As Alpine Glaciers Disappear, New Landscapes Take Their Place

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In pockets of Europe's Alpine mountains, glaciers are abundant enough that ski resorts operate above the snow and ice. Ski lifts, resorts, cabins and huts dot the landscape — and have done so for decades. But glaciers are also one of the most obvious and early victims of human-caused climate change, and as they shrink year by year, the future of the mountain ecosystems and the people who enjoy them will look starkly different. Glaciers — centuries of compacted snow and ice — are disappearing at an alarming rate. Swiss glaciers have lost 10% of their volume since 2021, and some glaciers are predicted to disappear entirely in the next few years. At the Freigerferner glacier in Austria, melting means the glacier has split into two and hollowed out as…
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Inside Scientists’ Mission to Save US Wine Industry From Climate Change

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The U.S. West Coast produces over 90% of America's wine, but the region is also prone to wildfires — a combustible combination that spelled disaster for the industry in 2020 and one that scientists are scrambling to neutralize. Sample a good wine and you might get notes of oak or red fruit. But sip on wine made from grapes that were penetrated by smoke, and it could taste like someone dumped the contents of an ashtray into your glass. Wine experts from three West Coast universities are working together to meet the threat, including developing spray coatings to protect grapes, pinpointing the elusive compounds that create that nasty ashy taste, and deploying smoke sensors to vineyards to better understand smoke behavior. The U.S. government is funding their research with millions…
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Food Prices Rising Due to Climate Change, El Nino, and Russia’s War

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How do you cook a meal when a staple ingredient is unaffordable?  This question is playing out in households around the world as they face shortages of essential foods like rice, cooking oil and onions. That is because countries have imposed restrictions on the food they export to protect their own supplies from the combined effect of the war in Ukraine, El Nino's threat to food production and increasing damage from climate change.  For Caroline Kyalo, a 28-year-old who works in a salon in Kenya's capital of Nairobi, it was a question of trying to figure out how to cook for her two children without onions. Restrictions on the export of the vegetable by neighboring Tanzania has led prices to triple.  Kyalo initially tried to use spring onions instead, but…
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US Supreme Court Will Decide if State Laws Limiting Social Media Platforms Violate Constitution

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The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether state laws that seek to regulate Facebook, TikTok, X and other social media platforms violate the Constitution. The justices will review laws enacted by Republican-dominated legislatures and signed by Republican governors in Florida and Texas. While the details vary, both laws aim to prevent social media companies from censoring users based on their viewpoints. The court's announcement, three days before the start of its new term, comes as the justices continue to grapple with how laws written at the dawn of the digital age, or earlier, apply to the online world. The justices had already agreed to decide whether public officials can block critics from commenting on their social media accounts, an issue that previously came up in a case involving then-President…
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Millions Travel in China in 1st Big Autumn Holiday Since End of Zero-COVID

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Many millions of Chinese tourists are expected to travel within their country, splurging on hotels, tours, attractions and meals in a boost to the economy during the 8-day autumn holiday period that began Friday. This year's holiday began with the Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday and also includes the Oct. 1 National Day. The public holidays end Oct. 6. Typically hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and overseas during such holidays. The eight-day-long holiday is the longest week of public holidays since COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted in December. Outbound tourism has lagged domestic travel, with flight capacities lagging behind pre-pandemic levels. Big cities like the capital, Beijing, Shanghai, and southern cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou are favored destinations. Smaller cities, such as Chengdu and Chongqing in southwest China…
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Thousands of Women March in Latin America Calling for Abortion Rights

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The streets of cities across Latin America were bathed in green Thursday as tens of thousands of women marched to commemorate International Safe Abortion Day. Latin American feminists have spent decades fighting to roll back strict prohibitions, although there are still few countries with a total ban, like El Salvador and Dominican Republic. In Mexico, marchers celebrated the recent decision by Mexico's Supreme Court to decriminalize abortions at the federal level. In Argentina, marchers had a more somber tone, worrying that the strength of a populist far-right presidential candidate going into elections in October could signal peril after years of work by feminists. Abortion was the heart of the protests, but crowds of women also raised alarm about the region's high rates of gender-based violence as well as abuses aimed…
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FDA Advisers Vote Against Experimental ALS Treatment Pushed by Patients

