Environmental Issues for the Twenty-First Century and their Impact on Human Health

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Get out of your silo. And then invite the most interesting ones into your lab with the goal of them becoming partners.

One example of this was the scientist who was spending her life finding the biomarkers for a disease for which there was no cure. Mercifully, her lab was among the first to start systematically bringing in partners from entirely outside. Might it be possible for you to find it interesting to search for a biomarker for a disease to which there is a cure?

Culture moves slower than does innovation.

Deal with it, or watch the collapse of the Enlightenment as they ever increasingly come at you with torches and pitchforks — and correctly so. Mary Shelley knew her humans. My wife and I used to raise border collies. Border collies make terrible pets. You can not give an intelligent species nothing to do. And you may not like it. Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations 1.

Greatest frustration: It is deeply annoying and vexing that CRISPR-cas9 and other gene editing techniques are being applied to treatment of rare diseases and a host of pharmacology development, but little investment is directed toward application of state-of-the-art gene editing or metagenomic sequencing and detection for point-of-care diagnostics creation. There are many exciting developments at the lab bench level that could translate into "Star Trek"-like abilities to wade into epidemic hysteria and swiftly identify who is infected, and with what organism.

There are even innovations that allow identification on-the-spot of infections with previously unknown microbes, based on conserved genetic regions found in classes of viruses or bacteria. But nobody seems interested in bankrolling such game-changing innovations for production on a mass scale. It's a market failure issue — a where's-the-profits problem. If Ebola broke out somewhere tomorrow we are better off today in that some methods for quickly identifying the virus in blood samples exist, but even now they remain noncommercial, require a laboratory and have no relevance to real-world conditions.

In some in the national security community were obsessed with concern about gain-of-function research, mainly on flu viruses. Researchers were deliberately creating forms of H5N1 and H7N9 and H1N1 that could be passed mammalmammal, probably human-to-human. The goal on researchers' parts was to understand what genetic switches had to occur to turn a bird flu into a potentially catastrophic human airborne transmissible pandemic strain. But of course the work was very dangerous — especially if it got into the wrong hands. That was then, this is now: The technology of gene modification is far more advanced, and application of cutting edge gene excision and incision techniques makes gain-of-function work potentially far easier, and more dangerous.

The two governments that were taking the lead on dual-use research of concern issues UK and US are both preoccupied now with very different problems and new leadership. And the WHO was the lead global agency — it is facing a major leadership change. So we have no guidance regarding how governments are likely to view these issues. But many common infections are becoming more difficult to treat because bacteria are becoming resistant to the drugs available. Drug-resistant infection — or antimicrobial resistance — is a very serious health threat to us all.

Already it results in around , deaths a year globally. Within a generation it could be 10 million; it could mean we can no longer safely carry out not only complex, lifesaving treatments such as chemotherapy and organ transplants but also more routine operations like caesareans and hip replacements. More needs to be done to improve our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent drug resistant infections and to speed up development of new antibiotics to replace those no longer effective in protecting us against deadly infections.

However, the gains of these new technologies are being captured by a minority of the population both domestically and internationally. One outcome is human migration which is not only political but also economic and social. The other is the more frequent outbreaks of diseases, epidemics and pandemics such as ebola, MARS and Zika. In a world where there is a sentiment against movement of goods and people, how can developing societies adapt to increasing inequalities and build systems of governance to ensure human security? Pardis Sabeti, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard University The recent Ebola and Zika epidemics exposed our global vulnerabilities to deadly microbial threats and highlighted the need for proactive measures in advance of outbreaks and swift action during them.

At the same time it shows our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat deadly infectious diseases through new technologies.

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It is a time of great potential for devastation or advancement for one of the greatest challenges of our lifetimes. Robert Sparrow, adjunct professor, Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University What does justice require of wealthy Northern states when confronted by mass migration from increasingly impoverished Southern countries as a result of accelerating climate change?

As technological developments increasingly drive social change, how can democratic societies empower ordinary people to have a say in the decisions that shape the technological trajectories that will in turn determine what the future looks like? How can the public have meaningful input into the character of the algorithms that will increasingly determine both the nature of their relationships with other people on social media and their access to various important social goods?


