que escrevem para a revista The Lancet, disseram, na terça-feira (21), que a triagem dos passageiros nos aeroportos de saída seria uma opção melhor do que monitorá-los no destino da viagem.

(Agência Lusa / Agência Brasil)

Comissão de Meio Ambiente pode aprovar incentivo fiscal para reúso de água (Agência Senado)

A medida incentiva a reutilização de água não potável, para evitar que água tratada seja usada, por exemplo, para irrigação de jardins, lavagem áreas públicas

A Comissão de Meio Ambiente, Defesa do Consumidor e Fiscalização e Controle (CMA) se reúne na terça-feira (28), às 10h, e pode votar projeto que concede redução de 75% do Imposto de Renda e isenção da contribuição de PIS/Pasep e Cofins para empresa que produzir ou distribuir água de reúso.

A medida incentiva a reutilização de água não potável, para evitar que água tratada seja usada para irrigação de jardins, lavagem áreas públicas, desobstrução de tubulações e combate a incêndios.

Para esses casos, poderá ser feita a reutilização de água proveniente de esgoto e de demais efluentes líquidos domésticos e industriais, desde que dentro de padrões definidos para as modalidades de uso pretendidas.

O projeto (PLS 12/2014), do senador Aloysio Nunes Ferreira (PSDB-SP), é voltado a empresas que fazem a adequação a esses padrões e a distribuição dessa água reaproveitada, como forma de reduzir seu custo e ampliar sua utilização nas cidades brasileiras.

Depois de analisada pela CMA, a proposta vai à Comissão de Assuntos Econômicos (CAE), para decisão terminativa.

Licença ambiental de instalação

A pauta da CMA, formada por 26 itens, inclui ainda projeto (PLS 401/2013) que torna obrigatória a inclusão da licença ambiental de instalação entre os documentos que devem constar de edital para licitação de obra pública.

A lei em vigor obriga que, ao lançar um edital para licitação de obras públicas, o governo inclua nos anexos o projeto básico aprovado e as licenças ambientais prévias, entre outros documentos. Já a licença de instalação é exigida da empresa vencedora da licitação, como condição para o início das obras do projeto.

Para Aloysio Nunes, a facilidade de concessão de licenças prévias e a deficiência dos projetos básicos resultam com frequência na paralisação de obras já licitadas, por problemas na obtenção da licença de instalação.

A exigência dessa licença ainda no edital, diz ele, contribuirá para melhorar a qualidade dos projetos e obrigará os órgãos ambientais a analisar esses projetos de forma mais criteriosa.

A matéria também será analisada pela Comissão de Constituição, Justiça e Cidadania (CCJ).

(Iara Guimarães Altafin / Agência Senado)

Contrary to image, city politicians do adapt to voters (Science Daily)

Date: July 29, 2014

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary: Political scientists have long wondered whether city governments in the U.S. are really responsive to their voters. Aren’t local governments simply mired in machine politics, or under the sway of local big-money interests? Does ideology matter? Now a uniquely comprehensive study has produced a pair of distinctive findings: first, that the policies of city governments do closely match the politics of their citizens, and second, that this occurs regardless of the exact form of government than a city has.

Political scientists have long wondered whether city governments in the U.S. are really responsive to their voters. Aren’t local governments simply mired in machine politics, or under the sway of local big-money interests? Does ideology matter?

Now a uniquely comprehensive study co-authored by an MIT political scientist has produced a pair of distinctive findings: first, that the policies of city governments do closely match the politics of their citizens, and second, that this occurs regardless of the exact form of government than a city has.

That means that urban governance is more flexible, adaptable, and representative than the popular image might suggest. It also indicates that the link between public opinion and policy outcomes in municipal government is independent of whether it is led by a mayor, a town council, or selectmen, or uses direct referendums as opposed to indirect representatives.

“Politics doesn’t look quite as different at the local level as people thought it did,” says Chris Warshaw, an assistant professor of political science at MIT, and an author of a new paper detailing the findings of the study.

The research is singularly broad, examining the policies of every U.S. city and town with a population of 20,000 or more. It breaks new ground by extensively examining, on the municipal front, what researchers have found to be true of federal and state governments: that the views of the people usually matter significantly in shaping political action.

Or, as the researchers say in their new paper on the subject, there is a “robust role for citizen policy preferences in determining municipal policy outcomes.”

All politics is not just local, but ideological

The paper, “Representation in Municipal Government,” appears in the latest issue of the American Political Science Review. It was written by Warshaw and Chris Tausanovitch, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study links data from seven large-scale surveys, taken from 2000 through 2011, each of which asked 30,000 to 80,000 American voters their views on a wide range of policy questions. To further enhance the measurement of policy preferences among voters, the researchers also incorporated models that estimate preferences based on demographic and geographic information, and looked at other data, such as on presidential vote results in cities and towns.

The study examined 1,600 American municipalities. San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington ranked as the most liberal cities with 250,000 or more people, while Mesa, Ariz., Oklahoma City, and Virginia Beach, Va., were rated as the most conservative.

To see if voter preferences matched the policies that municipal governments enacted, Warshaw and Tausanovitch used a wide variety of data sources to rate the policy choices enacted by local governments, often involving spending and taxes. “The substantively consequential policies are the ones we look at,” Warshaw says.

The researchers also controlled for cities’ fiscal health, since well-off municipalities can afford to spend more on public projects and regulations than poorer towns and cities.

Even accounting for such factors, Warshaw and Tausanovitch found that liberal cities tend to both tax and spend more, while having “less regressive tax systems,” with a lower share of revenues from sales taxes. This strong correlation, they found, persists whatever the form of local government.

So while people like to say that “all politics is local,” Warshaw thinks we should amend that view. The notion that “idiosyncratic local political battles, about zoning, land, growth, and fixing potholes, is the core of city politics,” as he puts it, is not quite wrong; it’s just that the battles over such things also occur within the same ideological spectrum that applies to state and federal politics.

Room for more research

Warshaw notes that more research could be conducted on the causal mechanisms that make cities broadly responsive to public opinion. “My hope is this will inspire other people to go out and fill in those mechanisms,” he says.

Methodologically, he suggests, the variation in the structures of city governments, among other things, might allow scholars to further compare and contrast otherwise similar groups of municipalities.

“Given that we know the powers of cities vary a lot in different states, an obvious piece of variation to explore is that in states that give more discretion to cities, you [might] get different outcomes,” Warshaw says. “By utilizing that variation across the country, you can start to get into those questions.”