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Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet


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As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen). Image source: F. Pharand-Deschênes /Globaïa

Planetary Boundaries 2.0 – new and improved

As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed

Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity, says an international team of 18 researchers in the journal Science (16 January 2015). The four are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen).

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The World's Most Deadly Volcanoes

When Bardarbunga blew its top (Credit: Arctic Images/Alamy)

Image: When Bardarbunga blew its top (Credit: Arctic Images/Alamy) - February 27th 2015 - Jane Palmer

Last August, in southern Iceland, the flanks of the volcano Bardarbunga ripped open and fountains of lava spouted skyward. Molten rock oozed downhill making its way toward the sea. The eruption has now come to an end but the volcano continues to pump gases into the atmosphere.


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Thoughts turn to recovery as Ebola slowly ebbs in West Africa

 REUTERS By Daniel Flynn, James Harding Giahyue and Saliou Samb                              Feb. 27, 2015

 DAKAR/MONROVIA/CONAKRY - In the marble atrium of the Mammy Yoko hotel in Freetown, manager Nuno Neves has spotted something he has not seen since the Ebola virus struck Sierra Leone nine months ago: foreign businessmen.

The Radisson Blu chain opened the four-star hotel in April to cater for investors in one of Africa's fastest-growing economies. A month later, Ebola crossed the border from Guinea and those investors fled....

For months, Sierra Leone was cut off from the world amid panic at the worst recorded outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, which has killed more than 9,500 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia and infected over 23,500.

But with infection rates slowly declining, investors have begun to talk about post-Ebola reconstruction. Neves has noted the return of businessmen not seen since the hotel opened.

"They don't bring their teams. They just come to see what is going on and then they leave," he said, adding that 'business as usual' remains far off. "This will be a year focused on Ebola. First the fight to end Ebola and then reconstruction...."

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Please Don't Let An Earthquake Hit When I'm In The Shower

A bicyclist passes a home damaged in a 2011 earthquake at Bhaktapur, some 7 miles southeast of Kathmandu. Prakash Mathema /AFP/Getty Images

Image: A bicyclist passes a home damaged in a 2011 earthquake at Bhaktapur, some 7 miles southeast of Kathmandu.
Prakash Mathema /AFP/Getty Images - February 25th 2015 - Donatella Lorch

What would you do if you lived in a city where you faced the world's greatest risk of dying in a catastrophic earthquake?

I like to believe that I'm prepared. I have water, blankets, sleeping bags, a tent, dry food, a crow bar, shovel, charcoal and "go-bags" for each family member — hiking knapsacks filled with clothing, documents, rope and flashlights and stored in a one-room shed in my yard.


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Life After Ebola: What It Takes For A Village To Be Resilient

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO INTERVIEW by Laura Starecheski                                     Feb. 20, 2015
BARKEDU,  LIBERIA --If you'd like to get an idea of what resilience is all about, take a lesson from Mamuedeh Kanneh.

She lost her husband to Ebola. But she's stayed strong. She's caring for 13 children, her own and orphans whose parents died of the virus.

Mamuedeh Kanneh was married to Laiye Barwor, the man who brought Ebola to Barkedu, Liberia. He died of the virus. She now cares for her children as well as children who lost their parents to the disease. John W. Poole/NPR

Kanneh lives in Barkedu, a village of about 6,000 in northern Liberia. Ebola took more than 150 lives. In her neighborhood there were many deaths, so people in other parts of Barkedu are scared of the orphans.

Kanneh has a strategy to help these children — and the village overall — get back to normal life. She sends the youngsters on errands so people can get used to seeing them and get over their fear. And the children can start to feel they're part of the community again....

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Global Health Security: The Next Five Years - Andrew C. Weber - Christine Parthemore

The next five years will see crucial changes in the global health security landscape, profoundly shaped by two key events in 2014:

The Ebola response in West Africa, and the successful first year of the Global Health Security Agenda, an initiative of dozens of countries and non-governmental organizations to make tangible commitments for preventing, rapidly detecting, and effectively responding to infectious disease threats.(1) 

Both events brought to light signs of measurable progress, and profound gaps that must be prioritized in the years ahead. Pressing needs include expanding emergency operations center capacity, better leveraging technological innovation, and closing the gap between the health and security communities.


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Ebola Survivors Face Hardships, But New Programs Help

LIVE SCIENCE  by Rachel Rettner                                                                                  Dec. 12, 2014

Ebola survivors in West Africa are often shunned by their communities, and they have few possessions because many of their personal belongings are destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading.

But several organizations are working to help Ebola survivors make the transition back into their communities — for example, by providing them with bedding and other basic items, and speaking with community members to reduce the stigma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Survivors are thought to be immune to the strain of Ebola causing the current outbreak, and many now work as caregivers for those with Ebola, the report said.

Read complete story.

A 2014 photograph of a West African Ebola treatment cente. Credit CDC


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2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index Report released

NHSPI                                                                                                       Dec. 9, 2014

WASHINGTON-- The National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI) for 2014 provides updated information about how well individual states and the nation are preparing for public health and other emergencies.  It was released today at a meeting at Capitol Hill by a group of government and non-government public health specialists. They included Dr. Daniel Sosin, Deputy Director of the CDC's  Office of PubLic Health Preparedness and Respopnse, and Dr. Thomas V. Inglesby, Director of the UPMC Center for Health Security.

More than 35 organizations were partners in preparing the index, which updated the initial 2013 report.

The NHSPI describes it's mission as "providing relevant actionable informtaion to help guide efforts to achieve a higher level of healh security preparedness."  The intended uses include "strengthening preparedness, informng decision makers, guiding quality improvement and advancing the science behind community resilience."

See Executive Summary and the national results.

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The Rockefeller Foundation: Announcing Our Next Round of Resilient Cities!

                              - by Michael Berkowitz - December 2, 2014

Today we proudly announce the second group of cities selected to join 100 Resilient Cities – cities who have demonstrated a commitment to building their own capacities to navigate the shocks and stresses of an increasingly complex 21st Century.

During the our first 18 months, we've seen our first cohort of cities mature, appoint chief resilience officers, and embark on their own resilience strategy processes. No doubt this momentum contributed to the immense response we saw to the second round of the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge has been enormous, with 331 exceptional applications from cities around the world, submitted in seven languages.

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