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Updated: 2 hours 5 min ago

GSK long-acting HIV injection succeeds in study

20 hours 42 min ago

The long-acting needle-based combination of its drug cabotegravir and Janssen's treatment rilpivirine met its main goal in the study, which was testing the regimen in adults with HIV-1 whose virus was suppressed. The patients were also not resistant to either of the two drugs, said ViiV Healthcare, London-listed GSK's HIV unit. "This is further progress in our efforts to reduce the number of medicines a person living with HIV must take while also reducing the frequency of treatments," said Kimberly Smith, Head of Research & Development at ViiV.


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Huge Wildfires in the Arctic and Far North send a Planetary Warning

21 hours 9 min ago

The planet’s far North is burning. This summer, over 600 wildfires have consumed more than 2.4 million acres of forest across Alaska. Fires are also raging in northern Canada. In Siberia, choking smoke from 13 million acres – an area nearly the size of West Virginia – is blanketing towns and cities.Fires in these places are normal. But, as studies here at the University of Alaska’s International Arctic Research Center show, they are also abnormal.My colleagues and I are examining the complex relationships between warming climate, increasing fire and shifting patterns of vegetation. Using locally focused climate data and models from the Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning, the research group I help coordinate, we are finding evidence that is deeply worrying – not just for those of us who live within the fires’ pall of smoke, but for the world.Recent fires are too frequent, intense and severe. They are reducing older-growth forest in favor of young vegetation, and pouring more carbon into the atmosphere at a time when carbon dioxide concentrations are setting new records.The boreal or taiga ecosystem, a swath of northern forest that covers 17% of the globe’s land area, is adapted to fire. It has been burning regularly for thousands of years. This vast landscape is mostly free of human roads, rail lines, power lines and cities. Blazes often spread until the wind changes and the rain falls.Here in central Alaska, our spindly spruce trees open resinous cones to jump-start new seedlings when the parent tree is scorched. Fast-growing fireweed and other flowers cover recent burn scars. Soon afterward come wild blueberries, willows and birch and aspen trees that shoot up from still-living stumps and roots. Eventually flammable conifers take over again.Typically, the cycle resumes about every 200 years. But today the cycles are about 25% shorter than in the past, and that changes everything.The overall increase in burning can be hard to detect and measure because of enormous natural variability. This summer’s fires in Alaska were driven by an intense early-season heat wave. The relationship between hot dry weather and fire is clear. Climate change is causing an equally clear trend toward earlier springs and longer, hotter summers.However, our state also has some cooler, wetter summers when little or no smoke chokes the air. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference between natural year-to-year fluctuations and ominous long-term shifts.A Blazing NorthNonetheless, shifts are occurring – driven by the unprecedented warming that we are seeing in Alaska. July 2019 now stands as the hottest month ever recorded in the state.Many of us, including climate researchers, land managers, ecologists, meteorologists, rural and indigenous residents and fire experts, have been collaborating, studying this issue, gathering data, creating simulations and computer models, using satellite imagery and getting outdoors to measure exactly what is happening. In Alaska, state and federal agencies work together to monitor and manage fires through the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center and deploy firefighters to the front lines – including a record number of smoke-jumpers this year.The evidence shows that overall, fires in the far North are becoming bigger, hotter and more frequent. Older conifers are losing ground to younger deciduous trees, altering whole ecosystems. Torched trees are releasing carbon, along with soils rich in dead plant matter that are burning more deeply than in the past. As these releases fuel further warming, climate change is causing more climate change, which affects the entire planet.Too Close for ComfortIn Fairbanks, where I live, the human impacts of this summer’s fires have been obvious. As lightning triggered blazes statewide in late June, the Shovel Creek Fire sprang up on the western outskirts of town. Air quality rapidly deteriorated to “hazardous.” Two neighborhoods were evacuated, sending residents to stay with friends or hole up in my children’s school. Displaced sled dog teams were housed at the local fairgrounds.On some days in June and July the smoke in Fairbanks was so thick that my neighbor, who has asthma, had to wear a respirator mask. Another friend who has heart trouble had to take refuge in a small conference room at the hospital that was offered as a filtered-air safety zone.Shouldn’t these fires be prevented, and extinguished when they occur? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. First, the cost of firefighting across huge regions of the Arctic and sub-Arctic would be astronomical, as Russian officials have argued in response to public demands for action to control wildfires in Siberia.Second, putting out fires now leaves that much more highly flammable fuel on the landscape for next year or the year after – a problem that many blame for catastrophic fires in other states. Fire managers in Alaska, in partnership with land owners, instead have set priorities for firefighting. Lands are grouped in four categories: limited, modified, full and critical. By far the largest fraction is classified “limited,” meaning that fires in these areas are monitored but allowed to burn freely where they don’t threaten lives or known resources.But when fires threaten homes and lives, they are fought fiercely. After tireless efforts by fire crews from Alaska and the Lower 48, evacuated Fairbanks residents received an all-clear on July 10. People went home, and there were no injuries.August brought rains to dampen our local fairgrounds, which were finally being used for family fun rather than housing displaced pets. I haven’t heard much complaining. Wet weather has shown up on time here, and we’re grateful. But we realize that other Arctic regions are still burning, and that fire is more than just a local problem for all of us.This article first appeared in The Converation in July 2019.Image: Reuters


