Preventing Global Warming through Geoengineering

Most scientists are in unanimous agreement that global warming is a real threat to Earth’s ecosystem. All sorts of plans have been proposed on how to put a halt to the planet’s steadily rising temperature.

Researchers are now turning to solar geoengineering as a possible solution. The plan involves adding aerosol to the atmosphere, which will help to intersperse the sun’s solar energy and minimize its effects when it reaches Earth’s surface. The idea is to block out about two percent of the sun’s rays.

Like most plans, this one is not without its side effects. It is believed that putting such a plan into action could potentially whiten the sky during daylight hours, though there is no danger of having a milkier sky.

The research was headed by Ben Kravitz and Ken Caldeira and is published in the periodical for the American Geophysical Union.

Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere everyday through the use of coal and gas from vehicles and factories. This is causing the planet to heat up. Normally, an eruption from a volcano will counteract this effect. An eruption releases particles into the stratosphere and creates a natural shield from sun rays, though the Earth will reheat once the particles thin out. With geoengineering, the idea is to continuously release the particles into the stratosphere through artificial means.

Geoengineering has been tested on small scale environment models. While the plan seems promising, the sky will take on a lighter shade of blue. The sky will be a tad hazier and whiter with a bit of an afterglow from the sun’s appearance.

The human race has already inflicted an irreversible deal of damage to its only home in the last 50 years alone. Though geoengineering is an artificial solution, it may give the planet a much needed lifeline.

New Computer Allows Researchers to Analyze Climate Data at the Local Level

Climate behavior has always been an interest and concern among meteorologists. Researchers have always relied upon technology to record the data they need to help them analyze weather patterns. Scientists now have a new supercomputer at their disposal that can help them expand their research to new depths.

This new computer is known as Yellowstone and will help researchers study the weather and give them more precise data. The technological sophistication of Yellowstone will help researchers compute data on a regional level, rather than from a more broad continental scale. This will allow scientists to determine how temperatures affect water resources, wind patterns and wildlife.

Limitations in computing power have always been the setback for researchers. Older systems simply were unable to provide details on local climate and how it factors into the behavior of the weather in coastlines, valleys and mountain ranges.

Yellowstone will cost around 30 million dollars to operate; it is currently being funded by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The computer will shed light on much anticipated questions, such as how much dryer will some regions be by the middle of this century and how much warmer will the summer season become.

Mathew Maltrud, who works out of Los Alamos Laboratory, works with models that simulate the behavior of rivers, vegetation and ocean tides. He says that the Yellowstone will allow the models to provide a more realistic representation and a more accurate prediction of what we can expect the weather to be like in the next 30 or so years.

With a superior capacity for storing data, Yellowstone will also be able to provide a snapshot of the climate every few hours rather than days.

With the advancement of research tools, scientists will be able to provide a better analysis of how the climate is changing and what, if anything, can mankind do about it.

Physical Education May Lead to Better Grades

Most school districts include physical education as part of the academic curriculum. P.E. has caused some controversy in the past as some parents feel that school is a place to learn and not to sweat. However, a new study finds that children who engage in physical education actually outperform those in schools where P.E. is either not taught or is emphasized to a lesser degree.

The study was conducted in Sweden and consisted of over 200 students from first to third grade. The students’ academic activity was followed for nine years. Some of the subjects received physical education five days a week as well as additional training in skills that improved their motor, reflex and coordination.

The results showed that 96 percent of students who received additional P.E got grades that made them eligible for the honor roll and advanced placement courses. This is compared to 89 percent for those who did not receive the extra physical training.

The difference was even more apparent among boys. Male students who spent more time in physical education training also scored significantly higher in the classroom on subjects like math and English.

The study also showed that by the time these students reached their freshman year in high school, 93 percent of the subjects who took P.E. displayed better physical motor skills, compared to just 53 percent for those in the other group.

At this point, it is not entirely clear how physical education helps students learn in the classroom. It is believed that the time spent engaging in exercise and socializing are contributing factors.

The study appears to be another reason for keeping physical education around. Learning should not be limited to the classroom. By teaching students how to stay active, schools are conditioning kids how to prepare for a long-term healthy lifestyle.

