Wednesday, August 25, 2021

COVID-19 is most transmissible 2 days before and 3 days after symptoms appear


 News Release 24-Aug-2021
New study also finds that infected individuals are more likely to be asymptomatic if they contracted the virus from someone who was asymptomatic
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Boston University School of Medicine


Each wave of the pandemic has underscored just how gravely contagious COVID-19 is, but there is less clarity among experts on exactly when—and to what extent—infected individuals are most likely to spread the virus.

Now, a new study co-led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher has found that individuals infected with the virus are most contagious two days before, and three days after, they develop symptoms.

Published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the study also found that infected individuals were more likely to be asymptomatic if they contracted the virus from a primary case (the first infected person in an outbreak) who was also asymptomatic. 


Sibling’s likelihood of autism diagnosis impacted by age gap, study finds


News Release 24-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Curtin University


Mothers of children with autism who delayed their subsequent pregnancy by 2.5 to three years reduced the likelihood of their next child also being diagnosed on the spectrum, new research shows.

The Curtin University research in collaboration with the Telethon Kids Institute, published in Autism Research, investigated more than 925,000 births in Denmark, Finland and Sweden including more than 9,300 that resulted in a child later being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Lead author Professor Gavin Pereira, from Curtin’s School of Population Health, said the research found a significant – and surprising – link between the time between pregnancies and a sibling’s chances of also being diagnosed with autism.

“Our research found that the siblings of children with autism were less likely to be diagnosed on the spectrum if there was a 30 to 39-month gap between both pregnancies,” Professor Pereira said.

“Waiting 2.5 to three years to conceive another child was considered the optimum timeframe, potentially preventing five per cent of cases of autism in Denmark, eight per cent in Finland and nine per cent in Sweden, on average.

“Across the general population, this study also showed that children born to mothers who became pregnant again three months after giving birth had a 50 per cent higher chance of being diagnosed with autism, and those born five years later had a 24 per cent greater chance.”

Professor Pereira said he was surprised to find his research identified an environmental link to autism in addition to documented genetic and biological factors.


Exposure to tobacco smoke in early life is associated with accelerated biological ageing


News Release 25-Aug-2021
A new study analyses the association between more than 100 environmental exposures and the ‘epigenetic clock’ of over 1,000 children in six European countries
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)


Accelerated biological ageing is associated with exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and early childhood, as well as with indoor exposure to black carbon. These are the conclusions of an analysis led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation, the first to evaluate associations between a large number of early-life environmental exposures and epigenetic age in children.

Exposure to environmental factors during pregnancy and early childhood can significantly – and sometimes irreversibly – alter our metabolism and physiology, thereby determining our health status later in life. It can also accelerate the process of biological ageing, which has been associated with a higher risk of metabolic, cardiovascular or neurodegenerative diseases. At the cellular level, ageing is a continuous process that starts early in life, and which can be measured thanks to of epigenetic clocks. Epigenetic clocks use the levels of DNA methylation in certain regions of the genome to infer biological aging of a person.


Don’t worry, be healthy: Stress busting techniques lead to healthier behaviours

News Release 25-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Leeds

Learning new ways to manage stress can naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle and greater wellbeing, new research suggests.

People who developed and practised strategies for coping with worry and rumination were found to sleep better, drink less alcohol and eat healthier food, analysis of several studies from around the world has shown.

Worry is often concerned with feared future events, while rumination is continuously thinking about stressors encountered in the past. Both are common coping responses to stress.
University of Leeds


Study finds praising middle school students improves on-task behavior by up to 70%


News Release 25-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Brigham Young University


Students speaking out of turn, texting, telling rude jokes, falling asleep in class, making distracting gestures — managing these behaviors is all in a day’s work for many middle school teachers, who shepherd adolescents through some of their most trying years. Add in the disruptions of a global pandemic to exacerbate student anxiety and depression, and this year middle school teachers may find themselves with more challenging behaviors to address than ever before.

But a recent BYU paper points out the power of focusing on the positive in sixth through eighth grade.

The study found that when middle school teachers praised students at least as often as they reprimanded them, class-wide on-task behavior improved by 60–70%. Students at high risk for emotional and behavioral disorders were also more likely to be on task, and their classroom marks went up by a full letter grade, compared to high-risk students in classrooms where teachers rarely offered praise. While there was no magic ratio, when teachers praised students more often than correcting them, or even stopped reprimanding completely, behavior improved dramatically — every bit of praise counts.


Study: Climate change makes European flooding more likely



August 23, 2021

Scientists say that global warming makes the kind of extreme rainfall that caused deadly flash flooding in western Europe last month more likely, though it remains unclear exactly how much.

At least 220 people died in Germany and Belgium on July 14-15 when swollen streams turned into raging rivers, sweeping away houses, roads and bridges, and causing billions of euros (dollars) in damage.

A study released Tuesday by the World Weather Attribution group used historical records and computer simulations to examine how temperatures affected rainfall from the late 19th century to the present. While the study hasn’t been assessed by independent scientists yet, its authors use widely accepted methods to conduct rapid assessments of specific weather events such as floods, droughts and heat waves.

It found that across a large strip of western Europe — stretching from the Netherlands to Switzerland — the amount of rainfall in a single day increased by 3% to 19% over the period, during which global temperatures increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

Experts say that for every 1 degree Celsius (1.8 F) the planet warms, the air can absorb 7% more water. When that water is released, it causes more extreme rainfall.

The study, conducted by almost 40 researchers from six European countries and the United States, calculated that downpours of the kind that caused last month’s floods are now 1.2 to 9 times more likely — and this will increase further if the planet continues to heat up.


tags: severe weather, extreme weather,

How did Tennessee flooding downpour fall so fast? By JONATHAN MATTISEAugust 23, 2021



August 23, 2021

A rural Tennessee community was pummeled Saturday with up to 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain in less than 24 hours, shattering the state record for one-day rainfall by more than 3 inches and leading to quick-rushing floods that killed at least 22 people and left a trail of destruction.

