Eco Green Mattress

Featured Product: Avocado Green Mattress & the questions I asked as an eco-consumer.

Featured Product: Avocado Green Mattress & the questions I asked as an eco-consumer.

by Gabriella Jacobsen @ Green Upward Blog - Green Upward

A couple weeks ago Avocado Green Mattress reached out to me to see if I would be interested in representing their mattress on my blog. Like any good eco-consumer I wanted to know more about how the mattress fit into the environment. The following is the series of questions I asked them via email and their responses: Do you have more information you can provide me with about your material choice and manufacturing process? Avocado Mattress products are designed in Hoboken, NJ and handmade in California. The natural, certified and organic materials that we use within our green mattresses are clearly labeled on our products, according to California State Law and because we believe in honest business practices.  We put a lot of time and energy into the design and construction of our products...

Savvy Rest Mattress Promotion October 2017

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

Throughout the month of October, customers will have the option to choose one of three unique promotions:   (1) Receive four shredded latex pillows (any size^) free with the purchase of a mattress*. If you don’t need four pillows, this may be a great opportunity for gift giving in the upcoming holiday season. (2) Purchase a mattress* and receive […]

The post Savvy Rest Mattress Promotion October 2017 appeared first on Natural Mattress Company.

The Top 25 Green Home Building and Design Websites to Watch in 2018

by Janelle Sorensen @ Elemental Green

10 Green Ways to Get Through Winter’s Days

by @ Green Home Library

Winter is here in full swing and sometimes it can take its toll both physically and financially. It can also become so uncomfortable for some that remaining green is difficult while just trying to forge through inclement weather, stay warm, or cope with the lack of sunlight. Obviously the Northeast and Midwest do get the brunt of it, however, even if you are in a warm weather belt winter changes are relative to what you are used to. Below are 10 green ways to get through winter’s days which may hopefully remind you to stay the course as well as possibly give you some new info.

Layer Up

Before you run to the heat dial, crank it up and deal with the high utility bill later, put on some layers. So many people get used to the convenience of traipsing around in light, comfortable clothing they forget that a few layers will save money, save energy and keep you healthy as blood circulation stays warm and flowing.

Do Not Retire the Bike

Most folks store away their bicycle until better weather emerges. Why? Save gas all year round and winterize your ride with fatter tires, slip-free pedals and tight, warm, riding duds.

Be Nice When You De-Ice

Don’t pollute the environment with toxic chemical de-icing salts. Use calcium magnesium acetate or calcium chloride instead.

Have Non-Electric Fun

Sitting home and using more energy than you need can have you lethargic and gaining weight in no time. Get out and sled, ski, snowshoe, anything physical.


Winter is the best time to change all your incandescent light bulbs and replace them with bright, vapor-free LED bulbs. Bright white or cool blue can help the dark doldrums that come with winter.

Feel the Seal

Any simple sealing of drafty spots will go a long way in keeping expensive energy in.

Keep it Cold

Some estimate that upwards of 90% of washing machine energy is used to heat the water for a hot wash. Plus, in the winter months it takes more energy due to frigid water temperature.

Essential Aroma

Being indoors during the winter means smelling more odors. Don’t succumb to land filler, chemically treated, electricity depleting room deodorizers– get some essential oils. Sprinkle such scents as lavender, jasmine, lemon, peppermint and more on old porous wood (driftwood works great) or even dab on cotton and place in a tea strainer. Your room air will naturally blossom.

Get Board

After your outdoor activities, get out the board games and stay off the electronics even longer.

Empty the Fridge

If a bunch of glass and plastic containers are eating up your refrigerator space, use the cool outdoors to do the work.

Why make the winter an energy guzzling world of boring hibernation. Keep the television to a minimum and connect through everyday green practices as well as coming up with some of your own. There is always an opportunity to embrace our planet.

Sheet Care and Replacement Basics

by seoteam @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

2 Brothers Mattress is your first stop mattress store if you need a new mattress in Utah, but that’s not all we’re here for. We also provide numerous bed accessories, from bed frames and head boards to comfort items like pillows. One such comfort item...

The post Sheet Care and Replacement Basics appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

Wild Animals Do Not Need to Be Saved From Fires

Wild Animals Do Not Need to Be Saved From Fires

by Torie Bosch @ Slate Articles

Have you seen the viral video of the man who reportedly pulled onto the side of Highway 1, near La Conchita, California, to save a rabbit from the devastating Thomas fire?

The hero in a hoodie put his own life at risk to save a widdle wabbit from the big fire. The common response to this has been that his actions should renew our faith in humanity. “Emotional Man Becomes Viral Hero When He Rescues Rabbit From California Wildfires,” crows a People headline.

In these dark times, I understand the tendency to turn to cute animals and stories of acts of kindness for pick-me-ups. But trying to save wild animals from a fire is a stupid thing to do. We should not reward this behavior, and we should not encourage others to do the same.

La Conchita is, according to the Los Angeles Times, a “small seaside town” that is home to “a few hundred people.” An evacuation order was already in place when the fire reached it. As the Times said Thursday morning:

Shortly before 2 a.m., flames rolled down the hillside just off the 101 Freeway, near Faria Beach Park, before jumping northbound lanes and igniting weeds in the center divider. Drivers swerved to avoid the flickering flames, with smoke making it hard to see farther than a few feet at times.
Visibility problems triggered a full shutdown of the freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol’s online incident log.
Authorities said they’d been to the neighborhood—where there’s only one way in and one way out—twice ordering people to leave, telling them it was too dangerous to stay.

According to KABC, the video was captured by a news photographer Wednesday night. “The man, who did not want to be interviewed, pulled over and was panicking as the rabbit he chased hopped right near large flames,” KABC reported. We see him jumping around in the clip, wearing a hoodie and shorts, as cars drive by. He gets closer to the rabbit, backs away from the flames, and then finally scoops it up and pulls it into his chest. “He’s saving an animal,” someone says off-screen, awestruck.

We don’t know what happened to this man before or after his rabbit rescue. He may have been in shock, or he may have been traumatized. I certainly have no idea how I would react if I were within spitting distance of a wildfire and spotted a cute animal. (OK, I have a small idea: I probably would not have tried to save it, because I harbor an intense fear that I will forget to stop, drop, and roll if the need ever actually arises.) Either way, I don’t blame the man in the video.

But it is irresponsible to spread this video widely and cast him as a hero. If he had caught fire, wouldn’t the bystanders or people in cars passing by have had to help him? Doing so would have put them at risk, too. Several people could have ended up injured or worse because he tried to save a (wild!) rabbit. Or what if no one felt safe enough to help, and he was severely burned or died as a result? The people who were nearby would have likely felt tremendous guilt, possibly for the rest of their lives. Either way, it could have required response from emergency services that are already stretched thin.

I tend to prefer animals to humans. (To be clear, that’s a flaw of mine, not a dig at my fellow humans.) But the fact is that human lives need to take precedence over animal lives—particularly wild animals’ lives. And what happens to the rabbit now anyway? Keeping it in a cage forever wouldn’t be fair. Does it get let go somewhere in Southern California so it can end up in another wildfire? It’s hard enough for people to know what to do with their pets when they are forced to evacuate a natural disaster. (Update, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m. EST: In a piece published Thursday afternoon, LiveScience points out that “an animal flitting around at the edge of a fire might not need saving at all. In fact, it might have a very good reason for being there.”)

The biggest problem with this video is not the story of this individual man and this individual rabbit, though. It’s that our bizarre fetishizing of animals on the internet could prompt others to attempt the same—to stop in the middle of an evacuation to save an animal. That puts not only the would-be rescuers at risk, but also firefighters—who have more important things to do—and other evacuees. That prospect should make us all hopping mad.

Is there anything you can do to help animals fleeing wildfires? A widely circulated meme says that people on the fringes of fire should leave water outside (and bring pets indoors) in case animals need to stop to quench their thirst. But even that might be ill-advised: In October, California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira told SFGate not to bother.

“If you encounter a wild animal in our neighborhood, leave it alone,” says Tira. “Fire or no fire, just let the animals be.”
Tira says wild animals, like deer, foxes, coyotes and other creatures likely affected by the Wine Country fires, have the ability to adapt and survive, and leaving buckets of water out for them is not only unnecessary, but unadvisable.
“Fire is something animals have to deal with constantly,” said Tira.

And increasingly, so do humans. So let the animals take care of themselves. Even in the video, that’s what the rabbit is trying to do: run out from the flames.

Life Expectancy Is Down, Again, Thanks to Opioids

Life Expectancy Is Down, Again, Thanks to Opioids

by Zachary Siegel @ Slate Articles

America is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, and for the second year in a row, our life expectancy has dropped. The drop was small—just 1.2 months, the same as last year’s—and in the context of the past several decades, appears as more of a stall on an otherwise steadily growing trend line. What’s the cause? A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics pins the blame on the unrelenting rise in opioid overdoses.

Fatal drug overdoses spiked to more than 63,000 in 2016, up from 52,400 in 2015. The vast majority of overdoses—42,200 of them, or 120 a day—are opioid-related. The most alarming jump, and nearly all of the increase, came from a doubling in the category of synthetic opioids, largely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl, said to be 50 times more potent than heroin. If you’re east of the Mississippi, it’s increasingly hard to find heroin that isn’t contaminated with fentanyl.

One bit of good news is that deaths from prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone appear to be plateauing, after rising at a pace of 13 percent annually from 1999 to 2009 (this year it increased by just 3 percent). This decline is perhaps attributable to the fact that faced with a ballooning problem, public health officials have deliberately cut back on opioid prescriptions. Most addictions linked to these pills are likely due to easy access rather than the prescription recipients becoming addicted, but it’s promising to see the trend start to slow down. (It’s also worth acknowledging that the crackdown has had unintended side effects for chronic pain patients.)

Overall though, we’re not doing nearly enough to combat the opioid crisis. The president, for example, would like to solve it by simply getting more people to say no to drugs. In reality, it requires much more robust and complex solutions. On the harm-reduction side, America still has zero operational safe consumption sites, which provide a sterile and medically supervised space for drug users to inject their drugs. (No one has ever died inside one of these spaces, which do exist outside of the U.S.) Naloxone, the only antidote that reverses opioid overdoses, is priced out of reach for many communities to widely distribute it. Local communities are fighting tooth-and-nail to distribute sterile syringes, a public health intervention proven to reduce the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases.

We’re also failing to provide better treatment for people struggling with addiction. When Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, he freed up a measly $57,000 in funds—less than $1 per fatal overdose victim. Medication treatments like buprenorphine and methadone—the only FDA-approved drugs proven to cut the risk of fatal overdoses by more than half—remain unused by the majority of addiction treatment providers. Meanwhile, Republicans are doing their utmost to roll back health care and undermine access to mental health care treatment, an important piece of the puzzle for opioid users.

The decrease in lifespan may be the result of one specific, vulnerable slice of the population dying far too young. But it is all of our concern, and right now we are falling down on the job.

POPs, Those Toxic, Manmade Persistent Organic Pollutants

by @ Green Home Library

But This Time It’s Nature Doing the Dirty Work!

In the late 1970s, the U.S. government banned a group of manmade chemical compounds known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) thanks to scientific evidence that they caused harm to both people and animals.

This group of toxins, along with DDT, PCBs, and PBDEs, are all classified as POPs, or persistent organic pollutants – chemicals with such serious side effects that nations around the globe joined to ban them in 2004 in what is known as the Stockholm Convention.

Nature Makes POPs, Too

It was a magnificent effort, but one that Nature herself may be undermining. According to some scientists, certain bacteria, fungi, plants and waterborne organisms may now be making their own, counterfeit versions of PCBs, PBDEs, and other banned compounds.

Scientists don’t yet know whether their production is part of a natural process or some response to the chemicals we have already introduced into earth’s biosphere. The most burning question, however, may be why Nature is reproducing these POPs?

Take a group of chemicals called organohalogens, which are being found in seabird eggs along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, according to researcher Sheryl Tittlemier of Carleton University.

These organic halogen compounds are structurally very similar to manmade DDT, halogenated dioxins, and brominated flame retardants. In nature, they are produced by marine organisms such as the acorn worm, for example, and production is verified by carbon-14 dating – a highly conclusive method for anything less than 50,000 years old.

The list of naturally produced POPs currently approaches 6,000, and challenges the perception that humans have produced more of these toxic compounds than Nature!

Natural POPs Making Their Way Up the Food Chain

Most scientists support the idea that these Nature-made POPs are as harmful to species as the ones chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow and 3M once made.

Several studies – one from the University of Missouri – have found trace amounts of POPs in pet food (and, of course, pets). The worst offender is BPA, or Bisphenol A, found in the lining of far too many pet food cans. The most troubling aspect of this problem is that at least two of the manufacturers lied about the presence of bisphenol A in their cans.

Traces of hydroxylated PBDEs have also been found in humans. The greatest risk is to people eating a marine diet, including fish; shellfish like oysters, crabs and lobster; whales and dolphins; seaweeds and microalgae; squid; sea cucumbers; jellyfish; and frogs.

Women in the Faroe Islands, who commonly ate whale blubber, had traces of these “natural” PCBs in their breast milk. Unfortunately, these naturally produced compounds can’t be banned as easily as manmade PCBs, so scientists are using analytical techniques like genome sampling to figure out which organisms are synthesizing the chemicals, how they do it, and why.

So far, the worst culprits appear to be marine sponges, whose bodies harbor 10 percent or more (by dry weight) of polybrominated compounds! Good reason, if you needed one, not to buy bath sponges.

But Why?

The immediate question is what risk do these “Nature-made” chemicals present. The biggest question is why would Nature manufacture toxic chemicals man has already banned?

The answer, suggest scientists, is the result of chemical warfare, this time by bacteria.

“Bacteria use chemicals to protect themselves from threats and to taste bad to predators,” notes Vinayak Agarwal of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The same aptitude that makes bacteria able to engage in chemical warfare may also make them highly adept at breaking down similar manmade chemicals in the environment. Take, for example, a General Electric Superfund site along the Hudson River in New York, where some naturally occurring microbes have learned to break down PCBs released into the river for three decades.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Nature could reverse our carelessness with chemicals? It might even make the extra body burden of persistent organic chemicals acceptable.

Or would it?

Find the Best Mattress for Hip Pain

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

Learn about reducing pressure points and how to find the best mattress for hip pain. Are you looking for a good mattress for hip pain? It can be hard to find the information you need to find the right mattress for your body. Here are some pointers to get you on the proper mattress and […]

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Memory Foam Mattresses: Are They Safe?

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

Memory Foam Mattress Ingredients: are the dangers real or exaggerated? Are the chemicals in your life freaking you out or have you found yourself wondering if products like memory foam mattresses are safe? If you’ve been looking into this type of mattress or any other, you may be wondering whether chemicals and odors could represent […]

The post Memory Foam Mattresses: Are They Safe? appeared first on Sleep Junkie.

EPA Suddenly Cancels Scientists’ Climate Change Talks

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reportedly banned three of their scientists from giving scheduled talks on climate change at a conference in Rhode Island. The news came just one day before the conference was to be held with no explanation from the agency’s spokesman. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais Many are now concerned that EPA director […]

The post EPA Suddenly Cancels Scientists’ Climate Change Talks appeared first on Eco Local Markets.

What to Do if You Have the Flu

What to Do if You Have the Flu

by Dara Kass @ Slate Articles

Flu season is upon us, which means emergency departments all over the globe are dealing with an overwhelming number of patients with flu and flulike symptoms. In a bilateral attempt at self-interest and social good, we, your friendly emergency department doctors, would like to give you some advice on how to manage this time of year.

First up, and most important: It’s not too late to get the flu shot. Flu season lasts through April. Of the four strains in the flu shot, one of them is only 10 percent effective; the other three are more than 70 percent effective. That’s normal, and the shot is definitely worth getting. If you end up getting the flu anyway, the flu shot alters the course of the disease (in most cases) and makes it less nasty.

Another reason to get the flu shot is that lots of people (like cancer patients and transplant recipients) are at high risk during flu season. You don’t know who they are, but you could protect them by getting the shot. And if you do get sick, act like everyone is at risk. Stay home. Stay hydrated. Stay in bed. Use hand sanitizer. Sneeze into your elbow. You may save someone’s life.

What if you get really sick? We are always willing and able to see patients in the emergency department. That is our job. But you will likely have to wait. Some departments are seeing a two-hour wait for triage, then a wait for the doctor, a wait for the diagnosis, and a final wait to be discharged.

You’re going to be really annoyed, if after spending 12 hours waiting in the ER, we just say “you have the flu, go home.” But that’s all we’ll be able to say to you. Because we cannot cure the flu. It is a virus. We can try to make you feel better. But lots of the things we do for the flu, you can do at home. Flu care mostly consists of supportive measures like fluids and rest and over-the-counter medications.

Ibuprofen (like Motrin) usually makes people feel better than Tylenol. “Prescription strength" ibuprofen is 800 mg (four over-the-counter 200 mg tablets) taken every eight hours, and that’s the best thing to take, unless you have an ulcer. Take with food or milk or an antacid.

If you cannot hold anything down, we can give you IV fluids and anti-nausea medicine.

You may have heard of Tamiflu, the flu medicine. Tamiflu reduces symptoms by an average of one to one and a half days and can have side effects. It is also ineffective after 24 to 48 hours of symptom onset. We will give it to you if we think you really need it, but if we don’t give it, trust us that it’s because it’s not going to help you.

Do not request a Z-Pack. Antibiotics do not help a virus and risk giving you antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and you don’t want that.

You may have heard of other people receiving more interventions for the flu. It’s definitely possible. If you are younger than 3 months or older than 75, or immunocompromised in some way (cancer, autoimmune disease, advanced HIV/AIDS), you might get an X-ray, since you’re susceptible to complications. We promise you will get an X-ray if we think you need it.

If you have underlying lung disease, such as COPD or emphysema, you may get an X-ray and an antibiotic, because you’re at higher risk of getting bacterial pneumonia. Again, trust us, we’re doctors.

There are other ways to get help beyond an unsatisfying trip to the emergency department. Here are our best suggestions:

  1. Call your primary care doctor. Often your primary care doctor can offer advice over the phone or get you in her office. Give your doctor a chance to take care of you!
  2. Urgent care centers: Wait times are considerably less at urgent care centers than emergency departments, and they're usually able to estimate times over the phone. Many can administer all the treatments described above, even the IV fluids and X-rays.
  3. Telemedicine: Consider finding out if your insurance pays for telemedicine services. This is a perfect use of telemedicine, and you won’t be exposing anyone else to the flu.

To everyone reading this: Pay it forward. Instead of getting stuck with a bill for an emergency department visit you likely do not need, donate what would have been your co-pay to your favorite charity. We promise it will make you feel better than anything we can do for you in the ED.

5 Eco-Friendly Mattresses That Make Your Dreams Come True

by Josh Dorfman @ Lazy Environmentalist

Bedrooms are where we dream. And with any luck and perhaps a few drinks, where our dreams come true. We want a mattress that is restorative and inviting, one that everyone looks forward to visiting and revisiting. Today, you can get a mattress shipped to you in a small box. It shows up and miraculously […]

What's Really 'Green'? A Look at Mattresses, Part II

What's Really 'Green'? A Look at Mattresses, Part II

Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit

By Jonathan L. Gelbard, Ph.D. In my previous post, I took a look at examples of greenwashing that just about anybody on the hunt for a 'green' mattress is

A Breath of Fresh Air

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

In the late ’80s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied houseplants as a way to purify the air in space facilities. They found several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Lucky for us, the plants can also help clean indoor air on Earth, which is typically far more polluted... Continue reading »

History and Uses of Memory Foam

by seoteam @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

When you hear the term “memory foam,” chances are you think of a mattress. This is one of the most common and well-known uses for this substance, but did you know that it also has numerous other essential benefits? Most people know very little about...

The post History and Uses of Memory Foam appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

This Space for Rent

This Space for Rent

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

People don’t live on the moon yet, but humanity is already making strides to plaster it with advertisements. The space travel startup Ispace Inc. just wrapped up a new round of funding that nets the Japan-based company more than $90 million, to be used in the development of a lunar lander and two uncrewed missions to the moon by 2020. According to Bloomberg:

Ispace says the initial business opportunity is mostly in marketing, including slapping corporate logos on its spacecrafts and rovers, and delivering images to be used in advertising. A successful landing will also let the company offer what it calls a "projection mapping service" -- a small billboard on the moon’s surface. The startup says there will be demand from corporations looking to show off their logos with Earth in the background.

A billboard on the moon! Well, something like that—a company spokesman told me that what Bloomberg is calling a billboard will technically be a projection of an advertisement onto a lunar lander, rover, or other vehicle, not a physical board. But it will serve the same purpose as a traditional billboard, which should make future colonists feel right at home.

Is it legal to advertise on the moon? The short answer is yeah. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which Japan has signed, declares space is free for all nations to explore; no celestial body can be claimed by any sovereign entity; no weapons of mass destruction are allowed in space; and individual nations (plus any businesses or citizens under their authority) must refrain from causing damage or contamination as a result of their space activities, or at the very least they have to clean up after themselves. It’s hard to imagine a projected billboard would violate any of these terms. (Though if some nations or groups thought it was creating harmful interference of some sort—maybe light pollution or disruption for instruments being used by other parties—then Ispace could be in violation of international law, and Japan would be responsible for taking the company to task and making sure the problem was rectified.)

Ispace is not the first company to try to bring ads to space. In 1990, a Japanese television network bought a seat on a Russian flight into space for one of its reporters and got to feature its logo on the side of the Soyuz launch vehicle. Russia has allowed advertisements on many of its rockets and astronaut suits used in missions for years. But Ispace is the first to attempt to advertise on the actual moon, and there does not appear to be a Japanese law to stop it.

So what if an American company tried something like this? The most relevant attempt occurred in 1993, when an American company called Space Marketing Inc. proposed launching a 1 kilometer by 1 kilometer illuminated billboard into low Earth orbit. At that size and with the brightness the company planned, the billboard would be comparable to the size and brightness of the moon at night. That proposal ultimately went nowhere, in part because it turns out that if you build something that’s a square kilometer and put it into orbit, it’s going to get pummeled to bits by orbital debris.

The hoopla around that proposal, though, prompted then–Rep. Ed Markey (now the junior senator from Massachusetts) to introduce a bill into Congress banning all U.S. space advertisements, which was quickly amended to just ban “obtrusive advertising” (so sponsors could still stick their logos on the sides of rockets, spacecraft, or astronaut clothing). The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for enforcing this law, and any party issued a license to launch into space must abide by it.

