12 Tweets Worth Noting on GOP Debate on Climate and Renewables
The GOP presidential debate last night took place at the University of Colorado Boulder. The theme of the debate was the economy, and it was moderated by CNBC. Just as with the previous debates, this one was criticized by environmentalists for not focusing enough on climate issues. Specifically, many on Twitter criticized the candidates for not discussing the huge economic impacts of climate change.
“Unchecked climate change will devastate our economy. Full stop," said Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate. "The Republican candidates haven’t presented a plan to address climate change—and so those candidates still aren't ready to be president. The next president simply cannot stand by as climate change hurts our economy, kills jobs and increases costs for American families.”
In the main debate, Chris Christie at least mentioned climate change and "broke the Republican field’s silence on clean energy by talking about the jobs wind and solar create in Iowa and across the nation," as the Sierra Club put it. Christie said he wants to see more investments in renewables from the private sector.
"We worked with the private sector to make solar affordable and available to businesses and individuals in our state," he said. "That's the way we deal with global warming—not through government intervention, not through government taxes, and for God's sake, don't send Washington another dime until they stop wasting the money they are already sending now." Christie also said he was interested in other energy sources, like oil, natural gas and wind.
In the earlier debate, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former New York Gov. George Pataki both criticized their party for denying the science on climate change. Graham was asked by moderator Carl Quintanilla if he is "in the wrong party's debate" because of his views on climate change.
See what the senator has to say (question begins 50 seconds in):
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Pataki also fielded a question about his views on climate change. He started off by saying, "One of the things that troubles me about the Republican party is too often we challenge science that everyone accepts."
FactCheck did take issue with one of Pataki's claims, though. Pataki said, "There’s one country in the world that has fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the rest of the world. You know what that is? The United States. Our emissions are lower than they were in 1995."
Pataki said that the U.S. is the only country to have reduced its CO2 emissions since 1995. That’s not true—other countries, particularly in Europe, have reduced their emissions over the same time period, some by a greater margin than the U.S.
A spokesman for Pataki clarified in an email that he meant that “the U.S. is the only country in the world that actually emits less carbon than it did in 1995.”
The U.S. has reduced its CO2 emissions since 1995; according to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. emissions were about 5.32 billion metric tons in 1995, and 5.27 billion metric tons in 2012, the latest year with available data. But other countries have also seen CO2 emissions drop over that period.
For example, France’s emissions were about 373 million metric tons in 1995, and that fell to 365 million in 2012. Germany’s emissions fell from 891 million metric tons in 1995 to 788 million in 2012, a greater drop than the 50 million seen in the U.S. Italy, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and several other countries also saw emissions drop.
Because Huckabee is a minister who often speaks about the economy, and most other issues, as a moral issue, many on Twitter took digs at the former governor for not seeing climate change as a moral issue:
Bernie Sanders had this to say last night about the GOP rejecting climate science.
Many conservatives are making a strong case for climate action. Last month, 11 Republican members of Congress, led by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY), introduced a resolution that put the climate challenge in a broader context of conservation, stewardship, innovation and conservatism. And recent polling from three prominent Republican pollsters shows that a majority of Republicans want climate action and support renewable energy.
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When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
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(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
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