DAILY DOSE: Weather disasters are a growing threat; Plants may be our saviors.

As of perfectly timed to coincide with the cancellation of Bonaroo, the United Nations has issued a dire warning about weather disasters. Per the Associates Press,  “Weather disasters are striking the world four to five times more often and causing seven times more damage than in the 1970s, the United Nations weather agency reports. But these disasters are killing far fewer people. In the 1970s and 1980s, they killed an average of about 170 people a day worldwide. In the 2010s, that dropped to about 40 per day, the World Meteorological Organization said in a report Wednesday that looks at more than 11,000 weather disasters in the past half-century.” Things can potentially get much worse, though we won’t mention why. http://bit.ly/3mTslKC

It goes without saying that there must be a lot of coronavirus variants out there, only most are simply not as prevalent as the Delta… at least not yet. That said, meet Mu. Per Channel News Asia, “The World Health Organization has said it is monitoring a new coronavirus variant known as Mu, which was first identified in Colombia in January. Mu, known scientifically as B.1.621, has been classified as a “variant of interest”, the global health body said Tuesday (Aug 31) in its weekly pandemic bulletin. The WHO said the variant has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to vaccines and stressed that further studies were needed to better understand it.”  http://bit.ly/3jybhaI

Plants may be our saviors in more ways than one. According to a report in Nature, “Chemicals from munitions have permeated soil across an estimated 10 million hectares of land used for firing ranges across the U.S. One such chemical, an explosive called RDX, can leach into groundwater and cause seizures and possibly cancer. Now a study in Nature Biotechnology shows that genetically modified switchgrass—a plant common in North American prairies—can absorb and break down RDX.” It’s hard not to conclude that our photosynthetic co-inhabitants are grossly undervalued. http://bit.ly/3jzAB0j

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Once upon a time, being infected with HIV was a death sentence. But ever since the wildly successful Prep regimen, HIV has become a manageable disease. A very interesting study examined the behavioral implications of PrEP’s success. “With regards to stigma, we found that there was arguably more stigma related to not taking PrEP than to taking PrEP in this sample. We also found that participants remained highly engaged with promoting the wellbeing of their communities through activities as seemingly disparate as regular STI testing, promotion of PrEP in their social circles, and contribution to research. This study has important implications for health promotion. It demonstrates how constructing PrEP as a rigid new standard to which gay men ‘should’ adhere can alienate some men and potentially create community divisions. Instead, we recommend promoting choice from a range of HIV prevention options that have both high efficacy and high acceptability.” http://bit.ly/3zAxTwN

Finishing with some good news, it turns out certain forests in Africa absorb much more carbon dioxide than commonly believed. Per Nature, “In a paper in Nature, Cuni-Sanchez et al.1 report the assembly of a large database of tree inventories for 226 mature montane-forest plots in 12 African countries. The authors analyse the data to determine the amount of aboveground biomass and carbon stored in these highly diverse and threatened ecosystems. Their results suggest that African montane forests store more carbon than was previously thought, and the findings should help to guide efforts to conserve these ecosystems.” Like we said, plants are undervalued and underappreciated. http://go.nature.com/3jBhd32

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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