News roundup for Tue, Jul 20, 2021

Are farmers more at risk at risk from extreme heat

The 2021 US fire season is already worse than last year in number of acres burned. The difference so far between the years is that this year’s fires have been in more sparsely populated areas. 2021 still does not compare to the devastation of the fires during 2019, but summer has only just begun:

2021 vs 2020 wildfire extent, from CAL FIRE (through July 11) from collapse

Heat-related work injuries are poorly surveyed. It’s not just outdoor workers at risk from extreme heat—indoor workers in warehouses and manufacturing are also at risk. Heat-related injuries aren’t limited to heat stroke. Excess heat is probably also responsible for fatigue and distraction leading to an increase in all-cause injuries to exposed workers.

Free VPNs offered as a humanitarian measure are keeping over 1 million Cubans online. Cuba has cut access to online social media and messaging platforms.

The modeling done nearly 50 years ago in The Limits to Growth is still eerily accurate. As the authors noted then, infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible. Additional studies since that time indicate that many natural resources fueling the global economy could top out and sputter in the next decade or so. The difference between a hard and soft landing for the global population is what we chose to do about sustainability now.

Speaking of resource depletion and population impacts—the UN warns that water scarcity and drought could imperil over 130 countries secondary to climate-change induced warming. Just this week there were protests in Iran over water scarcity:

A state in India is proposing a voluntary 2-child policy to help reduce overpopulation. Financial incentives with be offered to families that opt for voluntary sterilization.

The world has nearly 191.7 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3.7 million cases in the last week. There have been over 4.1 million deaths in total. The US has a cumulative 35 million cases. Nearly 625,000 Americans have died. The US has gained about 15,700 new cases since yesterday, which is double the case gain compared to last week. There have been 66 deaths reported in the US in the last day—as deaths are a lagging indicator I expect this number to rise significantly in the next few weeks. The UK, Indonesia, India, and Iran have the highest number of new cases per day.  Delta is the variant driving most pandemic growth now.

Los Angeles County, home to more than 10 million people, has reinstated an indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status. Sheriff Villanueva says he won’t enforce it:

It is imperative to furnish African countries with COVID vaccines as fast as countries around the globe can distribute them. The inequity in vaccine distribution is clearly visible:

Delta is spreading quickly. Back-of-the-envelope math says the R for Delta is over 1.5, which means most countries don’t have a high enough vaccination rate to fight it without first battling large surges of cases.

Vaccines (particularly mRNA) seem to be keeping deaths low even in the face of rising cases:

The WHO is backtracking on its stance on the possibility of a lab leak origin for the pandemic virus—The WHO is asking once again for China to be transparent with data it has requested. Tedros says ruling out a lab leak origin in the absence of data was premature.

Olympic Athletes are turning up COVID+ in Japan—some are having to pull out of competition:

Boris Johnson is isolating after exposure—meanwhile, the UK is opening up despite variant-driven case rise:

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