Archive

Archive for June 17, 2011

IPCC asks scientists to assess geo-engineering climate solutions

Leaked documents ahead of key Lima meeting suggest UN body is looking to slow emissions with technological fixes rather than talks.

Geoengineering or climate engineering solution to climate change: marine cloud whitening

One of the geo-engineering solutions to climate change is to spray seawater droplets into marine clouds to make them reflect more sunlight. Photograph: NASA

Lighter-coloured crops, aerosols in the stratosphere and iron filings in the ocean are among the measures being considered by leading scientists for “geo-engineering” the Earth’s climate, leaked documents from the UN climate science body show.

In a move that suggests the UN and rich countries are despairing of reaching agreement by consensus at global climate talks, the US, British and other western scientists will outline a series of ideas to manipulate the world’s climate to reduce carbon emissions. But they accept that even though the ideas could theoretically work, they might equally have unintended and even irreversible consequences.

The papers, leaked from inside the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ahead of a geo-engineering expert group meeting in Lima in Peru next week, show that around 60 scientists will propose or try to assess a range of radical measures, including:

• blasting sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight into space;

• depositing massive quantities of iron filings into the oceans;

• bio-engineering crops to be a lighter colour to reflect sunlight; and

• suppressing cirrus clouds.

Other proposals likely to be suggested include spraying sea water into clouds to reflect sunlight away from the Earth, burying charcoal, painting streets and roofs white on a vast scale, adding lime to oceans and finding different ways to suck greenhouse gases out of the air and deposit heat deep into oceans.

Routine use of vital antibiotics on farms threatens human health

As Europe and the US face up to the menace of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, UK farmers have dramatically increased their use of the drugs most likely to cause these lethal strains

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor  Friday, 17 June 2011   Article Here:-

The use of modern antibiotics on British farms has risen dramatically in the past decade, fuelling the development of resistant organisms and weakening the power of human medicine to cure disease.

Click HERE to view graphic (218k jpg)

Three classes of antibiotics rated as “critically important in human medicine” by the World Health Organisation – cephalosporins, fluouroquinolones and macrolides – have increased in use by up to eightfold in the animal population over the past decade.

Over the same period, livestock numbers have fallen, by 27 per cent in the case of pigs, 10 per cent for cattle and 11 per cent for poultry. Experts say intensive farming, with thousands of animals reared in cramped conditions driven by price pressure imposed by the big supermarket chains, means infections spread faster and the need for antibiotics is greater. The widespread use of antibiotics in livestock farming is recognised as a major contributor to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Last month British scientists identified a new type of MRSA in milk, the first time the resistant organism had been found in farm animals in the UK. Although the superbug is killed by pasteurisation, there are fears it could spread from cattle to humans.

Resistant genes for toxic forms of E.coli can jump from animal to human strains. The outbreak of a virulent antibiotic-resistant strain of E.coli in Germany last month, which has claimed 39 lives and left more than 3,300 people requiring hospital treatment, has been blamed on the overuse of antibiotics in farming.

The developments highlight the global threat from the spread of untreatable superbugs. An estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, according to the WHO.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) today publishes the latest figures showing a sharp rise in bacteria resistant to carbapenems, a new and strong type of antibiotic, which it says are a “global public health concern”. The first resistant organisms were identified in 2003 and until 2007 there were fewer than five cases a year. This year 657 cases have been identified up to May, more than twice the total for 2010. In some patients they caused fatal blood poisoning.

The HPA, the European Medicines Agency and independent scientists have warned about the link between the use of modern cephalasporins and the incidence of MRSA. Use of the drugs has also been linked to the emergence in farm animals of resistant organisms, including E.coli and salmonella. Mark Holmes, lecturer in veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge who led the research into the new type of MRSA, said: “[Cephalosporins] are some of the most effective, most modern antibiotics which are heavily used in farming. Maybe we should hold them back for human use.”

Norway, Denmark and Sweden have strict controls on the use of antibiotics in farming, requiring a specific diagnosis to be made with laboratory tests to show which antibiotic is required. But in Britain, the drugs are used routinely in cows to prevent mastitis, an infection of the udder, which occurs much more frequently in animals that are intensively milked.

