We begin with an alien invasion of the microbial trans-species kind from SciDev.Net:
Monkey malaria on the rise among humans in Malaysia
Once only monkeys were suffering — now people are getting sick too. Monkey malaria, which is three times more severe than other forms of malaria, now accounts for two-thirds of human malaria cases in Malaysian Borneo, says Balbir Singh, director of the Malaria Research Centre at the University of Malaysia in Sarawak.
Other South-East Asian countries such as Cambodia and Thailand are seeing infections too. Signs that monkey malaria may now be jumping directly between humans could lead to a further spike in cases, adds Singh.
The disease is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium knowlesi, transmitted by mosquitoes which usually feed on monkeys’ blood. The parasite was first described in 1932, and it was known that very occasionally people could get infected — for instance, when spending time in the jungle canopy being exposed to bites from mosquitoes that would normally prefer monkeys.
Cancer, race, and class from Newswise:
Race, Hospital, Insurance Status All Factors in How Lung Cancer Is Treated
African Americans, Hispanics, and those who receive care at a community hospital are all significantly less likely than other patients to receive treatment for early stage non-small cell lung cancer, according to a report in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
“We found significant disparities for treatment of a curable cancer based on race, insurance status, and whether or not treatment was at an academic or community hospital,” said Dr. Matthew Koshy, a physician in the department of radiation oncology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and lead author of the study. “Reducing these disparities could lead to significant improvements in survival for many people with inoperable early stage lung cancer.”
The study is the largest to date looking at treatment received by patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer, an early stage of lung cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes and is characterized by a small nodules in the lung tissue. Treatment during this early stage offers the best chance for long-term survival.
From the Washington Post, and it should come as no surprise:
U.N. report: Promised cuts in carbon emissions not enough to prevent warming
Pledges by the United States and other countries to sharply reduce greenhouse-gas emissions still aren’t enough to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond levels that scientists believe could be dangerous to the planet’s health, a U.N.-commissioned study says.
The report by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) cited a sizable “emissions gap” between the promises made by world leaders to lower pollution and the maximum amount of carbon the atmosphere can safely absorb.
“Without additional climate policies, global emissions will increase hugely up to at least 2050,” said the study, released Wednesday by the U.N. body that established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific organization that studies the effects of heat-trapping greenhouse gases on the global environment.
More atmospheric aggro from the Mainichi:
Brazil environmentalists: greenhouse gases rise
Emission levels of greenhouse gases in Latin America’s biggest country were almost 8 percent higher in 2013 than one year earlier, a Brazilian network of environmental groups said Wednesday.
The Observatorio do Clima, or Climate Observatory, is comprised of more than 30 non-governmental organizations focused on climate change. It said in a report that greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 1.57 billion metric tons in 2013 compared to 1.45 billion metric tons in 2012.
The increase represents a reversal in the trend that started in 2005 when emissions of greenhouse gases dropped year-by-year as deforestation levels fell, the report said.
The report said that soil use changes in 2013 accounted for 16.48 percent of the emissions due to increased deforestation levels in the Amazon region and in the savanna-like ecosystem known as the Cerrado in central Brazil.
Still more atmospheric woes from the Guardian:
EU court rules UK government must clean up dangerous air pollution
- UK government must urgently improve air quality in British cities following a landmark case that could see more vehicles restricted from city centres
The government will be forced to urgently clean up illegal air pollution in British cities following a ruling on Wednesday in the European court of justice. It is likely to see many diesel cars and heavy goods vehicles restricted from city centres within a few years.
The landmark case, brought by a small environmental group through the UK courts, will allow people to sue the government for breaching EU pollution laws and will force ministers to prepare plans for many cities to improve air quality.
Europe’s highest court firmly rejected Britain’s long-standing approach to complying with EU air pollution laws which has been to appeal to Europe for time extensions.
The government has admitted that under its current plans, London, Leeds and Birmingham will not meet legal limits for the toxic nitrogen dioxide gas (NO2) until after 2030. This is 20 years after the original deadline set by Europe. Other cities, including Manchester and Glasgow , have target dates of 2025.
