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Nature destruction will cause bigger economic slump in UK than 2008 crisis, experts warn

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Thursday, April 25, 2024

The destruction of nature over the rest of the decade could trigger a bigger economic slump in Britain than those caused by the 2008 global financial crisis and the Covid pandemic, experts have warned.Sounding the alarm over the rising financial cost from pollution, damage to water systems, soil erosion, and threats from disease, the report by the Green Finance Institute warned that further breakdown in the UK’s natural environment could lead to a 12% loss of gross domestic product (GDP) by the 2030s.In a report that received input from experts across academia and government, the authors argued that “gradual, year-to year environmental degradation is as detrimental or more so than climate change”.The continued loss of natural habitats in urban and rural areas would compare unfavourably with the financial crisis of 2008, which took about 5% off the value of UK GDP, while the Covid pandemic cost the UK 11% of its GDP in 2020.The academics used three scenarios to construct the report: domestic risks from continued UK environment breakdown; international risks – including destruction to nature in countries which are key UK trading partners; and a health scenario, focusing on the dangers of a fresh global pandemic.All three took into account current trends in environmental breakdown – including water and air pollution, soil health erosion and biodiversity loss – resulting in a hit to GDP worth up to 3%, or about £70bn by the late 2020s.The report then added “acute risks” on top of these trends – including floods, droughts and wildfires – which would result in a 6% loss to GDP in the domestic and international scenarios, and a 12% hit in a health scenario, reflecting the extreme dangers to the UK economy from a renewed pandemic.Ministers are expected to take an interest in the report amid concern over the potential dangers to the economy from nature breakdown. Environment minister Richard Benyon said the report showed that nature “underpins the health of our economy and it is under threat from a global nature crisis”.The former Conservative MP, whose family controls a 5,600-hectare (14,000-acre) estate in west Berkshire, southern England, said the responsibility to conserve nature “lies with all sectors and sections of society, and green finance has a crucial role to play”.He said: “The findings in this report will help people and institutions across the corporate and finance sectors understand that it is in their own interests to go further and faster for the planet to protect it for future generations.”Shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed, blamed the government for the UK becoming “one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world”.Saying that the UK needed “to reverse the tide of destruction”, Reed committed Labour to cleaner air and water “and growing nature-rich habitats for wildlife to thrive”.The Green Finance Institute describes itself as the UK and Europe’s “principal forum for innovation in green finance” bringing together banks, academics, philanthropists and government bodies to develop climate-friendly policies and financial products.The report warned that unless action is taken, UK banks will need to reduce their exposure to the worst hit industries or find themselves increasing the risk of losses from bad loans. About 50% of the extra cost will come from the loss of nature overseas that the UK relies on to provide food, natural resources and trade.Partly funded by the government with input from the Treasury and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the authors also relied on advice and information from the Bank of England, Oxford and Reading universities, the UN’s environment programme, and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.The report said: “The impacts of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation will not be felt alone but will compound with climate risks. Both are happening at once and there are strong feedback effects between the loss of natural capital and climate change.”The study follows a Treasury-backed review in 2021 by the Cambridge economist Sir Partha Dasgupta, who found that the world was being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world.Last year, the government agency Natural England launched its Nature Returns programme to coordinate efforts across government and the private sector to explore how the UK can best use land in England “to address climate change whilst producing food and promoting thriving nature”.The agency said it wanted “to mobilise the billions in private investment that government estimates we need to meet our national net zero commitments”.

Green Finance Institute report said further pollution could cut 12% off GDP by 2030sThe destruction of nature over the rest of the decade could trigger a bigger economic slump in Britain than those caused by the 2008 global financial crisis and the Covid pandemic, experts have warned.Sounding the alarm over the rising financial cost from pollution, damage to water systems, soil erosion, and threats from disease, the report by the Green Finance Institute warned that further breakdown in the UK’s natural environment could lead to a 12% loss of gross domestic product (GDP) by the 2030s. Continue reading...

The destruction of nature over the rest of the decade could trigger a bigger economic slump in Britain than those caused by the 2008 global financial crisis and the Covid pandemic, experts have warned.

Sounding the alarm over the rising financial cost from pollution, damage to water systems, soil erosion, and threats from disease, the report by the Green Finance Institute warned that further breakdown in the UK’s natural environment could lead to a 12% loss of gross domestic product (GDP) by the 2030s.

In a report that received input from experts across academia and government, the authors argued that “gradual, year-to year environmental degradation is as detrimental or more so than climate change”.

The continued loss of natural habitats in urban and rural areas would compare unfavourably with the financial crisis of 2008, which took about 5% off the value of UK GDP, while the Covid pandemic cost the UK 11% of its GDP in 2020.

The academics used three scenarios to construct the report: domestic risks from continued UK environment breakdown; international risks – including destruction to nature in countries which are key UK trading partners; and a health scenario, focusing on the dangers of a fresh global pandemic.

All three took into account current trends in environmental breakdown – including water and air pollution, soil health erosion and biodiversity loss – resulting in a hit to GDP worth up to 3%, or about £70bn by the late 2020s.

The report then added “acute risks” on top of these trends – including floods, droughts and wildfires – which would result in a 6% loss to GDP in the domestic and international scenarios, and a 12% hit in a health scenario, reflecting the extreme dangers to the UK economy from a renewed pandemic.

Ministers are expected to take an interest in the report amid concern over the potential dangers to the economy from nature breakdown. Environment minister Richard Benyon said the report showed that nature “underpins the health of our economy and it is under threat from a global nature crisis”.

The former Conservative MP, whose family controls a 5,600-hectare (14,000-acre) estate in west Berkshire, southern England, said the responsibility to conserve nature “lies with all sectors and sections of society, and green finance has a crucial role to play”.

He said: “The findings in this report will help people and institutions across the corporate and finance sectors understand that it is in their own interests to go further and faster for the planet to protect it for future generations.”

Shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed, blamed the government for the UK becoming “one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world”.

Saying that the UK needed “to reverse the tide of destruction”, Reed committed Labour to cleaner air and water “and growing nature-rich habitats for wildlife to thrive”.

The Green Finance Institute describes itself as the UK and Europe’s “principal forum for innovation in green finance” bringing together banks, academics, philanthropists and government bodies to develop climate-friendly policies and financial products.

