Stay Vigilant

Living with Coronavirus
Sunday March 13th, 2022
10:18 AM

“I don’t need a ride. I need ammunition” –President Zelensky in response when the US offered him egress from Ukraine.

Like Patrick Henry (Give me liberty or give me death!), President Zelensky will go down in history for that response.  A response I might add that he repeated several times to various media outlets and nations.

Tell me, can you think of any modern American leader who speaks with such merit?  Such determination in the face of long odds? Such grit?  I cannot.

“The fight is here,” Zelensky responded. “I need ammo, not a ride.”

Many new features of war are emerging in this digital environ in addition to sanctions by many nations, and seizures of Yachts and properties owned by Russian oligarch who fund Russia’s war.  Real time sharing of the horrors of war are ongoing.   Independent actors are acting in concert with Ukraine. Some are corporations, banks, and businesses closing up operations in Russia.  Some are independent hackers and groups of hackers playing havoc as best they can in Russia’s web.  Ukraine claims over 20,000 volunteer veterans from militaries all over the globe, soldiers who survived the desert wars and went home, packed up and went to Ukraine.  They do not represent their nations and they do not receive a salary; they are volunteer veteran troops.  When asked one such soldier said, “I cannot stand by and watch children pelted with rockets and do nothing.  I am here for those kids and their families.”

The 1st Digital war rages on.  Putin has meet continued fierce resistance from Ukraine, he has lost tanks, jets, helicopters, and men, perhaps in the thousands.  Ukraine has lost cities, pounded to rubble by an angry Putin, who in his frustration has turned to a war of attrition.  In such warfare the idea is to cause the support for the troops to disappear.  You accomplish this by destroying everything and everyone in your path.  Women, kids, food, farms, water, power, heat, hospitals . . . every aspect of a normal city is destroyed in order to inflict the most pain on the average citizen so that, starving and cold, they surrender. 

These tactics will affect you and I down the road as the ripple effect of attrition tactics will impact the global economy as well as starve the children of Ukraine.  Parents with starving kids tend to desire to feed them rather than stand upon a lofty ideal like freedom.  That is how and why attrition works.  Putin does not care if the tactic is frowned upon by the world.  He is not worried such tactics will enrage neighbors and Russia become a target itself, because he has nukes, and is gambling that no one wants a nuclear war, which he promises.

The stranglehold of attrition has been applied on Ukraine; problem is it is going to choke the rest of the world as well, only less severely.

Ukraine is the world’s fifth largest supplier of Wheat

Julie Hyman-Yahoo finance–“Grain prices were already rising before Russia invaded Ukraine, and recent days have seen unprecedented further gains as two of the world’s biggest producer are at war.  Wheat closed in Chicago at the highest price ever on Monday. Benchmark corn and soybean futures have each surged by 26% this year. Those kinds of increases in food-staple commodities have been associated with social unrest throughout history.

“Remember, bread riots are what started the Arab Spring, bread riots are what started the French Revolution,” said Sal Gilbertie, CEO of Teucrium, the largest U.S. exchange-traded fund issuer focused solely on agriculture funds. “It is a biblical event when you run low on wheat stocks. You won’t see a global food shortage. Unfortunately, what you’re going to see globally is that billions of people might not be able to afford to buy the food.”

Gilbertie doesn’t think the world will run out of wheat — but prices could continue to rise, and that will be most problematic for vulnerable global populations. “Ukraine dominates what they call the sun-seed market,” he said. “Sunflower oil is a major component of cooking oil and food, and you see palm oil rising, and soybean oil rising. That is a big deal, especially for the poorest of the poor, where cooking is a big part of the daily budget.”

Global food prices rose to a record high in February, led by vegetable oil and dairy products, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Let’s bring it back to wheat as an example of the impact of the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia. According to the same organization, Russia was the top exporter of wheat by metric tonnes shipped in 2020 and Ukraine the fifth largest. By contrast, China and India top Russia when it comes to production — but consume most of the crops domestically.

Sanctions imposed on Russia by many nations now means wheat already harvested and stored there isn’t being bought.

As for Ukraine, the market has adjusted to the probability that wheat harvested and stored last season won’t be shipped, Gilbertie said. What’s now in question is what happens to the wheat currently in the ground. It’s mostly winter wheat, he said; it’s planted in autumn, then sprouts, grows and is harvested in spring.

