Climate change could attain cities 8C hotter- scientists

Combination of carbon emissions and urban hot island effect of concrete and asphalt gives rise to worst-case scenario by objective of 21 st century

Under a dual onslaught of global warming and localised urban heating, some of the worlds cities may be as much as 8C( 14.4 F) warmer by 2100, researchers have warned.

Such a temperature spike would have dire outcomes for the health of city-dwellers, rob companies and industries of able employees, and put pressure on already strained natural resources such as water.

The projection is based on the worst-case scenario assumption that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise throughout the 21 st century.

The top one-quarter of most populated cities, in this scenario, could see temperatures rise 7C or more by centurys end, told a study in the publication Nature Climate Change.

For some virtually 5C of the total would be attributed to average global warming.

The rest would be due to the so-called urban heat island effect, which occurs when parks, dams and ponds, which have a cooling consequence, is hereby replaced by concrete and asphalt stimulating cities warmer than their surrounds, the researchers said.

The top 5%[ of cities by population] could see increases in temperatures of about 8C and larger, survey co-author Francisco Estrada of the Institute for Environmental Study in the Netherlands said.

Estrada and a team utilized different projections of average planetary warming, combined with the UHI effect and potential damages, to estimate the future costs of warming on cities.

The median city, right in the midst of the range, stands to lose between 1.4% and 1.7% of GDP per year by 2050 and between 2.3% and 5.6% by 2100, they conclude.

For the worst-off city, loss could reach up to 10.9% of GDP by 2100, wrote the team.

UHI significantly increased city temperatures and economic losses from global warming, they added.

This meant that local actions to reduce UHI such as planting more trees or cooling roofs and pavements could make a big difference in limiting warming and minimising costs.

Cities cover merely about 1% of earths surface but render about 80% of gross world product and account for around 78% of energy consumed worldwide, say the researchers.

They render more than 60% of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil and gas for fuel.

The worlds nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to the goal of restriction median global warming to two degrees centigrade over pre-industrial revolution levels by curbing greenhouse gas levels in the Earths atmosphere.

For the latest study researchers use data from the worlds 1,692 largest cities for the period 1950 to 2015.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘Anti-malarial mosquitoes’ created using controversial genetic technology

Scientists aim to tackle malaria by creating bugs unable to spread the parasite, but caution recommended over unpredictable ecological consequences

Hundreds of genetically modified mosquitoes that are incapable of spreading the malaria parasite to humen have been created in a laboratory as part of a revolutionary approach to combating the disease.

The move marks a major step towards the development of a powerful and controversial technology called a gene drive that aims to tackle the disease by forcing anti-malarial genes into swarms of wild mosquitoes.

The procedure can quickly transform the genetic makeup of natural insect populations, making it a dramatic new tool in the fight against an infection that still claims over 400,000 lives a year. The same technology is being considered for other human diseases and infections that devastate crops.

This is a significant first step, said Prof Anthony James at the University of California, Irvine. The mosquitoes we created are not the final brand, but we know this technology allows us to efficiently generate large populations.

But gene drive technology is so powerful that resulting researchers have recommended scientists in the field to be cautious. A warning published in August in the prestigious publication Science, by squads in the UK, US, Australia and Japan, said that while gene drives have the potential to save lives and bring other benefits, the accidental release of modified organisms could have unpredictable ecological consequences.

They call on scientists to ensure that experimental organisms cannot escape from their labs, be released on purpose, or even find their way out accidentally in the event of a natural disaster. Researchers should also be open about the precautions they take to prevent an unintended release, they said.

In the latest study, mosquitoes were engineered to carry genes for antibodies that target the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum . When released into the wild, researchers believe the modified insects will breed with normal mosquitoes and pass the anti-malarial genes on to their young, making an ever-increasing proportion of future generations resistant to the malaria parasite.

James and his squad employed a genome editing procedure called Crispr-Cas9 to write anti-malarial genes into the Dna of eggs belonging Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. A major carrier of the malaria parasite in Asia, the strain is responsible for more than 10% of malaria cases in India.

In lab tests, the modified mosquitoes passed on their anti-malarial genes to 99.5% of their offspring, is recommended that the procedure was incredibly effective and efficient. To track which bugs inherited the antibody genes, the scientists added a tracer gene that devoted carriers red fluorescent eyes.

James, who signed the warn in Science, said more run was needed to perfect the gene drive before modified insects can be tested in field trials. But describing the experimentations in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, he wrote: Strains based on this technology could have a major role in sustaining malaria control and elimination as part of the eradication agenda.

Dr Simon Bullock, a geneticist at the MRCs Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, helped to perfect the use of Crispr genome editing in flies, and also signed the call for precautions over gene drive research. Gene drive technology has great potential to help tackle malaria and other global problems in public health. But the capacities of genetic changes to spread rapidly in the wild population means that great caution should be taken when building gene drive systems in the laboratory.

Accidental or malicious release of a gene drive system into the wild could have unpredictable ecological consequences and thus researchers must use multiple safeguards the hell is robust to human error and nefarious actions. Fortunately, several safeguarding strategies are already available, he said.

But Bullock, who was not involved in the research, was surprised that the California group had not described the safeguards they put in place to ensure the mosquitoes did not escape. Devoted the highly sensitive nature of this technology and their call for transparency in this area of research, Im flabbergasted that the authors have not are set out in the publication detailed information on the containment procedures used in this study and how they were evaluated, he added.

