Human activity continues to upsets the natural balance of our atmosphere – says the World Meteorological Organization

The World Meteorological Organization said Wednesday the amount of greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2012.

“The observations from WMO’s extensive Global Atmosphere Watch network highlight yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. “As a result of this, our climate is changing, our weather is more extreme, ice sheets and glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising.”

WMO said there was a 32 percent increase in the warming effect of greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2012. Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal accounted for 80 percent of the increase.

CO2 levels in the atmosphere increased at a higher rate from 2011 to 2012 than the average growth rate over the last 10 years, the WMO’s report said.

Jarraud said the temperature increases associated with higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may result in “devastating consequences” for the international community.

“We need to act now, otherwise we will jeopardize the future of our children, grandchildren and many future generations,” he said. “Time is not on our side.”

I’m fortunate in that I live in a county, a region where my Congressional representative and senator are on my side in the fight for sane science-based ecology. In fact, the state of New Mexico only has the one Congress-scumball downstate who believes the world must revolve around the needs of Big Oil and mining companies.

Still, my guys don’t fight for our future in a vacuum even if that is all I would expect to find inside the heads of many of our elected officials in Washington. And statewide, our local politicians ain’t a whole boatload better. The battle is joined, folks. Time to elect someone who can see further than the end of their nose and more detail than their bank account.

Don’t get sick in July – really!

With almost no experience, newly graduated medical students enter teaching hospitals around the country every July, beginning their careers as interns. At the same time, the last year’s interns and junior residents take a step up and assume new responsibilities.

In addition to developing their nascent clinical skills, each entering class of interns must grasp the many rules and standards for operating in this “new” hospital structure.

More experienced physicians share a joke about this changing of the guard: Don’t get sick in July

“The good news for patients is that in most cases, it’s very difficult for a physician to make a mistake that results in a patient’s death,” said Anupam Jena, HMS assistant professor of health care policy and of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study. “But for severely ill patients, health can be very tenuous. A small error or a very slight delay in care is potentially devastating…”

Overall, they found that patients at teaching hospitals had a lower risk of dying than at non-teaching hospitals, but in July, the risk at teaching hospitals rose to the same level that patients at non-teaching hospitals faced. For high-risk patients who came to the teaching hospitals with heart attacks, the risk of death in hospital went from 20 percent to 25 percent. They also found that among teaching hospitals, the difference between outcomes in May and July is greatest in institutions with the highest percentages of trainees.

The researchers ruled out two potential factors that they suspected may have accounted for some of that difference — the prevalence of percutaneous coronary intervention (i.e. cardiac stents) and of complications from the use of blood thinners.

Without evidence for specific procedures or protocols that could prevent increased deaths, the researchers said that their findings suggest that, especially during the early months in the training cycle, oversight should be intensively focused on high-risk cases rather than across cases overall. In July, doctors with more experience should play a greater role in the care of high-risk patients than has typically been the case.

I never ran into this dicho before. Though it has been at least 40 years since I worked in a teaching hospital. And it was one of the very best.

Still – remind self not to have a stroke or heart attack in July. Especially since the only hospital in town is known as Saint Victims.

Computer-generated image – Sweetie – catches online predators

More than 100 Britons were among 1,000 men caught trying to pay a computer-generated child to perform sex acts online, after a Dutch children’s charity set up a fake profile.

Terre des Hommes carried out a 10-week sting near Amsterdam, posing on video chat rooms as “Sweetie”, a 10-year-old Filipina girl.

Some 20,000 men contacted her, with 1,000 found to have offered her money…The names of these men – including 110 Britons – were passed to police…

When I visited the charity’s operations room – in a warehouse on the outskirts of Amsterdam – I watched as a researcher logged on to a chat room as Sweetie – incredibly life-like but created by a computer.

Within seconds, like sharks, men were circling.

Of the 1,000 men who were willing to pay Sweetie to take off her clothes in front of a webcam, 254 were from the US, followed by 110 from the UK and 103 from India…

The charity has now handed over its findings to police and has said it will provide authorities with the technology it has developed.

But European policing agency Europol has expressed reservations about the findings…And Andy Baker, of the UK’s National Crime Agency, also said that “tackling child sex abusers is best left to specialist law enforcement agencies”.

But he praised the campaign, saying it had “widened awareness of a global child sex abuse threat”…

Sweetie will not be used again. She has done her job – showing the predators that they can easily become prey.

If they’re keeping the program going, they should invest in better software. Sweetie ain’t near the sort of realism approached in computer-generated images for lots of movies.

OTOH, maybe this shows how strung out and weird the guys are who attempted to liason with Sweetie.

The ups and downs of taking risks – or not – in middle-age


[NOT Professor Hills]

Professor Thomas Hills looks at his own mid-life understanding

As a teenager I remember asking my parents if it was possible to have a mid-life crisis before you left high school. This was followed by hearty chuckles. Nonetheless, it forces one to ask the question: what exactly is a mid-life crisis and how would you know if you were having one? And is there evidence that such a thing even exists? And if so, what are the symptoms? Does mid-life put you at risk of divorce, dying in a motorcycle accident, or failing to open your parachute?

There are many ways to answer these questions. And there are a number of dominant factors (and preconceptions) that appear in our middle years. There is a wealth of studies out there, including data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, recorded between 1999 and 2010.

The upside

Divorce: Divorce does not increase in middle age…

…Crash rates and fatal car accidents are at their lowest among people in their 40s and 50s…

Homicide: Does middle age increase the chances that people will become homicidal killers? No…

The downside

Depression: Mid-life can indeed be truly depressing…

Suicide: You might be more likely to kill yourself in middle age…

In sum, there does appear to be a mid-life signal among the noise, though it doesn’t stand out as a hotbed of risk taking. It might leave some people a little more down than up. But these people should feel some solace in knowing that things do indeed get better.

For middle-age men feeling the call of youth, my recommendation is to wear a helmet and a life-vest at all times.

I’d add: Get more exercise. Sort out your nutrition if you haven’t already. Don’t stop reading and learning. If you’re busy living you ain’t about to waste time worrying about dying.

I make the point regularly that the average human stops learning and seeking knowledge by age 26. In my book that’s a crime against humanity, an intellectual form of suicide by ennui. We have more avenues and access to information than ever before in the history of humanity.

Use it or lose it.