“What the market’s trying to do is price in the potential of there not being a harvest season for wheat, and not being able to get the wheat out of the fields and/or shipped out of Ukraine,” he said.  Crops like sunflower and corn are planted in spring, so it’s unclear whether farmers will be able to plant at all, between the Ukrainian war draft, the invasion itself, and supply shortages of fuel and fertilizer.”

Global numbers have started to tic back up as Omicron hits other areas of the world. Omicron, B2”stealth” and “deltacron”, a hybrid of Delta and Omicron are spreading side by side in the world, competing over human hosts and all three are virulent spreaders which are oft asymptomatic, but can lead to death nonetheless, especially to those lacking vaccines.

The disparity between rich and poor, north and south, on this globe we inhabit is illustrated by vaccines quite well.  While rich, western, developed nations have vaccine rates from 60 to 90%, the poorer southern nations have rates in the teens, with 14% being an average.  Very easy for the virus to spread there, so spread it will, and if this virus’s history is considered, then multiple mutations can be expected in our near future.

Stay vigilant as our restrictions are removed.  Be especially cautious with the elderly and infirm as those folks will remain at risk from covid for years to come.  Please try and understand, C-19 remains a novel virus, but not as novel (unknown) as it was.  Every mutation renews its novel status, so it remains more unknown than known.  We continue to study it and learn new things.

USA Today–“A new study provides the most conclusive evidence, yet that COVID-19 can damage the brain, even in people who weren’t severely ill.

The study, published Monday in Nature, used before-and-after brain images of 785 British people, ages 51 to 81, to look for any changes. About half the participants contracted COVID-19 between the scans – mostly when the alpha variant was circulating – which left many people at least temporarily without a sense of smell.

Analysis of the “before” and “after” images from the UK Biobank showed that people infected with COVID-19 had a greater reduction in their brain volumes overall and performed worse on cognitive tests than those who had not been infected.

The 15 participants who were sick enough with COVID-19 to require hospitalization showed the most brain changes, but even those who had much milder disease showed differences, the study found. The oldest participants had more changes on average than younger ones.

The brain areas most affected were those that are related to smell, which makes sense, since many of the people infected around the world lost their sense of smell, said Gwenaëlle Douaud, who led the research.  People who lose their smell for prolonged periods also lose volume in brain areas related to smell. “Lose it or use it,” said Douaud, a neuroscientist at Oxford University.

If smell recovers, usually the brain region does, too, she said.”

March 7 (Reuters) – “Scientists have pinpointed 16 new genetic variants in people who developed severe COVID-19 in a large study published on Monday that could help researchers develop treatments for very sick patients.  The results suggest that people with severe COVID have genes that predispose them to one of two problems: failure to limit the ability of the virus to make copies of itself, or excessive inflammation and blood clotting.

The scientists said their discoveries, published in the journal Nature, could help prioritize the likely treatments that could work against the disease.  Eventually, the information could even help predict which patients were likely to become severely ill.

“It is potentially possible in future that we will be able to make predictions about patients based on their genome at the point of presenting (for) critical care,” said Kenneth Baillie, consultant in critical care medicine at the University of Edinburgh and one of the study authors, told reporters.

The genetic analysis of nearly 56,000 samples from people in Britain showed differences in 23 genes in COVID-19 patients who became critically ill, when compared with the DNA of other groups included in the study, including 16 differences that had not been previously identified.

The new findings could help guide scientists in their search for existing drugs that might be useful for treating COVID-19.  For example, the researchers found changes in key genes that regulate the level of factor VIII, a protein involved in forming blood clots.

“Blood clotting is one of the main reasons why patients with COVID develop a shortage of oxygen. So that’s potentially targetable to prevent those clots from forming,” Baillie said.  But “we can’t know if these medicines will work until we try them in people”.

One of the previously discovered genes, TYK2, is targeted by Eli Lilly’s arthritis drug baricitinib, now being studied as a treatment for COVID-19.  The drug was shown last week to cut the risk of death and hospitalization in COVID-19 patients by 13% in a trial.”

USA Today—”As the U.S. approaches the grim milestone of one million COVID-19 deaths, a team of researchers published the first peer-reviewed study looking at excess death estimates on a global scale. The results are alarming, health experts say.  Excess deaths is the difference between the number of recorded deaths from all causes and the number of expected deaths based on past trends.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation found an estimated 18.2 million people may have died by the end of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than three times the official toll of 5.9 million, according to the study published Thursday in The Lancet.

