Showing posts with label Environment Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Environment Related. Show all posts

23 December 2019

How Did The Rebels Beat The Empire In Star Wars? The Answer Is Closer To Home Than You Think

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How Did The Rebels Beat The Empire In Star Wars? The Answer Is Closer To Home Than You Think
How Did The Rebels Beat The Empire In Star Wars? The Answer Is Closer To Home Than You Think (NeONBRAND/Unsplash, CC BY-SA)
It may all have happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but there’s a secret weapon in every Star Wars film that’s found almost everywhere humans live on Earth. It explains how the scrappy Rebel Alliance were able to defeat the mighty Galactic Empire, with all its high-tech weaponry, vast space armada and the Death Star.

Even with the help of Jedis, The Force, ewoks and a wookiee, Luke Skywalker and the rebels skirted annihilation on many occasions. We believe that their ultimate victory owed less to their mystic powers and allies, and instead to something more down-to-earth.

In several key moments throughout the series, the survival of the rebels depends on their ability to escape the Empire’s clutches, by retreating to, and defending, fortified bases. These are spread out on remote planets throughout the galaxy, in often hostile environments, from snowbound Hoth to desiccated Crait.

It’s time to finally give the Rebel Alliance’s engineering corps the credit it deserves. The fate of the galaxy was decided not by light sabres – but by concrete.

The Snows of Hoth

At the start of The Empire Strikes Back, things are looking grim. The Empire have cornered the remnants of the Rebel Alliance on the ice planet, Hoth. Fortunately, General Leia and co are able to defend Echo Base long enough for their allies to evacuate. The base is built into subterranean caves, but concrete is still needed for the roofs and floors of the spacecraft hangars, and the defensive laser cannon emplacements.

But how could they make all that concrete when temperatures on Hoth are consistently below 0°C? Concrete doesn’t set by drying out, but by a hydration reaction, which consumes water. If the water in the concrete mix is frozen solid, it can’t take part in the hydration reaction, and so the concrete can’t develop its strength.

So how did the Rebel engineers get around this? A cheat solution for small structures is simply to make the concrete in a place it’s not freezing, and then bring it in. This is known as “pre-cast” concrete. Engineers are currently using this to upgrade the Rothera research station in Antarctica – the most similar place to Hoth there is on Earth.

But shipping all that concrete through space isn’t practical. Engineers on Earth have a better solution – they use special rapid-hardening cement that contains calcium aluminates. This reduces how long the “danger zone” lasts, during which the cement must be protected from freezing. This quick-hardening ability allowed the French Army to build gun emplacements quickly in the first world war, and could have helped fortify rebel defences on Hoth.

The salt lakes of Crait

In 2017’s The Last Jedi, the rebels were almost wiped out again by the pursuing Imperial fleet. They take shelter on the barren planet of Crait, covered by flat, dried up salt lakes. The rebels regroup in an old base built into a mountain that’s protected by colossal, metal blast doors, supported by a reinforced concrete structure. Outside lie the vast salt flats and the attacking Imperial forces. Compared to the laser cannons of the First Order, salt would seem the least of the rebels’ worries. But in fact, salts can be one of the most destructive substances for reinforced concrete.

Reinforced concrete contains steel rods to make it stronger and resist bending. But if CO₂ in the atmosphere and chloride in the salts diffuse into the concrete, the steel can corrode, blister and weaken the concrete by expanding. This is sometimes known as “concrete cancer” and has been a contributing factor in several engineering disasters on Earth, including the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa in 2018. In that particular case it is believed that salts carried in the sea air accelerated the deterioration of the structure.


Were the Rebels foolish to build reinforced concrete bases where salt is everywhere? Actually, this type of corrosion needs a certain level of humidity in the air. Crait has very little water, or none at all. In such a dry environment, corrosion wouldn’t happen. So thankfully for General Leia and co, the mountain base was in a good enough condition to resist the bombardment – just long enough for Luke Skywalker to intervene. But how did they make all that concrete in the first place with so little water?

Given that concrete needs water to set, a planet without water would prove tricky. The Middle East on Earth is largely desert, but there’s still a lot of concrete production, much of it made with desalinated seawater, which is expensive. On planets where there isn’t even seawater, water is too dense and precious to use for anything but keeping humans alive. There’s no easy fix for this, but it’s possible the rebels took a similar approach to scientists designing constructions on our Moon – using alternative binding materials instead of cement, such as sulphur, which could be mined from lunar rocks.
Tattooine is the desert planet on which Luke Skywalker grew up
Tattooine is the desert planet on which Luke Skywalker grew up. (20th Century Fox)

Back on Earth

While the battle for the fate of the galaxy concludes in the cinema, the battle for the future of humanity continues here on Earth. Cement is the largest manufactured product on Earth by mass, and generates about 8% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all of aviation. Concrete is the second most-used substance on Earth – only water is used more. The world as we know it would not exist without concrete.

