DAILY DOSE: Pledges to combat deforestation at COP26; The vegetarian’s culinary paradise.

Countries vow to tackle deforestation

With the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in full swing, the official pledges to do better for the environment are beginning to flow. The Associated Press reports on the first promise to come out of Glasgow. “More than 100 countries pledged Tuesday to end deforestation in the coming decade — a promise that experts say would be critical to limiting climate change but one that has been made and broken before. Britain hailed the commitment as the first big achievement of the U.N. climate conference known as COP26 taking place this month in the Scottish city of Glasgow. But campaigners say they need to see the details to understand its full impact.” Pledges are a start that often fall short of their lofty goals. A quick look at global CO2 emissions is all you need to look at. https://bit.ly/3EBnByK

Mental health a priority in Singapore

Mental health is important. So is keeping track of people enlisting in treatments. Singapore recently surveyed the state of visits made in order to address problems like depression and anxiety. According to Channel News Asia, “About 49,800 Singapore residents received treatment for mental health issues every year on average from 2016 to 2019, said Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Health (MOH) Rahayu Mahzam on Tuesday (Nov 2). This number includes those seen at public and private hospitals, polyclinics and general practitioner clinics, she added.” About 60 percent of patients with anxiety or depression are under 60 years old, 70 percent of them are Chinese, and about 30 per cent live in three-room or smaller public flats. https://bit.ly/3jUI2ic

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Pharma takes aim at preventing RSV infections

The Covid-19 has coincided with an uptick in Respiratory Syncytial Virus infections which present similarly to a cold or even Covid-19 infections. Pharmaceutical companies are moving quickly to develop protective vaccines. Per FierceBiotech, “The race to market an RSV vaccine is heating up, with Pfizer reporting protection data for babies born to vaccinated mothers that seem to be on power with Sanofi and AstraZeneca’s shot given straight to infants. While Sanofi is ahead in the development race, the winner will likely be the asset that garners the broadest public health recommendations. Pfizer reported 85% efficacy in protecting babies born to vaccinated mothers from infection or hospitalization, SVB Leerink stated in a note to clients Friday afternoon.” The RSV virus causes an average of 58,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S., with 100-500 deaths among children younger than five years old as well as 177,000 hospitalizations with 14,000 deaths among adults aged 65 years or older, according to the CDC. https://bit.ly/3EHPaGN

A spider’s truly massive ears

Nature can be extremely clever most of the time. So much so that it’s convinced some people that there’s no way organisms can evolve without an invisible guiding hand. Of course, scientists since Darwin have shown that change happens as a result of adaptations and natural selection. A type of spider is yet another example of natural processes resulting in amazing traits. Per The Scientist, “The bridge spider uses its web as an engineered “external ear” up to 10,000 times the size of its body, according to a preprint study posted to bioRxiv on October 18. The discovery, which has not yet been peer reviewed, challenges many assumptions that scientists have held for years about how spiders and potentially other arthropods navigate and interact with the world around them. ‘Evolutionarily speaking, spiders are just weird animals,’ Jessica Petko, a Pennsylvania State University York biologist who didn’t work on the new study, writes in an email to The Scientist. ‘While it has been long known that spiders sense sound vibration with sensory hairs on their legs, this paper is the first to show that orb weaving spiders can amplify this sound by building specialized web structures.’” https://bit.ly/3w70g54

A vegetarian’s culinary paradise

A fascinating article in the BBC takes a look at how an Indian city is becoming the center of a vegetarian travel phenomenon. According to the article, “Varanasi may be India’s spiritual capital, but it isn’t exactly known for luring culinary pilgrims. Most food travellers will likely flock to the country’s famous epicurean hubs of Delhi, Kolkata or Chennai before making their way to Varanasi. Yet, chefs from around the world are starting to draw inspiration from its culinary heritage, recreating its flavours in their restaurants.” An entire city that serves no meat at all. Imagine that. Proof that a shift away from meat is possible. https://bbc.in/3BDehbP

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

IMAGE CREDIT: Juan Antonio Segal.

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