According to Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, professor emerita in space law at the University of Mississippi and  editor in chief emerita for the Journal of Space Law, the logic behind the bill was that large ads, like the Space Marketing billboard, could increase light pollution and create a brighter night sky, which would impede astronomical observations of space, interfere with navigation satellites that use star trackers and sun sensors to calibrate their measurements, and just generally be an annoying eyesore to the public. According to the FAA, “obtrusive” means anything “capable of being recognized by a human being on the surface of the Earth without the aid of a telescope or other technological device.”

For an advertisement on the moon to be visible from Earth using a telescope, it would have to be gigantic and brighter than virtually any other object in the night sky. That’s not, however, what Ispace is seeking—its ads would basically be photo-ops for companies that want the lunar landscape to be a backdrop for their logos and couldn’t be seen from Earth without ultrapowerful instruments. (And Ispace, of course, doesn’t need to abide by U.S. laws, unless it’s collaborating with an American company.)

The truth is that this is all pretty unprecedented. It’s debatable what qualifies as “harmful interference,” and it’s unclear exactly how the international community or select nations might work to enforce relevant laws and regulations. But with how fast the private space industry is growing these days, questions over space advertisements are likely to pop up again and again, perhaps sooner rather than later. (“Human beings aren’t heading to the stars to become poor,” the CEO of Ispace said at a press event last week.)

After talking to me about space law, Gabrynowicz expressed her own misgivings.  “Earth-based billboard-studded country roads provide a cautionary statement about advertising in space,” says Gabrynowicz. “The sky—if you can see it from where you are—is beautiful. Be careful with it.”

Mattress Lot Makes Colleges Dreams a Reality for 2017 Graduates

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

Mattress Lot has awarded it’s 2017 “Dream Big” college scholarships to seven East-Side Portland graduating seniors. This year Mattress Lot Read More

The post Mattress Lot Makes Colleges Dreams a Reality for 2017 Graduates appeared first on The Mattress Lot.

Actually, Snow in Florida Is Probably Caused by Climate Change

Actually, Snow in Florida Is Probably Caused by Climate Change

by Nathalie Baptiste @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

The eastern United States is starting out 2018 the same way it ended 2017: bone-chillingly cold. Many New Year’s Eve revelers endured record-breaking low temperatures, and it’s only going to get colder. Thanks to a weather system known as a bomb cyclone, the entire East Coast is or will soon be subject to subzero temperatures, hurricane-force winds, snow, and ice—including Florida, the Sunshine State.

Snow and ice in Florida is pretty rare. Its capital, Tallahassee, hasn’t seen measurable snow in 28 years.

But despite how strange it is to spot snow on palm trees, the sight doesn’t disprove global warming.

Just like every other time it gets cold enough to require a winter coat, climate change deniers have seized on the chilly weather outside to argue that global warming can’t be happening. They’re wrong—the frigid temperatures might actually be happening because of global warming.

In 2016, Mother Jones reported on Rutgers researcher Jennifer Francis and other scientists who believe that global warming is playing a role in extreme cold snaps:

To understand how it works, it first helps to think of the jet stream as a river of air that flows from west to east in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing with it much of our weather. Its motion—sometimes in a relatively straight path, sometimes in a more loopy one—is driven by a difference in temperatures between the equator and the North Pole. Southern temperatures are of course warmer, and because warm air takes up more space than cold air, this leads to taller columns of air in the atmosphere. “If you were sitting on top of a layer of atmosphere and you were in DC, looking northward, it would be like looking down a hill, because it’s warmer where you are,” explains Francis. The jet stream then flows “downhill,” so to speak, in a northward direction. But it’s also bent by the rotation of the Earth, leading to its continual wavy, eastward motion. As the Arctic rapidly heats up, however, there’s less of a temperature difference between the equator and the poles, and the downhill slope in the atmosphere is accordingly less steep.
That shrinking temperature difference is what wreaks havoc on the jet stream. “When the jet stream gets weaker, it meanders more,” explained Francis in an interview this week. “It wanders north and south and when it gets into one of these wandering and wavy patterns, that’s when we see these pools of cold air pulled southward.”

It’s also important to remember that weather and climate are two different things. As the National Weather Service puts it, “Weather is what you get; climate is what you expect.” The daily temperature is weather, but the averages of those temperatures over long periods of time is climate. So even though much of the country finished out 2017 with record-breaking temperatures, it was still the second-hottest year on record. The clear, long-term trends are far more important than the snow Tallahassee residents are seeing outside today.

Is It Really Worth It to Buy an Organic Mattress?

Is It Really Worth It to Buy an Organic Mattress?

Ted & Stacey's Mattress Guides & Reviews

In an attempt to live a healthier life, more and more people are turning to natural food. Can an organic mattress help you live better as well? Read on...

A Begrudging Defense of Dog Clothes

A Begrudging Defense of Dog Clothes

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

Walking through New York City in December is an unparalleled sensory experience—holiday lights, patches of yellow snow, pop-up Christmas tree stands. This week, walking uptown, I eyed a broad-chested pit bull; he was wearing a scarf. Muscles rippling, he confidently navigated the patches of ice before him, evidently unaware of the ridiculous fringed, gray garment his owner had wrapped around his neck. On that same block, I’ve seen dogs decked out in glossy down jackets, yellow fisherman’s rain jackets with matching booties, and even cowl-neck cardigans.

Clearly, these particular choices were influenced by aesthetics and made possible by disposable income, but many dog owners argue that these clothing items aren’t just fun—they’re paramount to their pets’ health. This is strange to consider, given we’re talking about an animal. Unless they spontaneously grew thumbs, dogs could never make clothing on their own, so how could it be essential? It’s even weirder when you remember dogs are descended from the mighty wolf, which can withstand an enormous range in temperature, thriving in arctic conditions as low as -70 degrees and in the desert, enduring weather as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hard to imagine, say, the direwolves in Game of Thrones ever trouncing around in medically necessary suits.

Hard to imagine, sure. But to scientifically investigate the answer to this question, let’s remember that somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago, humans domesticated the wild wolf, probably by paying them for their loyalty with scraps of food. Over time, wolves became softer creatures—and eventually man’s best friend. But it came at an enormous cost: Those strong, resilient proto-pups evolved, by the power of human selection, into the cute, cuddly, and relatively wimpy things they are today. After millennia of manipulation, that one wolf has been transformed into more than 300 distinct dog breeds. Some, like the dignified Siberian husky or the lovable Samoyed still thrive in cold environments, thanks to their thick, plentiful fur. But others, like Chinese cresteds, are basically naked, having likely been bred from the African hairless dog into the even more fragile and strangely coiffed creatures we know today. Even those dogs that sit (good boy!) in the middle struggle to endue extremes; their short- or medium-length coats are perfectly suited for the more middling climates their owners put them in.

Though dogs are widely varied in their appearance, their body temperature is strikingly similar: The American Kennel Club says dogs range from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, keeping a Siberian husky and a Chinese crested in that small sweet spot just of slightly more than 100 degrees is hard. Unless you still live in the Arctic Circle, huskies need little things like extra water and bigger things like air conditioning to get them through the summer. Conversely, Chinese cresteds likely wouldn’t survive a winter in the wild. Most dogs should be safe in temperatures above freezing, at least for the duration of a short walk. But, in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, things get a little riskier. Huskies may still feel fine, but a small or thinly coated dog could potentially get hypothermia or frostbite, especially if they get wet or spend hours out in the cold. While most dogs are probably OK for a short wintertime walk, the situation is serious enough that experts really do recommend bundling up certain pups before taking them out in that winter wonderland.

Certain breeds clearly could benefit from a well-wrapped scarf or, if you must, a merino wool doggy cardigan. And even though watching the descendant of a woodland wolf walk around with a plastic barrier between his paws and the sidewalk is painful, doggie boots have a purpose too. In cities that salt their roads and sidewalks in the winter, it’s actually important: Road melt chemicals in industrial salts can be toxic to dogs and can also dry out or burn their paws. If you live in a city that uses this kind of salt, it’s possible that your dog will go home to groom, only to ingest the potentially dangerous salts stuck to their body as they clean. It doesn’t guarantee illness, but it’s a risk many dog owners don’t want to take.

I’m still skeptical of many dogs’ fancy cold weather wear, but I have to admit that the evidence supports cautious dog owners in their decision to shield man’s more delicate sidekicks from the ravages of winter. Still, looking at the dogs of New York City, I can’t help but consider what we’ve done to these creatures. Before humans bred them into strange shapes and sizes and stuffed them in tiny outfits, dogs were independent, self-sufficient, and even fearsome creatures. Now, they’re just fashionable furballs.

Reducing Pain and Chronic Insomnia With the Right Mattress

by Mattressdept @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

Pain—that throbbing sensation in your lower back, or the radiating discomfort that is shooting through your arms—can make it really difficult to sleep. Anyone who has suffered from chronic pain knows how difficult it can be to get to sleep when the pain is bad....

The post Reducing Pain and Chronic Insomnia With the Right Mattress appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

Find Your Best Mattress Reviews: The Top 10 and Worst 10 Beds of 2018

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

If you’re shopping for a new bed, learning about the best mattresses of 2018 is a good way to make sure you choose a good one. It’s also helpful to know which ones don’t fare so well in order to avoid the duds. New mattress models come out every year from a growing number of […]

The post Find Your Best Mattress Reviews: The Top 10 and Worst 10 Beds of 2018 appeared first on Sleep Junkie.

Many second hand plastic toys could pose a risk to children’s health, study suggests

by Mimi Schultz @ Nest Organics

Science News from research organization  January 26, 2018 Source: University of Plymouth Web Source: The plastic used in many second hand toys could pose a risk to children’s health because it may not meet the most up to date international safety guidelines, according to new research published in Environmental Science and Technology. Scientists from the […]

11 Best Natural, Eco Friendly & Organic Mattresses You Can Buy Online

11 Best Natural, Eco Friendly & Organic Mattresses You Can Buy Online

The Good Trade

A good night’s sleep shouldn’t be elusive. Studies show that we spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping, and yet the average mattress contains a cocktail of toxic chemicals and flame retardants that can lead to long term diseases, skin irritations and respiratory problems. Comfort and quality are

Is It Really Worth It to Buy an Organic Mattress?

by meridith dennes @ Sleepluv

The post Is It Really Worth It to Buy an Organic Mattress? appeared first on Sleepluv .

An organic mattress is the perfect compliment to your toxic-free lifestyle. Today more than ever before, people are trying to implement a clean, natural lifestyle.  Are Organic Mattress Worth the Hype? Natural textiles, untreated woods, and environment-friendly foams are skyrocketing in popularity. More people are now seeking an organic mattress and safer eco-friendly alternatives. The latest mattresses […]

The post Is It Really Worth It to Buy an Organic Mattress? appeared first on Sleepluv .

How to manage waste as a business

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

When entrepreneurs start planning their company, the last thing they think about is waste management. However, this can be costly if not done correctly and prove to be a challenge to business owners across the country who have no experience with waste disposal. Waste management is one area that business owners must consider when starting […]

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Your Clothes Are Made In Sweatshops

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

Do you have any idea where your clothes come from? Chances are, most of us don’t. Don’t feel bad; most clothing companies work very hard to keep consumers in the dark. However, behind the smiling faces of models wearing overpriced sneakers and bralettes, something much darker is happening. Image from andyteo99/flickr Most of our clothes […]

The post Your Clothes Are Made In Sweatshops appeared first on Eco Local Markets.

Tips To Enjoy A Greener Fireplace

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

Our inclination to position ourselves near fire is a year-round lure nationwide. Yet, the traditional ingredient in both indoor fireplaces in the north and outdoor fire pits in the south should give shivers to the eco-minded. In addition to causing considerable air pollution, wood smoke contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particulates that can... Continue reading »

Why You Should Invest in an Eco-Friendly Mattress

Why You Should Invest in an Eco-Friendly Mattress

Amerisleep Blog

If you’re really serious about living greener, it’s time to start thinking about buying an eco-friendly mattress.

9 Best Mattress Foundations and Box Spring Online

9 Best Mattress Foundations and Box Spring Online

by Karen Mulvey @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

Review the best perfect memory foam mattress foundations from brands that have designed these smart foundations and platform beds for your needs. When looking for a foundation for your memory foam mattress you want one that can keep it comfortable and also help extend the life of the bed too. PlushBeds Orthopedic Foundation, Puffy Mattress Foundation, Keetsa Gold Brushed Steel Bed Frame, Brooklyn Bedding Simple Life Tri-Fold Foundation, The VersaBase by Nest Bedding, Platinum Base Foundation by Hyphen, Helix Foundation, Simple Foundation by Eightand many more.

Why Isn’t the Bond Market More Worried About Climate Change?

Why Isn’t the Bond Market More Worried About Climate Change?

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Early this month, when the annual king tide swept ocean water into the streets of Miami, the city’s Republican mayor, Tomás Regalado, used the occasion to stump for a vote. He’d like Miami residents to pass the “Miami Forever” bond issue, a $400-million property tax increase to fund seawalls and drainage pumps (they’ll vote on it on Election Day). “We cannot control nature,” Regalado says in a recent television ad, “but we can prepare the city.”

Miami is considered among the most exposed big cities in the U.S. to climate change. One study predicts the region could lose 2.5 million residents to climate migration by the end of the century. As on much of the Eastern Seaboard, the flooding is no longer hypothetical. Low-lying properties already get submerged during the year’s highest tides. So-called “nuisance flooding" has surged 400 percent since 2006.

Business leaders are excited about the timing of the vote in part because Miami currently has its best credit ratings in 30 years, meaning that the city can borrow money at low rates.* Amid the dire predictions and the full moon floods, that rating is a bulwark. It signifies that the financial industry doesn’t think sea level rise and storm risk will prevent Miami from paying off its debts. In December, a report issued by President Obama’s budget office outlined a potential virtuous cycle: Borrow money to build seawalls and the like while your credit is good, and your credit will still be good when you need to borrow in the future.

The alternative: Flood-prone jurisdictions go into the financial tailspin we recognize from cities like Detroit, unable to borrow enough to protect the assets whose declining value makes it harder to borrow.

The long ribbon of vulnerable coastal homes from Brownsville to Acadia has managed to stave off that cycle in part thanks to a familiar, federally backed consensus between homebuyers and politicians. Homebuyers continue to place high values on homes, even when they’ve suffered repeated flood damage. That’s because the federal government is generous with disaster aid and its subsidy of the National Flood Insurance Program, which helps coastal homeowners buy new washing machines when theirs get wrecked. Banks require coastal homeowners with FHA-backed mortgages to purchase flood insurance, and in turn, coastal homes are rebuilt again and again and again—even when it might no longer be prudent.

But there’s another element that helps cement the bargain: investors’ confidence that coastal towns will pay back the money they borrow. Homebuyers are irrational. Politicians are self-interested. But lenders—and the ratings agencies that help direct their investments—ought to have a more clinical view. Evaluating long-term risk is exactly their business model. If they thought environmental conditions threatened investments, they would sound the alarm—or just vote with their wallets. They’ve done it before—cities like New Orleans, Galveston, Texas, and Seaside Heights, New Jersey were all downgraded by rating agencies after damage from Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Sandy. But all have since rebounded. There does not appear to be a single jurisdiction in the United States that has suffered a credit downgrade related to sea level rise or storm risk. Yet.

* * *

To understand why, it helps to look at communities like Seaside Heights, the boardwalk enclave along the Jersey Shore whose marooned roller coaster provided the definitive image of the 2012 storm.

Seaside Heights was given an A3 rating from Moody's in 2013, meaning “low credit risk.”* Ocean County, New Jersey—the county in which Seaside Heights sits—has a AAA rating. In the summer of 2016, before Ocean County sold $31 million in 20-year bonds, neither Moody’s Investor Services nor S&P Global Ratings asked about how climate change might affect its finances, the county’s negotiator told Bloomberg this summer. “It didn’t come up, which says to me they’re not concerned about it.”

The credit rating agencies would deny that characterization—to a point. They do know about sea level rise. They just don’t think it matters yet. In 2015, analysts from Fitch concluded, “sea level rise has not played a material role” in assessing creditworthiness, despite “real threats.” Hurricane Sandy had no discernible effect on the median home prices in Monmouth, Ocean, and Atlantic Counties, which make up New Jersey’s Atlantic Coast. The effect on tourism spending was also negligible.

"We take a lot from history, and historically what’s happened is that these places are desirable to be in,” explains Amy Laskey, a managing director at Fitch Ratings. “People continue to want to be there and will rebuild properties, usually with significant help from federal and state governments, so we haven’t felt it affects the credit of the places we rate.”

There are three reasons for that. The first is that disasters tend to be good for credit, thanks to cash infusions from FEMA’s generous Disaster Relief Fund. “The tax base of New Orleans now is about twice what it was prior to Katrina,” Laskey says, despite a population that remains 60,000 persons shy of its 2005 peak. “Longer term what tends to happen is there’s rebuilding, a tremendous influx of funds from the federal and state governments and private insurers.” Local Home Depots are busy. Rental apartments fill up with construction workers. Contractors have to schedule work months in advance. Look at Homestead, Florida, Laskey advised, a sprawling city south of Miami that was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Today it is bigger than ever. “If there was going to be a place that wasn’t going to come back, that would have been it.”

What emerges from the destruction, for the most part, are communities full of properties that are more valuable than they were before, because they’re both newer and better prepared for the next storm. Or as a Moody’s report on environmental risk puts it, “generally disasters have been positive for state finances.” But this is entirely dependent on federal largesse: After Massachusetts brutal winter of 2015, FEMA granted only a quarter of the state’s request for aid. Moody’s determined that could negatively impact the credit ratings of local governments that had to shoulder the cost of snow and ice removal.

Second is that people still want to live on the shore. “The amenity value of the beach is something you can enjoy every day of the summer,” says Robert Muir-Wood, the chief research officer at Risk Management Solutions. “People may say, ‘The benefits of living on the beach to my health and wellbeing outweigh the impact of the flood.’” That calculus is strongly influenced by affordable flood insurance policies, but it has not changed. In a way, despite the risks, the sea is a more dependable economic engine for a community than, say, a factory that could shut its doors and move away any minute.

Most bonds get paid off from property taxes. If property values remain high, bondholders have little to worry about. If, on the other hand, property values fall, tax rates must rise. If buildings go into foreclosure, or neighborhoods undergo “buy-outs” to restore wetlands or dunes, more of the burden to pay off that new seawall falls on everyone else.

Third: Most jurisdictions are large. New Jersey’s coastal counties also contain thousands of inland homes whose risk exposure is much, much lower. Adam Stern, a co-head of research at Boston’s Breckinridge Capital Advisors, argues that the first credit problems will come for small communities devastated by major storms.

Still, Stern said, his firm looks at these issues. “One of the things we try to get at when we look at an issuer of bonds that’s on the coast: Do you take climate change seriously? Are you planning for that?” Still, he said, bond buyers—like everyone else—discount the value of future money, and hence future risk. When could the breaking point for the muni market come? Stern predicts that will happen when property values start to discernibly change in reaction to climate risk. It’s a game of chicken between infrastructure investors and homeowners.

“I think we’re in territory that’s changing right now,” says John Miller, an engineer studying climate change and credit risks at Wharton’s Risk Center. He pointed to Sea Bright, a barrier-island borough of New Jersey just south of New York Harbor. A municipal analysis concluded that by 2050, one in five of the borough’s parcels will be underwater—amounting to 17 percent of the total value of all Sea Bright real estate. Under 2050 SLR predictions, a 100-year flood would put 99 percent of parcels underwater. That year, 2050, is just beyond the 30-year frame used to sell both homes and bonds.

Generally, though, if you are looking for financial markets to start enforcing the risks of climate change, don’t look at towns on the rebound. Those places—whether they’re building seawalls or simply enforcing building codes on reconstructed properties—are better prepared. “The places you’re going to see the biggest disasters,” Muir-Wood predicts, “are the ones that haven’t been hit.”

*Correction, Oct. 31, 2017: This piece originally misstated that Miami has a double-A bond rating. The city’s credit rating varies between agencies and types of debt: Moody’s rating for the city of Miami, for example, is A1 for tax-backed debt and A2 for revenue-backed debt. (Return.) The piece also misstated the firm’s rating of Seaside Heights, which was A3, not AAA—“low credit risk” rather than “minimal credit risk.” (Return.)

Why It’s Actually Awesome That Hawaii Is So Ridiculously Expensive

by Alden Wicker @ Ecocult

At first, I was frustrated by the high price of everything on Hawaii. In fact, I almost felt dumb for visiting. Basic resort rooms at $300 a night. Paying an extra $350 on top of the $700 plane tickets for one Economy Comfort seat (and sitting separately from him in a cheaper seat) just so my new 6’5″ husband could walk when he got off the 12-hour flight. The $175 grocery bill for a week of breakfast and bagged lunches. Ouch! Why visit Hawaii when you could get the same tropical vibes for a third of the price in Mexico or Thailand? But midway through our trip, something switched. We found pristine, empty beaches in Hana, ate locally caught seafood and locally grown chocolate and coffee, and hiked for seven hours in Haleakala’s crater without seeing more than ten other people. And it struck me: Hawaii is an example of accidental environmentalism. You see, there is a term called “externalities.” When it comes to the environment and the economy, it means all the stuff that is damaged as a side effect of economic development: pollution, overfishing, deforestation, asthma, climate change…. every ecosystem damage you can think of. The very basic […]

The post Why It’s Actually Awesome That Hawaii Is So Ridiculously Expensive appeared first on Ecocult.

Did Russians Find Alien Life Clinging to the International Space Station?

Did Russians Find Alien Life Clinging to the International Space Station?

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

A surprising number of people believe we already have proof aliens exist. But it’s very rare when that segment of the population overlaps with the segment that’s actually been to outer space. And yet, on Monday, Anton Shkaplerov, a Russian cosmonaut who has already spent two stints aboard the International Space Station and is gearing up for a third mission to launch on Dec. 18, told Russian state media that scientists have found living bacteria sitting on the exterior of the Russian segment of the ISS. He claims the bacteria is not from Earth—it’s extraterrestrial in origin.

According to Shkaplerov, cosmonauts aboard the ISS swabbed the hulls of the station during spacewalks, particularly in areas where fuel wastes were discharged and in obscure parts of the station’s surface where activity is low. Those samples were sent back to Earth for study, and, as Shkaplerov told the Russian media, “now it turns out that somehow these swabs reveal bacteria that were absent during the launch of the ISS module. That is, they have come from outer space and settled along the external surface.”

Shkaplerov goes on to say that this extraterrestrial bacteria has so far posed no danger and that it has been found to be distinct from other terrestrial bacteria also found on the ISS exterior. (That bacteria likely arrived via tablet PCs brought to the station.)