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How can we prevent an underwater arms race involving autonomous submersibles over the coming decades? How can we ensure that questions about meaning and values, and not just calculations of risks and benefits, are addressed in decisions about human genome editing? Eric Topol, Scripps Transatlantic Science Institute Our major challenge is related to our new capability of digitizing human beings. But the problem is that this generates many terabytes of data, which includes real-time streaming of key metrics like blood pressure.

Aggregating and processing the data, derived from many sources, with algorithms and artificial intelligence particularly deep learning is a daunting task. Mike Turner, Head of Infection and Immunobiology at Wellcome Trust Infectious disease outbreaks are a growing threat to health and prosperity in our modern world.

50 grand challenges for the 21st Century

Vast amounts of international travel, increasing urbanisation and a changing climates means that viruses can cross borders and spread around the globe faster than ever before. Recent outbreaks like Sars, Ebola and Zika have all shown how unprepared the world is to deal with epidemics. To stand any chance of tackling this threat, we need new vaccines, stronger healthcare systems and a better coordinated global response.

The WHO also needs to be much better funded and have the mandate to respond swiftly and effectively when diseases do begin to spread. Only by investing, coordinating and working together can we expect to prepare the world for the next inevitable epidemic. Gavin Yamey, professor of the practice of global health, Duke University Global Health Institute I believe one of the most urgent global issues that we face in and beyond, and one that we are woefully ill-prepared for, is the threat of epidemics and pandemics. We have three enormous gaps in the global system of preparedness.

First, many countries have weak national systems for detecting and responding to outbreaks. Second, we have too few vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics for emerging infectious diseases with outbreak potential. Closing these three gaps is one of the most urgent global priorities if we are to avert a potential world catastrophe. Cities are places where infrastructure gets locked in for decades, if not centuries, but city planners must make investments now in a world where technology is changing rapidly where people live, work and play, and how they access buildings, transport, energy and waste management.

The fastest growth is happening in thousands of secondary cities where mayors and city managers are not well schooled in technical urban planning. Often, these secondary cities must collaborate with each other to deliver services effectively across boundaries within larger metropolitan areas. Carey King, assistant director, University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute We need a discussion as to what political leaders, business leaders, and citizens think is an appropriate distribution of wealth across the entire population.

This focuses on the real question how many people have what, independent of the size of the economy, though the two are linked instead of discussing how to shape policies and taxes to achieve an unspecified growth target independent of wealth distribution. Trump, Brexit, and Le Pen are representations that people understand growth only for the elite in the West is no longer tenable.

Impact of climate change on health is 'the major threat of 21st century' | Carbon Brief

An issue that has not received enough attention in the media and popular understanding is that the Earth is finite and this fact will have real world physical, economic, social, and political implications. Neoclassical economics ignores this obvious fact, yet it is used to guide most policy eg, economic projections and scenarios , including that for climate change mitigation.

Thus, we are using an economic theory that is simply incapable and inapplicable for informing an unprecedented transformation of the economy. We are already grappling with this problem across our developing member countries and with deteriorating river or surface water quality, lack of sufficient ground water sources and increasing dependence on sea water as a supply source, we have to bring in innovations in water management. Treatment technology, water aquifer mapping, recycling and reuse of wastewater, etc.

ADB is working with a large number of utilities to address these issues and as we engage on a long term basis with many cities and utilities, we will be actively exploring opportunities to bring in value for money propositions so that the utility benefits in the long term. We are also connecting with industry leaders to understand market trends so that we can bring the best to our developing member countries.

Climate change is just one piece of evidence of this fact. Technological improvements, while potentially important in reducing per capita impact, are not sufficient to make us sustainable unless we also stop growth in human numbers and reduce average consumption, while simultaneously lessening the gap between the richest and the poorest people on the planet. Sustainability is a term that is not well understood and is misused, but the reality is that any activity that is not sustainable will stop. So far, non-renewable resources are what are primarily driving our economic engine.

But by definition, non-renewables are being depleted and for the most part will stop being economically available in this century. So we must plan rapidly for the day when humanity can live using just renewable resources, while maintaining the biodiversity that makes the planet habitable. In truth, sustainability is the ultimate environmental issue, the ultimate health issue, and the ultimate human rights issue. Strategies that help to bring about changes in societal behaviour, including reproductive behavior, are critically important in achieving sustainability.