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Federal health advisers voted overwhelmingly against an experimental treatment for Lou Gehrig's disease at a Wednesday meeting prompted by years of patient efforts seeking access to the unproven therapy. The panel of Food and Drug Administration experts voted 17-1 that drugmaker Brainstorm's stem cell-based treatment has not been shown effective for patients with the fatal, muscle-wasting disease known as ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. One panel member abstained from voting. While the FDA is not bound by the vote, it largely aligns with the agency's own strikingly negative review released earlier this week, in which staff scientists described Brainstorm's application as "scientifically incomplete" and "grossly deficient." "Creating false hope can be considered a moral injury and the use of statistical magic or manipulation to provide false hope is problematic," said…
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Q&A: Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang on AI and Censorship

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On the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Taiwan's Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang delivered a speech at the Concordia Annual Summit on digital democracy and artificial intelligence. VOA spoke with Tang about how AI might help break through China's censorship and the challenges and opportunities the technology brings to global democracy. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. VOA: You mentioned the concept of AI governance in your speech. In addition to being applied to democratic countries, can this concept also be applied to totalitarian countries? Tang: From 2010 to 2012 and 2013, consultative democracy was also studied in some places in the CCP [Chinese Communist Party], but not at the central level. Later, including freedom of the press,…
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Climate Change Exacerbating Sudan’s Instability, Experts Say

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Environmental experts are ringing alarm bells, saying decades-long climate and environmental changes in Sudan have exacerbated social and political instability, fueling the monthslong conflict in the country centered around access to land, water and other vital resources. The current conflict in Sudan, rooted in global geopolitics and the historical legacy of the previous leadership of now-deposed authoritarian leader Omar al-Bashir, is increasingly being attributed to climate change. In a May report, Practical Action, a Britain-based international development organization, highlighted the impact of climate change in Sudan, which includes the encroachment of the desert southward and a stark reduction in rainfall. Akinyi Walender, Practical Action Africa director, underscored the consequences of climate change in Sudan, including heightened drought, extreme rainfall variability, depletion of water sources and desertification spanning millions of hectares…
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Hope Fades for India’s Historic Moon Lander after It Fails to ‘Wake Up’

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India’s moon lander and rover, which made a historic landing on the south pole of the moon, have not "woken up" after being put in sleep mode earlier this month to survive the freezing lunar night temperatures. Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization have not succeeded in reestablishing communication with the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover, which were part of India’s pioneering Chandrayaan-3 mission. After the spacecraft soft-landed on the little-explored lunar south pole on Aug. 23 — five days after a Russian spacecraft on an identical mission crashed — the rover spent 10 days traveling more than 100 meters on the lunar surface gathering scientific data. Tasked with "the pursuit of lunar secrets" by the ISRO, the spacecraft transmitted images and scientific data back to Earth and…
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Iran Says It Successfully Launched Imaging Satellite Amid Tensions With West

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Iran claimed on Wednesday it successfully launched an imaging satellite into space, a move that could further ratchet up tensions with Western nations that fear its space technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons. Iranian Communication Minister Isa Zarepour said the Noor-3 satellite had been put in an orbit 450 kilometers (280 miles) above Earth's surface, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. It was not clear when the launch took place. There was no immediate acknowledgment from Western officials of the launch or of the satellite being put into orbit. The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iran has had a series of failed launches in recent years. The most recent launch was carried out by Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which has had more…
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WHO Calls for Nicotine- and Tobacco-Free Schools

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The World Health Organization is calling on schools to protect children from the harmful health impacts of tobacco use by creating nicotine- and tobacco-free zones on their campuses. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people every year, most in low- and middle-income countries, which account for about 80% of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users. The United Nations health agency reports that roughly half of the world’s children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke and that about 51,000 children die each year from illnesses related to secondhand smoke. “Young people are not only threatened by secondhand smoke,” said Kerstin Schotte, medical officer at WHO, “they are also aggressively targeted by the tobacco and related industries and their deadly products.” As more than half of all smokers die prematurely, and in…
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Girls Avoid Internet Due to Abuse and Bias, Report Warns

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Deeply entrenched gender norms, biases and perceptions are affecting the ability of girls and young women to use the internet, influencing their online activity and hurting their access to information and work, a new report has found. A survey of more than 10,000 users aged 14-21, and their parents, in over half a dozen countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and India, found that girls are constantly being monitored and told they are vulnerable and not competent online, "creating a crisis of confidence." "This is resulting in girls setting up more protections and behaving more conservatively when connecting with others and sharing personal information online," said the report by nonprofit Girl Effect, the Malala Fund, the United Nations' children's agency UNICEF and the Vodafone Americas Foundation. "These attitudes are not…
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Antarctic Winter Sea Ice Hits ‘Extreme’ Record Low

