Do you know that rickety bridge scene from the movies? Violins screech and kettle drums swell as our hero tiptoes across a dangerous rope bridge swinging wildly over a dark canyon at the pulsing climax of the film. The audience gasps and grips their armrests as she kicks a loose plank and the camera painfully […]
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Climate science deniers are becoming desperate as their numbers diminish in the face of incontrovertible evidence that human-caused global warming is putting our future at risk. Although most people with basic education, common sense, and a lack of financial interest in the fossil fuel industry accept what scientists worldwide have proven through decades of research, some media outlets continue to publish inconsistent, incoherent opinions of people who reject climate science.
Read time: 7 mins
On August 8, after Geraldine Mayho’s funeral, her body was laid to rest in the St. James Catholic Cemetery in southern Louisiana, across the street from a cluster of oil storage tanks. The tanks are like those that surround the Burton Lane neighborhood in St. James where she had lived, and are emblematic of the type of polluting industry she spent her last years rallying against.
James Hamblin, in The Atlantic, on how fresh apples (and other fruit) are perhaps the only probiotics you should be buying.
Emily Atkin, in The New Republic, explains why even if you believe in the nonsense around healing crystals, you probably shouldn’t be buying them.
Sahanika Ratnayake, in Aeon, with some truths about mindfulness.
[And in case you don’t follow me on social media, in Medscape this week I ask does the anger, zealotry, and ugliness of the more vocal parts of the low-carb community hinder its wider adoption?]
Read time: 5 mins
Funding arrangements for the upcoming UN climate conference may be in disarray after local reports suggested contributions from the local mining industry to the Chilean authorities were to be slashed.
Chile’s Tele 13 Radio journalist Paula Comondari reported on Wednesday that the national Mining Council’s expected $10 million funding package for the UN’s 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) was to be slashed to just $2 million. Mining is Chile’s biggest industry and is intensive in terms of its associated water, energy and associated carbon emissions.
BOOYAH! JOB DONE! The Natty Post corrects in response to this story:
Editor’s note: In the original article, Michael Rogers intended to say “early evolutionary ancestors” instead of Neanderthals when speaking about the agricultural revolution. As well, he intended to say there’s no anthropological evidence of Type 2 diabetes, not Type 1. All changes have been made in his quotes.
Not even sure the phrase “early evolutionary ancestors” cuts it science-wise in this context but fuck it I’m in a good mood. We’ll let it go. Kudos to Bianca Bharti for fixing things and being a good sport about it. As for Doc Rogers, well they say he is from the University of Guelph. I had a friend who went there. When I asked him what it was like he said Guelph is the sound a whale makes when it swallows. I don’t know what that means but I don’t think its a compliment.
Read time: 6 mins
After a three year wait, the UN’s official scientific advisory panel’s verdict on land and climate is here. The report is about as glum as you might have come to expect from a body tasked with documenting humanity’s ongoing descent into climate-induced havoc.
The UN is right to highlight the crucial importance of land in both causing and curbing climate change — it has been neglected for far too long. In particular, the report’s conclusions on just how much our current food system threatens the climate, as well as how much climate impacts threaten our food supply, need a huge and sustained conversation.
The absolute bullshit is this bit:
“For the last million years, we’ve evolved with a very specific diet that’s been based on whole foods,” [Michael] Rogers said. “There hasn’t been a change in our diets this drastic in all of human evolution with the exception of one event in human history: when the Neanderthals ventured from forests into pastoral land and started … agricultural practices,” more than 12,000 years ago.
I don’t know who Michael Rogers is, but this kind of quote is the kind of thing that makes you think he isn’t much of an expert. I mean, the timing of wheat domestication is about right, a couple thousand years too early, maybe. But the species is wrong. The last Neanderthals walked maybe 40,000 years before crops were domesticated, unless Mr. Rogers knows something nobody else does.
Seriously, this is a big fat fucking boner of a mistake: Neanderthals invented agriculture. BULLSHIT!!! That the NP published it without fact checking is embarrassing. And if you are trying to criticize alt-meat, making this kind of claim isn’t going to help.
PS. I have never tried a Beyond Meat product nor do I have an opinion on the company.
