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As Solar Booms, Utilities Look to Build New Business Models With Strategic Investments

           

Image credit: Flickr user 10 10

utilitydive.com - by Herman K. Trabish - March 14, 2017

Beyond simply contracting for solar, utilities are increasingly investing in the sector to ‘position themselves to be the utility of the future'

Solar energy is becoming a generation resource so ubiquitous that utilities are looking beyond simply contracting for new capacity and are increasingly moving into the sector themselves.

Solar added a record-breaking 14,762 MW of capacity in 2016, nearly doubling its 2015 growth. The resource added 39% of all new U.S. generation capacity in the year, making it the leader among all resources for the first time.

Growth was dominated by utility investment in 2016, a trend that’s expected to continue, according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

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Sperm Donated in Florida May Contain Zika, CDC Says

CLICK HERE - CDC identifies potential risk of Zika virus transmission since June 15, 2016, in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties

cnn.com - by Debra Goldschmidt - March 13, 2017

Sperm donated in three Florida counties since June 15 may be infected with the Zika virus, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned Monday.

"When semen is donated it can be stored frozen for periods of time. It does not necessarily inactivate Zika, so it could be stored in tissue banks, used subsequently and people should be made aware," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the US Food and Drug Administration. He went on to say having this information can help individuals make informed decisions and they "might want to use these donations from other sources."

Sources other than the 12 sperm banks in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties of Florida, that is.

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UN: World Facing Greatest Humanitarian Crisis Since 1945

           

The world is facing its largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, the United Nations says, issuing a plea for help to avoid "a catastrophe", BBC News reports.

CLICK HERE - UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR, STEPHEN O’BRIEN - STATEMENT TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON MISSIONS TO YEMEN, SOUTH SUDAN, SOMALIA AND KENYA AND AN UPDATE ON THE OSLO CONFERENCE ON NIGERIA AND THE LAKE CHAD REGION - March 10, 2017 (6 page .PDF file)

bbc.com - March 11, 2017

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien said that more than 20 million people faced the threat of starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.

Unicef has already warned 1.4m children could starve to death this year.

Mr O'Brien said $4.4bn (£3.6bn) was needed by July to avert disaster.

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Shell Sells Oil Sands Assets as Boss Warns on Clean Energy Challenge

           

An excavator at the Athabasca project near Fort McMurray in Alberta. Shell has cut its interest in the project as part of a retreat from tar sands. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Carbon-heavy assets offloaded for $8.5bn as company ties 10% of directors’ bonuses to how well it manages emissions

theguardian.com - March 9, 2017

Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell most of its carbon-heavy Canadian oil sands assets for $8.5bn (£7bn) as the chief executive warned that the industry risked losing public support without progress towards cleaner energy.

The world’s second largest publicly-traded oil company plans to increase its investment in renewable energy to $1bn (£800m) a year by the end of the decade, Ben van Beurden said on Thursday, although it is still a small part of its total annual spending of $25bn (£20.5bn). 

Shell also said that 10% of directors’ bonuses would be tied to how well it manages greenhouse gas emissions in refining, chemical and upstream operations.

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Researchers Sound Alarm Over Zika's Potentially Harmful Heart Effects

Small case report suggests Zika-linked birth defects may only be 'tip of the iceberg'

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Myocarditis, Heart Failure and Arrhythmias in Patients With Zika

eurekalert.org - American College of Cardiology - March 9, 2017

As the Zika virus continues to spread globally, new evidence has emerged about the virus's potentially detrimental effects on the heart, according to data scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

The study--the first to report Zika-related heart troubles following infection--included adult patients with no prior history of cardiovascular disease who were treated at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Caracas, Venezuela, one of the epicenters of the Zika virus outbreak. All but one patient developed a dangerous heart rhythm problem and two-thirds had evidence of heart failure, a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

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Will a New Glass Battery Accelerate the End of Oil?

