DAILY DOSE: John Kerry trolls anyone who cares about climate change; China’s got WHO begging for more data.

If you thought having the CEO of a massive behemoth of an oil company being appointed head of a climate change conference might be a problem, think again. Everything is fine. At least according to John Kerry. Per the Associated Press,

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry backs the United Arab Emirates’ decision to appoint the CEO of a state-run oil company to preside over the upcoming U.N. climate negotiations in Dubai, citing his work on renewable energy projects.

In an interview Sunday with The Associated Press, the former U.S. secretary of state acknowledged that the Emirates and other countries relying on fossil fuels to fund their state coffers face finding “some balance” ahead.

However, he dismissed the idea that Sultan al-Jaber’s appointment should be automatically disqualified due to him leading the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. Activists, however, equated it to asking “arms dealers to lead peace talks” when authorities announced his nomination Thursday.

"I think that Dr. Sultan al-Jaber is a terrific choice because he is the head of the company. That company knows it needs to transition," Kerry said after attending an energy conference in the Emirati capital. "He knows — and the leadership of the UAE is committed to transitioning."

No surprises here. Can you hear the backroom laughter? http://bit.ly/3WdBdZp

Beggars can’t be choosers, as they say. That’s particularly true when it comes to the almighty World Health Organization’s access to Covid-19 “data” coming out of China. And boy are they begging. According to the AP,

The World Health Organization has appealed to China to keep releasing information about its wave of COVID-19 infections after the government announced nearly 60,000 deaths since early December following weeks of complaints it was failing to tell the world what was happening.

The announcement Saturday was the first official death toll since the ruling Communist Party abruptly dropped anti-virus restrictions in December despite a surge in infections that flooded hospitals. That left the WHO and other governments appealing for information, while the United States, South Korea and others imposed controls on visitors from China.

The government said 5,503 people died of respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and there were 54,435 fatalities from cancer, heart disease and other ailments combined with COVID-19 between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12.

The announcement “allows for a better understanding of the epidemiological situation,” said a WHO statement. It said the WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, talked by phone with Health Minister Ma Xiaowei.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the WHO has China-induced PTSD. http://bit.ly/3QKD72C

Who needs diamonds in the rough when you’ve got flowers in amber. Per Smithsonian Magazine

In 1872, scientists examined a large, fossilized flower preserved in amber from a mine in Russia. They identified it as an extinct flowering evergreen plant named Stewartia kowalewskii. Then, for 150 years, the immortalized blossom sat in a museum collection, unstudied.

Now, researchers have reexamined the specimen and say it suffered from a case of mistaken identity. Using new technologies, they’ve determined that the flower likely came from a different genus entirely: Symplocos, a flowering species that today grows in southeast China and Japan. As such, they proposed a new name for the fossil—Symplocos kowalewskii—and shared more of their findings in a new paper published Thursday in Scientific Reports.

The flower’s redesignation “showcases the importance of revisiting fossils first studied decades ago,” says Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente, a paleobiologist at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History who was not involved in the research, to New Scientist’s Jason Arunn Murugesu.

“Exciting discoveries do not only take place in the field, but also by studying the incredible amount of data that lies ‘hidden’ in museum collections,” he tells the publication.

This has a distinct Antiques Roadshow feel about it. http://bit.ly/3GKqyQb

If there’s ever been a gift that keeps giving, it has to be the James Webb Space Telescope. Per space.com,

Galaxies in the early days of the universe were much more varied and mature than previously thought, according to a new study of observations of hundreds of galaxies by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

The Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) Survey has been using JWST to look far back in time, studying galaxies as they were around 11 to 13 billion years ago. 

The images of faint, highly redshifted galaxies returned by JWST are much sharper than similar photos captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. These new images have revealed the presence of mature features such as disks and spheroidal components, Jeyhan Kartaltepe, an associate professor in the Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Physics and Astronomy, said in a statement(opens in new tab).

"This means that, even at these high redshifts, galaxies were already fairly evolved and had a wide range of structures," said Kartaltepe, lead author of the new paper and a CEERS co-investigator.

First Hubble, now this… Life can be good sometimes. http://bit.ly/3GLn2oJ

While this may not be “science” per se, the ties between traditional notions of evil and what has come to be known as science are tight. It’s that old facts-over-superstition thing. And while, there’s still plenty of superstition to go around, we all know who won. That said, the old ways are still fantastic aesthetically. This from Reuters,

Revellers dressed in red, some wearing huge masks and belts strung with large copper bells, dance around a fire on the main square of a Bulgarian village to drive away evil spirits and bring in good health and crops for the New Year.

The festival, held every January in the village of Kosharevo, is known as "Surva" and is a mixture of Christian and pagan rituals that can be traced back to Thracian times.

Some of the dancers, known as Survakars, or kukers (mummers), wear hand-made wooden masks decorated with feathers, which can be up to two metres high. The loud clanging of the bells on their belts is believed to ward off evil and diseases.

During the two-day festival, the village, 50 km west of the capital Sofia, is brimming with life as extended families gather to greet the Survakars and offer them traditional dishes.

There are accompanying pictures. It’s worth a look. The things people will do to ward off them evil spirits. http://bit.ly/3wauWTP

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

IMAGE CREDIT: Casa Rosada.

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