Delhi residents struggle to breathe as doctors declare air pollution health emergency

November 7, 2017 by  
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Doctors in Delhi, India’s capital region, have declared a public health emergency over the densely populated, metropolitan area’s extremely high level of air pollution , the breathing of which has been described as the equivalent of smoking 50 cigarettes in a day. The Indian Medical Association has called for the capital city’s upcoming half-marathon to be cancelled to avoid “disastrous health consequences” and urges residents to remain inside to protect themselves from the pollution. Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, described the city as “a gas chamber,” according to the Guardian , while he and other officials work to determine an effective response to the crisis. As the region struggles to breath, state and federal government have been urged to take action to protect its citizens. In response to the public health emergency, schools have been closed while transportation routes have suffered delays under the decreased visibility. While the smog contains a number of noxious chemicals, the most destructive are concentrations of fine pollutants smaller than 2.5 micro-meters, which are so tiny that they are able to slip through natural filters in the human body. These fine pollutants, which include lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury, have reached concentrations in the air eleven times the level defined as safe by the World Health Organization. “It has terrible effects on every part of your body,” said Dr. Arvind Kumar, chest surgery chairman at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi, according to the Guardian . “It can precipitate an acute asthma attack and in the long run it will increase their risk of lung cancer .” Related: India to only sell electric cars by 2030 Delhi’s air is polluted for much of the year due to open burning of trash, road dust, exhaust from vehicles, and byproducts of industrial activity. However, it becomes even more unbearable in winter when seasonal changes trap the pollution closer to the ground. Attempts to improve Delhi’s air quality have included traffic rationing, shuttering of local coal power plants , and even banning fireworks during Diwali. Unfortunately, to truly tackle this urgent problem, local, state, and federal governments will need to examine the complex systems that result in an outpouring of pollution and craft comprehensive policies to discourage unhealthy practices and encourage healthy ones. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Delhi residents struggle to breathe as doctors declare air pollution health emergency

Scientists warn new "super malaria" in SE Asia poses alarming global threat

September 25, 2017 by  
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If you’re planning a trip to South East Asia , take note. An evolved form of malaria which is resistant to anti-malaria medication is spreading at an “alarming global rate,” according to scientists. The parasite was first documented in Cambodia but quickly migrated to other regions. Researchers predict mass casualties should the “super malaria” spread to Africa , where over 90 percent of cases occur. This “super malaria” is more dangerous than the original malaria parasite , as it cannot be killed with the main anti-malaria drugs. According to the BBC , it was first reported in Cambodia, but quickly spread throughout parts of Thailand , Laos and later, Vietnam. The team at the Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok said there is a real concern the new malaria may be “untreatable.” Professor Arjen Dondorp, who heads the unit, said, “We think it is a serious threat. It is alarming that this strain is spreading so quickly through the whole region and we fear it can spread further [and eventually] jump to Africa .” Related: FDA approves genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika Each year, approximately 212 million people are affected with the parasite that is spread via blood-sucking mosquitos . Malaria is a major killer of children, especially in poverty-stricken locations. When one begins to notice symptoms of the sickness, the first line of treatment is artemisinin in combination with piperaquine. However, artemisinin is becoming less and less effective, as a letter, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases , points out. The “super malaria” is now resistant to piperaquine, as well. The letter notes an “alarming rate of failure” with both treatments. Dondorp said about one-third of the time, the treatment failed in Vietnam . In some areas of Cambodia, the failure rate was closer to 60 percent. In Africa, where 92 percent of malaria cases occur, the “super malaria” is expected to be disastrous. It’s now a race against the clock to prevent the blood-transmitted bug from reaching Africa. Said Dondorp, “We have to eliminate it before malaria becomes untreatable again and we see a lot of deaths. If I’m honest, I’m quite worried.” “The spread of this malaria ‘superbug’ strain, resistant to the most effective drug we have, is alarming and has major implications for public health globally,” said Michel Chew, from the Welcome Trust medical research charity. “Around 700,000 people a year die from drug-resistant infections, including malaria. If nothing is done, this could increase to millions of people every year by 2050.” Via BBC Images via Pixabay

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Scientists warn new "super malaria" in SE Asia poses alarming global threat

Crowdfunded Company Launches Site to Help Eco Nonprofits

May 8, 2017 by  
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In 2010, Peter Dering found himself doing what many young 20-somethings do, taking a four-month-long backpacking trip around Asia. He practiced his love of photography by capturing the exotic sights he encountered in each country, but he found his…

