The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Mysterious Lung Disease in China
By Gudrun Heise
With an unknown lung disease apparently spreading in China, could there be a new outbreak akin to SARS? Not necessarily. Authorities have yet to identify it. And many respiratory illnesses are caused by viruses.
SARS stands for "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome." It is one of the most dangerous, recent diseases, which is often fatal. The first cases were diagnosed in 2002 in China and it spread from there. Experts say that was due in part to the rate of modern tourism and travel in general. More than 8,000 people contracted SARS across 30 countries, and about 1,000 people died. But until that outbreak SARS was an unknown illness. Studies showed that it was a Coronavirus. Researchers think the virus spread from animals to humans.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was discovered in 2012. As with SARS, MERS is a type of Coronavirus. A Coronavirus can infect animals and humans. In humans, MERS mainly affects the respiratory system. The initial symptoms are similar to those of influenza — coughing, fever and shortness of breath. Later, patients can develop a lung infection and even kidney failure. But the illness can present itself and develop in different ways, depending on the patient, and can sometimes be fatal, as in 2015 in South Korea and China.
MERS is most common on the Arabian Peninsula, from where it gets its name. Studies suggest that it's often been spread from camels to humans. There is no vaccine against MERS or any other form of treatment.
Commonly called "bird flu," avian influenza is caused by the H5N2 virus, but there are variations of it. The "H" stands for hemagglutinin, a protein which helps the virus dock onto cells in a respiratory system. The "N" stands for neuraminidase. The virus needs a form of neuraminidase to reproduce itself and spread in an infected body. Bird flu often spreads in wild geese, but it can also spread on common poultry farms. In those cases, most of the affected birds die from the virus. The infection is caused by a range of viruses, including the influenza A virus.
Most types of bird flu do not affect humans. The only types that have so far been shown to spread from birds to humans are H5N1 and H7N9. Those two types can cause serious infections in humans and can be spread by infected birds. It has not been shown to spread from human to human. Humans can become infected through close contact with infected birds.
But all these viruses change and mutate constantly and that makes them even more dangerous.
Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of lung infection. Symptoms include coughing, shivering, headache and high fever. In very bad cases, it can cause a patient to become confused or disorientated.
It is said the disease is spread via air conditioning systems, which distribute the bacteria. It is not transmitted from human to human.
Legionellosis was first discovered at a meeting of war veterans, the "American Legion," hence its name. The meeting was held in Philadelphia, where a number of the attendees became sick with an unknown lung illness. Two weeks after the meeting, further cases were diagnosed. In total 221 men were infected and 34 of them died. It was later determined that a bacteria known as legionella pneumophila was found in the air conditioning of a hotel and is said to have caused the outbreak.
But unhygienic water systems, such as showers in bathrooms, can also transmit the disease. Legionnaires' disease is found around the world. It is especially dangerous for people with weak immune systems. It is treated with antibiotics.
Reposted with permission from DW.
- When the Illness Is a Mystery, Patients Turn to These Detectives ... ›
- A mystery disease hits Norway's dogs - CNN ›
- A mysterious disease is striking American beech trees | Science ... ›
- China outbreak: A mysterious pneumonia is spreading in a major ... ›
- China Grapples With Mystery Pneumonia-Like Illness - The New ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- New Clues Help Monarch Butterfly Conservation Efforts - EcoWatch ›
- Monarch Butterflies Will Be Protected Under Historic Deal - EcoWatch ›
California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.
- Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use Sign of Climate ... ›
- California Faces a Future of Extreme Weather - EcoWatch ›
Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
- 14 Countries Commit to Ocean Sustainability Initiative - EcoWatch ›
- These 11 Innovations Are Protecting Ocean Life - EcoWatch ›
- How Innovation Is Driving the Blue Economy - EcoWatch ›