Almost 7 years ago, while going through some personal issues, I made a terrible mistake and ended up being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of California. It was a dark period in my life, but I have moved on and learned my lesson. This spring, however, my intoxicated driving conviction […]
Bitcoin ‘mining’ is harder on the environment than mining for gold
Beatboxing verbal gymnastics is a whole new way of making sounds
Wind turbines are creating skinny, fearless lizards
Chucking salmon into trees to understand ecological web
Barking piranhas and screeching catfish fighting it out in the Amazon
Sniffing around our brain’s ability to navigate by scent
Sweat can’t evaporate on humid days in Summer, so we feel hotter; damp air contributes to feeling cold in Winter.
Read time: 4 minsKoch Industries is calling for the elimination of tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), all while claiming that it does not oppose plug-in cars and inviting the elimination of oil and gas subsidies that the petroleum conglomerate an…
Situated adjacent to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park is intended to be a space for reflection and discussion on the legacy of the decisive First World War battle. (Photo: Pascal Brunet/Vimy Foundation)
In 1917, moved by the total destruction he saw around him after the battle of Vimy Ridge, Lt. Leslie Miller gathered up a handful of acorns from a fallen English oak tree and sent them home to be planted on his family’s farm in Scarborough, Ont.
A century later, descendants of those “Vimy Oaks” — some of which still thrive on the grounds of what is today the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church — have been returned to the soil of Vimy, France, as part of a new commemorative project marking both the centenary of the decisive battle and the end of the First World War.
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The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been called a “deafening” alarm and an “ear-splitting wake-up call” about the need for sweeping climate action. But will one more scientific report move countries to dramatically cut emissions?
Evidence, so far, says no. Countless scientific studies have been published since the 1970s on the dangers of climate change, many offering similar projections. And social science research shows that showing people research doesn’t work. So, if more reports and information don’t spark action, what will?
In a recent study led by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Climate Change Initiative, we identified a promising approach: Playing a game called the World Climate Simulation, originally developed by the nonprofit organization Climate Interactive, in which participants play delegates at international climate change negotiations.
“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” ~1984 A few days ago, I lost a Facebook friend who (as it turns out) is rather partial to Donald…
Ex Coelis, the Latin motto of the First Canadian Parachute Battalion, translates as “Out of the clouds.” Members of the battalion were among the first Allied forces on the ground during the D-Day landings. Many were taken prisoner. Alberta’s Ex Coelis mountain, pictured, has five peaks, each named in honour of the battalion. (Photo: Jeff Wallace/Flickr)
Brockville, ON – The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, M.P. for Beauséjour, joined Mary Jean McFall, Team Trudeau candidate for Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, to speak about the priorities of families throughout the region on Wednesday evening. “Today I had the pleasure of speaking with families in Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, and the message was […]
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Today, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew G. Whitaker, who served as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would replace his boss. Sessions was forced from office a day after the midterm elections, which were rough for climate and anti-fracking measures around the country.
Whitaker was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”
FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from Donors Trust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.
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Around the U.S., many states and municipalities were voting in the U.S. midterms on races with implications for limiting the environmental and public health impacts of fossil fuels, particularly drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). On cue, however, the oil and gas industry responded by spending massive amounts of money to defeat these initiatives and elect their preferred candidates, with plenty of success.
In just three of those states, energy and fossil fuel companies reportedly spent almost $100 million fighting a price on carbon, a ban on new fracking and drilling near homes, and a more ambitious state renewable energy requirement.
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Editor’s note: A new study by scientists in the United States, China, France and Germany estimates that the world’s oceans have absorbed much more excess heat from human-induced climate change than researchers had estimated up to now. This finding suggests that global warming may be even more advanced than previously thought. Atmospheric scientist Scott Denning explains how the new report arrived at this result and what it implies about the pace of climate change.
Toronto, ON – Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, will deliver remarks to supporters at a donor appreciation event in Toronto, on November 6, 2018. The Liberal Party of Canada has committed to the strongest standards in federal politics for openness and transparency, and is challenging other parties to do the same. […]
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And so it begins (again).
This month I pledge to grow my something of a Pedro Pascal inspired lip-terpillar in the name of raising awareness (and $s) for men’s health.
