AppBox Media, responsible for Neon Horizon [Free] among many others, and Nicoll Hunt’s studio I Fight Bears, of Fist of Awesome [$ 0.99] and Maximum Car [Free] fame, are teaming up on something decidedly different for both developers. It’s a beer crafting simulation game called Brew Town, and it’s arriving on iOS and Android March 22nd. Like creating games in Game Dev Story, in Brew Town you’ll be responsible for creating new and interesting beers, then stocking and (hopefully) selling them to eager customers. As we all know how fun it is creating silly game types in Game Dev Story, I think Brew Town will take things to the next level with their robust custom bottle creator. Check it out and the rest of the game in this trailer.
This isn’t the first time we’ve done some brewin’ on our mobiles, as the excellent 2013 sim Fiz: Brewery Management Game offered a similar experience a few years back and is still a super fun game. Brew Town looks like it goes in a pretty different direction though, literally building all the various pieces of an actual brewing town, and of course the incredible level of customization for all your wacky beer ideas.
The developers’ own description sums up Brew Town quite well: “A tycoon game like no other, Brew Town is all about you crafting your way to success. Want to make an almond flavoured stout? Go right ahead. You’d rather have a caramel-nougat IPA with a space-themed label? Step right up. How about a chili-infused red ale with a bright orange bottle featuring a GIANT T-REX ON FIRE? Let’s just say you’ve come to the right place.” Given the previous work of all involved, I really can’t wait to get my hands on Brew Town. It’s scheduled to release next month on March 22nd for free, so get your taste buds ready. Until then you can find some more information as well as a bunch of awesome custom bottles at Brew Town’s official website.
An ongoing investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee has found that drug companies are dumping staggering amounts of highly addictive and dangerous opioid pills into small towns in West Virginia. Over the course of ten years (2006 – 2016) nearly 21 million pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone were sent to just two pharmacies in Williamson, West Virginia, a tiny town with a population of only 3,191, according to the latest census data.
A set of letters sent to two pharmaceutical distributors, Ohio-based Miami-Luken and Illinois-based HD Smith, were released by the committee earlier this week. The letters lay out the distribution data to the town and asks the companies to respond to the exorbitant number of opioid pills making their way into this rural region. The two pharmacies in Williamson are located just blocks from each other.
In 2008 alone, Miami-Luken also delivered enough opioid pills to supply every person in Kermit, West Virginia — a town of only 406 people — with 5,624 pills. In another instance of “pill dumping,” the company delivered 4.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Oceana, West Virginia (population 1,394).
Speaking to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the committee heads Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said: “We will continue to investigate these distributors’ shipments of large quantities of powerful opioids across West Virginia, including what seems to be a shocking lack of oversight over their distribution practices.”
Holding Them Accountable
In response to the release of the letters, HD Smith made a statement to the Washington Post saying that the company “operates with stringent protection of our nation’s healthcare supply chain. The company works with its upstream manufacturing and downstream pharmacy partners to guard the integrity of the supply chain, and to improve patient outcomes. The team at H.D. Smith will review the letter and will respond as necessary.”
Miami-Lukin representatives said that the company is “fully cooperating” with the inquiry and will be “providing them with all the information they’re requesting.”
Law enforcement is cracking down on the opioid epidemic, which is responsible for 115 deaths each day in the United States. A staggering 40 percent of those deaths can be attributed to prescription drugs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will scour reports compiled by the agency to search for clues about companies dispensing ridiculous amounts of these drugs to disproportionately populated regions. “That will help us make more arrests, secure more convictions and ultimately help us reduce the number of prescription drugs available for Americans to get addicted to or overdose from,” he said.
New York City is also taking a stand against pharmaceutical companies by pursuing legal action against the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs for misrepresenting their product and flooding the market with the dangerous drug.
Holding bad actors accountable is just one of the battles this epidemic has unleashed on the country. Getting people off of these drugs and preventing future addicts from forming is perhaps a much bigger concern. Technologies are being developed to reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Meanwhile, scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are working on a non-addictive opioid, which could help patients manage pain in a much safer manner.
At the end of April, the South African city of Cape Town may become the world’s first major city to run out of water. The city has spent the last three years in a drought, one so severe it normally would be expected only every 100 years or more. The bad news: scientists estimate that thanks to climate change, droughts like this will probably happen in the region much more often than once every 100 years. The worse news: what’s happening in Cape Town may start happening all over the world.