The hardest-hit areas were inundated with nearly twice the amount of rain the region had seen in the previous worst-case flooding scenario, meteorologists said. Lines of storms moved over the area around the small town of Waverly for hours, wringing out a record amount of moisture — a situation scientists have warned may be more common because of global warming.


Recent scientific research has determined that extreme rain events will become more frequent because of man-made climate change.

Dorian Burnette, a University of Memphis associate professor in earth sciences, said climate change has “put the atmosphere on steroids,” offering a “more robust way to get super heavy rainfall rates out of thunderstorms now when you get the right meteorological setup.”


“We’re probably going to see more of these events as time goes along and as the Earth continues to warm,” Burnette said.

A federal study found man-made climate change doubles the chances of the types of heavy downpours that in August 2016 dumped 26 inches (66 centimeters) of rain around Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Those floods killed at least 13 people and damaged 150,000 homes.


Hurley said her region of Tennessee has seen four significant flood events recently, happening nearly every six months. She noted floods once expected maybe every 100 years happened last September south of Nashville and in March closer to the city.

Even so, Hurley said the rainfall over the weekend was exceedingly rare.

Waverly has endured other floods in the last decade or so, including in 2010 and 2019. The February 2019 flooding brought 10 to 12 inches of rain over two days. The weekend’s storms exceeded that amount of rainfall over an eight- to 12-hour period, Hurley said.

tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Final victim found in Tennessee flooding disaster search



Aug. 25, 2021

The body of the final person missing from a devastating weekend flood in Middle Tennessee was recovered on Wednesday, prompting the search for victims to be suspended as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured the area.

Saturday’s flooding took out houses, roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines, with rainfall that more than tripled forecasts and shattered the state record for one-day rainfall. More than 270 homes were destroyed and 160 took major damage, according to the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency.


The death count stands at 20, according to county authorities, although the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency had put it at 17 at mid-day on Wednesday. That discrepancy is because TEMA’s detailed process in confirming deaths can take longer to complete, agency Director Patrick Sheehan said.

FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee toured the area together on Wednesday. Afterward, Criswell noted how scientists have linked climate change to increasingly intense weather events like the Tennessee floods.

“Floods like this are not something that we see typically around the country,” Criswell said at a Nashville news conference after the tour. “And as we continue to see the changes from climate change, I fear that this may be something that we start to see see more often.”

Lee, a Republican, sidestepped the climate change discussion when asked about his position on its role.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Eliminating the State Income Tax Would Wreak Havoc on Mississippi


August 25, 2021

Mississippi lawmakers are holding two days of hearings this week on eliminating or cutting the individual income tax after similar proposals failed this Spring. It’s difficult to understand the logic underpinning Mississippi’s current efforts to explore eliminating the individual income tax when history has proven, time and time again, that this policy harms state economies, dismantles basic public services, and exacerbates tax inequities. And even states that can adequately rely on other sources of revenue aside from income taxes often have highly inequitable tax systems since the income tax is the fairest, most progressive form of taxation. The idea that Mississippi could eliminate its income tax without making devastating cuts to the state budget or shifting tax responsibility onto low-income residents is pure fantasy.


Speaker Gunn has held up Texas and Tennessee as models for Mississippi even though states without income taxes are among the most inequitable in the nation, coming in at #2 (Texas), #3 (Florida), and (#6) Tennessee in ITEP’s most recent Who Pays? report. For example, Texas is extremely low-tax for the wealthy since it has no personal income tax, no corporate income tax, and no estate tax; the top 1 percent of earners pay just 3.1 percent of their income in state and local tax while the poorest 20 percent pay 13 percent. Similarly, Tennessee may have eliminated its income tax, but it is far from being a “low-tax state” for the poor. As a share of personal income, the poorest 20 percent of residents pay significantly more of their income in state and local taxes than any other group in the state. Their heavy reliance on sales and excise taxes pushes the states’ impoverished residents deeper into poverty. These inequities also have dramatic consequences for racial equity, as Hispanic and Black families are taxed at higher average rates than higher-income white residents.

Mississippi’s tax code is already regressive due to its reliance on sales taxes, lack of estate tax, and lack of refundable income tax credits. As it stands, Black and Hispanic families have among the lowest average incomes but pay the highest effective tax rates in the state. Black households pay, on average, 30 percent more of their income on sales and excise taxes than white households. Since the personal income tax structure is virtually flat, it is far from being as progressive as it could be; however, its sheer existence offsets some of the system’s regressivity. Eliminating the only marginally progressive aspect of the tax system would place an even higher tax responsibility on low-income residents who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic. Even if Mississippi were to reduce the grocery tax rate, eliminating the personal income tax and increasing the sales tax rate to 9.5 percent on most items would reduce incomes for the poorest 20 percent of earners by $200 while saving the richest 1 percent over $28,000 a year. Nixing income taxes would primarily be a boon for Mississippi’s richest residents, the top 1 percent of whom have already saved over $35,000 in 2020 alone due to Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) provisions.

The policy change would also hurt seniors on fixed incomes. Since Mississippi exempts all retirement income from income taxes, many seniors do not currently pay income taxes but they would certainly pay higher sales taxes on basic goods. Creating a system more akin to Texas or Tennessee would merely enrich powerful interests at the expense of lower-income residents. [Which is of course the aim. ]


The effects of COVID-19 litter on animal life

Auke-Florian Hiemstra, Liselotte Rambonnet, Barbara Gravendeel, Menno Schilthuizen

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is massively used, resulting in a new wave of litter: protective face masks and gloves. These products that are designed to keep us safe, are actually harming animals around us. Here we present the first overview of all cases of entanglement, entrapment, and ingestion of COVID-19 litter, as well as the inclusion of gloves and face masks in bird nests.


Nature photographers, wildlife rescue centers, litter pickers, google detectives and social media heroes, we encourage everyone to share observations of animals interacting with PPE litter like entanglement, ingestion, entrapment, carrying PPE litter, playing with it or using it as nesting material. Feel free to add your own observations or add new examples - from your local or national news, or social media - that are currently missing in the global overview. Let us know!