Use of entertainment media is a key component of such strategies, since a large share of humanity consume entertainment mass media during free time. For that reason, Population Media Center utilises long-running serialised dramas in various countries to create characters that gradually evolve into positive role models for the audience to bring about changes in social norms on a broad array of critical issues. Attached are three documents that describe this work and its effects.

Globally speaking there is still a lot of people — 1. There is going to be a lot of rising demand from regions like Africa. One of the big challenges of deploying new energy technologies, particularly these intermittent renewables like wind and solar, is the impact they have on the system. It used to be that in the summer it was a really quiet time for the grid operator compared to the winter, but now they are having this peak in generation in summer due to solar energy when demand is low.

They are having to juggle this as we cannot store electricity in large quantities yet. This is a new way of operating for them. With the sort of changes we are seeing in energy systems around the world, cheaper and better storage is going to be a big part of the solution. When it comes to heating for somewhere like the UK, you might need storage that lasts several months. You get a lot of energy generated in the summer and you might need it in the winter to heat homes. This is an area that is really ripe for innovation and we are really only at the start of deploying and trailing those.

It is a critical part of this new system we are trying to create. When non-authoritative information ranks too high in our search results, we develop scalable, automated approaches to fix the problems, rather than manually removing these one-by-one. We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. While we provide the portal for users to find information, we depend on content creators and distributors to apply journalistic discipline to what they are creating.

The scale of popular social networks has democratized publishing, which effectively lets anyone — regardless of their intentions or qualifications — produce content that can appear journalistic. I do see a need in the market to develop standards, perhaps from an organization like Nielsen. Facebook and others are working on this, too. This conference would set out some clear indicators, targets and accountability mechanisms.

We need a new 21st-century public-health movement to deal with climate change. An accompanying editorial in 'The Lancet' states: "UCL is a university that has combined a distinguished history of moral engagement with a more recent revitalised global purpose, expressed through its strengthened commitment to global health in teaching, research and institution building. In preparing to undertake its work for this first Lancet Commission, the UCL team, led by Anthony Costello, reached out beyond health to engineers, political scientists, lawyers, geographers, anthropologists, economists, philosophers, and students, among others.

They discovered new ways to review evidence and integrate ideas collaboratively. First, there is a massive gap in information, an astonishing lack of knowledge about how we should respond to the negative health effects of climate change. Second, since the effects of climate change will hit the poor hardest, we have an immense task before us to address the inadequacies of health systems to protect people in countries most at risk.

Third, there is a technology challenge. Technologies do have the potential to help us adapt to changes in climate. But these technologies have to be developed out of greater research investments into climate change science, better understanding about how to deliver those technologies in the field, and a more complete appreciation of the social and cultural dimensions into which those technologies might be implanted. A fourth challenge is political: creating the conditions for low-carbon living. And finally there is the question of how we adapt our institutions to make climate change the priority it needs to be.

With UCL and other partners, we plan to convene an international summit in two years' time to review progress and priorities in our collective responses to the urgent and alarming health effects of climate change. The cross-fertilisation and application of our expertise is being coordinated through the UCL Institute for Global Health. It is developing an institution-wide agenda leading to strategies, programmes, research and teaching to bring our combined expertise to bear on the Grand Challenge of Global Health.

Tweets by uclnews. Follow us. Gavin Yamey, professor of the practice of global health, Duke University Global Health Institute I believe one of the most urgent global issues that we face in and beyond, and one that we are woefully ill-prepared for, is the threat of epidemics and pandemics. We have three enormous gaps in the global system of preparedness. First, many countries have weak national systems for detecting and responding to outbreaks.

Second, we have too few vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics for emerging infectious diseases with outbreak potential. Closing these three gaps is one of the most urgent global priorities if we are to avert a potential world catastrophe. Cities are places where infrastructure gets locked in for decades, if not centuries, but city planners must make investments now in a world where technology is changing rapidly where people live, work and play, and how they access buildings, transport, energy and waste management.

The fastest growth is happening in thousands of secondary cities where mayors and city managers are not well schooled in technical urban planning. Often, these secondary cities must collaborate with each other to deliver services effectively across boundaries within larger metropolitan areas. Carey King, assistant director, University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute We need a discussion as to what political leaders, business leaders, and citizens think is an appropriate distribution of wealth across the entire population.