But the concrete saga is by no means over. At the UK’s National Centre for Infrastructure Materials, our research is helping to tackle two of the biggest challenges – reducing the environmental footprint of producing concrete and making the sure that the lifetime of concrete infrastructure is as long and robust as possible. May The Force be with us The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

Alastair Marsh, Research Fellow in Civil Engineering, University of Leeds

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

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21 December 2019

"OOOM 100: The World's Most Inspiring People" 2019 Issue - Eight Women In The Top 10

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"OOOM 100: The World's Most Inspiring People" 2019 Issue - Eight Women In The Top 10
OOOM Magazine’s new issue with the OOOM 100: The World's Most Inspiring People list (PRNewsfoto/OOOM Holding GmbH)
OOOM Magazine published today its fourth annual OOOM 100: The World's Most Inspiring People list, compiled by an international jury. The results are remarkable: No less than eight spots in this year's OOOM 100's top 10 are claimed by women.

Greta Thunberg was voted the most inspiring person of 2019, who "grew into a symbol and role model for an entire generation, a generation that takes to the streets by the millions to protest for better climate policies," says OOOM Editor-In-Chief Georg Kindel, chairman of the jury. "She dominated the year and showed all of us with her persistence that every person on this planet has the power to change the world."

In second place of the OOOM 100 ranking is 
Jane Fonda: "Fonda stands out as a passionate climate activist who is fearless and radical in her protests, to the point that she accepts weekly arrests. She is a woman that shows us all what courage means," says the OOOM 100 jury.

Third place goes to 
Michelle Obama, who, in the words of the jury, "is the president of hearts, the antithesis to Trump's White House. A strong woman and role model for all."

Number 4 in the ranking of the world's most inspiring people is Sanna Marin, Finland's new prime minister and the world's youngest head of government at only 34: "She proves that real change is possible." In fifth place is American soccer star Megan Rapinoe, the FIFA Women's Player of the Year, who also fights vocally against the discrimination of homosexuals and minorities.

In sixth place is Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives. According to Jury Chairman Kindel, "She is Donald Trump's worst nightmare, and America's political conscience. Pelosi is a woman with principles, something America now needs more than ever."

In the seventh spot is Pope Francis, the highest ranking man in this year's vote ("A great spiritual leader, a hope for many"), followed by Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand as number 8: "She represents a modern type of power woman."

The ninth spot in this year's ranking is claimed by Tesla and Space-X founder Elon Musk: "Musk is a visionary who lets humanity reach for the stars." 


Number 10 goes to the much-awarded actress and screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge (e.g., Fleabag): "She changes the image of women with charm and self-irony."

SOURCE: OOOM Holding GmbH

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14 December 2019

What Boris Johnson's Government Needs To Do To Show It Is Serious On Climate Change

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How green will Boris Johnson really be?
How green will Boris Johnson really be? (Vickie Flores/EPA)
Climate change had a higher profile in the UK election campaign than ever before, with parties competing hard over their offer to concerned voters. But this was a debate that the Conservatives – who won a landslide majority – largely stood back from. Their manifesto was light on detail compared to the other parties, and Boris Johnson chose not to take part in the first ever UK televised leaders’ debate on climate.

Conservative candidates were conspicuous by their absence in local climate hustings, too. Neither was climate mentioned in their legislative plan for the first hundred days.

The Conservative government did legislate for a net zero carbon emissions target back in June, following the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. And there was an explicit manifesto pledge to deliver on this target, with no signs of backtracking. In his speech to the party faithful on the morning of his election, Johnson declared his ambition to “make this country the cleanest, greenest on Earth, with the most far-reaching environmental programme”, adding:
And you the people of this country voted to be carbon-neutral in this election - you voted to be carbon-neutral by 2050. And we’ll do it.
But targets don’t reduce carbon. Policies do. And despite its much-admired Climate Change Act, the UK’s policy record lately has not been good. The Committee on Climate Change have repeatedly warned that the UK is off track to meet future commitments, a verdict shared by the independent Climate Action Tracker project, which assesses each country’s performance against the Paris Agreement. It rated the UK as “insufficient, with policies compatible with a 3°C world – not the 1.5°C level that we desperately need.