The report warned that unless action is taken, UK banks will need to reduce their exposure to the worst hit industries or find themselves increasing the risk of losses from bad loans. About 50% of the extra cost will come from the loss of nature overseas that the UK relies on to provide food, natural resources and trade.

Partly funded by the government with input from the Treasury and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the authors also relied on advice and information from the Bank of England, Oxford and Reading universities, the UN’s environment programme, and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

The report said: “The impacts of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation will not be felt alone but will compound with climate risks. Both are happening at once and there are strong feedback effects between the loss of natural capital and climate change.”

The study follows a Treasury-backed review in 2021 by the Cambridge economist Sir Partha Dasgupta, who found that the world was being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world.

Last year, the government agency Natural England launched its Nature Returns programme to coordinate efforts across government and the private sector to explore how the UK can best use land in England “to address climate change whilst producing food and promoting thriving nature”.

The agency said it wanted “to mobilise the billions in private investment that government estimates we need to meet our national net zero commitments”.

Read the full story here.
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Dominical’s Water Crisis: The Shocking Truth Behind the Illegal Development Project

Greed, corruption, land exploitation, and water shortages… these may sound like themes from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, but the residents of Dominical will tell you that these issues are a reality in their own backyard. This situation is indicative of a larger trend in Costa Rica, where developers openly flaunt environmental laws with little to no […] The post Dominical’s Water Crisis: The Shocking Truth Behind the Illegal Development Project appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.

Greed, corruption, land exploitation, and water shortages… these may sound like themes from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, but the residents of Dominical will tell you that these issues are a reality in their own backyard. This situation is indicative of a larger trend in Costa Rica, where developers openly flaunt environmental laws with little to no consequences for their actions. While El Niño brought lower than normal rainfall to Costa Rica at the beginning of 2024, members of the community in Dominical claim that it is not the weather phenomenon, but rather a development project in the mountains that has caused a series of extended water shortages – the longest of which, on March 22, lasted over 10 hours. Even though Costa Rican law explicitly states that development projects cannot interfere with water supplies, attempts to notify the authorities of the issue in Dominical seemed to be futile. Multiple complaints or denuncias were made through the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) Integrated System for Processing and Attention to Environmental Complaints (SITADA), but there were reportedly no responses. This led residents to take matters into their own hands by creating a coalition of community members, informally called Water Issues Dominical, to raise awareness of the development project and how it was affecting their water supply. By using flyers to inform home and business owners in town of what was going on, only then were the residents able to raise concern to collectively pressure the landowners and effectively put a halt to the project. However, according to members of the committee, the community is still dealing with the aftermath of the illegal development. The water supplying Dominical originates from a series of natural springs in the mountains above town. These springs are situated on a parcel of land, about 650,000 square meters, and for 80 years this land was owned by a family who allowed the community access to the water source. The water was later “donated” in 2008 to the community and management of the water supply was effectively taken over by the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA). The manner in which this water becomes available for consumption in the town of Dominical is through an old-fashioned treatment system, in which the source water first flows down to a tank. It then passes through a filter where sand and other organic matter are removed before it enters a second holding tank. After that, chlorine is added to kill bacteria, but not so much to impact the taste and smell of the water itself. Many of the long-time residents of Dominical will say that this old-school system has provided them with some of the cleanest and best water in all of Costa Rica. Several years back, the owners of the parcel that contained the springs died and the land changed hands a couple of times. According to the Water Issues Dominical committee, the most recent owners used a local who hired Nicaraguan workers to carry out the work of illegally clear-cutting a swath of trees. When AyA instructed them to stop, the workers continued felling trees using axes, rather than chainsaws, presumably because they make less noise. All this was done in the area where the springs that feed Dominical’s water supply are located. Costa Rican law states that all water belongs to the government, whether it be ocean, river, estuary, lake, spring, or even groundwater and no land can be altered within 200 meters from sources of water that serve a public water system. These government-created protection zones exist because having healthy tree coverage is important to clean drinking water. A reduction in vegetation, due to the felling of trees, causes more erosion, leading to excess sediment entering the streams and rivers. When this water reaches the water treatment system, the increased sedimentation means the system has to be shut off in order for the particles to settle. During this time, the only source of water for consumption comes from the second holding tank, which does not provide enough water to supply the town for an extended period of time. It may take hours for the sediments to settle and for the system to start working again. This all means that in the meantime, homes and businesses are without water. According to AyA, this is exactly what has been happening to Dominical’s water supply. For restaurants in particular, there is a negative financial impact when they are unable to provide their clients with food and drink, not to mention the sanitary services necessary for a functioning establishment. Mariela Céspedes, the Assistant Manager at Mono Congo Cafe, said that during these periods in which Dominical was without water, they couldn’t serve coffee or smoothies to their customers and the only way they were able to stay open at all was because the employees, in anticipation of the shortage, collected enough water in the days prior. Other restaurants that did not collect water were forced to close their doors until the water situation improved. According to Norma Pellot, owner of Café Olas, they had to turn away customers during this time. The same was true for several hotels in town who had to cancel reservations and refund their guests. So if the impact of a single development project can have such an oversized negative impact on an entire community, why doesn’t the municipality get more involved to prevent these issues before they become a problem? Guy Phillips who lives in Escaleras, a community adjacent to Dominical, has investigated this very topic. With a resume that includes a PhD in Environmental Economics and Law from the University of Wisconsin, Professor and Chairman of the Environmental Management Department at the University of California, Riverside, and Assistant Secretary for Resources and Energy for then-Governor of California Jerry Brown, Dr. Phillips has extensive experience in governmental decisions and their effects on the environment and the community. He points out that the Mission Statement on the Municipality of Osa’s website states that they are responsible for “contributing to comprehensive social, economic and environmental development to satisfy the current and future needs of the cantón’s citizens.” Furthermore, the website states the Municipality’s Vision Statement guarantees a “commitment to the interests and needs of the citizens of the cantón, providing them with services that are aimed at sustainable human and environmental development.” However, the Municipality is having difficulty achieving its Mission or Vision due to the volume of development project permit applications, coupled with pressure from pro-development interest groups to act quickly in approving the permits. To complicate matters, a lack of resources and personnel to investigate the projects prior to approval, or to sufficiently monitor compliance with the permits after they have been issued, results in some of these projects going ahead, regardless of their compliance with Costa Rican environmental law. Dr. Phillips states that the result is that “the burden of proof for wrongful actions or inappropriate agreements falls on the aggrieved member of the public after the key decision has already been made and the permit has been issued.” All this is for those projects that actually do go through the official channels of approval. However, when it comes to the development project that is affecting the water in Dominical, as is the case with many other projects in the country, the sentiment is that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Dr. Phillips offers that the public can show the responsible agencies that they are serious about the government upholding their environmental laws. This involves forming working groups to address elected officials in several areas, including monitoring and transparency, increasing resources of the public agencies that oversee the permitting and execution of development projects, and increasing public engagement in civic affairs that affect their daily lives. The last of which has already been taking place in Dominical through the formation of the Water Issues Dominical group and their informational campaign to educate the community on what is happening to their water and what needs to be done to reverse the problem. There is more than water at stake. From the view of many of the residents of Dominical, the government’s response to this issue has been inadequate. This feeds a growing perception that Costa Rica, a country renowned for efforts it has made in the past to increase biodiversity, is shifting its priorities from conservation to development. The rapid development in the coastal areas is threatening the environmental gains Costa Rica has made in the last 40 years. Many citizens feel that the government does not have their backs and they have to rely on grassroots organization in order to protect their communities from unsustainable development. Whether real or perceived, a growing cynicism is starting to take hold in Costa Rica and if it wants to continue being the vanguard for what it means to be a green country, Costa Rica needs to figure out how to effectively balance developmental growth with sustainability or it will start to be known as a country that values a different type of green. About the Author Ryan Meczkowski is a Naturalist Guide and Founder of CR Naturalist Experiences, which offersnight tours and educational nature excursions in Uvita de Osa. Email: cr.naturalist@gmail.comWhatsApp +506 6132 9436 The post Dominical’s Water Crisis: The Shocking Truth Behind the Illegal Development Project appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.