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A Democratic debate on the climate crisis? Party to vote on urgent idea

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 23:00

Calls for an officially sanctioned debate have been growing louder, but party leaders are resistantCould the future hold a Democratic debate focused entirely on the climate crisis? Photograph: CNN/Zuma Wire/Rex/ShutterstockAs delegates from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) meet this week in San Francisco to hear from 2020 candidates, hold fundraising events and tend to party business, there’s an urgent issue on the agenda: the climate crisis.More specifically, should one of the 12 Democratic debates be devoted entirely to the issue?Calls for a DNC-sanctioned climate debate have been building for months. Now a party committee is expected to vote Thursday morning on competing resolutions to determine whether such an event should go ahead. While most advocates believe the answer will be no, they say this is the latest, but not the last, time the party will debate a climate debate – the issue is simply too pressing to let go.In poll after poll, climate has been one of the most important issues to likely Democratic voters in the 2020 presidential election. But little time has been devoted to the topic in debates to date: a scant 15 minutes in the first set of debates, and just over 20 in the most recent two.While pressure has mounted inside and outside the party to hold a climate-focused debate, DNC leadership has pushed back at every turn. The struggle has highlighted divisions between party leadership and a progressive base that is increasingly vocal about the urgent need to address the climate emergency.“Climate is such an intersectional issue. It allows us to talk about jobs, economics, racial disparities, healthcare, national security,” said Tina Podlodowski, the chair of the Washington State Democrats and the author of the resolution calling for a climate debate. “And then of course there’s that little issue of the very survival of our species.”Since April, calls for Democrats to hold a climate debate have trickled up from environmental advocates to state party leadership. The resolution has more than 70 co-sponsors from across the country. Last week, Progressive Democrats of America circulated an open letter to the DNC chair, Tom Perez, calling for a climate debate, signed by environmental group leaders and activists alongside party members.But DNC leadership has held fast to its position against “single issue” debates. Earlier this month, Perez added his own resolution to the San Francisco convention schedule that, while affirming Democrats’ commitment to climate action, stood by the current debate schedule.In a Medium post, Perez wrote that amending party rules and allowing for a climate debate “would be putting our thumb on the scale”, as the DNC has also received requests for topical debates ranging from gun control to seniors issues.Activists, however, argue that climate change is not a “single issue”. “The climate crisis impacts every aspect of our lives,” said Sofie Karasek, the deputy communications director at the youth-led Sunrise Movement, which has been pressuring Democrats to spend more time on the problem. “It just continues to show that the leadership of the party is out of touch with what the base wants.”The first four debates were dominated by healthcare, immigration and the economy. What discussion there was on the climate crisis highlighted stark differences between the candidates. John Hickenlooper, who has since dropped out of the race, and John Delaney have both rejected the Green New Deal, in contrast with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, while Jay Inslee, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday, built his entire candidacy around climate action.A formal debate “would make for good television, but perhaps not good intra-Democrat party politics”, said Karasek.The DNC has argued that two televised “climate forums” scheduled to take place in September are a sufficient substitute for a debate. CNN will host a climate forum on 4 September, featuring 10 of the frontrunners. MSNBC, Georgetown University and Our Daily Planet will host another forum from 19-20 September, open to all declared candidates.However, say advocates, a forum and a debate are not comparable political events, either in form or reach. The forum format will have individual speakers on stage, unchallenged by other candidates. And while the debates have commanded between 10 and 18 million viewers, town halls and forums tend to attract far lower ratings.And any independently organized climate debate event is unlikely, as DNC rules could disqualify candidates from future official events if they were to engage in one.Despite low expectations for Thursday’s vote, supporters of a debate say they won’t be deterred. There are plans to bring the resolution to the convention floor for a vote Saturday. And, if that doesn’t work, they plan to continue to raise the issue throughout the long primary campaign, with the hopes that candidates will take up the issue and demand the debate themselves.“The voters aren’t going to let go of this, and the state parties aren’t going to let go of this,” said Podlodowski. “In an election, if something’s not working, you change.”


