Two Visionaries Tackle Climate Change With Rooftop Farms

Two Visionaries Tackle Climate Change With Rooftop Farms

As climate change becomes an increasingly alarming issue, more environmentalists are looking for sustainable ways to keep the effects of global warming at bay. Among these eco visionaries are Courtney Hennessey and John Stoddard of Boston. The duo is credited with the formation of Higher Ground Farm. This is a growing establishment that cultivates miniature farms on the rooftops of buildings in urban cities.

The project has really taken off with several roof farms already in place in New York and another one set to be constructed in Massachusetts. So far, plans are looking good with the company expected to grow up to 100,000 pounds of produce by the end of 2013.

Aside from providing fresh produce, rooftop farming also helps to mitigate climate change. Since the plants on the farm absorb sunlight, it would help reduce a heat island effect, which tends to plague large cities. A heat island effect occurs when a city develops higher temperatures than nearby rural areas as a result of human activity. This would also result in reduced electricity and cooling costs for companies that invest in rooftop farming for their facilities.

Another plus of rooftop farming is that it allows locals affordable and easy access to natural and organic produce, which is a good way to combat obesity and health problems that are rampant in poor urban areas.

Stoddard and Hennessy also hope to strike several partnerships by getting restaurants involved with Higher Ground Farm. This gives restaurateurs the advantage of advertising their cuisines as being served fresh from local sources.

Just like typical farming, rooftop farming also has its share of hurdles and problems. Plants and crops can be affected by wind, pigeons and seagulls. The goal of Higher Ground Farm is to fix a broken system of food production that relies heavily on genetically modified crops.

Canker Sore Ointment may be the Next Revolutionary Weight Loss Drug

Canker Sore Ointment may be the Next Revolutionary Weight Loss Drug

Some people are prone to getting canker sores from time to time. These are small mouth ulcers that manifest inside the mouth. While the sore normally heals within a week or so, those who get it can expect agonizing pain whenever they eat, brush their teeth or even touch it with their tongue. A drug known as amlexanox is normally used to numb the pain. Amlexanox, however, may also prove to be an effective weight loss supplement.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan shows that the drug contains properties that make obese laboratory mice thin even without diet or exercise. So far, the test has only been performed on mice, and what works on rodents may not necessarily work on humans.

In the study, mice were given a high-fat diet, which ballooned their weight. The obese mice were then injected with amlexanox and subsequently lost weight, even though they were continually fed the same diet and did not exercise. When taken off the drug, the weight quickly came back.

If amlexanox has the same effect on humans, then it could potentially be one of the biggest breakthroughs since Viagra, which was originally intended as a drug for treating chest pain but was later found to be effective for correcting erectile dysfunction.

Amlexanox has been sold in drug stores for the past 15 years as an ointment for canker sores. The research, however, shows that it can also alter the genes that control metabolism.

The reason a low calories diet tends to be ineffective is because the body adjusts to the calorie restriction by slowing metabolism. Amlexanox has shown – for mice at least – that it has the capabilities of speeding up metabolism regardless of diet.

Researchers are already making arrangements to test the effectiveness of the drug on humans, which is expected to take place later this year.

America Earns Number 1 Spot as the Unhealthiest Nation

America Earns Number 1 Spot as the Unhealthiest Nation

If America is your home sweet home, then you may need to be worried about your health as well as the health of your children. According to a new study, America has the highest mortality rate where people die younger than those from other non-developing nations.

The study was conducted by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council and consisted of experts in the field of public health, economics, social science and medicine. When compared against other nations, such as Canada, Britain, Japan, Australia and Scandinavian countries like Austria and Switzerland, America comes in dead last in terms of the health of its citizens.

The study reveals that American-born babies are more likely to die before reaching their first birthday or even their fifth birthday. American adolescents have a higher mortality due to death from causes like automobile accidents, homicides and sexually transmitted diseases. Among adults over 20 years of age, Americans have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and deaths from drug overdose.

The high mortality rates are not only concentrated in poverty-stricken areas of the nation. The study also shows that those from affluent neighborhoods with a college education and health insurance are in worse health than their counterparts from other wealthy countries.

The mortality rate is largely believed to be in part due to poor individual choices. This includes lack of exercise, poor diet, alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Studies also suggest the reason is partly due to social factors like income inequality and lack of safety nets provided by the government.

However, America is not in last place in every sector of health. Americans who live to see their 75th birthday do have the longest life expectancy.