What a Year on Ozempic Taught Johann Hari

A chronicler of addictions struggles to control himself.

In the fall of 2005, Johann Hari, then a young columnist for The Independent who was struggling with his weight, described a trip he said he’d taken to a wellness spa in the foothills of the Carinthian Alps. After spending just four days there on a cleansing diet that consisted almost entirely of drinking tea—Hari could not bear to stay a moment longer—he’d lost seven pounds. “The cravings for lard had leeched out of my system,” he marveled in his write-up, noting that he hadn’t yet regained the weight.Hari tells this Alpine-detox story once again in Magic Pill, his fourth and latest book, released last month—but the anecdote now appears to hold a different lesson. Instead of maintaining his new diet, he seems to relapse: “When I got home, I felt like a failure,” he now says of the very same experience. “Where, I wondered, was my willpower?”The new book’s title is a slanted reference to Ozempic (which doesn’t come in pill form), and to the new class of anti-obesity medications that is already reshaping health care for tens of millions of Americans. Many of Magic Pill’s 250 pages describe these drugs’ amazing benefits and potential harms; most of the rest are devoted to a workmanlike review of certain social causes of obesity, and how they might one day be reversed. Some portions of this story have been told in other places—Hari makes ample references to other well-known books. But his account brings an element of human drama that few could match, even when it’s just rehashing others’ work. That drama is the author’s own: Above all else, Magic Pill describes Hari’s everlasting struggle to control himself. Whether purposefully or not, he has produced a revealing record of his shame.Why does Hari feel ashamed? For one thing, he’s on Ozempic. Hari doesn’t really need to take Ozempic, but he’s on it nonetheless: That’s the premise of the book, as laid out from the start. He decided, “quite abruptly” as he puts it in the introduction, to begin injections. It was 2022, and his pandemic BMI had risen to a hair over 30, just high enough to qualify for a prescription. Going on it “was a snap decision,” he explains, “and later I realized I was driven by impulses I didn’t fully understand at the time.” A methodical examination of those impulses unspools from there: Across the book’s 12 chapters, Hari will ask himself why he can’t just stop eating. Why should he need the help of a powerful drug to lose weight? Where, he’ll wonder again and again, is his willpower?There are scientific answers to those questions, and also there are moral ones. “Taking Ozempic was a betrayal of my values. Every time I injected myself, I felt fraudulent,” he writes. A few pages later, he elaborates: “If I am totally honest, at some level, I believed that by taking these drugs, I was cheating.” This inner sense of crookedness is meant to stand in for a more expansive one. If he’s a victim of his impulses, then we all are as well. Why can’t any of us stop eating? Whatever happened to our willpower? And if Hari feels uneasy injecting himself with artificial self-restraint, then society should feel the same. We’ve made a religion, more or less, out of limitless consumption; we’ve allowed our diets to be overrun with processed, packaged foods. Now we’re rolling back the ill effects of too much eating with yet another branded product. Doesn’t this approach to public health feel a little bit like cheating? Isn’t it a form of fraud?This line of thinking holds a special resonance for Hari, who has in other contexts shown a catastrophic lack of self-control. In fact, his history as a journalist would seem to offer special insight into the battle between the id and the superego. As a columnist for magazines and newspapers—and as the guy who wrote about the Alpine weight-loss trip almost 20 years ago—he was once a lauded journalist. Hari’s work “combines courageous reporting and forceful writing with honest analysis,” announced a judge who awarded him the Orwell Prize in 2008. But Hari’s career appeared to reach an early end a few years later, when some of his work was found to be conspicuously dishonest. In 2011, he was outed as a plagiarist, and then for making vicious accusations about his rivals through a sock-puppet account on Wikipedia. “I did two wrong and stupid things,” Hari wrote in his final column for the Independent, under the headline “A personal apology.” He promised to step away from writing for a while so that he could study journalism, and that when he finished he’d be more scrupulous than he’d ever been before, footnoting all his work and posting audio of all his interviews. “I hope after a period of retraining, you will give me the chance,” he said.That chance arrived a few years later, when Hari reappeared with a best seller, Chasing the Scream, on the social causes of addiction, and a viral TED Talk—which has now been viewed 21 million times—on the same topic. He’s since written three more pop-science books, all of which are variations on this theme. In 2018, he published Lost Connections, another best seller, about depression, anxiety, and, to some extent, the nature of addiction. Hillary Clinton blurbed that one, and Ezra Klein had Hari on his podcast. After that was Stolen Focus, in 2022, about technology, distraction, and the limits of the will. Hari got another blurb from Clinton (among other celebrities), and spent another hour as a guest on Klein’s show. And now this year we have Magic Pill, Hari’s book about obesity, overeating, and, once again, the limits of the will.Which is to say, all of Hari’s writing since his comeback has been concerned—one might even say obsessed—with self-control and self-destruction; and with the interplay of forces, from without and from within, that may lead us into ruin. They present as social commentary, and also as self-help, and further as a meditation on the links between the social and the self. As Klein put it on his podcast, the books compose “a little subgenre taking conditions and afflictions that we individualize and arguing for their social roots.”Hari tends to use himself to illustrate those conditions and afflictions, however they arise. According to his books, he’s been hooked on stimulants; he’s also been strung out on antidepressants, dependent on his phone, and addicted to fried foods. He says he has a family history of drug dependence, and of mental illness, and also of obesity. In other words, Hari lives in just the way we all do: caught between desire and self-blame. His books describe dysregulation. They’re also a product of it.Back in 2015, when Hari gave his first post-scandal