Eight worst wildfire weather years on record happened in the last decade

Communities need to be prepared for more to come

Eight worst wildfire weather years on record happened in the last decadeThe world’s eight most extreme wildfire weather years have occurred in the last decade, according to a new study that suggests extreme fire weather is being driven by a decrease in atmospheric humidity coupled with rising temperatures. “Extreme conditions drive the world’s fire activity,” said former University of Alberta wildfire expert Michael Flannigan, who conducted…

How the Western world failed in the face of the COVID-19 crisis

Bureaucracy was a significant obstacle to effective action

How the Western world failed in the face of the COVID-19 crisisThe COVID-19 pandemic has taken countries, governments and people by surprise. Most of us weren’t prepared to face this crisis. Most Western countries initially refused to panic and wanted to manage the situation like other illnesses such as the flu. But the outbreaks in hospitals and other medical facilities in most countries led to true…

The fight against future pandemics must be proactive

Instead of playing catch-up with the next virus, precision medicine lets us deal with it swiftly

The fight against future pandemics must be proactiveOn March 17, David Wishart, ’83 BSc (Hons), fielded a call from Medellin, Colombia. A company called Quantrack had a job for him. The novel COVID‑19 coronavirus had its hooks in the country. The Quantrack team figured that if Wishart, a professor of both biology and computing science, could make one of his famous heat…

Sensor detects when firefighters’ protective clothing is no longer safe

Textiles scientist works with industry to develop a faster, easier way to detect damage from heat, moisture and UV light

Sensor detects when firefighters’ protective clothing is no longer safeFirefighters risk their lives battling blazes, and ageing protective gear can put them at even greater risk. A University of Alberta researcher is working with industry to reduce that risk with a sensor that can detect the gradual breakdown in garments from exposure to heat, moisture and ultraviolet (UV) light. “These fibres age silently and…

Firefighters who fought Fort McMurray wildfire suffer persistent lung damage

With the risk of asthma more than doubling

Firefighters who fought Fort McMurray wildfire suffer persistent lung damageFirefighters at the centre of the battle against the massive Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 have persistent lung damage, according to new findings published by a University of Alberta occupational health research team. “Those who were dealing with burning organic matter were exposed to a barrage of small particles in the smoke, and the ones with the…

The lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 crisis management

We need to cut red tape so we can respond efficiently during times of crisis

The lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 crisis managementThe pandemic took many countries – governments and their citizens – by surprise. Many weren’t prepared to face such a crisis. Initially, most Western countries refused to panic and wanted to manage the situation like another flu epidemic. But the outbreaks in hospitals and other medical facilities in many countries led to chaos, forcing governments…

Our pandemic response seems like a guessing game

From suspect modelling to poor stockpiling to a lack of perspective on historic events, we failed to be ready for COVID-19

Our pandemic response seems like a guessing gameBy Deborah Prabhu and Allan Bonner Where will the COVID-19 pandemic fit into history? What will be the lessons learned, if any? Our guess is we’re learning how little we did to prepare and how much we’re guessing in response as we go along. We had three pandemics in the 20th century. The Spanish Flu…

U of A wildfire expert to head up national research network

New $5-million federal investment will bring together top wildfire scientists to help manage ecosystems, protect communities

U of A wildfire expert to head up national research networkThe University of Alberta will be home to a federal government network whose mission will be to make Canada more resilient to wildfire. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Canadian Wildfire Strategic Network, in which the federal government is investing $5 million, will bring the best minds in wildfire science together to train students,…

Want to pay for medical supplies? Stop funding CBC

Our health-care budgets were already greatly strained before the COVID-19 crisis; they’re completely blown out now

Want to pay for medical supplies? Stop funding CBCTwo of the major issues arising from the current medical emergency and lockdown are how much it would cost to prepare for a similar crisis and how Canadians would pay for it (as well as pay for the one we’re enduring). The N95 particulate mask is deemed necessary to ensure that neither the wearer nor…

Canada’s PPE missteps endangered its citizens

Canada has the raw materials and the industry to ensure its health system is prepared for the next big pandemic

Canada’s PPE missteps endangered its citizensCanada has its priorities all wrong when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing and distribution. Through a series of missteps, the government put its citizens in danger. Negligence and mismanagement resulted in Canada shipping away vital PPE supplies, allowing foreign entities to purchase existing stock, and later importing poor-quality replacements at a time…
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