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Crowdfunded Company Launches Site to Help Eco Nonprofits

Taiwan is first Asian country to ban eating cats and dogs

April 18, 2017 by  
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Even abject carnivores in the West balk at the idea of raising dogs and cats for their meat, but East and Southeast Asian countries, particularly those mired in poverty, do not share those qualms. As incomes, not to mention concerns over animal welfare, continue to grow in those regions, however, the practice is slowly but steadily on the decline . Taiwan is willing to take the next leap: outlawing it altogether. Legislature passed recently will make the island nation the first in Asia to ban dog and cat consumption, according to Newsweek . After Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen signs the amendments, anyone caught eating dog or cat meat will be fined $8,000. Those involved in slaughtering the animals could face two years in jail and a $60,000 fine. Related: Killing dogs and cats for meat is still legal in 44 U.S. states The move dovetails with an earlier law, passed in 2001, that made illegal the sale of meat and fur of pets for so-called “economic purposes.” Tsai herself is a known animal lover. Last year, she adopted three retired guide dogs, who now cohabit a home with Tsai’s two cats, Think Think and A-Tsai. Via Newsweek Photos by Unsplash

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Taiwan is first Asian country to ban eating cats and dogs

Rugged solar roads to hit four continents in 2017

November 25, 2016 by  
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Solar-generating roadways could soon be a reality on roads everywhere, thanks to new technology from Europe. According to Bloomberg , Colas SA, a subsidiary of France’s Bouygues Group has been working on solar panels that are tough enough to handle the load of an 18-wheeler truck – and are currently building them into some French road surfaces, with plans to test the technology across four continents in 2017. These panels have already undergone five years of research and laboratory tests, but before they hit the roads in a major way, the company plans to test them further by building 100 outdoor test sites over the next year. “We wanted to find a second life for a road,” Colas SA’s Wattaway Unit chief technology officer told Bloomberg. “Solar farms use land that could otherwise be for agriculture, while the roads are free.” How does a road made of solar panels withstand the weight of a massive semi truck, you might ask? According to Bloomberg , while the panels are made with ordinary solar cells such as those that might be on your roof, they are layered with several types of plastic on top to create a sturdy casing that can withstand abuse. It has electrical wiring embedded, and is coated with a layer of crushed glass to create an anti-slip surface. Related: Solar Roadways unveils super strong solar panels for roads in a prototypical parking lot Wattaway began testing the new product last month on a kilometer-long site in the French town of Tourouvre. At 2,800 square meters in area, the embedded solar panel array is expected to generate about 280 kilowatts of energy at peak capacity. The company says that’s enough power to light up a town of 5,000 people for a whole year. They also told Bloomberg they intend to test the technology in Calgary, Canada, Georgia, USA, throughout the European Union, Africa and Asia, with plans to commercialize in 2018. Add this innovation to Tesla’s solar roof and what Solar Roadways is doing in the U.S., and it’s been a good year for unconventional applications of solar power. Via Bloomberg Images via Wattaway

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Rugged solar roads to hit four continents in 2017

Severe flooding in Vietnam wreaks havoc as Typhoon Sarika threatens further destruction

October 17, 2016 by  
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Severe flooding caused a wave of destruction and death in Vietnam . At least 21 people have perished in the country, and thousands of homes are completely underwater. Even as the country struggles to recover, Typhoon Sarika threatens even more devastation. Heavy rains caused the flooding, but according to local media, water rushing out from hydropower reserves made the flooding worse. One provincial official told local news organization VnExpress “dam operators should have informed locals properly in advance” and that water levels rose quickly after water flowed out from hydropower plants. Related: 21 rare one-horned Indian rhinos drown in monsoon flooding The Quang Binh province has been hit the hardest; there, around 11 people perished. Crops were damaged and floods carried away livestock. Over 70,000 homes were damaged by the flood in the stricken province, and in the nearby province of Ha Tinh, floods damaged nearly 25,000 homes. Some locals were trapped, and the government commanded military and police to rescue citizens. A major north-south rail transport was also affected by the floods. Conditions could worsen if Typhoon Sarika strikes the country. Vietnam’s weather bureau is predicting the typhoon will hit the northern part of the country possibly on Wednesday , and could lead to landslides and more flooding. Tran Le Dang Hung, a disaster official, told the AP, “We are worried. We have instructed district governments to outlet plans for evacuating people.” Typhoon Sarika caused at least two deaths in the Philippines over the weekend, and displaced over 150,000 people. According to meteorologists , the 2016 monsoon season in Asia has been one of the most extreme seasons in years. El Niño only worsened the weather. Hundreds of people have died in India, Nepal, China, and Pakistan. Millions have had to leave their homes. Via the BBC and The Guardian Images via S B on Flickr and screenshot