This focuses on the real question how many people have what, independent of the size of the economy, though the two are linked instead of discussing how to shape policies and taxes to achieve an unspecified growth target independent of wealth distribution. Trump, Brexit, and Le Pen are representations that people understand growth only for the elite in the West is no longer tenable.

An issue that has not received enough attention in the media and popular understanding is that the Earth is finite and this fact will have real world physical, economic, social, and political implications. Neoclassical economics ignores this obvious fact, yet it is used to guide most policy eg, economic projections and scenarios , including that for climate change mitigation. Thus, we are using an economic theory that is simply incapable and inapplicable for informing an unprecedented transformation of the economy.

We are already grappling with this problem across our developing member countries and with deteriorating river or surface water quality, lack of sufficient ground water sources and increasing dependence on sea water as a supply source, we have to bring in innovations in water management. Treatment technology, water aquifer mapping, recycling and reuse of wastewater, etc. ADB is working with a large number of utilities to address these issues and as we engage on a long term basis with many cities and utilities, we will be actively exploring opportunities to bring in value for money propositions so that the utility benefits in the long term.

We are also connecting with industry leaders to understand market trends so that we can bring the best to our developing member countries. Climate change is just one piece of evidence of this fact. Technological improvements, while potentially important in reducing per capita impact, are not sufficient to make us sustainable unless we also stop growth in human numbers and reduce average consumption, while simultaneously lessening the gap between the richest and the poorest people on the planet.

Sustainability is a term that is not well understood and is misused, but the reality is that any activity that is not sustainable will stop. So far, non-renewable resources are what are primarily driving our economic engine. But by definition, non-renewables are being depleted and for the most part will stop being economically available in this century. So we must plan rapidly for the day when humanity can live using just renewable resources, while maintaining the biodiversity that makes the planet habitable.

In truth, sustainability is the ultimate environmental issue, the ultimate health issue, and the ultimate human rights issue. Strategies that help to bring about changes in societal behaviour, including reproductive behavior, are critically important in achieving sustainability. Use of entertainment media is a key component of such strategies, since a large share of humanity consume entertainment mass media during free time.

For that reason, Population Media Center utilises long-running serialised dramas in various countries to create characters that gradually evolve into positive role models for the audience to bring about changes in social norms on a broad array of critical issues. Attached are three documents that describe this work and its effects. Globally speaking there is still a lot of people — 1. There is going to be a lot of rising demand from regions like Africa. One of the big challenges of deploying new energy technologies, particularly these intermittent renewables like wind and solar, is the impact they have on the system.

It used to be that in the summer it was a really quiet time for the grid operator compared to the winter, but now they are having this peak in generation in summer due to solar energy when demand is low. They are having to juggle this as we cannot store electricity in large quantities yet. This is a new way of operating for them. With the sort of changes we are seeing in energy systems around the world, cheaper and better storage is going to be a big part of the solution. When it comes to heating for somewhere like the UK, you might need storage that lasts several months. You get a lot of energy generated in the summer and you might need it in the winter to heat homes.

This is an area that is really ripe for innovation and we are really only at the start of deploying and trailing those. It is a critical part of this new system we are trying to create. When non-authoritative information ranks too high in our search results, we develop scalable, automated approaches to fix the problems, rather than manually removing these one-by-one. We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web.

While we provide the portal for users to find information, we depend on content creators and distributors to apply journalistic discipline to what they are creating. The scale of popular social networks has democratized publishing, which effectively lets anyone — regardless of their intentions or qualifications — produce content that can appear journalistic. I do see a need in the market to develop standards, perhaps from an organization like Nielsen.

Facebook and others are working on this, too. Eddie Copeland, director of government Innovation at Nesta, a UK charity that has looked at the future of democracy in the digital world Rather than waiting for politicians to make decisions and then we all argue over whether what they say reflects reality, we could have tools that engage people much earlier in the process so they can be involved in formulating ideas and drafting legislation, following the course of how ideas go from concept to becoming laws and how effective they are in reality.

