Australia wildfires: ‘Get out’ if you can, warn UN weather experts
As Australia’s “catastrophic” and deadly wildfire emergency continues, UN weather experts on Tuesday echoed Government warnings for people to remain vigilant in the face of tinderbox conditions.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that dozens of fires are raging in eastern New South Wales and southeast Queensland, amid reports that three people lost their lives in the fires at the weekend. In Geneva, spokesperson Clare Nullis said that conditions were likely to remain dry and windy, with little or no rain forecast:
“Apart from the immediate physical threat…when authorities issue a message of catastrophic fire danger, the message there is basically, “Get out, get away.’”
Although bush and grassfires are common in Australia, the emergency has coincided with increasingly warm temperatures over the course of the last century. According to the Bureau of Meteorology of Australia, January to October 2019 has been the second warmest period on record for 110 years.
Between 1967 and 2013, Australian bushfires caused over 8,000 injuries and 433 deaths – almost half of all fatalities from natural disasters, excluding heatwaves, Government figures show. Over the same period, bushfires cost approximately $3.2 billion.
UN health agency welcomes Ebola vaccine approval
To the deadly Ebola virus now, and news that for the first time, European regulators have approved a vaccine to protect more people from outbreaks like the one happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The World Health Organization has welcomed the development, calling it a landmark moment for global health.
It is already using the vaccine on a special trial basis in eastern DRC, where the latest Ebola epidemic has claimed nearly 2,200 lives since last August. Here’s WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier:
“This is fantastic news, because this means that production can be accelerated throughout the world; multiple manufacturers can get onto it and future outbreaks or anything later can be prevented much easier and in between outbreaks we can vaccinate in areas where another one is anticipated.”
Licensed doses of the vaccine will be available in mid-2020, according to Mr. Lindmeier. He noted that although the weekly number of Ebola cases has levelled off recently, the risk of it returning to former infection hotspots remains high, with access to these communities essential if the outbreak is to be eradicated.
Economies must remain open, to succeed: IP chief
Technological solutions to global problems are increasingly complex and require countries to cooperate more, not less, the head of the UN’s intellectual property agency said on Tuesday.
Launching a new report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Director General Francis Gurry said that today, “ever larger and more specialized” research teams often collaborate thousands of miles apart.
It is “imperative” that economies remain open in the pursuit of innovation, he said.
“Innovation has become more international, more internationally connected. The nature of science and innovation now requires international collaboration, like so many other things.”
According to WIPO, in the early 2000s, teams of inventors produced just over half of all patents; by 2015, this had grown by a quarter. Self-drive car technology is partly responsible for an increased number of innovation hubs around the world, the agency’s report also found, with cities like Berlin and Los Angeles gaining prominence.
While traditional car makers like Ford and Toyota dominate the autonomous vehicle sector, Google is in the top 10 for patent applications - via its subsidiary Waymo - ahead of Nissan, BMW and Hyundai.
In agricultural biotechnology, meanwhile, WIPO found that China, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the U.S. account for more than 80 per cent of all patents. But innovation in this sector is spread more widely than in car-making and spans African, Latin American and Asian countries.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.