From the Los Angeles Times, the pollution pecking order:
Province near Beijing aims to move polluting factories overseas
In an effort to reduce pollution, authorities in Hebei province on Tuesday announced a plan to move steel, cement and glass factories outside of China, the official New China News Agency said. Through preferential policies and financial incentives, local companies will be encouraged to relocate to Africa, Central Asia and South America by 2023.
Industrial pollution is the largest source of the tiny, choking particles that regularly cloud Beijing’s skies, according to research last year by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Hebei, which surrounds the capital, is one of the country’s main industrial production centers. But with China’s economy slowing, factories have a surplus of capacity.
Authorities now want to put some of these factories offshore, with the government seeking to move 5 million tons of both steel and cement production out of the country by 2017, and even more ambitious targets of 20 million tons of steel and 30 million tons of cement moved out by 2023.
From TheLocal.dk, closer to home:
Denmark pressures EU on everyday chemicals
Saying that “the phasing-out of harmful chemicals is progressing far too slow in the EU,” Denmark’s environment minister has recruited colleagues for a coordinated campaign targeting the EU Commission.
Denmark’s environment minister, Kirsten Brosbøl, has joined with seven other European ministers to pressure the new EU Commission to increase its efforts to protect consumers from dangerous chemicals.
Brosbøl and the environment ministers of Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden are calling on the new members of the EU Commission to eliminate chemicals from everyday products.
“Denmark holds an unfortunate record with regard to testicular cancer, and many couples are having difficulties getting pregnant, while children are reaching puberty at an ever earlier age. We know that this may be due to a number of harmful chemicals in our everyday lives,” Brosbøl said in a press release.
On to petro politics and perils with the Guardian:
Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise detained in Spain
- Greenpeace ship taken into Spanish custody after oil protest in waters off of the Canary Islands, six months after being released by the Russian government
The Greenpeace protest ship Arctic Sunrise has been taken into custody by the Spanish government in waters off the Canary Islands, just months after it was released by the Russian government.
Spain’s Ministry of public works and transportation detained the vessel on Tuesday night pending an investigation against the captain for an “infringement against marine traffic rules”. The maximum fine for the offence is €300,000 (£240,000).
On Saturday, Greenpeace protesters from the ship approached the Repsol oil ship Rowan Renaissance – ignoring warnings from the Spanish navy to leave an exclusion zone. Activists were injured after their rhibs – an inflatable boat with a rigid hull – were repeatedly rammed by the Spanish navy. Footage of the clashes showed the moment when one activist had her leg broken and was thrown into the water.
EcoWatch fracks the commons:
Fracking Approved in Largest National Forest in Eastern U.S.
Despite strong opposition from both elected officials in the affected areas and environmental groups, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has approved fracking in George Washington Forest. Objections to the plan came from members of Congress from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Washington D.C. city council, which passed a resolution opposing it in March. McAuliffe reiterated his opposition before a meeting of the state’s Climate Change and Resilience Commission in September.
The forest, located in Virginia and West Virginia, is the largest national forest on the east coast. It contains the headwaters of the Potomac River, which feed into the Chesapeake Bay and provide drinking water for millions of people in the Washington, DC/Chesapeake region.
The USFS had initially proposed to ban fracking in the 1.1 million acre forest, the first outright ban of the practice in a national forest. But when the plan was released in 2011, energy companies complained and exerted pressure on the USFS. About 10,000 acres of the forest are already been leased to oil and gas companies, with private mineral rights existing under another 167,000 acres. The newly released plan will only allow fracking on that land, which is located in sparsely populated rural Highland County, Virginia. The plan also puts off limits another 800,000 acres that were available for drilling.
And from RT America, Sioux pipeline ire:
Keystone XL an “act of war” declares South Dakota tribe
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota says that congressional approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline will be considered an act of war. If given the green light by congress, the controversial project will traverse land under the control of the Native American tribe, which is now threatening to exercise its rights as a “sovereign nation.” RT’s Ben Swann speaks to tribal president Cyril Scott to learn more.
