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DAILY DOSE: Nearly 43,000 people have died during Somalian drought; The future may directly influence the past.


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Far-reaching and extended droughts continue to wreak havoc on vulnerable populations in Africa. The latest deadly drought has reportedly killed nearly 43,000 people in Somalia. Per the Associated Press,

A new report says an estimated 43,000 people died amid Somalia’s longest drought on record last year and half of them likely were children under 5 years old.

It is the first official death toll announced in the drought withering large parts of the Horn of Africa.

At least 18,000 people, and as many as 34,000, are forecast to die in the first six months of this year.

“The current crisis is far from over,” says the report released Monday by the World Health Organization and the United Nations children’s agency and carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya are facing a sixth consecutive failed rainy season while rising global food prices and the war in Ukraine complicate the hunger crisis.

The U.N. and partners earlier this year said they were no longer forecasting a formal famine declaration for Somalia for now but called the situation “extremely critical” with more than 6 million people hungry in that country alone.

Somalians already had very little room to maneuver. The war in Ukraine’s effects on the global food chain prove that the situation in Africa is partially man-made. This is important since it means that if the will was there, significant steps toward alleviating the hunger could happen.

Another United Nations report is calling attention to the bleak future that lies ahead of humanity should it not act quickly and decisively to curtail climate change. Per Wired,

Today, the UN’S Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is releasing what may become a pivotal document of human progress—or lack thereof, if we don’t heed its warnings. It’s a “synthesis” report, summarizing the findings from the six previous IPCC reports that laid out the science of climate change, like how the food system spews greenhouse gas emissions and how the oceans and polar regions are transforming. The report is a full-throated call for the massive—yet doable—changes our species must enact to limit the damage that comes with each fraction of a degree of warming. It’s a temporary adieu of sorts, as the next climate report from the IPCC won’t land for at least another five years.

“There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all,” the report notes. “The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years.” 

The more warming occurs, the harder it will be to mitigate it—to preserve human health, agriculture, and the natural world. Some effects, like the collapse of ecosystems, will be irreversible. “The Synthesis Report underlines how important it is to not only accelerate climate action, but to do it in a way that helps everyone in the world, not just those in the wealthiest countries and regions,” said report coauthor Christopher Trisos, director of the Climate Risk Lab at the African Climate and Development Initiative, in a statement. 

The science of climate change is “unequivocal,” the report stresses: We’ve already warmed the planet by 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—spawning fiercer wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and storms, which are killing people and destabilizing ecosystems. But just how much the planet will keep warming, and how quickly, depends on a full deck of wild cards, such as future economic development and poorly understood feedback loops like permafrost thawing and carbon release. Scientists also don’t have a good handle on the global influence of the aerosols produced by burning fossil fuels, which tend to cool the atmosphere—if we decarbonize (and we must), we might actually lose some of that air conditioning.

Stakeholders in the Paris Agreement agreed on a goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. We’re going to fly straight past that marker very soon.

Western museums that house antiquities are pretty much institutions built on the shoulders of colonialism’s destructive tendencies. Only now are the details beginning to come to light. An article in The Guardian examined how the illegan antiquities trade has damaged the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s reputation.

In the antiquities trade, the Met’s reputation has also begun to erode. Over the last two years, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its news media partners have reported on the Met’s acquisition practices – often in relation to a trove of items obtained from Cambodia in an era when that country’s cultural heritage was sold off wholesale to the highest bidder. A broader examination of the Met’s antiquities collection, conducted by ICIJ, Finance Uncovered, L’Espresso and other media partners over recent months, raises new concerns over the origin of the museum’s inventory of ancient statues, friezes and other relics…

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in 1880, long after its counterparts in Paris and London. The museum started out with a purchase of 174 paintings, placing it far from the scale of France’s palatial Louvre’s galleries already holding thousands of works, many inherited from the nation’s colonial exploits.

Even in the 1960s, the largest museum in North America was still playing catch-up. The Met’s leadership aggressively sought major acquisitions and took a casual approach to, and even at times embraced, antiquities smuggling as a mainstay of the museum’s sourcing.

Under its then director, Thomas Hoving, the Met embarked on a buying spree in an effort to build out an antiquities collection that could match rivals in London and Paris. Over the following decades, the institution filled its halls and warehouses with treasures from Greece, Italy, Egypt, India, Cambodia and beyond. “Not a single decade of any civilization that took root on earth is not represented by some worthy piece,” Hoving later wrote of the results of work he had begun. “The Met has it all.”

Governments, law enforcement officials and researchers have linked a mounting number of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s relics to looters and traffickers. The Met has voluntarily returned some items, while prosecutors have seized others.

Here’s a bit of science that may blow your mind. It has to do with the nature of reality and the role time plays in our conception of it. Now, some researchers are challenging that notino of time. Per Wired,

Scientists, including Price, have speculated about the possibility that the future might influence the past for decades, but the renewed curiosity about retrocausality is driven by more recent findings about quantum mechanics. 

Unlike the familiar macroscopic world that we inhabit, which is governed by classical physics, the quantum realm allows for inexplicably trippy phenomena. Particles at these scales can breeze right through seemingly impassable barriers, a trick called quantum tunneling, or they can occupy many different states simultaneously, known as superposition. 

The properties of quantum objects can also somehow become synced up together even if they are located light years apart. This so-called “quantum entanglement” was famously described by Albert Einstein as “spooky action at a distance,” and experimental research into it just earned the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics.  

Quantum entanglement flouts a lot of our assumptions about the universe, prompting scientists to wonder which of our treasured darlings in physics must be killed to account for it. For some, it’s the idea of “locality,” which essentially means that objects should not be able to interact at great distances without some kind of physical mediator. Other researchers think that “realism”—the idea that there is some kind of objective bedrock to our existence—should be sacrificed at the altar of entanglement.

Crazy stuff isn’t it?

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

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