So is this evidence of aliens? I don’t think so. It’s unclear when or why these bacterial swabs were taken, or who has been studying them, or for how long. When asked for details, NASA referred Slate to Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, and Roscosmos did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

What is clear, though, is that nobody should really take Shkaplerov seriously. From the outset, Russian state media is far from trustworthy, usually acting as a propagandist arm of the government. And Russian scientists have previously made similarly strange and unsubstantiated claims of life clinging to the ISS hull before, like that there’s sea plankton hanging on the station, which there is not.

But let’s ignore, for a second, how bonkers this story sounds and assume that Shkaplerov is not intentionally spreading misinformation. If there is unfamiliar bacteria on the ISS, what could it be?

Microorganisms tend to be notoriously resistant to extreme environments. That’s precisely why so many scientists looking for aliens are not deterred by ice-covered worlds like Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus; nor do they shy away from the possibility that life might exist inside a little crevice on an atmosphereless asteroid or comet or within streams of space dust. Extremophile microbes could very well survive the vacuum of space. We already know that tardigrades (aka water bears) can survive space—which certainly opens up the possibility that other forms of life would be able to as well.

Moreover, the upper reaches of the atmosphere are home to their own array of undiscovered forms of life. Bacteria that has adapted to withstanding low-pressure, low-oxygen altitudes in the air as well as more intense bouts of UV radiation are already resistant to extreme conditions and could conceivably find a way to handle the environment outside the atmosphere itself. Airborne organisms are not very well catalogued, and there are probably more than a few species hanging around the upper reaches of the atmosphere that scientists have yet to discover.

Ultimately, an unknown microbe of some kind may have hitched a ride on one of the hundreds of spacecrafts flown up into the sky toward the ISS. The Russian scientists studying the bacteria might just be baffled by something they’ve never before studied.

Plus, space itself is capable of changing the biology of an organism. Between the sharp temperature fluctuations, the microgravity of orbital space, and the pummel of cosmic radiation, a familiar terrestrial bacterial species might have simply been transformed into something that can’t be well-recognized anymore.

These explanations don’t completely quash the hopes we’ve finally found aliens, but all things considered, it seems more than likely Shkaplerov is either masterminding a pretty weird joke, or is a hapless victim to some erroneous chatter moving through the grapevine.

14 Best Organic, Eco Friendly & Natural Mattresses Online

14 Best Organic, Eco Friendly & Natural Mattresses Online

Citrus Sleep

Review the best organic, natural and eco friendly mattresses and brands that have been designed by these top mattress companies so you can have a soothing night's sleep regardless of your income. Live and Sleep Eco-Friendly Mattress. Layla Sleep Memory Foam Mattress. My Green Mattress. Avocado Organ

Shark With Head of a Snake and 300 Teeth Found Swimming Off Coast of Portugal

Shark With Head of a Snake and 300 Teeth Found Swimming Off Coast of Portugal

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

The world may seem like it’s in shambles, but ocean scientists are having quite a run. Over the last year, the ocean has periodically belched up prehistoric deep sea creatures for photographing, studying, and nightmaring over. The latest find? The brutishly ugly and scientifically storied frilled shark.

On Thursday, scientists trawling Portuguese waters caught one of these snake-bodied beasts. The photos are, naturally, making their way around the internet. Revered as one of the last living fossils, the spade-faced swimmer, which can grow over 6 feet long, has been floating through the fossil record for the last 80 million years.

In addition to its unusual shape, the frilled shark has a number of other noteworthy features. For one, it has more than 300 teeth, in 25 orderly rows. This impressive dental array is useful when it comes to devouring its prey, which includes octopus and smaller sharks. Similarly, like a snake, the frilled shark can open its “beak” wide enough to swallow prey whole. However, its hunting patterns—and much else about the shark’s life—remain mostly a mystery. The shark usually lives deeper in the bottomless depths of the ocean, making human–frilled shark interactions rare.

And the frilled shark isn’t even the rarest sea sighting this year. In June, scientists encountered a faceless fish that hadn’t been seen since 1873. Like a tight-lipped—and gelatinous—demogorgon, the little guy reemerged in Sydney’s harbors after an absence that’d been stretching out over a century. Other researchers also found the world's largest bony fish, which weighs in at a whopping two tons, and a new species of seafloor-loving sponges.

In the immediate aftermath of these discoveres, people tend to feel a lot of reverence for the mysteries of the ocean, as they should. But the real excitement is slowly revealed in the resulting days and months of lab research. Scientists learned, for example, that the “faceless fish” really does have a face (sort of), it's just buried underneath its skin. What they’ll learn about the frilled shark, though, is anyone’s guess.

2017 Is the Year We Should Have Realized That Climate Change Is Already Here

2017 Is the Year We Should Have Realized That Climate Change Is Already Here

by Adam Rogers @ Slate Articles

This story is republished with permission from Wired, as part of a collaboration with Climate Desk.

This past year, 2017, was the worst fire season in American history. More than 9.5 million acres burned across North America. Firefighting efforts cost $2 billion.

This past year, 2017, was the seventh-worst Atlantic hurricane season on record and the worst since 2005. There were six major storms. Early estimates put the costs at more than $180 billion.

As the preventable disease hepatitis A spread through homeless populations in California cities in 2017, 1 million Yemenis contracted cholera amid a famine. Diphtheria killed 21 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, on the run from a genocide.

Disaster, Pestilence, War, and Famine are riding as horsemen of a particular apocalypse. In 2016, the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached 403 parts per million, higher than it has been since at least the last ice age. By the end of 2017, the United States was on track to have the most billion-dollar weather- and climate-related disasters since the government started counting in 1980. We did that.

Transnational corporations and the most powerful militaries on Earth are already building to prepare for higher sea levels and more extreme weather. The FIRE complex—finance, insurance, and real estate—knows exactly what 2017 cost them (natural and human-made disasters: $306 billion and 11,000 lives) and can calculate more of the same in 2018. They know that the radical alteration of Earth’s climate isn’t just something that’s going to happen in 100 years if we’re not careful, or in 50 years if we don’t change our economy and moonshot the crap out of science and technology. It’s here. Now. It happened. Look behind you.

Let me rephrase: Absent any changes, by 2050 Earth will be a couple degrees hotter overall. Sea levels will be a foot higher. Now, 2050 seems as impossibly far away to me as 2017 did when I was 12 years old. I live in the future! And I like a lot of it. I like the magic glass slab in my pocket and the gene therapy and the robots. I mention this because in 2050, my oldest child will be the same age I am today, and I have given him a broken world.

I don’t want that.

So 2017 taught a lesson, at last, that scientists and futurists have been screaming about. Humanity has to reduce the amount of carbon it’s pumping into the air. Radically. Or every year will be worse from here on out.

But 2017 also made plain the shape of the overall disaster. All those fires and floods and outbreaks are symptoms of the same problem, and it’s time to start dealing with that in a clear-eyed way. It’s also time to start building differently—to start making policies that understand that the American coastline is going to be redrawn by the sea and that people can’t keep building single-family homes anywhere they can grade a flat pad. The wildland-urban interface can’t keep spreading at will. People can’t keep pumping fresh water out of aquifers without restoring them. Infrastructure for water and power has to be hardened against more frequent, more intense storms, backed up and reinforced so hundreds of thousands of people don’t go without electricity as they are in post-hurricane Puerto Rico.

In short: Change, but also adapt. Fire season in the West is now a permanent condition; don’t build buildings that burn so easily in places that burn every year. Hurricanes and storm surges are going to continue to walk up the Caribbean and onto the Gulf Coast, or maybe along the seaboard. Don’t put houses on top of the wetlands that absorb those storms. Don’t insure the people who do. Build ways for people to get around without cars. Create a power grid that pulls everything it can from renewable sources like wind and solar. Keep funding public health research, surveillance, and ways to deal with mosquito-borne diseases that thrive in a hotter world.

And the next time someone in a city planning meeting says that new housing shouldn’t get built in a residential area because it’s not in keeping with the sense of the community and might disrupt parking, tell them what that means: that they want young people to have lesser lives, that they don’t want poor people and people of color to have the same opportunities they did, and that they’d rather the planet’s environment get crushed by letting bad buildings spread to inhospitable places than increasing density in cities.

This apocalypse doesn't hurt everyone. Some people benefit. It’s not a coincidence that the FIRE industries also donate the most money to federal political campaigns. Rich people living behind walls they think can’t be breached by any rising tide, literal or metaphoric, made this disaster. And then they gaslighted the vulnerable into distrusting anyone raising the alarm. The people who benefit have made it seem as if this dark timeline was all perfectly fine.

It isn’t. And that’s why it’ll change.

In 1957 Charles Fritz and Harry Williams, the research associate and technical director, respectively, of the National Academy of Sciences’ Disaster Studies Committee, wrote a paper that sparked the field of disaster sociology. Their findings were counterintuitive then, and somehow remain so. People in disasters, they said, don’t loot and riot. They help each other. “The net result of most disasters is a dramatic increase in social solidarity among the affected populace during the emergency and immediate post-emergency periods,” they wrote. “The sharing of a common threat to survival and the common suffering produced by the disaster tend to produce a breakdown of pre-existing social distinctions and a great outpouring of love, generosity, and altruism.”

In a disaster, we help each other. The trick is recognizing the disaster. Through that lens, fixing the problem and protecting one another against its consequences isn’t merely inarguable. It’s human nature. We’re all in this together.

Water Conservation in the Home

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

From cooking meals to practising basic hygiene and keeping the house clean, we use plenty of water at home every day. Most of the time, we simply proceed with these tasks without ever thinking about the volume of water being used, but perhaps it would be no harm to pause and consider this first. This […]

The post Water Conservation in the Home appeared first on Greenne.

5 Things Your New Mattress Should Have

by Mattressdept @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

Shopping for a new mattress might seem like a stressful thing—there are dozens of different bed types to choose from these days, and seemingly hundreds of options and price points. Next time you are ready to go to 2 Brothers Mattress, here are a few...

The post 5 Things Your New Mattress Should Have appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

The Mattress Lot Mattress Store Portland OR | Oregon Mattresses

The Mattress Lot Mattress Store Portland OR | Oregon Mattresses

The Mattress Lot

Mattress Lot is NE Portland's mattress store that offers the highest quality locally-made, eco-friendly and all natural mattresses.  At 2406 NE Sandy Blvd.

Biosteel Sneakers

by Destiny Hagest @ Avocado Green Mattress

"Spider Silk" Sneakers? | Adidas debuts shoes made from biosteel.Read More ...

The post Biosteel Sneakers appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

What Is The Best Eco-Friendly Way To Clean Your Mattress? | PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

What Is The Best Eco-Friendly Way To Clean Your Mattress? | PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

Discover the best ways to clean your latex, memory foam or traditional mattress, without the use of harsh chemicals.

Therapy Is Great, but I Still Need Medication

Therapy Is Great, but I Still Need Medication

by Hayden Shelby @ Slate Articles

A few weeks ago, I made an appointment with a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy—CBT as it’s known to professionals and those of us who have way too much contact with the mental health care system. After months of struggling to find the right doctor and to get on a medication regime that could tamp down the worst of the physical pain that accompanies my condition, I had finally found the right medical mix and was feeling stable. But I still had some lingering negative thought patterns I wanted to kick, precisely the kind of thing CBT is supposed to be good for, which is why I scheduled the appointment. I went in expecting some helpful worksheets and mental exercises.

What I got was a therapist who, after doing a cursory intake evaluation, declared, “If you really want to get better, you’re going to have to get off those medications and put in the work.”

This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened to me. A couple of months prior, desperate and unable to eat or sleep, I had gone to a psychiatric hospital. I knew from experience that it was time to make a significant medication change, and I expressed this to the nurse practitioner handling my case. She came back with the recommendation of a three-week course of intensive outpatient CBT. I pleaded to talk to the attending psychiatrist, who thankfully agreed with my own assessment and got me on the track to recovery.

This whole course of events had been kicked off much earlier at an appointment with my then-psychiatrist—I had gone to him certain that the medicine I was on was “pooping out,” a well-documented but little understood phenomenon I typically experience every few years, in which a previously reliable medication just stops doing the trick. I’ve always solved this problem by rotating to another drug. But this time my doctor resisted. He had been reading up on CBT and was convinced that if I worked hard to change patterns in my thoughts, I could learn to control the problematic feedback loop between my brain and body. He insisted I try CBT before switching meds. I elected to find a new psychiatrist, a process that took weeks—long enough for me to spiral down into a hole I’m just now climbing out of.

As it happened, I had already done a variant of CBT a few years earlier, in the hopes of getting some tools to cope with the stresses of moving to a new city and starting grad school. I’d pursued this type of therapy instead of a medication adjustment because the anxiety I was feeling had a clear object (something CBT is designed to address), and the sensations attached to it were quite different from those I experience when my mental illness is taking hold. Years of dealing with this condition have made me able to discern the difference between normal and pathological psychic pain in the same way that, as an athlete, I’ve learned to differentiate between minor aches and pains and a serious injury. Both need to be tended to, as the former can make you more vulnerable to the latter, but the treatments are different. As it turned out, for me, CBT techniques proved to be lesser tools for managing stress than my tried-and-true regimen of dance classes and long runs.

I began to ponder my recent interactions with the mental health care system upon reading a recent New York Times Magazine story about severely anxious teens. The article contains most of the standard hand-wringing the Times has been putting out over how anxiety is America’s national mood and how we’ve become “the United States of Xanax.” But I was most struck by a subnarrative that speaks to my experiences with many care providers, as well as broader beliefs I fear are spreading as CBT is having its cultural moment.

The New York Times Magazine story highlights a young man, Jake, who suffers from paralyzing anxiety. When medication just “made a bad situation worse,” his parents sent him to an in-patient treatment center that practices CBT. There, he retrained his brain—“cognitive restructuring” in CBT lingo—and faced his fears through exposure therapy. The author and the clinicians he interviewed describe the therapy as “work” that is “uncomfortable.” At one point a woman in the piece describes an anxious teen doing an exposure exercise as “brave.” For Jake, in the end, this work pays off, and he goes off to college with a newfound control over his life and mind.

But Jake has a foil in this story. It’s a young woman, Jillian, who goes through the same treatment as Jake, but with different results. Her anxieties return, she leaves high school, battles with her mother, and falters in her use of the CBT tools she learned because “it’s exhausting.” When we last see Jillian, she is in her “messy” room, where she chats on her phone and ignores the schedule she is supposed to keep. Beside her sit the bottles of pills that she “believes” make her better than she would be otherwise. The subtle ways in which we are led to question Jillian, not CBT, struck me as unsettling.

In fact, highlighting one teen that benefits from CBT and one that doesn’t would be a fairly accurate representation of larger trends. According to a study cited in the story, CBT showed about the same rate of effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibiting, or SSRI, medication—a little more than 50 percent—with better results when combined. In the thorny world of mental illnesses, these are good outcomes for both modes of treatment. The Times story isn’t celebrating the effectiveness of SSRIs, though. Why highlight CBT? Because unlike medication, it’s not just effective; it’s also virtuous.

You might say my story is the opposite of Jake’s. I’ve tried numerous forms of therapy, from traditional counseling to hypnosis, and yes, at this point, a couple attempts at CBT. I’ll probably keep trying new forms of therapy. But thus far, none have been able to replace—or, to be honest, even augment—medication. I’ve also always experienced an element of moralizing around therapy by health care professionals. As therapy has become more acceptable in the broader culture, it has also come to be expected of people who take medication to control disorders. As one general practitioner at my university chided while making me promise to see a counselor along with a psychiatrist, “you have to do your part.” But while a moralizing rhetoric runs through many types of therapy, CBT’s is a particularly virulent strain.

The first element of CBT’s moral claim lies in its identity as an evidence-based intervention, bolstered by the existence of a great deal of data to show its effectiveness. On its own, this is a positive development in psychotherapy. However, just because CBT might, on aggregate, be as effective as many drugs does not mean that it will be as effective as medication for any given individual. This subtle point is missed by some practitioners.

The main aspect of CBT’s moral superiority, however, lies in its purported strength: It places the patient in the driver’s seat of the therapeutic process; the therapist is conceived of as more of a coach. In fact, the latest movement in CBT even removes the therapist altogether. This “self-help” CBT assists patients through online guides and apps. And self-help accurately describes the way CBT is frequently packaged—with pure positivity and a can-do ethic. The “work” of getting better is up to the patient, who is responsible for her own success.

This characterization sets up a scary flip side. When medications don’t work, the fault is that of the pill. When traditional talk therapy doesn’t work, you can blame a “poor fit” or a lack of chemistry. But in CBT, failure redounds to the individual. The cumulative message I’ve gotten about CBT amounts to: It’s effective, so it should work, and if it doesn’t work, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough.

But managing mental illness is always hard work, no matter how you do it. Navigating the health care system while in a state of distress is hard. Convincing providers to take seriously the urgency of a pain that has no observable physical manifestation is hard. And doing this while being told that you’re not putting in enough effort of your own is really hard. Like many people who take psychotropic drugs, I hate being on them. Relying on mind-altering substances to function produces no small amount of shame, not to mention existential anxiety. I’ve tried to go off them many times in the hopes that the “real me” will finally be able to stand on her own. Each time, I run into the heartbreaking reality that my unaltered self is too painful to bear.

The fact that CBT is helping people should be celebrated. But I need medication. And for me, the enthusiasm around CBT has prevented me from getting timely and appropriate treatment. It has also added a few bricks to the heavy burden I carry around about my inability to make myself better. That’s not fair to me, or to the other patients who are likely experiencing the same problems.

The core of CBT’s cognitive restructuring essentially amounts to rewriting the stories you tell yourself—if you can think about something differently, you can maybe shift the way it makes you feel. Perhaps it’s time to rewrite some of the stories we’re telling about CBT.

Memory Foam or Latex: Which is the Best Mattress?

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

Memory foam and latex both have made a reputation as being the best in the market, but which is the best mattress? There are several factors that might indicate that one is better than the other, but the truth is that each offers a set of pros and cons that make them both terrific mattress […]

The post Memory Foam or Latex: Which is the Best Mattress? appeared first on The Best Mattress.

Spring Savings: 2017 Memorial Day Mattress Sale Trends

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

Spring is in full swing and it’s time again for May’s Memorial Day mattress sale events — great news if you’re in need of a better bed this year. Although known for kicking off summer and outdoor fun, this holiday weekend is one of the best times of the year to buy furniture and beds. If you […]

The post Spring Savings: 2017 Memorial Day Mattress Sale Trends appeared first on The Best Mattress.

Aerus Natural 6" Eco-Friendly Memory Foam Mattress, Multiple Sizes -

Aerus Natural 6" Eco-Friendly Memory Foam Mattress, Multiple Sizes -

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2 Million Beautiful Images of Biodiversity Are Now Available for Free

2 Million Beautiful Images of Biodiversity Are Now Available for Free

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

There are thought to be about 10 million distinct species of plants and animals on Earth. That number is incomprehensibly large, not least because most species are still undiscovered. But now the Biodiversity Heritage Library, an open-access repository for some of the most stunning images collected of life on Earth, is helping to make these ecological wonders all the more real: It’s made more than 2 million images of our planet’s biodiversity available online for free. Anyone can explore the expansive collections, study the digitized materials, and even download the images for whatever scientific—or artistic—project you have in mind.

Many of the figures in the library’s collection inspire delight, like this assortment of real-life Harry Potter creatures:

Others offer a good chuckle—I mean, who hasn’t felt like this dejected stag?

But still others are tinged with existential darkness, like an old black-and-white photo of the American bison, the image of a slain eagle, or renderings of other endangered species. They’re another reminder that many scientists believe we’re in the midst of a great extinction, during which huge numbers of species will die en masse, many of them before even being discovered. And unlike past extinctions, which were caused by random shifts in Earth’s atmosphere, this one’s caused by us.

In her 2014 book, The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert suggests the changes the world is undergoing are the result of the so-called Anthropocene, a new geological epoch defined by human dominance and the danger that comes with it. Depending on how you count it, since at least the Industrial Revolution, humans have been reshaping the globe to disastrous results. As a result, Kolbert writes, “it is estimated that one-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all freshwater mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds are headed toward oblivion.”

As Josh Jones writes in a blog post at Open Culture on the newly released series, appreciating biodiversity is perhaps one of the small ways to stop this spiral:

If we want to understand what is at stake besides our own fragile fossil-fuel based civilizations, we need to connect to life emotionally as well as intellectually. Short of globe-hopping physical immersion in the earth’s biodiversity, we could hardly do better than immersing ourselves in the tradition of naturalist writing, art, and photography that brings the world to us.

The archive provides an easy way to remember that beauty.

The depressing decline of biodiversity shouldn’t take away from the thrill of exploring the library’s archive. But it does lend a certain kind of morbid hum to the browsing experience. The collection is certainly chock full of things we’ve lost and things we are currently losing. The only hope is that getting lost in these Flickr files will inspire us to better mitigate the decline we’re seeing in the real world.

How to Design a Kitchen with Eco-Friendly Materials and Appliances

by Janelle Sorensen @ Elemental Green

Our Favorite Handmade Holiday Decorations This Year

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

For some, buying generic, mass-produced holiday decorations from the nearest big box store is perfectly fine. Many of us, on the other hand, prefer to fill our homes with unique gifts handcrafted by local artists…and not machines. We want to support small businesses in America, not fill the pockets of CEOs. We want our holiday […]

The post Our Favorite Handmade Holiday Decorations This Year appeared first on Eco Local Markets.

2017 Black Friday Mattress Sale Trends

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

Black Friday Mattress Sale 2017 Winter is here, and the year is coming to an end soon after. That means Black Friday mattress sales the best time to get a cozy new bed if you’re in the market for one. You won’t see sales like these until well into next year, so you don’t want […]

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REI Shouldn’t Get Anti-Consumerist Credit for #OptOutside

REI Shouldn’t Get Anti-Consumerist Credit for #OptOutside

by Matthew Klingle @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published on the Conversation and was republished here with permission.

While shoppers scramble for Black Friday bargains this year, outdoor retailer REI is closing its 154 U.S. stores. This is the third consecutive year that the Seattle-based company will ignore the frenzy that traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. REI’s nearly 12,000 employees will get a paid holiday and will not process any online orders.

Instead, REI exhorts workers and customers to get outside with family and friends. #OptOutside, a Twitter hashtag that REI coined to promote its anti–Black Friday, has been widely adopted by outdoor lovers, as well as environmental groups and businesses that partner with REI to promote this event.

The campaign has drawn international praise from the advertising industry and has become a yearly phenomenon. State parks from Oregon to Indiana, often in concert with local nonprofits, offer free admission and other perks on Black Friday. This year REI is launching an “experiential search engine” where users can share photos and video of their favorite outdoor destinations, augmented with information, such as directions to trailheads or events celebrating our nation’s public lands.

