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Hsinchu, Taiwan

Chen G.-Y.,National Tsing Hua University | Pang D.W.-P.,National Tsing Hua University | Hwang S.-M.,Development Institute | Tuan H.-Y.,National Tsing Hua University | Hu Y.-C.,National Tsing Hua University
Biomaterials | Year: 2012

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) hold great promise as a cell source for regenerative medicine yet its culture, maintenance of pluripotency and induction of differentiation remain challenging. Conversely, graphene (G) and graphene oxide (GO) have captured tremendous interests in the fields of materials science, physics, chemistry and nanotechnology. Here we report on that G and GO can support the mouse iPSCs culture and allow for spontaneous differentiation. Intriguingly, G and GO surfaces led to distinct cell proliferation and differentiation characteristics. In comparison with the glass surface, iPSCs cultured on the G surface exhibited similar degrees of cell adhesion and proliferation while iPSCs on the GO surface adhered and proliferated at a faster rate. Moreover, G favorably maintained the iPSCs in the undifferentiated state while GO expedited the differentiation. The iPSCs cultured on both G and GO surfaces spontaneously differentiated into ectodermal and mesodermal lineages without significant disparity, but G suppressed the iPSCs differentiation towards the endodermal lineage whereas GO augmented the endodermal differentiation. These data collectively demonstrated that the different surface properties of G and GO governed the iPSCs behavior and implicate the potentials of graphene-based materials as a platform for iPSCs culture and diverse applications. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

A shoddy building collapses in an earthquake, people are injured, then hospitals and health professionals respond. So Ardalan has worked to strengthen Iran's healthcare system - from hospitals to the country's 150,000 female community health volunteers - by training them in what to do when disasters strike. "Disasters have an impact on public health, and health systems have to take a proactive approach, preventive measures to reduce the risk of disasters," said Ardalan, chair of the Disaster and Emergency Health Academy at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Ardalan was one of several speakers at a conference held last week in Bangkok to discuss implementation of health aspects of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by U.N. member states a year ago. Health is a relatively new aspect of disaster risk reduction. The Sendai accord was the first to give health a higher profile, with measures to protect health by reducing damage to hospitals and ensuring medical care continues in disasters. It also tackles the risks of epidemics and pandemics. In the decade ending in 2014, disasters caused $1.4 trillion in damage, killed about 700,000 people and affected 1.7 billion others, according to the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Key infrastructure and healthcare facilities are often wiped out. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China damaged or destroyed 11,000 hospitals, while the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami damaged 61 percent of health facilities in Aceh, Indonesia, killed 7 percent of the area's health workers and 30 percent of its midwives, according to the Overseas Development Institute. Disaster health experts like Ardalan have focused on building resilience and preparing for such catastrophes. Iran has worked to ensure its hospitals have disaster contingency plans, including evacuation plans in the event of an earthquake or flood, said Ardalan, who is also a visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health and an adviser to the World Health Organization. Iran has also trained its community health volunteers - all women - to conduct household training, which includes drawing a household earthquake risk map to show danger spots near big windows or under large ceiling lights, as well as safe spots under tables or near pillars. Last year, the volunteers trained 500,000 households across Iran, he said. "We believe it's better to be proactive, work with them, so they are sensitive to their safety and know how to react if something happens," he said on the sidelines of the conference. "It's a very-cost effective intervention for the entire society." Similar efforts are under way to provide health and disaster preparedness for ethnic minority communities in rural China. Emily Ying Yang Chan, who worked for Médecins Sans Frontières for 17 years and now heads the disaster and medical humanitarian response center at Chinese University in Hong Kong (CUHK), began the ethnic minority health program about six months after the Sichuan quake. The typical community her team works with is two flights and a seven-hour bumpy car ride away, though one village, 5,000 meters above sea level on the Tibetan Plateau, took 17 hours to get to in a four-wheel-drive car. Chan's approach has been to provide the knowledge or help that villagers request, on condition that her team gets to conduct disaster risk training. Most communities want to learn more about economic development, though women also ask them to teach their husbands not to smoke or how to read food labels. In return, Chan and her students from the Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC) give health advice such as not burning waste indoors and reducing salt intake. Then the team helps the community to prepare disaster kits, handing out red cloth bags, with large Chinese characters that read "rescue bag". They put in soap, a towel, a bottle of water and non-perishable food, as well as a manual battery-less torch and a multipurpose knife with a can opener - which Chan said has often been missing from aid packages. "A lot of agencies sent food supplies, but forgot to send a can opener, and many people come to the clinic with cuts because they use whatever they can to cut (open the can)," she said. The ethnic minority health program team has worked in 11 villages, visiting each one four times over a two-year period. The biggest challenge now, Chan says, is digesting the data they have gathered, to improve and scale up assistance for the villagers.

