Newsletter 206


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Newsletter 206

  1. 1. SOUTH AMERICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND HEALTH NEWSLETTER206 t h issue, September 10, 2012 Whats Next for the Green Climate Fund? By Louise Brown/Athina Ballesteros In this issue: This past week, the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) met for the first time. This was an important  Climate Change: What’s Next milestone around the goal of increasing financial support to help developing countries mitigate and adapt for the Green Climate Fund? to climate change. Expectations are high for the Fund, officially established at the 2011 Durban climate  Health: Scientists Discover a talks. It’s positioned to become the main global channel for climate finance, expected to reach $100 New Anti-Carcinogen and Anti billion per year by 2020. -Metastasis Molecule.  Science: NASA Builds Your Sentiments from Last Week’s Meetings. There was an atmosphere of excitement at last week’s meetings Own Private Satellite. in Geneva, which brought together a group of 24-countries and their alternates, charged with improving  Science: Curiosity’s Pit Crew Readies the Rover for Mount the mobilization of climate finance. The meeting itself focused largely on procedural actions, including Sharp. the election of the two co-chairs.  Oceans: Past Tropical Climate Change Linked to As Mr. Zaheer Fakir of South Africa, Co-Chair of the Board, said in a press statement: “Our task as the Ocean Circulation. Board is to turn these agreements into implementable actions that can transform the livelihoods of  A Dream Realized people responding to the impacts of climate change.”  Climate Change: UNFCC Parties Hope Bangkok’s Mr. Ewen McDonald of Australia, Co-Chair of the Board, concurred, saying, “… the Fund will help Summer Sun Can Thaw Deep Divisions Sown in Bonn. developing countries take action on climate change and grow their economies in a sustainable way, which will benefit millions of people around the world.” Key Issues the GCF Board Needs to Address. Beyond establishing the co-Chairs, the first meeting left Next events: open several important questions and issues focused on making the Fund operational, including the location of the Fund, creating a work plan for the coming year, and of October 15, 2012 course, actually operationalizing the mobilization of resources. Global Handwashing Day October 31-November3, 2012, The following are several key issues that the Board will need to Maryland-U.S. address in the days and weeks to come, such as maintaining an Summit on the Science of Eliminating Health Disparities, inclusive and participatory process, picking an executive director, U.S.A. developing a plan, establish operational processes. Many of these summit_site/registration.html October, 2012 issues will likely be taken up at the next meeting of the Board in Korea COBER in October and again at the U.N. climate change conference in Doha November 12-15, 2012, Israel later this year. Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Urgent Action Needed. There has been much anticipation for the Desertification: Implementing Rio+20 for Drylands and GCF, and the need for a functional Fund is urgent. Ultimately the Desertification Board – and the Fund itself — will be judged on outcomes, not http:// processes. It needs to move decisively to prove that it can resources—and do so in a way that is transparent and participatory. November 12-16, 2012, Switzerland As developing countries face the challenges of climate change, the Meeting of the Parties to the eyes of the world will be watching to see if the Fund can truly begin to Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer mobilize resources for those in need. (MOP 24) new_site/en/ Read more at: historical_meetings.php?in... Photo by Kepler Verduga-Hilzinger (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License. The information contained herein was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental HUB Office or of our constituent posts. Addressees interested in sharing any ESTH-related events of USG interest are welcome to do so. For questions or comments, please contact us at * Free translation prepared by REO staff.
