Ebola Virus Vaccine Proven to Work

A team of Canadian and American researchers have tested a vaccine for the ebola virus on primates, and it seems to be working. They hope that what they’ve learned from finding a vaccine for ebola can be applied to other viruses like HIV/AIDs.

“Ebola virus is a Biosafety Level 4 threat, along with many other haemorrhagic fever viruses”, says Dr Sanchez. “As well as the difficulty in getting the right staff and facilities, vaccines for viruses like Ebola, Marburg and Lassa fever have been difficult to produce because simple ‘killed’ viruses that just trigger an antibody response from the blood are not effective. For these viruses we need to get a cell-mediated response, which involves our bodies producing killer T-cells before immunity is strong enough to prevent or clear an infection.”

The researchers have now used several different recombinant DNA techniques, which have allowed them to trigger a cell-mediated response and produce a vaccine that is effective in non-human primates. One of the candidate vaccines is about to be tested on people for the first time, after entering Phase 1 clinical trials in autumn 2006.

Earth Hour Tomorrow

Earth Hour is tomorrow!

It’s a symbolic turning off of electric devices to show some respect for the environment. Everyone ought to join in and make earth hour a daily event.

On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. If the greenhouse reduction achieved in the Sydney CBD during Earth Hour was sustained for a year, it would be equivalent to taking 48,616 cars off the road for a year.

With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice. Inspired by the collective effort of millions of Sydneysiders, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour in 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement.

Natural Pesticides and 4th Graders

In Oregon farmers are working with a class of 4th graders to educate them on natural alternatives to pesticides. For earth day this year the farmers from the Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers will release 10,000 ladybugs that will eat the bad things that hurt the farmers’ crops.

Because when you consider the fact that most people have never had the opportunity to watch tens of thousands of insects working together towards a positive, natural result I think it becomes obvious the kind of impression it will leave. And a lasting impression provides their teachers with a great opportunity to teach math, art, literature, social studies and science to them in various ways around the theme of environmental sustainability.

Change Buildings, Save the World

A study has been released (2mb PDF) by Commission for Environmental Cooperation; and Celsias has put up a nice summery for us. They note that a simple way for us to lower our impact on the environment is to change how we construct buildings in North America.

Existing building techniques can be used to improve efficiency of our buildings.

In Canada, buildings are responsible for:

  • 33 % of all energy used;
  • 50 % of natural resources consumed;
  • 12 % of non-industrial water used;
  • 25 % of landfill waste generated;
  • 10 % of airborne particulates produced; and
  • 35 % of greenhouse gases emitted.

In Mexico, buildings are responsible for:

  • 17 % of all energy used;
  • 25 % of all electricity used;
  • 20 % of all carbon dioxide emissions;
  • 5 % of potable water consumption; and
  • 20 % of the waste generated.

Disney Influenced Environmentalists

According to a University of Cambridge professor Disney has helped create the wave of environmentalism that we are currently riding. I’m kinda skeptical about this, but it’s good news nonetheless.

Dr Whitley singled out Bambi, which was released in 1942, as particularly influential, saying that many green activists had credited it as the inspiration that first made them interested in environmental issues.

He said: “Disney films have often been criticised as inauthentic and pandering to popular taste rather than developing the animation medium in a more thought-provoking way.

“In fact, these films have taught us variously about having a fundamental respect for nature. Some of them, such as Bambi, inspired conservation awareness and laid the emotional groundwork for environmental activism.

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