If the new government is serious about its commitment, it will have to signal this soon, and with confidence. Steps that it could and should take straight away include:
  • instigating a swift review of governance for net-zero, giving responsibility and resources to other government departments, and, crucially, to local areas, to deliver on carbon strategy
  • prioritising climate and environmental protection in negotiations for a trading relationship with the European Union
  • moving quickly to consult on a phase-out date for petrol and diesel vehicles, as promised in its manifesto
  • removing the de facto ban on onshore wind energy, which the Committee on Climate Change advised needs to increase in capacity by 1GW a year
  • confirming its opposition to fracking, and making its moratorium permanent
  • pledging to formally consider the results of the national citizens’ assembly on climate change, Climate Assembly UK, due to report in 2020.
More fundamentally, the Conservatives need to develop a much clearer climate strategy. Despite a commitment to the emissions target, they do not yet have a confident story to tell about the way they will achieve it, and how that fits with their party’s philosophy and values. Back in July, 41 Conservative MPs proposed just such a story, arguing that “tackling the existential threat of environmental breakdown offers our divided country a new national project … this unifying mission can bring economic regeneration and natural restoration to all parts of the country”. But this debate has not yet managed to break through the hurly burly of Brexit.

The new government will need to be quick, and decisive. The upsurge in public concern on climate, and calls for radical action, show no signs of abating. The Green Party nearly doubled its share of the vote, though they still only have one MP to show for it.

After refusing to attend the country’s first ever televised climate debate, an ice sculpture was put in Boris Johnson’s place.
After refusing to attend the country’s first ever televised climate debate, an ice sculpture was put in Boris Johnson’s place. (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Having spent the past couple of years making a general call to climate action, protesters are now likely to take aim at specific policies and projects, such as airport expansion and the new coal mines proposed in Cumbria and Northumberland, as well as the money that the UK continues to invest in fossil fuels, at home and abroad. They will be buoyed by their success in rendering toxic the sponsorship of the arts by fossil interests, and will focus relentlessly on removing the fossil fuel majors’ social license to operate.

And it’s not just protesters who could be thorns in the side of the new government. A sizeable green business lobby, including coalitions such as The Aldersgate Group and We Mean Business, will be calling for ambitious policy which supports the many businesses who want to be part of the transition to net zero. Though the Conservative manifesto promised funds for green technologies, the amounts are tiny compared to support for high-carbon infrastructure including roads, airports and oil and gas extraction, and these contradictions will provide constant tension.

Next year will show whether the Conservatives’ enthusiasm for carbon targets translates into an enthusiasm for climate policies. In late 2020, all eyes will be on the UK, as it hosts COP26, the most important international climate summit since Paris in 2015, in Glasgow. The government will want to tell world leaders a good story on domestic action. It still has time to write one.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

Rebecca Willis, Research Fellow, Exeter University; Professor in Practice, Lancaster University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

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10 December 2019

Educating Girls Is The Right Thing To Do - For Them And For The Planet

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Educating Girls Is The Right Thing To Do - For Them And For The Planet
Educating Girls Is The Right Thing To Do - For Them And For The Planet (image via Plan International Canada)
With dire warnings from UN Secretary General Guterres that time is running out to turn around the catastrophic impacts of climate change, a powerful strategy to both mitigate climate change risks and help communities adapt is being ignored – engaging adolescent girls in climate change planning and investing in girls' education. 

Plan International Canada, a leading charity on children's and girls' rights, is advocating for governments around the world to include gender equality, human rights and the empowerment of women and girls in their climate change policies and ensure girls' education becomes a key component of climate change strategies.

A recent report published by Plan International called Girls Rights in Climate Change Strategies shows that engaging women and girls in climate change planning and investing in girls' education are powerful yet often ignored strategies to combat climate change. An analysis of 162 Nationally Determined Contributions, which are national plans for meeting agreed global targets on emissions and adaptation, showed limited attention to women and girls overall, as well as the lack of girls' education as a strategic component. This includes a quality, gender transformative education that fosters the inherent agency of girls to take a leadership role in climate action.

Girls' rights and education are powerful solutions to climate change

  • Girls education is impactful for both climate change action and gender equality outcomes, with each complementing the other, in multiple ways including:
  • Empowering and quality education increases girls' overall opportunities for leadership, which is increases their ability to influence change in power structures that have traditionally bred inequality and unsustainable natural resource management.
  • Quality education grows knowledge of climate change, further helping girls take the lead in helping their families and communities adapt to its impact.
  • Quality education and training enhances a girl's "green skills", preparing her to participate equally in and lead in traditionally male-dominated green sector jobs that support sustainable social, economic and environmental outcomes.
  • Educated girls are less likely to marry or become pregnant before they are 18 and they earn more over their lifetime than uneducated girls.
Climate change is exacerbating the risks that adolescent girls in marginalized settings around the world already experience. Girls and young women forced to leave their homes by the effects of climate change face grave challenges with lasting impact on their futures including a loss of access to education, a much higher risk of violence and abuse, risk of being forced into early marriage and loss of community support and livelihoods. Yet as they face these increased risks, they are also leading climate change activism and solution-finding in their communities and around the world.

