Episode 13: Contagion

Ray Antonelli, a medical and public health student at the University of North Carolina, joins us on the show to discuss the 2011 Steven Soderbergh film Contagion. We talk about the movies accuracy in portraying epidemics, the real-life vaccine development process, antibiotic resistance, and where the next terrifying epidemic might come from. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes!

Updates from the Field:

Ray gives us the details on how President Trumo’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement has been received in the medical community (not well, surprise surprise).  A consortium of 9 medical societies, including the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America have published a medical alert regarding the immediate health impacts of climate change.  These include heat-related illnesses, infectious diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks, degradation of the food and water supply, disease attributable to poor air quality, and injuries, deaths, and long-term psychological sequelae associated with severe weather events.  Children, student athletes, pregnant women, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and the poor are most likely to be harmed.

Emily brings us news of the first ever Nutella Cafe opening up in Chicago! You enter through a giant door the shape of a Nutella jar. Obviously they’re mostly selling Nutella-centric foods, but there’s also family-sized fondue on offer and other delicious and insane foods. While not explicitly environment-related, it IS pretty exciting stuff.

Silvan also has an update about the Paris Agreement. During his announcement, Trump singled out Pittsburgh (where Silvan and Jordan live). In response, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto tweeted: “I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.” This is a great example of how cities and major businesses can lead the way despite our administration’s incompetence, and it’s a savvy move as 70% of U.S. adults support remaining in the agreement.

What’s Giving us Hope:

Ray is hopeful about the prospect of a single-payer health care system in California. Some have theorized that in the event of a full Affordable Care Act repeal individual states might be able to pull off the feat of creating their own single payer systems, with California and New York being the most likely candidates.  There is hope that in the event of full repeal, single payer could finally gain a significant foothold in the US if it is enacted successfully in individual states.

Emily is excited to hear that Tesla is partnering with Limoneira, a major citrus producer, to test Tesla’s battery systems at solar installations on the ag company’s lands. Limoneira already has 4.2 GWh of solar energy generating capacity on their fields, but they’re trying something new for energy storage with these experimental batteries from Tesla. Sometimes ag and energy collide, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Silvan is feeling hopeful about new legislation in Kentucky that will make it easier for retailers to donate food to food banks. The Food Immunity Bill will offer enhanced legal protection to for retailers and farmers donating food to food banks and other non-profits. Don’t worry, there are still regulations in place to assure safety of food being donated, this is just helping eliminate barriers based on things like manufacturer’s sell-by date, which has nothing to do with safety.

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