“We are the only country in the EU that allows drug companies to market antibiotics direct to farmers. I think it is unreasonable for the authorities to expect individuals to restrict their use,” Dr Holmes said. “There are 18,000 dairy farmers and many are barely making a living – to point at them and say stop using antibiotics is ridiculous. The authorities should be more proactive – they need to think very hard about how we can guard against generating antibiotic-resistant strains.”

The Soil Association has demanded an end to routine antibiotic use in dairy farming and the introduction of comprehensive tests for MRSA of farm animals, farm workers, milk and meat.

Richard Young, policy adviser to the Association, said the increasing medicinal use of antibiotics was driven by the unnatural demands of intensive farming. “The basic problem is that supermarkets see animals as cogs in a big industrial process. The profit margins are incredibly tight. Most of these problems can be avoided by having less intensive systems so the animals are naturally healthier,” he said.

Scientists have been warning about antibiotic resistance for decades, but the problem has become acute as the supply of new drugs has dried up. At a WHO briefing last month, they warned that the reckless use of antibiotics could return the world to a pre-antibiotic era where infections did not respond to treatment.

A bill was introduced in the US Senate yesterday to encourage the development of new antibiotics to fight drug-resistant infections.

I saw these brave Bahraini Doctors trying to save lives – these charges are a pack of lies

Eyewitness: Bahrain didn’t invite the Saudis to send their troops; the Saudis invaded and received a post-dated invitation

Robert Fisk  Tuesday, 14th June 2011    Article Here:-

Has the Khalifa family gone mad? Yesterday, the Bahraini royal family started an utterly fraudulent trial of 48 surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses, accusing them of trying to topple the tin-pot monarchy of this Sunni minority emirate. The defendants in this flagrantly unfair military court are, of course, members of the majority Shia people of Bahrain. And since I was a witness to their heroic efforts to save lives in February, I can say – let us speak with a frankness that the Bahraini rulers would normally demand – that the charges are a pack of lies.

Doctors I saw, drenched in their patients’ blood, desperately trying to staunch the bullet wounds of pro-democracy demonstrators shot in cold blood by Bahraini soldiers and police, are now on trial. I watched armed policemen refusing to allow ambulances to collect the wounded from the roads where they had been cut down.

These are the very same doctors and nurses I stood beside four months ago in the Sulaimaniya emergency room, some of them weeping as they tried to deal with gunshot wounds the like of which they had never seen before.

“How could they do this to these people?” one of them asked me. “We have never dealt with trauma wounds like these before.” Next to us lay a man with bullet wounds in the chest and thigh, coughing blood on to the floor.

The surgeons were frightened that they did not have the skills to save these victims of police violence. Now the police have accused the doctors and staff of killing the patients whom the police themselves shot.

How could these fine medical men and women have been trying to “topple” the monarchy?

The idea that these 48 defendants are guilty of such a vicious charge is not just preposterous. It is insane, a total perversion – no, the total opposite – of the truth. The police were firing at demonstrators from helicopters.

The idea that a woman and child died because they were rejected by doctors and refused medical treatment is a fantasy. The only problems medical staff encountered at the Sulaimaniya hospital – and again, I was a witness and, unlike the Bahraini security authorities, I do not tell lies – was from the cruel policemen who blocked patients from reaching the medical facility.

In truth, of course, the Khalifa family is not mad. Nor are the Sunni minority of Bahrain intrinsically bad or sectarian. The reality is clear for anyone to see in Bahrain. The Saudis are now running the country. They never received an invitation to send their own soldiers to support the Bahraini “security forces” from the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is a decent man. They simply invaded and received a post-dated invitation.

The subsequent destruction of ancient Shia mosques in Bahrain was a Saudi project, entirely in line with the kingdom’s Taliban-style hatred of all things Shia. Could the Bahraini prime minister be elected, I asked a member of the royal court last February? “The Saudis would not permit this,” he replied. Of course not. Because they now control Bahrain. Hence the Saudi-style doctors’ trial.

Bahrain is no longer the kingdom of the Khalifas. It has become a Saudi palatinate, a confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain.

 

Categories: News of the moment
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 121 other followers