Share your observations!




This is the first overview of reported cases of entanglement, entrapment, ingestion, and the use of COVID-19 litter as nesting material. Although the actual number of cases will be much higher than the number of cases found (Laist, 1997) we already signal COVID-19 litter as an emerging threat to animals. PPE litter has already been found in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. Also, its impact is observed in all of these habitats, by both vertebrates and invertebrates, ranging from birds and mammals to fishes and crabs. However, to fully understand the scope of the impact of PPE litter, more research is needed.



US wildfire pollution linked to more covid-19 cases and deaths


13 August 2021
By Adam Vaughan

Polluted air caused by smoke released from the record-breaking wildfires in the US last year has been linked to a strong increase in covid-19 cases and deaths.

Francesca Dominici at Harvard University and her colleagues say 19,742 recorded covid-19 cases and 748 covid-related deaths can be linked to spikes in tiny particulate matter, PM2.5, released by the blazes in California, Oregon and Washington.

Links between long-term exposure to dirty air and greater risk of death and severe illness from covid-19 have already been well-documented. But the new research puts numbers on how short-term exposure to pollution, in this case from wildfires, may have made the pandemic’s health impact worse.

“What this is saying is, number one, especially for the counties affected by wildfires, people should absolutely get vaccinated and wear a mask,” says Dominici.


Across the counties as a whole, they found each extra 10 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre of air over 28 days was linked to an 11.7 per cent increase in coronavirus cases, and a 52.8 per cent increase in covid-19 deaths. Some counties saw PM2.5 levels higher than 500 micrograms per cubic metre for days in a row due to fires, well above the level deemed “hazardous” by US environmental authorities.


Friday, August 20, 2021


News Release 18-Aug-2021
University of the Arts Helsinki


When a premature infant is born, the family’s image of what life with a baby will be like may come crashing down.


Professional musicians working in medical care units can help bring parents closer to the newborn and improve their relationship. Music practitioners are not music therapists or nurses, but professional musicians who have specialised in performing music and bringing their musical and pedagogical expertise into hospital contexts. In practice, musicians work often in collaboration with music therapists.

“A moment of music can create an intimate atmosphere where the parents can forget about treatments, tubes and machines and put their entire focus on their baby and truly see them,” Koivisto explains.

Music practitioners can be present in different treatment procedures or interact with the family in corridors or patient rooms at the hospital. Musicians sing and perform for and with everyone in equal proportion and in a sensitive way. They can sing to the newborns when they are awake, or perform to the parents, grandparents or medical staff, who are also welcome to join the singing.


Music practitioners must have not only professional skills needed for working in a hospital environment and as a musician, but also delicate understanding of when and where to perform music and what kind of music and what instruments are suitable for the situation. For example, musicians do not disrupt the silence when premature infants are asleep, because sleep is a crucial element in the healing and development of infants.

Musicians must also be socially intelligent and “read the room” very quickly in everyday social situations, which often involve a battle between life and death. In one room, the atmosphere may be serene and drowsy, while another room may be filled with loss and grief.

“In fact, the musicians I interviewed noted that even though the work feels extremely meaningful, it may not be suited for everyone.”

Music can also be a tool for the parents to process their feelings. At times, their song requests for music practitioners were songs that dealt with difficult issues. One nurse mentioned being worried that the sad music might overwhelm the parents with emotion. However, the nurse noticed that each time, the impact that the songs had was positive.

“In one of the example situations, a mother of a baby asked her own mother, the grandmother of the baby, whether the song she chose was too emotional for her. The grandmother said no. When they sang the song together, the grandmother started crying, but the mother of the child was content in her own way,” Koivisto notes.


You’re cooler than you think! Hypothermia may go unnoticed when exercising in the cold


News Release 19-Aug-2021
Research teams from the University of Tsukuba and Niigata University of Health and Welfare confirmed that body temperature perception in a cold environment is affected by exercise
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Tsukuba


Tsukuba, Japan—In a study published this month in Physiology & Behavior, research teams at the University of Tsukuba, led by Takeshi Nishiyasu, and at Niigata University of Health and Welfare, led by Tomomi Fujimoto, have found that, when exercising, people cannot perceive decreases in their core body temperature caused by the cold as well as they can when they are resting. This research has implications for recreational activities in colder climates, such as hiking and skiing.

Body temperature is maintained in several ways. Although your body subconsciously adjusts energy, fluid secretion, and blood flow to control heat loss through shivering, sweating, and dilation or constriction of blood vessels, a person’s conscious behavior—seeking shelter or relief when too hot or too cold—plays an important role in keeping the body’s core temperature within the narrow range required by its systems. “Both behavioral and autonomic thermoregulation depend on input from sensors located centrally and peripherally in the body,” notes Professor Nishiyasu.


Too much time on a computer, watching TV or other sedentary activities raises stroke risk


News Release 19-Aug-2021
Stroke Journal Report
Peer-Reviewed Publication
American Heart Association

Adults younger than age 60 whose days are filled with sedentary leisure time (which includes using the computer, TV, or reading) and little physical activity have a higher stroke risk than people who are more physically active, according to new research published today in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.


Efficient buildings could save thousands of lives in US every year

News Release 20-Aug-2021
A new study lays out two building efficiency improvement scenarios alongside estimates for how many premature deaths in the U.S. would be prevented in each case
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Yale University


Buildings in the U.S. are responsible for 40% of the country’s total energy consumption. By improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings, the emissions generated from heating and cooling them could be reduced – preventing thousands of premature deaths every year.

The burning of fossil fuels, in addition to greenhouse gasses, releases large amounts of harmful airborne particulate matter called PM2.5 (particles with diameters of less than 2.5 micrometers), which can cause heart and lung disease and aggravate conditions like asthma. The reduction in premature deaths is primarily due to the reduction in PM2.5.


