Published: Monday 15 December 2003

organic reservoir: Spreading an ultra-thin layer of organic molecules on the surface of reservoirs could prevent millions of cubic metres of water evaporating each year, according to Flexible Solutions, a Canadian company. It is the first to commercialise the technique. Field tests of the technology conducted in several countries show an average of 30 per cent reduction in the rate of evaporation.

powerful needs: In order to meet increasing energy demands over the next three decades, an investment of US $16,000 trillion should be made, according to the France-based International Energy Agency. The projected rate of investment will still leave 1.4 billion people without access to electricity by 2030, which is only 200 million fewer than now. Boosting global electricity investment by just seven per cent would be sufficient to bring a minimal level of supply to these marginalised people. However, this would require an investment of more than US $665 billion by the poorest regions of the world.

prickly issue: Forty per cent of all the injections given globally in 2000 were with reused needles, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) study. In some countries, three out of four injections were unsafe. The findings are alarming as reusing needles leads to the spread of blood borne infections, including hepatitis B and C.

carp troubled: A herpes virus has decimated Japan's carp farms. Since October 2003, carps in Lake Kasumigaura and Lake Kitaura have died en masse. Fisheries officials in Ibaraki prefecture, where the lakes are located, say this means a loss of US $1.4 million for the country.

no one spared: Many were shocked by the findings of a recent test -- Margot Wallstrm, the European Union's environment chief, has 28 toxic chemicals in her body. She got herself tested to support the case for new safety rules that are opposed by the industry. One of the chemicals found in her body is the ddt pesticide, which was banned in the European Union in 1983.

malaria weak spot: Researchers from the McGill University in Canada have found that mice lacking a certain metabolic enzyme are protected from the malaria parasite. The mice have a gene defect that makes them deficient in the pyruvate kinase enzyme. The researchers say their findings may explain why some humans living in malaria-prone areas are also protected against the disease -- they may have naturally evolved to be pyruvate kinase-deficient.

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