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Voices: Politicians who lack courage to confront climate change must go

voices: politicians who lack courage to confront climate change must go

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The fires of climate change are at our doorstep. We know it. We’ve been choking on the smoke from spring to autumn. Whole communities in Washington, Oregon, and California have been wiped out by firestorms.Here’s the thing—we can solve this challenge, while cleaning our air and strengthening our economy. All that’s missing is political courage. It is clear some candidates for statewide office have this courage, most notably Kathleen Williams, and also Steve Bullock and Mike Cooney. Others plainly lack it, notably Steve Daines, Matt Rosendale, and Greg Gianforte. I’ll explain.
But first, what’s with the fires and the smoke? Spoiler: it’s climate change, driven by burning fossil fuels, like oil, gas, and coal. A recent survey of peer-reviewed research by Smith et al. (2020) identified a “strong consensus” that climate change is creating the conditions for “more extreme fires and more extreme fire seasons.” The study explains that climate change is drying out the American West, extending the fire season and increasing the area burned in Western forests tenfold between 1973-1982 and 2003-2012.
In recent years, western wildfires have consumed entire towns. In 2018, Paradise, California, burned and 85 people lost their lives. This …

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Climate change poses growing threats to vulnerable Africa, U.N. says

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By Maggie Fick3 Min ReadNAIROBI (Reuters) – Floods, droughts, hotter weather and a desert locust invasion — the impacts of climate change are hitting Africa hard, and worse is ahead for the region’s food supplies, economy and health, the U.N. climate agency said on Monday.FILE PHOTO: A farmer picks locusts from his sorghum farm in Jawaha village near Kamise town Amhara region, Ethiopia October 15, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File PhotoTemperatures have been rising on the continent of 1.2 billion at a comparable rate to other regions, but Africa is exceptionally vulnerable to the shock, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).Warming temperatures are slashing crop yields. Agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economy.“By the middle of this century, major cereal crops grown across Africa will be adversely impacted,” the WMO said in a report.It projected a reduction in yields of 13% in West and Central Africa, 11% in North Africa and 8% in East and Southern Africa.African countries are generally low-income and ill-equipped to respond to this and other consequences of climate change, the WMO said.Natural disasters such as Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which struck three countries in southern Africa in 2019, underscored the region’s exposure, it …

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How to be happy, according to science

how to be happy, according to science

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In 2014, two psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, launched an online course with a lofty goal: teaching students how to be happy, through both science and practice, in just eight weeks. No big deal, right? The amazing thing: It seemed to work. Thousands of students took the Science of Happiness course (which is still free to audit on edX, a provider of open online courses) and learned about the science of connection, compassion, gratitude and mindfulness. Perhaps more importantly, they also completed a series of simple activities that research suggests increase happiness. Those who fully participated saw their positive feelings increase each week. They reported feeling less sadness, stress, loneliness, anger and fear, while at the same time experiencing more amusement, enthusiasm and affection, as well as a greater sense of community. During the course, students’ happiness and life satisfaction increased by about 5%. And that boost remained even four months after the course ended (though it’s difficult to fully untangle that result; it could’ve been from doing the activities, the students’ new understanding of the psychology of happiness, or something totally different).
Brett Pearce/CNET
How does this work? Can you really change how …

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Dealing with climate change requires more fight and less flight – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

dealing with climate change requires more fight and less flight – bulletin of the atomic scientists

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A plane releases fire retardant during the Carr Fire in Shasta County, California, in early August 2018. Credit: California National GuardAt a campaign rally on October 16, President Trump spoke openly about the possibility of losing the election and how he would cope with that. “Maybe I’ll have to leave the country,” he said.That might be more difficult than it sounds. Many foreign countries have temporarily closed their doors to visitors from the United States, which continues to report more cases of COVID-19 than any other nation.Trump’s response to potential disaster is typical of the way many Americans think, though. We have always been a mobile country—even during the Great Depression, Americans continued their great migration West. Not many countries have a change-of-address form included as a matter of course at the bottom of credit card statements, magazine subscriptions, bank statements, and as preprinted notecards at post offices.Now many Americans may have one more additional impetus to pull up roots: climate change. And they expect to be able to go wherever they please, even as they deny other would-be migrants—including some who are fleeing climate-driven impacts—the right to come to this country.Migration is …

