Study Shows Overwork Can Kill You, Literally 

A new study on work-related causes of deaths finds long working hours to be the biggest occupational risk factor. The joint study by the World Health Organization and International Labor Organization estimates nearly 2 million people a year die from work-related diseases and injuries. World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is shocking to see so many people literally being killed by their jobs. He said every single work-related death is preventable with the right health and safety measures in place. “More than 80% of work-related deaths are due to non-communicable diseases, primarily cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which are caused by or made worse by factors in the workplace,” Tedros said. “Long working hours are the single deadliest occupational risk factor accounting for 750,000 deaths each year.” The study considers 19 occupational risk factors, including exposure to long working hours, exposure to air pollution in the workplace, as well as carcinogens and noise. Most of the deaths — 80% — are due to occupational non-communicable diseases, the remaining 20% are due to on-the-job accidents.  Frank Pega is WHO Technical Officer, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. He said those most at risk are males and people aged over 54 years. He said a disproportionately large number of work-related deaths occur in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.  “Within these regions, we can also say that low- and middle-income countries are more affected than high-income countries, and I think … with disadvantaged workers, specifically informal economy workers,” Pega said. “So, informal …

Biden Urges International Leaders to Pursue Strong Climate Change Policy

U.S. President Joe Biden convened six heads of state and three leaders of multilateral organizations on Friday to make his plea: that stronger climate action is not just urgent — it is good for the global economy.   The leaders met six weeks ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, an event that aims to chart future global climate efforts.   “I wanted to show that we’re at an inflection point and that there’s a real consensus, a real consensus, that while the climate crisis poses an existential threat, there is a silver lining,” Biden told the leaders of Argentina, Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico and the United Kingdom, who all joined virtually.   “The climate crisis also presents real and incredible economic opportunities to create jobs and lift up the standard of living for people around the world.”   One of Biden’s first acts in office was to return the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change, after his predecessor withdrew saying it was a “bad deal” for the country.   The legally binding international treaty aims to limit the global temperature increase by 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. For developed nations like the U.S. and China — the two largest emitters — that would require a substantial reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.   For the U.S., that would require reducing emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030, a move that could require a marked shift from traditional energy sources like coal towards …

Chinese Astronauts Return after 90 Days Aboard Space Station

A trio of Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Friday after a 90-day stay aboard their nation’s first space station in China’s longest mission yet.     Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo landed in the Shenzhou-12 spaceship just after 1:30 p.m. (0530 GMT) after having undocked from the space station Thursday morning.     State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert where it was met by helicopters and off-road vehicles. Minutes later, a crew of technicians began opening the hatch of the capsule, which appeared undamaged.     The three astronauts emerged about 30 minutes later and were seated in reclining chairs just outside the capsule to allow them time to readjust to Earth’s gravity after three months of living in a weightless environment. The three were due to fly to Beijing on Friday.   “With China’s growing strength and the rising level of Chinese technology, I firmly believe there will even more astronauts who will set new records,” mission commander Nie told CCTV.     After launching on June 17, the three astronauts went on two spacewalks, deployed a 10-meter (33-foot) mechanical arm, and had a video call with Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.   While few details have been made public by China’s military, which runs the space program, astronaut trios are expected to be brought on 90-day missions to the station over the next two years to make it fully functional.     The government has not …

India to Spend $3.5 Billion to Fast-Track Shift to Clean Fuel Cars

Hoping to meet green energy goals and cut down on Indian cities’ air pollution while boosting its flagging auto industry, the Indian government Wednesday announced a $3.5 billion push for electric and hydrogen-fuel powered vehicles. The plan, which includes incentives for automakers to invest in clean technology cars, will allow India to “leapfrog” to environmentally cleaner vehicles, the cabinet said in a statement while announcing the effort. “It will herald a new age in higher technology, more efficient and green automotive manufacturing,” the statement said. Clean fuel vehicles so far make up a fraction of the country’s vehicles, despite ambitious goals announced four years ago for a 100% transition to electric cars by 2030. This move could, however, give India a head start in an industry that is emerging globally by providing an impetus to manufacturers, according to auto analysts. “The government is looking more serious and its focus is clearly on green energy. That is why the support it is extending is not for the entire auto industry, but only for those who invest in technological advancement in the sector,” said Awanish Chandra, an auto analyst at Mumbai-based wealth equities firm SMIFS Limited. The push toward electric vehicles will also contribute significantly to the country’s goal of cutting down carbon emissions — India is the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter. At the same time, its cities have some of the world’s dirtiest air — India is home to 22 out of 30 cites in the world with the worst air …

