HAMNET Report 22nd September 2019

Reporting in NPR on Thursday, Allison Aubrey says that, nationwide, people who vape continue to sicken with severe and unexplained lung illness, leaving doctors and patients concerned about both the acute and long-term effects of the injuries.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that there are now 530 confirmed or probable cases of lung injury associated with vaping, a jump from 380 cases reported last week. Seven people have died.

“We at CDC are very concerned about the occurrence of life-threatening illness in otherwise healthy, young people,” said Dr Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, during a call with reporters.

She said this is an ongoing outbreak: “States continue to get new cases reported.”

The CDC has ramped up its investigation, activating its Emergency Operations Centre this week in an effort to nail down the cause of the illnesses, which remains unclear. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has enlisted the help of its office of criminal investigations, the law enforcement arm of FDA.

If you wish to read more about this alarming illness, google “Vaping Illness”, and watch the many videos posted there.

Kevin, VK2CE, notes that, since its inception in 1998 the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend has been held on the 3rd full weekend in August. The founders selected this weekend as it was the most suitable for the European and UK stations that made up the bulk of entries for the event.

Next year the 3rd full weekend is host to the 75th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the Pacific region with the 15th August, VP (Victory in the Pacific) day, falling on the Saturday of that weekend.

The organisers of the event have decided it would be inappropriate to hold the ILLW event on the 3rd full weekend of August next year, as many stations will be involved in commemorating the important anniversary of VP day, especially those bordering and within the Pacific Rim.

We trust this temporary move to the following weekend, 22-23rd August, will not inconvenience anyone.

It has also come to our notice that some stations are treating the event as a contest, by attempting to work as many stations as possible with the usual 5/9 report and moving on to the next contact. This is totally at odds with the concept of the ILLW, which is intended to be a fun weekend promoting international goodwill, lighthouses and amateur radio. Please let us know if you have contact with this type of activity and we will take appropriate action.

The 22nd annual event held last month was again very successful and enjoyed by 426 stations in 50 countries plus all of those who participated but did not register their intentions. Several new countries and lighthouses were listed this year. Feedback and photos from entrants are on the ILLW web site.

Writing in Scientific American this week, Lucas Joppa says that, if environmental reports published this year were connected to an alarm system, the sound inside the United Nation’s Manhattan headquarters would be deafening—we are facing a five-alarm fire. Myriad reports warned us we must take immediate action to ensure a sustainable supply of clean food, water and air to a human population projected to rapidly grow to 10 billion, all while stemming a globally catastrophic loss of biodiversity and averting the worst economic impacts of a changing climate.

The news was devastating, but not unexpected. The specificity around the short window of time to act was, however. The world’s leading environmental scientists have spoken, and the message is clear: The best time to act was yesterday, so we better start today. The task is much bigger and time is way shorter than previously thought.

While the science says we very likely have no more than 420 gigatons of carbon left to spend, emissions steadily continue to rise every year. Just last year, over 42 gigatons was emitted. That gives us no more than 10 years before we must begin to operate as a carbon neutral planet. Unfortunately, discussions and commitments have yet to translate into measurable change.

And change we must. At stake is not only the health of our planet, but the incredible social and economic progress seen across the world for at least the past 150 years. It’s not surprising that many found themselves glumly nodding in agreement to Jonathan Franzen’s recent article in the New Yorker, titled “What If We Stopped Pretending?”

But fatalism never solved a problem. What does is a formula that has been repeated over centuries of human society—when faced with existential challenges, we have successfully and consistently tackled major societal problems through the simple summation of hard work, progressive governance and technological innovation.

This ideal is what we must embrace in the era of climate change. While people are mobilizing and governments are meeting, what is missing is the third leg of the stool. Investment in technology solutions aimed at environmental outcomes is sorely needed to accelerate the pace, scale and effectiveness of our response to climate change.

The epitome of the innovation we need is best understood as a “planetary computer.” A planetary computer will borrow from the approach of today’s internet search engines, and extend beyond them in the form of a geospatial decision engine that supports queries about the environmental status of the planet, programmed with algorithms to optimize its health. Think of this less as a giant computer in a stark white room and more of an approach to computing that is planetary in scale and allows us to query every aspect of environmental and nature-based solutions available in real time.

We currently lack that data, compute power and scalability to do so. Only when we have a massive amount of planetary data and compute at a similar scale, can we begin to answer one of the most complex questions ever posed—how do we manage the earth’s natural resources equitably and sustainably to ensure a prosperous and climate-stable future?

An imponderable question, which will indeed have to be answered.

This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR  reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.