Read time: 5 mins
In early 2018 when major financial publications like the Wall Street Journal were predicting a bright and profitable future for the fracking industry, DeSmog began a series detailing the failing business model of fracking shale deposits for oil and gas in America.
Over a year later, the fracking industry is having to reckon with many of the issues DeSmog highlighted, in addition to one new issue — investors are finally giving up on the industry.
Team Canada (left to right: Jerry Sun, Andrew Ding, Jake Douglas and Ben Woodward) paid a visit to Victoria Peak while in Hong Kong for the 16th International Geography Olympiad. (Photo: Paul VanZant)
Despite a few curveballs in the form of a typhoon and ongoing political protests, a group of young Canadian geographers proved themselves to be among the best in the world this past week at the 16th International Geography Olympiad in Hong Kong.
Ben Woodward, a former Canadian Geographic Challenge Champion from London, Ont., took home a gold medal, placing 3rd in the entire competition — a first for Canada at iGeo — while newcomer Andrew Ding of Mississauga, Ont. claimed a silver medal, one of only 29 awarded to iGeo participants.
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The Koch Network Database is a new resource library built by DeSmog to assist journalists, academic researchers, and the public to learn more about the backgrounds of individuals and organizations associated with billionaire fossil fuel industrialists Charles Koch and David Koch‘s free market approach to a broad spectrum of civic issues.
The Koch Network Database will chronicle the historical and present deeds and quotes associated with the people and organizations that have helped to advance the Kochs’ free market approach to environmental regulations, and the subsequent consequences of such approaches for climate change, public health, and democracy.
Read time: 8 mins
A scheme to abolish the Department of Energy (DOE) helped spur a failed 1980 Libertarian Party presidential bid — and in the process laid the groundwork for Charles and David Koch’s powerful network of influence — as documents from a newly published archive show.
The documents in the new KochDocs.org archive include a relatively little-noticed column penned by fossil fuel industrialist Charles Koch for the Libertarian Review in August 1977, in which Charles, who had served as a member of President Carter’s energy task force in 1976, argued against Carter’s energy policy, writing that the “only ‘certainty’ to be associated with governmental planning is that it will not work, will tend to produce results opposite to those intended, and will doom any substantial private long-range planning in energy development.”
Within three years, the Energy Department had been established by federal law — and its abolishment had become a central plank of the Libertarian Party’s 1980 presidential campaign, which featured Ed Clark as its presidential candidate and Koch Industries’ David Koch as his running-mate.
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On August 1, for the third time in as many years, Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission gas pipeline exploded. This tragic incident in central Kentucky killed a 58-year-old woman, Lisa Denise Derringer, and injured at least five others. Flames towered 300 feet high when the 30-inch diameter pipe ruptured at 1 a.m. and forced at least 75 people to evacuate.
“We opened the backdoor and it was like a tornado of fire going around and around and he said we were trapped,” survivor Jodie Coulter, 53, told CBS News, describing her efforts to flee on foot. Coulter, whose house was within 600 feet of the pipeline, suffered third-degree burns on her arms. “It felt like we were standing next to a blow torch.”
This explosion joins a string of others in the past several weeks involving America’s aging fossil fuel infrastructure — including a network of 2.6 million miles of pipelines, roughly half of which are over 50 years old, and over 130 oil refineries, many of which are 50 to 120 years old.
No one wants aging to happen to them, and yet.
While eventually we’ll all lose the fight, that doesn’t mean we can’t go down swinging, and the good news is the recipe for aging without frailty is exceedingly straight forward and was recently spelled out in a systematic review published in the British Journal of General Practice.
The magic formula the 46 included studies pointed to? A mix of regular strength training with regular protein supplementation.
Spelled out a bit further?
20-25 minutes of strength training 4x per week and the purposeful inclusion of protein with every meal and snack (or alternatively, two daily protein supplements providing 25g of protein each).
Though the aforementioned formula won’t guarantee a long life, the evidence certainly suggests it’ll help to provide a better one adding life to your years if not years to your life.
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Glenn C. Loury, in The New York Times, asks why are democrats defending “an ambulance-chasing, anti-Semitic, anti-white race hustler”?
Susie Adelson, in Toronto Life, on throwing her grandmother an assisted suicide party.
Charlene Vacon, in LinkedIn, with a heartbreaking must-read story about her son Archie.