Next, Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with nuclear politics from the Japan Times:
Abe’s election decision met with anger in disaster-hit communities
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election was met with anger in communities affected by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.
Many people in the affected areas are concerned about a further delay in post-disaster reconstruction as procedures will grind to a halt until a new government is installed.
“Why does the Lower House need to be dissolved now?” Shigetoshi Shimomura, a local community leader in the Kerobe district of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, asked indignantly. “Although Abe has said that there will be no revival for Japan without reconstruction of disaster-hit areas, he doesn’t seem to attach much importance to the issue,” the 65-year-old said.
JapanToday administers a seismic reminder:
M5.3 quake hits off Fukushima, jolts Kanto; no tsunami alert issued
An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 struck in the sea off Fukushima Prefecture at 10:51 a.m. Thursday, but no tsunami alert was issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The agency said the epicenter was 40 kilometers deep.
The quake registered a 4 in Fukushima Prefecture, 3 in Miyagi, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures, and a 2 in Tokyo and other parts of the Kanto region. Buildings shook briefly in Tokyo.
There was no immediate reports of injuries or damage to buildings.
Finding fault with the Mainichi:
Experts retain Tsuruga reactor fault judgment in draft report
A panel of experts under Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday reaffirmed an earlier judgment that a reactor at the Tsuruga nuclear station is sitting right above an active fault, a move that could force the operator to permanently shut down the unit.
After the Nuclear Regulation Authority acknowledged last year that the fault in question is active, Japan Atomic Power Co. has submitted additional data in trying to have it overturned.
The experts, however, concluded that the new data offered no evidence to sway the judgment as it compiled a new draft report on the fault’s assessment.
From RT America, questions raised:
US fails to properly monitor Fukushima fallout
Scientists are warning that more stringent monitoring of radiation levels in the ocean is needed to ensure pollution from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster doesn’t worsen. Radioactive particles from Japan have managed to reach the west coast of the US, but there is no federal agency tasked with monitoring the levels of pollution, as RT’s Lindsay France explains.
Paving the way for politically fraught preliminary cleanup operation, via Jiji Press:
Japan Enacts Bill on Radioactive Soil Interim Storage
Japan enacted a bill Wednesday that is necessary to establish interim facilities to store soil polluted with fallout from the March 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The storage facilities for the radioactive soil collected through decontamination of polluted areas in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Fukushima are set to be built around the natural disaster-stricken nuclear plant in the same prefecture.
The legislation, given the final go-ahead by the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, requires the state government to dispose of the stored soil outside the prefecture and finish the final disposal work within 30 years, one of the five conditions that the Fukushima prefectural government has set for allowing the interim storage.
Disaster preparations from NHK WORLD:
Diet approves nuclear compensation treaty
Japan’s Diet has approved a bill to join an international treaty on sharing the costs of compensation in a nuclear disaster.
The bill on the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage cleared the Upper House on Wednesday.
The treaty obliges the signatories to set aside the equivalent of 47 billion yen, about 400 million dollars, to compensate victims in a nuclear accident.
If the cost of compensation in Japan exceeds its reserve, other signatories would provide around 60 million dollars more. Conversely, Japan would have to contribute about 34 million dollars to help compensate for a nuclear accident in another country.
And to close, British nuclear woes of another sort from the Guardian:
Hinkley Point C nuclear plant’s future in doubt as crisis hits shareholder
- Questions over new Somerset power station after Areva’s nuclear projects in Finland and France run into difficulties
The future of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset is under a cloud amid a financial crisis at Areva, a shareholder in the project and the designer of the proposed reactors.
Shares in the French engineering business plunged by almost a quarter after Areva warned it must suspend future profit predictions because of problems centred on a similar power station project in Finland.
Both that scheme at Olkiluoto and another at Flamanville in France are massively over-budget and over-schedule, forcing Areva to consider whether it needs an injection of new cash to survive.