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A Post-Antibiotic Future Is Looming ( 135

New submitter radaos writes: A gene enabling resistance to polymyxins, the antibiotics of last resort, has been found to be widespread in pigs and already present in some hospital patients. The research, from South China Agricultural University, has been published in The Lancet. According to research Jian-Hua Liu, "Our results reveal the emergence of the first polymyxin resistance gene that is readily passed between common bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Klesbsiella pneumoniae, suggesting that the progression from extensive drug resistance to pandrug resistance is inevitable." Work on alternatives is progressing — Dr. Richard James, former director of the University of Nottingham's center for healthcare associated infections, writes, "Until last month I was still pessimistic about our chances of avoiding the antibiotics nightmare. But that changed when I attended a workshop in Beijing on a new approach to antibiotic development based on bacteriocins – protein antibiotics produced by bacteria to kill closely related species, and exquisitely narrow-spectrum."

This October Was the Hottest Ever Measured ( 369

GregLaden writes: Scientists track the global surface temperature, an average of readings from thermometers at approximately head height, and an estimate of sea surface temperatures, in order to track global warming. Over the last year or so we have been seeing many record-breaking months. Now, both the Japan Meteorological Agency and NASA have identified October as an extraordinary month. October 2016 is significantly warmer than any other in the NASA record, which goes back to 1880.

Value of University Degree Continues To Decline ( 393

BarbaraHudson writes: Following up from an earlier report from Statistics Canada (pdf), the Parliamentary Budget Officer warns that an increasing number of university graduates are overqualified for their jobs. The CBC reports: "Last year, 40 per cent of university graduates aged 25-34 were overqualified for their job. Five years ago, that percentage was only 36 per cent. In 1991, it hit a low of 32 per cent, or less than one out of every three university graduates. The problem is bigger than that, because those young workers spent money, time, and resources to get those qualifications.

With Respect To Gaming, Android Still Lags Behind iOS ( 166

An anonymous reader writes: No matter what you think about the Android/iOS divide from either a hardware or software perspective, there's simply no getting around the fact that many developers still take an iOS-first approach with respect to app development. With games, where development costs are already sky-high, the dynamic is even more pronounced. For instance, one of the most addictive, successful, and highly rated apps currently available on the App Store is a great snowboarding game called Alto's Adventure. It was originally released this past February for the iPhone and iPad (and now the Apple TV). Still today, nine months after its initial release, an Android version of the app remains non-existent. Now if you're an Android user who happens to enjoy mobile gaming, it's easy to see how this dynamic playing out over and over again can quickly become an endless source of frustration.

Global Temperature Set To Reach 1 Degree C Over Pre-Industrial Levels ( 735

Layzej writes: Based on data from January to September, the HadCRUT dataset shows 2015 global mean temperature at 1.02 degrees C (±0.11 degrees C) above pre-industrial levels for the first time. The Copenhagen Accord recognizes "the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius (PDF)." Physicist Ken Rice points out that the next degree Celsius may be closer than we think. "It's taken us about 160 years to warm by about 1 degree C. This is associated with emissions of about 550GtC (550 billion tonnes of carbon, or ~2000 billion tonnes of CO2). Current emissions are around 10GtC/year. If we continue emitting as we are, we will double our cumulative emissions in about 50 years. If we continue to increase our emissions, it will be even sooner.

Persian Gulf Temperatures May Be At the Edge of Human Tolerance In 30 Years ( 488

An anonymous reader writes: According to a new climate study the Persian Gulf may become so hot and humid in the next 30 years that it will reach the threshold of human survivability. Ars reports: "Existing climate models have shown that a global temperature increase to the threshold of human survivability would be reached in some regions of the globe at a point in the distant future. However, a new paper published by Jeremy Pal and Elfatih Eltahir in Nature Climate Change presents evidence that this deadly combination of heat and humidity increases could occur in the Persian Gulf much earlier than previously anticipated."

Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline ( 369

An anonymous reader writes: The Keystone XL pipeline controversy is finally coming to a close. On Friday, President Obama denied a construction permit for the pipeline, ending a seven-year political fight. Obama said, "America's now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that's the biggest risk we face — not acting." Secretary of State John Kerry added, "The reality is that this decision could not be made solely on the numbers — jobs that would be created, dirty fuel that would be transported here, or carbon pollution that would ultimately be unleashed. The United States cannot ask other nations to make tough choices to address climate change if we are unwilling to make them ourselves." The decision comes as no surprise to the oil industry, and they've been busily working on other ways to transport the oil. "U.S. imports of oil from Canada hit a record high of 3.4 million barrels a day in August, up from just under 2 million barrels a day in 2008, the year the pipeline was proposed."

