DAILY DOSE: 5 million global Covid-19 deaths; Biden cuts proposed science funding by a lot.

While significant portions of the world’s population continue to resist Covid-19 mitigation efforts, reality continues to grind forward despite their recalcitrance. Per the Associated Press, “The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 5 million on Monday, less than two years into a crisis that has not only devastated poor countries but also humbled wealthy ones with first-rate health care systems. Together, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Brazil — all upper-middle- or high-income countries — account for one-eighth of the world’s population but nearly half of all reported deaths. The U.S. alone has recorded over 745,000 lives lost, more than any other nation. ‘This is a defining moment in our lifetime,’ said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health. ‘What do we have to do to protect ourselves so we don’t get to another 5 million?’” The figure begs the question, how many millions of people need to die before the nay-sayers will make the necessary adjustments. https://bit.ly/3BD43YO

The U.N. Climate Conference finally kicks off after weeks of pre-game hype. According to Reuters, “The COP26 summit, which began on Sunday in Glasgow, will attempt to complete the rules to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement – which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times – and secure more ambitious commitments from countries to meet its targets. Underpinning progress on both issues is money. Climate finance refers to money that richer nations – responsible for the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet – give to poorer nations to help them cut their own emissions and adapt to the deadly storms, rising seas and droughts worsened by global warming. So far, the money hasn’t arrived.” We expect buckets and barrels worth of lofty pledges from countries large and small. We also expect little to no movement on legally binding climate measures. The dog and pony show continues. https://reut.rs/3nKb9G9

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A recent study in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report establishes what pretty much everyone knows anecdotally: people who drink tons of alcohol tend to smoke a proportional amount of weed. Per the MMRW, “During 2015–2019, one third of adults in Colorado who reported binge drinking also reported using marijuana, consistent with other studies that have shown that persons who binge drank are more likely to use other substances, including marijuana, than are nondrinkers. The study findings indicate that persons who binge drank were more likely to report marijuana use than were nondrinkers, and the magnitude of this relationship varied by cigarette smoking status. Independent of drinking pattern, persons who smoked cigarettes were more likely to report marijuana use than were nonsmokers. The higher prevalence of marijuana use among persons who reported binge drinking, were younger, and who smoked cigarettes also aligns with other research findings.” Well, there you go. Proof.  https://bit.ly/3bzTsmM

Proving that you can change the administration but science will remain expendable, the Biden Administration’s latest iteration of its infrastructure bill features significant cuts to research. Per Science, “…the bill detailing the plan is less generous to research than a blueprint announced in the spring that was twice the size. As negotiators shrunk that $3.5 trillion proposal in hopes of winning over a closely divided Congress, they cut out numerous science facilities and projects that were on the initial wish list, and shortened some timeframes for spending. A proposed $11 billion boost for the National Science Foundation (NSF) shrank to $3.5 billion in yesterday’s bill, for example, and a $10.3 billion increase for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science got trimmed to $985 million.” Those are some hefty cuts. https://bit.ly/31kQjWm

Astronomers have discovered massive galactic explosions that had cosmic durations comparable to camera flashes. According to space.com, “In October 2020, astronomers detected an enormous, ancient explosion tearing through a galaxy several billion light-years from Earth. The blast appeared out of nowhere, reached peak brightness within a few days and then rapidly vanished again within a month — indicating that an extreme cosmic event, like the formation of a black hole or neutron star, had just occurred. Astronomers call sudden, bright blasts like these fast blue optical transients (FBOTs),  named for their extreme “blue” heat and incredibly rapid evolution. But, if you prefer, you can call this one ‘the Camel.’” Even after their visible light fades, FBOTs continue to be radiation powerhouses. https://bit.ly/3w5cmLY

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

IMAGE CREDIT: White House.

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