If you enjoy my wholly non-monetized blog, I’d like to ask you to donate to my Movember fundraising efforts. I’ve kicked them off by donating $100 myself and I’m hoping you’ll help me to raise more than last year’s $4,500.
Contrary to what some believe, Movember is not a prostate cancer charity per se, and though some of its funds do support prostate cancer research and treatment, Movember supports multiple men’s health initiatives including those involving mental health, suicide, body image, eating disorders, testicular cancer, substance use disorders, and more. Regarding prostate cancer, I was pleased to see that Movember encourages patients to speak with their physicians about the value (or lack thereof) of PSA screening, rather than suggesting it’s a good idea for one and all.
Donating is easy. Just click here and give! And of course, Movember is a registered charity, so all donations are fully tax deductible.
In return I vow to continue to blog freely, to never allow advertisements, and to regularly post pictures of what might well have been an effective form of birth control in my home had I sported it year round back in the day.
For me the ask is also personal. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer when I was in medical school, and soon I’ll need to start wrestling with whether or not with that strong family history, I should walk the slippery slope of testing. My oldest cousin Marshall – we lost him to opioids.
Every dollar counts, no donation is too small.
(And if you want, you can make your donation anonymously so no one (me included) will know you hang out here from time to time.)
Alana Newhouse, in Tablet, with her post Pittsburgh’s synagogue massacre reflections on what needs to be America’s Yahrzeit.
Sarah Boseley, in The Guardian, on the “butter nonsense” of cholesterol deniers.
Paul Benedetti and Wayne MacPhail, in The Globe and Mail, on the call from chiropractors themselves for their profession to rein in vitalistic chiropractic nonsense.
[And if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here’s my piece in The Walrus highlighting what my wife and I found after a year of tracking who gave my kids junk food, and what we’re trying to do about it]
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Gas companies in California face credit downgrades, ratings agencies say, after the state pledged to get all of its power from renewable sources by 2045.
On September 10, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill which would require 100 percent of the state electricity’s to come from carbon-free sources.
That would have no immediate effect on most gas generators, according to a report by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) analyst Michael Ferguson this month. However, he said: “We believe that over the long term, with the growth of renewable energy, these utilities face a significant threat to their market position, finances, and credit stability.”
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With Washington State voters poised to put a price on carbon pollution, the oil and gas industry has made history to keep the ballot measure, Initiative 1631, from passing. The opposition campaign, funded with more than $30 million primarily from out-of-state oil and gas companies, also distributed bilingual flyers listing Latino businesses that recommended voting “no” on I-1631.
The only problem, however, is that a dozen Latino businesses say they never agreed to this, according to the Yes on 1631 campaign.
Brazil’s Bolsonaro is bad for the Amazon
Probiotics don’t live up to the hype, scientists say
The largest bird that ever lived was probably blind
Modular robots remake themselves on the fly to do new tasks
Archeologists find evidence that chocolate is older than the pyramids
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There are costs associated with electricity beyond what shows up on your monthly bill.
When that energy comes from coal, residents who live downwind pay through poorer health and, as with all fossil fuels, the whole world pays for this combustion in the form of a warmer climate. Cleaning up or closing the nation’s dirtiest power plants could help stem the damage all around.
As an atmospheric scientist, I worked with two students to compute some of the often-overlooked costs of coal-fired power stations. We found that the damage to public health and the climate this source of electricity causes far exceeds the money power generators earn from the electricity they sell.
West Vancouver, BC – Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, will deliver remarks to supporters at an open Liberal fundraising event in West Vancouver, on November 1, 2018. The Liberal Party of Canada has committed to the strongest standards in federal politics for openness and transparency, and is challenging other parties to […]
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One of the Department of Interior’s (DOI) internal watchdog investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke‘s behavior while in office has been referred to the Justice Department, which only happens when investigators determine there might have been a criminal violation, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Two sources familiar with the investigation broke the news to the press, but did not specify which of the probes into Zinke’s actions was involved. A senior White House official only told The Washington Post that the investigation revolved around whether Zinke “used his office to help himself.”