interview, he described himself, in a joke, as a “recovering former columnist.” His work since then does read like one extended chronicle of a struggle for sobriety—particularly when it comes to sticking to the facts. Hari’s books remind you in a hundred different ways that he’s on the wagon as a journalist. He posts the audio from many of his interviews, just as he promised he would, and he piles on the endnotes. “I went on a journey of over forty thousand miles. I conducted more than two hundred interviews across the world,” he boasts in the introduction to Lost Connections. “I went on a 30,000-mile journey … In the end, I interviewed over 250 experts,” he says in Stolen Focus. And now, apparently having rushed a bit for Magic Pill: “I went on a journey around the world, where I interviewed over a hundred experts.”But showing off is not the same as showing discipline. In spite of Magic Pill’s 394 endnotes (including those published on the website for the book) and 318 posted clips from interviews, and notwithstanding the pair of fact-checkers whom Hari thanks in his acknowledgments, the book is strewn with sloppy errors. Some of these have already been made public. When a British restaurant critic named Jay Rayner, described by Hari as having lost his love for food after going on Ozempic, pointed out on X last month that this was “complete and utter bollocks,” Hari admitted his mistake: “I apologise to Jay for getting this wrong, & am gutted I & my fact-checkers missed it,” he wrote. Then his proffered explanation—that he’d meant to cite the experience of the film critic Leila Latif when she was on Ozempic—ran aground as well. “I’m not, nor have I ever been, on semaglutide,” Latif chimed in just hours later.A few weeks ago he posted fixes for another seven errors from the book on his website, in response to an email from a journalist. (A detailed roundup of those mistakes has since been published in The Telegraph.) I came across a bunch of other glitches in my reading of the book. In one instance, Hari writes about an evening long ago when he heard about a restaurant in Las Vegas where the servers doled out spankings to anyone who didn’t clean their plate. According to the book, that conversation happened in the late 1990s or early aughts, but the restaurant in question—called the Heart Attack Grill—didn’t open in Las Vegas until 2011. This tiny error makes no difference to the story Hari tells, but lots of tiny errors, set against the backdrop of the author’s ostentatious rigor, tell a story of their own. In a chapter on the scourge of ultra-processed foods, Hari talks about the slurry of defatted beef that is sometimes called “pink slime,” suggesting that it got this name from a food executive. This is precisely not the case. (Food executives sued the guy who coined that phrase, along with the news outlet that reported it, for defamation.) When Hari writes about the big reveal of findings from a major trial of Ozempic’s use for losing weight, he sets the scene on “one day in 2022.” The reveal occurred in 2021. And when he describes a study of mothers who have been taught “responsive parenting” techniques, he says their children ended up half as likely to become obese or overweight as those of other parents. (Hari puts the word half in italics, to emphasize the size of the effect.) But this finding was not statistically significant, according to the published work to which he is referring. “Differences between study groups were modest,” it says.When reached by email, Hari acknowledged two of these mistakes and insisted that the other two were spurious. Some food executives did end up uttering the words pink slime, he said. (This was only in the course of responding to the PR crisis that the coinage had produced.) He also said that he’d drawn the stat about responsive parenting from a different paper that came out of the same research project, which was published two years earlier than the one cited in the endnotes of his book. (The text in Magic Pill clearly refers to the findings of the more recent paper.)I’m worried by this indolence with details, from a (once again) successful writer whose commitment to the truth was formerly in question. But I was disconcerted, too, by Hari’s careless use of language. He’s a lovely writer when he wants to be: As a columnist, his early work—filled with fizzy, funny formulations—was a pleasure to consume. Now he sometimes writes as though he’s dishing day-old cream of wheat. “Then a breakthrough came from totally out of left field,” reads one characteristic section opener. The scientists in Magic Pill are said to have “aha moments,” “light-bulb moments,” and moments as “in a game show, where you realize you’ve won the jackpot”; and many of their reported quotes—which Hari tends to give at snippet-length—are comically banal. “That was unbelievably exciting,” an endocrinologist tells him, in reference to the FDA’s approval of a diabetes drug. “When you have obesity as a child, it’s very difficult to become un-obese,” another source explains.[Read: Ozempic or bust]He’s also shameless about recycling his work. “I’d like to briefly restate a little of what I wrote,” he offers at one point, as the setup for a two-page run-through of a scene from Lost Connections. In other places, second-hand material gets passed off as something new. “If I was a sandwich, you wouldn’t want to eat me,” he says he told his trainer in Magic Pill, after learning that his body-fat percentage was up to 32. He made the same incomprehensible joke about his body-fat percentage, using almost the same words, in the story about his visit to the Austrian health spa from 2005: “If I were a sandwich, nobody would eat me. Except me.” He also used it in a column from 2010: “If I were a sandwich, nobody would eat me except me.”Some stretches of Magic Pill are so caked over with cliché that you can’t help but wonder if Hari might be doing it on purpose. He writes about a time when “something unexpected happened,” and then another time when someone “stumbled on an unexpected fact,” and a third when a lot of people started to “notice something unexpected.” This formulation—someone noticed something—keeps coming back: We hear from people who have variously “noticed something weird,” “noticed something odd,” “notice[d] something disconcerting,” “noticed something striking,” “noticed something peculiar,” or simply “noticed something” (which occurs multiple times on its own).Some people are so rich they’re said to have fuck-you money. As I read through Magic Pill, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this Hari’s fuck-you prose? But then something else occurred to me: Ironically, and despite its tendency toward