“I’ve never seen an analysis of this scale before on excess mortality,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, who is unaffiliated with the study. “The findings are very sobering.”

The IHME team obtained weekly or monthly data on deaths from 74 countries and 266 states or provinces using government websites from 2020 to 2021, and compared that with death data going back 11 years.

South Asia had the highest number of estimated excess deaths from COVID-19 at about 5.3 million, followed by North Africa and the Middle East, both at 1.7 million. Eastern Europe had about 1.4 million excess deaths from COVID-19, the study found.

“Understanding the true death toll from the pandemic is vital for effective public health decision-making,” said lead author Dr. Haidong Wang, an associate professor at the University of Washington.

The seven countries with the highest number of excess deaths accounted for more than half of the estimated global toll and included India, the U.S., Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan.  Although the U.S. has yet to officially record one million COVID-19 deaths, the IHME study estimated the nation may already have reached 1.1 million by the end of 2021.   Some countries were estimated to have had fewer deaths than expected based on mortality trends in prior years, including Iceland, Australia and Singapore.

“There are a number of places that end up looking like they’ve done well,” said senior author and IHME director Dr. Chris Murray. “And if you look region by region, there are neighboring countries that are very different so, it speaks to how countries have managed the pandemic.”  Countries that had fewer to no excess deaths followed a pandemic strategy in 2020 that included hard lockdowns, mask mandates and aggressive testing, experts say.”

Intelligencer–“More people are dying right now on a per capita basis in Hong Kong than have died in any country, save one, at any point in time, save one, during the entire two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has globally taken, all told, at least 15 million and possibly 20 million lives.

In Hong Kong — often celebrated as a pandemic success story, now boasting better vaccination rates than the U.S. — the seven-day average of per capita deaths from COVID is about to surpass Peru’s world record from April 2021, before that country had access to vaccines, according to Our World in Data. On a per capita basis, Hong Kong’s Omicron wave is already deadlier than the U.K.’s winter surge, often described as the worst period experienced by any OECD nation during the pandemic, and more than twice as deadly as America’s winter surge a year ago.

The comparison is a bit misleading: The famously dense “special administrative region” is much more like a city than a country, and its present death toll, while terrifyingly high, has not reached the heights of New York City in April 2020, among other especially hard-hit metropolises. But because new cases there are only now appearing to peak and the chart of new deaths is still practically vertical, the Hong Kong numbers are almost certain to grow — possibly by quite a lot. If the typical lag holds, the new daily death toll may continue to rise for weeks and could easily double.

This experience is quite discordant with the state of COVID discourse in the United States, where CDC director Rochelle Walensky recently described the possibility of future surges, dismissively, as “annoying.” Even those who argue that we’re letting our guard down too quickly are primarily focused on preparing for the next wave and variant, not responding to the dying vestiges of the last ones. But the fact that the Hong Kong surge seems to be unfolding in almost another pandemic universe than ours is not to say that the brutality of the surge is inexplicable or even mysterious. The vulnerability of a population to a new variant is the result of not just the variant’s virulence but also the immunological profile of the community. This is among the reasons why death rates in the United States, through both Delta and Omicron, were so much higher than its “peer” countries in Europe.

And while Hong Kong does boast relatively strong overall vaccination numbers, those top-line numbers obscure the most important factors, as they always do. Because vulnerability to severe disease and death skews so dramatically by age, with those over 80 more than a hundred times likelier to die from COVID-19 than those in their 30s, overall mortality risk is more a reflection of how well the elderly are vaccinated than how well the population as a whole is. In Hong Kong, they are not very well protected at all: Forty-five percent of Hong Kong seniors are vaccinated, and only 15 percent of those in old-age homes are, which, in a population under 8 million, left more than half a million people over the age of 70 unvaccinated when Omicron arrived.

Perversely, Hong Kong is more vulnerable now because it did so well before. Success in containing disease spread until Omicron meant there had been much less exposure to COVID-19, and much less of the “natural” immunity that results, than in parts of the world where it has been infecting people somewhat steadily for two years. In 2020 and 2021 combined, The Wall Street Journal reported, Hong Kong had a total of 13,000 cases and 213 deaths; during Omicron, the totals are 500,000 and 2,365. This may help explain why mainland China is engaging in 2020-vintage suppression tactics, including severe lockdowns, as much of the rest of the world has begun to move on: So many fewer people getting sick over the past two years means many more might get very sick now.