Ottawa, ON – With less than one year until the 2019 federal election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada’s supporters across the country are breaking new records for grassroots fundraising. The Liberal Party has achieved its best-ever third quarter for grassroots fundraising outside of an election year, with more than 33,000 Canadians contributing $3,761,601 to […]
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In 2016, lower oil prices led to an overall drop in production for shale companies, which use horizontal drilling and fracking to extract oil and gas from shale formations such as the Marcellus and Permian. This was one of the few relatively positive financial periods for an industry plagued by high costs and low returns (although it still lost money in 2016).
But the industry shouldn’t get complacent, warned Robert Clarke of energy industry research and consulting group Wood Mackenzie. Cracks already are starting to emerge in the optimistic forecasts of how much these shale formations can produce, which is a bad sign for turning around the industry’s struggling finances.
10 YEARS!!! Can someone please tell me how it’s been a decade since I wrote my very first blog post? We’re celebrating today with this incredible vegan dessert and a week-long OSG Recipe App sale for charity (deets below). When I started my blog on October 31, 2008, Eric and I were newly married and […]
But first, definitely a disclosure. It was reading Marion’s 2002 Food Politics that started me on my own path of nutrition related public health advocacy, and in the ensuing years, I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting her, both online and in person, and I value her friendship and counsel. I was also a bit flabbergasted to learn that I had a small part to play in Marion’s decision to write Unsavory Truth, as in the afterwords she notes that it was the exposé of the Global Energy Balance Network (in which I played a small role and where I receive mention in Unsavory Truth) that triggered her interest in writing. Consequently there’s zero question I’m biased, both personally and professionally, and I’ve no doubt, she’d approve of me disclosing this before my reviewing her work, which was sent to me freely by her publisher, which explores the many conflicts of interest that exist between the food industry and nutrition professionals.
Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, is Marion’s take on how, and why, the food industry works with researchers and health professionals. She takes us on many different conflicts of interest tours, from nutrition research as a whole, to sugar and candy, to meat and dairy, to “health food“, Coca-Cola, advisory committees, the American Society for Nutrition, to nutrition education and dietetic societies.
Overarchingly, Marion sees industry’s response to criticism of its involvement as following the playbook set by tobacco which sees them:
“Cast doubt on the science
Fund research to produce desired results
Offer gifts and consulting arrangements
Use front groups
Promote personal responsibility
Use the courts to challenge critics and unfavorable regulations”
And she laments the fact that nutrition, unlike medicine, doesn’t seem to take its conflicts of interest as seriously, “
Decades ago, medical professionals recognized the distorted effects of drug company practices, measures the distortions, and took steps to counter them. Medical journals required authors to disclose financial ties to drug companies that might profit from the results of their studies. Medical schools banned drug companies from marketing to students. In 201, Congress required drug companies to disclose payments to physicians. Nothing close to that level of concern, scrutiny or action applies to food-company efforts to engage nutrition professionals“
The aim of the food industry is self-evident and non-indictable. It’s profit. And there are many ways for them to invest in research and partnerships to help in that regard. Citing the work of Lisa Bero and colleagues, she explains that when it comes to research, food industry funding can,
“focus on single nutrients, ingredients, or foods rather than on interactions or overall diets. They can compare the effects of single foods by contrasting diets that include them to diets that lack them. They can design trials without randomization, blinding or appropriate comparisons. They can focus on obvious or irrelevant effects. And they can give a positive spin to results that show no effect or fail to publish unfavourable results.“
And then by way of examples of each, demonstrates these are anything but theoretical risks, including studies where though the conclusions are valid, like for instance, if compared with sucrose, and when neither are consumed to excess, that the slightly higher amount of fructose in high fructose corn syrup isn’t likely to make much difference to health, are designed to prove forgone conclusions that can be spun by their funders and are more apt to be classified as marketing research than basic science.
Marion’s also quick to note that,
“industry funding does not inevitably bias a study, although it does suggest that the research question and interpretation require more than the usual level of scrutiny“
Looking to guideline committees and dietetic organizations, the food industry is again represented in ways that require more than the usual level of scrutiny. In 2015, 10 of the 14 members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee consulted for, or received grants from the food industry, while the food industry also provides direct sponsorship and support for the works of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and other dietetic organizations. And here the real question is “why?“, or perhaps a slightly more nuanced, “is that really necessary?“. Regarding AND for instance, Marion reports their own documents note that the cost of removing industry funding from their organization would cost just $17.17 per member per year.