Many observers have praised REI for mixing business savvy with crunchy acumen. But how did REI and other outdoor companies align themselves with conservation? How do they square selling expensive apparel and promoting carbon-spewing tourism with their customers’ love for the outdoors? And how radical is “Green Friday,” especially if the Opt Outsiders are carrying backpacks stuffed with the latest gear made from precious petroleum, rare metals, and pricey fibers?

The answer is that shoppers have long expressed their affection for nature in what they buy. Consumption and environmental concerns, past and present, fit together as snugly as a foot in a beloved hiking boot.

The paradoxes of modern outdoor retailing have deep roots in the American conservation movement. Nineteenth-century trailblazers such as John Muir grew alarmed as they saw wildlife decimated, forests denuded, and scenery despoiled. Among the loudest protesters were affluent outdoorsmen, such as Theodore Roosevelt, founder of the Boone and Crockett Club, and William Temple Hornaday, first director of the New York Zoological Society.

By calling to protect nature, these conservationists also protected their own hunting and fishing entitlements. They attacked the rural poor, immigrants, and minorities, who Hornaday once called the “regular army of destruction” because they took fish and game for subsistence or sale. They used their money and power to license hunters and anglers, limit harvests and ban equipment. Some of these measures protected nature (and still do), but they also intentionally reserved nature for those who could consume it properly by the standards of wealthy conservationists.

Class differences pervaded other forms of outdoor recreation too. People with means vacationed at posh resort hotels. Middling Americans took more rustic routes. Outdoor groups such as the Appalachian Mountain Club, founded in Boston in 1876, and the Mountaineers, founded in Seattle in 1906, taught woodcraft to middle-class urbanites who yearned for authentic escapes.

Others chafed against even these austere types of play, seeing outdoor recreation as a costly privilege. They mobilized leisure as political protest. Seattle’s Co-Operative Campers, launched in 1916 as a cheaper alternative to the Mountaineers, pledged to “make our mountains accessible through co-operative camps” for the city’s blue-collar citizens. Socialist activist Anna Louise Strong was the Co-Op Campers’ first president. She and the Co-Op Campers often clashed with the Mountaineers over politics and camping techniques until the club disbanded during the 1920s Red Scare.

REI took root in this contested consumerist soil. Lloyd Anderson, an REI founder, conspired with other members of the Mountaineers to promote riskier activities, such as rock climbing. He quickly learned that they did not have the requisite gear. Influenced by other local co-ops, Anderson organized REI in 1938 to pool members’ annual fees so the group could purchase quality equipment from Europe at affordable prices.

As costs for lightweight materials such as aluminum and nylon fell after World War II, REI attracted a burgeoning following locally and nationally. And it continued to trade on its founders’ cooperative and environmental vision. In 1976, a year after opening its first retail store outside of Seattle, it launched an environmental grants initiative, and in 1989 the firm co-founded the Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor businesses dedicated to environmental protection.

Yet REI’s #OptOutside campaign can seem superficial compared with more radical stances. Patagonia, founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard as a spinoff from his self-named climbing equipment company, has promoted recyclable clothing and applied tough sustainability standards to its global supply chains. In its 2013 “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign, Patagonia even encouraged customers to make do with less.

Critics have accused Patagonia of playing the snob card and promoting chic travel to imperiled and faraway places. Chouinard himself freely accepts these accusations. As he cynically admitted in a recent New Yorker profile, “everyone’s just greenwashing,” because “growth is the culprit.”

In this context, REI’s Black Friday campaign can look like an unabashed marketing ploy that ignores the fundamental source of our environmental problems: humans’ overuse of the Earth’s resources.

Maybe Chouinard is right: We are all being greenwashed.

But is this a bad thing to admit? Perhaps. To deny the inherent contradictions of Green Friday is to ignore how affection for nature collides with our longing to consume it. By asking customers to think about what they are buying, Patagonia tries to foreground the environmental and social ethics of buying a new fleece jacket. REI, by contrast, asks us to take a one-day shopping holiday to help the planet. At best it is a lighter-green vision.

REI and its competitors are businesses, and none of these efforts supersede retailers’ bottom lines. Greenwashing is just the latest term for an old phenomenon: tethering consumption to environmental values. And consumers have proclaimed their environmental values through purchasing power since the dawn of the conservation movement.

Ultimately, there is no such thing as truly green consumption. Consider Cyber Monday, just after Thanksgiving, when retailers seek to entice consumers to spend online with early holiday discounts. Is internet shopping better for the environment than driving to the mall? It may keep us off the road, but online shopping does not eliminate environmental costs—it just diverts them to the data warehouses that power retailers’ mail-order divisions and to the planes and trucks that deliver the goods to consumers.

Moreover, is hitting the trail really escaping “the Internet of Things” when hikers can share their every move and thought by mobile phone or other wireless devices?

This Thanksgiving, take time to remember the late biologist Barry Commoner’s famous aphorism: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on Nov. 18, 2016.

Astronomers Just Photographed a Nursery of Stars

Astronomers Just Photographed a Nursery of Stars

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

A nursery of newborn stars in outer space might sound adorable and sparkly, but the reality is something much more violent. Stars are gigantic spheres of gas and dust, and when they’re infants, they tend to be a lot like human babies, spewing out gobs of hot carnage in every direction. Bring a truckload of these things into one tiny little region of space, and you suddenly have a cosmic patch of tempestuous, astrophysical hell.

That’s what scientists are looking at in a new image of Sharpless 29, a stellar nursery 5,500 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. Captured by the European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal in Chile, the new image depicts a mass of hot, active interstellar gas creating a perfect breeding ground for new stars.

As you can see, the focal point of Sharpless 29 is the central nebula, a crimson, warped cosmic body stretching out over several light-years, filled with enough turbulence to destroy stars that unwitting try to form within it. Most of the young stars in the VLT image are less than 2 million years old—mere seconds on the scale of the cosmos. Their young age means they’re currently pulsing erratically with bouts of radiation, each attempting to carve out different cavities within the region. If you look closely, the central nebula itself has an ever-expanding nook sculpted by the constant stellar winds and piling up excess material into the surroundings.

Meanwhile, the swirl of gas and dust mixed with ultraviolet light from newborn stars creates a very intense glow, augmenting the shine of the stars themselves. The blue light is caused by the scattering effect of small particles. The darker, tentaclelike clouds are filaments made of accumulated dust.

Sharpless 29 is kind of a cornucopia of physics stuffed into a single place. There aren’t very many parts of the galaxy that so intricately detailed by newborn stellar reactions. For astronomers, this is a prime window into how stars form and evolve, the influence of newborn stellar radiation on dust and gas, and how the properties of magnetic fields are affected by such a violent myriad of factors. That information itself gives us more insight into how the sun, its planets, and the Earth came into existence.

And of course, the images are gorgeous.

Portland Tribune Covers Our Sustainability Values

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

The Portland Tribune wrote up an article covering our Sustainable and Eco-friendly approach, including our locally sourced products, our gimmick-free Read More

The post Portland Tribune Covers Our Sustainability Values appeared first on The Mattress Lot.

How to Listen to and Support Victims of Sexual Trauma

How to Listen to and Support Victims of Sexual Trauma

by Jonathan Foiles @ Slate Articles

Before Sigmund Freud founded psychoanalysis, he was a neurologist whose growing interest in psychiatry led him to study hysteria. “Hysteria” was a catch-all term for a number of symptoms, both physical and mental, believed to only affect women; the term itself derives from the Greek word for uterus. Women who were diagnosed with hysteria tended to faint, have trouble breathing, developed physical maladies with no organic cause, lost all interest in food or sex, were nervous, and were generally considered to be troublemakers. Hysteria had been an object of fascination since ancient Greece, and of the variety of treatments proposed to treat it, most failed to help.

Hypnosis was the treatment of choice in Freud’s day, but he soon deviated from that trend to develop his own method. Freud was one of the first practitioners to actually listen to patients with hysteria, and as he developed his “talking cure,” he was struck by the pervasiveness of childhood sexual trauma in his patients’ histories. In The Aetiology of Hysteria (1896), he proposed that “at the bottom of every case of hysteria there are one or more occurrences of premature sexual experience.” This was an explosive assertion, and Freud soon began to backpedal. If his patients were to be believed, rape, molestation, and incest were not uncommon occurrences but instead happened at a depressing frequency. Freud found this to be unbelievable, so he slowly began to shift these reports of premature sexual experience to the realm of fantasy, giving birth to the Oedipus and Electra complexes and so forth.

The history of the psychological treatment of trauma is strewn with such false starts and missteps. When soldiers in World War I began to exhibit unfamiliar psychological symptoms, doctors initially believed they resulted from the concussive impact of exploding shells, hence “shell shock.” When this theory was disproven, those afflicted were seen as “moral invalids” not capable of handling the rigors of warfare. When the same phenomenon was observed in World War II, the military developed procedures to rapidly stabilize impacted soldiers and returned them to the front as quickly as possible. According to one report, 80 percent of American soldiers experiencing acute stress were returned to the front lines within a week, 30 percent of those to active combat units. It wasn’t until Vietnam that things began to change, and that was only because the Vietnam War went on for so long that veterans were able to return and talk about the horrors they had witnessed while the conflict was still ongoing, causing a public reckoning. At the same time, feminists were bringing to light the pervasiveness of sexual violence and reframing rape as a crime of power rather than of misdirected passion. It was these parallel efforts that actually spurred the creation of the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, which was added to the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980.

These stories help illustrate the depth of a problem most people understand through their own lived experience: Trauma is uncomfortable to confront. Indeed, for most of human history we’ve done all we could to avoid it. Unfortunately, even after these misfires, mental health professionals like myself still haven’t quite corrected the problem. My graduate program in social work, for example, offered one class on the treatment of trauma, capped to only a handful of students. The DSM-V diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder remains flawed: The symptoms of PTSD better match an individual who experienced one traumatic incident rather than someone who has endured multiple traumatic events, and the number of criteria required to merit the diagnosis far exceeds that of most other mental disorders.

From time to time, events arise that force us to reconsider this legacy. The revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s years of unchecked predatory behavior is one of those times. Indeed, it has opened the floodgates to reveal a myriad of other such stories. It’s common to observe a snowball effect in the disclosure of trauma. The multiple disclosures made by Weinstein’s victims coupled with the fact that their accusations brought about some form of justice enabled others to come forward, and as the #MeToo phenomenon has demonstrated, this is not limited to celebrities.

It is in the face of such suffering that we are often most tempted to look away. Of course, this sort of intentional ignorance is precisely what enables predators to continue their abuse. As Judith Herman notes in Trauma and Recovery, “It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing.” Most of us can agree that we do not want to do this. We know that the prevalence rate of false reports of sexual assault is low. It’s actually extremely low, at about 2 percent. It’s far more common for sexual violence to simply go undisclosed; only about a third of all rapes are reported, and of those, only 2 percent result in a conviction.

So what should we do? It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of stories. Given the unfortunate prevalence of sexual trauma, most of us know several survivors. I suggest that we start by simply choosing to believe all survivors. As someone who works with trauma survivors daily, I cannot count the number of patients who were retraumatized when someone near them disbelieved their disclosure. Those who have not yet shared their private pain may very well be looking for an ally, and they will be watching how we speak about survivors of sexual assault to determine whether or not it is safe to open up.

If someone chooses to open up, just listen. If they get overwhelmed, take a break. It is human to want to try to make it better, whether that’s by trying to problem-solve the situation or relativize their pain (“well, at least he didn’t …”). Avoid these urges at all costs. It is enough to be present and to offer the occasional “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” Thank them for sharing their story with you. Suggest that they find a therapist, and if they are nervous or unsure, offer to accompany them to their first appointment.

Freud abandoned his initial findings regarding trauma because they were simply too much for him to bear. In later years, trauma survivors would be made to bear the blame of what happened to them, if their claims were believed at all. Society has made some progress since those times, but the temptation to look away remains. The Harvey Weinsteins and Louis C.K.s of the world depend upon us doing just that. We can do better—indeed, we know we must do better. The easiest place to start is by listening.

Can You Really Trust the Claims of "Green Mattress" Certifications?

Can You Really Trust the Claims of "Green Mattress" Certifications?


Some manufacturers may claim a “green mattress”, but do those claims hold true when there are no set standards? In some ways they do, but consumers have to understand what those certifications really mean. Knowing how to read and discern which certifications are more important, you can make choices that support you and your family’s …

'Beachill' The Smart Eco-friendly Outdoor Mattress

'Beachill' The Smart Eco-friendly Outdoor Mattress


Charge your phone, keep your beverage cold & store your stuff with the all new Eco-friendly Mattress | Check out ''Beachill' The Smart Eco-friendly Outdoor Mattress' on Indiegogo.

Do memory foam pillows help you sleep better?

by meridith dennes @ Sleepluv

The post Do memory foam pillows help you sleep better? appeared first on Sleepluv .

Why do memory foam pillows help you sleep better? What is the deal with memory foam pillows? It is surprising how many people choose their mattress and bed sheets with care but pay little attention to the quality of their pillows. Of course, a comfortable mattress is one of the key components to getting a […]

The post Do memory foam pillows help you sleep better? appeared first on Sleepluv .

How to Create Your Online Market with Eco Local Markets!

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

Do you own a small business selling produce, food, art, clothing, or homemade/handmade goods? With Eco Local Markets, you can create your online market easily, without the hassle of marketing or creating a website. We take care of that for you! You can open your market free-of-charge and there is no monthly payment. Eco Local […]

The post How to Create Your Online Market with Eco Local Markets! appeared first on Eco Local Markets.

Mattress Recycling

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

Mattress Lot is committed to keeping old mattresses out of landfills. We offer mattress recycling to our customers who need Read More

The post Mattress Recycling appeared first on The Mattress Lot.

This Winter Commit to Your Optimal Health

by @ Green Home Library

With a nationwide freeze in play, now is a great time to start an activity program that will tighten and tone so when the snow starts to melt, you are ready to hit-the-ground-running. From yoga, to sports, or cycling there are a variety of activities you can utilize to propel your mind and body toward a more optimal health status. Find your inner passion activity that inspires you to get moving, and commit to your optimal health.

A Stressless Slide

Whether it's a New Year’s resolution or an, “I’m gonna do it this time” attitude, you just may be putting too much stress on yourself. This is why high numbers of good intentions quickly fall short particularly when it comes to diet and exercise. This winter, take the time to commit to something you really want to do for all the right reasons. If you are joining a gym just to lose weight you could be putting more pressure up front than you should. Instead, approach an activity commitment with as much passion as you can add to it. For instance, if you love playing softball then join or form a team and spend your time at the gym revolving around softball training. Maybe you need more peace and solitude in your life so why not choose a yoga class to get you there. Try and keep trying until the class or activity is a fit for you. There is no need to follow the pack just because it's easy, instead, think outside the box and find an activity that makes you look forward to it, not dread it in your gut simply to shave off a few pounds.

Keeping it Green

As you embark on finding your inner passion activity, take some time to consider the tools you will choose to get you there and keep you going. Whatever activity you choose, there’s an Eco-friendly accessory that can accompany it. No need to succumb to wasteful trends that use petroleum based rubbers and plastics. No need to purchase sneakers, workout clothes, and other essential gear manufactured in conditions that don't support fair wages and rights. Now, you can choose products that will support your inner goals while reinforcing a healthy planet at the same time. For instance, carry your own water bottle made from recycled steel; it that will stand up to the rigors of everyday wear and tear while being sustainable and supporting your health.

Science Daily reports on a study by Concordia University in Montreal which found that companies manufacturing green gear are sought after by consumers like you. Published in the Journal of Retailing, co-author of the study Maryam Tofighi commented, “Our findings indicate that consumers expect products with ethical attributes -- be they environmentally friendly, sustainably sourced or fair trade -- to come with a higher price tag. Companies would be wise to take advantage of those expectations,”


Don’t let the winter blues pull you down but rather look at this season as an opportunity to re-shift and reboot. From the balance of yoga, to the excitement of a team sport, this spring could be the new start you are looking for. Take your time to find the right activity you are passionate about, choose your green gear, and then enter your new path, fully loaded with a steadfast commitment to the most important

My hunt for a safe, affordable new bed!

My hunt for a safe, affordable new bed!

by ecofriendlymamausa @ Eco-friendly baby/family products MADE in USA

The hunt for an organic yet affordable mattress is a very FAQ in my group. As with other categories I’m asked about, Greenwashing abounds. Companies use all sorts of buzz words, often stating what their mattresses are free from, while glossing over some less than desirable materials that may be in them. I had my […]

Bear Mattress Coupon Code – RIZKNOWS Insider Deals



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More and More Americans Are Learning Basic First Aid for Gunshot Wounds

More and More Americans Are Learning Basic First Aid for Gunshot Wounds

by Lisa L. Lewis @ Slate Articles

I frequently exchange parenting advice with my sister, an emergency room physician whose kids are younger than mine. My advice tends to be pretty straightforward, like how to help your kids transition to a new school or just the occasional kid-friendly recipe. Hers, given her profession, tends to be a little more intense. Recently, she offered this useful guidance: If someone’s been shot in the leg, use the heel of your hand to slow the bleeding by pressing down on the femoral artery located in the middle of the crease at the top of the thigh. If the bleeding doesn’t slow or is pulsing, use a T-shirt or other piece of clothing to tie a tourniquet as close to the top of the thigh as possible.

Against the backdrop of ongoing mass shootings, being prepared for such a worst-case scenario seems increasingly prudent. It appears I’m not alone in thinking so: From Bismarck, North Dakota, to San Diego, ordinary citizens are now signing up for classes to learn how they, too, can maximize their chances for survival by learning skills such as how to stanch blood loss after a mass shooting. In Georgia, all public schools are receiving “Stop the Bleed” kits so they’ll have what they need while they wait for professional first responders to arrive. And last month in Washington, D.C., nearly 40 members of Congress were trained in bleeding control techniques. The training they received is modeled on life-saving techniques first honed on the battlefield but now being promoted for civilian use in schools, churches, shopping malls, and other everyday venues.

These sorts of lessons have been gathering steam for years. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings in December 2012, the American College of Surgeons pulled together first-response experts from law enforcement, the medical community, and the military. Their recommendations, known as the Hartford Consensus, stemmed from the realization that injuries from mass shootings are similar to those found in combat. The resulting five-point response plan was based in part on military trauma guidelines and led to the “Stop the Bleed” campaign, launched by the White House in 2015, to “encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.”

Mass tragedies often yield lessons that can be applied the next time around. Five months before Sandy Hook, the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, showed the need for better coordination between responding police and firefighters. It also underscored that getting victims to the hospital as quickly as possible, rather than waiting for ambulances, saves lives.

In 2007, the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, led to improvements in campus safety, including requirements for emergency message systems and physical changes such as better door locks. And perhaps the seminal event that changed how we think about and respond to mass shootings was the 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School, which led to regular school lockdown drills and changed how police respond to active shooters. (Instead of waiting for specialized backup to arrive, responding officers now enter the building immediately to try to stop the carnage.)

If you consider the chronology of these examples, it’s apparent that our reactions are skewing toward figuring out how to survive mass shootings rather than prevent them. Mass shootings such as the recent tragedy in Las Vegas are often what spur ordinary citizens to enroll in “Stop the Bleed” classes. In just the last two years, more than 70,000 Americans have taken the courses, according to the American College of Surgeons. In fact, a 2015 telephone poll of 1,000 respondents found that 82 percent of those who said they were physically able to take a course like this were interested in doing so.

Being prepared is pragmatic: According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 323 mass shootings (which they define as four or more people shot or killed, not counting the shooter) so far this year, including two just last week. Even my sister, despite all of her training, found herself searching online for bulletproof backpack inserts for her kids. Last year, the PTSA at my son’s high school, which was put on lockdown during the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting, purchased body bags and triage center supplies to use in the event of a similar tragedy on school grounds.

It’s hard to know where the line is between prudent preparation and diminishing returns. Learning to tourniquet a bullet wound might make you feel safe. It could also make you feel anxious or diminish the reserves you have to fight gun violence in other ways. As the Hartford Consensus noted, “Active shooter/mass casualty events are a reality in modern American life.” What’s worse is that they’re an accepted reality.

The Natural Sleep Store's Denver Organic Mattress Showroom

The Natural Sleep Store's Denver Organic Mattress Showroom

The Natural Sleep Store

Denver Organic Mattress and Bedding Showroom. Featuring Organic Mattresses, Bedding, and Natural Beds. The Natural Sleep Store's Denver Showroom

How To Choose A Mattress

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

So, you are ready to buy a mattress. There are so many choices out there. How do you decide which Read More

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Contact Us

by denverorganic @ The Natural Sleep Store

Contact Us at the Denver Organic Mattress Showroom Customer Service: 1.866.663.0859 toll free Denver Showroom Direct Phone Line: 1.303.623.2261 Email us: Please feel free to contact us about any organic mattress or bedding questions.  If you are unable to visit our Denver showroom, The Natural Sleep Store’s knowledgeable sales staff is happy to help […]

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Organic Mattress, Inc – Now at Mattress Lot

by Mattress Lot @ The Mattress Lot

Organic Mattress, Inc. (OMI) operates America’s only 100% certified organic mattress factory. Located in Northern California, the OMI plant operates Read More

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In Need Of Sleep

by The Natural Mattress Store @ The Natural Mattress Store

If you are anything like us, you are in need of real sleep.  We’re not talking about a nap here and there to get you through the day after waking up tired or compensating for a lack of sleep by consuming numerous cups of coffee to keep you awake during another board meeting because you were tossing and turning all night.  

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The 20 Best Organic and Fair Trade Coffee Shops in NYC for Meetings

by Stephanie Sica @ Ecocult

It's hard to find a coffee shop that makes a solid cup of organic or Fair Trade coffee, has a great atmosphere, and is conducive to conversation. But these are, in my humble opinion, the best places to have a productive meeting with the conscious coffee set.

The post The 20 Best Organic and Fair Trade Coffee Shops in NYC for Meetings appeared first on Ecocult.

2018 Tempurpedic Mattress Reviews

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

If you are looking for information on Tempurpedic mattress reviews, take a few minutes to browse our 2018 report and analysis. You’ve no doubt heard of the nearly ubiquitous mattress company. In this guide, we’ll take a look at their current lines and how the products are faring across several categories. Tempur-pedic, for the most […]

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What is a Green Mattress?

by Mimi Schultz @ Nest Organics

Source: What is a Green Mattress? Savvy Rest Blog Written by Liz, October 16, 2017 What’s the best green mattress? Environmentalism and an overall concern for our planet have become more and more pressing in recent years. This passion for eco-friendly living has shifted the focus of commercialism and the types of products consumers want […]


by Jessica Hann @ Avocado Green Mattress

Watermelon | Four health benefits and two hydrating drink recipes.Read More ...

