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Showing posts from June 23, 2017

Why do epilepsy drugs don’t work for some women? Scientists find out (downtoearth)

Effective treatment is available for epilepsy, but doctors had found out that epilepsy drugs don’t work in some women. Now scientists have figured out why some women suffer from recurrent seizures despite medication.

Scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), both in New Delhi, have found that a variation in a gene called Cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) is responsible for some women to suffer from frequent epileptic seizures despite taking one or a combination of known anti-epileptic drugs. The study results have been published in The Pharmacogenomics Journal.

CYP1A1 gene, known to make an enzyme that regulates the levels of female hormone estrogen in the blood, is also important in controlling drug response in epilepsy. “Since this gene is involved in dispersal of estrogen, we thought that perhaps an altered expression of it is contributing to higher levels of estradiol, which, in turn, was increasi…

Thirty new smart cities announced; India to have City Livability Index (downtoearth)

On the occasion of completion of two years of Smart Cities Mission (SCM) and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) announced the new batch of smart cities at a National Workshop on Urban Transformation. The Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, M Venkaiah Naidu, said that 45 cities contested for 40 available smart city slots but only 30 were selected to ensure feasible and workable plans that match the aspirations of the citizens. “The mission is an echo of urban revival,” the minister said.

The government had launched its flagship “100 Smart Cities Mission" in 2015. As of now, 90 cities (10 in the first round, 13 in the fast track round, 27 in the second round and 30 in the third round) have been selected as smart cities. In the third round of the Smart Cities selection, the Centre had shortlisted 45 cities, out of which, 30 have been selected

Creating smart cities would enta…

Combating soil pollution vital for addressing climate change (downtoearth)

Excess human activities leading to soil pollution took centre stage at the fifth Global Soil Partnership Plenary Assembly held at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome.

Excessive amount of nitrogen and trace metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury can impair plant metabolism and reduce crop productivity. When they enter the food chain, these pollutants pose risk to food security, water resources, rural livelihoods and human health.

“Soil pollution is an emerging problem, but, because it comes in so many forms, the only way we can reduce knowledge gaps and promote sustainable soil management is to intensify global collaboration and build reliable scientific evidence,” Ronald Vargas, a FAO soils officer, said.

“Combating soil pollution and pursuing sustainable soil management is essential for addressing climate change,” Rattan Lal, president of the International Union of Soil Sciences, said.

Combating soil degradation

Around one-third of the world’s…

Countries are progressing too slowly on green growth, says OECD (downtoearth)

Many countries have become more efficient in using natural resources and the services provided by the environment, generating more economic output per unit of carbon emitted and of energy or raw materials consumed. Yet progress is too slow, and if emissions embodied in international trade are included, advances in environmental productivity are more modest, a new OECD report shows.

Green Growth Indicators 2017 uses a range of indicators covering everything from land use to CO2 productivity and innovation to show where 46 countries rank on balancing economic growth with environmental pressures over 1990 to 2015. It finds that Denmark, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Italy and the Slovak Republic have made the most progress on green growth since 2000.

The report shows that no country is performing well on all green growth dimensions and most of the countries studied are yet to fully disconnect economic growth from fossil fuel use and pollutant emissions. Progress has often been insufficie…

Revised global population forecast predicts slight increase (downtoearth)

Global population will touch 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, a revised 2017 forecast by the United Nations published recently says. The revision raises previous predictions of 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050.

The main reason behind the revision is the growing population rate in India and Africa. India’s population, currently at 1.3 billion, is expected to surpass China’s in the next seven years. Nigeria, with the world’s fastest growing population, is projected to overtake the United States to become the third most populous country before 2050.

Africa’s baby boom

Africa is experiencing continued high rates of population growth. The report predicts between 2017 and 2050, the populations of 26 African countries will expand to at least double their current size.

In an interview given to Down To Earth earlier via mail, John F May, visiting scholar of the US-based Population Reference Bureau, pointed out three reasons behind Africa’s (especia…

A moment for realism (hindu )

The case for India-U.S. partnership has been always strong, but the romanticism accompanying it is on test

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump shake hands and perhaps embrace each other next week, the mandatory encomiums about India and U.S. being the world’s largest and oldest democracies, respectively, would have a sombre undertone to them. Both these democracies are passing through testing times.

Two nations in churning
Powerful political forces are trying to re-litigate principles that have held for decades in India, and have evolved over centuries in America. This ongoing re-litigation involves, at the functional level, some fundamental questions about citizenship, individual and collective rights, particularly religious rights, the terms of engagement between the state and citizens, the balance of power between various branches of the government, the role of the media, etc. At the conceptual level, what is being debated is the question of national ident…