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Severe flooding in Vietnam wreaks havoc as Typhoon Sarika threatens further destruction

Massive hidden fault could cause a cataclysmic earthquake, scientists warn

July 12, 2016 by  
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Predicting the date and time of an earthquake is impossible, but seismologists can use trends in tectonic activity to suggest where a big tremor might occur. A recent study revealed a massive, hidden fault line running under miles of river sediment . Scientists suggest the fault, which runs beneath Bangladesh, parts of east India and Myanmar, could cause a magnitude 8.2 to 9.0 earthquake. A quake of that strength would be devastating in such a densely populated region. http://vimeo.com/26131107 The recently discovered fault has created a lot of work for researchers, who are eager to learn more about it. However, since the fault has been hidden for so long, seismologists aren’t able to say as much about it as other faults around the world that have been under close watch for decades. Without knowledge of the fault’s trends over time, little can be done to protect the very people who might suffer if a major earthquake occurs along the fault line. Related: NASA says ionized air molecules may help predict earthquakes “We don’t know if it’s tomorrow or if it’s not going to be for another 500 years,” said study co-author Michael Steckler, a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) at Columbia University in New York City. Steckler and his colleagues discovered the fault while working to map plate-motion data throughout Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar. The team, working with researchers at Bangladesh’s Dhaka University , used ultrasensitive GPS devices throughout Bangladesh between 2003 and 2014 to collect the data, which revealed the existence of this previously unknown fault. Researchers estimate that some 140 million people live within a 60-mile radius of the fault and, because of unsustainable building practices (like pumping sand out of the ground to build up areas for skyscrapers ), a major earthquake in the region would leave countless casualties and massive infrastructure damage. The results of the study were published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience . Via CBS Images via Wikipedia and  LDEO

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Massive hidden fault could cause a cataclysmic earthquake, scientists warn

Designers split a colorful Hawaii beach home in two – like a whale and her calf

July 12, 2016 by  
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https://vimeo.com/172394528 The fun design blends modern architecture with Hawaiian vernacular. Land in Hawaii is notoriously sparse, and architect Ryan Fujita and interior designer Chris Netski wanted to balance a need for indoor space with creative use of Carrazana’s yard. Instead of trying to build one house on the small lot, they pursued a unique design of splitting one house into two: a main house and a smaller guest house . Related: A unique community of modern green homes hug the desert floor in Utah In the video Netski said, “By separating the two houses we kind of forced this engagement with the site – a connection to the outdoors – and not just capturing the view with strategic openings and windows but also really feeling it; feeling the weather that day.” Carrazana compares the two houses to “two fish…a humpback whale with a calf.” Nevermind that whales aren’t fish – the concept works. The main house includes sloped roofs and an outdoor living room with two chairs, a sofa, and a small table. Indoors, a kitchen and dining room are blended into one room, allowing Carrazana to cook for guests while chatting with them during dinner parties. The guest house contains furnishings and materials similar to the main house, so the two structures feel connected – as if they were one house instead of two. Between the two houses lie palm trees and a kidney-shaped pool . Sand is a major factor to consider when outfitting a home in Hawaii. In such an environment, wood floors usually aren’t the best choice since homeowners inadvertently track in sand that could damage the floors. The H-1 F+N Design-Build Collaborative worked around this constraint by laying down floors of polished concrete instead. Not only are they easy to clean, but they’ll stand up better to sand and can be re-polished in the future if necessary. Carrazana said he “absolutely” loves his new beautiful new beach home. + Chibi Moku + H-1 F+N Design-Build Collaborative Images courtesy of Chibi Moku

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Designers split a colorful Hawaii beach home in two – like a whale and her calf

Words from VERGE Hawaii: Live (almost) from Honolulu

June 22, 2016 by  
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Here’s the latest chatter on Twitter from our Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Summit in Honolulu.

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Words from VERGE Hawaii: Live (almost) from Honolulu

Developing nations lead the pack in renewables

June 21, 2016 by  
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China alone has invested $102.9 billion in new renewables production — 36 percent of the global total.

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Developing nations lead the pack in renewables

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