  2. 2. HEALTH: Scientists Discover a New Anti-Carcinogen and Anti-Metastasis Molecule*An international team of researchers have just found a new anti-cancer and anti-metastasis molecule, that opens the door to new alternative therapies to fight cancer.This molecule called “Liminib” prevents the mobilization and multiplication of cancercells, particularly those resistant to chemotherapy, said the French National Centre forScientific Research.Liminib is the result of more than ten years of work, where more than 30,000 mole-cules were tested. Its main characteristic is that it is a kinase inhibitor or KIM enzyme,whose presence in excess in invasive cancers helps cell multiplication and cancerpropagation.This enzyme regulates the dynamics of cell internal structure, made up of a net of fi- Photo by Andrés Pérez (flickr). Under Creative Commons License.bers, whose filaments allow its mobilization and reproduction. Liminib stabilizes andblocks that net of fibers, preventing its multiplication.Results of a pilot study performed on mice are “encouraging” according to this research center, that took part in this finding alongwith other French organizations and scientists from Australia and the United Kingdom.In this study, it was verified “a good efficacy and also a good tolerance” by animals treated.Read more: NASA Builds Your Own Private Satellite — With Google Android By Klint FinleyWhat would you do with your own private satellite? If you haven’t decided, you should. PhoneSat — a project overseen by NASA’sAmes Research Center in Silicon Valley — wants to lower the cost of building space satellites to the point where anyone with spaceambitions could launch one.Yes, it’s a satellite made from a phone. The not-so-secret ingredient is Google’s Android mobile operating system. As NASA pointsout in announcing PhoneSat, smartphones already have many of the features that a satellite needs, including fast processors, built-in cameras, and a variety of sensors. So why build a custom system for scratch when a common Android phone will do?The project is part of a larger effort to build dirt-cheap satellites for the masses. As NASA builds its PhoneSat, a startup called NanoSatisfi is building a satellite designed to be programmed by the world at large, and an outfit called Southern Stars hopes tolaunched a satellite called SkyCube, which will let you instantly grab space photos from your mobile phone down here on Earth.The first version of NASA’s satellite — PhoneSat 1.0 — costs about $3,500 to build. It’s a coffee-cup-sized cube designed to with-stand cosmic radiation, containing an HTC Nexus One phone running the Android operating system, an external radio beacon, ex- ternal bateries, and a circuit that will reboot the phone if it stops trans- mitting data — all off-the-shelf commercial parts. It has been tested under various adverse conditions, such as “thermal- vacuum chambers, vibration and shock tables, sub-orbital rocket flights and high-altitude balloons.” The plan is to launch this month with the modest goal of staying alive long enough to send a few photos back to Earth. The next version, PhoneSats 2.0, will use newer Samsung Nexus S phones and include a two-way radio system that will enable researchers to control the satellite from Earth. Other enhancements include solar panels and magnetorquer coils. Read more at: Android powered PhoneStat during a high-altitude balloon test. It’sonly about the size of a coffee cup. Photo: NASA Ames Research Center.
  3. 3. SCIENCE: Curiositys Pit Crew Readies the Rover for Mount Sharp By Dave KlinglerThree weeks after landing, Curiositys engineering team has figured out how to squeeze more surprises and more bandwidth out ofthe rover while wrapping up a very long list of checkout tasks. A few items remain, but for the most part, the rover is ready to forgea two-year trail up into the foothills of Mt. Sharp.A voice from the darkness. An interesting thing occurred to the Curiosity engineering team while they were testing what has devel-oped into a Mars orbital communications network. They needed some data to test the system, so why not relay a human voice?On Monday afternoon, Dave Lavery, the MSL program executive, played back a recording of Charlie Boldens voice, which becamethe first human voice transmission from another planet. Relayed up to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter via UHF and then toNASAs Deep Space Network via X-band, Boldens packetized voice made its way through space with remarkable clarity, about 4Mbof data. Not surprisingly, Boldens message was primarily one of congratulations.The distance from Mars to Earth can be up to 400 million kilometers, which can make Curiositys 15-watt transmitter rather diffi-cult to pick up with the NASA Deep Space Network. Direct transmissions from Curiositys UHF radio to Earth can achieve only about1,000bps, at most.This makes a good argument for taking advantage ofthe bandwidth available from the three Mars orbiters Astronaut Neil Armstrong: 1930–2012overhead. The engineering team has been working toclosely characterize the transmission network, whichconsists of three spacecraft—Mars Odyssey, Mars Re-connaissance Orbiter, and the European Space AgencysMars Express—in an effort to get the highest transmis-sion speeds possible. [...]To infinity and roughly 10 percent beyond. The biggeststrain on the data network will be the photos being sentdown. To make sure these are the highest quality possi-ble, an engineering team has been working on gettingthe rovers cameras optimized.All of Curiositys cameras, barring MARDI (the down-ward-looking descent camera), are autofocusing. Beforethe spacecraft was readied for departure, Curiositysengineering team attempted to calibrate the rovers Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 mission that touched down on the moon on July 20, 1969, died August 25. He was 82.cameras correctly for infinity. [...] Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, was launched July 16, 1969. OnMethane! Oops, er, never mind… The biggest reason July 20, 1969, Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon.for determining the amount of methane in the Martianatmosphere is to determine its origin. After all, on “I thought we had a 90 percent chance of getting back safely to Earth on thatEarth, a lot of methane comes from the presence of life. flight, “ Armstrong said later, “but only a 50-50 chance of making a successfulOn Mars, determining the exact amounts and origin of landing on the first attempt.”methane in the Martian atmosphere ties into Curiositys Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” fulfilled a goal first set by President John F.primary mission of determining whether life is present. Kennedy in May 1961, and fleshed out in a speech on September 12, 1962. In theRecent experiments have reopened the question of September speech, Kennedy said the United States, before the end of the decade,whether the Viking landers discovered evidence of mi- would land a manned mission on the moon and bring the crew back. “[O]urcrobial life in the Martian soil, making Curiositys soil leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, ourand atmospheric tests (and those of the future ExoMars obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, toatmospheric probe) even more important. solve those mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading spacefaring nation,” Kennedy said.Read more: In the photo above, Armstrong waving in front, heads for the van that will take the Apollo 11 crew to the rocket for launch to the moon on July 16, 1969.First photos sent by Curiosity: alidad /1461 899/ noticia -fotos-curios ity-ma nd o-es tas- R e a d more: inbrief/2012/08/20120826135118.html#ixzz24xnxKzMn
  4. 4. OCEANS: Past Tropical Climate Unveils 10-Year Environmental StrategyCLIMATE CHANGE: World Bank Change Linked to Ocean Circulation By Lisa FriedmanA new record of past temperature change in the tropical Atlantic Oceans subsurface providesclues as to why the Earths climate is so sensitive to ocean circulation patterns, according toclimate scientists at Texas A&M University.Geological oceanographer Matthew Schmidt and two of his graduate students teamed up withPing Chang, a physical oceanographer and climate modeler, to help uncover an important cli-mate connection between the tropics and the high latitude North Atlantic. Their new findingsare in the current issue of PNAS.The researchers used geochemical clues in fossils called foraminifera, tiny sea creatures with a Photo by Temari09 (flickr user). Underhard shell, collected from a sediment core located off the northern coast of Venezuela, to gen- Creative Commons License.erate a 22,000-year record of past ocean temperature and salinity changes in the upper 1,500feet of water in the western tropical Atlantic. They also conducted global climate model simulations under the past climate condi-tion to interpret this new observational record in the context of changes in the strength of the global ocean conveyor-belt circula-tion."What we found was that subsurface temperatures in the western tropical Atlantic rapidly warmed during cold periods in Earthspast," Schmidt explains. "Together with our new modeling experiments, we think this is evidence that when the global conveyorslowed down during cold periods in the past, warm subsurface waters that are normally trapped in the subtropical North Atlanticflowed southward and rapidly warmed the deep tropics. When the tropics warmed, it altered climate patterns around the globe."He notes that as an example, if ocean temperatures were to warm along the west coast of Africa, the monsoon rainfall in that re-gion would be dramatically reduced, affecting millions of people living in sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers also point out thatthe southward flow of ocean heat during cold periods in the North Atlantic also causes the band of rainfall in the tropics known asthe Intertropical Convergence Zone to migrate southward, resulting in much drier conditions in northern South American countriesand a wetter South Atlantic.Read full article at: Dream Realized (In Memory of Neil Armstrong) By Indran Amirthanayagam On July 21, 1969, when Neil in white suits hopping from stands in Mexico City, Armstrong stepped out to walk through the weightless air, at the end of the decade in the Sea of Tranquility, inscribed in memory, which began with Kennedy’s two weeks after the Stones jumping up and shouting promise, six years after King played Hyde Park, I was in glee with hundreds spoke his dream, so many a new kid in the metropolis at Mission Control, large events in American from far away Ceylon, the sheer, amazing landscapes, but here seated for the first time effrontery, to have beyond the shining sea, before a television, realized the dream a year the world tuned in live, seeing black and white after Smith and Carlos in wonder united, to walk images of the moon, were stripped of medals with Neil for a moment Aldrin and Armstrong raising fists against prejudice in fellowship and enterprise.