These estimates of lives saved, however, are focused on changes in outdoor air pollution.
“It is important to also consider the impacts on indoor air quality that may accompany changes in building ventilation,” says study co-author Drew Gentner, associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering and the environment at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science.
The potential drawback of the increased energy efficiency of buildings, says Gillingham, is that when buildings are more tightly sealed to prevent leakage of heated or cooled air, the total amount of circulation between indoor and outdoor air also decreases.
“While tighter buildings can partially isolate you from outdoor pollution, it requires greater attention to indoor pollutant emissions,” Gentner says.
For example, inside a home, emissions from cooking or appliances can impact indoor air quality.
“If you close the building shell and don't accompany it with recirculation and filtration upgrades, then you can actually face some health impacts,” Gillingham says.
But even without additional indoor air filtration upgrades, the researchers found that improved building efficiency would still save about 3,600 per year under the “optimistic” scenario, and 1,800 under the “intermediate” scenario.
The researchers also note that some outdoor air pollution factors – like ozone and wildfire smoke – would be reduced indoors if buildings were made more efficient and there was less circulation between outdoor and indoor air. While average outdoor PM2.5 levels have been continually decreasing over time in the U.S., wildfires can sometimes drastically increase outdoor air pollution. And as recent years have shown, wildfire smoke can spread across large swaths of the country, causing harmful levels of air quality from coast to coast.


Another factor that Gillingham and his colleagues modeled was the possible effect of a carbon tax. They found that a carbon tax, combined with building efficiency improvements, would save even more lives.


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Scientists reveal how landmark CFC ban gave planet fighting chance against global warming


News Release 18-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Lancaster University


Without the global CFC ban we would already be facing the reality of a ‘scorched earth’, according to researchers measuring the impact of the Montreal Protocol.

Their new evidence reveals the planet’s critical ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere could have been massively degraded sending global temperatures soaring if we still used ozone-destroying chemicals such as CFCs.

New modelling by the international team of scientists from the UK, USA and New Zealand, published today in Nature, paints a dramatic vision of a scorched planet Earth without the Montreal Protocol, what they call the “World Avoided”. This study draws a new stark link between two major environmental concerns – the hole in the ozone layer and global warming.

The research team, led by a Lancaster University scientist, reveals that if ozone-destroying chemicals, which most notoriously include CFCs, had been left unchecked then their continued and increased use would have contributed to global air temperatures rising by an additional 2.5°C [4.5F] by the end of this century.


Association of frequency, quantity of alcohol consumption with gastrointestinal cancer

News Release 18-Aug-202
JAMA Network Open
Peer-Reviewed Publication
JAMA Network


The results of this observational study, which used data from the Korean National Health Insurance System, suggest that frequent drinking is a more important risk factor for the development of gastrointestinal cancers than the amount of alcohol consumed per occasion.

Small changes in diet could help you live healthier, more sustainably


News Release 18-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Michigan


Eating a hot dog could cost you 36 minutes of healthy life, while choosing to eat a serving of nuts instead could help you gain 26 minutes of extra healthy life, according to a University of Michigan study.

The study, published in the journal Nature Food, evaluated more than 5,800 foods, ranking them by their nutritional disease burden to humans and their impact on the environment. It found that substituting 10% of daily caloric intake from beef and processed meats for a mix of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and select seafood could reduce your dietary carbon footprint by one-third and allow people to gain 48 minutes of healthy minutes per day.


One in five researchers globally report being pressured by funders to delay, alter, or not publish the findings of “unfavorable” health behavior intervention trials


News Release 18-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication


One in five researchers globally report being pressured by funders to delay, alter, or not publish the findings of “unfavorable” health behaviour intervention trials.

Study: Attractiveness pays off at work — but there’s a trick to level the playing field

News Release 18-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University at Buffalo

Beautiful people are more likely to get hired, receive better performance evaluations and get paid more — but it’s not just because of their good looks, according to new research from the University at Buffalo School of Management.

The study, forthcoming in Personnel Psychology, was recently published online. It found that while a “beauty premium” exists across professions, it’s partially because attractive people develop distinct traits as a result of how the world responds to their attractiveness. They build a greater sense of power and have more opportunities to improve nonverbal communication skills throughout their lives.
University at Buffalo


Early COVID-19 vaccine campaign in US prevented 140,000 deaths


News Release 18-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
RAND Corporation


The early COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the U.S. prevented nearly 140,000 deaths and 3 million cases of COVID-19 by the second week of May, according to a new study.

As a result of early vaccination efforts, the average state experienced five fewer deaths from COVID-19 per 10,000 adult residents. The study estimates the number of lives saved during the first five months of the vaccination campaign in each of the 50 states and Washington, DC.

Adjusting for population size, New York saw the largest estimated reduction, with 11.7 fewer COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 adult residents. Hawaii observed the smallest reduction, with 1.1 fewer COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 adult residents.


Physical activity associated with better cognition in breast cancer patients


News Release 18-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Washington University School of Medicine


A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found a strong association between high levels of physical activity and the ability to maintain cognitive function among breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. The research lays the groundwork for future clinical trials aimed at investigating whether moderate to vigorous exercise can ward off what is commonly referred to as “chemo brain,” a decline in cognitive function many breast cancer patients experience.


Anger and evacuations as deadly wildfires char France and Greece


August 18, 2021 / 5:33 AM

Hundreds of firefighters struggled for a third day Wednesday to contain France's worst wildfire of the summer near the glitzy Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez which has forced thousands of residents and tourists to flee.


Firefighters were also battling deadly wildfires in Greece, and large blazes have ravaged parts of Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco this year. Russia's northern Siberia region has also been battered by a wildfire season that started early this year, in May, and blanketed a huge area in thick smoke that spread as far as the North Pole for the first time ever.


Saturday, August 14, 2021

July 2021 was the warmest July on record for the globe; global land surface was also record warm


August 13, 2021

The global temperature for July 2021 was the highest for July in the 142-year NOAA record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date (January-July) global surface temperature tied as the sixth highest on record. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Rankings Outlook, it is very likely that the year 2021 will rank among the 10 warmest years on record.