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How to Clean Silver Jewelry the Natural Way

by Courtney @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post. I wear silver jewelry almost exclusively, but it’s a real downer when the oil from my skin tarnishes the metal, leaving it dull and dirty-looking. Recently I realized I hadn’t been wearing a few pieces I own that I really like, and it was just [...]

Leesa Mattress Coupon Code – RIZKNOWS Insider Deals



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Here’s What the Sun Will Look Like When It Consumes the Earth in 5 Billion Years

Here’s What the Sun Will Look Like When It Consumes the Earth in 5 Billion Years

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

The end is coming, and we even know when: In 5 billion years, the sun, our wholesome yellow harbinger of energy, is going to swell into a red giant and consume most of the inner planets of the solar system. It will also wreak gravitational and radioactive havoc on the outer planets and moons sitting in the farther reaches of the neighborhood.

We’ll all be long dead before then, of course. But we also just got a good preview of what it might look like: a new set of telescopic images recently captured another red star that once possessed the same starting mass as the sun but has now ballooned in its old age. This star’s radius is now twice the length of the current distance between the Earth and the sun. And that staggering notion is also what we can expect from our own sun in the very distant future.

The red giant, known as W Hydrae, is 320 light-years away, located in the constellation of Hydra (the ferocious water snake in Greek mythology). The new observations, reported in Nature and taken by astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, are some of the sharpest images yet of a sun-like star. These types of stars expand in old age, shed off mass through stellar winds, and cool off by almost 50 percent. That means if a planet in the sun’s orbit isn’t already swallowed up, it will become an extremely cold and irradiated wasteland anyway.

None of that is good news for the stability of star system, especially if we’re hoping to find worlds which could be home to life. But on the plus side, red giant stars release a ton of elements into space which are then cobbled together by other aggregations of gas and energy to create new stars. They also dispel materials which could be vital to the potential habitability of other planets and moons. So besides learning more about the impending annihilation of Earth at the hands of a reddening sun, scientists want to study red giants to see what type of role they play in star formation and planetary system development.

Of course, there are plenty of other things that might destroy Earth way before the 5-billion-year timer hits zero. All things considered, death by red giant would actually be a win.

Choosing Between a King and a Queen

by seoteam @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

If you’re in the market for a new bed, you have several decisions to make. At 2 Brothers Mattress, we have numerous options in every area, including price, brand, style and many others. One of the most important considerations here? The size of your new...

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When a Hurricane Takes Your Home

When a Hurricane Takes Your Home

by Nathalie Baptiste @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

Five years ago, Superstorm Sandy—a monstrous post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds—struck New York, bringing record-breaking wind gusts and deadly flooding. In New York City, 53 people diednearly half of them were from Staten Island. The Ocean Breeze, Midland Beach, and Dongan Hills communities were especially hard hit, with 11 fatalities.  A few months after the storm, WNYC reporter Matthew Schuerman described the square mile that makes up parts of these communities as “the most dangerous place to be in New York City” during Sandy.

Joe Herrnkind, a middle-aged man who moved to Ocean Breeze in 2000, remembers those days, as he walks through the deserted streets of his once tightknit beach community. Most of the homes have been torn down, and a few are boarded up waiting to be demolished. The homes that do remain are surrounded by empty plots of land where wild turkeys wander. Unlike many other New York victims of Sandy, who have rebuilt their communities, those from these neighborhoods knew that rebuilding was not the best option. Some sold their land to developers, and a few others, like Herrnkind and his neighbors, sold their land to the governor’s office so it can be returned to its natural state.

“We’re a low-lying community,” he says. “We had constant flooding and wildfires. You hear all this and you’re saying, ‘Why would you want to live there?’ ”

Recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have all raised the same question: What is to be done with the dozens of towns and cities in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico that have developed infrastructure on vulnerable flood-prone land that routinely requires massive cleanup and rebuilding efforts after each disastrous storm? Altogether, the recent storms could cost up to nearly $400 billion in damages. But some communities and local leaders are starting to realize that this model won’t break the cycle. In Ocean Breeze, instead of rebuilding on vulnerable flood plains, some residents have chosen to leave old neighborhoods behind and let nature take its course.

In 2012, when Sandy approached New York, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered evacuations of nearly 375,000 people in low-lying communities ahead of the storm. Herrnkind gathered his two dogs and left to stay with a friend in New Jersey. Most of his neighbors followed the evacuation orders, but eight or nine families stayed behind. Two of his neighbors died.

Sandy’s peak winds were recorded at 115 miles per hour, and Staten Island saw wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour. Father Cappodano Boulevard, the main road separating Ocean Breeze from the Atlantic, rose several feet above the side streets. Sandy’s unprecedented 16-foot surge overtopped the roads and poured into homes. A few days later, when Herrnkind was able to return, he had no idea whether his home was going to be standing. The city estimated that more than 300,000 homes were damaged by the storm’s flood.

“An officer told me ‘You can’t go down there,’ ” Herrnkind recalls. When he finally arrived, the water was still nearly waist deep. “It’s still there,” he remembers thinking when he first saw his house. “I have something to work with.” The watermark on a lamppost today shows that the storm surge reached far above his head, which explains why his furniture and all his personal belongings were gone.

Local leaders struggled to respond to the crisis. New York City created Build It Back, a program for rebuilding destroyed and damaged homes. There are more than 8,000 participants and by 2017, the mayor’s office estimates 87 percent of those who enrolled have received compensation, completed construction, or had their homes acquired by the city. But the program has come under criticism. Many homeowners dropped out due to delays. City Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents parts of Brooklyn, have been fierce critics of the program. In a letter to Build It Back director Amy Peterson, the two wrote that the number of dropouts “raises serious questions about our City’s ability to mount an efficient and effective recovery operation in the event of a future disaster.” Herrnkind jokingly refers to it as “Build It Wrong.”

After six months of living in his car, which he had parked in front of his abandoned house, and being disappointed by the city’s program, Herrnkind realized “the land itself should never have been built on.” Much of the region was a salt marsh, particularly vulnerable to storm surge and floods. “It was a very low, natural, spongy salt marsh, and it was filled to create homes,” Robert Brauman, a project manager for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection told Curbed New York in 2016, “and that was where the problems started.”

Another option for some homeowners was a program from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, which has been buying houses that were destroyed or substantially damaged and transforming them to open space and wetlands. The goal is to create a natural coastal buffer that can protect communities from future storms. In late 2013, more than a year after the storm, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Ocean Breeze would join Oakwood Beach as a town eligible for state buyouts, and Herrnkind’s entire block was included. Reluctant to “put someone else in harm’s way,” Herrnkind concluded that he and his neighbors should take advantage of the state buyout program. He was able to sell his home to the state at pre-storm value and move elsewhere on the island.

So far, more than 600 homes have been purchased through the buyout program. Once the sale goes through, the state government demolishes the home and lets nature reclaim the land. Today, Ocean Breeze is mostly empty, but complicating matters are the residents who refuse to leave. In Oakwood Beach, where most of the land is going back to nature, remaining residents struggle with lack of trash pickup and crumbling roads. One of Herrnkind’s former neighbors who stayed behind is an elderly woman who feared her children would put her in a nursing home if she left. Some opted out of the program because they didn’t have the proper paperwork required to sell their homes. Others didn’t want to give up their homes in a community they loved.

But staying behind comes with a cost. According to the New York Times, flood insurance premiums could rise up to 25 percent for homes that were damaged by Sandy.

On Herrnkind’s section of the street, only one home remains out of eight. “Around here, 90 percent of each block went,” he says, “and only one or two people stayed.” Just down the street from where Herrnkind used to live, more turkeys mill about on empty lots where homes used to be.

Herrnkind’s former neighbor Frank Moszczynski, a tall man with a large presence, took the state buyout and moved to another neighborhood on Staten Island. He doesn’t have much sympathy for someone who willingly stays in a vulnerable area. “Why should … emergency workers have to go out and risk their lives for someone who chose to stay in harm’s way?” he asks pointedly. Today, the only thing protecting Ocean Breeze from another storm is a 4-foot hill of sand.

Across the street from the vacant lot he used to call home, Herrnkind stands on the beach looking at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and Brooklyn’s Coney Island, a view he used to be able to see from his bedroom window. “If it weren’t for Sandy,” he says, “I’d still be here.”

HOW TO: Make organic lactation cookies to help increase your breast milk production

by (mkokopelli) @ Inhabitots

Lactation Cookie Ingredients Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 1/2 cup organic butter softened 1 cup organic cane sugar 2 tbs organic blackstrap molasses 4 tbs warm water 2 tbs organic flaxseed meal 2 tbs wheat germ 1 organic egg 1 tsp organic vanilla 1/2 cup organic oat flour 1/2 cup organic whole wheat or all purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp sea salt 1 1/2 cups organic thick oats 4 tbs brewers yeast 1/2 cup organic chocolate chips 1/2 cup organic...

It’s Not the Heat. It’s the Humidity.

It’s Not the Heat. It’s the Humidity.

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

“It’s not the heat that kills you. It’s the humidity.” As climate change progresses, this is likely to become gruesomely true, according to a new study published Friday in Environmental Research Letters. Climate change–induced increases in humidity could actually exacerbate the effects of heat to the point of making certain places in the world uninhabitable later this century. By 2080, the researchers predict, we’ll see measurements of heat and humidity that go far beyond safe thresholds in which individuals can still function normally. For individuals too poor to afford cooling systems, who have no housing, or anyone with poor health already, the humidity could be lethal.

Humans shed heat by sweating and letting the evaporating moisture carry excess heat away. But when humidity is too high, your sweat doesn’t evaporate as fast, because there’s already tons of moisture in the air. The cooling process is stymied, and your body can’t lower its temperature. Every part of you starts to feel tired, and if you can’t get inside to climate-controlled conditions, heat exhaustion or a heat stroke could take effect.

There are only a handful of studies that have investigated humidity and climate change. This new study investigates the scenarios in which global temperatures rise between 1.8 and 2.2 degrees Celsius. It makes use of a calculation that suggests that when humidity is at 100 percent, temperatures around 85 degrees Fahrenheit actually feel as hot as 107.5 degrees Fahrenheit on the heat index. At 100 percent humidity, 89 or 90 degrees Fahrenheit can feel like 132 degrees Fahrenheit on the heat index, and previous experiments show that this is the limit for what most humans can withstand before they start to fall apart from the one-two heat-humidity combo—and really, many people would fall apart way before that. Currently, those kinds of temperatures hit the southeastern U.S. about one or two days a year and occur about three to five days in places in South America, Africa, India, and China. They’re conditions that very few people in the world have ever experienced.

The study’s model predicts that in many places in the world, under worse estimates for global warming rates, those temperatures could stretch for up to 100 to 250 days a year by 2080. The most devastating effects would happen in northern India, eastern China, the coastal Middle East, and in parts of the Amazon rainforest. Furthermore, hundreds of millions could experience a staggering 95 degrees Fahrenheit at 100 percent humidity—which is literally off the charts on the heat index. In “dry” heat terms, this would feel like 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

The most recent instance of any real weather conditions coming close to this was on July 31, 2015, when Bandar-e Mahshahr in Iran, a city of 100,000 on the coast of the Persian Gulf, found itself hit with a heat index temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Residents kept cool inside, thanks to good infrastructure and cheap electricity. But that could be far from possible for many communities. And even if the heat itself doesn’t kill, the effects could wreak havoc on water reserves, cooling infrastructure, agriculture, and basic technologies. The inability to travel through such ravaging heat could make it extremely difficult for people to get supplies.

To cope, Radley Horton, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and a co-author of the study, says communities may need to rely more on automation for labor, shift many activities to overnight hours, and revamp clothing. “Access to fail-safe air conditioning could become a matter of life or death in a growing number of places,” he says, “although we could see growing reliance on ‘cooling pools’ as a source of short-term protection.”

Monitor Your Sleep This May

by The Natural Mattress Store @ The Natural Mattress Store

What’s the quality of your sleep?  Is it good or bad?  Maybe you’re somewhere in between.  Thankfully, at Natural Mattress Store, we’re here to help you find sleep solutions so you can get a great nights rest, every night. 

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Humans Run Experiments, a Robot Writes the Paper

Humans Run Experiments, a Robot Writes the Paper

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

In 2014, a researcher in France revealed a disturbing fact about the published scientific literature: At least 120 computer-generated manuscripts had made their way into academic conference proceedings, according to his analysis. Those robot-written papers, containing little more than strung-together buzzwords, had been created with a piece of software known as SCIgen, originally written on a lark by a trio of MIT graduate students in 2005. But in the years since, it seemed scientists had repurposed SCIgen to puff up their resumes and boost their professional status. This was understood to be a major scandal.

For Klemen Zupancic, though, the scandal was a source of inspiration. “It got us thinking,” the 32-year-old molecular biologist and tech entrepreneur told me this week from his office in Slovenia. Zupancic is head of sciNote, a tech startup that builds tools for helping scientists to switch from using pen-and-paper laboratory notebooks to more efficient online apps. (The company claims to have about 20,000 users, of which almost half are in the U.S.) When he read about the infiltration of academic journals by robo-generated text, he realized that the same approach might be used for honest ends. If software can publish scientific gobbledygook, then maybe it can write a valid scientific paper, too. So his company set out to create a program that would do just that.

The result of this effort, called Manuscript Writer, came out in early November. It works by searching through a sciNote user’s references, data, and protocols, and then stringing bits and pieces end-to-end in a rough draft of a formal academic paper. I mean a very rough draft: The software doesn’t even try to write a discussion section or interpret an experiment’s results; and based on what I’ve seen, the rest isn’t that much better than what you’d get from using SCIgen. Manuscript Writer constructs an introduction, for example, by pulling sentences and sentence fragments from a set of open-access references and laying them out in what appears to be no particular order.

The sciNote system is likely to improve, though. In theory, its A.I. will learn from its mistakes by comparing users’ finished papers to the software’s first attempts. Given what we’ve already seen in automated journalism, it’s not so crazy to predict that the quality of science paper robo-prose will soon become much better than it is today. Perhaps we’ll even reach the point where it’s about as good (or about as bad) as the work of average human scientists.

Indeed, we should all be looking forward to that day. Humans may be essential when it comes to formulating theories to explain results, but the rest of scientific writing—from a paper’s introduction through its description of experiments, methods, and results—would likely benefit from automation.

It’s not as though the quality of academic prose could end up that much worse than it is today. In fact, leading scientists have long bemoaned the lousy writing of their peers: In 1908, for example, Francis Galton presented his “Suggestions for Improving the Literary Style of Scientific Memoirs” to the Royal Society of Literature. “I have had occasion to read many memoirs in manuscript, on subjects where I was fairly at home, in which there was nothing especially recondite,” he wrote then, “but the expressions used in them were so obscure, the grammar so bad, and the arrangement so faulty, that they were scarcely intelligible on a first reading. … The writers of them may have been, and probably were successful investigators, but their powers of literary exposition were of a sadly low order; so low that they could hardly be made to realize their deficiencies.”

Things have only gotten worse since Galton’s gripe. When scientists settled on a lingua franca for their work, it meant that researchers around the world would have to write in English regardless of their skill at using it. At the same time, the growth of the scientific enterprise after World War II, and its balkanization into increasingly specialized sub-disciplines made research articles more technical and formalized. Around the mid-20th century, a dreary template for their writings began to spread throughout the sciences: First an Introduction, followed by the Methods used for the experiment, then a resume of the Results and a section for Discussion. By the 1970s, this “IMRaD” format was nearly universal in the literature.

As these changes solidified, scientific writing became less a vehicle for rhetoric than a conduit for data. Papers started to look more like packets on a network. If all those packets were the same—algorithmic in their composition, unembroidered, boring—that might only make them more efficient. In 1900, papers in Science and Nature were about as accessible to a general audience as pieces in the New York Times, according to a lexical analysis cited in a 2003 feature in Nature by Jonathan Knight. But their readability steadily eroded—and their jargon thickened—as the years went by.

“We are now in a system that incentivizes sameness,” says Melinda Baldwin, author of Making Nature: The History of a Scientific Journal. “We’re in a system that doesn’t give people incentive to write beautiful scientific papers.” Individual researchers now feel pressure to produce a large quantity of publications, with less regard for style. The most important thing for them is to distribute their results as quickly, and as clearly, as they can.

Even now, scientists who aren’t comfortable in English, or who just want to save some energy, may outsource the writing of their manuscripts to paid professionals. Automated writing would be an even better fix for those with suspect language skills or busy schedules. With robo-writers at the keyboard every article might end up looking more or less the same; but that’s a good thing. Distracting differences in scholars’ backgrounds, or defects in their style, would be averaged out across the literature. Each of Galton’s literary bugaboos—obscure expressions, poor grammar, and the faulty arrangements of ideas—could be instantly deleted from the literature, or patched over in a set of updates to the paper-writing software.

Naturally, this flattening effect would also average out any charm or wit. Take, for example, one of the most famous scientific articles ever published: Francis Crick and James Watson’s 1953 announcement in Nature of the structure of DNA. Even as this paper laid out one of the most consequential discoveries in the history of biology, its authors allowed themselves just a single understated boast—one that has been celebrated for its wryness ever since: “It has not escaped our notice,” wrote Crick and Watson, “that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanisms for the genetic material.”

What if their paper had been written automatically by Klemen Zupancic’s software or something similar? We’d have been deprived of the duo’s all-time classic kicker. The article, “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids,” would be as undistinguished in its writing, as insipid in its style, and as bereft of elegance as almost every other paper in the literature.

That could be a good thing, too.

If bad writing interferes with reading papers—if it slows down the sharing and transmission of experiments and data—then good writing does the opposite: It can make a paper slick and its logic slippery; it sands away the friction that helps readers get a handle on the findings it describes. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, poor writing in a research paper makes it hard to spot mistakes—but good writing does the same. It’s easiest to find errors, he says, in “average” papers, where you’re not distracted by the prose.

Psychological experiments have supported to this idea. The more easily one can process any given statement, the more believable it seems, according to what’s been called the “fluency heuristic.” If that’s true, then poorly written papers would be disadvantaged—i.e. their findings deemed less true—even when the underlying science was completely sound. And papers written in an easygoing entertaining style could be taken as reliable, even when they’re based on insubstantial evidence. But if robots wrote our papers for us, we’d never have to worry that we’re victims of this bias. Every manuscript would be written in an average way: not too bad and not too good.

Awareness of this problem, and a corresponding fear of eloquence in scientific writing, has been present since the earliest days of academic periodicals. One of the first dedicated scientific journals appeared in 1665, published by the Royal Society of London. In a history of the society published two years later, Thomas Sprat boasted of the group’s “constant Resolution, to reject all the amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style. … They have extracted from all their members a close, naked, natural way of speaking; positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness: bringing all thing as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can.”

Not every scientist subscribed to the fellows’ “constant Resolution,” though. While the Royal Society set off in one direction, valorizing plainness, other communities of scholars, at other points in history, were more inclined to fancy talk. Science communication scholar Alex Cziszar cites the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt: Like other proponents of romantic science, Humboldt argued that the “lucid exposition of the great phenomena of the universe” should be drawn from “the effusions of creative fancy.”

Cziszar says this tension over what it means to write a paper “well”—whether scientists should strive for clarity, beauty, efficiency or something else—has been present all along. From the late 19th century, many scientists have favored more succinct and uncreative prose. “A florid, roseate style, full of polysyllabic, metaphorical phraseology, distracts the reader's attention,” wrote two medical journal editors in a style guide from 1925. “Seldom is it necessary in scientific writing to use other than simple, Anglo-Saxon terms to express an idea or to state a fact.”

Indeed as research grows more data-focused, there’s an ever stronger case for dreary, formulaic prose. At this point we have at least 24 million references in the biomedical literature alone, and 15 million scientists are actively writing papers. There’s simply too much knowledge for any single person to absorb, even in a single subfield of research, and even if the work were always written very clearly. To get a better handle of this corpus, then, we’ll increasingly rely on another piece of software—not a robo-writer but a robo-reader. These exist already: Scientists are automating their investigations of the literature, with bots that sort through millions of abstracts at a time. It’s here that we might find the greatest benefit from algorithmic text. If machines were writing up the papers from the start, it’s likely that machines would do a better job of understanding them, too.

How much further could the robo-revolution go? Last year a group of researchers at the University of Trieste offered something new: the automated peer review. Inspired by the SCIgen prank, these scientists set out to build a tool for generating referee reports. The program will spit out a positive, negative or neutral assessment of any given paper, depending on which mode you request. “It would be good if you can also talk about the importance of establishing some good shared benchmarks,” the computer told one author. “It would be useful to identify key assumptions in the modeling,” it advised another. When the scientists showed their fake reviews, intermixed with real ones, to a group of human readers, the computer-generated text was deemed more useful one-quarter of the time.

Once robot referees have improved enough, they can peer review our robot-written papers. From there, the next step should be obvious: robot science journalists to robo-write surprising takes on the latest science news.

All Natural Hot Chocolate Mix

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

Cozy up this holiday with a natural way to enjoy hot chocolate. It’s easy! Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups non-fat powdered milk 2 cups icing sugar 1 cup cocoa 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon salt Directions: 1. Using food processor, combine all ingredients thoroughly until no lumps or visible bits of brown or white can be... Continue reading »

Shopping, The Secret To Saving The Planet

by Josh Dorfman @ Lazy Environmentalist

Pssst...I don’t recycle all of my plastic. I also frequently forget to turn off every single light. My closet is not overflowing with organic cotton shirts. I'm not zipping around in a Chevy Bolt. My kids eat so many Twizzlers and M&Ms I should probably own stock in Red Dye 5. My showers are long. The water is piping hot. I like it.

14 Best Organic, Eco Friendly & Natural Mattresses Online

14 Best Organic, Eco Friendly & Natural Mattresses Online

by Staff Guide @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

Review the best organic, natural and eco friendly mattresses and brands that have been designed by these top mattress companies so you can have a soothing night's sleep regardless of your income. Live and Sleep Eco-Friendly Mattress. Layla Sleep Memory Foam Mattress. My Green Mattress. Avocado Organic Mattress and many more. 

2017 Labor Day Mattress Deals & Adjustable Beds from Major Retailers

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

If you happen to be thinking of a new bed this fall or winter, upcoming Labor Day mattress deals present one of the best opportunities to get a good deal. In this guide, we’ll go over the details of the this year’s sales and compare the top beds by category to save you a little time and […]

The post 2017 Labor Day Mattress Deals & Adjustable Beds from Major Retailers appeared first on The Best Mattress.