sloppiness, this is Hari’s writing on a diet. Sure, he used to tell his stories with panache, but that was the old Johann Hari—the fried-chicken-eating Johann Hari, the pill-popping Johann Hari, the plagiarizing Johann Hari. Now he’s on a strict regimen of bullet points. He’s skimmed the oil from his writing and doubled down on adding fiber.Why else would he insist on keeping track of all the miles that he’s traveled for each book? Why else would he be calculating (and reporting!) the numbers of his interviews? And why else would Hari feel the need to enumerate his every thought and argument as if it were a meal to be recorded in a food-tracking app? Magic Pill, like all his other books, is preoccupied with numbered lists. He can’t seem to stop himself from tallying: the five reasons we eat; the seven ways that processed foods will undermine your health; the 12 potential risks of taking drugs like Ozempic; and the five long-term scenarios that these drugs may yet produce. Was this just another form of laziness? He’s counting calories, of course; he’s showing you his work is made from whole ingredients. This is journalism on a detox cleanse. This is how you write for sustenance instead of pleasure. And this may be what you do when you’re a recovering former columnist.“I work hard to make my books both factually accurate and transparent,” Hari told me in his emailed response. “Because of some things I did that were unambiguously wrong 14 years ago, I am held to a high standard, and I embrace that high standard.” But few efforts at self-discipline can last for long, as Magic Pill itself explains.The book describes a long history of research showing that losing weight by eating less is often ineffective. “When I injected myself with Ozempic for the fifth month in a row, I thought of all the diets I had tried over the years, all the times I had tried to cut out carbs or sugar,” Hari writes. “I wondered if all those diets had been a sad joke all along, and this was my only option now.” As a journalist, he also ends up straying from his regimen: From time to time, and in place of conversations with his expert sources, Hari slips into a looser and more entertaining style. He talks about his friends, for instance, and describes the conversations they’ve had about Ozempic. Hari’s pals, unlike his sources, tend to speak in long and lively monologues that just happen to encapsulate the themes of Magic Pill. “How much is this really about improving your health?” asks a friend whom he decides to call Lara. “I don’t think, for you, it is. Not really. Not primarily. I want you to stop, and really think about it.” She goes on: I’ve known you for twenty-five years, and you’ve never been happy about how you look. You look good. I’ve always thought you looked good. But you don’t think you do. So you’re taking this drug—and all these huge risks—to conform to a particular look, an approved look, the most socially approved look. That’s why you’re doing it. You want to be thin. Those people at that Hollywood party you went to, where you learned about this drug for the first time, and you texted me all excited—they weren’t doing this to boost their health. They were already healthy. They had private chefs to cook them the healthiest possible food. They see a personal trainer every day. They were doing it to be unnaturally thin. You aren’t taking these risks to have a healthy heart. You’re taking them to have cheekbones. Lara continues in this vein, with very minor interjections from the author, across five pages of the book. This reads like Hari’s writing on a binge, unchecked by endnotes or the need for posting audio from interviews. (The bits about his friends come with no citations.) And he’s in binge mode, too, when he’s telling stories from his past, like the one about the wellness trip to Austria. Certain rigors now appear to be suspended, and the facts get kind of doughy.[Read: Ozempic patients need an off ramp]For instance, when Hari first wrote about his visit to the Alpine clinic, for The Independent in 2005, he said that he was met at the entrance by a man. In Magic Pill, it’s “a woman dressed in an elaborate nineteenth-century Austrian peasant costume.” (When reached by email, Hari blamed this gender inconsistency on a typo in the first version, which turned she into he.) The same woman comes back later in the retold version of the story, still in her elaborate peasant costume, where the original version refers only to a “nurse.” Hari says in Magic Pill that multiple staffers at the clinic were in these silly peasant outfits. The version from The Independent—from which entire paragraphs have otherwise been borrowed word for word—mentions none of them. (“It’s normal, when writing an article, to leave out some minor descriptive details, and to include them when you have more space later,” Hari told me in the email.)Similar adjustments can be found in Hari’s other reheated anecdotes. He starts the book with one about a trip he took to KFC on Christmas Eve in 2009, where all the members of the restaurant’s staff surprised him with a giant Christmas card addressed “to our best customer,” which included personal messages from each of them. He told the same story a few years ago in Lost Connections, and before that in an Independent column in 2010. But the original version takes place on December 23, not Christmas Eve; “You are our best customer” is a thing that’s said out loud, not written on a card, and there’s no mention of any personal messages from anyone at the restaurant. (Hari acknowledged that he’d made an error on the date, and told me that he’d be “happy to correct this.”) If these stories have been lightly edited, all the changes were of course unnecessary. Perhaps the clinic sounds a little sillier with the staff in dirndls, and the story of the card from KFC lands a little better when it plays out on Christmas Eve. But why would Hari bother to adjust these minor details when he’s taking such pains in other ways to demonstrate his scruples?Hari’s subject matter and his execution seem to come together in these moments. He’s explained the social and environmental causes of compulsive overeating, and he’s appealed to all the ways in which behavior can be shaped by past experience. In recent years he’s done the same for drug abuse, depression, and distraction. After nearly losing his career for taking liberties with facts, Hari has gotten famous as a chronicler and social theorist of our lack of self-control. But however it’s presented, his struggle to constrain himself still appears to be ongoing. Johann Hari keeps wondering what happened to his willpower. Four books into his comeback, we all might wonder just the same.