Read time: 8 mins
While fracking for oil and gas in the U.S. has contributed to record levels of fossil fuel production, a critical part of that story also involves water. An ongoing battle for this precious resource has emerged in dry areas of the U.S. where much of the oil and gas production is occurring. In addition, once the oil and gas industry is finished with the water involved in pumping out fossil fuels, disposing of or treating that toxic wastewater, known as produced water, becomes yet another problem.
These water woes represent a daunting challenge for the U.S. fracking industry, which has been a financial disaster, something even a former shale gas CEO has admitted. And its financial prospects aren’t looking any rosier: The industry is facing another round of bankruptcies as producers are overwhelmed by debt they are unable to repay.
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“Look at what is coming into the Parish, instead of saying ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’—it is time to say ‘No,’” Pastor Harry Joseph told the St. James Parish Council on July 24. He implored councilmembers to consider freshly unveiled public health and economic concerns before they reaffirmed a permit allowing yet another petrochemical plant in a southern Louisiana community fed up with its already rapid industrialization.
Joseph, pastor of Mount Triumph Baptist Church in St. James, is one of the plaintiffs appealing the parish council’s permit granted May 20 to Wanhua Chemical, which is planning to build a $1.25 billion plastics factory on the banks of the Mississippi River. During the appeal, new information about the project caused the council to halt a vote on repealing the permit. Instead, it sent the matter back for reconsideration to the parish planning commission, which had previously granted the project permission.
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Back in 2015, if you’d searched YouTube for information about climate change, the videos offered up might have left you with a warped sense of the state of climate science and the degree of scientific certainty that people are heating the world’s climate, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Communication suggests.
Read time: 7 mins
Last week, the Heartland Institute was again trumpeting climate science denial at its 13th “International Conference on Climate Change” at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. But by a number of measures, the Chicago-based free market think tank’s science denial doesn’t exactly seem to be a growing — or cohesive — movement at this point.
Literally every time I write about chocolate milk being a beverage worth actively minimizing in your diet (have the smallest amount of it you need to like your life), someone inevitably chimes in to tell me I’m wrong because it’s great for exercise recovery.
And I’m not sure how I missed this when it came out, but last year, the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials involving chocolate milk and exercise recovery.
After excluding studies that didn’t meet their inclusion criteria, the (non-conflicted) authors were left with 12 studies, 2 deemed of high quality, 9 of fair quality, and 1 of low quality with 11 having extractable data on at least one performance/recovery marker including ratings of perceived exertion, time to exhaustion, heart rate, serum lactate, and serum creatine kinase.
Their overall conclusion?
The systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that chocolate milk consumption had no effect on any of those variables when compared to placebo or other sport drinks.
Their most generous conclusion?
If they excluded one study from their analysis of the effect of chocolate milk on time to exhaustion then chocolate milk was found to increase time to exhaustion by 47 seconds over a placebo beverage. They also found, in another subgroup analysis, that lactate was slightly attenuated in chocolate milk drinkers compared to placebo (a finding that was not present in the high quality RCT looking at same).
Happy to have this post published so that I can share the next time someone inevitably tries to suggest that chocolate milk is magic.
Julia Belluz, in Vox, with a terrific overview of the keto diet.
Kera Bolonik, in The Cut, with a bizarre and gripping read about “the most gullible man in Cambridge”
Molly Fisher, also in The Cut, with a great read on when lyme disease becomes an identity.
Read time: 3 mins
Four automakers from three different continents have struck a deal with California and agreed to adhere to the state’s stricter emissions standards, undercutting one of the Trump administration’s environmental regulatory rollbacks, according to The New York Times.
Podcast placeholder #2 leading up to September
Read time: 9 mins
A year ago, Chesapeake Energy, at one time the nation’s largest natural gas producer, announced it was selling off its Ohio Utica shale drilling rights in a $2 billion deal with a little-known private company based in Houston, Texas, Encino Acquisition Partners.
For Chesapeake, the deal offered a way to pay off some of its debts, incurred as its former CEO, “Shale King” Aubrey McClendon, led Chesapeake on a disastrous shale drilling spree. Shares of Chesapeake Energy, which in the early days of the fracking boom traded in the $20 to $30 a share range, are now valued at a little more than $1.50.
