Short Science, May 31, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 May, 2015, 6:55am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 May, 2015, 6:55am

Everest glaciers under threat, say researchers

Glaciers in the Everest region could shrink at least 70 per cent or even disappear by the end of the century as a result of climate change, scientists have warned. Researchers in Nepal, the Netherlands and France studied weather patterns on the roof of the world and then created a model of conditions on Everest to determine the future impact of rising temperatures. "The worst-case scenario shows a 99 per cent loss in glacial mass ... but even if we start to slow down emissions somewhat, we may still see a 70 per cent reduction," said Joseph Shea, who led the study. Shea was part of a team that published a major study last year using satellite imagery to show how Nepal's glaciers had shrunk by nearly a quarter between 1977 and 2010. The latest study, published in The Cryosphere journal, paints a grim picture of the impact of climate change on the world's highest peak by 2100. AFP


Ecstasy could reduce stress for terminally ill

California scientists are testing whether the illegal psychoactive drug Ecstasy could help alleviate anxiety for terminally ill patients. At least a dozen subjects with life-threatening diseases such as cancer, and who are expected to live at least nine months, will participate in the double-blind trial over the next year in Santa Cruz, said Brad Burge, of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Each subject will be randomly given either a full 125mg dose of Ecstasy, or an "active placebo" dose of 30mg. Burge said the goal was to test whether gravely ill patients suffering from anxiety, fear or depression can find some peace during the Ecstasy-influenced psychotherapy sessions. Reuters


Scientists urge earlier treatment for HIV

Drugs to keep people with HIV alive should be given as early as possible - before the virus has weakened their immune system - and not delayed as they are now, according to scientists involved in a major trial. The Start (Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment) trial, carried out in Europe and Africa, was stopped because of overwhelming evidence that people with HIV did better if they were put on antiretroviral treatment when their CD4 count - a measure of how well their immune system is functioning - was above 500 rather than 350, as guidelines currently advise in many countries. The Guardian