A Closer Look at America’s Water Crisis

New Mexico’s unprotected waters demonstrate how pollution, drought, and the climate crisis converge to harm communities.

The sunflowers behind Conjunto Preschool in Española, New Mexico, are still inedible.  The soils that they sprout from are saturated with tetrachloroethene. The water poured by preschoolers, receiving some of their first lessons in gardening around these raised beds, is contaminated with trichloroethylene.  More than two decades ago, byproducts from cleaning supplies flowed from a local dry cleaner and laundromat into Española’s sole groundwater aquifer, the only source of drinking water for the town’s 10,000 residents. The contaminants also trickled into individual wells, a key water source for the Santa Clara Pueblo tribe’s 2,400 members. For eighteen years, the fifty-eight-acre North Railroad Avenue Plume Superfund site underwent studies, treatments, and reviews at the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2019, cleanup and maintenance duties were transferred to the state’s hands. To this day, according to Beata Tsosie, a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo, their water remains affected. “Humans are an indicator species for the health of the environment, especially Indigenous people,” says Tsosie, the organizational director of Breath of My Heart Birthplace, a free midwifery care clinic and birth center in Española. Tsosie is also involved in Indigenous and environmental advocacy work.  “We’ve seen cancers, we’ve seen miscarriages, we’ve seen birth defects—the burden of proof of the harm [is] falling on us as one of the most impacted communities,” she adds. Yet these school garden sunflowers continue to grow. And, if they had not been deemed “unacceptable risks to human health” by EPA guidelines, their seeds, stems, leaves, and petals could have been used in local recipes and healthy meals. Until then, the community continues to hope for a future brimming with cleaner, healthier New Mexico waters—a vision that last May, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 5 to 4 favor of Sackett v. EPA, turned all the more hazy.   The Clean Water Act’s scope shrunk significantly as a result of the ruling, which removed federal protections for America’s small streams and wetlands that do not run with water year-round or are disconnected from major waterbodies. No state lost more than New Mexico, where an arid climate and mountainous geography make seasonal flows, isolated basins, and small channels the norm. Overnight, 96 percent of the state’s waterways—which in addition to supplying water for drinking and sanitation support the economies of subsistence fishers, growers, and a $2.4 billion outdoor recreation industry—were left federally unguarded, vulnerable to pollution and unregulated usage.  Making matters worse, says Rachel Conn, the deputy director of Amigos Bravos, a freshwater-focused environmental nonprofit in Taos, New Mexico, is a well-intentioned yet unprepared state government. The New Mexico Water Quality Act (NMWQA), a strong piece of state-level legislation, is the last safeguard standing for a majority of the state’s waters. Yet currently, it’s more bark than bite with virtually no infrastructure to support and enforce it. “We don’t have a state program, we don’t have the regulations set, we don’t have the staff hired, we don’t have the systems in place to implement its protections,” Conn says. “So we’re left really vulnerable to unregulated discharges of pollution into our waterways.” New Mexico is one of only two states without a surface water permitting program, and one of three states that lacks the authority to issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPES) permits under the Clean Water Act. Officials estimate between $43 million and $54 million would be needed annually to support such a program. A significant victory was achieved this past January, when the state legislature approved the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund with bipartisan support. The fund’s $300 million appropriation is the state’s first-ever consistent and long-term funding source for water and stream conservation.  But how and if the funds are allocated and used across New Mexico’s departments and communities remains to be seen. For the sake of its waters, the state has only a short window to get its act together. In roughly five years’ time, the current EPA-issued permits that regulate discharge and pollution—in mining, construction, or other development-oriented enterprises—will expire.  “That’s kind of the point we expect to see a lot of permits drop off,” Conn says. “It’s hard to monitor projects that go forward without a paper trail.” In April, New Mexico’s water worries featured prominently in the American Rivers Association’s annual “Most Endangered Rivers of 2024” report. It was a unique yet necessary decision to give the top spot to the entirety of the state’s riparian ecosystem, says Matt Rice, the association’s southwest regional director.  While a majority of New Mexico’s freshwater flows in its four largest rivers—the Rio Grande, the Gila, the San Juan, and the Pecos—there is virtually no part of the state’s vast watershed that is unconnected. High-elevation wetlands filter snowmelt into cool headwaters that flow into tributaries and channels, eventually proceeding to rivers’ main stems. But these alpine ecosystems, which act as water-purifying sponges, are no longer protected due to the Supreme Court’s decision. What begins in the mountains cascades down to surface water, crop fields, sinks, and showers. “If there’s pollution going into one part of the watershed, it’s going to end up in the main stem, where there are structures that divert surface water for drinking,” Conn says. “If the water is dirtier, it is going to be more expensive to treat, and [that] will be a huge financial burden on New Mexico communities.” In May, New Mexico’s government released a new Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan, outlining its intentions to strengthen water infrastructure, supply systems, and treatment facilities. The report also included dismal weather forecasts that these goals would need to overcome: statewide average temperature increases of between 3 degrees Fahrenheit and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and from 5 to 10 percent less precipitation in all but a few counties by 2050. “We no longer use the word ‘drought,’ because it suggests that there’s an end,” Rice says. “This is a different world, this is the aridification of the West. The climate crisis is a water crisis.” “Temperature is considered a pollutant,” Conn adds. New Mexico’s current hydrology and its leadership’s actions have the potential to be a blueprint for states like Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado. “If we can demonstrate to the Western United States that a diverse group of people, organizations, and interests can get together and protect rivers of natural, cultural, and community value, we can do anything,” Rice says.  And it isn’t just the West watching. Drier summers and milder winters across the country are already demoting full-time flows to weaker or part-time trickles. In February, a study of North American rivers published in Science found that 40 percent of the continent’s northern rivers, and 18 percent of its central rivers, are experiencing a “significant decrease in river flow seasonality.”  New Mexico is the last U.S. state with a citizen’s legislature, meaning that its lawmakers receive no salary and tend to step down at the end of their respective terms. This June, both the Senate (20 seats) and House (28 seats) chambers are up for election, setting up a major shake-up at a time when bipartisan partnership and prioritizing of water is needed more than ever.  “When everyone was talking about Flint, Michigan, it’s like, ‘We have that here, too,’ ” says Demis Foster, the executive director of Conservation Voters New Mexico, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to informing voters and holding leaders accountable on matters of the environment. “This is a very heartfelt issue here, and we have a lot of young people running for office who have watched their community suffer. It gives me hope that we have real community people running.” Across party lines and in both rural and urban counties, water is a top concern for New Mexico’s voters. According to a 2024 Colorado College State of the Rockies poll, 88 percent of the state’s respondents said that poor water quality due to old infrastructure or pollutants was a serious problem, and 96 percent said low river flows were an extremely serious problem. In the poll’s 2023 edition, 83 percent of New Mexicans said they “support requiring local governments to determine whether there is enough water available before approving new residential development projects.” The next state legislature session, which lasts 60 days in odd-numbered years, opens in January 2025. For the sake of the state’s waters, Foster says, not a minute can afford to be wasted.  “We have to be ready with some kind of state rulemaking and policy that we can get put in place immediately,” she says. “So we have a water coalition in New Mexico now that is working really intensely on how we can put the policy together. These new candidates are going to be key to getting that done for us.” The effects of both climate and policy changes are felt first and most intimately at the local level.  In Northern New Mexico, these impacts are expected to endanger the health of acequias—surface-water community ditches that collect and divert freshwater from headwaters and streams, and have been prevalent in rural communities since Spanish colonizers and settlers introduced the practice in the 1600s. In the years since, these have become crucial social and environmental pillars within New Mexican culture and economies, providing small ranchers and growers with the water they need to water fields, grow crops, and raise livestock.  “Acequias are fundamental cornerstones of New Mexico’s history and culture, they’re important and beautiful components of life and water rights across generations,” Conn says. Those dependent on these shared ditches, which have offered families and low-income residents cost-effective access to water for generations, will now face the real possibility of their contamination.  Though acequias aren’t the only water-distribution solution, they also are not ubiquitously appreciated. Indigenous growers know there used to be a greater balance between the use of irrigation ditches and dryland farming techniques that are less water-intensive, such as rainwater catchment, earthwork building, contour farming, and food forest ecologies. In the past, these growing practices withstood times of pre-colonization drought. But Tsosie has observed an increased number of irrigation systems in her Santa Clara Pueblo, a legacy of Spanish influence. Here, the history of New Mexico’s hydrology has been reflected by the hardiness of her community’s seeds. “There’s a possibility that some of our seeds may have gotten spoiled by having an abundance of water,” she says. “But we still have a lot of dryland seeds that grow only with rainwater.”  The resurgence of these older growing methods may prove vital for small-time farmers, both Indigenous and non, whose only water supplies are now doubly endangered by pollution and drought. The possibility of relying on city water systems and state-led testing programs is both uncertain and potentially expensive, sparking questions that New Mexico’s government will need to answer soon. “The cost to farmers, if contamination in our water and sewage systems is found, is going to be huge,” Tsosie says. “How are we going to adapt and switch over to different technologies? Is crop sampling [for toxic chemicals] going to be available? Are we going to have to pay for that?”