Fighting Fire with Fire in US to Protect Sequoia Trees

With flames advancing toward the signature grove of ancient massive trees in Sequoia National Park, firefighters on Thursday fought fire with fire. Using firing operations to burn out flammable vegetation and other matter before the wildfire arrives in the Giant Forest is one of several ways firefighters can use their nemesis as a tool to stop, slow or redirect fires. The tactic comes with considerable risks if conditions change. But it is routinely used to protect communities, homes or valuable resources now under threat from fires, including the grove of about 2,000 massive sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest by volume. Here’s how it works: It’s all about the fuel Three things influence how hot and fast a fire burns: the landscape, with fire burning faster up steep slopes; weather, with winds and dry conditions fanning flames; and fuel, the amount of material that can burn. The first two can’t be controlled, but there are ways to reduce fuels long before any fire breaks out — or even as one is approaching. “Of all the things that affect fire behavior, the fuels is really where we can take action,” said Maureen Kennedy, a professor of wildfire ecology at the University of Washington. Historically, low- to moderate-severity fires every five to 30 years burned out excess brush and timber before deadly fires in the early 20th century led to aggressive firefighting and a U.S. Forest Service policy to suppress all fires by 10 a.m. the day after they …

France Suspends 3,000 Unvaccinated Health Care Workers

France has suspended 3,000 health care workers who were not inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine by a government-mandated Sept. 15 deadline. “Several dozens” of the country’s 2.7 million health workers, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday, opted to resign rather than receive the inoculation against the coronavirus. Tens of thousands health workers were unvaccinated in July when President Emmanuel Macron announced the Sept. 15 deadline to have at least one shot of a vaccine. Veran said most suspended employees worked in support services, while few doctors and nurses were among the suspended. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said early Friday that France has reported more than 7 million COVID cases and more than 116,000 COVID deaths. In the U.S. state of Idaho, hospitals have begun rationing care “because the massive increase of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization in all areas of the state has exhausted existing resources,” the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in a statement Thursday. “The situation is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” DHW Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement. The best way to end the rationing “is for more people to get vaccinated,” Jeppesen said.“It dramatically reduces your chances of having to go to the hospital if you do get sick from COVID-19.” The Intenational Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization …

SpaceX Crew of Amateurs Orbits Earth

The first all-civilian crew of astronauts is now orbiting the Earth after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched them into space in spectacular fashion late Wednesday. Video from the launch showed the initial fireball light up the night sky as the rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:02 p.m. local time. The capsule could be seen streaking across the sky as it gained altitude. About 12 minutes into the flight, a bright plume of light appeared as the Dragon capsule separated from the rocket’s second stage and the crew entered orbit, while the reusable first stage made its way back to Earth for a vertical landing on a sea barge.  The team of four amateur astronauts is led by billionaire e-commerce executive Jared Isaacman, 38, who is paying for the entire trip.  A SpaceX webcast of the launch showed Isaacman and his crewmates — Sian Proctor, 51, Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and Chris Sembroski, 42 — strapped into the pressurized cabin of the white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, wearing their flight suits, complete with helmets.  The spaceship’s trajectory will take it to an altitude of 575 kilometers — deeper into space than the International Space Station.  After spending three days orbiting the Earth, the Dragon capsule will splash down off the Florida coast.  In a statement on its website, the U.S. space agency NASA said it was providing some support to SpaceX and the flight of Inspiration4 “on a fully reimbursable, non-interference basis,” including communications, ground …

Nicholas’ Remnants Drench Southeastern US; More Storms Likely 

The remainder of what was Hurricane Nicholas continues to dump rain along the central U.S. Gulf Coast, while the U.S. National Hurricane Center is watching two areas that are likely to become named storms in the next few days.  In Thursday reports, hurricane center forecasters said Nicholas, now a post-tropical depression, was moving through Louisiana to the north and east, where it was expected to drop heavy rain. Flash flood watches The system was expected to produce additional rainfall of 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) across the Gulf Coast Friday, with isolated amounts of 16 centimeters (6 inches) possible. Flash flood watches were in effect from portions of southeast Louisiana, across southern Mississippi and Alabama, to the Florida panhandle, especially in urban areas. Widespread minor river flooding was expected, and scattered moderate flooding was possible.  Meanwhile, forecasters were watching two areas of low pressure in the Atlantic that show a good chance of developing into storms over the next two to three days. One of them, roughly 300 kilometers (185 miles) south-southeast of the Southeastern state of North Carolina, was beginning to show some signs of organization. High surf and gale warnings The forecasters said the system was forecast to move north- and northeastward from the southeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. coasts and could bring high surf and gale warnings to portions of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic coasts later this week. The other system was much farther to the south and east, about 1,450 kilometers (900 miles) west-southwest of …