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With an Eye Toward the Future: Building Resilience in a Changing World - Habiba Gitay / Sofia Bettencourt
January 10, 2014

Typhoon Haiyan, the Category 5 super storm that devastated parts of the Philippines and killed thousands late last year, continues to remind us, tragically, of how vulnerable we are to weather-related disasters.

As the images of destruction and desperation continue to circle the globe, we’re also reminded that those most at risk when natural disaster strikes are the world’s poor – people who have little money to help them recover and who lack food security, access to clean water, sanitation and health services.

Over the last year, as one major extreme weather event after another wreaked havoc and claimed lives in the developing world, terms such as "resilience" and "loss and damage" have become part and parcel of our efforts here at the World Bank Group – and for good reason.


Tracking Internet Searches to Predict Disease Outbreak

submitted by Luis Kun - January 20, 2014

The habit of Googling for an online diagnosis before visiting a GP can provide early warning of an infectious disease epidemic.

In a new study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, Internet-based surveillance has been found to detect infectious diseases such Dengue Fever and Influenza up to two weeks earlier than traditional surveillance methods.

A QUT release reports that senior author of the paper, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Senior Research Fellow Dr. Wenbiao Hu said when investigating the occurrence of epidemics, spikes in searches for information about infectious diseases could accurately predict outbreaks of that disease.


Researchers Harness Sun's Energy During Day for Use at Night

Tom Meyer's new system generates hydrogen fuel by using the sun's energy to split water into its component parts. After the split, hydrogen is sequestered and stored, while the byproduct, oxygen, is released into the air. Credit: Tom Meyer - January 14, 2014

Solar energy has long been used as a clean alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil, but it could only be harnessed during the day when the sun's rays were strongest. Now researchers led by Tom Meyer at the Energy Frontier Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have built a system that converts the sun's energy not into electricity but hydrogen fuel and stores it for later use, allowing us to power our devices long after the sun goes down.


EU Moves to Ban Most Plastics By 2020


European Parliament - - January 15, 2014

The most hazardous plastics and certain plastic bags should be banned by 2020, as part of an EU strategy to reduce plastic waste in the environment, says the European Parliament in a resolution voted yesterday. The EU should also introduce binding plastic waste recycling targets, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) add.


Worldwide: Countries Approach Fracking With Interest And Caution by Stephen L. Kass - January 6, 2014

In my last column (" Keystone and Fukushima: Balancing Needs and Risks," Sept. 18, 2013), I pointed out the significant environmental risks from both Canada's oil sands and Japan's nuclear facilities and concluded that, after balancing their respective benefits and risks, neither represented a desirable model for either the United States or the international community to meet their future energy needs. Those needs are expected to grow substantially as developing countries strive to improve their standards of living and the world's population grows from seven billion to more than nine billion people.

Where is that new energy going to come from?


Details & Diagrams: $1,000 IKEA Flat-Pack Refugee Shelter


Emergency shelters are designed to be short-term solutions, and many cannot withstand rain, wind and sun for more than six months. Yet the average stay in refugee camp is over twenty times that duration.

The IKEA Foundation, in cooperation with the  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has developed a longer-term solution to this problem, turning their experience with flat-pack furniture and language-free instruction manuals toward disaster relief efforts in and around war-torn places like Syria (they are already testing in Lebanon and Iraq). Sticklers for detail should scroll carefully below for a step-by-step deconstruction of what goes into this remarkable dwelling.


13 Major Clean Energy Breakthroughs of 2013 - By Kiley Kroh and Jeff Spross - December 18, 2013

While the news about climate change seems to get worse every day, the rapidly improving technology, declining costs, and increasing accessibility of clean energy is the true bright spot in the march toward a zero-carbon future. 2013 had more clean energy milestones than we could fit on one page, but here are thirteen of the key breakthroughs that happened this year.


How My Mobile Devices are Ready for the Next Storm: Fenix ReadySet - by Kevin C. Tofel - November 7, 2012

After 4 days without power thanks to Hurricane Sandy, something arrived today that will help keep my mobile devices fully charged and connected to the web. I backed a Fenix ReadySet on Kickstarter, which is a large battery that charges with an included solar panel.


Extensive Use of Antibiotics in Agriculture Creating Public Health Crisis

submitted by Luis Kun - December 27, 2013

In the United States, 80 percent of the antibiotics are consumed in agriculture and aquaculture for the purpose of increasing food production. This flood of antibiotics released into the environment — sprayed on fruit trees and fed to the likes of livestock, poultry, and salmon, among other uses — has led bacteria to evolve.Mounting evidence shows resistant pathogens are emerging in the wake of this veritable flood of antibiotics — resulting in an increase in bacteria that is immune to available treatments. Scientists say that if the problem is left unchecked, this will create a health crisis on a global scale.


CLICK HERE - RESEARCH REPORT - Preserving Antibiotics, Rationally

Air Transportation Data Helps Identify, Predict Pandemics

submitted by Luis Kun - December 13, 2013

Computational model demonstrates how disease spreads in a highly connected world. The computational work has led to a new mathematical theory for understanding the global spread of epidemics. The resulting insights could not only help identify an outbreak’s origin but could also significantly improve the ability to forecast the global pathways through which a disease might spread. . .

. . . Their study is published today (13 December) in the journal Science.


RESEARCH - Science - The Hidden Geometry of Complex, Network-Driven Contagion Phenomena



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