The Case for the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food

Whenever you bite into a granola bar, scarf down a bowl of cereal or pour dressing into your salad, you are likely consuming food that has been altered from its original state. It’s rare these days that you can find a food item on the store shelves that hasn’t been modified with all sorts of artificial chemicals and preservatives. Unless the food is specifically labeled as organic, then it almost certainly contains genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Just about every food that comes in a package is made from crops that’s DNA was genetically altered in a lab. This is done to make the plants more resistant to herbicide commonly used for controlling weed.

Activists are now calling for the Food and Drug Administration to mandate that all food packages label its ingredients as being genetically modified. The ballot is expected to spark a fierce showdown between the organic food industry, which support mandated labeling, and nationally known brands like Kraft and Kelloggs, which oppose such regulations.

Farmers and researchers argue that engineered crops are safe and helpful for expanding the world’s food supply. Critics, however, argue that foods with GMO are far from natural and should be labeled as such.

Agricultural farmers and biotech companies believe that strict labeling regulations may mislead consumers and cause unfounded fear of modified foods. They also added that such foods are beneficial to the environment and economy.

Oprah Winfrey – who is perhaps one of the most influential women in the world – produced an article in her O magazine that was critical of modified foods and even proposed ideas on how one can limit intake of engineered food. Her article was rebuked by Tim Burrack, an Iowa farmer, who wrote to Ms. Winfrey urging her not to demonize modified crops.

This is certainly a hotly contested issue with a lot of politics thrown in. A recent NPR poll does show that about 9 in 10 people support having GMO foods labeled. Whether the dangers of genetically modified food is legit or just a way for the organic food industry to burst their way into the market, the consensus seems to agree that everyone should have a right to know what they are eating.

Raising HDL Levels may not Help Combat Cholesterol

Cholesterol is often mentioned in the same sentence as high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s one of those things you need to consistently monitor, especially as you get older and if bad cholesterol runs in the family. The conventional wisdom is to eat foods that raise high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels in your body. This increases the good cholesterol while lowering the bad.

However, new research suggests that there may not be a big difference between good and bad cholesterol as previously believed. The study found that elevating HDL levels does not decrease the chances of heart disease. Even people with naturally higher levels of HDL – a purely genetic factor – are not at a lower risk for heart related problems.

Doctors are currently urging high-risk patients to raise their HDL levels by exercising and changing their diets. Drug manufacturers are also actively testing drugs that can elevate HDL in the body. Separate studies have shown that supplements like niacin, which raises HDL, does not lower risk of heart disease.

Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of heart medicine from the Cleveland Clinic, is still hopeful and believes that there are some forms of HDL molecules that do in fact provide valuable protection from heart disease.

It has long been accepted in the medical community that HDL acts as a transport that carries cholesterol away from the arteries. This hypothesis may need to be revised and revisited in the light of the new study.

The new findings are disturbing to say the least. If HDL does not combat bad cholesterol, then what does? For those actively trying to raise their HDL on the advice of their doctors, has their efforts all been in vain? Until further study sheds new light, it is really up in the air what the best course of action is for patients.

Sugar Can Make You Dumb

It’s no secret that sugar can wreck all sorts of havoc on your body. If you frequently reach for the cookie jar or guzzle down a can of pop, then you greatly increase your risk for weight gain, diabetes and even cancer. This has all been backed up by years of research. However, up until now, very little study has been done on the effects of sugar on the brain.

A new research suggests that frequently giving in to your sweet tooth may actually “make you dumb”. However, this can be counteracted by a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The study was done in UCLA and consisted of lab rats that spent six weeks eating foods that were either rich in omega-3s, deficient in omega-3s, or foods high in fructose corn syrup.

The rats were then placed in a maze. The ones that had a high omega-3 diet outperformed the others in navigating their way to the end. The mice with a high sugar diet performed the worst.

The findings also showed that the mice that lacked omega-3s exhibited a decline in synaptic activity, which is vital for memory and processing new information.

The study, however, was done with artificially manufactured sugar. Naturally occurring fructose like those found in fruits or cane sugar is actually high in antioxidants and beneficial for your body. It’s the processed sweeteners that you have to be on the watch out for.

While fish and other foods high in omega-3s may be able to nullify the effects of fructose, the best course of action is to drastically cut down on sugar intake.

This study gives you another reason to eat artificially sweetened foods in moderation. If you want to keep your brain sharp, then you need to slap your own hand the next time you decide to reach for that extra helping of pie.

