climate crisis, UN report, global warming, technology

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Here’s the Thing About That Dire Climate Report: We Have the Tools to Fix Things (Maria)

The authors write, “[Last week’s] United Nations climate report painted an ominous picture. If humanity doesn’t act now to stop greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth could warm as much as 3 degrees Celsius. At those temperatures, major cities will be underwater, unprecedented heat waves will define summers, terrifying storms will become more frequent, and millions of plant and animal species will go extinct, UN leadership warned. Making the shift seems daunting. A dozen years ago, moving to fully carbon-neutral energy would have been crushingly expensive. But today, with wind power 72% cheaper and solar 90% cheaper than in 2009, officials say it’s actually well within reach. ‘We have the knowledge and the technology to get this done,’ said Inger Anderson, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.”

Georgia Elections Lawsuit Backed by Abrams Goes to Trial (Reader Steve)

From The Seattle Times: “The statements came Monday as a trial got underway in a federal lawsuit that initially called for a broad overhaul of Georgia’s election system. The scope of the suit was considerably narrowed when some allegations were addressed by changes in state law and others were dismissed by the court. The lawsuit was filed in 2018 by Fair Fight Action, an organization founded by voting rights activist and Democratic candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams, just weeks after Abrams narrowly lost her first bid for governor. The bench trial — which means there’s no jury — is being presided over by U.S. District Judge Steve Jones and is expected to last four or five weeks. Jones has said he doesn’t expect to rule before the state’s May 24 primary.”

Are You Anxious, Introverted or Just a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’? (Sean)

From The Guardian: “Do you find yourself noticing faint sensations that no one else can perceive? Are you startled easily? And is your mood easily swayed by the feelings of the people around you? If so, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP), a personality profile that is of increasing interest to both scientists and armchair psychologists. As an HSP myself, the trait is most obvious in my embarrassing squeamishness; at the merest hint of violence or pain on TV, I will reflexively cover my eyes with my hands. For other HSPs, their greater sensitivity may be especially evident in an intolerance of strong scents or bright lights, or great discomfort in large crowds.”

If Humans Are Interdependent, Why Is Medical Training Modular? (Gerry)

From the Christensen Institute: “Since the mid-1800s, the clinical component of medical education has been focused on the hospital setting. As a result, we have grounded how we teach — and what people learn — around a state of life most people wish to avoid: illness. Unfortunately, the focus of the teaching and thus the learning isn’t around how to prevent that illness. The focus is on how to fix the problem once it arises. We are in essence teaching our health care providers to be reactive as opposed to proactive. Reactively fixing problems is desirable only if you can’t avoid them in the first place. Compounding the problems of reactivity, our national health care system’s approach to care is not effective at fixing health problems for the long-term. It does not create better health outcomes nor better quality of life. Although the United States spends more on health care than any other developed country, it doesn’t seem that our dollars are providing a good ROI.”

What I Wish I’d Known When I Was 19 and Had Sex Reassignment Surgery (Russ)

The author writes, “In high school, when I experienced crushes on my male classmates, I believed that the only way those feelings could be requited was if I altered my body. It turned out that several of those crushes were also gay. If I had confessed my interest, what might have developed? Alas, the rampant homophobia in my school during the AIDS crisis smothered any such notions. Today, I have resigned myself to never finding a partner. That’s tough to admit, but it’s the healthiest thing I can do. As a teenager, I was repelled by the thought of having biological children, but in my vision of the adult future, I imagined marrying a man and adopting a child. It was easy to sacrifice my ability to reproduce in pursuit of fulfilling my dream. Years later, I was surprised by the pangs I felt as my friends and younger sister started families of their own.”

Nothing to Sniff At: Loss of Smell Linked With Increased Risk of Premature Death (Mili)

The author writes, “Olfactory impairment, or loss of smell, significantly increased the likelihood of early death versus people with a normal sense of smell, a literature review and meta-analysis showed. The analysis of 21,600 patients yielded a pooled mortality hazard ratio of 1.52 for older adults with impaired olfactory function versus those with intact olfaction. After statistical adjustment for variations in study design and other factors, olfactory impairment remained a significant predictor of early death. The findings add to a growing body of evidence linking impaired olfactory function to a variety of chronic diseases and suggest loss of smell is ‘an important risk marker for general health and aging,’ reported Neville Wei Yang Teo, MRCS, MMed, of Singapore General Hospital, and co-authors, in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.”

Invasive Lizard Threatens Georgia Wildlife (Carina)

The author writes, “Daniel Sullenberger, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources Senior Wildlife Biologist, tells CBS46, ‘if you see one it will be the biggest lizard you’ve ever seen in your life.’ Tegus grow as long as 4 feet and live close to 20 years. The invasive lizard is native to South America, but now it’s threatening Georgia wildlife. Sollenberger says, ‘they’ll eat plants and animals, fruits, insects, small mammals, and they really really like eggs. We have a lot of things here that lay eggs that we don’t want them eating.’ The lizards will eat hatchlings of protected species, including the gopher tortoise and American alligators. So far, tegus have been spotted in southeast Georgia in Toombs and Tattnall counties. They were likely once kept as pets. Georgia DNR officials say they’re not sure how the lizards got into our state, but they want to make sure their population has not spread.”


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