It might just give you a fighting chance of making people feel part of a system rather than observing it from the outside. Nonny de la Pena, virtual reality journalist and CEO of Emblematic Group Call me idealistic, but I really believe if you have an informed global citizenry, then people are going to make better decisions. People may not be looking at traditional media for their solutions. I think for audiences, VR is a totally different type of story. There is nothing in print or radio or broadcast that can let you walk around in actual space. That kind of effort, of making those kinds of pieces, is going to get easier and easier.

Now your body can engage. Now when I go to the movies, I find the frames so artificial — I can see the box. I see the square. When I put on a headset, I see the world. The fact that audiences are going to be engaged with this kind of storytelling make sit a very important opportunity for journalism to embrace. Ben Fletcher, senior software engineer at IBM Watson Research who worked on a project to build an AI fact checker We got a lot of feedback that people did not want to be told what was true or not. At the heart of what they want, was actually the ability to see all sides and make the decision for themselves.

A major issue most people face, without knowing it, is the bubble they live in. If they were shown views outside that bubble they would be much more open to talking about them. Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired Magazine The major new challenge in reporting news is the new shape of truth. Truth is no longer dictated by authorities, but is networked by peers. For every fact there is a counterfact. All those counterfacts and facts look identical online, which is confusing to most people.

The only way a fact becomes accepted as true is to be networked with other facts consider to be true. Like in Science, all truth is provisional, although some is more provisional than others. The Truth is really a network of truths, and each of these true facts is probabilistic.

The probability of a fact being true is increased by the degree it is networked with other true facts and the reliability of truthfulness by its source.

Issues and Priorities for the Twenty-first Century

So the challenge before us is to begin to construct a truth signaling layer into the fabric of facts, particularly online. This will be a multi-generational effort that will resemble the construction of wikipedia, but goes far beyond it. Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist at University of Bristol who studies persistence of misinformation in society Having a large number of people in a society who are mis-informed and have their own set of facts is absolutely devastating and extremely difficult to cope with.

There are solutions available — using the technology that has given rise to this problem. Turning it upside down by changing the algorithms in Facebook or on Google to nudge people into sharing or consuming news that are slightly outside their normal comfort zone.

What is happening now is that the cookies you gather as you browse the web will tell the website what it is you like. That way you can keep people from self-radicalising in these ecological bubbles. That sort of technological solution is one good way forward. I think we have to work on that.

Alexios Mantzarlis, chair of the International Fact Checking Network I see a challenge in the flood of reasonable-looking information out there making it harder to distinguish between sources of information. Search algorithms are as flawed as the people who develop them. We should think about adding layers of credibility to sources. We need to tag and structure quality content in effective ways. Will Moy, director of Full Fact, an independent fact checking organisation based in the UK Even if we have structures that impose constraints on people in power and we put pressure on powerful people to be honest with us, in a sense, all of that is being circumvented by social media.

On Facebook, political bodies can put something out, pay for advertising, put it in front of millions of people, yet it is hard for those not being targeting to know they have done that. They can target those people based on how old they are, where they live, what skin colour they have, what gender they are. These messages are so common and so targeted, they are capable of having a massive influence on public decisions.

We have never had a time when it has been so easy to advertise to millions of people and not have the other millions of us notice. There is a role for watchdogs and there is also a role for all of us. Paul Resnick, professor of information at the University of Michigan who developed a tool for identifying rumours on social media called RumourLens The fundamental challenge we now face is how to handle a setting where anybody can get their views disseminated without intermediaries to prevent the distribution.

Somehow there still has to be some process of collectively coming to some agreement of what we are going to believe and what we think are consensual facts. A lot of what I have seen in terms of approaches to deal with that are trying to do things that are focused on assessing the content of factual claims to try to verify whether they are true or not. I think that it is going to be not figuring what to believe but who to believe. If you think about some of the things you personally believe that are fact, there are many that you have not personally verified.

It would be tremendously inefficient for all of us to try to personally verify all of these things. We have to have a setting where we trust other people. Victoria Rubin, director of the language and information technology research lab at Western University, Ontario, Canada If there are people who are willing to blatantly refuse to believe that something is a lie, no matter how hard you try, they won't listen. I'm not sure what amount of evidence is needed in this new paradigm of journalism to get newsreaders out of their new bubbles.

Human psychology is the main obstacle, unwillingness to bend one's mind around facts that don't agree with one's own viewpoint.