New Consumer Fear over the Use of “Meat Glue”

The U.S. Meat industry has been under heavy attack in the last few months after videos surfaced of the “pink slime.” The industry is now under scrutiny again amid criticisms that meat processing plants are using what is being termed as “meat glue.”

Meat glue is actually a type of enzyme that is used to bind smaller cuts of pork and beef together to give it a larger and more uniform appearance. Meat glue is also used on imitation crab meat, dairy products and pasta. While the meat industry insists that the enzyme is safe, the U.S. Agriculture Department is now requiring the substance to be listed on food labels.

Meat glue is made from beef plasma, and critics claim that aside from health issues, it can also be used to deceive consumers by taking smaller cuts of inexpensive meat and piecing it together and labeling it as premium cuts.

To ease public anxiety about the use of meat glue, the American Meat Institute hosted a conference led by Fibrimex and Ajinomoto North America, two manufacturers of the enzyme. Both companies insist that only a small percentage of the enzyme makes its way into the meat that is sold in stores.

William Marler, A Seattle lawyer and critic of the meat glue, believes that consuming steak with the glue can put consumers at risk for food-borne illnesses.

Fibrimex and Ajinomoto North America both rebuffed Marler’s claim, stating that the enzyme has been in use for the past two decades and no consumer has ever fallen ill as a result.

The meat industry already has a black eye after the whole pink slime fiasco. While meat glue, for the most part, does not appear to be a major health threat, it does create publicity, though not the good kind. The meat industry will have to take drastic PR measures if it wants to get back on the good side with its consumers.

Eating too quickly can Increase Risk of Diabetes

Eating too quickly can Increase Risk of Diabetes

In a day and age when most people are strapped for time, they tend to do everything with a sense of hurry. More people are beginning to eat while on the go. This means eating quickly without taking the time to enjoy the food. When people eat on the move, they tend to gobble the food down and swallow it without chewing it thoroughly. A new study is now showing that eating too quickly can increase the risk for diabetes.

Eating too quickly can Increase Risk of DiabetesThe research was conducted in Lithuania and presented at the International Congress of Endocrinology in Florence, Italy. The study compared 234 people with type 2 diabetes and 468 individuals without the condition. It was discovered that those who quickly shove food down their throats were more than twice as likely to have diabetes as those who chew their food longer.

The study also showed that the participants with diabetes were more likely to have a higher body mass index.

The head of the study, Lina Radzeviciene, said that diabetes is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. She also added that modified risk factors must be identified to help cut down the chances of developing the disease for those at risk.

It is also important to add that while an association was found between diabetes and eating in haste, this does not equate to a cause and effect relationship.

Previous studies published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association also suggested a link between diabetes and speed eating.

Humans have teeth for a reason. Every spoonful of food you put in your mouth should be grinded and chewed until it is mush. Food that has not been broken down into smaller bits can place unnecessary burden on your digestive tracks. Taking your time while eating will also make your meals more enjoyable.

Jogging May be the Key to Longevity

Aerobic activity is good for the heart, though most people avoid it like the plague. The feeling of being out of breath and feeling like your heart is about to burst out of your chest can be a torturous sensation. However, while you may find aerobic activity unpleasant and even boring, new research gives you incentives for including it into your daily routine.

Jogging May be the Key to Longevity The Copenhagen City Heart study conducted at Dublin, Ireland, showed that a light jog a few times a week can add an additional 6.2 years of life for men and 5.6 years for women. The research has been going on since 1976 and includes data from over 19,000 men and women.

The research is headed by cardiologist Dr. Peter Schnohr, who began the research after critics argued that jogging can be counterproductive and places too much strain on the heart and muscles for middle aged people.

Schnohr’s research indicated that moderate levels of jogging can increase longevity. He recommends about one to two hours of jogging a week, divided into two to three workout sessions. He suggests going at a pace where you experience a little breathlessness, but not to the point where you are panting and gasping heavily for air.

The research also showed that jogging is actually better than resistance training for burning body fat, which poses a serious health risk. A separate study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine also concluded that regular jogging can delay aging by as much as 12 years.

If you’re like most people, you do not look forward to jogging whether it is done outside or on a treadmill. However, if a long and vibrant health means anything to you, then it is well worth it to invest a half hour two to four times a week to get your heart rate up.