News Article | January 20, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

Virginie Le Masson argues that paying that attention to gender differences matters What does gender have to do with climate change? It’s a question I often hear when engaging with practitioners and policymakers. I am a researcher who advocates for attention to gender to be integrated in efforts to address climate change – in climate change mitigation, in strategies to adapt to climate impacts, and in negotiations towards a global climate change agreement. To answer that question, I tend to avoid using the mainstream argument that women are more vulnerable to climate change than men. Many studies have documented that women are part of households and relationships from which they cannot necessarily be separated. Whatever impacts women will also impact those around them, albeit in different ways. This is why we must work on gender relations, rather than on women only. Instead, I show that men and women across societies have different roles and perspectives, which make their relation with their environment unique. For instance, while conducting research in the Himalayan province of Ladakh in India, I realized that when asking local villagers questions concerning water access, I received very different answers from women compared to those that my male research colleague received from men that he interviewed. People in Ladakh rely on water from glaciers and melted-snow for daily consumption and irrigation. Changes in temperatures, combined with increased demand for limited water resources, make water availability fluctuate dramatically. At one particular site, men did not raise any concerns about access water, yet almost all the women I interviewed said that availability and access to water is one of their main daily challenges. Women are responsible for fetching water and for irrigating fields, and therefore they have first-hand knowledge of the availability of water and how climate change is impacting this resource. Differences in roles and status, and the socio-economic context in which people live, also affect their different abilities to cope with extreme weather events. As part of other research in India, I talked to inhabitants of a low-income urban area in Gorakhpur, in the eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, about how they cope with regular floods. Those who rely on growing and selling crops as their main source of income develop strategies to adapt to recurrent flooding. For instance, women farmers grow climbing beans or cucumbers on long sticks so that their crops are not destroyed even when flood waters up to two metres deep inundate fields for several weeks. In parallel, men selling food or clothes use a small cartwheel in order to place their business in strategic locations, safe from hazards, and to follow the crowd at different moments of the day. However, those strategies might be disrupted when people suffer from health problems that restrict their physical ability to look after their garden or go to the market, particularly when they do not benefit from social security from the state. In order to cope with the loss of income, people take out loans that they can only pay back by selling their main asset, which is often their plot of land. This is when gender becomes a key analytical lens. Although women are the primary users of the land to cultivate crops, men are those owning the title of the land and therefore they decide if and for how much they want to sell it. In a context of poverty, owners – therefore men – are pressured by real estate corporations to sell their land at a cheap price, often bribed with gifts in kind, such as alcohol. A study by the World Health Organisation states that alcohol abuse is one of the main killers of young men in India, and has severe repercussions on the social and family dynamics (e.g. domestic violence) and economic resources (e.g. reduced wages, increased medical expenses, loss of assets). There are countless other examples showing that attention to gender differences matters when working on disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change, and this is also true for climate change mitigation. The European Institute for Gender Equality reports that women and men living in Europe contribute differently to greenhouse gases. For instance, its 2012 study shows that more women use public transport but that men tend to be more conscious about purchasing energy-efficient cars. Women also more often declare themselves willing to choose low-carbon practices and make changes in their everyday lifestyles, like choosing a cleaner power supply. Attention to gender and gender relations helps us understand how differences in access to resources and power between men and women influence how populations interact and care for their environment. Gender constructions – such as social norms, traditions and cultural aspects of the societies we grow up in – influence who we are, how we interact with each other and what roles we are supposed or able to play in our societies. I believe that only when we seriously listen to and integrate the perspectives of those we rarely hear from can we reconcile development progress and the imperative to care for the environment. Beyond the question of gender differences is the issue of gender equality and access to power. Tackling gender inequalities is necessary to achieve sustainable development (not to mention to respect basic human rights), and vice versa. Only when we recognize differences but challenge inequalities can we ensure that those who suffer from discriminatory laws or unfair economic practices will not further suffer from the adverse impacts of climate change. Only when we confront gender imbalances can we create an enabling environment for those traditionally excluded from power positions, to participate equally in making decisions and creating policies that will affect their lives positively. – Virginie Le Masson is a Research Officer working for the Social Development and Climate and Environment programmes at the Overseas Development Institute, London. She is also the gender focal point for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. Her research focuses on the gender dimension of disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation and adaptation. She is co-editing a book, Understanding Climate Change through Gender Relations, for Routledge, to be published in 2016.

