Robert Swan, OBE, the arctic explorer turned environmentalist, once said “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”. Faced with massive problems like climate change, loss of biodiversity, pandemics and antibiotic resistance, it is tempting to think either that these challenges are unsurmountable, or that they will only be solved by governments, ideally cooperating with each other. The fact is, however, that the choices that we, as individuals, make can produce a significant difference. As I have indicated in my previous post, reducing the amount of meat, particularly beef, that we eat could have a major beneficial effect not just on one of these threats, but on all of them.
The current Coronavirus Pandemic has brought misery to many, and death to over 1.5 million people worldwide. A huge number of businesses are under severe financial strain, or have ceased to trade. The major exceptions are tech companies who conduct all of their business online especially, as I have mentioned earlier, Amazon. As the World has gone into lockdown of various degrees, some other tech winners in the pandemic have been the providers of videoconferencing services, especially the omnipresent Zoom. I suspect most people had never heard of Zoom before 2020, but widespread use has led the company’s revenues to leap 355% to $663.5 million for the quarter ending 31 July, exceeding analysts’ expectations of $500.5 million. In the same period profits soared to $186 million, while customer growth was up 458% compared with the same period in 2019.
I have always thought that women are wonderful creatures. It is my fervent belief that if World history had included far more women in leadership roles the planet might be not be in the mess (to put it politely) that it is. In chemical terms, I think it can be argued that testosterone has done as much global damage as carbon dioxide.
Nobel Prizes are among the most prestigious awards for achievement in various fields, and I think it is a shameful fact that as of this year only 57 women have been awarded Nobel Prizes compared to over 866 men! With all of the above in mind, I was delighted to read that the 2020 Nobel Prize for Chemistry had been awarded to Dr Jennifer Doudna from the USA and Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier from France. Doudna and Charpentier were given the prize for their development of the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9, or often simply “CRISPR”.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an unprecedented global search for treatments and vaccines. As stated in my previous post, antibodies have attractions as potential antiviral treatments, and trials are already underway using convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from infection with SARS-CoV-2. I have already mentioned the limitations of this approach, however, and the advantages of using highly specific monoclonal antibodies instead.
A lot of the strange conspiracy theories connected with COVID involve 5G mobile networks. These ideas have sprung up all over the World, even in countries like Bolivia, which doesn’t have 5G technology!
I previously made the point that social media platforms can provide an invaluable means of spreading useful public health information about the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also generated a variety of bizarre beliefs, and these have spread throughout the World, largely through social media. Social media services have also allowed individuals to denigrate effective measures, such as social distancing, and to promote totally ineffective coronavirus “cures”.
My Experience of Social Media I have been a fan of social media every since it came into existence. My first foray into the field was as a member of the photo sharing website Flickr. Flickr was launched in 2004 by Ludicorp, a Vancouver-based company founded by Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake. I joined Flickr…