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Farmers Will Love This Plan To Fight Climate Change at Home

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 22:45

Democratic presidential contenders are increasingly singling out agriculture as the next great frontier for climate action, pushing plans that would empower rural and farming communities while addressing the sector’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.That trend represents a mounting scientific consensus that any effective efforts to counter global warming will need to involve overhauling land use, which accounts for almost a quarter of emissions globally. It also comes two weeks after the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a sweeping report highlighting the extent to which agriculture and other forms of land use are contributing to climate change.On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) became the latest Democratic presidential hopeful to home in on the connection between agriculture and global warming. Inslee, who has devoted his entire campaign to climate action, rolled out a “Growing Rural Prosperity” initiative, the sixth major climate-oriented plan from the governor.The plan “will reinvigorate America’s rural and farming communities, while empowering farmers to benefit from enormous economic opportunities as we build America’s clean economy and work to defeat climate change,” Inslee said in a statement.Under the new proposal, farmers would play a key role in combatting climate change. A government-funded Carbon Farming initiative would pay farmers for their efforts to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere, as well as methane reduction projects. Inslee would also launch a new Advanced Research Projects Agency–Agriculture (ARPA-Ag) to work on innovation in the sector, along with boosting biofuel efforts nationally.The plan is framed as a boon to rural communities, and Inslee pledges to “revitalize rural economies” through an expansion of renewable energy coupled with an expansion of rural broadband connectivity. The proposal, moreover, would strengthen protections for farmworkers, who are already suffering the impacts of climate change, studies show. Inslee would also “support new, diverse, women, and young farmers” in their efforts to establish careers.Additionally, the plan would seek to improve forest health and public lands, along with “new protections” for indigenous spaces. Budgeting for the Conservation Stewardship Program would also triple under Inslee, bolstering support for farmers conserving their land.“Farmers can’t afford runaway climate change, and America can’t defeat climate change without the help of farmers. My plan will grow a new, more prosperous and sustainable future for our entire nation,” Inslee pledged.The governor’s proposal is sweeping in scope and comes at a moment of reckoning for agriculture. On August 8, the IPCC rolled out a lengthy report specifically identifying the ways in which land use is contributing to global warming. That analysis cites food production as a key point of concern. Cattle and rice fields alone generate around half of all methane emissions, while farming practices more broadly contribute to soil degradation, weakening the planet’s defense against rising temperatures.Those findings aren’t new — climate scientists have singled out agriculture for years as a leading emissions source. Now, however, the issue is gaining political traction.Farmers are a key voting demographic in states like Iowa, where the presidential caucus will be important for White House hopefuls. Historically, that has meant candidates shy away from topics that could cost them with voters, like overhauling agriculture. But with climate change emerging as a top concern for voters, Democratic presidential contenders are increasingly identifying land use — and agriculture in particular — as a policy opportunity.In addition to Inslee, a number of candidates have rolled out rural policy platforms that touch on farming and climate change, in an unprecedented break from prior elections. InsideClimate News reported last week that at least 12 of the Democratic candidates currently running for president have made statements or issued policies connecting agriculture to global warming. Among them are several frontrunners, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).Many of the 2020 contenders have also endorsed the Green New Deal, a blueprint for swiftly shifting the United States to net-zero emissions. The proposal is vague, but asserts that a change in farming practices will be necessary in order to achieve its end goal. Much like the plans proposed by candidates like Inslee, the Green New Deal calls for a partnership between farmers and the government to cut pollution while advancing sustainable practices.Even as these efforts gain momentum, they are facing resistance. Scientists with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) have continued to produce reports underscoring the link between the sector and global warming. But President Donald Trump’s administration has downplayed the impacts of climate change and USDA researchers say their work is being stifled. Meanwhile, two USDA bureaus are undergoing a controversial relocation out of Washington, D.C., to the Midwest — a move some employees worry is retaliation for the department’s climate research.This article originally appeared at ThinkProgress on August 21, 2019.E.A. Crunden covers climate policy and environmental issues for ThinkProgress.Image: Reuters.