Forecasting the Economic Impact of a Changing Climate ( 249

An anonymous reader writes: Academic research has been busily trying to pin down how a changing climate will affect our planet over the long- and short-term. But a new study in the journal Nature attempts to forecast not the changes in weather, but the changes in our economy as a result of climate change. "The study (abstract) finds that climate change can be expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23 percent by the year 2100. This study is important because it solves a problem that has existed in prior models of climate change effects on economics: discrepancies between macro and micro level observations." Notably, the paper provides evidence that regional economies can be linked to global climate effects. "This modeling allowed them to examine whether country-specific deviations from growth trends were related to country-specific differences in temperature and precipitation trends, while accounting for any global shifts that would be experienced to affect all countries."
United States

US Law Can't Keep Up With Technology -- and Why That's a Good Thing ( 187 writes: In the 1910s, the number of cars in the US exploded from 200,000 to 2.5 million. The newfangled machines scared horses and ran over pedestrians, but by the time government could pass the very first traffic law, it was too late to stop them. Now Kevin Matley writes in Newsweek that thanks to political gridlock in the US, lawmakers respond to innovations with all the speed of continental drift. New technologies spread almost instantly and take hold with almost no legal oversight. According to Matley, this is terrific for tech startups, especially those aimed at demolishing creaky old norms—like taxis, or flight paths over crowded airspace, or money. "Drone aircraft are suddenly filling the sky, and a whole multibillion-dollar industry of drone making and drone services has taken hold," says Matley. "If the FAA had been either farsighted or fast moving, at the first sign of drones it might've outlawed them or confined them to someplace like Oklahoma where they can't get in the way of anything too important. But now the FAA is forced to accommodate drones, not the other way around." Bitcoin is another example of a technology that's too late to stop. "But have you heard the word bitcoin uttered once in any of the presidential debates? Government doesn't even understand bitcoin, and that's been really good for it." Uber and Airbnb show how to execute this outrun-the-government strategy. By the time cities understood what those companies were doing, it was too late to block or seriously limit them.

Bumblebees Used For Targeted Pesticide Deliveries ( 23

Zothecula writes: Chemical pesticides are generally a bad thing for the environment and pollinators like bees that our agriculture relies on. Now a company out of Vancouver, Canada, called Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) has brought the two together in a system that uses bees to deliver tiny amounts of natural pesticides and beneficial fungi while pollinating crops.

Technology's Role In a Climate Solution ( 173

Lasrick writes: If the world is to avoid severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts (PDF), carbon emissions must decrease quickly. Achieving such cuts, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, depends in part on the availability of "key technologies." But arguments abound against faith in technological solutions to the climate problem. Electricity grids may be ill equipped to accommodate renewable energy produced on a massive scale. Many technological innovations touted in the past have failed to achieve practical success. Even successful technologies will do little good if they mature too late to help avert climate disaster. In this debate in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, experts from India, the United States, and Bangladesh address the following questions: To what extent can the world depend on technological innovation to address climate change? And what promising technologies—in generating, storing, and saving energy, and in storing greenhouse gases or removing them from the atmosphere—show most potential to help the world come to terms with global warming?

US Toddlers Involved In Shootings On a Weekly Basis ( 822

New submitter fremsley471 writes with this story by Christopher Ingraham about shooting accidents involving children 3 and under in The United States. There were at least 43 cases this year of shootings involving a toddler. The Washington Post reports: "This week a 2-year-old in South Carolina found a gun in the back seat of the car he was riding in and accidentally shot his grandmother, who was sitting in the passenger seat. This type of thing happens from time to time: a little kid finds a gun, fires it, and hurts or kills himself or someone else. These cases rarely bubble up to the national level except when someone, like a parent, ends up dead. But cases like this happen a lot more frequently than you might think. Briefly sifting through news reports found at least 43 instances this year of somebody being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself."
United States

2016 Election Cycle Led By Billionaire Donors 370

Nicola Hahn writes: The pluralist stance of American politics contends that true power in the United States has been constitutionally vested in "the people" through mechanisms like the electoral process, freedom of speech, and the ability to establish political parties. The traditional view is that these aspects of our political system result in a broad distribution of power that prevents any one faction from gaining an inordinate amount of influence. And today the New York Times has revealed the shortcomings of this narrative by publishing the names of the 158 wealthy families that have donated almost half of the money spent towards the 2016 presidential race. This group of donors is primarily Republican and is dominated by interests in the banking industry. These facts lend credence to the idea that national policy making is influenced heavily by a relatively small group of people. That the American body politic is largely controlled by a deep state.

Foam-Eating Worms May Offer Solution To Mounting Waste 90

ckwu writes: Polystyrene foams—including products like Styrofoam—are rarely recycled, and the materials biodegrade so slowly that they can sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. But a pair of new studies shows that mealworms will dine on polystyrene foam when they can't get a better meal, converting almost half of what they eat into carbon dioxide. In one study, the researchers fed mealworms polystyrene foam and found that the critters converted about 48% of the carbon they ate into carbon dioxide and excreted 49% in their feces. In the second study, the researchers showed that bacteria in the mealworms' guts were responsible for breaking down the polystyrene--suggesting that engineering bacteria might be a strategy for boosting the reported biodegradation.

Uber Raided By Dutch Authorities, Seen As 'Criminal Organization' 471

An anonymous reader writes: Uber offices in Amsterdam have been raided by Dutch authorities, as reported by several local media sources (Google translation of original in Dutch). This follows intimidatory deterrence practices earlier in The Netherlands, with Uber drivers being fined in the past months, and fresh allegations that the company would act as a "criminal organization" by offering a platform for taxi rides without license (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice). Time for tech companies to consider moving their European offices elsewhere? Uber's lawyers must be incredibly busy. Proposed regulations in London would effectively end the company's service there, while the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he would ban Uber's operations outright. They're receiving mixed messages from Australia — just a day after running afoul of regulations in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is moving to legalize it.

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