John Goodenough, coinventor of the lithium-ion battery, heads a team of researchers developing the technology that could one day supplant it.  Photo: Cockrell School of Engineering

spectrum.ieee.org - by Mark Anderson - March 3, 2017

Electric car purchases have been on the rise lately, posting an estimated 60 percent growth rate last year. They’re poised for rapid adoption by 2022, when EVs are projected to cost the same as internal combustion cars. However, these estimates all presume the incumbent lithium-ion battery remains the go-to EV power source. So, when researchers this week at the University of Texas at Austin unveiled a new, promising lithium- or sodium-glass battery technology, it threatened to accelerate even rosy projections for battery-powered cars.

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Polluted Environments Kill 1.7 Million Children a Year: WHO

           

Children look for plastic bottles at the polluted Bagmati River in Kathmandu March 22, 2013. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

CLICK HERE - WHO - News Release - The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year, says WHO

reuters.com - (Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Jeremy Gaunt) - March 5, 2017

A quarter of all global deaths of children under five are due to unhealthy or polluted environments including dirty water and air, second-hand smoke and a lack or adequate hygiene, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

Such unsanitary and polluted environments can lead to fatal cases of diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia, the WHO said in a report, and kill 1.7 million children a year.

"A polluted environment is a deadly one -– particularly for young children," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. "Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water."

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United States at Risk for Yellow Fever From Brazil Outbreak

Quote by Drs. Anthony S. Fauci and Catharine I. Paules. Credit: NIAID

CLICK HERE - NEJM - Yellow Fever — Once Again on the Radar Screen in the Americas

medscape.com - by Janis C. Kelly - March 8, 2017

Yellow fever could become the 5th mosquito-borne virus to hit the United States in recent years, according to experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland.

An on-going outbreak in rural areas of Brazil has so far not involved human-to-human transmission through Aedes aegypti mosquitoes but has been spread via nonhuman forest-dwelling primates, write Infectious Disease Fellow Catharine I. Paules, MD, and NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, in an article published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, the outbreak is near major urban areas, where yellow fever vaccine is not routinely given and might readily lead to urban human-to-human transmission.

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Genomics Reveal Surprises About Florida Zika Outbreak

medscape.com - Damian McNamara - March 4, 2017

CLICK HERE - bioRXiv - Multiple introductions of Zika virus into the United States revealed through genomic epidemiology

CLICK HERE - PUBLICATIONS - Kristian G Andersen - The Scripps Research Institute - Genomics, Evolution, Immunology, Infectious diseases

LA JOLLA, California — The Zika virus outbreak in the United States in 2016 was caused by multiple infected travelers arriving in South Florida, not by a single "patient zero," genomic research has revealed.

Reporting here at the 10th Future of Genomic Medicine Conference, Kristian Andersen, PhD, from Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, and his team identified four different "introductions" of the Zika virus during the outbreak using genomic sequencing by testing samples from 17 people.

Extrapolating this to the total number of infected people, "the number of introductions that caused the outbreak in Miami is quite substantial," maybe on the order of 30, he explained.

Genomic sequencing of the virus from mosquitos and patients also revealed that Caribbean travelers were the primary means of introduction.

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Forbidding Forecast For Lyme Disease In The Northeast

White-footed mice are efficient transmitters of Lyme disease in the Northeast. They infect up to 95 percent of the ticks that feed on them. But it's people who create the conditions for Lyme outbreaks by building homes in the animals' habitat. Stephen Reiss/for NPR

Image: White-footed mice are efficient transmitters of Lyme disease in the Northeast. They infect up to 95 percent of the ticks that feed on them. But it's people who create the conditions for Lyme outbreaks by building homes in the animals' habitat. Stephen Reiss/for NPR

npr.org - March 6th 2017 - Michaeleen Doucleff, Jane Greenhalgh

Last summer Felicia Keesing returned from a long trip and found that her home in upstate New York had been subjected to an invasion.

"There was evidence of mice everywhere. They had completely taken over," says Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College.

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