Not that widespread exposure is a panacea. It is easy to forget now, but Anthony Fauci spent most of 2020 estimating that somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of Americans would have to be either infected or vaccinated to reach herd immunity. That dream — of total disappearance of the disease — is now a distant memory, of course. But we long ago hit those benchmarks, along with higher ones he set beginning in late 2020, with estimates that 90 percent or more of the country has been exposed to the disease, and 65 percent has been vaccinated, even as a thousand or more Americans have been dying every day for six months.

This is all to say that we are all living in a different pandemic landscape now with new variants armed with novel immune-evasion capacity, a clearer sense of the limitations of vaccines in preventing spread, and a growing understanding of the dynamics of waning immunity. To judge from the recent Omicron experience in Europe, weathering another surge without much disruption or dying may require that vaccination levels and regular boosters among the elderly get pretty close to 100 percent. The U.K. managed Omicron relatively well with only 71 percent of its overall population double-vaccinated but 93 percent of its seniors. More than half of the country as a whole has gotten boosted compared with just 29 percent in the U.S.  This is partly why recent data from the U.K. is a bit more curious than that coming from Hong Kong. There, over the past few weeks, hospitalizations have begun to grow steadily in all regions of the country after a post-Omicron lull. The growth isn’t huge — 21 percent week over week — but it is visible everywhere.

The explanations are not so obvious — a reminder that, more than two years into this pandemic, there are still things about spread dynamics we don’t understand. At first, given low case levels, the rise in hospitalizations was attributed by some analysts to waning booster effects among the elderly many months after that rollout began. But there does not seem to be a clear sign in seroprevalence data that antibodies are declining at the moment. Behavioral changes may be playing some role with the recent lifting of Omicron restrictions, but case growth does not seem to be concentrated in any subgroup. Instead, it appears consistent across all age groups and regions. And while the Omicron sub-variant BA.2 has been growing as a proportion of British cases for a while now, presently accounting for more than half of new cases, it is not creating a major new wave of cases, and there are few clear signs it produces meaningfully different outcomes than the original Omicron, BA.1. A final hypothesis says hospitals are simply picking up more incidental COVID; having resumed normal operations post-Omicron, more people are coming to the hospital for other kinds of procedures, and some percentage of them are popping up as positives. (This would explain the lack of a lag between case growth and hospital growth.) But even isolating those cases, admissions for COVID are ticking up, too, if by a smaller degree.

As a result, many of those looking closely at the British turn are shrugging in confusion, which means it isn’t easy to extract lessons from the U.K. experience for the U.S. future. (Though one lesson the U.K. is apparently taking is that a fourth shot, or second booster, is important.) It is worth keeping in mind that this upturn is still recent and relatively small compared with the heights reached during Omicron (though in the southwestern U.K., more patients are now being admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 than at any point in the past year). But for those who’ve assumed the pandemic would steadily peter out, requiring a collective decision to declare “It’s over” — well, these are signs that the future is likely more complicated than that.

This does not mean a second Omicron wave — or something potentially worse — will soon come crashing onto American shores. But it does suggest that the more time passes since the peak of that last wave, the less sure we can be that prevalence will remain low and severe disease relatively rare. And we may well see another game-changing variant like Delta or Omicron down the line.

It is still the case that our existing vaccines work well against all variants. And as those promoting the “urgency of normal” have been emphasizing, Americans who’ve been vaccinated three times and boosted relatively recently are remarkably well protected against severe hospitalization and death. But, again, only 29 percent of Americans have been boosted, a good chunk of them now long enough ago that their protection may be on the wane. Given that waning, as well as our very slow rate of new vaccinations and our distressingly low uptake of boosters, we may well find ourselves this spring and summer less protected as a country than we were before Omicron, which ultimately infected probably more than a 100 million people and killed almost 150,000 Americans. That isn’t to say that will all happen again, since so much depends on the nature of the variant and the state of the immunological landscape. But, well, it might. This thing isn’t over yet.”