The July 2021 global surface temperature was 1.67°F (0.93°C) above the 20th-century average of 60.4°F (15.8°C) — the highest for July in the 142-year record. This value was only 0.02°F (0.01°C) higher than the previous record set in 2016, and tied in 2019 and 2020. The seven warmest Julys have all occurred since 2015. July 2021 marked the 45th consecutive July and the 439th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.

Climatologically, July is the warmest month of the year. With July 2021 the warmest July on record, at least nominally, this resulted in the warmest month on record for the globe.

The global land-only surface temperature for July 2021 was 2.52°F (1.40°C) above average and the highest July for the land-only surface temperature on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2020 by 0.31°F (0.17°C). The warmth across the global land surfaces was mainly driven by the very warm Northern Hemisphere land, which also had its highest July temperature at 2.77°F (1.54°C) above average.


America is full of ‘democracy deserts’. Wisconsin rivals Congo on some metrics

I suggest reading the whole article.

David Daley and Gaby Goldstein

Fri 13 Aug 2021 06.22 EDT


The United States is becoming a land filled with “democracy deserts”, where gerrymandering and voting restrictions are making voters powerless to make change. And this round of redistricting could make things even worse.

Since 2012, the Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard University has studied the quality of elections worldwide. It has also issued biannual reports that grade US states, on a scale of 1 through 100. In its most recent study of the 2020 elections, the integrity of Wisconsin’s electoral boundaries earned a 23 – worst in the nation, on par with Jordan, Bahrain and the Congo.

Why is Wisconsin so bad? Consider that, among other things, it’s a swing-state that helped decide the 2016 election. Control the outcome in Wisconsin, and you could control the nation. But Wisconsin isn’t the only democracy desert. Alabama (31), North Carolina (32), Michigan (37), Ohio (33), Texas (35), Florida (37) and Georgia (39) scored only marginally higher. Nations that join them in the 30s include Hungary, Turkey and Syria.

Representative democracy has been broken for the past decade in places like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. When Republican lawmakers redistricted these states after the 2010 census, with the benefit of precise, granular voting data and the most sophisticated mapping software ever, they gerrymandered themselves into advantages that have held firm for the last decade – even when Democratic candidates win hundreds of thousands more statewide votes.

In Wisconsin, for example, voters handed Democrats every statewide race in 2018 and 203,000 more votes for the state assembly – but the tilted Republican map handed Republicans 63 of the 99 seats nevertheless. Democratic candidates have won more or nearly the same number of votes for Michigan’s state house for the last decade – but never once captured a majority of seats.


Our democratic crisis is not just the stuff of academic studies. Who controls our states is increasingly a matter of life and death. Recent history is riddled with examples. For instance, the Flint water crisis began after a gerrymandered Michigan legislature reinstated an emergency manager provision even after voters repealed it in a statewide referendum.

When lawmakers in Texas ban mask mandates, or Florida politicians take away the power of local officials to require masks in schools, that’s the consequence of gerrymandering. And its impact can be measured in actual lives. When state lawmakers enact draconian restrictions on reproductive rights in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri that opinion polls show are out of step with their own residents, that’s the power of gerrymandering. When Republican legislators strip emergency powers from Democratic governors, that’s yet another insidious effect. Our health, safety and wellbeing – our very lives – are in the hands of our state legislators. It is imperative that our votes decide who they are.

[Also, republicans are endangering the whole planet when they block action on climate disruption.]


And it can still get worse. Republicans hold complete control over redistricting in Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. Democratic governors will have veto power over at least some tilted maps in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and a new commission will draw lines in Michigan. That should force some compromise in those states. But it also means that if Democrats lose the governor’s office in any of those states in 2022, Republicans might try to force a mid-decade redraw of maps.


Are you in denial? Because it’s not just anti-vaxxers and climate sceptics

I suggest reading the whole article.

IMO, if you are not making an effort to reduce your impact on the environment, you are a mass murderer.

Jonathan Freedland

Fri 13 Aug 2021 11.55 EDT


In Britain, the temptation is to snigger at the anti-vaxxers, but in the US it’s becoming ever clearer that the outright Covid deniers, vaccine opponents and anti-maskers – and the hold they have over the Republican party – are no joke. The Covid culture wars have escalated to such an extent that the Republican governors of two states, Florida and Texas, are now actively barring schools, colleges and local authorities from taking basic, common-sense measures against the disease.

They are no longer allowed to require vaccines, proof of vaccination, a Covid test or masks. Any Florida school administrator who demands the wearing of masks could lose their pay. Texas is dropping the requirement that schools even notify parents when there’s a coronavirus case in class. Naturally, the Covid numbers in both states are through the roof. For all Joe Biden’s early success with vaccination, this level of resistance is posing a grave threat to the US’s ability to manage, let alone defeat, the pandemic.


For everyone else, it’s tempting to take pride in being untainted by such thinking. To dismiss the Covid deniers, whether in Florida or west London, as a group apart, irrational, if not downright stupid – refusing to take the steps that will provably protect them, their families and those around them. And yet, the distance between them and everyone else might not be as great as you think.


But there is another form of denial, what the philosopher Quassim Cassam calls “behavioural or practical denialism”. This is the mindset that accepts the science marshalled by the IPCC – it hears the alarm bell ringing – but still does not change its behaviour. It can operate at the level of governments: note the White House official who on Wednesday urged global oil producers to open up the taps and increase production, so that hard-pressed US motorists can buy gasoline more cheaply. And it lives in individuals, too, in the fatalism that says one person can do nothing to halt a planetary emergency, so you might as well shrug and move on. Which is “to act in the same way as if you were a climate change denier,” says Cassam. “The practical upshot is the same.”

Whether it’s Covid or climate, there is a common defect at work here. It is wilful blindness, a deliberate closing of the eyes to a reality that is too hard to bear – and it afflicts far more than a hardcore of noisy sceptics and protesters. A US poll this week found that a summer of heatwaves, flooding and wildfires – evidence that the planet is both burning and drowning – has barely shifted attitudes to the climate issue. Many, even most, are looking the other way.