10 Best Natural, Environmentally Friendly & Organic Pillows To Buy Online

10 Best Natural, Environmentally Friendly & Organic Pillows To Buy Online

by Mary Daniel @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

Finding the best organic, eco-friendly and natural pillow online is hard to do, but we are here to help.  We researched, tested, tried, slept on, crushed and even had a few pillow fights.  We completely love finding the pillows that are non-toxic and made without bad chemicals and toxic fire retardants. 

How to Make Your House Greener than Ever

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

Despite numerous perks, the problem with the modern world is that it’s closer to extinction that we can realise. By doing lots of things that have a negative impact on our planet, we have jeopardised the future of Mother Earth and everyone living on it, and it’s high time we did something about it. Making […]

The post How to Make Your House Greener than Ever appeared first on Greenne.

What Is the Point of a Solar Road?

What Is the Point of a Solar Road?

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

China has the strange distinction of being both the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter and the premiere solar energy producer (Trump being in office has really given them an opportunity to firmly solidify that second crown). On Thursday, the country took its latest solar energy leap by opening a new, kilometer-long solar highway in the northeastern Shangdon province. Despite some previous attempts by other countries, it’s being hailed as the “world’s first solar-powered highway.”

The roadway, made of a transparent concrete on top, solar panels underneath, and an insulation material as the base, covers about 5,875 square feet of total space. The engineers of the project claim it’s enough to generate about 1 gigawatt of energy over a year to be used to keep street lights running and a snow-melting system for the road charged up, with plans to power future charging stations for electric cars. There are two lanes plus an emergency lane for traffic to move through, and the pavement can purportedly handle 10 times more pressure than standard asphalt.

Cool, right? Well, kind of. Solar roads might seem like a novel idea—turning every road into a solar energy–generating platform seems downright utopic. But there are pitfalls inherent to the concept. If the goal behind such a scheme is to create energy infrastructure that’s sustainable, affordable, and safe, then the Shangdon project is a pretty robust piece of evidence for why solar roads miss the mark on all fronts.

Let’s start with cost. The road costs about $458 per square meter—far pricier than the $5 per square meter it costs to create an asphalt road. That creates a price tag of nearly $2.7 million for the Shangdon project—all to generate enough electricity to power roughly 93 American homes annually. Meanwhile, the average annual cost of electricity for a single American home is a little over $1,350—or $125,000 for 93 homes. So, no, it’s not a cost-effective project. Of course, it’s a pilot project, so maybe this is OK—particularly if it paves the way (pardon the pun) for more solar roads in the future.

Except solar roads aren’t particularly efficient. Ever wonder why so many solar panels are installed at an angle? The orientation helps optimize how much sunlight hits the panels. Solar road panels, of course, need to be laid flat. Light can’t pierce through shade created by nearby trees, or buildings, or dirt that covers up the pavement. The cars themselves are a major obstacle to the light anyway, especially during a traffic jam or rush hour. And lastly, solar panels need ventilation to keep cool and perform optimally. If they get too hot, they won’t generate as much electricity.

But even all this is moot compared to the single biggest issue that most people will raise if solar roads ever go vogue: safety. Solar roads mean driving on transparent surfaces. This could mean smooth glass, or something that mixes rock and glassy materials. The transparency required for light reduces the amount of gravel and rock that could give the road enough friction to help with smooth driving. The more glassy materials you add to the road, the more you risk cars losing traction on the surface, especially in rain or snow.

So then what’s the point of a solar road? It’s not totally clear. These initial testbeds, in China and elsewhere like France, might be key to making solar roads cheaper and efficient, and verifying the safety of these stretches. Solar power is clearly the future of renewable energy for the world, and China’s advances in the realm are laudable. And who knows, maybe a solar road will eventually lead to a discovery that pays off.

But I can’t help but feel that a solar road reeks of too much hype and spectacle, and not enough practicality. Lining up the sides of highways with solar arrays might seem quaint and boring, but there’s no question it’s a much more effective way to augment solar energy production.

We’re Letting Meals on Wheels, One of Our Best Senior Programs, Slowly Wither and Die

We’re Letting Meals on Wheels, One of Our Best Senior Programs, Slowly Wither and Die

by Nathan Kohrman @ Slate Articles

Five times a week for nearly 20 years, Meals on Wheels program coordinator Leisa Cotten would bring warm meals to the immobile and elderly of Cochise County, in the rural southeast corner of Arizona. But for the past decade, she’s had to switch it up. Now she delivers frozen meals, five at a time, once a week. “I haven’t seen you in a while” says Mark, one of Cotten’s clients (and whose name we have changed here), as she walks into his trailer. “Cutbacks,” Cotten replies, rearranging his freezer to fit the five white microwavable trays into the top row. “You coming back next week?” he asks. “I should be,” Cotten says.

In 2011, the first cohort of the 75 million baby boomers turned 65. Over the next 18 years, they will continue to age, and the country’s population pyramid will grow increasingly vase-shaped. Caring for the tens of millions of boomers is a demographic challenge without precedent in the United States. Meals on Wheels, among the most iconic and popular social programs in America, should be gearing up to deal with the impending increase in demand. But instead, the program faces funding shortfalls and service cutbacks. This year, its programs served 23 million fewer meals than in 2005. One estimate shows that less than a fifth of eligible seniors can actually avail themselves of home-delivered meals because of limited resources. Today, Cotten has a single assistant to help her serve a county larger than Connecticut. In 1987, she oversaw a staff of 36 that served thousands of meals a year. And her program isn’t the only one—today, Meals on Wheels programs around the country are withering just as Americans need them more and more.

Few anti-poverty programs have the virtuous sheen and cultural cache of Meals on Wheels. The home-delivered meal service, which in various iterations has fed millions of frail seniors over seven decades, enjoys a singular spot in the imagination of would-be American altruists, a hybrid of soup-kitchen ladling and escorting veterans across streets. Public figures (and Fight Club anti-heroines) avail themselves of the glow. Politicians constantly include Meals on Wheels in press flyers, and in March, Colin Kaepernick donated $50,000 to Meals on Wheels America—a charitable rebuke to those critical of his civil rights activism.

MOWA is the umbrella organization that oversees and advocates for the thousands of individual Meals on Wheels chapters, which are run by local service organizations, like Catholic Community Services, in Cotten’s case. In aggregate, chapters receive a third of their funding from a provision of the Older Americans Act signed into law by President Nixon in 1972, and the rest comes from state and local governments, corporate donations, and individual donations. MOWA prides itself on facilitating a “successful public-private partnership.” (Some programs, like Cotten’s, do not officially affiliate with MOWA but still benefit from their advocacy and receive federal funding.)

Advocates claim that the services Meals on Wheels chapters provide are multipotent: Home visitors bring not just food to frail seniors but also offer companionship and referrals to social services. The deliveries also encourage clients to perform “activities of daily living” like housework and dressing themselves as they prepare for guests. “We’re required to observe everything: their verbal and visual ability, emotional health, their skin color,” Cotten said. “If we notice anything—if they’re unstable walking—we call a case manager. If it’s critical, we call 911.” Ninety percent of seniors on the program say that Meals on Wheels “makes them feel more safe and secure.

But virtue and a sense of safety aren’t enough to pay for lunch. Broadly speaking, we underfund social programs for the elderly. Less than 2 percent of corporate, community, and foundation donations go to programs related to aging, which has been a problem for Meals on Wheels programs. “There’s more and more competition for a smaller share of donations,” said Ellie Hollander, CEO of MOWA. For more than a decade—in which both political parties have had their shots at controlling Congress and the White House—federal funding for the OAA has been flat while the cost of food and inflation have both increased and tens of millions of baby boomers retire.

To Democrats, the OAA is important but low on their list of priorities. After gaining control of Congress and the White House in 2008, they spent their political capital on a stimulus bill, financial reform, health care reform, and cap and trade. All of these policies are orders of magnitude more expansive than the OAA, and some, like health care reform, overlap with the services that the OAA provides. Admittedly, the OAA got a 22 percent funding boost in 2009 as part of the stimulus and a comparable bump in 2010 for a senior jobs program. But in 2011, after Democrats lost control of the House, the OAA funding returned to its baseline of about $1.9 billion, where it’s stayed since. In March of 2016, 30 Democratic Senators signed a letter circulated by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders calling for a “minimum 12 percent increase”—a sincere gesture without any chance of passing. After 2011 budget negotiations, caps were placed on nonmandatory spending, which includes Meals on Wheels. The program may carry political currency, referenced in wish lists and attack ads, but it rarely ends up in congressional debate.

Republican reservations are varied. On one side of the spectrum is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who expressed skepticism about the efficacy of the entire OAA during a 2011 hearing on senior hunger. Other Republicans equivocate. In September, Rep. Martha McSally, who represents Leisa Cotten in Cochise County, pushed for a $14.2 million increase for senior services under the OAA. A press release touted her support for Meals on Wheels, even though her amendment technically funded different programs. This month, McSally voted for several versions of a GOP tax bill, which, among many cuts, removed $1.7 billion in funding from Meals on Wheels and other social programs. That’s like giving clients a packet of crackers and then taking away their steak.

What’s more, advocates for older Americans are wary of using the modest political power they have. AARP, though formidable, is notoriously reluctant to throw its weight behind all but what it deems the most important fights, like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Its membership also skews more affluent than those who receive Meals on Wheels. MOWA doesn’t have the money or activated constituency to command much clout on its own. “Many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all,” observed Alec MacGillis, writing in 2015 about the decline of the safety net. MOWA officials are more likely to get a meeting with a first-year legislative aide instead of a senator. Plus, the organization is determined to maintain its nonpartisan appeal, making it less inclined to weaponize its reputation against the politicians who pay only lip service. (MOWA also has an interest in not alienating its clients or the volunteers on whom it relies.)

Compounding the problem, the data on Meals on Wheels haven’t been robust until recently. A literature review in 2015 found that most studies related to home-delivered meal programs were small, unrigorously designed, and measured “self-reported dietary intake,” an unreliable metric. (Try measuring what you eat for a week.) Though senior nutrition advocates swore by the program, the lack of data made it harder to argue for more funding and may be the reason the OAA’s nutrition program has floundered. For many poverty programs, robust data are necessary for survival but not sufficient. Meals on Wheels programs are stuck in an appropriations purgatory where many don’t receive enough money to stay at capacity, much less expand, but they’re too adored to be cut much without political reprisal.

Better data has emerged in the past five years—and its delivered a compelling case for the programs. In 2013, Kali Thomas, a public health researcher at Brown University, published a paper that found “if all states had increased by 1 percent the number of adults age 65 or older who received home-delivered meals in 209 under title III of the OAA, total annual savings to states’ Medicaid programs could have exceeded $109 million.” Most of the savings would come from keeping seniors in their homes and out of nursing homes, which are more expensive. Ninety-two percent of Meals on Wheels recipients say the service lets them live at home. The Medicaid savings were uneven—some states saved millions while other lost out—but Meals on Wheels likely saves billions in Medicare spending too. In 2016, Thomas found that receiving home-delivered meals was correlated with a 30 percent decrease in falls for seniors who’ve fallen before. Falls—in which seniors can break a hip, or worse—cost Medicare $31 billion in 2015 alone. What’s more, collaboration between MOWA and Brown University found that rates of hospitalization and emergency-room use decreased for patients getting Meals on Wheels compared to those who weren’t. For context, one night in the emergency room costs the same as a year of home-delivered meals. This evidence is in line with macroscopic public health findings that countries that spend more on social services than health services tend to have longer life expectancies and decreased rates of premature mortality.

Meals on Wheels could help address the greatest health care and demographic challenge Americans face this century—that is, if it were treated as more than a pet program or hollow political prop. Until then, millions of seniors will starve in the richest country in history.

As we left Mark’s trailer, I asked Cotten what happens when Meals on Wheels can’t afford to bring a client food anymore. “We do everything we can to avoid that,” she said. “We don’t want to play God.” Many branches have stopped adding to their waitlists—some hundreds long—because they don’t want to offer false hope. Today, Meals on Wheels has become something all too familiar to the program—a 70-year-old everyone claims to love but few actually care for.

Instead of Fighting Sea Level Rise, This Town Is Embracing It

Instead of Fighting Sea Level Rise, This Town Is Embracing It

by Ashley Dejean @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

Superstorm Sandy hit the quiet beach community of Tottenville on Staten Island hard. Two of the more than 14,000 people who lived there were killed when the storm surge sent waves up to 16 feet high destroying homes. Five years later, many haven’t been rebuilt.

Disasters often spark efforts to prevent similar problems in the future. When it comes to the flooding of coastal communities during hurricanes, the approach typically has been to keep water out by either erecting sea walls or encouraging residents to move inland. In contrast, planners preparing for the next big storm in Tottenville are creating a project that, instead of keeping water out, “embraces” it. The project is called Living Breakwaters, and it’s designed to substantially reduce the size of massive and destructive waves during major storms by creating a barrier that protrudes out of the water. That barrier contains an oyster reef that will, in turn, establish an ecosystem further protecting the coastline and diminishing the power of the waves.

Sandy hit in October 2012, causing more than $70 billion worth of damage. At least 117 people died from the storm, and 650,000 homes in New York and New Jersey were damaged or destroyed. Government officials scrambled to respond to the devastation and prevent such destruction in the future. The Federal Emergency Management Agency administered checks for emergency repairs and brought food, fuel, and water into hard-hit areas. The Environmental Protection Agency helped fix damaged sewage treatment plants and assessed the condition of drinking water. Even the Army Corps of Engineers and Homeland Security were involved in the recovery effort.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development was responsible for giving localities money to work on longer-term recovery efforts through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. In the past, most of that effort focused on rebuilding damaged areas, but after Hurricane Sandy, HUD also prepared for the future. The agency invested nearly $1 billion in a competition aimed at finding creative ways to do just that.

The Rebuild by Design competition was launched by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, headed by former Obama HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. Ten teams designed innovative resiliency plans for specific communities with financial support from private sources such as New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge, which supports research into areas of public concern, and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2014, HUD awarded six projects a total of $920 million through the community block grant disaster recovery program. The competition led to the creation of a private organization called Rebuild by Design, which now works with communities around the world to develop projects focused on resilience.

The project, which received $60 million from HUD, was designed by Kate Orff, the first landscape architect to be awarded the MacArthur fellowship. Sandy damaged not just homes and businesses, but also Staten Island’s entire southern shoreline, which had already been receding. She explains that her firm, Scape, wants “to literally make this a living piece of infrastructure.” Oysters would not only have a habitat but “could help the breakwater become more of an artificial reef that can grow and expand with climate change.” The breakwaters will attract sea life and seawater will be further purified by the presence of the oysters—creating a healthier ecosystem. She describes this approach as “the value of nature-based infrastructure.” Over an extended period of time, she explains, offshore ecosystems have the potential to “help to reduce wave action and erosion.”

The Tottenville community has generally been positive about this project, says Jim Pistilli, who heads the Tottenville Civic Association. But some neighbors worry it will bring in too many visitors, and others doubt whether a novel, untested approach will even work. But Pistilli says the more traditional approach of building a sea wall wouldn’t make sense. “We don’t want something out in the ocean that’s jetting up, obstructing the view,” he says. “In Tottenville we look very favorably toward the breakwaters—doing the job but at the same time being aesthetically and ecologically very pleasing.”

The project was approved in 2014, and the past three years have been spent in an intensive permitting and environmental review process, which Dan Greene, a lawyer in the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery in New York state, describes as one of the most rigorous he has ever seen.

“Innovative projects are looked at with a high degree of scrutiny by regulatory agencies,” he says, “because they have responsibility for permitting these permanent structures in our waterways and nobody wants to get it wrong.”

For Greene, the breakwaters illustrate an important shift in infrastructure planning. Instead of having an unattractive and potentially ineffective gray barrier protecting Tottenville, the breakwaters will potentially be an aesthetically pleasing project that revitalizes an ecosystem in the water, restores the shoreline, and helps connect the community with the water. “These are intended to be model projects that can be replicated elsewhere,” he says. The construction process is slated to begin in 2019 and finish sometime in 2021.

Pippa Brashear, director of planning and resilience at Scape, tells Mother Jones that breakwaters aren’t supposed to work alone in reducing risk along the shoreline. “The breakwaters provide a first layer of defense upon which other elements can be layered,” she explains. HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program is also funding another resiliency effort to build dunes, which Brashear describes as “a second line of defense,” near the shoreline.

Living Breakwaters also invoke the past to reconnect residents with the water. In the 19th century, Tottenville was known as “the town the oyster built” because its economy and culture developed from oyster fishing. Pistilli can imagine the future, with a shoreline that will have not only “enriched … the people on the beach, but will have provided an enriched sea line for the entire community to enjoy.”

A How to Guide on Recycling After Home Renovations

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

Most people think they’re pretty good about recycling. Plenty of people are, but the definition of proper recycling practices has become incredibly limited. It’s all wonderful that you toss your cans, bottles, and paper into the recycling bin, but what about the more substantial stuff that piles up unnoticed? Home and building renovation/construction is responsible […]

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HOW TO: Make homemade organic vapor rub

by (jennielyon) @ Inhabitots

#1: Gather the Ingredients organic coconut oil (solidified) 3 drops organic lemon essential oil 3 drops organic eucalyptus essential oil 3 drops organic peppermint essential oil #2: Find a Jar I like to keep any empty cosmetic jars, clean and store them for projects just like this. You can use any container that is airtight. #3: Scoop the Coconut Oil I usually only make enough of this chest rub to use immediately or within a day - so I start with one heaping tablespoon full,...

Map and Directions

by denverorganic @ The Natural Sleep Store

Map and Directions to the Denver Organic Mattress Showroom Our address: The Natural Sleep Store- Denver Organic Mattresses and Bedding 928 W. 8th Avenue Denver, Colorado 80204 1.303.623.2261 We are located in central Denver at 928 W. 8th Avenue on the corner of 8th and Santa Fe. Click for Driving Directions Directions from Fort Collins, […]

The post Map and Directions appeared first on The Natural Sleep Store.

Mattress Lot Awards 2016 College Scholarships

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

Neighborhood owned Mattress Lot awarded its’ annual Dream Big scholarships to eight Eastside graduating seniors this past Spring. Four students earned $1000 Read More

The post Mattress Lot Awards 2016 College Scholarships appeared first on The Mattress Lot.

Thanks For A Wonderful 10 Years!

by The Natural Mattress Store @ The Natural Mattress Store

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we’d like to thank all of our customers by offering 10% off from December 20th to Jan 28th.

Read more

The post Thanks For A Wonderful 10 Years! appeared first on The Natural Mattress Store.

More Zzz’s Please

by amerisleep101 @ Amerisleep Blog

Scientists and researchers recommend the average adult should get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, but do you know how many Americans miss this mark? Considering how important sleep is to our productivity, creativity, and general health, we surveyed more than 1,300 Americans to understand their sleeping habits – from which major […]

The post More Zzz’s Please appeared first on Amerisleep Blog.

Urban Heat Islands: What Are They, and What Can You Do About Them?

by Jamison @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post. If you live in the concrete and asphalt jungles of the United States, you’ve probably gotten used to the concept of heat islands without even realizing it. Cities are warmer than the surrounding countryside. When you live in the city, you probably don’t even realize [...]

Can You Really Trust the Claims of “Green Mattress” Certifications?

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

Some manufacturers may claim a “green mattress”, but do those claims hold true when there are no set standards? In some ways they do, but consumers have to understand what those certifications really mean. Knowing how to read and discern which certifications are more important, you can make choices that support you and your family’s […]

The post Can You Really Trust the Claims of “Green Mattress” Certifications? appeared first on Greenne.

The Neglected Resolution

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

The Neglected Resolution Lose weight? Check. Quit smoking? DOUBLE check. Exercise? Well, sure. Eat healthier? Of course! These are typical (and important) New Year’s resolutions. There’s no time like the new year to re-commit to your health and well-being—that excitement can be a great kickstart for positive new habits. But, strangely, one thing that’s just […]

The post The Neglected Resolution appeared first on Natural Mattress Company.

Where’s the Outrage Against This Attack on the ACA?

Where’s the Outrage Against This Attack on the ACA?

by Danielle Ofri @ Slate Articles

Sasha (not her real name) was on break from college when she saw me for her annual check-up. It’d been a stressful year but a good one: She’d finally selected her major, and her first round of exams had gone well, though she still had to work nights at a restaurant to make ends meet.

Sasha’s mother is also my patient, so I have some sense of the family background. Sasha’s father left years ago, and Sasha’s mother—an immigrant who speaks only modest English—has held things together working as a street vendor and a housecleaner.

In many ways, Sasha is living the American dream. She was raised in a single-parent, struggling immigrant family and is now the first person in her family to attend college. She is on her way to a professional career that will not require the backbreaking physical labor her mother has spent decades doing.

But from caring for both Sasha and her mother, I know that this storybook trajectory is far from assured. They both rely on Medicaid for their health care. If the Affordable Care Act is undone, they could be one of the millions of unlucky Americans who lose their health insurance. That could have catastrophic effects on their health and their finances.

Luckily, the Affordable Care Act survived three frontal assaults over the summer and into the fall. Now suddenly, it’s in the crosshairs again. But this time, it’s more of a sneak attack: Congressional Republicans have to find a way to pay for their tax cut, and they’ve stumbled upon a politically ingenious way to do so. If they repeal the individual mandate that is a cornerstone of the ACA, they’ll be able to come up with some $300 billion to offset their tax cuts. And by pulling out this key girder, they’ll be able to hobble their hated ACA without the effort of passing an unpopular repeal bill.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that pulling out the individual mandate will knock 4 million Americans off the health insurance rolls by 2019, and 13 million by 2027. (Once the mandate is not in force, many people—mostly the healthy ones—will choose not to buy insurance. Premiums will then rise steeply, pricing millions more out of the market.)

So, the other day, I called the office of Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy to talk about Sasha. I’m not from Louisiana and neither is Sasha, but Sen. Cassidy’s vote could have a huge impact on Sasha’s health. I chose Cassidy because he is one of the nominally “swing state” senators, but mainly because he is one of the three physicians in the Senate, and I wanted to talk medicine with him, doctor-to-doctor.

The staffer in Cassidy’s office was very polite. I told him about Sasha and how I was worried about her health, how losing her insurance could derail her health as well as her job prospects. I told them about Sasha’s mother, who could die if her diabetes and heart disease went untreated. “What will happen to them if they lose their insurance?” I asked. The staffer didn’t have a reply for me. “What’s Dr. Cassidy’s backup plan for my patients when they lose access to medical care?” The staffer was sheepish about not having any sort of answer. I actually felt sorry for him.