While the study reveals grim figures, it is important to remember that the statistics are just numbers and it is largely up to the individual and the choices they make that dictate their health and how long they remain on Earth before kicking the bucket.

Scientists Propose Geo-engineering as a Possible Response to Climate Change

Scientists Propose Geo-engineering as a Possible Response to Climate Change

Scientists are brainstorming all sorts of ideas to combat global warming. Among these ideas is geo-engineering, a hotly debated and controversial topic in which the environment is manipulated to great extremes to quell the effects of climate change.

Rather than looking for a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, geo-engineering is a system of ideas that aims to control the carbon dioxide that is already present in the atmosphere. One of the proposed methods involves dispersing massive amounts of the mineral olivine into the ocean. This would increase the water’s alkalinity, which allows it to suck some of the carbon dioxide right out of the air.

However, laboratory tests done at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research shows that this method would be futile. Studies show that in order to effectively eliminate the majority of the carbon dioxide, 40 gigatons of olivine would be required. That is equivalent to 40 billion tons and would fill a fleet of 100 transport ships.

Even if scientists could feasibly obtain that gargantuan amount, the amount of energy needed to crush the mineral into fine powder would create a whole other set of environmental concerns. The massive amount of energy used during the grinding process would emit about a third of the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. On top of this hurdle, the mineral would also release traces of iron into the sea, which would cause ocean fertilization and lead to a huge surge in plankton.

Geo-engineering continues to remain a hotly debated subject in the scientific community. Some dismiss the idea as utter nonsense that could have unforeseen side effects and irreversible consequences. Proponents, however, see it as a viable alternative and believe that it warrants further discussion given the fact that proposals to curb greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in zero progress.

Coca-Cola Joins Fight Against Obesity Epidemic

The estimate that two-thirds of Americans are obese is a statistic that doesn’t even need to be repeated anymore because it has been echoed over and over. In fact, the problem has become such a large epidemic that even Coca-Cola of all companies has joined the anti-obesity crusade.

Coca-Cola, the manufacturer of the world’s most popular and sugar-laden soft drink, has pledged its commitment to curb the rising rate of obesity among adults and children by launching an ad campaign to reinforce its efforts to work with the government and communities to find real-world solutions to reducing America’s growing waistline.

The ad points out that of its 650 beverage products, 180 of them offer zero or reduced calories. The ad was a response to increased attacks made by health advocates against the beverage company, which was led mostly by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Back in October, the CSPI released its own animated short film known as “The Real Bears,” which was aimed at mocking Coca-Cola’s polar bear mascot and urged Americans to ditch sodas and other sugary beverages.

Coca-Cola refuted CSPI’s video and stated that the real key to combating obesity is to cut back on calories, no matter where the source of the calories comes from. CSPI, however, fired back and said that Coca-Cola only released its own ad to protect its own image and has no real intention or interest of fighting national obesity.

CSPI did, however, concede that soda, if consumed in moderation, can be a part of a healthy diet. It added that the problem is the fact that people are now guzzling soda in huge containers on nearly a daily basis. This is something that even Coca-Cola has agreed on and has pledged to address through the release of new portion-controlled sizes.

Prince Charles Becomes an Activist for the Environment

Many celebrities tend to be very vocal about their beliefs and use their stardom to try to make a difference. When it comes to protecting the environment, some of the biggest activists include Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. You can now add Prince Charles to that list as he says that saving planet Earth is “a grandfather’s duty.”

During an interview at Cambridge House, Prince Charles explains that he does not want his future grandchild to be born in a world where he or she has to tackle serious climate change issues because people like his or her grandfather took a passive stance. He added that if nothing is done, his grandchild and subsequent generations could end up inheriting a world that has become a “poisoned chalice.”

Prince Charles has in fact been a strong environmental advocate for many years. In 2007, he set up the Prince’s Rainforest Group, an organization dedicated to saving the few rainforests that remain in the world. He also spoke in front of the committee at the UN international climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. A year later, he was invited as a guest speaker at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference.

Prince Charles also commented on his current project and added that he is in the works of creating a team of volunteers in the UK following the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

With charitable-related issues set aside, Prince Charles also indulged in his excitement about becoming a grandfather for the first time. Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting their first child due this summer.

On more serious issues, Prince Charles also echoed concerns for his son Prince Henry, who is currently abroad in Afghanistan. Prince Charles regularly meets with the relatives of those killed in action or seriously wounded while fighting the war on terror.