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Global greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record levels in 2018-2019, the chief economist of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has told United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
“Global average greenhouse gas concentrations of CO2 (carbon dioxide) reached 405.5 parts per million in 2017 and continue to rise to record levels in 2018-2019,” Professor Pavel Kabat was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Friday.
“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 million to 5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.”
The past four years have been the warmest on record, with many high-impact weather events which bear the hallmarks of climate change. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The global average temperature is nearly 1 degree Celcius above the pre-industrial era, said Kabat in the WMO’s first ever briefing to the Security Council.
He noted that the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland, has put extreme weather, natural disasters, climate change and water crises as the top four existential threats in its Global Risks Report 2019.
These show significant interconnections with other shocks and impacts to peace and security and sustainable development, he said.
Research by the WMO and its partners and network of scientists shows that sea level rise is accelerating, as is the melting of polar ice sheets, posing an increasing existential threat to small island developing countries, said Kabat.
The shrinking of Arctic sea ice affects not just the local environment and indigenous peoples, but also influences weather patterns in the world’s populated regions. Glacier melt continues unchecked, with short-term impacts including increased flooding and a long-term threat to water supplies for many millions of people.
Ocean heat content is also at record levels, with far-reaching, lasting consequences for marine life, coral reefs and food security, he said.
Climate change has a multitude of security impacts, rolling back the gains in nutrition and access to food, heightening the risk of wildfires and exacerbating air quality challenges, increasing the potential for water conflict, leading to more internal displacement and migration, warned Kabat.
“It is increasingly regarded as a national security threat.”
He expressed the hope for closer collaboration and for the establishment of mechanisms for future briefings to the Security Council “to provide authoritative information for decision-making and support the diplomatic business of the council in areas appropriate to the understanding and analysis of peace and security threats.”
The WMO is honoured to support UN member states and the Security Council in the provision of top-quality information on weather, climate, water and environment-related threats to peace and security, he said.
Kabat said there is a need for a new political and investment paradigm to build a new generation of hydro-climate forecasting and early-warning services.
“This should become a component of basic country-infrastructure, like roads and bridges,” he said. (IANS)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)