« Wrightspeed in $30M deal to provide range-extended electric powertrains to NZ Bus | Main | LeEco unveils autonomous LeSEE EV concept; partnering with Faraday Future on autonomous driving research center » Over the past three years, the amount of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) used each year in automotive applications has been 10% higher than forecasted by Ducker Worldwide, the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) announced. SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). According to a study conducted by Ducker Worldwide, AHSS continues its growth trajectory with approximately 254 pounds per vehicle in 2014, surpassing estimates in 2010 for 2014 by more than 20 pounds per vehicle. The trend toward higher than expected use of AHSS is one indicator of the high value of steel. Another is the lower-than-forecasted adoption of aluminum, noted by aluminum companies in late 2015.

News Article | August 31, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

Major global insurance companies are urging G20 leaders to commit to a specific timeline for rapidly phasing out fossil fuel subsidies – something they’ve repeatedly failed to do over the years despite numerous promises to end support for the industry. In a joint statement issued ahead of the G20 conference in China this weekend, insurers with more than USD$1.2 trillion in assets under management warn that support for the production of coal, oil, and gas is at odds with the nations’ commitment to tackle climate change agreed in Paris last December. The statement, signed by Aviva, Aegon NV, and MS Amlin, calls for governments to set “a clear timeline for the full and equitable phase-out by all G20 members of all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020.” It adds that the phase-out should begin by eliminating all subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and coal production. “Climate change in particular represents the mother of all risks – to business and to society as a whole,” said Mark Wilson, chief executive of Aviva. “And that risk is magnified by the way in which fossil fuel subsidies distort the energy market. These subsidies are simply unsustainable.” G20 nations have been pledging to phase out fossil fuel subsidies every year since 2009. Yet, research by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Oil Change International shows governments spending $444 billion in 2013 and 2014 supporting the fossil fuel industry. Shelagh Whitley, lead research fellow working on subsidies at ODI, said: “These subsidies fuel dangerous climate change. If we are to have any chance of meeting the 2C target set at the Paris climate summit then governments need to start a programme of rapid decarbonisation. “It is extremely worrying therefore that the G20 energy ministers earlier this year acted as if Paris hadn’t happened by repeating the same empty promises they have been making since 2009.” In May, G7 nations agreed to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. However, when G20 leaders gathered the following month, they were met with criticism for failing to follow the G7 in setting a date to end the subsidies. And insurance companies aren’t the only ones putting pressure on the upcoming G20 meeting to set a clear phase-out timeline. Last week the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) joined the ODI in calling for leaders to end support for fossil fuels by 2020. Chair of the IFoA’s Resource and Environment Board, Nico Aspinall, said: “Without these subsidies, there would be a more level playing field for the investment in renewable energy sources we desperately need to avoid the worst consequences of climate change in the future.” Also last week, a group of 130 major institutions controlling $13tn in investments called on the G20 nations to ratify the Paris agreement this year along with committing to increasing investment in clean energy and disclose climate-related financial risks. As ODI’s Whitley put it: “The finance sector recognises the importance of moving away from fossil fuels, governments need to realise they may be the only ones left not moving.”

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