I received the same shamefaced response when I called the other two physicians in the Senate—Rand Paul of Kentucky and John Barrasso of Wyoming. I pressed the staff about my patients, but they could only backpedal uncomfortably. I reminded them that Dr. Paul and Dr. Barrasso are still doctors, even if they are sitting in the Senate chamber instead of an exam room. The commitment to “do no harm” doesn’t disappear when you take off your white coat.

Before this year, I’d never called a member of Congress in my entire life. Even when I disagreed with what was happening in our government, it never crossed my mind. I didn’t even know that you actually could call Congress.

But something changed for me when the House, and then the Senate, aggressively pushed to repeal the ACA this past summer. The gravity of the potential harm to my patients made it impossible to sit on the sidelines. This bill was a medical emergency, and we in medicine had to treat it as such.

Medical professionals of all stripes—typically a politically reticent group—stepped up to the plate. Individual doctors, nurses, medical students, and physical therapists called lawmakers, organized demonstrations, circulated petitions, and rallied colleagues. Even more strikingly, medical organizations—an even more hidebound group—lined up uniformly and publicly against the repeal of the ACA. There was a recognition that they we have a duty to protect the health of their patients

This most recent sideswipe to the ACA garnered some press when it first came out two weeks ago, but it has largely dropped out of the news, as the tax bill tussle focuses on standard deductions, corporate rates, 401(k)s, deficits, estate taxes, and “pass-through” businesses. Somehow, this new threat to the ACA feels less urgent than the past ones we have weathered—indeed, the entire tax bill hasn’t inspired quite the same sense of alarm as any of the attacks on the ACA.

But we can’t let this attempt go unchallenged. There were many reasons for the failure of the earlier ACA repeal attempts, but there’s no doubt that the universal opposition by medical groups and individual health care providers played an important moral role.

Repeal attempt No. 4 may go by another name—tax reform—but its effect will be the same, with millions of Americans losing access to health care. Medical organizations have again released statements opposing this backdoor attack on the ACA, but it has hardly made the news. There are almost no media interviews with doctors and nurses on how the tax bill will affect their patients. There are hardly any medical experts on the cable news shows, and certainly none on Capitol Hill.

Something about it being a tax bill rather than a medical bill has made it feel less personal to doctors, to patients, to medical organizations, and to the media. But for the millions of Americans like Sasha and her mother, the fallout from this bill will be intensely personal.

We in the medical profession cannot rest easy. Political forces seem determined to push their agendas, no matter how many ordinary people are harmed. Sens. Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and John McCain have each made impassioned speeches about the danger of Trump to the nation. We need to make sure their actions match their rhetoric. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins have backed away from ACA repeal in the past. Let’s keep them focused on medical “side effects” of this tax bill.

For those of us who see real medical side effects in our daily work, this is a critical matter of patient safety. We have to keep reminding our elected officials about the human costs of their political agenda.

Rocket Table launches in your living room, putting an exciting jolt in the modern coffee table

by (Lori Zimmer) @ Inhabitots

Inspired by action figures and toys from his youth, Stelios Mousarris’ designed a new coffee table that combines the carefree spirit of childhood, with just really cool design. Five retro-style wooden rockets are caught mid-launch, seeming to propel upward from 3D printed bulbous exhaust bases. The best part of The Rocket Coffee Table is that it is totally customizable, enabling parents to top their rocket base with a kid-friendly surface until they’ve grown. We also love that as a long-time...

You Don’t Need to Change Your Birth Control Method Due to the New Study on Cancer Risk

You Don’t Need to Change Your Birth Control Method Due to the New Study on Cancer Risk

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

For the past several decades, women have been told that modern versions of hormonal birth control contain significantly lower doses of hormones and therefore did not carry the same pitfalls as their predecessors—pitfalls including a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. But according to a large study published Wednesday, even low-dose hormonal contraception raises women’s risk of getting breast cancer. Researchers followed 1.8 million women in Denmark for more than a decade, comparing women who used hormonal birth control and those who relied on nonhormonal methods such as condoms and copper IUDs. They found that women who used any kind of hormonal contraception still had a slightly elevated risk of breast cancer, similar to the risk of older forms of birth control. The longer the women used those methods, the higher their risk.

The new study is notable in part because it did not just track the effects of the pill, but also hormone-releasing IUDs, the birth-control patch, and other methods, which were all thought to be improvements on older methods thanks to the concentrated nature of how the hormones were released. As it turned out, the particular delivery method didn’t make much of a difference in the cancer risk. Many gynecologists assumed the lower doses of estrogen in newer generations of contraception would have lowered the risk of breast cancer, but this new research suggests that assumption is likely incorrect. (It’s also worth noting that the research, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, only showed an association and was limited in certain ways—the authors didn’t parse how other factors, such as physical activity or childbearing, might factor into the relationship, for instance.)

It’s always tricky to talk about studies like this one. A finding that has major implications for public health does not necessarily have major implications for personal health. And there are several reasons that women should not panic about these findings. First, the increase in the risk of any one birth-control user is vanishingly small. “A 20 percent increase of a very small number is still a very small number,” as one epidemiologist put it to NPR. Here’s how the New York Times explained it:

For a 20-year-old woman, for example, the probability of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is .06 percent, or 1 in 1,732, according to Even if the relative risk increases 20 percent, it remains less than one-tenth of 1 percent. But by the time a woman reaches 40, her probability of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1.45 percent, or 1 in 69. A 20 percent increase raises her risk to 1.74 percent, or 1 in 57.

Second, this study only investigated the chances that birth control increases one’s risk of breast cancer. But birth control does other things, too: The pill seems to lower the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers, for example. If taking hormonal contraceptives comes with a slight uptick in breast cancer risk and a slight downtick in other cancer risks, that might be an even trade. And not for nothing, hormonal contraception also does a pretty spectacular job at lowering the risk of another major health problem for women: unplanned pregnancy. Medicine should not be assessed only by its rare side effects. Throwing your pill pack in the trash without a solid plan B could lead to, er, Plan B, which would have much more immediate and serious health consequences. When it comes to making your own personal health choices, you need to consider the entire set of benefits and risks—and stories like these can obscure that personal calculus. If you have concerns, the best thing to do is to bring them to your doctor and find the solution that’s the right fit for you, as an individual.

But zooming out to the public health level, this study is also an important reminder that women still bear the overwhelming responsibility for managing reproduction and the negative ramifications that come with it. Women research contraception. Women see their doctors about contraception. Depending who occupies the White House, women pay for contraception. Women set alarms and make appointments and pick up refill packs. Women read stories like this one, and call their doctors, and agonize about whether they should stay on the pill even if they have a family history of breast cancer, or try a new method—even though the pill has worked perfectly well for them for their entire reproductive lives. And all of that is not counting the work of actually bearing and raising children.

The promise of hormonal birth control for men has been researched for years, but has so far come to nothing. In the meantime, women will keep doing the math.

It’s Not Just Opioids

It’s Not Just Opioids

by Daniel F. Kripke @ Slate Articles

Deaths from drug overdoses have recently multiplied in the U.S., to the point that overdoses are reducing average life span for several demographic slices of the adult population. Opioid abuse is being blamed as the main killer. Doctors’ narcotic prescriptions led to a glut of prescription pain pills in people’s cabinets, which often lead to abuse, and then use of less expensive street opioids that are even more dangerous than prescription drugs.

Efforts of law enforcement and treatment programs have focused on opioids and opioid-manufacturers. But this ignores a critical component of this toxic equation: Opioids are not the only substance to blame. Sleeping pills and alcohol often join to make the combined gang a killer. A whiskey bottle does have a government warning that alcohol “impairs your ability to drive” and “may cause health problems,” but it fails to warn that mixing alcohol with narcotics and sleeping pills or tranquilizers can make a lethal combination (also, alcohol overdose by itself can kill). Like opioids, sleeping pills come from manufacturers who have not warned doctors and patients of the great risks. Many sleeping pills are acquired illegally. And prescription sleeping pills, as well as alcohol abuse, have all increased in the past 10–15 years, just as opioids have. (By “sleeping pills,” I refer mainly to the benzodiazepine-agonist hypnotics, most popularly zolpidem, eszopiclone, and temazepam in the U.S.)

A Food and Drug Administration–supported study estimated that in 2011, 31 percent of opioid overdose deaths also involved a benzodiazepine (either a sleeping pill or a tranquilizer). Other estimates of the percentage of opiate overdose deaths associated with benzodiazepines were higher. The 31 percent likely underestimated multiple drug participation because about 25 percent of overdose death certificates did not list all of the drugs involved. Likewise, that 31 percent did not include the most popular sleeping pill, zolpidem, which acts like a benzodiazepine although its chemical structure has a different name.

Zolpidem has frequently been reported in overdose deaths and increasingly causes emergency room visits. When mixed together, zolpidem, similar sleeping pills, and tranquilizers as well as alcohol increase the lethality of opioid overdoses. These drugs gang up to stop breathing. More than 20 percent of the emergencies involving a benzodiazepine also involved alcohol. Many overdose deaths involving sleeping pills and alcohol did not even include an opioid.

Declaring an opioid emergency overlooks a large part of the problem. State governments have passed over the other substances while they sue opioid manufacturers and regulate opioid prescriptions. States do tax and restrict alcohol sales, recognizing that alcohol causes deaths and much damage beyond overdoses. But even though states often even pay for sleeping pills (through Medicaid), they have taken no actions to reduce their overuse. Sleeping pills cause much death and damage besides overdoses—they have been associated with falls and accidents, and cause infections and depression. The public receives almost no warning of the most serious risks.

A much greater effort is needed to protect the public from the risks of combining opiates, sleeping pills, and alcohol. Government publicity, teaching materials, courses, and treatment programs for doctors, patients, and the public should all emphasize the risks of the drug combinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and FDA drug labeling warn about combining opiates, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, but have failed to warn about the risks of combining opiates with zolpidem or eszopiclone, which constitute about 75 percent of the sleeping pill market.

Regulators have a role here too—they should give the same attention to sleeping pills that they give to the opioid and alcohol killers. The Drug Enforcement Administration, the FDA, state authorities, and police should all realize that the overdose epidemic is not isolated—it often results from multiple drugs being allowed to work together. If we are working to stop one, we should work to stop all three.

The 11 Best Organic Bedding and Sheet Sources

The 11 Best Organic Bedding and Sheet Sources

by Meggan Knowles @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

You spend about one-third of your life in bed, so it's an important place to invest in clean, healthy, and beautiful products! These 11 makers of natural and organic bedding offer a range of designs to suit every taste and budget.

Himalayan Salt Lamps- Benefits & Uses

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

Have you ever noticed how mentally and physically refreshed you feel after sitting by a gashing waterfall? Or how you experience a boost in energy after spending some time at an untamed seafront? What makes you feel so good in spots of this kind is the abundance of negative ions, which get produced in some... Continue reading »

Lifting the Ban on Elephant Trophies Will Probably Help Save Elephants

Lifting the Ban on Elephant Trophies Will Probably Help Save Elephants

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week it’s reversing a ban against importing remains of elephants hunted legally in Zimbabwe and Zambia, which means that starting Friday, these “trophies” can be brought back into the U.S. as long as hunters apply for and receive the correct permits.

The FWS argues that the reversal of the ban, first imposed by the Obama administration in 2014, will help create a revenue stream for pouring money back into conservation efforts to help elephants and other African animals, particularly those whose population statuses are currently threatened.

“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” an FWS spokesperson told Slate. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the hunting and management programs for African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.”

Hunting is often a part of managed conservation efforts, and it often stirs a specific type of controversy. Unsurprisingly, many decried the new move as callous, and feared the move would facilitate a sharp increase in elephant hunting—legal and illegal alike. Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of the Humane Society, wrote a blog post asking what kind of message it sends that “poor Africans who are struggling to survive cannot kill elephants in order to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it’s just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?”

But perhaps the main reason this decision rubbed people the wrong way is because Donald Trump’s sons are notorious for their elephant hunting.

It’s understandable to find the practice of hunting elephants for sport repulsive. It's also understandable to be suspicious of this change given everything happening in politics right now. But these loud missives don’t do justice to the nuanced factors that go into developing and implementing conservation efforts. When you considered the facts on the ground, lifting restrictions on elephant trophy bans isn’t necessarily a bad idea. In fact, it could be a good idea.

It’s true that the opening of trophy imports will probably encourage more legal hunting. That’s actually the point. Hunting is not an inherently bad thing for animal conservation. When hunting is legal and well-regulated, it can actually help keep animal populations in check and prevent them from overwhelming an ecosystem. That’s precisely why hunting white-tailed deer is encouraged during hunting season in much of the U.S.

Now, African elephant populations don’t resemble white-tailed deer in North America. Deer are much more populous, and faster to reproduce. But it’s important to note that elephant populations are not in the dire straits they once were. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the African elephant species as “vulnerable,” not endangered, meaning population numbers or habitat range are less than satisfactory but can improve if measures are taken. One of those measures could be controlled hunting that shaves off individual numbers in the short term to create a bigger population growth in the long term.

Moreover, those populations experience different versions of stability depending on the country, and that “vulnerable” status doesn’t necessarily apply everywhere. According to the Great Elephant Census, the African savanna’s elephant population across 18 countries went down 30 percent from 2007 to 2014. But that’s only part of the picture. In 2014, Zimbabwe’s elephant populations tallied up to more than 82,000—an incredibly far cry from the 4,000 individuals counted up around 1900. The GEC numbers suggest the elephant population numbers for both Zimbabwe and Zambia are fairly stable.

And stability is key for the FWS. Historically speaking, the U.S. Department of the Interior has always paid more attention to local population stability than absolute numbers across the globe. In making this move for two countries, the FWS seems to be reinforcing an approach that’s tailored to regions rather than an entire continent.

The FWS’s official reasons for lifting the ban in Zimbabwe stem in part from what it says is an availability of new information that demonstrates a clearer understanding of African elephant populations in the country. The decision was also based on assessments of how revenue can be generated out of trophy imports and licenses, a new species management plan adopted by the government that will establish and enforce firm hunting quotas, and new regulatory mechanisms that should make it easier to track revenue generated from trophy imports (and limit corruption) while turning that money back over into conservation efforts. In sum, these changes have the potential to secure current elephant populations and help grow them in places where numbers are declining. (The same information on why the ban was lifted is not available with regard to Zambia.)

The FWS’s reasons are part of a larger argument that when a proper regulatory framework is implemented, conservation efforts actually thrive. A 2001 paper published in Science points to how legalizing trophy hunting in Zimbabwe has “doubled the area of the country under wildlife management relative to the 13% in state protected areas,” since the program at the time included private lands. “As a result, the area of suitable land available to elephants and other wildlife has increased, reversing the problem of habitat loss and helping to maintain a sustained population increase in Zimbabwe’s already large elephant population.” And considering how an elephant trophy fee could be anywhere from $4,000 to $18,500, the potential for revenue generated by trophy import permits could be a massive boon to both conservation projects and local communities alike

The problem, of course, is making sure those bureaucratic bodies actually work as they are meant to. There’s a totally fair case to make that corruption can detrimentally subvert whatever gains can be made off of trophy imports. And given the fact that there’s a military coup underway in Zimbabwe right now, it’s not clear how much confidence one should have in the government’s ability to enforce hunting laws. But in the broadest sense, this decision seems to reflect a reasonable reaction to the facts on the ground.

Why Is Monsanto Inviting This Alt-Right Hero to a Fireside Chat on Farming?

Why Is Monsanto Inviting This Alt-Right Hero to a Fireside Chat on Farming?

by Kavin Senapathy @ Slate Articles

On Sunday, during the annual American Farm Bureau Federation conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Monsanto’s director of millennial engagement, Vance Crowe, will host a fireside chat with University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson, addressing “The Danger of Allowing Ideologies to Grow Unopposed.” The topic makes sense, given the agrichemical company’s stake in agricultural genetic engineering and the fearmongering and errors driving the non-GMO movement. Monsanto and American farmers should explore why people embrace false narratives about food. It’s the guest choice that raises questions.

Peterson is a clinical psychologist studying social, abnormal, and personality psychology. But he is best known for the YouTube channel that has made him a “belle of the alt-right,” as described in a November 2017 profile in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine. His “lectures about profound psychological ideas” became hugely popular following his swift rise to notoriety in the fall of 2016, when he refused to comply with university policy on addressing students with preferred gender pronouns. Missing from these videos—which net him more than $50,000 a month on Patreon according to a July report from the Toronto Star—is any commentary on agriculture. Rather, Peterson’s oratory cloaks bigotry in pseudointellectual arguments, revealing a chillingly detached dismissal of civil rights.

Crowe, who has worked as Monsanto’s director of millennial engagement since 2014, described Peterson as a “compelling speaker.” Crowe explained his impetus for the talk on his LinkedIn page: “It is my sincere hope that [Peterson] can help farmers develop an understanding of how to speak truth in a complex world where speaking up can make you a target,” Crowe wrote. “I asked Dr. Peterson to address how farmers can prepare their children to go to college with the skills needed to push back effectively on bad ideologies.” He echoed that language in an email to Slate, writing that “an invitation was extended to Dr. Peterson so that he could offer insights from outside the agriculture and genetic engineering communities. His expertise is wide ranging, but he was selected for his research into why people believe what they do and how those beliefs drive actions.”

Why people believe what they believe is a wide topic that many psychology professors investigate. And while Peterson’s lectures certainly do tend to focus on the idea of “pushing back,” the contents of them raise questions about whether the bad ideologies are the ones he’s rejecting or the ones he espouses.

Consider, for instance, Peterson’s insistence that our culture is doomed because physical violence is forbidden when conversations with women move “beyond the boundaries of civil discourse.” As Peterson declared in an October 2017 video, “I know how to stand up to a man who’s unfairly trespassed against me. The reason I know that is because the parameters for my resistance are quite well-defined, which is we talk, we argue, we push, and then it becomes physical.” A man who wouldn’t fight another man under any circumstances deserves “absolutely no respect,” according to Peterson, because the “underlying threat of physicality is always there,” serving to “keep things civilized to some degree.”

That society is “increasingly dominated by a view of masculinity that’s mostly characteristic of women who have terrible personality disorders and who are unable to have healthy relationships with men,” isn’t men’s crisis to solve, Peterson suggests. “[I]t’s sane women who have to stand up against their crazy sisters and say, ‘Look, enough of that, enough man-hating, enough pathology, enough bringing disgrace on us as a gender.’ ” The fact that “sane women” have so far failed to successfully accomplish this has meant that there is no “regulating force for that—that terrible femininity” and that we are “undermining the masculine power of the culture in a way that’s, I think, fatal.”

Peterson seeks to eliminate women’s studies, ethnic studies, sociology, and other swaths of the humanities and social sciences, which he calls “postmodern neo-Marxist” “indoctrination cult classes,” from being taught in universities—an interesting philosophy for someone who “plans to provide his own perspective on how farmers can prepare their children to go to college and be open to new ideas while resisting the temptation to view the world through over-simplified ideologies,” as Crowe wrote in his email to Slate. Peterson also often rails against “political correctness” and “identity politics,” framing these issues as a “war against free speech” and positioning himself as a martyr. (“If they put me in jail, I’ll go on a hunger strike,” he told a TVOntario panel in 2016.) Particularly chilling is the professor’s amusement (and the audience’s chuckles) as he offers his take on “identity politics and the Marxist lie of white privilege,” asking, “What if you're gay and black and female, well then, what if you’re not very bright and gay and black and female, and then what if you're ugly and not very bright and gay and black and female?” The “game,” as he describes marginalized people’s attempts to bring light to social inequity, can be played an infinite number of ways. Peterson describes the idea that there is such a thing as marginalized groups as “comical.”

In an October 2016 letter to the professor, which was also shared with the media, members of the University of Toronto administration acknowledged Peterson’s right to “express and debate views that may be discomfiting or even offensive to others,” but admonished that his rights “are not without limitation.” Fellow University of Toronto faculty have condemned Peterson’s statements on nonbinary and transgender people. (He is still listed as a professor at the university.)

Monsanto declined to comment further when we reached out, instead referring us to Crowe’s comments. In our questions, we asked whether, given Monsanto’s boasting of its rating as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” and its “inclusive environment where employees of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and orientations feel welcome and able to contribute,” hosting Peterson ran counter to its stated ethos. Crowe said the company was “proud” of that distinction and noted that Monsanto is “the most diverse and inclusive” place he’s ever worked. He added that “At Monsanto, creating an inclusive environment where employees of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds and orientations feel welcome and able to contribute is core to creating a great place to work.”

That is why it’s even more baffling that the company would choose to bring an alt-right darling to address, of all things, how dangerous ideologies spread. Crowe noted that “While Monsanto’s position[s] on certain topics may not align with those of everyone[’s], including Dr. Peterson[’s], we have a deep culture of respect of those who hold different views and are willing to listen. It is important for all of us to have meaningful and constructive conversations with numerous parties in order to better understand different points of views.”

But Monsanto is not just listening to these views. It is inviting them into a fireside chat, the result of which will promote Peterson, his work, and, by extension, the offensive views he espouses on his YouTube channel. It’s hard to see what good that will do for encouraging more understanding toward GMOs—and that’s a shame, because more open conversation around GMOs is necessary.

Easy New Year Resolutions

by @ Green Home Library

You probably know that most New Year’s resolutions never make it to spring. However, if it is an easy fix that you can incorporate into your busy life, it usually lasts longer. When it comes to the planet, there is no better way to practice some simple adjustments for a green impact no matter how insignificant you may think it might seem.

These easy Eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions give some practical options to simply do your part without a lot of fuss. You can keep it at this level or use it to propel you deeper onto a green path that continues to support a clean environment for you as well as future generations.

Bottled Water Reversal

There is no reason to purchase, let alone produce, plastic bottled water anymore. By now most people are educated on the ravages this product is having on our oceans, land and even air quality. Not to mention the approximately twenty-million barrels of oil per year used to make these bottles. Yet, the greed machine continues produce bottled water taking advantage of an assumed uneducated public.

It is time to stand up to poor manufacturing; poisoning your planet and your body. Stopping your  consumption of bottled water and switching to a recycled steel, plastic, aluminum, glass or wood water bottle is a simple step you can take. Simply fill with clean water from an at-home filtration system or tap (many cities and states are proud of a clean, safe municipal water record) and take it wherever you go.

If carrying around a personal water bottle is out of the question, at least use them at home rather than fill your fridge with evil plastic waste. When on the road, look for more friendly packaging such as boxed water options or compostable bottles.

