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DAILY DOSE: The E.U. parks the bus against climate change aid to developing countries; China’s quickly closing in on U.S. science dominance.


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Europeans like to present themselves as the more environmentally responsible members of the global community. Unfortunately, actions and proclamations don’t always align, especially when it comes to putting money down. Per the Associated Press, “Rich countries including the European Union and the United States have pushed back against efforts to put financial help for poor nations suffering the devastating effects of global warming firmly on the agenda for this year’s U.N. climate summit. Observers and campaigners attending a ten-day preparatory meeting in Bonn, Germany, that’s wrapping up Thursday expressed frustration at the resistance shown by developed nations to formally discussing how poor countries can get more aid when they’re hit by climate disasters. ‘Rich countries, particularly the EU, spiked the discussion about loss and damage at every single turn,’ said Teresa Anderson of the campaign group ActionAid International.” Talk is cheap and so is the EU apparently.


Unlike certain countries whose name rhymes with USA, China has aggressively increased its science budget and its investment is beginning to really pay dividends. It is quickly closing the gap between itself and the United States, who occupies the top scientific publishing slot in the journal Nature’s annual index: “According to an analysis of the Nature Index Annual Tables 2022, released today, the 31 fastest-rising institutions, as judged by their change in adjusted Share, were all in China. (See also ‘Leading institutions in the Nature Index 2022 Annual Tables’.) Out of the top 50 fastest-rising institutions, just 10 were from other countries or regions. This marks a significant change compared with the 2021 rankings, in which China could lay claim to only two out of the top ten fastest-rising institutions. These were the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.” Researchers speculate that last year’s poor showing by Chinese institutions might have been a blip; they think that the latest results could instead be a sign that the Chinese government’s long-term investments in science are beginning to bear fruit. Considering the anti-science sentiment running through segments of American society, Washington D.C. has cause to worry, and if it isn’t, it really should be.


As the world learned a long time ago, when it comes to Covid-19 the old adage “When it rains, it pours.” nothing could be more true. Pyongyang is learning that much in real time thanks to Mother Nature. Per Reuters, “North Korea reported an outbreak of an unidentified intestinal epidemic in a farming region on Thursday, putting further strain on the isolated country as it battles chronic food shortages and a wave of COVID-19 infections. Leader Kim Jong Un sent medicines to the western port city of Haeju on Wednesday to help patients suffering from the ‘acute enteric epidemic’, state news agency KCNA said, without giving the number affected, or identifying the disease.”


If race theory experts are to be believed, there’s structural racism in just about everything. That includes all facets of the sciences. A group of researchers recently published a guide on how epidemiologists and other scientists should take structural racism into account. Per Science, “Adkins-Jackson and her colleagues published a guide in 2021 to measuring structural racism for epidemiologists and other researchers. The authors call on researchers to use variables that capture the multiple dimensions of structural racism. For example, instead of just measuring the segregation in residential housing, researchers could include how local governments and banks implement zoning laws and mortgage policies that discriminate against marginalized communities; those variables in turn influence access to quality public education and healthy food. To capture the spectrum of how racism may play a role in health disparities—and in a departure from traditional epidemiological research—the guide recommends collecting qualitative data, reviewing work in the humanities and social sciences, and partnering with marginalized communities.”


Historically, the Black Death stands as one of the deadliest diseases and outbreaks in world history. All by itself, it came close to wiping out entire segments of European society. Now, researchers believe that they have pinpointed, once and for all, where the bubonic plague originated. Per the Associated Press, “Scientists in Europe say they have pinpointed the origins of the Black Death, a bacterial plague that wiped out half of the continent’s population in the 14th century. The findings counter other theories that the disease — which caused repeated outbreaks into the early 19th century and also left its mark across the Middle East and North Africa — might have first emerged in China. Drawing on the work of historian Phil Slavin from the University of Stirling in Scotland, who had suggested the disease’s emergence might be linked to an unusual surge of deaths in a town in Central Asia in 1338-1339, researchers examined DNA from bodies found there. They found genetic fingerprints of the bacterium Yersinia pestis in individuals who had been buried with tombstones referring to a “pestilence” at the site by Lake Issyk Kul, in what is now Kyrgyzstan.” Well, at least one origin story appears to be inching closer to resolution. It would be nice if we didn’t have to wait over 800 years to determine the origins of another deadly pandemic currently keeping the world in a choke hold.

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

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