Threats

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U.N. climate change report warns of dire consequences

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new report—which is seven years in the making—draws on “widespread” evidence of “substantial” climate change impacts “on all continents and across the oceans.” For the first time, the IPCC has scientifically linked the changing climate with the destabilization of nation states. It is also increasingly confident of serious effects on food crops, water supplies, and human health, plus global species loss.

[From IPCC 2014: U.N. climate change report warns of dire consequences.]

Global warming will cut crop harvests by 2% each decade

grain.jpeg The research, conducted by Australian, British and American scientists, found that the situation will worsen in the second half of the century, with tropical areas worse hit than temperate regions. An analysis of more than 1,700 simulations found that across all regions and all crops, including wheat, maize and rice, yields will drop by 2% each decade, based on a 2C rise by 2050. [From Global warming will cut crop harvests by 2% each decade, researchers say | World news | theguardian.com ]

China military is weaker and more dangerous than it looks

In concert with its strategic missile forces, China has also developed a broad array of space weapons designed to destroy satellites used to verify arms control treaties, provide military communications, and warn of enemy attacks. China has also built the world’s largest army of cyber warriors, and the planet’s second largest fleet of drones, to exploit areas where the U.S. and its allies are under-defended. All of these capabilities make it more likely that China could one day be tempted to start a war, and none come with any built in escalation control.

[From China military is weaker and more dangerous than it looks]

Dengue virus identified in Houston

Murray's team investigated the possibility that dengue might be in Houston because the area has the type of mosquitoes known to carry the virus and a dense population full of frequent travelers south of the border, where the virus is endemic. But the study, published Wednesday in the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, found that most of the infections were transmitted in Houston.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus.

A pandemic outside the United States - hot spots are in India and Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico - dengue infects more than 100 million people a year, killing at least 25,000. Identified in nine tropical countries before 1970, it has spread to more than 100 today.

[From Dengue virus identified in Houston - Houston Chronicle]

Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2014 and Beyond

By 2020, the labor reduction effect of digitization will cause social unrest and a quest for new economic models in several mature economies. Near Term Flag: A larger scale version of an "Occupy Wall Street"-type movement will begin by the end of 2014, indicating that social unrest will start to foster political debate.
Digitization is reducing labor content of services and products in an unprecedented way, thus fundamentally changing the way remuneration is allocated across labor and capital. Long term, this makes it impossible for increasingly large groups to participate in the traditional economic system — even at lower prices — leading them to look for alternatives such as a bartering-based (sub)society, urging a return to protectionism or resurrecting initiatives like Occupy Wall Street, but on a much larger scale. Mature economies will suffer most as they don't have the population growth to increase autonomous demand nor powerful enough labor unions or political parties to (re-)allocate gains in what continues to be a global economy.

[From Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2014 and Beyond]

Climate change gets clocked

Within 35 years, global average temperatures will be hotter than historical extremes.

    Drones May Be Able to Make Lethal Decisions on Their Own

    drone.jpg

    Eventually, drones may have the technical ability to make even lethal decisions autonomously: to respond to a programmed set of inputs, select a target and fire their weapons without a human reviewing or checking the result. Yet the idea of the U.S. military deploying a lethal autonomous robot, or LAR, is sparking controversy. Though autonomy might address some of the current downsides of how drones are used, they introduce new downsides policymakers are only just learning to grapple with.

    [From Soon, Drones May Be Able to Make Lethal Decisions on Their Own - NationalJournal.com]

    World won't cool without geoengineering, warns report

    This stark warning comes from the draft summary of the latest climate assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Delegates from national governments are discussing the draft this week, prior to its release on Friday morning. [From World won't cool without geoengineering, warns report - environment - 25 September 2013 - New Scientist ]

    Sea Level Rise 'Locking In' Quickly, Cities Threatened | Climate Central

    Measurements tell us that global average sea level is currently rising by about 1 inch per decade. But in an invisible shadow process, our long-term sea level rise commitment or "lock-in" — the sea level rise we don’t see now, but which carbon emissions and warming have locked in for later years — is growing 10 times faster, and this growth rate is accelerating.

    [From Sea Level Rise 'Locking In' Quickly, Cities Threatened | Climate Central]

    Antibiotic resistance: The last resort

    As a rule, high-ranking public-health officials try to avoid apocalyptic descriptors. So it was worrying to hear Thomas Frieden and Sally Davies warn of a coming health “nightmare” and a “catastrophic threat” within a few days of each other in March.

    [From Antibiotic resistance: The last resort : Nature News & Comment]

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