Additional findings from national climate change plans outlined in Girls' Rights in Climate Change Strategies include:

  • While 43% of countries referenced women or gender, it was largely in the context of women as a vulnerable group rather than contributors to climate change mitigation or adaptation.
  • Only three countries' Nationally Determined Contributions make explicit reference to girls; both in the context of their needs rather than competencies and there is only one clear reference to girls' education.
  • 68% of Nationally Determined Contributions include education but normally in vague terms, including awareness raising, not targeted at young people or part of a national curriculum to combat the climate crisis.
  • No Nationally Determined Contribution formally recognizes the contributions that investment in girls' education could make toward their climate strategy.
  • Climate strategies overall concentrate on technological fixes, ignoring social concerns and the contributions that people, particularly girls and young women empowered by education and information, might make.

Quotes

"We're in a full-blown climate crisis and every tool at our disposal must be used to mitigate the risks we are all facing," says Tanjina Mirza, Chief Programs Officer, Plan International Canada. "Girls education is one of the most powerful opportunities for growing a girl's future potential and her ability to lead in climate justice impact, yet it's absent from almost all national climate commitments and strategies. This needs to change."
"Girls are on the frontlines of climate disasters, facing the devastating risks of early and forced marriage, being pulled out of school to help earn an income or because their family has been forced to migrate, and eating least and last when food shortages arise due to extreme weather events," says Stu Solomon, Plan International Canada's Senior Advisor on Economic Empowerment and Resilience. "But girls are also at the forefront of solutions. Through their inherent individual and collective agency, they can lead climate change action for themselves, their families and their communities and must be fully engaged in every step of climate change strategy and policy-making."
"We, the next generation, are part of the solution. We want to be a partner to policy makers in finding sustainable solutions. The future depends on us. Let's get to work - for us, for Dhaka, for the planet," says 19-year-old girl Sohagi, who lives in a slum in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka. The entire area where she lives is flooded with dirty water as the monsoon season sets in. Sohagi has long been involved in several development projects organized by Plan International. She is part of a youth group that works to call on the authorities asking that they give priority to improving conditions in the slum.

Girls must be included in climate action - Video


About the research

The research this report is based on was undertaken by Plan International in partnership with the Brookings Institution and UNICEF. The research team included Christina Kwauk from Brookings Institution, Jessica Cooke, Elisa Hara, Sharon Goulds and Marisa Muna from Plan International, and Joni Pegram and Cristina Colon from UNICEF. The report includes an analysis of 162 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in English, Spanish, and French to garner how much attention countries are giving to girls and education. 

Related Video:


6 December 2019

World Animal Protection And Other Leaders Move To Reduce Greenhouse Pollution From Food And Agriculture

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World Animal Protection and other Leaders, urge UN Officials to Reduce Greenhouse Gases from Intensive Animal Agriculture
World Animal Protection, a global animal-welfare organization, along with 14 other organizations released a policy brief yesterday, urging leaders attending the 2019 United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) to take immediate action to reduce planet-warming emissions from food and intensive animal agriculture.

In the policy brief the organizations outlined five key actions

  • Providing technical assistance for countries to include food and agriculture in emissions reduction targets
  • Promoting sustainable diets and food production in climate and development policies
  • Internalizing the costs of livestock production and ending tax subsidies for feed crops
  • Aligning efforts across government departments to address meat and dairy production as well as consumption
  • Shifting procurement to prioritize purchasing low-impact foods.
"We as a society are watching our world burn because of the over production of meat and dairy. Intensive animal farming is among the biggest contributors to climate change," said Alesia Soltanpanah, Executive Director World Animal Protection, US. "We cannot stand around and wait for the next generation to make a difference. Our world leaders need to take immediate action to transform our global food system."
World Animal Protection and other Leaders, urge UN Officials to Reduce Greenhouse Gases from Intensive Animal Agriculture
World Animal Protection and other Leaders, urge UN Officials to Reduce Greenhouse Gases from Intensive Animal Agriculture (image via World Animal Protection)
A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that the livestock sector alone accounts for at least 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all forms of transportation combined. What's more, it is projected that demand for animal products will increase 70% by 2050. Studies have shown that it will not be possible to meet global climate targets, including limiting the temperature increase of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels set forth by the Paris Agreement, without dramatically reducing meat and dairy consumption and production.

Thus far, the conversation around the overconsumption of animal-based foods has been largely absent from international climate talks and commitments. The majority of food-related efforts focus on improving production practices with few or no significant targets for shifting to less climate-intensive diets.

By reducing meat and dairy consumption through public policy, world leaders can not only create a more sustainable future, but also free up resources to move to higher welfare practices for farmed animals.

It is vital that every effort to cut back consumption of animal-based products is taken to ensure we have a habitable planet for humans and animals.
The call for action was prepared by Brighter Green and Center for Biological Diversity, in partnership with the Food and Climate Alliance and endorsed by World Animal Protection, 50by40, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Compassion in World Farming, Farm Forward, Feedback, Health Care Without Harm, Humane Society International, ICLEI, Israeli Forum for Sustainable Nutrition, ProVeg International, and Vegetarianos Hoy.