WHO–“A hybrid of the Omicron and Delta variants has begun circulating in Europe. The variant, which some have dubbed “Deltacron,” has slowly begun surfacing in France, Denmark, and the Netherlands, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) press briefing held on Wednesday.  Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, COVID-19 technical lead at the WHO, said during the briefing that there is very good surveillance in many countries right now and as a result experts have determined “there are very low levels of this detection.”

An organization of scientists around the world who share virus data have also confirmed the emergence of Deltacron. The group, the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) provided data from France’s Pasteur Institute on its website, calling it the “first solid evidence for a Delta-Omicron recombinant virus,” which it says has been circulating since early January 2022.   It’s also important to note that hybrid variants aren’t anything unusual, Van Kerkhove wrote on Twitter. “This is to be expected, especially [with] intense circulation of #omicron & delta.”

The news brings up questions about how this might affect day-to-day life. Below, everything we know so far about the Deltacron variant.

What Is a Recombinant Virus?

A recombinant virus is essentially one that’s created from at least two other viruses, Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Health. “A recombinant virus is a virus that has portions from two or more viruses as part of its genetic material as a result of an infection with more than one strain,” Dr. Adalja said. When an organism is infected with two strains of a virus, he explained, it “allows the viruses to mix together and result in a new virus.” Recombinant viruses aren’t unique to COVID-19, Dr. Adalja added.

Deltacron likely resulted from one person being infected with two strains of COVID-19 at the same time, Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, told Health. “Both viruses would need to be in their body at the same time,” he said.

Recombinant viruses aren’t unique to COVID-19. “This is very, very common in influenza viruses—they recombine all the time,” William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Health.”

Global Infected      445,316,007                                   456,956,790
Increase             11,640,783
7-day average        1,662,969 infections diagnosed daily –Up

Global Dead          5,996,757                                          6,042,210
Increase             45,453
7-day average        6,493 deaths daily –Down

USA Infected         79,265,854                                       79,517,492
Increase             251,638
7-day average        35,948 infections diagnosed daily –Down

USA C-19 deaths      958,437                                                         967,552
Increase             9,115
7-day average        1,302 deaths daily –Down

Maine Infected       230,720                                                           232,293
Increase             1,573
7-day average         224 infections diagnosed daily –Down

Maine deaths         2,135                                                                2,145
Increase             10
7-day average        1.4285 deaths daily –Down

Synergy: NOUN–the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

Climate Change has synergistic effects we do not understand well, if at all.  Climate Change plus Pandemic plus the first Digital War will also have synergy in ways we will not anticipate well, or at all.  We may only see those things in hindsight.

USA Today—””According to European Climate Change Service Copernicus, the last seven years have been the hottest ever recorded on the planet. While 2021 was only the fifth-highest out of those, this has been largely attributed to the La Niña weather pattern, responsible for cooling ocean temperatures. What’s more, Copernicus found that 21 out of the 22 hottest years ever recorded had been since the millennium.

Climatologist Maximiliano Herrera has been keeping track of extreme weather around the world for more than three decades. He found that last year more than 400 weather stations across the globe had reported record-breaking heat, with 10 countries smashing national heat records and two continental records broken in Europe and Africa. Many meteorologists and climate scientists say that the extreme heat wave that hit North America in the summer, breaking records by up to 9°F (5°C) in places, was among the most alarming weather events of the year.

In mid-February 2021, a perilous winter storm swept across the Pacific Northwest and into the central US, blanketing around 73% of the lower 48 states in snow at one point. Known as Winter Storm Uri, it was also the costliest snowstorm since records began, with damages costing $24 billion according to NOAA. Climate scientists say that rising global temperatures led to the weakening of the jet stream – which usually keeps cold Arctic air in the Arctic – meaning that polar air was able to travel southwards to the US and resulted in the cold conditions.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, heavy snowfall, low temperatures and immense winds arrived in early February thanks to Storm Darcy. In fact, the UK recorded its lowest temperature since 1995, with the Met Office reporting that Braemar in the Scottish Highlands hit -9.4°F (-23°C) on 11 February. Counterintuitively, extreme cold snaps like this can actually lead to an increased risk of wildfires, since they dry out plants which creates the ideal conditions for fire to spread.

June is usually one of the coldest months in New Zealand, but in 2021 it was hotter than ever. In fact, average temperatures across the country were 3.6°F (2°C) warmer than usual, while 24 locations reported record highs. According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the higher temperatures were linked to abnormally high sea level air pressure and climate change.