Finally Marion ends with some thoughts on what to do about this mess, and while she covers a number of different options and initiatives, the one she sees as best would be, “an industry-wide program for research paid for by a mandatory tax or levy” whereby all food and beverage companies with sales over some pre-determined level, would pay a fee in proportion to sales revenues which in turn would serve to fund research and programs related to nutrition. Realistically though, she also notes that the likelihood and feasibility of such a system is “zero“, and then encourages health professionals and organizations to at the very least, review their policies and to attempt to put some in that safeguard members and individuals, while asking all of us to remain vigilant and aware of the fact that in no way does disclosure alone always suffice.
Like all of Marion’s books, Unsavory Truth is fascinating, and wherever you fall on the spectrum of worrying about food industry conflicts, a worthwhile read.
(A variation of this post was first published October 24th, 2013)
And I’m not really all that worried. At least not about Halloween night.
The fact is food’s not simply fuel, and like it or not, Halloween and candy are part of the very fabric of North American culture, and so to suggest that kids shouldn’t enjoy candy on Halloween isn’t an approach I would support.
That said, Halloween sure isn’t pretty. On average every Halloween sized candy contains in the order of 2 teaspoons of sugar and the calories of 2 Oreo cookies and I’d bet most Halloween eves there are more kids consuming 10 or more Halloween treats than less – 20 teaspoons of sugar and the calories of more than half an entire package of Oreos (there are 36 cookies in a package of Oreos).
So what’s a health conscious parent to do?
Use Halloween as a teachable moment. After all, it’s not Halloween day that’s the real problem, the real problem are the other 364 days of Halloween where we as a society have very unwisely decided to reward, pacify and entertain kids with junk food or candy (see my piece on the 365 days of Halloween here). So what can be taught on Halloween?
Well firstly I think you can chat some about added sugar (and/or calories), and those rule of thumb figures up above provide easily visualized metrics for kids and parents alike.
Secondly it allows for a discussion around “thoughtful reduction“. Ask them how many candies they think they’ll need to enjoy Halloween? Remember, the goal is the healthiest life that can be enjoyed, and that goes for kids too, and consequently the smallest amount of candy that a kid is going to need to enjoy Halloween is likely a larger amount than a plain old boring Thursday. In my house our kids have determined 3 candies are required (and I’m guessing likely a few more on the road) – so our kids come home, they dump their sacks, and rather than just eat randomly from a massive pile they hunt out the 3 treats they think would be the most awesome and then silently learn a bit about mindful eating by taking their time to truly enjoy them.
Well it goes into the cupboard and gets metered out at a rate of around a candy a day….but strangely….and I’m not entirely sure how this happens, maybe it’s cupboard goblins, but after the kids go to sleep the piles seem to shrink more quickly than math would predict (though last year my oldest told me she believed it was her parents eating them and that she was going to count her candies each night). I’ve also heard of some families who grab glue guns and make a Halloween candy collage, and dentist offices who do Halloween candy buy-backs.
Lastly, a few years ago we discovered that the Switch Witch’ territory had expanded to include Ottawa. Like her sister the Tooth Fairy, the Switch Witch, on Halloween, flies around looking for piles of candy to “switch” for toys in an attempt to keep kids’ teeth free from cavities for her sister. The joy and excitement on my kids’ faces when they came downstairs on November 1st that first Switch Witch year was something to behold, and is already a discussion between them this year.
And if you do happen upon our home, we haven’t given out candy since 2006 and we haven’t been egged either. You can buy Halloween coloured play-doh packs at Costco, Halloween glow sticks, stickers or temporary tattoos at the dollar store (glow sticks seem to be the biggest hit in our neighbourhood), or if your community is enlightened, you might even be able to pick up free swim or skate passes for your local arena or YMCA.
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The shale gas industry has been trying to build demand for fossil fuels from its fracked oil and gas wells by promoting the construction of a new petrochemical corridor in America’s Rust Belt and expanding the corridor on the Gulf Coast. To help demystify terms like “natural gas liquids” and “cracker plants,” DeSmog has begun building a guide to some of the equipment and terms used in the plastics and petrochemical industries.
This guide, which will expand over time, is intended to serve as an informal glossary of sorts and an introduction to what happens to fossil fuels that are transformed into chemicals, plastics, vinyl, Styrofoam and a variety of other materials.