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25 November 2019

New Report From World Animal Protection Says Improving Animal Welfare on Farms Is Key to Fighting Superbugs

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New Report From World Animal Protection Says Improving Animal Welfare on Farms Is Key to Fighting Superbugs
New Report From World Animal Protection Says Improving Animal Welfare on Farms Is Key to Fighting Superbugs (image via World Animal Protection)
The world is facing a public health crisis because of antibiotic resistance. According to the United Nations, currently at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as "superbugs," can even be found in the food you eat.

That's because antibiotics are vastly overused in raising farmed animals globally. Superbugs can start on farms and then enter our food chain and environment. When antibiotic resistant superbugs are passed to people, they make us less able to fight disease.

A new report from the global charity World Animal Protection has found superbugs in pork sold at Walmart stores in the United States. The report showed that 80% of the bacteria isolated from Walmart's pork products were resistant to at least one antibiotic, with significant resistance to classes of antibiotics considered highly important or critically important by the World Health Organization.

  • Last year the charity released a report where pork products tested in five countries, including Spain and Thailand, also had superbugs resistant to antibiotics.
Pork products sold at Canadian Walmart stores have not been tested, but Canada does import pork from the US. According to the US Meat Export Federation, last year, 205,568 metric tonnes of US pork valued at USD$765 million was exported to Canada.

As of December 2018, in Canada, a veterinary prescription is required for antibiotics given to farm animals and antibiotic use in the livestock industry has decreased. However, administering antibiotics to farm animals for disease prevention is still commonplace.

The results from the Walmart pork testing come on the heels of a Canadian study from the Council of Canadian Academies warning of the potential rise in the percentage of bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatments. The report states that overuse of antibiotics on farm animals raised for food contributes to this. It's estimated that about 400,000 Canadians are likely to die from drug-resistant infections by 2050.

One solution to help stop this and the overall global superbug crisis, would be to keep farm animals in better conditions.

"We know that raising animals in low welfare farms with crowding and unsanitary conditions makes the animals stressed and more vulnerable to illness. Mother pigs (sows) are still largely housed in cages where they cannot even turn around. That is why it is important to transition from these environments to higher welfare farms where animals have space to move and can live in an enriched environment. It's better for them and they are healthier and less prone to disease in the first place," says Lynn Kavanagh, Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection Canada.
Farmers who raise pigs in better conditions, agree that the health is much better for the animals. In Canada, all producers are expected to eliminate the practice of confining mother pigs in gestation (pregnancy) crates by 2024 and the Retail Council Of Canada, which includes companies such as Walmart Canada, has committed to sourcing pork from mother pigs raised in group housing by 2022. However, Walmart Canada has still not made a public commitment to this on their website. World Animal Protection encourages them to do this as consumers expect companies to be transparent about their animal welfare commitments.

World Animal Protection is also calling on global supermarkets to improve the lives of pigs by only sourcing pork from high welfare farms. World Animal Protection's Raise Pigs Right campaign wants pigs to be freed from cages and not left to suffer in barren environments that promote disease and increase the risk of superbugs. Rather, these highly intelligent, social animals should be allowed to live in groups, with room to move around naturally.
"Change is possible and higher welfare systems are good for the health of animals and people and it's good for business too," says Kavanagh.

The Video:

Around the world pigs are raised in intensive farm conditions ,which includes overcrowding,unsanitary conditions and being kept in cages. This leads to increased stress and illness for the animals. However, some farmers choose to raise their animals in better conditions with space to move freely, have access to the outdoors, and have comfortable straw bedding, allowing pigs to simply be pigs. This video profiles one Canadian farmer doing just that.

Notes:

World Animal Protection's report, US pork and the superbug crisis: how higher welfare farming is better for pigs and people, follows global testing conducted by the organization of Walmart pork products in Brazil. In December 2018, World Animal Protection released a global report on the results of pork samples tested for the presence of bacteria resistant to specific antibiotics. The project was prompted by research suggesting a link between low-welfare farming systems and overuse of antibiotics. Bacteria resistant to antibiotics considered most critically important to human health by the World Health Organization were found in samples sold by major supermarkets in Brazil, Spain and Thailand, including samples sold in Walmart stores in Brazil.

Key Findings

Amongst the 32 batches of samples, 51 total isolates were detected: E. coli was detected in 14 (43.75%) batches; Enterococcus in 27 (84.38%) batches; Listeria in four (12.5%) batches; and Salmonella in six (18.75%) batches.