These cities are facing ‘Day Zero’: Cape Town asked for guidance

After Cape Town beat a water crisis in 2017/2018, drought-stricken cities in the Americas are now facing their own ‘Day Zero.’ The post These cities are facing ‘Day Zero’: Cape Town asked for guidance appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.

Mexico City and the Colombian capital of Bogotá are staring down ‘Day Zero’ as their reservoirs dry up during an El Niño-fueled drought. In Mexico City, residents often find their taps dry for hours, and when water flows, it can be dark brown and foul-smelling, writes Grist. A former political leader has urged the public to “prioritise essential actions for survival” as reservoirs run dry. Similarly, in Bogotá, reservoir levels are plummeting, which has prompted rotating water shutoffs. The mayor has even asked families to shower together, and leave the city on weekends to save water. These measures come as a ‘heat dome’ above central America, driven by El Niño, is shattering temparture records. The El Niño climate phenomenon periodically brings exceptionally dry weather to the Southern Hemisphere, and Central and South America are experiencing severe drought conditions. Officials in both cities have warned that in June their water systems might reach a “Day Zero” – where taps will run dry, unless residents cut water usage. Cape Town now serves as a reference point for these Latin American cities, after the South African city famously averted ‘Day Zero’. Cape Town made global headlines in 2018 when it was just months away from a total collapse of its reservoir system. Thanks to an unprecedented public awareness campaign, and strict tariffs on high water consumption, Cape Town was pulled back from the brink. Six years later, Cape Town is seen as a success story in municipal crisis management. However, experts say its blueprint may be difficult for Mexico City and Bogotá to follow due to aging infrastructure, and a lack of public buy-in. HOW CAPE TOWN DID IT Many officials in Cape Town had seen the water crisis coming for years, and coining the very phrase “Day Zero” was part of the city’s solution. City leaders released dozens of statements to urge residents to cut back on water usage as reservoir levels fell between 2015 and 2017. It was only when officials began speaking in apocalyptic terms about taps running dry that Capetonians really paid attention. While there were fees for heavy water users and campaigns to shame water hogs, it was the “Day Zero” rhetoric that proved the most effective tool. With citzens and businesses following guidelines and sharing water conservation tricks, by April 2018, water consumption in Cape Town had dropped by half compared to three years earlier. The estimated Day Zero date was continuously pushed back until significant seasonal rainfall refilled the reservoirs and ended the immediate crisis. THE CHALLENGES FOR MEXICO CITY AND BOGOTÁ  In order for these messages to work, residents have to trust their leaders. “It won’t work here, because there’s a lack of confidence in the government,” said Manuel Perló Cohen, a professor who studies water infrastructure at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “People don’t believe in most of what the government says, even if it’s the truth.” Cohen noted the city’s poor infrastructure and how 40% of its municipal water is lost to leakage from pipes and canals. The city also battles water theft from organised crime groups. Bogotá on the other hand has both the public trust and political power to implement rotating water shutoffs, but is said to lack public enthusiasm. “These types of campaigns are difficult to get across to people,” said Laura Bulbena, a Bogotá-based advocate with the environmental NGO World Resources Institute. “It’s rained a little in Bogotá, two weeks passed, and actually the numbers show that water consumption went up. So not only there isn’t enough reduction, there’s not enough water coming into the reservoirs.” OTHER WATER SOURCES There are other lessons from Cape Town’s water crisis that any city could follow, writes Grist, to improve its water security and that is water augmentation. The City has diversified its water system to become less reliant on reservoirs, by investing in seawater desalination plants and recharging groundwater aquifers with treated wastewater. Bogotá laregly relies on reservoirs for its entire water supply, but experts say the local water utility could tap the healthy underground aquifer beneath the city. There are also suggestions that restoring a natural environment in the nearby Bogotá River could help clean the river’s water for drinking. “The water system is overall very good in Bogotá, but the city must invest in a backup system, because this El Niño system will probably be repeated frequently,” said Armando Sarmiento López, a professor of ecology at Javeriana University in Bogotá. Mexico City also needs to address systemic issues. According to Alejandra Lopez Rodriguez, a policy advocate at the Nature Conservancy in Mexico City, the government of that city should fix the leakage problems and build wastewater treatment plants. “We have resources and we have access to financing,” she said. “It just also takes a will and an interest to want to invest in these issues.” The post These cities are facing ‘Day Zero’: Cape Town asked for guidance appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.