Encino has marketed itself as a stable source of long-term returns (something the industry overall has struggled so far to create), attracting the managers of one of the world’s largest pension funds to drill and frack the land that Chesapeake sold off to repay its enormous debts from fracking nationwide.
Read time: 6 mins
The oil industry in North Dakota and Montana — home to the prolific Bakken Shale Formation — faces an “impossible choice.” That’s according to a new petition to federal regulators from the attorneys general of North Dakota and Montana, in response to a Washington state law that aims to prevent trains hauling oil through the state from derailing and exploding.
That choice is to either remove the volatile components, such as butane, from Bakken crude oil before being loaded into rail tank cars, or send the volatile oil to other, harder-to-reach markets because — as the petition argues — removing the butane would cut into oil producers’ profits, and almost 60 percent of the crude leaving North Dakota by rail goes to Washington refineries.
Though there are certainly some celebrity quacktacular physicians I would like to see eat crap, but what I wouldn’t be able to tell them is that doing so would likely have a beneficial impact on their weights.
A recent small study, Effects of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation With Oral Capsules in Obese Patients, found results that to me at least, seemed wholly unsurprising. 22 patients with obesity were randomly assigned to receive either a “fecal microbiota transplantation” from a donor whose BMI was 17.5 or a placebo and to take them for 3 months (and for those curious, the induction dose was 30 capsules).
The transplants were successful in changing the microbiome of the recipients, but alas, did not affect their weights.
Perhaps the only thing surprising about all of this is that there are people out there who strongly believe that a microbiome transplant stands a chance against thousands of genes, dozens of hormones, and a Willy Wonkian food environment all of which being coupled with millions of years of an evolutionary crucible of extreme dietary insecurity.
Read time: 6 mins
In recent years, the majority of Coloradans have been struggling to breathe clean air, and tailpipe emissions carry much of the blame. Lawmakers have started to take on this threat with a number of clean car standards and incentives coming out of the Governor’s office and the state legislature. However, a newly formed coalition of car dealers, the oil and gas industry, and free market advocates are working to put the brakes on clean air policies in Colorado, and they’re using a disinformation playbook often used by organizations in the Koch network.
Launched in March, the Freedom to Drive Coalition has fought against Colorado’s adoption of low emission vehicle standards (which the state’s Air Quality Control Commission approved in a unanimous 9-0 vote) and is now battling a complementary effort to adopt zero emission vehicle (ZEV, or electric car) standards that would greatly reduce tailpipe emissions.
Read time: 5 mins
A new lawsuit seeks to kill a recent Trump administration rule that critics say deals a blow to transparency by giving the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to shoot down public information requests.
The new rule — put in place without public input — was published on the Federal Register June 26 and goes into effect July 26.
Read time: 6 mins
Thanks to recent analysis, we now know how much of global greenhouse gas emissions big oil companies like Exxon and Shell are responsible for. But it’s easy to forget that behind these corporate behemoths are powerful individuals, making decisions about where the companies should drill next.
And thanks to a new database, we can now pinpoint how much of the companies’ pollution each executive is accountable for.
Read time: 3 mins
By Julie Conley, originally published on Common Dreams
A national conservation group revealed Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s drilling leases on public lands could lead to the release of more carbon emissions than the European Union contributes in an entire year.
Ariel Sobel, with a great piece in Jewish Journal, on how fighting anti-semitism with racism doesn’t actually fight racism but rather hijacks real concerns about anti-Semitism to promote other prejudices and in so doing, destroys Jewish credibility
Serena Williams, in Harpers, with just a fabulous first person essay on why she’ll never stop speaking up in the face of injustice.
David Corn, in Mother Jones, on the unique burden of being a climate scientist.
Photo By Edwin Martinez – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhythmstrip/9630755847/, CC BY 2.0, Link
50 years ago we walked on the moon, and it transformed life on Earth
Walking school buses for kids are often promoted on the basis that if more kids were involved with them, their weights, fitness, and maybe even learning would improve.
Wouldn’t that be great? After all, it’s a relatively inexpensive intervention and one it seems everyone can at least theoretically get behind.
But does it work?