Of the 32 batches tested, 30 (94%) were positive for at least one of the four bacteria.
  • Twelve (37.5%) batches were positive for Enterococcus only;
  • one (3%) batch was positive for Listeria only; and,
  • one (3%) batch was positive for Salmonella only.
16 (50%) batches were positive for at least two bacteria:
  • eight (25%) were positive for both E. coli and Enterococcus;
  • two (6%) were positive for Enterococcus and Salmonella;
  • one (3%) was positive for E. coli and Listeria;
  • two (6%) were positive for E. coli, Enterococcus, and Salmonella;
  • one (3%) was positive for E. coli, Enterococcus, and Listeria; and,
  • one (3%) was positive for all four bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance results by species

Enterococcus:
Twenty-six (96.3%) of the Enterococcus isolates were resistant to at least one class of medically important antibiotics. The most common resistance was to lincosamides (lincomycin), streptogramins (quinupristin/dalfoprisitin), and/or tetracylines (tetracycline). All three classes are categorized as highly important.

Seventeen of those isolates (65.38%) were multi-drug resistant:
  • Thirteen isolates were resistant to lincosamides, streptogramins, and tetracyclines.
  • One isolate was resistant to lincosamides, streptogramins, and oxazolidinones.
Oxazolidinones are categorized as critically important.
  • One isolate was resistant to lincosamides, streptogramins, tetracyclines, and macrolides.
Macrolides are among the classes categorized as HPCIAs.
  • One isolate was resistant to lincosamides, quinolones, and nitrofuran derivates.
Quinolones are categorized as HPCIAs
  • One isolate was resistant to lincosamides, streptogramins, tetracyclines, amphenicols, macrolides, and aminoglycosides.
Aminoglycosides are categorized as critically important; amphenicols are considered highly important.

Listeria:
All four (100%) Listeria isolates present in the sample batches were resistant to lincosamides, which are listed as highly important.

One isolate (25%) was resistant to six total classes of antibiotics: lipopeptides, penicillins, streptogramins, macrolides, lincosamides, and glycopeptides.

Macrolides and glycopeptides are listed as HPCIAs.
Penicillins and lipopeptides are categorized as critically important.
Lincosamides and streptogramins are highly important.


Salmonella:
Two of the Salmonella isolates (33.33%) were resistant to one antibiotic class, while the rest of the isolates were pan-susceptible.

The two resistant isolates were resistant to quinolones, which are categorized as HPCIAs.

E. coli:
Nine E. coli isolates (64.29%) were resistant to at least one class of medically important antibiotic.
  • Four (28.57%) were resistant to tetracyclines alone, and one (7.14%) was resistant to tetracyclines and sulfanomides.
Tetracyclines and sulfanomides are considered highly important.
  • Another isolate (7.14%) was resistant to both tetracyclines and aminoglycosides.
Aminoglycosides are considered critically important.

Three E. coli isolates were multi-drug resistant:
  • One (7.14%) was resistant to tetracyclines, aminoglycosides, and penicillins.
Penicillins are categorized as critically important.
  • One (7.14%) was resistant to tetracyclines, sulfanomides, aminogylcosides, and amphenicols.
Amphenicols are categorized as highly important.
  • One (7.14%) was resistant to tetracyclines, sulfanomides, aminoglycosides, penicillins, macrolides, and cephalosporins (1st/2nd generation).
First and second generation cephalosporins are categorized as highly important.
For further information, please access the full report here.

22 November 2019

First Ever Climate-Resilient Nation: Dominica Amazes World With Formidable Eco-Conscious Economic Model and Inspiring Survival Stories After Hurricane Maria

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Dominica aims to become the world's first climate-resilient nation, with critical support from the Citizenship by Investment Programme
Dominica aims to become the world's first climate-resilient nation, with critical support from the Citizenship by Investment Programme - (www.cbiu.gov.dm)
Affectionately called the 'Nature Isle of the Caribbean', the Commonwealth of Dominica leaves a lasting impression on those who visit it, conquering more and more travel journalists. Enthusiastic reviews keep pouring in, especially about the people on the beautiful island, who are known for their kindness, peacefulness and strong community sense.
Having resiliently survived several natural disasters in recent years, there is little now that shakes the 75,000 inhabitants of the island. The small but resolute country is winning over a wide spectrum of international stakeholders, ranging from nature lovers to economic experts.
A National Geographic article this week paid tribute to Dominicans' resilience and unity in the face of adversity, noting the government's formidable turnaround pace following mass devastation worth 226% of GDP in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, at a time when the island was still recovering from 2015's Tropical Storm Erika. Despite the magnitude of the destruction and the psychological cicatrices, Dominica not only prevailed, but exceeded all expectations. Immediately after Maria, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit called on the international community to join Dominica's fight against climate change and support its goal to become "the world's first climate-resilient nation". The response was instantaneous.