Why knock down all public housing towers when retrofit can sometimes be better?

Our research shows decisions on the fate of public housing towers that are based on a proper process of considering all the evidence could go either way: demolish and rebuild, or retrofit.

The Victorian government is planning Australia’s largest urban renewal project. The plan is to knock down and rebuild 44 large public housing towers in Melbourne. The government says these towers, built in the 1960s and ’70s, are no longer fit for purpose and will cost more to maintain and upgrade than to replace. Rebuilding will allow 20,000 more people to live on these sites. However, most of the extra housing will be for private renters or owners. It will not add much more public or affordable housing. Rebuilding involves breaking up public housing communities. Many tenants have already been forcibly displaced. Removing stock from the system to make way for future housing reduces the capacity to house people in need amid a housing crisis. Tearing down so much concrete and other materials and rebuilding in a carbon-constrained world also raises concerns about the public value for money and the loss of embodied carbon in these old buildings. The materials and energy needed to erect a new building create a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Construction produces almost a fifth of Australia’s emissions. Some industry experts say the housing towers are structurally sound. They and other sustainability researchers argue that retrofits can bring the buildings up to modern standards. This approach would improve thermal comfort, cut energy bills and produce fewer emissions. Some retrofitted buildings could have half the embodied energy of newly built ones. And communities could largely remain in place while the work is done. Public housing complexes across Australia face similar renewal proposals. In each case, there are valid questions about the balance of public and private benefit. So, how should decisions on public housing account for environmental, social and economic costs and benefits for all the people and interests involved? We draw on our recent research on life-cycle impacts and public housing tenant relocations to answer this question. Our research shows decisions on each tower that are underpinned by a proper process – one that considers all the evidence – could go either way: demolish and rebuild, or retrofit. What are the options for ageing buildings? Broadly, there are three options for older high-rise housing: maintain retrofit knock down and rebuild. The first option is increasingly unviable. This is because of the urgent need to decarbonise our building stock and the impacts of decades of under-maintenance on such buildings. In 2017, the Auditor-General’s Office found the Victorian government lacked the capacity to “reliably assess the condition of its stock, and consequently whether it is deteriorating at a rate faster than it is ageing”. Maintaining the current stock, while not knowing its condition, would require a massive policy shift and repair effort. That leaves us with retrofits or demolition and rebuilding. The government has chosen the third option for all 44 towers. The table below sums up the broader costs and benefits of demolition and rebuilding. Table: The Conversation. Data: Authors, CC BY There has been pushback against the impacts on housing tower communities since the plans were announced last September. Two towers are already empty. Other tenants will be relocated in the coming year. Tenants claim their human rights were not considered and launched a class action in the Victorian Supreme Court. The action was recently dismissed, but the judge allowed for a revised argument to be put forward in the future. The table below shows the costs and benefits of retrofitting. Clearly, for each project, there’s a lot to consider in deciding on the best option. Table: The Conversation. Data: Authors, CC BY Current decision-making is skewed Proposals for public high-rise buildings often focus on direct, short-term economic costs and benefits. Typically, the equation centres on the costs of retaining buildings versus the windfalls from redevelopment, such as unlocking the latent value of land. Proposed changes to the site, such as providing more dwellings and shifting management of public housing to non-government landlords, often alter this equation. Amid a housing crisis, housing supply is understandably high on the policy agenda. Decision-makers often neglect the environmental and social impacts. Research has found retrofitting reduces embodied carbon, waste and other environmental impacts by up to 50% compared to rebuilding. On top of this are the social impacts of redevelopment that demolishes people’s homes and breaks up communities. This leads to poorer health, economic and social outcomes for public housing tenants. In considering all these impacts, the lack of publicly available information on the government’s decision-making is a glaring problem. This comes back to process. In particular, there’s a need for transparency about the metrics and evidence used to make decisions, and for accountability for those decisions. At a minimum, independently verified studies of the environmental, social, health and economic costs and benefits over the buildings’ life cycle should be made public before decisions are made. Retrofitting is a viable option There are a number of examples where older high-rise housing has been retained and improved. For example, in the Cité du Grand Parc in France, 530 apartments in three blocks needed renovation once demolition was ruled out. In this case, sustainability considerations held sway. As well as improving the interior, winter gardens and balconies were added. This work extended living spaces and provided more natural light. The award-winning project was planned so residents didn’t have to move out. Each flat was completed in around 12 to 16 days. Closer to home, not-for-profit design agency OFFICE found the Victorian government could save more than A$88 million by refurbishing and including infill development rather than rebuilding the Barak Beacon public housing estate in Port Melbourne. Some 238 social housing dwellings could be added around the existing buildings. The OFFICE report estimated not having to relocate the community would save $16 million. This approach could also reduce embodied energy by 54% and impacts of land use to produce building materials by 273%. The Victorian government’s plans intensify the twin challenges of overcoming housing shortages and decarbonising buildings. As Australia’s high-rise housing stock ages, we need a co-ordinated, accountable and fair process for deciding the future of these buildings. This means balancing environmental, social, health and economic costs and benefits across all affected people and interests, based on the best information available. Trivess Moore has received funding from various organisations including the Australian Research Council, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Victorian Government and various industry partners. He is a trustee of the Fuel Poverty Research Network.David Kelly has received funding from various organisations including the Australian Research Council, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and various industry partners. Ralph Horne has received funding from various organisations including the Australian Research Council, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Victorian Government and various industry partners. Robert Crawford has received funding from various organisations including the Australian Research Council.

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