The climate crisis has worsened global heating around the Earth’s two poles, leading to alarmingly high temperatures in Russia in the summer of 2021. Moscow recorded its hottest June day in 142 years, with the temperature hitting 89.4°F (31.9°C) on 22 June. Meanwhile, St Petersburg had three consecutive days of record-breaking heat. The high temperatures also contributed to wildfires which damaged the country more than any fire season since records began.

Satellite data from June 2021 indicates it was the hottest June on record in North America, with many cities’ daily temperature records being smashed. A scientist from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, which released the data, said: “These heat waves are not happening in a vacuum. They are happening in a global climate environment that is warming and which makes them more likely to occur.” What’s more, according to the US Drought Monitor Report, 47% of the country was in drought at the end of the month.

Breaking out on 13 July 2021 and continuing for more than two months, the Dixie wildfire swept across nearly a million acres of land in California. While many media outlets quickly branded Dixie the state’s largest fire in history, analyses suggest the August Complex in 2020 was slightly larger, although not by much. Hot and dry conditions, amplified by climate change, make fires spread more quickly, while the charred ground left behind makes it harder for forests to regrow.

As part of a ‘heat dome’ which enveloped North America, Canada saw alarmingly high temperatures in the summer. In July, Lytton in British Columbia broke the record for the country’s hottest ever temperature, at 121.3°F (49.6°C), up by almost 9°F (5°C) on the previous record. The catastrophic heat was branded “prolonged, dangerous and historic” by Environment Canada.

Raging wildfires may have made headlines in Brazil in recent years, but in summer 2021 the country also suffered its worst drought in almost a century. That’s pretty bad news for a country which relies on hydropower for two-thirds of its electricity supply. The enormous Itaipu dam also reported its power output was at its lowest level since 1994.

On 1 June 2021, the Rio Negro river – a major tributary of the Amazon – reached its highest level since 1902. This contributed to major flooding in northwest Brazil, notably in Manaus. What’s more, flooding might be getting worse: seven out of the 10 biggest floods in the Amazon basin have occurred in the last 13 years, according to Brazil’s Geological Survey.

A mainly coal-fueled, post-lockdown economic recovery boosted carbon dioxide emissions by 6% in 2021, the highest increase ever recorded in human history, according to a new report.

The increase more than offset the previous year’s pandemic-induced lull, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday in a new analysis.

Carbon dioxide emissions in 2021 hit a whopping 36.3 billion metric tons, the agency said, warning that Earth continues careening into the habitability danger zone.

In 2020, lockdowns imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic pushed emissions down by 5.2%, the IEA said. But that was jolted back up as economies reopened. Global pollution tumbled by 17% during the peak of the lockdowns, a study published in May 2020 found, and its authors predicted the drop in carbon emissions.

“However, the world has experienced an extremely rapid economic recovery since then, driven by unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus and a fast — although uneven — roll-out of vaccines,” the agency said in its report, Global Energy Review: CO2 Emissions in 2021. “The recovery of energy demand in 2021 was compounded by adverse weather and energy market conditions, which led to more coal being burnt despite renewable power generation registering its largest ever annual growth.””

Newsweek—””Melting permafrost will release strange microbes into the atmosphere in coming years, scientists believe. They fear that ancient microbes, suspended in natural time capsules of permafrost, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of years, could have serious consequences for humans. For example, more than 100 diverse microorganisms in Siberia’s permafrost have been found to be resistant to antibiotics.

Permafrost is home to “untold” amounts of microbes and other chemicals, NASA said yesterday, with large regions of frozen ground melting at an increasing rate.

Kimberley Miner, a climate researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, is working to characterize microbes frozen in permafrost. “Everyone is racing as fast as they can to understand what’s going on at the poles,” she said in a press release. “The more we understand, the better prepared we will be for the future.”

Contact with such potential biological hazards would not be impossible or even necessarily difficult. Settlements, industrial sites and military projects have all been built on permafrost in recent decades.

“These are microbes that have co-evolved with things like giant sloths or mammoths, and we have no idea what they could do when released into our ecosystems,” Miner said in October last year. “We have a very small understanding of what kind of extremophiles—microbes that live in lots of different conditions for a long time—have the potential to re-emerge.””

As I worked on this this week another 45,453 of my fellow humans lost their battle with C-19, of those 9,115 were my fellow Americans, and of those 10 were my fellow Mainers.

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