Dominica after Hurricane Maria and two years later. The infrastructure was rehabilitated using Citizenship by Investment funds.
Dominica after Hurricane Maria and two years later. The infrastructure was rehabilitated using Citizenship by Investment funds.
To date, Dominica attracts foreign direct investment from reputable individuals and families around the world through its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. Investors are willing to contribute with significant amounts to Dominica's economy and receive its citizenship in return, along with a sense of pride for supporting the island's ambitious pledge to become fully climate resilient. The solidarity among investors grows with the completion of more and more luxury eco-resorts, currently counting Marriott, Hilton, Kempinski, Jungle Bay, Secret Bay and Sanctuary Rainforest, whose shares qualify for citizenship, provided the applicants first pass a rigorous due diligence process. The latter was marked with 10/10 points in this year's CBI Index, released by Professional Wealth Management (PWM) magazine, a publication from the Financial Times.

In August, multinational firm PricewaterhouseCoopers produced an extensive assessment of Dominica's CBI Programme for the past five years. The report concluded that "CBIP-funded public expenditure generated tangible impacts on almost every aspect of life in Dominica" and that "it was instrumental to the post-Maria recovery effort".

Earlier this year, leading accounting company Ernst & Young, British financial firm Smith & Williamson, and eminent Queen's Counsel Balraj Bhatia all pledged for Dominica's integrity, concluding that CBI could not be used as evidence of tax residence, therefore dispelling any myths where the two concepts were often confused. In fact, Dominica scored so well against various indicators valued by investors and was called a model for transparency and accountability of CBI funds, that it was officially declared as offering the world's best economic citizenship.

A few weeks ago, the Financial Times' PWM released a documentary unravelling just how much the CBI funding helped transform the island into a pristine ecotourism destination, ripe for sustainable investment opportunities. The 5-part series notes that Dominica is very selective about the CBI-approved hotels it allows to be built and prioritises quality over quantity, similar to whom it accepts as citizen through CBI. Dominica's strategy is by far not a race to the bottom, but quite the opposite – it is establishing a league of its own by building a sustainable ecotourism sector that educates visitors, citizens and businesses to respect the island's natural surroundings and way of living.

Importantly, the documentary notes that the Dominican diaspora, many of whom left after Maria and Erika, is slowly returning home. The CBI hotels are creating thousands of jobs in construction and hospitality, whereas those with an entrepreneurial spirit have the chance to set up their own businesses in ancillary services in travel and tourism. Dominica's thriving luxury ecotourism will further bring employment and business opportunities to farmers; fishermen; taxi drivers; tour operators; wellness specialists; artists specialising in handcrafting, culture and heritage; the Kalinago tribe; street food vendors; local artisans; restaurant and bar owners; Air B'n'B hosts; etc. Moreover, the National Employment Programme, also sponsored by CBI, tackles youth unemployment and was also involved in a post-Maria "Community Clean-Up and Beautification" action.

Meanwhile, the government has been putting aside millions from the CBI Programme to raise funds for the construction of a new international airport, "the only missing link" to catapult Dominica onto the global tourism scene, though still keeping in mind the quality-over-quantity principle. A new cruise village and port, also CBI-funded, will complement the island's regional connectivity and put Dominica firmly on the cruise map.

In addition, the new 7MW geothermal plant, partly funded by CBI, would provide the island with clean energy, lower electricity costs for the public and private sector, and ensure energy security in the long term.

7 November 2019

The Polar Regions - The End of the Eternal Ice

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The Polar Regions - The End of the Eternal Ice
The Polar Regions - The End of the Eternal Ice (image via Pixabay)
The polar regions play an exceptional role in the Earth's climate system. The almost endless snow and ice surfaces of the Arctic and Antarctic act like a gigantic mirror and radiate up to 90 percent of incident sunlight back into space. Because of this, they not only slow down the warming of the Earth, but also create large temperature differences between the cold polar regions and the warm tropics. This disparity, in turn, drives the global wind and ocean currents and contributes significantly to the fact that the heat stored in the sea and in the atmosphere is distributed over large areas of the globe and that people, animals and plants find reliable living conditions everywhere in the world. What happens in the remote polar regions is therefore of concern to each and every one of us. Numerous demonstrations not only by climate activists and worldwide Fridays for Future protests in recent months have impressively pointed out that such reliable living conditions are not self-evident but can only be understood as the result of a forward-looking, intergenerational and environmentally conscious policy.

The sixth volume of the publication 'World Ocean Review' (WOR), published with the support of the International Ocean Institute (IOI), is therefore entitled 'The Arctic and Antarctic – extreme, climatically crucial and in crisis'. It is edited by climate and polar researchers from the German Marine Research Consortium (KDM), the Future Ocean research network in Kiel and the magazine mare, who are responsible for the overall concept and preparing the scientific contents in a way that is comprehensible to the public. As a bundling of the expertise of German marine research, the new issue is dedicated to these two extreme and highly contrasting regions of the Earth. The issue provides profound information on their origin and significance for life on Earth, as well as on the observed climatic changes and their dramatic consequences, some of which extend far beyond the borders of the polar regions.