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Sea ice that packs the ocean around Antarctica hit record low levels this winter, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said Monday, adding to scientists' fears that the impact of climate change at the southern pole is ramping up.  Researchers warn the shift can have dire consequences for animals like penguins who breed and rear their young on the sea ice, while also hastening global warming by reducing how much sunlight is reflected by white ice back into space.  Antarctic sea ice extent peaked this year on September 10, when it covered 16.96 million square kilometers (6.55 million square miles), the lowest winter maximum since satellite records began in 1979, the NSIDC said. That's about 1 million square kilometers (about 621,371 square miles) less ice than the…
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Medics: Hundreds Dead From Dengue Fever in War-Torn Sudan

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Outbreaks of dengue fever and acute watery diarrhea have "killed hundreds" in war-torn Sudan, medics reported on Monday, warning of "catastrophic spreads" that could overwhelm the country's decimated health system.  In a statement, the Sudanese doctors' union warned that the health situation in the southeastern state of Gedaref, on the border with Ethiopia, "is deteriorating at a horrific rate," with thousands infected with dengue fever.  Although Gedaref has been spared the direct effects of the brutal war between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), it has nonetheless been impacted by mass displacement and other humanitarian crises.  More than five months into the war, 80% of the hospitals in Sudan are out of service, according to the United Nations.  Even before the war, the fragile health care…
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EU Member States Weaken Proposal Setting New Emission Standards for Cars and Vans

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European Union member countries have watered down a proposal by the bloc's executive arm aimed at lowering vehicle emissions. The European Commission had proposed last year updated pollution standards for new combustion engine vehicles that are expected to remain on European roads well after the 27-nation bloc bans their sale in 2035, with the aim of lowering emissions from tailpipes, brakes and tires. The Commission hoped that new guidelines would help lower nitrogen oxide emissions from cars and vans by 35% compared to existing exhaust emission regulations for pollutants other than carbon dioxide, and by 56% from buses and trucks. But several member states and automakers pushed for a weaker legislation and agreed Monday on a diluted compromise put forward by the rotating presidency of the EU currently held by…
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Poll: More Americans See Climate Change as Culprit for Extreme Weather

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Kathleen Maxwell has lived in Phoenix for more than 20 years, but this summer was the first time she felt fear, as daily high temperatures soared to 110 degrees or hotter and kept it up for a record-shattering 31 consecutive days. "It's always been really hot here, but nothing like this past summer," said Maxwell, 50, who last week opened her windows for the first time since March and walked her dog outdoors for the first time since May. "I was seriously scared. Like, what if this doesn't end and this is how it's going to be?" Maxwell blames climate change, and she's not alone. New polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates that extreme weather, including a summer that brought dangerous heat for much of…
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Science Revealing Genetic Legacy of Human’s Cousins Like Neanderthals

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Neanderthals live on within us. These ancient human cousins, and others called Denisovans, once lived alongside our early Homo sapiens ancestors. They mingled and had children. So some of who they were never went away — it's in our genes. And science is starting to reveal just how much that shapes us. Using the new and rapidly improving ability to piece together fragments of ancient DNA, scientists are finding that traits inherited from our ancient cousins are still with us now, affecting our fertility, our immune systems, even how our bodies handled the COVID-19 virus. "We're now carrying the genetic legacies and learning about what that means for our bodies and our health," said Mary Prendergast, a Rice University archeologist. In the past few months alone, researchers have linked Neanderthal…
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Historians Race to Find Great Lakes Shipwrecks Before Mussels Destroy Sites

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The Great Lakes' frigid fresh water used to keep shipwrecks so well preserved that divers could see dishes in the cupboards. Downed planes that spent decades underwater were left so pristine they could practically fly again when archaeologists finally discovered them. Now, an invasive mussel is destroying shipwrecks deep in the depths of the lakes, forcing archeologists and amateur historians into a race against time to find as many sites as they can before the region touching eight U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario loses any physical trace of its centuries-long maritime history. "What you need to understand is every shipwreck is covered with quagga mussels in the lower Great Lakes," Wisconsin state maritime archaeologist Tamara Thomsen said. "Everything. If you drain the lakes, you'll get a bowl…
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New Artificial Intelligence Solutions Developed to Combat Wildfires