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How Brazil and Vietnam are tightening their grip on the world's coffee

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 22:01

A towering machine rumbles through the fields of Julio Rinco's farm in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, engulfing whole coffee trees and shaking free beans that are collected by conveyor belts in its depths. This automatic harvester is one of several innovations that have cut Rinco's production costs to a level that few who use traditional, labour-intensive methods can match. With increasing use of mechanization and other new technologies, the world's top two coffee producers, Brazil and Vietnam, are achieving productivity growth that outstrips rivals in places such as Colombia, Central America and Africa.


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Jay Inslee exits crowded 2020 US Democratic field

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 20:32

Washington Governor Jay Inslee dropped out of the race for the Democratic party's 2020 presidential nomination on Wednesday, thinning the crowded field to 22. "It's become clear that I'm not gonna be carrying the ball, I'm not gonna be the president, so I'm withdrawing tonight from the race," Inslee told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Inslee -- who was polling less than one percent, according to an aggregate of recent surveys -- built his campaign around the issue of tackling climate change, and he returned to the same theme even as he announced his exit from the race.


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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee drops bid for 2020 Democratic presidential nomination

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 20:05

The Washington governor announced his candidacy in March, emphasizing the issue on which he staked his campaign: aggressive action to battle climate change


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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he's ending presidential bid

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 20:04

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made fighting climate change the central theme of his presidential campaign, announced Wednesday night that he is ending his bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Inslee said that he was confident that Democrats would select a nominee who would champion climate change issues but that it had become clear that he wouldn't be the person selected. Inslee said he was not endorsing anyone but would support whoever is the nominee.


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Jay Inslee Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Contest

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 20:04

(Bloomberg) -- Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who built his campaign around fighting climate change, is dropping out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.Inslee, who has lagged in polling and fundraising, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night that he had decided to withdraw because he had determined he couldn’t win the nomination. He didn’t say whether he would seek a third term as governor.“It’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball. I’m not going to be the president. So I’m withdrawing tonight from the race,” Inslee said on Maddow’s program.Inslee, 68, had positioned himself as the climate change candidate and called for a $9 trillion investment to address the crisis and reach 100% clean energy by 2035. His plan mandated that within the next decade, all new commercial and residential buildings be carbon-free, all electricity carbon neutral and all new cars and light trucks be emissions-free.Even though climate change is a top issue for many voters, Inslee’s campaign never caught on. He pushed for a debate solely devoted to climate change, but the request was rejected by the Democratic National Committee.He participated in the two first debates of Democratic contenders, though he didn’t meet a polling threshold for the third, in Houston next month, or for a town hall on climate change organized by CNN, also scheduled for September.He never consistently polled above 1% percent and raised $3.1 million in the second quarter after raising $2.3 million in the first.Inslee becomes the third Democratic presidential candidate to leave the 2020 race, following former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Representative Eric Swalwell of California.Gun control was also a key issue for Inslee who lost his seat in the House of Representatives in 1994 after he voted in favor of banning the sale of assault weapons.\--With assistance from Sahil Kapur.To contact the reporter on this story: Emma Kinery in Washington at ekinery@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kasia Klimasinska at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net, Max Berley, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announces he's dropping out of the 2020 race

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 19:55

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is dropping out of the 2020 presidential race. Inslee was the first governor to declare a run for the White House in March. In a Twitter thread, Inslee shared a clip of his announcement and wrote, "I know you agree that our mission to defeat climate change must continue to be central to our national discussion -- and must be the top priority for our next president.