This is definitely not a good news story, nor frankly is it all that surprising, but here it is – recently the MOVI‐KIDS Study set out to explore whether or not there was an association between active transport in 4-7 year olds and their weights, fitness, and cognition.
The study involved 1,159 children in Spain and they were categorized on the basis of whether the active components of their school commutes totalled more or less than 15 minutes and then tested and measured to explore walking to school’s possible impact. Heights and weight were measured, a validated cardiorespiratory fitness test was administered, as were multiple batteries of validated cognitive tests. Efforts were also made to control for familial socio-economic status, as well as of course the children’s ages and sexes.
As you might have gathered, the walkers were found to be no better off on any studied variable with the authors very plainly concluding,
“Walking to school had no positive impact on adiposity, physical fitness, and cognition in 4‐ to 7‐year‐old children.”
Too bad. Truly.
I have to say too, I did scratch my head reading the next bit of their conclusion though,
“it would be of interest for future studies to examine the intensity and duration of ACS necessary to provide meaningful benefits for health and cognitive performance.”
I can’t say I agree with them here as I’m not sure lengthy, intense, daily school commutes for 4 year olds is something we need to explore regardless of their impact on anything. Moreover, I don’t need to see “meaningful benefits” to want to continue promoting more movement and play in our children, and if we buy into the need for same, we’ll risk the cessation of programs that don’t prove themselves to provide perhaps broader reaching or more dramatic outcomes than could ever be fairly expected of them.
Olga Khazan, in The Atlantic, with further evidence that education alone is insufficient for behaviour change with her stories on her physicians make for terrible patients.
Will Higgins, in The Indy Star, with the story of perhaps the only such letter in existence, written by Vilma Grunwald while in line to be murdered in Auschwitz’ gas chambers, and given by her to a guard who amazingly hand delivered it to her husband who was also in Auschwitz. May her memory be a blessing.
Rebecca Robbins, in STAT, with the story of billionaire Sean Parker and the incredible impact he’s having on cancer research.
You might think that having a heart attack would be motivating when it came to behaviour change, and that taking medications is a very straightforward behaviour.
The Post-Myocardial Infarction Free Rx Event and Economic Evaluation (MI FREEE) trial set out to study whether or not cost had a role to play in why so many patients, even post heart attack, don’t take the medications prescribed to them in the hopes of preventing another one by freely providing them with those medications.
Results wise, though the group receiving free preventive medications were taking more of them than the group that did not, at the end 1.5 years, only 41% of those receiving all their medications for free, medications prescribed to them after they had an actual heart attack, were taking them.
So file these results under human beings, even when faced with knowledge, and in this case knowledge coupled with a very real glimpse at mortality, struggle to maintain even the easiest of behaviour changes, and consider that in the context of the trope of education and personal responsibility as the sole means to target diet and weight related diseases. If we want to see population level changes, we’re going to need to change the food environment.
Geoff Manaugh, in The Atlantic, on Law and Order: Mars.
Aaron Ross Coleman, in Buzzfeed, on fast food, blood pressure, and black Americans.
Pam Belluck, in The New York Times, on a scientist who solves her daughter’s rare medical mystery.
[And if you’ve the time and inclination, I really enjoyed speaking with the Balance365 podcast on healthy attitudes regarding weight management]
According to Cancer Research UK’s new public advertisements, obesity is apparently the new smoking.
What that means of course is that by formally adopting, amplifying, and promoting the message that obesity, like smoking, is a choice people make, Cancer Research UK fuels hateful weight based stigma.
More amazing perhaps is that the aim of the campaign is to apparently target the environment with their ads steering people, in the small print that people will likely miss and certainly can’t click on in train stations, to their web page calling for an end to junk food advertising to kids.
Obesity is the normal consequence of normal people living in abnormal, obesigenic, environments. Obesity often has hugely negative impacts upon health and quality of life (especially at its extremes), fuelled in no small part by the never ending blame, shame, and scorn heaped upon those who have obesity by society, and yet here is Cancer Research UK’s campaign to further justify that weight hate.
Shame on them. They absolutely should have known better.
Many years ago, I was reading a blog post by a blogger I’d been following for a while. She wrote about a recent struggle with depression and her honest words made such an impact on me. I remember thinking how brave it was for her to tell her story. While I hated that she was […]