Iceland's Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque – BBC News

Iceland’s Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque – BBC News

Iceland’s Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque By Toby Luckhurst BBC News 18 August 2019 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Rice University/Dominic Boyer/Cymene Howe Image caption The plaque commemorates Okjokull, which once sat atop Ok volcano – “jokull” is Icelandic for glacier Mourners are gathering in Iceland to commemorate the loss of Okjokull, which has died at the age of about 700.
The glacier was officially declared dead in 2014 when it was no longer thick enough to move.
What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano.
Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson and former Irish President Mary Robinson are due to attend the ceremony.
After opening remarks by Ms Jakobsdottir, mourners will walk up the volcano northeast of the capital Reykjavik to lay a plaque which carries a letter to the future.
“Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier,” it reads.
“In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done.
“Only you know if we did it.”
The dedication, written by Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, ends with the date of the ceremony and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air globally – 415 parts per million (ppm). Interactive See how Iceland’s Okjokull has shrunk August 2019 September 1986
“You think in a different time scale when you’re writing in copper rather than in paper,” Mr Magnason told the BBC. “You start to think that someone actually is coming there in 300 years reading it.
“This is a big symbolic moment,” he said. “Climate change doesn’t have a beginning or end and I think the philosophy behind this plaque is to place this warning sign to remind ourselves that historical events are happening, and we should not normalise them. We should put our feet down and say, okay, this is gone, this is significant.”
Oddur Sigurdsson is the glaciologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office who pronounced Okjokull’s death in 2014.
He has been taking photographs of the country’s glaciers for the past 50 years, and noticed in 2003 that snow was melting before it could accumulate on Okjokull. Mighty Greenland glacier slams on brakes
“Eventually I thought it was so low that I wanted to go up there and check myself. I did that in 2014,” he said. “The glacier was not moving – it was not thick enough to stay alive. We call that dead ice.”
The glaciologist explains that when enough ice builds up, the pressure forces the whole mass to move.
“That’s where the limit is between a glacier and not a glacier,” he says. “It needs to be 40 to 50 metres thick to reach that pressure limit.” Image copyright Josh Okun Image caption Okjokull sat atop the volcano Ok northeast of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik
An Icelandic broadcaster accompanied Mr Sigurdsson to the glacier in 2014 to report the death of Okjokull. But the glaciologist says it “did not stir up very much attention”.
“I was a little surprised because this glacier was visible from densely inhabited areas and a good part of the Icelandic ring road,” he said. “It was also known to most kids because of its peculiar name and place on maps.”
Enter anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer. The two professors from Rice University in Texas made a documentary about the loss of the glacier called Not Ok in 2018, and came up with the idea of a memorial during filming.
“Here was this really important story about this glacier that tells us something about the catastrophic changes we’re seeing all around glacial basins everywhere on the planet and yet the story wasn’t very well known,” Dr Howe told the BBC. “So part of the reason we wanted to make the movie was to get some more visibility for the phenomenon. And the plaque kind of followed in those footsteps.” Image copyright Josh Okun Image caption Dominic Boyer, Cymene Howe and their student Magnus Sigurdsson climbed into the mountains earlier in the week to drill holes for the plaque
“People felt this was a real loss, and that it deserved some kind of memorial,” Dr Boyer said. “Plaques recognise things that humans have done, accomplishments, great events. The passing of a glacier is also a human accomplishment – if a very dubious one – in that it is anthropogenic climate change that drove this glacier to melt.
“It’s not the first glacier in the world to melt – there have been many others, certainly many smaller glacial masses – but now that glaciers the size of Ok are beginning to disappear, it won’t be long before the big glaciers, the ones whose names are well recognised, will come under threat.”
Glaciers have great cultural significance in Iceland and beyond. Snaefellsjokull, a glacier-capped volcano in the west of the country, is where characters in Jules Verne’s science fiction novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth found a passage to the core of the planet. That glacier is now also receding.
“My generation had to learn by heart the names of the most significant mountains, moors, fjords,” Mr Magnason explained. “So culturally it’s also referring back to childhood textbooks.
“The world that we learned how it was, learned by heart as some kind of eternal fact, is not a fact any more.” Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Tourists fled a huge wave created as a section broke off a glacier in Iceland
Mr Sigurdsson made an inventory of Icelandic glaciers in the year 2000, finding there were just over 300 scattered across the island. By 2017, 56 of the smaller glaciers had disappeared.
“150 years ago no Icelander would have bothered the least to see all the glaciers disappear,” he said, as they advanced over farmlands and flooded whole areas with melt waters and streams. “But since then, while the glaciers were retreating, they are looked at as a beautiful thing, which they definitely are.
“The oldest Icelandic glaciers contain the entire history of the Icelandic nation,” he added. “We need to retrieve that history before they disappear.” Related Topics