Removing race from kidney function estimates may damage care of black cancer patients


News Release 13-Aug-2021
Removing race from kidney function estimates may impact care of black cancer patients
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Pittsburgh


PITTSBURGH, Aug. 13, 2021 – An accurate assessment of a patient’s kidney function is critical for determining eligibility for anticancer treatments. In a paper published today in The Lancet Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences researchers found that removing race-based adjustments from equations estimating the kidney function of oncology patients may negatively impact care for Black patients with cancer.

The analysis showed that removal of race from these calculations—as proposed by prominent health organizations—would make many Black people ineligible for cancer treatments and may prompt oncologists to give Black patients a lower dose of anticancer medications than clinically needed.

The statistics are sobering: Black patients in the United States are more frequently diagnosed with cancer and are more likely to die from it than white Americans. The researchers argue that because Black Americans are already more likely to be undertreated, an optimal dose of anticancer drugs often makes a difference between life and death—and that, until practical alternatives become available, race remains a factor that should not be ignored in considerations of dosages for cancer treatments.


Subverting democracy

Republicans are trying to recall the California governor. Polls show most people want him to remain in office. But the people who are most likely to go to the polls for this are republicans who want to replace him. If they succeed, I expect that in the future, we will see a lot of this ploy to overturn democracy in our country.

The IPCC Understated the Need to Cut Emissions From Methane and Other Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, Climate Experts Say

Also, note that methane decays to carbon dioxide, a long-lived greenhouse gas.


 By Phil McKenna
August 12, 2021


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change missed a key opportunity to underscore the urgent need for rapid reductions in emissions of methane and other short-lived climate pollutants in the roll out of a seminal report on the science of climate change on Monday, climate experts say.

The report, the first installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, included the United Nations body’s starkest warnings yet on the increasing impacts of climate change, which are manifested in this summer’s floods, wildfires and heat waves.

But even if the IPCC missed an opportunity to underscore the need to quickly address methane, a White House climate advisor said reducing emissions of the gas is a top priority for the Biden Administration.  

The assessment included a chapter on methane and other short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), something previous assessments had not. SLCPs are greenhouse gases and other pollutants that typically remain in the atmosphere for less than two decades, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the atmosphere for centuries. Carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change, but SLCPs can be far more potent—hundreds to thousands of times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. 

And an executive summary for policy makers of the nearly 4,000-page report noted that “strong, rapid and sustained reductions” in emissions of methane, the short-lived climate pollutant that has contributed the most to climate change, would “limit the warming effect.”

However, the 41-page summary otherwise focused almost exclusively on the impact that carbon dioxide has and will continue to have on the climate. The near-exclusive focus on carbon dioxide in the summary for policymakers stands in stark contrast to a recent United Nations report that concluded that methane reductions are the best, and perhaps the only, way to reduce global warming in the near-term.

“I’m disappointed that they left so much work to the policymakers to have to interpret,” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said. Zaelke served as a peer reviewer of the full IPCC report but did not review the summary for policymakers. “It’s going to be up to the scientists working for the government to be able to pull out the focus on methane and other short-lived climate pollutants.”

IPCC spokeswoman Katherine Leitzell said this week’s “Working Group I” report on the science of climate change was the first of three reports. More information on methane and other short-lived climate pollutants will be included in the third report, she said, which focuses on mitigating climate change and is due out early next year.

“The aspects related to methane are indeed limited, and focused on the climate system response to a set of five scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions,” Leitzell said.  “However, there is an entire chapter (Chapter 6) dedicated to SLCFs (short-lived climate forcers) and their influence on the climate system, for the first time in a WGI (Working Group I) report.”


The chapter also notes that methane and other short-lived climate pollutants released this year will have “at least as large” an impact on climate change over the next 10 to 20 years as current carbon dioxide emissions.

The extreme potency, combined with the limited time these pollutants stick around in the atmosphere, mean that efforts to reduce their emissions will have a significant and almost instantaneous climate impact. Conversely, there is a lag of 20 to 30 years before  the effects on the climate of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are apparent. This is due in part to the long atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide; even if you stop emitting CO2 today, carbon dioxide that has already accumulated in the atmosphere will remain there for centuries. 




From Facebook:

May be an image of grass, tree and text that says 'I've long maintained that the American lawn is one of the greatest mass brainwashings of all time. How we all voluntarily signed up to spend untold hours growing and cutting a non-native monoculture which we lace with poisons to kill plants and insects Tood NOT LAWNS never ceases to amaze me. ~Bill Heavey'

Heavy rain causes floods, mudslides in southwestern Japan


Aug. 14, 2021

Torrential rain continued to trigger floods Saturday in wide areas of southwestern Japan, damaging homes and disrupting transportation a day after a landslide killed one person and left two others missing.

In the southern city of Kurume, rivers overflowed and residents evacuated from their homes on rubber boats as rescue workers pulled them while wading through muddy water.

Heavy rain has dumped on southern Japan this week, and the Japan Meteorological Agency said more rain is expected in the coming days as a front is stuck above the Japanese archipelago.


Monday, August 09, 2021

Environmental impact of bottled water ‘up to 3,500 times greater than tap water’

Joey Grostern
Thu 5 Aug 2021 05.30 EDT

The impact of bottled water on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than for tap water, scientists have found.

The research is the first of its kind and examined the impact of bottled water in Barcelona, where it is becoming increasingly popular despite improvements to the quality of tap water in recent years.

Research led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) found that if the city’s population were all to drink bottled water, this would result in a 3,500 times higher cost of resource extraction than if they all drank tap water, at $83.9m (£60.3m)a year.

Researchers also found the impact of bottled water on ecosystems is 1,400 times higher than tap water.


Rightwing radio host and anti-vaxxer dies of Covid


Edward Helmore
Sun 8 Aug 2021 11.09 EDT


A rightwing TV and radio host who was a vociferous critic of Dr Anthony Fauci and who urged his listeners not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 has died after contracting the virus.

