As the world grapples with one animal-to-human pandemic, other zoonotic diseases are simultaneously breaking out and signaling a warning. But who’s listening?

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“Vector-borne pathogens are changing more rapidly with climate change,” Veterinary Science study. | EcoHealth Alliance

In 1970, a young boy living in equatorial Africa came down with an illness that medical experts had never seen in other people. Not even a year old, the nine-month-old child would become the very first human to be identified with a case of monkeypox, a type of zoonotic disease that is spread between animals and humans. So far this year, more than 4,500 cases of monkeypox have been reported, according to the World Health Organization, of which 3.7% have resulted in deaths.

Indeed, while the world is focused on the current zoonotic pandemic, smaller scale animal-to-human epidemics like the monkeypox are plaguing other parts of the planet, often going unnoticed by the rest of the world and unattended to by the strained global public health resources. And yet, these remote epidemics may serve as a warning that, even after we have dealt with this pandemic, the risk of another, even deadlier zoonotic world war is not far off. …


As wildfires worsen, Stanford researchers find the Clean Air Act a complicating factor in dealing with it and urge policy action with a dire warning.2

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Prescribed fire. | National Park Service/A BRACEWELL

Wildfires are in a policy pickle.

The federal law aimed at protecting our air quality by regulating polluters is also aiming at those who are trying to reduce wildfire risks, policy researchers say — effectively letting highly-polluting wildfire smoke plumes to get off scot-free. The policy in question, according to the experts, is the Clean Air Act, which they argue is not making it easy to mount a coherent response to the problem.

The law, which was enacted in 1970 and has since been amended more than once, “is currently ill-suited to address pollution from fires,” read a policy brief by Stanford researchers this month. …


It sounds so American but it’s true. Why history, evidence and experts suggest this global crisis could well be on the ballot in the U.S. this November.

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Lightening over the White House seen during Trump administration. | Getty/Markin Report

The new coronavirus has now reached the highest office of the world’s most powerful country. In the wee hours of Friday, the president of the United States tweeted he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. For even the most casual observer of politics, that Donald Trump, who has denied or downplayed the pandemic and, for years, climate change, has contracted the virus is a huge twist, not just to his biography but also to a presidential election just weeks away. …


They burp. They’re numerous. And they’re delicious. How studies rethinking our relationship with cows suggest you should be, too.

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“People joke about burping cows without realizing how big the source really is.” | Max Pixel

Cows seem to play a particularly unique role in cultures around the world — if they’re not being revered in India, they’re being eaten in America. And their collective contribution to greenhouse gases also endows them with an equally unique role in the global fight against climate change. In fact, if cows felt inspired by George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and ran off to run their own country, it would be among the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, ranking somewhere between China and the United States, research from McKinsey found. …


Extreme weather is shocking some countries into default. Sea levels are raising credit risks in the U.S. What’s the deal?

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Three hurricanes in the Atlanic Ocean. | NOAA

Over the summer, an economist at the Federal Reserve, Enrico Mallucci, who researches into foreign economies and international finance, completed a study on a topic that few have explored: the relationship between climate change and a country’s sovereignty risk. In it, he found that, when it comes to a country’s ability to raise money from investors, climate change is as big a deal as a sudden financial blow.

“Unexpected shocks may tip vulnerable governments in a default,” wrote Mallucci, in his July study, explaining how those shocks that shape sovereign risk are generally understood in the form of declines in commodity prices, banking crises, or some other macroeconomic and financial shock. …


Government agencies have warned of invasive species spreading through firewood — yet another slice of American forest succumbs.

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Visualization of documented invasive species, from coast to coast, by iMapInvasives. | iMapInvasives

Tinier than a penny and with metallic green wings straight out of the Emerald City skyline from The Wizard of Oz, the emerald ash borer, a small beetle from Asia, is dazzling — but, in the United States, it has also been very destructive, destroying “tens of millions of ash trees in 30 states” since it was first spotted in 2002, in Michigan, according to the U.S. agriculture department. Crisscrossing the country in less than two decades seems like a mighty accomplishment for a miniature creature that rarely travels beyond half-mile from its home-tree, describes the New York’s state department of environmental conservation, which last month confirmed that the baneful bug reached, yet again, a new forest region. …


How Scientific American, in an unprecedented move, joins a growing group of scientific Americans making endorsements this presidential election.

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First issue of Scientific American, August 28, 1845 | Scientific American

While Donald Trump may think that the science doesn’t know about climate change, he can be certain that science know this much: in Scientific Method-speak, it’s increasingly drawing a conclusion on him, in some cases in unprecedented ways.

In 1844, the year before Scientific American published its first issue, new and exciting technological breakthroughs were taking place across the country: Samuel Morse sends the first message using Morse code, engineers Thomas and Caleb Pratt design the Pratt truss bridge that was used for about a century in hundreds of bridges, and Charles Goodyear patents the vulcanization of rubber in the United States. When it launched the following year, on August 28, as a weekly newspaper, Scientific American covered the latest on Morse’s telegraph, reporting that “the wonder of the age, which has for several past been in operation between Washington and Baltimore, appears likely to come into general use through the length and breadths of our land.” …


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Creek Fire in California, 2020, after U.S. experienced its third hottest August on record. | Photo: Gillis Jones

While President Trump was in California this week to discuss to the historic wildfires still scorching the West Coast, he once again ended up doubting climate science, which has found that rising temperature trends are a major part of the problem. “I don’t think science knows,” a barefaced Trump told a mostly masked group of the state’s officials, including California Governor Gavin Newsom. “It will start getting cooler, just you watch,” he added. That same day, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency under the Trump Administration’s U.S. Department of Commerce, published a report that countered Trump’s doubts.

“Northern Hemisphere just had its hottest summer on record,” read the report’s headline Wednesday, which found that the season from June through August “surpassed” the previous record set, in a two-way tie, in both 2019 and 2016. …


Federal fire management agencies propose budget increase, to 2018 levels — without saying “climate change.”

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Donald Trump denying climate change while in California, as it battles historic wildfires, invokes the popular “This is fine” meme.

Two years ago, on July 27, while President Trump furiously tweeted away about the Mueller investigation, the National Multi-Agency Coordination Group, the nation’s federal fire center, was raising its state of alert on wildfires to the max, Preparedness Level 5, which indicates a “heavily committed” national mobilization effort and alerts that the “potential for emerging significant wildland fires is high and expected to remain high in multiple geographic areas,” the National Interagency Fire Center describes.

By the end of that year, more than fifty-eight thousand fires scorched an area greater than 8.7 million acres — the equivalent of New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, plus one or two of Hawaii’s islands — costing federal firefighting efforts $3.14 billion just to suppress the fires alone. That’s about $358 thousand dollars spent per acre, a 23% increase from the year prior and almost double from two decades ago. According to the federal fire center public records, 2018 was the most expensive year for the United States government in suppressing wildfires, since 1985. …


How a new scientific study and bizarre events this month suggest humankind’s war with mosquitoes is far from over.

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Aedes aegypti | Paulo Whitaker/Reuters, The Atlantic

When Christianity came to dominate Rome during the fourth century, a marshy area across the city, on the west bank of the Tibet River, would not only house the “earthly seat of God,” but also something more sinister, writes Timothy Winegard in his book, “The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator,” in which he describes how “legions of mosquitoes inhabiting the Pontine Marshes protected the headquarters of the Catholic Church from foreign invasion while they also killed those whom they sheltered.” …

About

David Montalvo

journalist in brooklyn | EX: CNBC, WSJ, Crain’s NY

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