Recent research suggests that even if the international community manages to keep global temperatures from rising more than the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2° C (3.6° F), the changes we’ve already set into motion will leave at least a quarter of the world’s land more arid that it already is. Other research has suggested that by and large, hot weather will become more common, with 74% of the population experiencing dangerous heat waves by 2100.
If that’s the case, can other cities use what happened in Cape Town as a lesson, to prevent it from recurring?
Predicting and Preparing
According to Piotr Wolski, a researcher in climate and hydrology at the University of Cape Town, close-term preparation for a drought like the one baking the Western Cape is currently a very difficult proposition.
“Preparation is about being able to tell when and whether the drought like this is approaching, on a relatively short term,” Wolski told Futurism. “You are talking this year, next year, perhaps two years’ time. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to forecast droughts like this on those time scales.”
On a longer time scale, one of the best tools water management officials have in planning for extreme events are climate models: computer programs able to simulate the future conditions of a particular part of the world.
Climate models essentially divide the the world into a grid and attempt to solve a series of equations for each square of the grid. Each equation proscribes how the square’s starting variables — factors like temperature, precipitation, air pressure, and other meteorological values — will change over time, given expected solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations.
“The way you can use this information is, if the risks have changed, significantly, then that tells you that you can’t use past observation and data to estimate yet how you need to prepare [for climate change],” says Friederike Otto, a senior climate scientist at Oxford University, who uses such models to predict how much climate change influences severe weather events all over the world. She said that some countries, like the U.K., have already begun factoring climate change and its effects, like sea level rise or extreme rainfall, into how they plan infrastructure; others may need to experience an extreme event, like Cape Town’s drought, before they are spurred into action.
In February, Otto and Wolski will begin a project examining the factors that contributed to the three-year dearth of rainfall in the Western Cape region. It turns out that though climate change is a worldwide event, its influence can be patchy; for example, in the Mediterranean, climate change has strongly influenced the risk of extreme heat waves, making them relatively frequent. Meanwhile, in eastern Africa, Otto’s work has found that climate change has had relatively little influence on local drought events.
By comparing present conditions to models run with pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gases, Otto can estimate to what degree climate change influenced an extreme event. She noted that a lot of insurance companies today mainly base their risk-modeling on observed data; however, in the future, that won’t work in places that experience strong regional changes.
“In places where climate change really changes the risk of extreme events, you can’t do that; you will get the wrong answers,” Otto said. “If climate change is a big driver of the risk, then you have to use climate model simulations of the present day and the future to base your infrastructure planning on, and your water management.”
In the long term, Wolski’s team hopes that their research on climate change in the Cape Town area will help local officials prepare for what’s ahead.
“There is the term of “new normal,” being thrown about, and in a way there’s a misconception about what this means,” Wolski said. “We’ll still have wet years, and we’ll have to cope with floods. But if these droughts are becoming more severe, more frequent, or longer, you have to make the water supply system a bit more robust, more resilient.”
The region’s current system is designed with the capacity to handle two years of below-average rainfall; droughts lasting much longer have historically been very rare. If models show that climate change has played a large role in extending the Western Cape drought, that system might need to be redesigned, or augmented by a different source of water. The town is currently exploring using either groundwater or desalination plants to supplement surface water, though Wolski says that the high price of desalination means groundwater is being favored.
Elsewhere, Wolski sees some important lessons from Cape Town that can be applied to water management and climate preparation. In particular, he suggests that the current crisis showed the importance of maintaining an updated water system, even when the reality of climate change doesn’t yet seem pressing.
During the region’s last drought, a less severe season in 2003, the city implemented a plan of action to prevent leaks and water losses. The plan was so successful that the city has seen almost no increase in water demand in the last 15 years, despite strong population growth. As as result, plans to update the city’s water system were “just sort of on the slow burner all the time.”
“In my opinion, this is a very crucial element in understanding why the water supply system hasn’t been improved very much: it hasn’t been made ready for a drier climate, so to speak, and essentially there was no incentive,” Wolski said. “Compare normal pressure from population growth and pressure from climate change, and population growth dominates… So it wasn’t until we [lost] the climate lottery, drew a short straw with a quite severe drought, that we realized how much work we had to do.”
Having had the pleasure of working with TNW full-time for over three years now, I’ve accumulated more email in my work inbox than I ever thought I’d receive in a lifetime. I remember trying to develop good habits to keep it clean back when I started here, but they were all in vain – and now I’ve got some 70,000 messages taking up more than 70 percent of my allotted 30GB of G Suite storage. I’ve devised a number of search filters to help with all that unwanted mail, but Gmail isn’t designed for triaging messages in such large volumes…