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Jay Inslee, Climate Candidate, Exits 2020 Presidential Race

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 19:30

The Washington state governor released a hefty library of climate policies and raised money from over 130,000 donors, but failed to break 1% in the polls.


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Washington Governor Inslee withdraws bid for U.S. Democratic presidential nomination

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 19:24

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, who made the fight against climate change the focus of his White House campaign, said on Wednesday he was withdrawing from the race for the 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential nomination. The 68-year-old Inslee, speaking on MSNBC, said it had become clear he would not be the party's standard-bearer and that he was pulling out of the race. Inslee announced his bid for the Democratic nomination on March 1.


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Washington Governor Inslee withdraws bid for U.S. Democratic presidential nomination

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 19:23

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, who made the fight against climate change the focus of his White House campaign, said on Wednesday he was withdrawing from the race for the 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential nomination. The 68-year-old Inslee, speaking on MSNBC, said it had become clear he would not be the party's standard-bearer and that he was pulling out of the race. Inslee announced his bid for the Democratic nomination on March 1.


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Amazon, Microsoft, 'putting world at risk of killer AI': study

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 19:12

Amazon, Microsoft and Intel are among leading tech companies putting the world at risk through killer robot development, according to a report that surveyed major players from the sector about their stance on lethal autonomous weapons. "Why are companies like Microsoft and Amazon not denying that they're currently developing these highly controversial weapons, which could decide to kill people without direct human involvement?" said Frank Slijper, lead author of the report published this week. A panel of government experts debated policy options regarding lethal autonomous weapons at a meeting of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva on Wednesday.


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Microplastics in drinking water not a health risk for now: WHO

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 18:13

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday the level of microplastics in drinking-water is not yet dangerous for humans but called for more research into potential future risk. In its first report into the effects of microplastics on human health, WHO looked into the specific impact of microplastics in tap and bottled water. "The headline messages to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it's low," said Bruce Gordon, WHO coordinator of water and sanitation.


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Firefighters stabilise Canary Islands fire, most residents go home

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:39

Most residents in the Spanish holiday island of Gran Canaria who were evacuated over a raging wildfire were able to return home Wednesday after firefighters aided by cooler temperatures and calmer winds managed to stabilise the blaze, local officials said. Flames as high as 50 metres (160 feet) had complicated the battle against the blaze burning since Saturday on the western slopes of the volcanic island located off northwest Africa, prompting the evacuation of several villages with a combined population of around 10,000. Weather conditions were good with low temperatures and higher humidity.


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New Study Shows 14% of Americans Use CBD

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 15:04

Yet cannabis products represent a largely untapped market in the U.S.


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Brazil's Bolsonaro blames Amazon fires on NGOs as Twitter erupts

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 14:54

Wildfires in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil have ignited a firestorm on social media, with President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday suggesting green groups started the blazes. Images of fires purportedly devouring sections of the world's largest rainforest have gone viral on Twitter. "No matter how successful we are, if our Earth dies, we all die," posted one Twitter user.


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What Jay Inslee’s climate policy means for farm country

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 14:45

Eight contenders have plans for boosting the rural and agricultural economies. The Washington governor's is most directly tied to climate change.


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Ancient monkey skull reveals secrets of primate brain evolution

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 14:36

The remains of a prehistoric primate that lived high in the Andes 20 million years ago and was so small it could fit in your hand is helping scientists learn more about how human brains evolved. In a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, researchers in China and the US used high resolution imaging to examine the only known fossilized skull of the extinct Chilecebus, a New World monkey that scampered around ancient mountain forests, feeding on leaves and fruit. One key finding: the brain size of primates, long assumed to have increased progressively over time, now appears to have followed a more roundabout path.


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