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@intersex and I explored part of the PCT today and headed to mirror lake. We ate so many huckleberries and found our first chanterelles of the season. We made the hike into a loop and also explored Cottonwood and Twin Lakes

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Beautiful photo!

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I made a short video about Uglek. Watch the video to see some of the site and learn about it.


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This is a photo from the Martin Creek Trail, a large mushroom we saw by the side of the trail. The mushroom is an Amanita vaginata, or Gisette mushroom.

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This is a photo from the hike to Lake 22 in Washington. This hike is steep for part of the trek up the mountain but it evens out and leads up a stream to the lake. This photo is from the view on the way down. Wildfire smoke is visible in the photo from wildfires in Washington.

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Wildfires Break CO2 Emissions Records in 2021 This year, wildfires have caused record carbon dioxide emissions, higher than ever before in nearly two decades of satellite data. 2021 has been a year of climate-related disasters around the world. The landmark report by the United Nations on climate change, released Monday, August 9, confirms that the planet cannot handle the human influences civilization is causing and the climate is only going to get worse. These record-breaking wildfires, triggered by heatwaves are being tracked by Earth observation satellites, some owned by space agencies and some private. In California, the Dixie Fire has become the largest wildfire in the history of the state. It has destroyed more than 700 square miles of land (as of August 8) and has forced people in affected areas to evacuate. In Siberia, out of control wildfires have broken annual records for greenhouse gas emissions. While wildfires in Siberia are less often covered by the news, they are the most worrying. The sparsely populated area has released over 188 megatonnes of carbon since June according to CAMS. The area has almost lost 19,300 square miles of land to the fires, according to estimates at the end of July. These fires are warning signs of the growing climate problems the world is experiencing. They are also contributing to the climate problem, with the greenhouse gasses being released by the fires contributing to global warming.

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Researchers at Penn State are Turning COVID-19 on Itself Using a defective version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, researchers at Penn State hope to drive the disease-causing version to extinction. The team designed a synthetic defective virus that interferes with the real virus, potentially able to cause the extinction of both the disease-causing virus and the synthetic defective. The researchers observed that the disease-causing virus "actually enables the replication and spread of [the] synthetic virus", according to Marco Archetti, associate professor of biology at Penn State. He also notes that a new version of this synthetic construct could be used as a "self-promoting antiviral therapy for COVID-19". How does the therapy work? In order to understand this, it's important to understand how viruses work. When a virus attacks a cell, it attaches to the surface of the cell and injects its genetic material into the cell. The cell is tricked into replicating the virus until it bursts, sending the new viruses off to infect other cells. "Defective interfering" viruses, or DI viruses, which are common in nature, contain deletions in their genomes which can make them unable to attack cells. However, with the help of COVID-19, or wild-type viruses, these DI viruses are able to replicate. In other words, the DI genome can hijack a wild-type genome's replication machinery. These defective genomes work like "parasites of the wild-type virus", said Archetti, explaining that DI genomes use the wild-type genomes machinery to impair its growth. Additionally, DI genomes can replicate faster than wild-type genomes and outcompete the wild-type. In fact, their new study, published in the journal PeerJ, found that the DI genome can replicate three times faster than the wild-type genome, resulting in a lower wild-type viral load by half in one day. The study was done by engineering short synthetic DI genomes from the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 genome and introducing them to African green monkey cells already infected with the wild-type virus. The scientists then measured the relative amounts of DI and wild-type viruses, giving an indication of the interference. Though according to Archetti, the 50% reduction in virus load that they observed over 24 hours is not enough for any therapeutic purposes, presumably the DI genomes could increase in frequency and eventually lead to both the demise of the virus and the DI genome, because the DI cannot persist without the wild-type virus. Archetti says that with "some additional research and fine-tuning", this synthetic DI could be used as a "self-sustaining therapeutic for COVID-19". Reference: โ€œA synthetic defective interfering SARS-CoV-2โ€ by Shun Yao, Anoop Narayanan, Sydney A. Majowicz, Joyce Joseโ€‹ Marco Archettiโ€‹, 1 July 2021, PeerJ.

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July 2021 Was Earth's Hottest Month on Record According to NOAA'S National Centers for Environmental Information, July 2021 earned the record for the hottest month to date. This reflection of the massing climate crisis is a stern reminder that we need to act quickly to combat climate change. "Addressing the climate crisis is a top priority for the Biden Administration and NOAA is and will continue to support that work", says NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad. NOAA is working hard to provide scientific information, tools, and services to help understand climate change and face the future of our climate. Spinrad notes that "It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change, and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying." NOAA is stressing that human impacts on the environment are causing climate change, and things are only getting worse. We are seeing a reflection of the worsening climate change situation in higher temperatures this year, breaking records. The combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.67 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 60.4 degrees F, 0.2 degrees F over the previous record set in July 2016, and tied in 2019 and 2020. More work needs to be done to work to solve the worsening climate situation. These record temperatures are caused by human influence, and the climate will continue to worsen until we switch to renewable energy sources.

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