World Economic Forum (May 20, 2023) – This week’s top stories of the week include:
0:15 Greece makes nearly 200 beaches wheelchair accessible – Seatrac bathing chairs glide into the sea. Wheelchair users reach the Seatrac by an accessible wooden path, transfer to a recliner, then ‘drive’ into the sea using a remote control. At the water’s edge, they can sit and cool off or go for a swim, heading back to the chair for a break. Seatrac chairs are solar-powered and Greek-designed. Enabling people with disabilities to enjoy the sea independently without negotiating the sand, which can be tricky for some.
1:39 This robot surfs over grain, protecting farmers – The robot crawls over grain heaps, while a smaller partner robot burrows in to check the grain is being stored efficiently. Farmers need to check the condition of stored grains such as wheat and barley regularly to protect them from mould and insects. Typically, a person walks on top of the grain bulk and samples it with spears but this method is arduous, time-consuming and dangerous as the grain can shift suddenly and trap them underneath. In 2019, 38 grain engulfments led to 23 deaths in the US alone. Some companies don’t monitor their grain at all because of the dangers involved. These robots are made by Edinburgh start-up Crover.
2:52 These simple measures could save 1 million babies a year – Globally, 1 in 4 babies are born either too soon or too small. Vulnerabilities like these are behind more than half of all newborn deaths and their foundations are laid during pregnancy. Doctors say 1 million neonatal deaths in the developing world could be avoided if we administer simple, low-cost measures during pregnancy. Such as progesterone, help to stop smoking and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. That’s according to a new study in The Lancet…
4:20 The link between green energy and forever chemicals – ‘Forever chemicals’ is a nickname given to some per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Many PFAS are highly resistant to high temperatures, oil, water or corrosion. For this reason, they’re used in many products including some fundamental to the energy transition. From wind turbines to solar panels the batteries in electric vehicles and the semiconductor chips at the heart of energy technologies. They’re also used in thousands of everyday products, from non-stick pans to clothing and fire-repellent foam, but these chemicals pose risks to human health. PFAS have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease and low fertility among many other conditions.
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