The United States and the United Kingdom are taking an active role in dealing with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
On July 31, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), delivered a press release in which Director Tom Frieden announced his intention to send 50 disease control experts to West Africa in the next 30 days. “This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Far too many lives have been lost already. It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done.”
Leading experts in the UK Peter Piot, who discovered Ebola in 1976, David Heymann, the director of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, and Jeremy Farrar from the Wellcome Trust have said there are several drugs and vaccines that could be used to combat the disease and are encouraging the World Health Organization (WHO) to make these drugs available to African governments.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal the three experts said that: “There are antiviral drugs, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines under study that have shown varying degrees of effectiveness in animals that have been infected with or exposed to the Ebola virus.”
During the last week, two American aid workers who contracted the virus have been brought back to the US for treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both patients were given doses of an experimental drug called ZMapp, developed by a private biotech firm in San Diego, while medical researchers continue to work to try to find a cure for the disease.
The Global Health and Security Agenda launched on Thursday in Washington, D.C. despite a foot of snow falling in the area. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco teamed up and wrote an OpEd for CNN on why global health security is a national priority.
“The United States has made addressing infectious disease threats a priority. On Thursday in Washington and Geneva, we are convening 26 countries to launch a Global Health Security Agenda that will accelerate progress on addressing a wide range of global health security threats.” Read the rest of the article here.
The three main goals of the Agenda are to prevent avoidable epidemics, detect early threats, and respond rapidly and effectively to biological threats of international concern.
On June 12, UK Science Minister David Willetts hosted the G8 science ministers and heads of national science academies at the Royal Society in London, in the first meeting of its type to be held since 2008. The U.S. was represented by Dr. Patricia Falcone, Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Many people do not know they have high blood pressure because it does not always cause symptoms. As a result, it contributes to more than nine million deaths every year, including about half of all deaths due to heart disease and stroke. Cut your risk of developing high blood pressure by: cutting down on salt; eating a balanced diet; avoiding harmful use of alcohol; doing regular physical activity; and avoiding tobacco use. Read more
First Images Released From Newest Earth Observation Satellite: Turning on New Satellite Instruments is Like Opening New Eyes
As we noted in last month’s blog the Landsat Data Continuity Mission was launched on February 11. In mid-March the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) released its first images of Earth, collected at 1:40 p.m. EDT on March 18. The first image shows the meeting of the Great Plains with the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado.
The two LDCM sensors collect data simultaneously over the same ground path. OLI collects light reflected off the surface of Earth in nine different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, including bands of visible light and near-infrared and short-wave-infrared bands, which are beyond human vision. TIRS collects data at two longer wavelength thermal infrared bands that measure heat emitted from the surface. By looking at different band combinations, scientists can distinguish features on the land surface. These features include forests and how they respond to natural and human-caused disturbances, and the health of agricultural crops and how much water they use. Data from LDCM will extend a continuous, 40-year-long data record of Earth’s surface from previous Landsat satellites, an unmatched, impartial perspective that allows scientists to study how landscapes all across the world change through time. Read more here.
This week’s U.S. highlights begin with Secretary Clinton’s remarks at the United Nations last week where she emphasized the importance of multilateral clean water initiatives. Next, there have been noteworthy gains in U.S. home energy efficiency upgrades and increased investment in nuclear energy research at American universities. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) released several reports showing growth in U.S. solar production and American green pricing program participation during 2011. The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published research in September rebutting claims that large-scale, high altitude wind production adversely impacts climate. Finally, I wrap up by highlighting several non-federal, state programs showing new growth in jobs associated with clean energy programs in California, the Midwest, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.
On September 4, Prime Minister Cameron announced a significant reshuffle of his government. Since then, NGOs, industry and other observers have been carefully scrutinizing whether the changes at the departments for energy, environment, communities, transport and health signal any significant change in Coalition policy priorities. With Party Conference season upon us, speeches by new Ministers will offer an important early read on how they intend to proceed on critical UK ESTH issues including electricity market reform, the UK’s low carbon agenda, renewable energy, airport expansion and planning regulations.
UN-Habitat held its inaugural Urban Planning conference on September 20 at a new £30m exhibition and conference center called The Crystal, located at the Royal Victoria Docks in east London. Over 200 stakeholders from cities around the world, including mayors, city planners, business representatives, and academics, participated in the launching of UN Habitat’s new guide, “Urban Planning for City Leaders.” It lays out tools to support sustainable urban planning good practices. “All too often planning has been disconnected from the day to day realities and needs of citizens,” said UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos. Read more
Looking back over the summer holiday, I highlight this week several newly launched U.S. projects and programs in Environment, Science, Technology, and Health (ESTH). Initiatives include President Obama’s final steps to implement historical 54.5 mpg U.S. fuel efficiency standards, a newly built Department of Energy (DOE) CO2 capture and storage plant, efforts by the military to go green, EPA work with supermarkets on energy efficiency, and a $10 million DOE SunShot competition. Finally, the U.S. and Canada signed a bilateral agreement to improve water quality in the Great Lakes Basin, and NASA’s venture with SpaceX will launch the next Dragon space craft to the International Space Station.
U.S. Finalizes Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standards. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are finalizing national standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for passenger cars and light trucks built in the years 2017 through 2025. By 2025, the average car will achieve a fuel economy performance equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon—nearly double that of cars on the road today. Savings over the lifetime of a 2025 vehicle will be $1.7 trillion and 12 billion barrels of consumed oil. Read more