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Candida auris: The new superbug on the block – BBC News

Fungal infection ‘threat’ to human health What sort of illness does it cause?
C. auris most frequently causes bloodstream infections, but can also infect the respiratory system, the central nervous system and internal organs, as well as the skin.
These infections are usually quite serious. Around the world, up to 60% of patients who get a C. auris infection have died.
The fungus is often resistant to the usual drugs, which makes infections difficult to treat.
Also, C. auris is often mistaken for a different infection, leading to the wrong treatment being given.
This means that the patient might be ill for longer or get worse.
“A number of UK hospitals have already experienced outbreaks requiring support from Public Health England,” said Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green, infection control practitioner and UCL clinical lecturer.
She added: “C. auris survives in hospital environments and so cleaning is key to control. Detection can be serious for both individual patients and for the hospital, as control can prove difficult.”
Dr Colin Brown, consultant medical microbiologist for Public Health England’s national infection service, said: “NHS hospitals that have experienced outbreaks of C. auris have not found it to be the cause of death in any patients.
“PHE is working closely with the NHS to provide expert support and advice on infection control measures to limit the spread of C. auris.” Should I be worried about getting an infection?
It is unlikely that you will pick up a C. auris infection.
However, the risk is higher if you are in a hospital for a long time or if you are in a nursing home, and patients who are in intensive care are much more likely to get a C. auris infection.
The risk of picking up an infection is also higher if you have been on antibiotics a lot, because the drugs also destroy good bacteria that can stop C. auris getting in.
In the UK, about 60 patients have been infected by C. auris since 2013.
The Centers for Disease Control in the US has reported that globally, more and more countries are reporting cases of C. auris infections.
Most European countries have now reported some, with Greece being the last – in April this year. Why is C. auris resistant to the usual drugs?
Resistance to the common antifungal drugs, like fluconazole, has been found in the majority of C. auris strains found in patients.
This means that these drugs do not work on C. auris. Because of this, less common antifungal drugs have been used to treat these infections, but C. auris has now developed resistance to these, too.
DNA evidence shows that the antifungal resistance genes in C. auris are very similar to those found in the very common C. albincans.
This suggests that the resistance genes have passed from one species to the other. How can climate change be responsible for the high numbers of infections?
A study suggests that the reason C. auris infections have become so common may be because this species has been forced to live at higher temperatures because of climate change.
Most fungi prefer the cooler temperatures found in soil. But, as global temperatures have risen, C. auris has been forced to adapt to higher temperatures.
This may have made it easier for the fungus to thrive in the human body, which is warm at 36C to 37C. What can be done to reduce the number of infections?
A better understanding of who is most at risk of contracting a C. auris infection is the first step to reducing the number of infections.
Healthcare professionals need to know that people who spend a long time in hospitals, nursing homes or are immunocompromised are at high risk.
Not all hospitals identify C. auris in the same way. They are sometimes mistaken for other fungal infections, like thrush, and the wrong treatment is given.
Improving diagnosis will help to identify patients with C. auris earlier, which will mean that the right treatment is given – preventing the spread of infection to other patients.
C. auris is very tough and can survive on surfaces for a long time.
It also cannot be killed using most common detergents and disinfectants.
Using the right cleaning chemicals is important to eliminate it from hospitals, especially if there is an outbreak.

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Afghanistan: Bomb rips through wedding in Kabul – BBC News