"Until a few years ago, the Arctic and Antarctic realms were destinations of historical expeditions such as those of Scott or Amundsen and home to polar bears or penguins," says Nikolaus Gelpke, editor of 'WOR', founder of the magazine mare and board member of the International Ocean Institute (IOI). "Since the new IPCC special report 'Ocean and Cryosphere in Climate Change', however, we have known about the outstanding importance of the polar regions for our climate future. The observed changes are symbols for the consequences of our industrial development, the melting of the formerly eternal ice stands for the loss of control of our actions. Our 'WOR', as an excellent complement to the IPCC special report, can hopefully help to deepen our understanding of cause-and-effect relationships."
The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the world and is now showing a whole new face. Last summer alone, the world witnessed the widespread burning of dried out tundra areas in Alaska and Siberia, the melting of the Greenlandic ice sheet on its surface during a heat wave, and the shrinking of the Arctic Ocean's sea ice cover to the second smallest residual area since satellite measurements began. In the Antarctic, heat comes mainly from the sea. Warm currents increasingly penetrate under the floating ice tongues of West and East Antarctica and melt these so-called ice shelves from below. As a result, not only do more icebergs calve, the glaciers now also transport more ice from the interior of Antarctica to the sea, so that their contribution to global sea-level rise increases and the ice sheets of West and East Antarctica thin out overall.

Walruses
Walruses (via LoupDargent.info)
But what consequences do these and other climatic changes have for the highly adapted flora and fauna of the Arctic and Antarctic? What are the chances of survival for polar bears, walruses, polar cod, krill and all other sea dwellers who depend on sea ice for their foraging and breeding? How does the vegetation change on land? 'WOR 6' explains the unique adaptation strategies of polar flora and fauna and the extent to which polar species are likely to be able to adapt to rising air and water temperatures, dwindling food sources and migratory competitors.

But where glaciers and sea ice are disappearing, people also gain access to previously hidden resources and raw material deposits. The Arctic states in particular therefore see climate change as an opportunity to develop their northern territories economically. One focus is on the expansion of tourist infrastructures such as airports and berths for cruise ships, because the worldwide demand for trips to the polar regions is increasing – grotesquely, above all, because many nature lovers and adventure tourists have come to the conclusion that now is the last chance to see the ice landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic with their own eyes. At the same time, mining and oil companies are currently investing large sums in the exploration and extraction of raw material deposits in the Arctic, above all in Russia. 'WOR 6' shows which expectations are attached to this industrialization, which risks and dangers go along with it and which protection precautions are taken.

"The developments in the polar regions illustrate one of the challenges for ocean research to develop solutions across disciplines. The coming decade of marine sciences for sustainable development, which aims to combine, increase and make available knowledge in order to enable clever development paths in human-ocean relations, gives us hope," says Prof. Dr. Nele Matz-Lück, spokesperson for the Future Ocean Network in Kiel and maritime law expert at the Walther Schücking Institute for International Law at Kiel University.
Germany is one of the leading polar research nations in the world and operates research stations, observatories and long-term measurement series in both the Arctic and Antarctic. At the time of WOR publication, the ground-breaking international Arctic expedition MOSAiC on the German polar research vessel Polarstern is also in full swing. The icebreaker will be frozen in the sea ice and drift through the central Arctic for about a year. In the meantime, researchers from 17 nations are collecting urgently needed data on the interactions between atmosphere, ice, ocean and polar ecosystem.
"Polar research is climate research at the pulse of time, and once again German polar, marine and coastal research is proving to be a signpost in the international context," says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bathmann, Director of the Leibnitz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) and Chairman of the German Marine Research Consortium.

An Iceberg
An Iceberg (image via Pixabay)
  • The 'World Ocean Review 6' was presented on 7th November 2019 at the Schleswig-Holstein representation in Berlin during an evening event with guests from politics, business, science, media and education.
A Polar Bear
A Polar Bear (via LoupDargent.info)

Background

maribus gGmbH was founded in 2008 by mare publisher Nikolaus Gelpke. It serves as a non-profit organisation for the purpose of sensitising the public to marine science and contributing to more effective marine conservation. To date, about 170,000 printed copies of the 'WOR' in German and English have been ordered and distributed worldwide, in addition to countless online downloads.

'WOR 6' is being published with a total circulation of 20,000 copies. The publication is not sold, but given away for free. There is no profit-making intent. It is available at www.worldoceanreview.com. At the same time as the printed edition, the entire publication will also be published online. In addition to the German version, an English edition will also be available shortly.

SOURCE: maribus gGmbH

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