Prof Anthony Shelton who studies pest management at Cornell University in New York said the California-based team was justified in its optimism over the procedure. Before open field test, they need to test their bugs in small arenas and field cages to decide the potential for it to work on a larger scale, he told. In theory this technology should work in the field, but farther exams are needed and only then will the full potential of this breakthrough be realized for the benefit of humanity.

Prof Gregory Lanzaro at University of California, Davis added: Concern that narcotic and insecticide resistance are eroding recent successes in managing malaria has drawn attention to alternative approaches, including the use of genetically modified mosquitoes. This new study marks a significant advance toward the development of this strategy.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Why is the US banning kratom, the virtually harmless herb? | Marc Lewis

It acts on opioid receptors, hence the panic. But since some heroin users take it to ease withdrawal, its prohibition could have some very harmful effects indeed

Just this morning I got an email from a head store Id dropped into on my last trip-up to San Francisco. I didnt recall leaving my email address, but I certainly recollected the shop, festooned with fascinating herbs in colorful packets, unfamiliar plants, water pipes like octopi, merging aesthetics with efficiency. Sunshine streaming through the windows and the scent of incense, barely noticeable but enchanting as always.

I was visiting the haunts of my hippy days, the famous intersection of Haight and Ashbury, and of course everything looked so much cleaner, more commercial, and, well, more legal, than it had back then. But what to buy? I dont normally take drugs anymore, legal or not, but I distinguished the name kratom on several vividly coloured pouches on display behind the counter.

Kratom( Mitragyna speciosa) is sold as the crushed-up foliage of the kratom plant, grown in jungles throughout southeast Asia. You can attain kratom tea or dissolve it in juice to experience its effects, and its become increasingly popular all over the Western world( though its been around for centuries ). You can buy it at head shops, hundreds of internet site, and now at kratom bars popping up in Los Angeles and other happening places. Patently some people enjoy this legal high.

Kratom was indeed the topic of the email, and the tone of the message was urgent 😛 TAGEND

Important Info Considering the Future of Kratom

In case you havent heard, theres a very important growth regarding your access to this safe and unbelievably helpful herb!

And then:

On August 30 the DEA announced their intention to place Kratom on the Schedule I list of substances starting September 30.

You can read all about this remarkable decision by the drug police. Theres a tidy article in Forbes, theres lots on YouTube, and the DEA sitesuccinctly states their rationale 😛 TAGEND

The Drug Enforcement Administration( DEA) today announced its intention to place the active materials in the kratom plant into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in order to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety.

The first thing you should know is that Schedule I drugs most famously heroin, and somewhat embarrassingly marijuana and LSD call for the most severe controls and punishments.( Meth and cocaine are nearby on Schedule II ). So the kratom user may end up cell-mates with meth and heroin addicts.

The second issue is why? Whats the imminent hazard to public safety?

I wasnt well informed any hazard when I asked the pierced young lady behind the counter what type of kratom I should try. I had taken kratom with a friend in the Netherlands where I live. Here its fully legal and sold in stores, as it is in most( but not all) Western countries. Kratom happen to be illegal in Thailand, apparently because it undercuts the lucrative opium industry.

I hadnt felt much the first time Id taken kratom and wanted to give it another try. So I asked the young woman what she recommended and she brought out a menu card. Midnight Blue is the most relaxing, Sunrise is sort of inducing but melloweds you out at the same period. Starshine merely helps you feel … centered. Each mixture was touted to profer a somewhat different buzz. So I bought a couple of packs for about $20 and got a little … high?

High is a strong word for what kratom actually offers. This plant is just one of a list of age-old plants and herbal extracts that induce people feel a little bit peppier, a little bit happier, a bit more relaxed. A listing that includes St Johns Wort, ginseng, wild lettuce, coffee( yes, coffee ), kava, lavender, valerian, betel nut the list goes on and on. The term medicinal is sometimes use. But high? That would be stretching it.

You can read all about kratom on the web, but perhaps one reason the DEA considers it an imminent hazard is because part of its consequence comes from stimulating opioid receptors. You know, those receptors that get you smashed when you shoot heroin. Anything that induces opioid receptors and stimulates you feel pleasant must be very dangerous, so we shouldnt take any opportunities. In fact, lets ban alcohol( martinis owe much of their buzz to opioid receptors ), lets ban jogging( that notorious athletes high a long, winding road to the trough ). And while were at it, lets ban breast milk, which helps babies feel relaxed because it too induces opioid receptors.

But kratom is not an opiate. The molecule isnt even vaguely related to morphine or heroin. Its simply an herb. Its impossible to overdose on kratom. Youre likely to get a headache if you take too much. The approximately 20 demises attributed to kratom in recent history are thought to be caused by other drugs: the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that commercial forms of kratom are sometimes laced with other compounds that have caused demises. And considering the 88, 000 deaths a year linked to alcohol and the 28, 000 overdose demises from opiates( heroin and analgesics) in the US alone, it seems someone isnt doing their math.

Is kratom addictive? Maybe a little. But not as much as coffee and cigarettes or Q-tips, tattoos, and Pokemon Go. And if you take it daily, guess what? It loses its effect.

Ive induced the DEAs announcement sound silly, even stupid. There they go again, banning whatever bothers them until voters in Colorado or somewhere start to object. But theres a terribly tragic outcome to be expected if kratom is banned. Because kratom attaches to opioid receptors, its an ideal style for heroin junkies to get off heroin with minimal withdrawal symptoms a harmless, herbal methadone substitute. This folk-wisdom is splashed all over the net and freely shared among drug users. If kratom is banned in the US, many heroin junkies who want to quit will go back to heroin instead, and many, many more people will die.

Read more: www.theguardian.com