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Vietnam’s Exploding Reefers

by Ben Bland - Financial Times - November 7, 2011

It is thanks to the seemingly seamless international shipping network that Americans can buy computers made in China, Europeans can enjoy Argentine steak and people from all over the world can sustain themselves with rice, fish and coffee produced in Vietnam.

But the ease of transporting the humble twenty-foot container around the world means that problematic cargo in one port can swiftly become a global problem, as with a recent spate of exploding refrigerated containers traced to Vietnam. 

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Sustainability & equity linked: A better future for all

United Nations Human Development Report 2011

The 2011 Human Development Report argues that the urgent global challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together – and identifies policies on the national and global level that could spur mutually reinforcing progress towards these interlinked goals. Bold action is needed on both fronts, the Report contends, if the recent human development progress for most of the world’s poor majority is to be sustained, for the benefit of future generations as well as for those living today. Past Reports have shown that living standards in most countries have been rising - and converging - for several decades now. Yet the 2011 Report projects a disturbing reversal of those trends if environmental deterioration and social inequalities continue to intensify, with the least developed countries diverging downwards from global patterns of progress by 2050.

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The Waterpod

          

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Xenon Means Recent Fission in Reactor 2

               

Graphic by The Asahi Shimbun

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By KAZUAKI NAGATA and MIZUHO AOKI - The Japan Times - November 3, 2011

Tepco claims level in gas too small to affect shutdown effort

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that some of the melted fuel in reactor 2 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have triggered a brief criticality event.

Although the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said there have been no drastic changes in the reactor's temperature and pressure level, and the reactor itself is stable overall, the discovery may mean the goal of Tepco and the government to achieve cold shutdown of all three crippled reactors by the end of the year may not be possible.

Suggesting that criticality, or a sustained nuclear chain reaction, may have occurred temporarily, or partially, Tepco said one hundred thousandth of a becquerel per cubic centimeter of xenon-133 and xenon-135 was detected in gas samples.

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Safe Water and a Toilet -- Is That Too Much to Ask... for 2.5 Billion People? (Includes Video Link)

by Matt Damon and Gary White - huffingtonpost.com - November 1, 2011

       

By the time you finish reading this paragraph, one more child will have died from something that's been preventable for over a century. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population is still unable to secure a safe glass of water or access a basic toilet. While we continue to rally around the goal of ensuring safe water and sanitation for all, the real question we are left asking ourselves: how do we truly confront this in a way that results in realizing our vision within our lifetime?

Even today, as solutions are known and available, lack of access to safe water and sanitation continues to claim more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.

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New Trouble Reported at Japan Nuclear Plant

by Eric Talmadge - Associated Press (AP) - msnbc.com - November 1, 2011  

          


An aerial photo taken by a small unmanned drone and released by AIR PHOTO SERVICE, damaged Unit 3, left, and Unit 4 of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant are seen in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan on March 24, 2011. (AP / AIR PHOTO SERVICE)

Officials detected a radioactive gas associated with nuclear fission at Japan's tsunami-damaged atomic power plant Wednesday, indicating there could be a new problem at one of its reactors. They injected a substance that neutralizes nuclear reactions as a precaution.

Gas from inside the reactor indicated the presence of radioactive xenon, which could be the byproduct of unexpected nuclear fission. Boric acid was being injected through a cooling pipe as a countermeasure because it can counteract nuclear reactions.

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The Sky Is Falling In

submitted by Theresa Bernardo

by Cathy Buckle - cathybuckle.com - October 29, 2011

The chat in the queue at a government hospital Outpatients department this week was about the searing heat that has been beating down on the country in the last few days. The extremely high temperatures scorching Zimbabwe have been the national talking point as day after day we’ve looked up into dazzling blue skies without even a whisp of cloud. One woman in the hospital queue said that God must have dropped the sun, letting it fall down lower in the sky. People laughed and her words made me think of Chicken Licken, Turkey Lurkey and all their mates who were sure the sky was falling in! Someone else in the hospital queue said that this heat was a sign from the ancestors: a warning of something, although no one volunteered what. The dreaded word on everyone’s lips is ‘drought.’ Memories of hunger and starvation are still very fresh in our minds although the hunger in our recent past was caused more by political mis-governance and negligence than by weather.

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Independent, Skeptic-Funded Study Confirms Global Warming is Real

dvice.com - October 30, 2011

            

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study has just released a summary of a recently completed global land warming analysis showing "reliable evidence of a rise in average world land temperature by approximately one degree Celsius since the mid-1950s." Yeah, we've heard that before, but this is one study that even skeptics may have to believe.

Here's why the Berkeley Earth Project is different from all previous studies on global warming:

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Polio Parallels

by Dr. Orin Levine - Executive Director, International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins University - huffingtonpost.com - October 27, 2011

Last week in Seattle, Bill Gates announced breakthrough results from a large malaria vaccine trial. The study, conducted in seven sub-Saharan African countries, showed that the most advanced malaria vaccine -- called RTS,S -- could cut the risk of malaria by as much as 56 percent among African children.

The results generated international buzz and raised the hopes that malaria, a disease that extracts a major toll in Africa and a handful of other countries, might be controllable through vaccination. What struck me most about this announcement is how it resembled -- and in some unfortunate ways, currently differs from -- the effort to develop a safe, effective polio vaccine as outlined by David Oshinsky in his award winning book, Polio: An American Story.

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Social Determinants Of Health Conference Releases Final Declaration

        

submitted by Mary Suzanne Kivlighan

Kaiser Family Foundation - October 24, 2011

The final document of the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, which concluded last week in Rio de Janeiro, "calls for better governance for health and development, with transparent decision-making and social participation," and "[g]overnments are urged to develop policies and measure progress towards defined goals," Inter Press Service reports.

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