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Health, climate, water - Aug 24

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Changes in human behavior blamed for new ills

Associated Press
WHO says sex, farming, growing population gives diseases breeding ground
A ballooning world population, intensive farming practices and changes in sexual behavior have provided a breeding ground for an unprecedented number of emerging diseases, the U.N. health agency said Thursday.

AIDS and 38 other new pathogens are afflicting mankind that were unknown a generation ago, the World Health Organization said.

Though advances in science could account for the discovery of existing pathogens that were previously unidentified, WHO epidemics expert Dr. Mike Ryan said changes in human behavior and practices have produced more new diseases.
(23 August 2007)

Pollution causes 40 percent of deaths worldwide, study finds

About 40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution, concludes a Cornell researcher.

Such environmental degradation, coupled with the growth in world population, are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases, which the World Health Organization has recently reported. Both factors contribute to the malnourishment and disease susceptibility of 3.7 billion people, he says.

David Pimentel, Cornell professor of ecology and agricultural sciences, and a team of Cornell graduate students examined data from more than 120 published papers on the effects of population growth, malnutrition and various kinds of environmental degradation on human diseases. Their report is published in the online version of the journal Human Ecology (to be published in the December print issue).

"We have serious environmental resource problems of water, land and energy, and these are now coming to bear on food production, malnutrition and the incidence of diseases," said Pimentel.

Of the world population of about 6.5 billion, 57 percent is malnourished, compared with 20 percent of a world population of 2.5 billion in 1950, said Pimentel. Malnutrition is not only the direct cause of 6 million children's deaths each year but also makes millions of people much more susceptible to such killers as acute respiratory infections, malaria and a host of other life-threatening diseases, according to the research. ..
(3 Aug 2007)

Sea Rise Seen Outpacing Forecasts Due To Antarctica

Alister Doyle, Reuters
A thaw of Antarctic ice is outpacing predictions by the UN climate panel and could in the worst case drive up world sea levels by 2 metres (6 ft) by 2100, a leading expert said on Wednesday.

Millions of people, from Bangladesh to Florida and some Pacific island states, live less than a metre above sea level. Most of the world's major cities, from Shanghai to Buenos Aires, are by the sea.

Chris Rapley, the outgoing head of the British Antarctic Survey, said there were worrying signs of accelerating flows of ice towards the ocean from both Antarctica and Greenland with little sign of more snow falling inland to compensate.

"The ice is moving faster both in Greenland and in the Antarctic than the glaciologists had believed would happen," Rapley told Reuters during a climate seminar in Ny Alesund on a Norwegian Arctic island 1,200 km from the North Pole.

"I think the realistic view is that we will be nearer a metre than the 40 cm" in sea level rise by 2100. The UN climate panel in February gave a likely range of 18 to 59 cm this century, for an average around 40 cm.
(23 August 2007)
Related from Universe News: Arctic Ice Coverage Will Shrink to 2050 Projections... This Summer.

Queensland government fast-tracks emergency water supply for worst case scenario

Staff, QBR Australia
Investigations into a range of emergency back-up supplies that could deliver up to $125ML of drinking water to south-east Queensland are being fast-tracked by the State Government, Deputy Premier Anna Bligh says.

Respected firms such as GE Water, Thiess, Worley Parsons and Sumitomo are among major companies to offer 28 emergency supply solutions that individually could provided on average up to 125ML of drinking water a day.

"To put that in perspective, south-east Queensland has been using about 550 million litres a day under Level 5 restrictions," Bligh says.

"We'll do whatever it takes — this Government will not let the south-east run out of water.

"In the event that SEQ worst-ever drought is not broken by the next wet season rains, the Government will act. That is why we are making the running now.

"We can anchor large-scale barges along the Brisbane River to pump desalinated water directly into the system. Or we can have water delivered by super-tankers.

"The projects will be shortlisted by the end of the month so we can have back-up supplies ready in the when they are needed."

As well as emergency plans, Ms Bligh said the Government is also fast-tracking investigations into expanding the Tugun Desalination Plant by up to an additional 47ML/day.

The Government is also now investigating proposals to supplement flows into the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project, up to an additional 40ML/day, involving the transfer of water from catchments not currently part of the scheme.
(20 Aug 2007)

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