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As STAT turns 5, a look back at science and medicine’s biggest headlines

as stat turns 5, a look back at science and medicine’s biggest headlines

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The past five years have been packed with medical and scientific advances, a series of public health crises that have gripped the world, and uproar over rising prescription drug costs.
They’ve also been a heck of a time to launch a publication about health and medicine.
As STAT celebrates its five-year anniversary, our reporters took a look back at six areas we’ve covered closely — CRISPR, infectious disease, the opioid crisis, drug pricing, AI in medicine, and cell and gene therapy — to recap the biggest headlines and controversies and cast an eye to what may lie ahead.
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CRISPR: A Nobel, He Jiankui’s bombshell, and an ugly patent fight
Even before STAT published its first stories, we knew CRISPR would be big: Breakthrough scientific papers in 2012 and early 2013 showed that this technique for changing the DNA of plants and animals was so easy to use that labs across the world would seize on it to understand basic biological processes as well as develop cures for genetic diseases. That’s why my first story for STAT profiled one of CRISPR’s inventors, biologist Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute. Check out his “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” analogy.
Sure enough, …

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Biden Would Increase Science Funding | Inside Higher Ed

biden would increase science funding | inside higher ed

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Increasing federal spending on research and science, including at universities, will be a top priority of his administration, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told a left-of-center podcast.Biden told Pod Save America, run by former Obama administration aides, that if he is elected, combating the coronavirus pandemic would be at the top of his agenda, followed by increasing investments to generate economic growth.
“The first thing we’re going to have to do is to, in order to compete internationally, is we’re going to have to compete,” he said. “We’re going to invest in science and technology. We’re going to make sure that we can compete with the rest of the world and lead the rest of the world. We have the greatest institutes. We have more great research universities in the United States of America than every other research university in the entire rest of the world combined.”
Barbara R. Snyder, who recently became president of the Association of American Universities, said in an interview the group had written both Biden and President Donald Trump’s campaigns, urging them to increase investment in research.
The group has said federal investment in research and development had dropped since 1976 …

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From climate change to equality, Lagarde turns ECB more political

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Since taking the helm a year ago, Christine Lagarde has turned the European Central Bank’s attention to social issues like climate change and inequality, broadening its horizons but also opening it to attacks that could test its independence.FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde gestures as she addresses a news conference on the outcome of the meeting of the Governing Council, in Frankfurt, Germany, March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File PhotoLagarde’s efforts to use the bank’s leverage to fight global warming, gender imbalance or income inequality may have been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing, deep recession.But they could yet reshape the currency union’s most powerful institution and help redefine the role of central banking in an era where the threat of runaway inflation has faded into obscurity.The ECB as an institution is one of a kind. Its president is uniquely powerful in swaying policy and the broader economic debate, as Lagarde’s predecessor Mario Draghi demonstrated in 2012 when he said the bank would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro here, catching markets and some colleagues unaware.The bank’s role is also open to interpretation …

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INSIGHT-From climate change to equality, Lagarde turns ECB more political

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Since taking the helm a year ago, Christine Lagarde has turned the European Central Bank’s attention to social issues like climate change and inequality, broadening its horizons but also opening it to attacks that could test its independence.FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde addresses an event to launch the private finance agenda for the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) at Guildhall in London, Britain February 27, 2020. Tolga Akmen/Pool via REUTERS//File Photo/File PhotoLagarde’s efforts to use the bank’s leverage to fight global warming, gender imbalance or income inequality may have been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing, deep recession.But they could yet reshape the currency union’s most powerful institution and help redefine the role of central banking in an era where the threat of runaway inflation has faded into obscurity.The ECB as an institution is one of a kind. Its president is uniquely powerful in swaying policy and the broader economic debate, as Lagarde’s predecessor Mario Draghi demonstrated in 2012 when he said the bank would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro here, catching markets and some colleagues unaware.The …

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In 2020, the politics around climate change cannot be avoided

in 2020, the politics around climate change cannot be avoided

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COLUMBIA – The wide-ranging issue of climate change is increasing. For my final chat with Yale University climate scientist Jenn Marlon I ask arguably two of the biggest questions scientists can answer in 2020.KENTON GEWECKE: How worried do you think we should be (about our rapidly changing climate)?JENN MARLON: I think this is the greatest threat that humanity has faced today. I think we should be worried. But not there’s a difference between being alarmed and being alarmist. Okay, so the planet is going to survive. We’re not talking about the end of the planet. But we are talking about the end of many species if we don’t change, and we are talking about the massive migration of people from coastal cities inland, if we don’t reduce our emissions, we’re talking our infrastructure in our towns and cities is already crumbling and aging. And so when you make hurricanes worse, and flooding worse, on top of the problems we already have, this is a recipe for massive economic damages and fall out that we should really be working hard to avoid, and we can avoid it. But we need more electric vehicle charging stations, for example. And that takes …

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