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This is how your world could end

The 2014 El Portal fire burning near Yosemite National Park, California. Scientists have warned that rising global temperatures will lead to more wildfires in Yosemite and elsewhere. Photograph: Stuart Palley/EPA  theguardian.com - Peter Brannen - September 9th 2017

Image:  The 2014 El Portal fire burning near Yosemite National Park, California. Scientists have warned that rising global temperatures will lead to more wildfires in Yosemite and elsewhere. Photograph: Stuart Palley/EPA

theguardian.com - Peter Brannen - September 9th 2017

Many of us share some dim apprehension that the world is flying out of control, that the centre cannot hold. Raging wildfires, once-in-1,000-years storms and lethal heatwaves have become fixtures of the evening news – and all this after the planet has warmed by less than 1C above preindustrial temperatures. But here’s where it gets really scary.

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Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu

A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

Image: A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

npr.org - April 11th 2017 - Rob Schmitz

At a research lab on top of a forested hill overlooking Hong Kong, scientists are growing viruses. They first drill tiny holes into an egg before inoculating it with avian influenza to observe how the virus behaves.

This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world's forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. 

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International Research Effort Reveals Major Insights Into Spread of West African Ebola Epidemic

news-medical.net - April 12, 2017

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Nature - Virus genomes reveal factors that spread and sustained the Ebola epidemic

An international effort to analyze the entire database of Ebola virus genomes from the 2013-2016 West African epidemic reveals insights into factors that sped or slowed the rampage and calls for using real-time sequencing and data-sharing to contain future viral disease outbreaks.

Published today in the journal Nature, the analysis found that the epidemic unfolded in small, overlapping outbreaks with surprisingly few infected travelers sparking new outbreaks elsewhere, each case representing a missed opportunity to break the transmission chain and end the epidemic sooner.

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ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLE HERE - A big-picture look at the world’s worst Ebola epidemic

 

 

 

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More than 100 Chinese cities now above 1 million people

A boom in telecommunications businesses – including the arrival of e-commerce giant Alibaba – has transformed once-sleepy Guiyang. Photograph: Alamy

IMAGE: A boom in telecommunications businesses – including the arrival of e-commerce giant Alibaba – has transformed once-sleepy Guiyang. Photograph: Alamy

theguardian.com - March 20th 2017 - Benjamin Haas

China now has more than 100 cities of over 1 million residents, a number that is likely to double in the next decade.

According to the Demographia research group, the world’s most populous country boasts 102 cities bigger than 1 million people, many of which are little known outside the country – or even within its borders.

Quanzhou, for example, on the south-east coast of China, was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world a millennium ago, when it served as a hub for traders from across Asia and the Middle East. 

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What Happens If a Nuclear Bomb Goes Off in Manhattan?

Manhatten skyline. Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Image: Manhatten skyline. Lucas Jackson / Reuters

theatlantic.com - March 15th 2017 - Kaveh Waddell

On a quiet afternoon, two medium-sized nuclear blasts level portions of Manhattan.

If this were a movie, hordes of panicked New Yorkers would pour out into the streets, running around and calling out for their loved ones. But reality doesn’t usually line up with Hollywood’s vision of a disaster scene, says William Kennedy, a professor in the Center for Social Complexity at George Mason University. 

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Turning the Tide Against Cholera

Map of the Sundarbans, part of the Ganges River Delta, where Cholera first emerged. Source: World Wildlife Fund

Image: Map of the Sundarbans, part of the Ganges River Delta, where Cholera first emerged. Source: World Wildlife Fund

nytimes.com - February 6th 2017 - Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Two hundred years ago, the first cholera pandemic emerged from these tiger-infested mangrove swamps.

It began in 1817, after the British East India Company sent thousands of workers deep into the remote Sundarbans, part of the Ganges River Delta, to log the jungles and plant rice. These brackish waters are the cradle of Vibrio cholerae, a bacterium that clings to human intestines and emits a toxin so virulent that the body will pour all of its fluids into the gut to flush it out.

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Atmospheric levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, are spiking, scientists report

Cows graze in a farm near Chascomus, Argentina, on Nov. 10. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

Image: Cows graze in a farm near Chascomus, Argentina, on Nov. 10. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

washingtonpost.com - Chris Mooney - December 11th 2016

The best news about climate change that we’ve heard lately is that for three years straight, the world’s energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, have been flat. The gas has continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, but emissions haven’t gone up, even as economies have continued to grow.

But now we learn that there’s a major dose of bad news to accompany that: What’s true for carbon dioxide is not at all true for methane, the second most important greenhouse gas. Atmospheric concentrations of this gas — which causes much sharper short-term warming, but whose effects fade far more quickly than carbon dioxide — are spiking, a team of scientists reports in an analysis published Sunday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

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How Ebola Adapted to Us

Ebola virus particles (blue) budding from an infected cell. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Image: Ebola virus particles (blue) budding from an infected cell. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

theatlantic.com - November 3rd 2016 - Ed Yong

In December 2013, in a small village in Guinea, the Ebola virus left its traditional host—probably a bat—and infected a young boy. That leap triggered what became the largest Ebola outbreak in history. At first, the virus stayed within Guinea’s borders and, as in every previous epidemic, affected just a few hundred people.

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The Mystery of Zika’s Path to the Placenta

A photograph of a baby wearing a diaper. Jerome Scholler / Shutterstock

Image: A photograph of a baby wearing a diaper. Jerome Scholler / Shutterstock

theatlantic.com - August 18th 2016 - Adrienne LaFrance

Among the many mysteries that have vexed scientists about the ongoing Zika epidemic is the question of how, in pregnant women, the virus manages to cross the maternal-fetal barrier.

A woman’s body is usually quite good at protecting her growing baby. There are biological blockades to prevent the transmission of viruses to a fetus through the bloodstream, by way of the placenta; the same path for the nutrients and oxygen that sustain a developing baby.

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Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web

A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

Image:  A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

nytimes.com - July 18th 2016 - Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Of the hundreds of monkeys in the University of Wisconsin’s primate center, a few — including rhesus macaque 827577 — are now famous, at least among scientists tracking the Zika virus.

Since February, a team led by David H. O’Connor, the chairman of the center’s global infectious diseases department, has been conducting a unique experiment in scientific transparency. The tactic may presage the evolution of new ways to respond to fast-moving epidemics.

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