Dick Farrel, who had described Fauci as a “power-tripping, lying freak” who conspired with “power trip lib loons”, had urged people not to get vaccinated as recently as June.

He reportedly changed his opinion about vaccines after falling ill and later being admitted to hospital before passing away on 4 August aged 65. “He texted me and told me to ‘Get it!’ He told me this virus is no joke and he said, “I wish I had gotten [the vaccine]!” close friend Amy Leigh Hair wrote on Facebook.


Fires rage around the world

The latest IPCC report was compiled before the recent spate of severe floods and wildfires, and is scary enough.


National Interagency Fire Center

August 9, 2021

Wildfire activity continues in 15 states across the country. Currently, 108 large fires or complexes have burned 2,325,263 acres. More than 25,200 wildland firefighters and 33 Type 1 and Type 2 incident management teams are assigned to incidents. So far this year, 39,402 wildfires have burned 3,623,259 acres.

The fire outlook continues to reflect warmer and drier conditions leading to the high potential for severe wildfire activity throughout the western United States through the rest of summer and into the fall. Widespread high temperatures observed across areas in the West and with periods of lightning activity continue to exacerbate the wildfire situation.


Sun 8 Aug 2021 23.45 EDT

Wildfires are raging across Europe and North America as scorching temperatures and dry conditions fuel the blazes that have cost lives and destroyed livelihoods.

The combination of extreme heat and prolonged drought have in many regions led to the worst fires in almost a decade, and come as the IPCC is poised to hand down a landmark report on the climate crisis.

Scientists warn rising global temps due to greenhouse gas emissions are increasing the risk of fire conditions across the planet.

Parts of Europe are enduring severe heatwaves, while hot, bone-dry gusty weather has caused devastating wildfires in California. The US state is fighting to contain its largest blaze in its history. More than 100 other large fires are raging in other parts of America.

Here are some of the countries currently battling severe fires:

Greece has been fighting some of the worst blazes in Europe amid blistering temperatures. Fires have raged across the country for nearly two weeks, leaving dozens needing hospital treatment.



Blazes have swept through swaths of the southern coast for the past 10 days, killing at least eight people.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, and fire has devastated vast tracts of pine forest and agricultural land. Rain brought some respite over the weekend.



Fires continue threaten parts of southern Italy, with Sicily and Sardinia among the regions hardest hit.



Authorities in Siberia moved to evacuate several villages in the vast region on Sunday, where 155 blazes are burning. The hot weather, coupled with the neglect of fire safety rules, has caused a growing number of infernos, which have destroyed scores of homes and buildings.


United States

In the US, firefighters in northern California are battling the largest single wildfire in state history.

The Dixie Fire, named for the road where it started nearly four weeks ago, has grown to an area of 725 square miles (1,875 square kilometres). Just 21% of the blaze is contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It has scorched an area more than twice the size of New York City.



Fires continue to burn across British Colombia despite some rains over the weekend. Local media reported 279 wildfires raging in the province on Sunday, with tens of thousands of residents subject to evacuation alerts.

British Columbia has seen nearly 5,800 sq km of its forest burned since the spring, with months still left in the fire season.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report

We are already seeing severe effects, horrible to realize what will happen as global warming increases.

About the IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.



GENEVA, Aug 9 – Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released today. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.

However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize, according to the IPCC Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, approved on Friday by 195 member governments of the IPCC, through a virtual approval session that was held over two weeks starting on July 26.


The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.

The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.

But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans. For example:

  • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.
  • For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.


Microplastics: A trojan horse for metals


News Release 9-Aug-2021
Hereon study shows that microplastics can serve as a transport vehicle for metals in the environment
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon


Scientists worldwide have already demonstrated the alarming ecological ubiquity and longevity of plastic particles. The particles measure between one micrometer and a half centimeter in size. They develop in part when larger plastic components break apart in the sea or wind up in the rivers and subsequently in the ocean directly from wastewater stemming from land. Microplastics are toxic in very high concentrations. In addition, they can also accumulate, transport and release other pollutants.


“In the study, we determined that the accumulation becomes stronger when the particles become smaller and that there are significant differences between the various elements (metals and semi-metals) in terms of the extent of enrichment,” says coauthor Dr. Daniel Pröfrock, department head of Inorganic Environmental Chemistry at Hereon.


In the second phase of the test, the Hereon scientists could show that the particles loaded with metals or semi-metals almost completely released the respective metal contents again under chemical conditions, such as those that prevail in the digestive tract.


Fight-or-flight response is altered in healthy young people who had COVID-19


News Release 9-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
The Physiological Society


New research published in The Journal of Physiology found that otherwise healthy young people diagnosed with COVID-19, regardless of their symptom severity, have problems with their nervous system when compared with healthy control subjects.

Specifically, the system which oversees the fight-or-flight response, the sympathetic nervous system, seems to be abnormal (overactive in some instances and underactive in others) in those recently diagnosed with COVID-19.  

These results are especially important given the emerging evidence of symptoms like racing hearts being reported in conjunction with “long-COVID.”

The impact of this alteration in fight-or-flight response, especially if prolonged, means that many processes within the body could be disrupted or affected. This research team has specifically been looking at the impact on the cardiovascular system - including blood pressure and blood flow - but the sympathetic nervous system is also important in exercise responses, the digestive system, the immune function, and more.

Understanding what happens in the body shortly following diagnosis of COVID-19 is an important first step towards understanding the potential long-term consequences of contracting the disease.

Importantly, if similar disruption of the flight-or-fight response, like that found here in young individuals, is present in older adults following COVID-19 infection, there may be substantial adverse implications for cardiovascular health.


High BMI causes depression – and both physical and social factors play a role


News Release 9-Aug-2021
A largescale new study provides further evidence that being overweight causes depression and lowers wellbeing and indicates both social and physical factors may play a role in the effect
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Exeter


A largescale new study provides further evidence that being overweight causes depression and lowers wellbeing and indicates both social and physical factors may play a role in the effect.


