honeycomb close up detail honey bee

DAILY DOSE: Lofty climate pledges haven’t amounted to much; US honeybees dying at alarming rate.

In 2022, an area of tropical forest equivalent to Switzerland’s size was lost, despite COP26 pledges by global leaders to halt deforestation, a new report reveals. An average of 11 football fields of forest disappeared each minute, with Brazil leading in deforestation. However, Indonesia’s successful efforts in reducing forest loss indicate that the trend can be reversed. The Glasgow Declaration signed at COP26 aimed to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030, but the new data from the University of Maryland and Global Forest Watch indicate the target is off track. Forest losses in 2022 were 10% higher than in 2021, releasing carbon dioxide equivalent to India’s annual fossil fuel emissions. Despite Brazil’s escalating deforestation rates, there is renewed hope under a new president who committed to ending Amazon deforestation by 2030. Amidst the alarming rates, prompt action on forests is essential to keep global temperatures under the critical 1.5C threshold. (BBC)

The US honeybee colonies experienced the second-highest death rate on record in 2022, with nearly half of all colonies lost, an annual survey found. Despite the 48% loss, the number of US honeybee colonies remained relatively steady due to beekeepers’ costly and time-consuming efforts to rebuild. Honeybees play a vital role in the food supply, pollinating over 100 types of crops. Their survival is threatened by various factors, including parasites, pesticides, starvation, and climate change. While the 48% annual loss exceeds the average of 39.6% over the past 12 years, beekeepers have learned to recover from such losses, resulting in a situation that, while not worsening, isn’t improving either. The parasitic mite Varroa destructor, poor weather, queen issues, and pesticides are among the primary challenges bees face. (Associated Press)

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The World Meteorological Organization has predicted over 1.5°C increase in global temperatures within the next five years. With no nation fulfilling the 2015 Paris Agreement’s emissions reduction goals, developing countries are taking strides in combating climate change. The Gambia has pioneered climate resilience projects and agroforestry practices, while Mali is converting diesel mini-grids to solar power, potentially reducing CO2 emissions significantly. Morocco is harnessing solar energy and planning to increase energy exports to Europe, while Costa Rica has made a drastic turnaround in reforestation and green energy usage. However, these countries’ efforts, while commendable, face challenges. Despite being briefly on track with its Paris Agreement commitment, The Gambia has been downgraded due to its reliance on unmet global support. Moreover, developing countries’ capacity to maintain resilience against climate change is strained by financial and developmental pressures. The international community’s support is critical to ensure continued progress. (Al-Jazeera)

Recent violent attacks in Hong Kong have sparked a discussion about the city’s mental health crisis, as mental health groups point out the inadequate resources available to deal with rising needs. Violent incidents such as two women stabbed in a mall, a McDonald’s manager severely injured, and a mother suspected of killing her three daughters, all involved individuals with reported mental health issues. The situation is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, rigid lockdowns, political unrest, and socio-economic issues like housing shortage and income gap. The Our Hong Kong Foundation indicates worsening mental health among Hong Kong’s population. Mental health services are overwhelmed, with long waiting periods and a significant shortage of professionals in the sector. Activists and experts argue that the city’s experience is marked by “emotional exhaustion” due to a compounding of stresses. (Reuters)

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has denied the use of the weight-loss injection, Mounjaro (tirzepatide), within England’s NHS due to a lack of evidence regarding its clinical and cost-effectiveness. Developed by Eli Lilly, this weekly jab works in conjunction with diet and exercise to treat adults with type 2 diabetes. This decision follows Nice’s approval of a similar drug, Wegovy (semaglutide), which the Prime Minister has said will soon be offered by GPs in England. Clinical trials demonstrated tirzepatide’s superior efficacy for glucose control and weight loss compared to semaglutide or insulin therapy. Despite acknowledging the need for new treatment options, Nice has asked for more data from Eli Lilly to clarify uncertainties surrounding the evidence. A consultation on the Nice guidance is in progress until July 18th. (The Guardian)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is suing Daigle Cleaning Services, whose employee is accused of turning off a super-cold freezer in an RPI lab, causing the loss of 25 years of scientific research and approximately $1 million in damage. The freezer held cell cultures and other research elements stored at -112°F, which were damaged or destroyed when the worker turned off a circuit breaker due to an alarm’s noise, allowing the temperature to rise. The research, conducted by Prof. K.V. Lakshmi, was focused on photosynthesis and held potential implications for solar-panel development. Although a clear warning sign was posted on the freezer, the cleaner allegedly shut down the circuit and compromised the specimens. The employee claimed he thought he was turning on the breakers and didn’t believe he had done anything wrong. (Times Union)

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

WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)


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