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Wildfires fueled by climate change have ravaged communities from Maui to the Mediterranean this summer, killing many people, exhausting firefighters and fueling demand for new solutions. Enter artificial intelligence. Firefighters and startups are using AI-enabled cameras to scan the horizon for signs of smoke. A German company is building a constellation of satellites to detect fires from space. And Microsoft is using AI models to predict where the next blaze could be sparked. With wildfires becoming larger and more intense as the world warms, firefighters, utilities and governments are scrambling to get ahead of the flames by tapping into the latest AI technology — which has stirred both fear and excitement for its potential to transform life. While increasingly stretched first responders hope AI offers them a leg up, humans…
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NASA’s 1st Asteroid Samples Land on Earth After Spacecraft Release 

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NASA’s first asteroid samples fetched from deep space parachuted into the Utah desert Sunday to cap a seven-year journey. In a flyby of Earth, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft released the sample capsule from 63,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) out. The small capsule landed four hours later on a remote expanse of military land, as the mothership set off after another asteroid. Scientists estimate the capsule holds at least a cup of rubble from the carbon-rich asteroid known as Bennu but won’t know for sure until the container is opened. Some spilled and floated away when the spacecraft scooped up too much and rocks jammed the container’s lid during collection three years ago. Japan, the only other country to bring back asteroid samples, gathered about a teaspoon in a pair of asteroid missions.…
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Cholera Cases Rise Globally

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The World Health Organization says there is a global uptick in cholera cases. The number of cases reported last year was more than double those reported in 2021, the United Nations agency said. The number of countries reporting cholera statistics also grew in 2022 by 25%, from 35 countries in 2021 to 44 countries last year. Cholera can be a life-threatening disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that can spread through unsafe food or water.  Cholera bacteria can spread from a person to drinking water or water used to grow food or prepare food.  Cholera can also spread when human feces with cholera enter the water supply. The standard treatment for cholera has been a two-dose vaccination, but beginning in October 2022, the International Coordinating…
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Some US Health Providers Dropping Gender-Affirming Care for Kids Even Where It’s Legal

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As Republican-led states have rushed to ban gender-affirming for minors, some families with transgender children found a bit of solace: At least they lived in states that would allow those already receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy to continue. But in some places, including Missouri and North Dakota, the care has abruptly been halted because medical providers are wary of harsh liability provisions in those same laws — one of multiple reasons that advocates say care has become harder to access even where it remains legal. "It was a completely crushing blow," said Becky Hormuth, whose 16-year-old son was receiving treatment from the Washington University Gender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital until it stopped the care for minors this month. Hormuth cried. Her son cried, too. "There was some…
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NASA Readies for Dramatic Landing of Asteroid Sample to Earth

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The climactic end of a seven-year voyage comes Sunday when a NASA capsule is to land in the Utah desert, carrying to Earth the largest asteroid samples ever collected. Scientists have high hopes for the sample, saying it will provide a better understanding of the formation of our solar system and how Earth became habitable. The Osiris-Rex probe's final, fiery descent through Earth's atmosphere will be perilous, but the U.S. space agency is hoping for a soft landing, around 9 a.m. local (15H00 GMT), in a military test range in northwestern Utah. Four years after its 2016 launch, the probe landed on the asteroid Bennu and collected roughly nine ounces (250 grams) of dust from its rocky surface. Even that small amount, NASA says, should "help us better understand the…
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US Experts Carry Out Second Pig-to-Human Heart Transplant

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A 58-year-old man this week became the world's second patient to receive a transplant of a genetically modified pig heart, the latest milestone in a growing field of medical research.  Transplanting animal organs into humans, called xenotransplantation, could offer a solution to the chronic shortage of human organ donations. More than 100,000 Americans are currently on waiting lists for organ transplants.  Both heart procedures were carried out by experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with the first patient dying two months after his transplant last year due to "a multitude of factors including his poor state of health" prior to the operation, the university said in a statement Friday.  'Now I have hope' The latest operation took place Wednesday with patient Lawrence Faucette. He was ineligible for…
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Study: Farmers Face Climate Change Threat to Their Farms, Incomes

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About 76% of farmers are worried about the future impact of climate change, while 71% say it already has had an impact on their farms and incomes, a recent survey by life science company Bayer Group found. Researchers interviewed 800 farmers in eight countries — Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Kenya, Ukraine and the United States — and said that 568 of those farmers have witnessed the impact of climate change directly on their farms. About 80% of them have experienced heat effects and anticipate reduced yields in the coming years. Rodrigo Santos, president of the Crop Science Division at Bayer, said that despite the impact of climate change on farming communities, there will be more demand for food harvested from less land in the coming years. “We need to…
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