  5. 5. Climate Change: UNFCCC Parties Hope Bangkok’s Summer Sun Can Thaw Deep DivisionsSown in BonnNine months on from what was billed as a ‘historic’ Durban Platform agreement, the UN climate change talks look in danger ofsliding backwards again.If COP17 saw the world take a tentative step towards a legally binding global emissions deal, the Bonn round of negotiations in Maysaw the reverse. Where harmony had prevailed in South Africa, discord reigned in Germany.Two lead negotiators in Bonn told RTCC they were ‘nasty’,‘unproductive’ and ‘lacking vision’, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth as olddivisions re-emerged. “It’s like a merry-go-round at the moment,” Seychelles National climate change committee member VincentAmelie told me. “The President is angry things are not moving forward – it’s just a lot of talk talk talk.”From these smouldering embers were born an informal round of talks in Bangkok, a city which frequently hosts the UNFCCC, mostrecently in April 2011.What’s on the agenda? The future of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA)needs to be resolved by the end of COP18. Bangkok could lay the foundations for this. This negotiating stream was adopted in 2007 atCOP13 as part of the Bali Action Plan.As the name suggests the LCA’s aim is to develop a long-term strategy for reducing global Greenhouse Gas Emissions, culminating inwhat it refers to as an ‘agreed outcome’, but it’s clear from reading points 1A and 1B1 in the Bali document mandate that the LCA’skey goals have not been achieved.There appears to be no ‘shared vision’, developed states have not stated their ‘quantified emission and limitation targets’, and devel-oping countries have not submitted their own mitigation actions in ‘a measurable, verifiable and reportable manner’. So the fat ladyhasn’t sung. But in a sense the COP17 decision to adopt the Durban Platform leapfrogged the LCA, with a mandate for a ‘legal instru-ment or outcome’, and an agreement in 2015 with implementation in 2020.The LCA has important work to do, particularly when it comes to addressing the responsibilities of developed and developing nations.But the new stream could also take us to a legally binding framework.What’s clear is that something has to give. A lead developed nation negotiator told me “it would be fatal if we decide to extend themandate of the AWG-LCA…we could end up in Doha with seven negotiating streams.” And he has a point – it’s complicated enoughwithout adding more levels – but it’s optimistic to expect this can be resolved in Thailand.No hope? A leading negotiator told me last week: “We need to have some vision”. I disagree – I think we have enough visions outthere for a thousand conferences. What we need are old fashioned negotiations, an understanding of the term ‘compromise’ and asmidgen of realism.Perhaps low expectations and a low-key summit are exactly what the talks require. With no plenary sessions for nations to bellow ateach other, and limited media access, the focus will be on speaking to each other. COP18/CMP8 is also a big deal for Qatar, the small Middle East state that punches well above its weight (and has the highest per-capita emissions on the planet). COP chairman and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah bin Hamad Al- Attiyah demonstrated his charm and apparent passion for this subject during last month’s Petersberg climate confer- ence in Berlin. Desperate for the talks not to be seen as a disaster, Qatar’s influence behind the scenes could be vital. With that in mind it’s worth remembering that successful summits are the re- sult of months of work – we’re now at the point where the fate of COP18 hangs in the balance. Read more: 80%99s-summer-sun-can-thaw-deep-divisions-sown-in-bonn/Photo by Larry Johnson (flickr). Under Creative Commons License.