Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Warming Climate May Produce More Drug-Resistant Infections

A person’s chances of acquiring a drug-resistant infection may be higher if she lives in a warmer area.
MRSA bacteria, colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM).
A study appearing today in Nature Climate Change from researchers at the University of Toronto (U.T.) and Boston Children’s Hospital links the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria to a hotter climate. Researchers found a 10-degree Celsius increase in daily minimum temperature was associated with a small increase in resistance in common pathogens, including those that develop into methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the root of many persistent and sometimes deadly hospital infections. “This is a very important and timely study stemming from meticulously collected and arranged records of antibiotic resistance,” says Elena Naumova, an epidemiologist at Tufts University who was not involved in the work. “What’s great about this study is that they really broaden the concept of antibiotic-resistance patterns.”

Scientists have long observed bacteria in the laboratory grow and reproduce more quickly at warmer temperatures. And increased growth can cause a hike in resistant strains when DNA mutations crop up during reproduction. Bacteria can also swap DNA with one another and spread resistance via a process called horizontal gene transfer, which also increases at higher temperatures. Now scientists are asking if this phenomenon also occurs outside the laboratory.

Read the story by Monique Brouillette from Scientific American - “A Warming Climate May Produce More Drug-Resistant Infections.”

Trump Administration Joins Fossil Fuel Companies in Climate Fight Against Cities

Just before a critical hearing to determine the fate of a pair of climate lawsuits in California, the United States government has weighed in as a heavyweight ally on the side of the fossil fuel companies.

San Francisco and Oakland have sued five major
 oil and gas companies in an attempt to
hold fossil fuel producers accountable for the
 effects of climate change. Lawyers for the Trump
administration have now filed a brief in support of the
companies' efforts to have these cases dismissed
Lawyers from the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division filed a friend of the court brief last week in support of five of the world's largest oil and gas companies, which are seeking to have lawsuits by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland dismissed.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup is scheduled to hear arguments on Thursday on a motion by the companies to throw out the cases.

Federal lawyers argue in their brief that if the two lawsuits succeed, it could stymie domestic and international energy production.

Read the story by David Hasemyer from Inside Climate News - “Trump Administration Joins Fossil Fuel Companies in Climate Fight Against Cities.”

Coalition signals competition law changes to deal with energy market concentration

The Turnbull government is signalling changes to the competition law to deal with market concentration in the energy sector.
 Josh Frydenberg is waiting on advice from the Australian
 Competition and Consumer Commission about electricity
prices and market dynamics 
The move comes as the energy market operator reports that the national energy grid maintained high levels of reliability over the summer, despite a number of heatwaves, and there were no supply interruptions due to insufficient generation.

After a discussion in the Coalition party room on Tuesday where a backbencher advocated a change in the competition law to stop companies providing essential services from acting uncompetitively, the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, said he was “worried” about the current level of concentration of ownership in the energy market “and what that means for consumers”.

Read the story from The Guardian by Katharine Murphy - “Coalition signals competition law changes to deal with energy market concentration.”

Costly backup power saved east coast from blackouts, AEMO reports say

The east coast of Australia avoided a blackout last summer because companies cut their power usage at critical times, with the operator of the electricity network now calling for more control over the way large companies use power during future heatwaves.
A heatwave pushed the electricity network to its limits,
with blackout only avoided by triggering the RERT.
Two reports released by the Australian Energy Market Operator on Wednesday show the regulator believes there would have been blackouts last summer in South Australia and Victoria but was saved by triggering backup power mechanism called the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT).

Read Cole Latimer’s story from The Age - “Costly backup power saved east coast from blackouts, AEMO reports say.”

New York to end all coal-fired power by 2020

New York State has proposed strict new carbon dioxide standards which will lead to coal plants having to change the way they operate, or close down.
New York intends to end all coal-fired power by 2020.
New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, made the announcement last week, calling coal “a relic of the past”.

The move forms part of Governor Cuomo’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 40 percent by 2030. It also follows through on a pledge he made in 2016 to restrict coal use across the state.

Read the ClimateAction story - “New York to end all coal-fired power by 2020.”

GOP lawmaker says rocks falling into ocean to blame for rising sea levels

A Republican lawmaker on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee said Thursday that rocks from the White Cliffs of Dover and the California coastline, as well as silt from rivers tumbling into the ocean, are contributing to high sea levels globally.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) made the comment during a hearing on technology and the changing climate, which largely turned into a Q&A on the basics of climate research.

Climate scientist Philip Duffy testified before the panel, addressing lawmakers’ questions about climate change, according to E&E News.

"The rate of global sea-level rise has accelerated and is now four times faster than it was 100 years ago," Duffy told the panel.

Read the story by Avery Anapol from The Hill - “GOP lawmaker says rocks falling into ocean to blame for rising sea levels.”