These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright AFP Image caption The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack Burials are taking place in the Afghan capital, Kabul after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and wounding more than 180.
The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind for the attack.
The blast happened on Saturday during a wedding ceremony at around 22:40 local time (18.10 GMT).
President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack, describing it as “barbaric”. He blamed the Taliban for “providing a platform to terrorists.”
The Taliban has denied involvement and condemned the attack. What happened?
An IS statement said that one of its fighters blew himself up at a “large gathering” while others “detonated a parked explosives-laden vehicle” when emergency services arrived.
The Afghan interior ministry confirmed the death toll hours later. Pictures on social media showed bodies strewn across the wedding hall amid overturned chairs and tables.
Afghan weddings often include hundreds of guests who gather in large halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children. What could peace in Afghanistan look like?
The groom who gave his name as Mirwais told local TV: “My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting.
“I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again.”
“I can’t go to the funerals, I feel very weak … I know that this won’t be the last suffering for Afghans, the suffering will continue,” he said. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Burials are taking place in Kabul following the attack
The bride’s father told local media that 14 members of his family were killed in the attack.
Wedding guest Mohammad Farhag said he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge explosion in the men’s area.
“Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he told AFP news agency.
“For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded.” Image copyright Reuters Image caption More than 180 people were injured in the bombing
A waiter at the hall, Sayed Agha Shah, said “everybody was running” after the blast.
“Several of our waiters were killed or wounded,” he added. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption The floor of the wedding hall was covered in blood after the explosion
Writing on Twitter, president Ashraf Ghani said he had called a security meeting to “review and prevent such security lapses.” Skip Twitter post by @ashrafghani I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul last night. My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred.

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Afghanistan: Bomb rips through wedding in Kabul – BBC News

These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright AFP Image caption The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack Burials are taking place in the Afghan capital, Kabul after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and wounding more than 180.
The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack.
The blast happened on Saturday during a wedding ceremony at around 22:40 local time (18.10 GMT).
President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack, describing it as “barbaric”. He blamed the Taliban for “providing a platform to terrorists.”
The Taliban has denied involvement and condemned the attack. What happened?
An IS statement said that one of its fighters blew himself up at a “large gathering” while others “detonated a parked explosives-laden vehicle” when emergency services arrived.
The Afghan interior ministry confirmed the death toll hours later. Pictures on social media showed bodies strewn across the wedding hall amid overturned chairs and tables.
Afghan weddings often include hundreds of guests who gather in large halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children. What could peace in Afghanistan look like?
The groom who gave his name as Mirwais told local TV: “My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting.
“I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again.”
“I can’t go to the funerals, I feel very weak … I know that this won’t be the last suffering for Afghans, the suffering will continue,” he said. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Burials are taking place in Kabul following the attack
The bride’s father told local media that 14 members of his family were killed in the attack.
Wedding guest Mohammad Farhag said he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge explosion in the men’s area.
“Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he told AFP news agency.
“For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded.” Image copyright Reuters Image caption More than 180 people were injured in the bombing
A waiter at the hall, Sayed Agha Shah, said “everybody was running” after the blast.
“Several of our waiters were killed or wounded,” he added. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption The floor of the wedding hall was covered in blood after the explosion
Writing on Twitter, president Ashraf Ghani said he had called a security meeting to “review and prevent such security lapses.” Skip Twitter post by @ashrafghani I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul last night. My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred.

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Porthcawl public toilet plan includes anti-sex measures – BBC News

Image copyright RSC Architect Image caption Porthcawl Town Council has submitted plans for the new facility to the local authority Public toilets planned for a seaside town will include design features aimed at deterring vandalism, rough sleepers and sexual activity.
Plans for the facilities in Porthcawl’s Griffin Park include weight-sensitive floors to ensure one user at a time.
Violent movement would activate a water jet to soak users, automatically open the doors and sound an alarm.
Responsibility for Porthcawl’s public toilets has been transferred from Bridgend council to the town council.
Plans say people would be able to use the cubicles for a set time to deter rough sleepers, dousing equipment would be installed to prevent smoking and drug-taking and walls and floors would be graffiti-resistant.
Image copyright Porthcawl Town Council Image caption The existing Griffin Park public toilets in Porthcawl Planning documents state: “Every effort has been made to make sure that the new toilet facility will enhance this location and be safe for the community at all times.”
People will have to pay to use the toilets but the town council has yet to decide how much to charge.
Where have all the public toilets gone? Public toilets face change of hands More public loos expected from councils The town council is paying £135,000 towards the £170,000 project and Bridgend council is providing £35,000.
Town councillor Mike Clarke told the Local Democracy Reporting Service : “Rebuilding the public toilets is an important element of Porthcawl Town Council’s ambition to ensure that Porthcawl is a great place to live, work and to visit.”
The existing facilities are due to close in October while the demolition and construction of the new building takes place – temporary toilets will be provided nearby.
Image copyright LDRS Image caption Residents of Porthcawl have campaigned to keep their public toilets open

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