The burden of the COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to outbreaks of violent protest and antigovernment sentiment


News Release 9-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Association for Psychological Science


The COVID-19 pandemic is the most severe global health crisis of the 21st century. While media reports and policy directives tend to focus on the health and economic aspects of the pandemic, new research suggests that the pandemic is also destabilizing the fundamental relationship between citizens and the state.

“The pandemic has disrupted our normal way of living, generating frustrations, unprecedented social exclusion, and a range of other concerns,” said Henrikas Bartusevičius, a researcher with the Peace Research Institute Oslo and coauthor on a paper published in the journal Psychological Science. “Our investigations show that the psychological toll of living through a pandemic also stoked antigovernment and antisystemic attitudes that led to political violence in a number of countries.”


Combination of muscle strengthening and aerobic exercises can reduce cancer mortality


 News Release 9-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo


Regular muscle strengthening exercises associated with aerobic activities can reduce cancer mortality, according to a systematic review of epidemiological studies. Workouts with squats, rowing, planks, weight training and so on can reduce the probability of dying from cancer by 14%. When these exercises are combined with aerobic activities, the benefit is even greater, potentially reducing mortality by 28%.



From Facebook post:

May be an image of text

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Most comprehensive review yet of keto diets finds heart risks, cancer risk, dangers to pregnant women and kidney patients


News Release 3-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


In the most comprehensive analysis yet of ketogenic (keto) diets, a review in Frontiers in Nutrition finds keto diets place pregnant women and kidney disease patients at risk of adverse health effects. The review, Ketogenic Diets and Chronic Disease: Weighing the Benefits Against the Risks, also found that for most people, the possible long-term risks of the keto diet, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease, outweigh its possible benefits.

“The typical keto diet is a disease-promoting disaster,” says lead review author Lee Crosby, RD, nutrition education program manager at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “Loading up on red meat, processed meat, and saturated fat and restricting carbohydrate-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains is a recipe for bad health.”

Five key findings of the Frontiers in Nutrition review paper are:

    Keto diets may be especially unsafe for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant—low-carb diets are linked to a higher risk of neural tube defects in the baby, even when women take folic acid.
    Higher-protein keto diets could hasten kidney failure in those with kidney disease.
    Keto diets raise “bad cholesterol” levels for many patients.
    Keto diets are presented as a panacea, but they are not likely to be safe long term.
    Restricting carbohydrate skews the diet toward cancer-causing foods. In fact, typical keto foods have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's—often the very diseases they are touted to help.

The term “ketogenic diet” generally refers to a diet that is very low in carbohydrate, modest in protein, and high in fat. This mix of fuels aims to induce ketosis, or the production of ketone bodies that serve as an alternate energy source for neurons and other cell types that cannot directly metabolize fatty acids.


Study shows users banned from social platforms go elsewhere with increased toxicity


News Release 3-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Binghamton University


Users banned from social platforms go elsewhere with increased toxicity, according to a new study featuring researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

When people act like jerks on social media, one permanent response is to ban them from posting again. Take away the digital megaphone, the theory goes, and the hurtful or dishonest messages from those troublemakers won’t post a problem there anymore.

What happens after that, though? Where do those who have been “deplatformed” go, and how does it affect their behavior in future?


Researchers developed a method to identify accounts belonging to the same person on different platforms and found that being banned on Reddit or Twitter led those users to join alternate platforms such as Gab or Parler where the content moderation is more lax.

Also among the findings is that, although users who move to those smaller platforms have a potentially reduced audience, they exhibit an increased level of activity and toxicity than they did previously.

“You can’t just ban these people and say, ‘Hey, it worked.’ They don’t disappear,” Blackburn said. “They go off into other places. It does have a positive effect on the original platform, but there’s also some degree of amplification or worsening of this type of behavior elsewhere.”


In rural America, religious attendance and norms reduce compassion for people who use opioids


News Release 3-Aug-2021
 A new study found that religious individuals in Appalachian and Midwestern states were more likely to support punitive drug policies.
Peer-Reviewed Publication


Estimates suggest that 1.7 million people in the United States suffer from opioid-related substance abuse disorders and approximately 50,000 people die each year from an opioid-related overdose.

The opioid epidemic is a widespread crisis, but rural areas—particularly those in Appalachian and Midwestern states—have been the hardest hit. However, many individuals in those same states do not support policies scientifically proven to help, like medically aided treatment and syringe exchanges.

A new study from the Social Action Lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication found that individuals in rural areas of Appalachia and the Midwest who regularly attend religious services were more likely to support punitive drug policies and less likely to support policies that aid people who use drugs. They were also more likely to support the same policies as those they perceived their religious leaders supported, whether punitive or supportive. The findings suggest that religious leaders, if persuaded of the benefits of policies that aid people with a substance use disorder, could influence the general population’s opinion toward those measures.

“Many religious communities have either disapproved of or overtly repudiated protective drug policies, like medication-assisted treatment, retail access to syringes, or syringe exchange programs,” says Dolores Albarracín, Alexandra Heyman Nash University Professor and Director of the Social Action Lab. “This is largely because they interpret substance use as a moral failure rather than a disease and see these kinds of programs as enabling drug use. Our study supports this hypothesis, but it also indicates that religious leaders could be mobilized to support protective and efficacious drug policy to curb the opioid epidemic.”


North America Has Its Hottest June on Record

Second warmest June in Europe; warmest on record for North America

7th July 2021

June 2021 surface air temperature:

  • June 2021 joins June 2018 as the fourth warmest June on record globally, after the Junes of 2016, 2019 and 2020
  • The month was the second warmest June on record for Europe
  • The warm region over Europe peaked in the north-east, and extended south-westward to North Africa and south-eastward as far as Iran and Pakistan
  • Heatwave conditions persisted over western North America, where many temperature records were broken
  • June 2021 was the warmest June on record for North America
  • Arctic Siberia also experienced high temperatures and its joint-fourth warmest June, on a par with June 2012
  • Antarctic temperatures were predominantly colder than usual