Paperless Towels

Another perverse depletion of natural resources is lumber used for the manufacturing of paper towels. Over fifteen billion pounds of these one-wipe wastes are found in landfills daily. Instead, using cotton cloths in place of paper towels saves trees and gets the job done at the same time.

Some argue that the water used to launder cotton cloths is a greater Eco-threat than felled trees which are replanted. However, the technological Eco-friendly upgrades to appliances such as washers and driers save more water and electricity than ever before. Add in non-toxic cleaning supplies and your cotton cloth replacements easily remedy the environmental atrocities of paper towel production.

Fix Phantom Power and Old Bulbs

Make this year your Eco-experiment by eliminating phantom power. Phantom power is the constant electrical drain on your home appliances even when they are shut off. The National Resource Defense Council put out this list in 2015 to give the homeowner an idea of the accumulated financial waste due to phantom power:

Annual cost of “phantom power”

  • Water recirculation pump - $93
  • Desktop computer - $49
  • TV - $38
  • Cable set-top box - $30
  • Audio receiver/stereo - $22
  • Printer - $11
  • Furnace - $8
  • Coffee maker - $6
  • Dryer - $4
  • GFCI outlets - $1 each

You can easily save money and energy by implementing simple home improvement fixes such as:

  • Installing smart power strips
  • Unplugging appliances until needed
  • Installing a digital power timer
  • Adjusting appliance settings such as shutting off power hogging “quick start” options

In addition, swapping out incandescent lightbulbs and replacing with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and/or light emitting diodes (LEDs) can also save money as well as reduce significant energy waste. The US Department of Energy estimates that, “green lightbulbs” can save upwards of 65%-80% energy usage as compared to incandescent bulbs.


Try these Eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions to start of your year with an Eco-bang. They are simple ways to save money and the planet all at once without you exerting yourself all that much. Then, when you realize how much extra energy you have you can join an activist association and travel the world fighting the good fight, or just go to work and be happy you're doing your part.


Which Mattress Is Highly Recommended By Chiropractors and Orthopedic Specialists?

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

Restful sleep is essential for overall health and well being. It plays an important role in your physical health, mental health and quality of life. But, for many Americans, getting a good night’s sleep is a challenge, particularly for those with back pain, and particularly for those whose mattress is working against them, rather than for them. The American Chiropractic Association reports that at any Read More

Top 5 Reasons to Get a New Mattress

by Mattressdept @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

Are you thinking about buying a new mattress? If it has been on your list of things that you want to buy, there are several good reasons that you should think about getting one from 2 Brothers Mattress in Utah. In addition to helping you...

The post Top 5 Reasons to Get a New Mattress appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

Be Different

by The Natural Mattress Store @ The Natural Mattress Store

Be different.  Sometimes that’s easier said than done.  However, here at Natural Mattress Store, that’s our mission. As a father and son team with over 40 years of combined experience in the mattress industry, we’ve seen a lot of companies advertising natural mattress, which are really not much different than the traditional ones.  

Read more

The post Be Different appeared first on The Natural Mattress Store.

New Rossa Organic Pocket Coil Mattress has Arrived

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

Rossa The Rossa™ certified organic mattress is a customizable one-sided zipper-cover mattress. It features pocket-coil technology, encased in natural biodegradable materials, paired with a certified organic latex layer on the surface. Choose a split or solid latex comfort layer with firmness options in plush, medium, or firm. A sculpted surface is available at an additional […]

The post New Rossa Organic Pocket Coil Mattress has Arrived appeared first on Natural Mattress Company.

Brentwood Home Oceano Mattress Review

by Jessica Jones @ The Sleep Judge

Did Ryan Zinke Give Florida an Offshore Drilling Exemption Because of Mar-a-Lago?

Did Ryan Zinke Give Florida an Offshore Drilling Exemption Because of Mar-a-Lago?

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

The Trump administration announced plans last week to lift Obama-era prohibitions on offshore drilling, potentially opening up thousands of miles of coastline to companies interested in extracting oil and natural gas from the ocean floor. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose department oversees and regulates coastline leasing, called the five-year plan “a new path for energy dominance in America,” which is a strange way to refer to an investment in nonrenewable resources with a finite future.

Environmental groups, Democrats, and even some Republicans swiftly decried the move for its potential to devastate marine ecosystems and the health and safety of coastal communities. Governors from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon, and Washington all oppose offshore drilling, and all requested exclusion from the plan last year.

Interestingly, Zinke decided to remove one state from the new standard—one that didn’t even originally ask for an exemption. But after the announcement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, an ally of the Trump administration’s, released a statement saying, “I have asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration. My top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected.”

On Tuesday, Zinke granted him his wish, exempting Florida’s coastlines from offshore drilling. Zinke released a statement that called Scott “a straightforward leader that can be trusted,” and declared support for “the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

The problem with this explanation, though, is that everything he says to justify Florida’s exemption applies to every other coastal state. Florida is certainly special in uniquely Floridian ways, but warm beaches that attract tourists and generate in-state revenue are everywhere. There’s the Jersey Shore; Rehoboth Beach in Delaware; Charleston, South Carolina; the Outer Banks in North Carolina; Virginia Beach; Los Angeles and San Diego, and on and on and on.

Now, state leaders are forcing Zinke into a corner with his own words.

Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another Trump ally, made it clear he wanted an exemption for his state as well.

What could be going on here? Perhaps this is a case of not-in-my-backyard exceptionalism. After all, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where he’s absconded to 10 times since inauguration, sits on the beach in Palm Beach, Florida. Would he want to deal with an unsightly view and accompanying cacophony of an offshore drill platform? Probably not! Not to mention the fact that offshore drilling produces a pretty disgusting slew of pollutants, including muds, brine wastes, and runoff water that threaten to decimate the pristine beauty you’d expect at a beachside home.

If Zinke can’t find a real reason Florida should be exempt and other states should not, the entire plan might be dead in the water anyway. Good riddance.

Top 5 Serta Adjustable Mattresses

by Star Newcomb @ The Sleep Judge

Why the Raw Water Movement Is So Obnoxious

Why the Raw Water Movement Is So Obnoxious

by Christine Manganaro @ Slate Articles

The belief that “natural” is better has animated many food and health trends in recent memory, with natural as a shorthand denoting purity, a lack of processing, or rejection of modern medicine: raw foodism, enthusiasm for raw dairy, the paleo diet, and organic evangelism. Next up: “raw water.”

The raw water trend takes naturalness to its extreme: Proponents boast that it comes from “off the grid,” celebrating its freedom from government taint. Cody Friesen, CEO of Zero Mass Water, which is marketed not as raw water but as “pure water,” disparages municipal water. His $4,500 Source system draws water from the air we all breathe. (Raw water comes from pristine springs.)* As reported to the New York Times, “The goal, Mr. Friesen said, is to make water ‘that’s ultra high quality and secure, totally disconnected from all infrastructure.’ ”

There are so many things that are obnoxious about the raw water trend that it seems entirely possible that it is in fact the most obnoxious Silicon Valley disruption project yet. It’s instructive to go beyond the gut-level reaction against raw water to consider exactly why it’s so frustrating.

There’s the greed. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have found a way to market drinking water up to $36.99 for a 2½-gallon bottle and refills for $14.99—that’s about 30 times the cost of regular bottled water, which itself costs between 300 and 2,000 times the cost of municipal drinking water. Essentially, they’ve turned one of the requirements for sustaining life into a lucrative commodity and luxury good. Live Water founder Mukhande Singh (né Christopher Sanborn) sells his product through delivery service and in natural food stores like the Rainbow co-op in San Francisco, where Live Water is frequently sold out.* Other vendors, like Liquid Eden in San Diego, capitalize on the “water consciousness movement” to the tune of 900 gallons a day in sales.

Then there’s the stupidity. Raw water enthusiasts trespass on private land, at night, to harvest from secret springs. These people are not only risking legal consequences, they’re risking contracting a bacterial infection or parasite, as physicians and public health experts have warned. This water fetching trades on fantasies about an environment that doesn’t exist and nostalgia for water purity that never existed. Spring water is not necessarily free of elements that harm health. All water sources are part of the environment and are not isolated from “industrial age contamination,” as described by the Live Water guys. The idea that Americans drank abundant pristine water before the industrial age, in the first half of the 19th century and earlier, is not supported by the historical record. There is a reason that everyone including children drank so much hard cider and beer during the 1700s and 1800s: because waterborne illness was prevalent, and alcoholic beverages were safer than many sources of “raw water.” This was especially true in proximity to towns whose water sources and sewage systems were not well differentiated.

And then there’s the bad science. Like erroneous claims that drinking fresh juice cleanses the body of toxins, claims about the healthfulness of untreated water are based on belief rather than evidence. Raw water purveyors either lack the scientific literacy to interpret the available research or intentionally misrepresent science to support health claims about their product. The Live Water website cites an inconclusive study to support its claim that “raw spring water has vast healing abilities.” The linked journal article claims that there is a correlation (which is not causation, as the saying goes) between the skin-regenerating effects of topical application of water from Italy’s Comano spring and the presence of nonpathogenic bacteria in the water. No untreated water was consumed by anyone in the course of this study.

But what’s most obnoxious about this phenomenon is its misanthropy. Most infuriating of all is perhaps how the raw water movement underscores the increasing realization that tech-bro Silicon Valley fetishists have abandoned the rest of society.

It is not hard to see how twisted it is for a group of privileged people with access to safe municipal drinking water to spurn it in favor of something more dangerous when people in largely black and poor Flint, Michigan, are being poisoned with lead and people in largely black rural Alabama are contracting hookworm from untreated water. By claiming that tap water is “toilet water with birth control drugs,” that fluoride is a “mind control drug,” and that treated water lacks probiotics supposedly present in untreated water, purveyors of “raw water” incite mistrust in municipal water safety—in places where the water has been proven safe to drink, no less—and perpetuate cynicism about regulations that protect public health. (Conversely, when people making fun of raw water frame all untreated water as giardia juice, they betray their ignorance about the number of Americans living in rural areas who get their water from perfectly adequate wells.)

The raw water trend is consistent with other asocial behaviors by venture capitalists using their wealth to eschew civic responsibility and insulate themselves from social problems. If raw water evangelists actually think treated water is poisoned by fluoride and prescription drugs, that water safety is threatened by industrial pollution, and that a lack of good bacteria found in our water is really a significant cause of malnourishment, then they ought to be moved to activism on what should be understood as a matter of civil and human rights. Instead, they’ve created expensive untreated bottled water, a market solution and form of conspicuous consumption. The raw water movement doesn’t only reveal how gullible and unscientific this community is—it also secures its place as our modern-day moneyed overlords who care little about the serfs down below.

*Correction, Jan. 8, 2018: This story originally misstated that Doug Evans is the CEO of Live Water. He is just a customer. (Return.)

*Update, Jan. 8, 2018: This paragraph has been updated to clarify that Zero Mass Water, which collects its water from water vapor using a $4,500 system, does not consider itself part of the raw water movement. (Return.)

Green Business Security

by @ Green Home Library

When it comes to security, there are several alternative green options that are just as efficient as conventional ones which currently support pollution and waste.

Green Hacker Security

These days it is essential to hire an online security company to protect your small business computer system. The problem is that many of the energy sources from these huge servers are a significant drain on natural resources, threatening water conservation, clean air and global warming.

When shopping for or switching to an online security company ask if they support any alternative energy platforms to run their business. Whether solar or wind, hydro or hydrogen fuel, there are no more excuses why non-alternative would be a better choice.

Lock it Smart

Smart locks are taking over the security industry, reducing material waste and extra energy use. You may not think of keys as a problem but like any raw material they are a small part of excessive steel production.

By using smart locks you do not need a key or even a card to enter and exit, instead access is granted via computer or smart phone, speeding up production and increasing revenue. No more lost keys, broken doors or long gas guzzling drives to open a lock or handoff a key.

Work in Motion

Installing motion detectors can significantly cut back on wasted light energy. Rather than a light that burns for hours straight, a motion detector only illuminates when the security beam is breached. This saves energy as well as elongates the life of your light bulb. Many motion detectors are solar powered storing enough energy during the day to operate throughout the night.

Get an Umbrella

Most insurance companies offer full coverage which includes vehicles, property and damage. By bundling all of these under the same plan your financial security becomes a financial and environmental win. This is because it requires less office supplies, power and so many other intricacies which would most likely double if you had separate plans. If a security team is needed, ask if your insurance company provides and covers this part of your small business as well.

Utilize AI and VR

The future is practically on top of us as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) permeate beyond gaming and into the medical, transportation and military sectors as well. When it comes to environmental benefits, these two technologies are poised to be the ruling factor on how you run your life, business and what carbon footprint you emit.

AI is currently taking over the home improvement industry with the smart home application by controlling temperature, lighting, and appliance usage. This is now being applied to small businesses and is showing a significant impact. Whether kitchen adjustments, bathroom water utilization or office space energy control, AI has taken the guesswork out of energy use, automatically saving resources and money. When it comes to small business security, AI offers real time audio alerts regarding intrusion, both physical or online and brings more user ease for smart lock applications as well.

VR is offering an opportunity for the small business and/or consumer user to enter worlds that are both engaging and educational showing front and center how global warming, pollution and lack of social consciousness is affecting our planet. This can be a consumer draw as it is capable of “wowing” customers while at the same time keeping them in your space.

VR is also being used to reduce small business ordering waste by allowing “virtual stock” to determine space allocation as well as reordering prompts. On the security platform, VR brings night vision as well as bird’s eye and around corner viewing. Add in drones to the mix and VR combined with AI can cover security for small businesses that include zoo layouts, large warehouses or farm spaces.

Loud and Clear

Any green addition to your small business is also an opportunity to alert your consumers or clients to how you are on-board with sustainable solutions. It has already been studied how a large subset that is rapidly turning mainstream embraces and supports green businesses, especially small businesses. By utilizing and advertising your green security system you are adding to your potential future business while helping save our planet at the same time.


Green business security is changing for the better. It offers environmental benefits as well as bottom line increase, consumer draw and peace of mind.

Maintaining Good Posture When Sleeping

by seoteam @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

Most people always note to keep the back straight. Mothers, teachers, even drill sergeants keep repeating the mantra. It’s the most familiar phrase people hear when their superiors want them to look respectable. Posture makes a person look strong and confident. The thing is, they...

The post Maintaining Good Posture When Sleeping appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

One Hasty Study Doesn’t Mean That “Man Flu” Is Real

One Hasty Study Doesn’t Mean That “Man Flu” Is Real

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

The notion of a “man flu” has long circulated on the internet, a silly concept with some serious staying power. While it’s been entered into more reputable lexical receptacles since, Urban Dictionary defined it first and best: “The condition shared by all males wherein a common illness (usually a mild cold) is presented by the patient as life-threatening. This is also known as ‘Fishing for Sympathy’ or ‘Chronic Exaggeration’. When the patient is your boyfriend, he will exhibit the standard symptoms (such as an overwhelming desire for compassion) while simultaneously rejecting any and all efforts you make to placate him.”

Part joke, part lived experience, the man flu has now reportedly been validated by science, sort of. On Monday, the British Medical Journal published its special Christmas edition. An annual installment of slightly-more-fun-than-usual scientific research, 2017’s issue included a literature review arguing for the empirical validity of the concept of man flu. Written by Canadian researcher and family medicine doctor Kyle Sue, the tongue-in-cheek journal article “explores whether men are wimps or just immunologically inferior.” According to Sue, who writes that the article came about because he was “tired of being accused of over-reacting,” mocking man flu isn’t just mean, but “potentially unjust”:

Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women. [...] Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed, or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionarily behaviours that protect against predators.

In his article, Sue looks at a handful of previous studies to support his man flu thesis. He notes that men appear, at least according to some research, to be less responsive to the flu vaccine, which could increase the chance they get the flu in the first place. Later, he documents how males are more likely to experience complications or even die from acute respiratory problems such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

While the studies Sue cites are certainly reputable, that doesn’t actually mean the man flu as it’s commonly understood is real. And it’s certainly not a validation to men who misbehave when they’re ill. Sabra Klein of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and several other experts have criticized the conclusions of Sue’s research. Klein told CNN that there could be a “man flu,” but only if you look at certain subpopulations: Before puberty and in old age (65 years and over), it really does seem more likely that men get hospitalized for the flu. But in middle age, there’s a slight uptick in the number of women—in particular, pregnant women in the midst of a nine-month immunosuppression stint—that go to the emergency room for influenza side effects. In other words, there may be some semblance of boy flu and an old man flu, but all things being equal, influenza isn’t a particularly sexist infection.

The evidence Sue gathered seems to substantiate the idea that men are biologically weaker in several key (and potentially fatal) ways. This is something experts have long understood to be true, as men the world over are more likely to die than women at every point along the lifespan, from the womb to old age. But it’s a reality that’s remained difficult to explain scientifically. For many years, scientists have been exploring whether sex hormones are to blame. In an article for Slate about the prevalence of women with autoimmune disorders (a sign of an overactive immune system) Jeremy Singer-Vine wrote that, “Testosterone tends to suppress the body's response to infection, while estrogens typically boost it. Since women have a more vigorous response, goes the argument, their immune systems might be more likely to become hyperactive.”* According to that line of thinking, men would then have a lethargic immune system that would keep them from developing autoimmune diseases en masse, but also from fighting off infection. But, Singer-Vine continues, “Data to support these claims, however, have been inconclusive.”

Another theory for the sex disparity, Singer-Vine writes, is that women’s double X chromosome give them a genetic boost, while men’s already miniature Y chromosome is literally shrinking even further. It’s also possible that the sex disparity in people’s influenza response is partially a social phenomenon. It’s been widely documented that men are less likely to see a doctor than women, which might mean they’re less likely to get the flu vaccine in the first place, or to go to the doctor on the rare chance their flu symptoms escalate. While there are numerous factors that influence a visit to the doctor’s office (insurance, income, and access being chief are among them), there’s reason to believe masculinity could be partially to blame. Research indicates that men routinely cite embarrassment, a desire to maintain their privacy, anxiety, and flawed communication as reasons for not seeing a doctor. Unlike the physical theories, this social hypothesis could support Sue’s claims—but not in the way he’d probably hope.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Sue cites a finding that women were more likely to take time off when they experienced just one flu symptom. “This contradicts the common myth that men cut down activities more than women by exaggerating the severity of symptoms,” he writes. What Sue fails to note is that taking time off when the first symptoms of a cold strike—and not working through until you’re so physically exhausted you’re forced into the fetal position and need others to do your bidding—is clearly the healthier choice.

*Correction, Dec. 12, 2017: This article originally misidentified the author of an article about autoimmune disorders. It was Jeremy Singer-Vine, not Jeremy Samuel Faust. (Return.)

14 Products that Will Help You Sleep Better in 2018

by meridith dennes @ Sleepluv

The post 14 Products that Will Help You Sleep Better in 2018 appeared first on Sleepluv .

I am a terrible sleeper. That’s why I was so excited to try out the following products that promise to help me sleep better. Here, our fellow sleep-deprived health editors weigh in on whether these supposedly snooze-inducing products live up to their hype. Yes, Your Mattress Matters There’s a pretty good chance you will spend […]

The post 14 Products that Will Help You Sleep Better in 2018 appeared first on Sleepluv .

Jolene’s My Green Mattress Review

Jolene’s My Green Mattress Review

Eco-friendly baby/family products MADE in USA

MY GREEN MATTRESS REVIEW – PART I by Jolene Marty (coming soon is Part II: Why I Tossed My Tempurpedic Mattress!) VIDEO REVIEW: Hey everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to watch my video…

13 Eco-Conscious Athletic Wear Brands To Keep You Moving

13 Eco-Conscious Athletic Wear Brands To Keep You Moving

by Staff Guide @ The Good Trade

Here at The Good Trade, we're always on the lookout for ethical fashion companies that employ responsible labor standards and environmental practices. With fair-trade and ethical labor practices, natural and recycled fabrics, USA made and limited and conscious production, these brands are doing their part to provide consumers with high performance activewear while protecting both people and planet.

Organize Your Fridge For Energy Efficiency

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

Guest Blog Courtesy of Tucson Electric Power Using refrigerator and freezer properly and keeping them well-organized can help you use less energy and reduce food waste. Make sure both of them are set at the proper temperature. Keeping them too cold will require more energy to maintain the lower-than-necessary temperatures. The U.S. Food and Drug... Continue reading »

Mattress Sales: The Best Reviews on Sale Priced Mattresses and Memory Foam Mattress Sales

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

Are you looking for the best online mattress sales, including those on memory foam? Depending on the time of year, there are some incredible deals offered by various manufacturers that should help you narrow down your choices. If you plan on taking advantage of mattress deal prices, it’s also important to consider the overall value […]

The post Mattress Sales: The Best Reviews on Sale Priced Mattresses and Memory Foam Mattress Sales appeared first on Sleep Junkie.

5 Eco-Friendly Laptop Bags That Are Awesome For Carrying Stuff

by Josh Dorfman @ Lazy Environmentalist

We all carry stuff. Much of it useful. Most of it legal. Bags that make the daily commute should be ultra-dexterous, capable of carrying lots of different things, not just like a lot of the same thing. No compromise daily commuter bags are not only highly functional and eye-catching but also made of environmentally friendly materials. […]

It’s Surprisingly Easy to Lose a Satellite, Even One Worth Millions

It’s Surprisingly Easy to Lose a Satellite, Even One Worth Millions

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman are not having a good week. On Sunday, SpaceX launched a secret military satellite called Zuma from Florida into orbit. But the satellite, built by Northrop Grumman and owned by the U.S. government for classified purposes, was nowhere to be seen once SpaceX’s rocket carried the payload into space. At this point, the one thing that is clear is that Zuma failed to make it to orbit.

SpaceX quickly denied blame, with company COO Gwynne Shotwell releasing a statement saying its flagship Falcon 9 rocket “did everything correctly on Sunday night.” This is supported by the fact that the payload adaptor that works to release the satellite into orbit was not provided by SpaceX (as is common for most of the company’s missions), but by Northrop Grumman.

So if the adaptor failed to release the payload, then the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket dragged the satellite back through Earth’s atmosphere unwittingly, and Northrop Grumman would be the party to blame for losing a government satellite reportedly worth as much as a billion. (For its part, the company has not publicly commented on the Zuma debacle, except to say: “This is a classified mission. We cannot comment on classified missions.”)

The mystery of who’s to blame makes for a nice bit of drama that’s often missing from the space industry, but the truth is that while the failure of this mission cannot be understated, it’s actually not really that surprising. And that really comes down to the fact that getting to space is hard.

There were 91 launch attempts in 2017, and six were failures. That’s not high, but it’s significant. Imagine booking a flight and knowing there was a 6.6 percent chance it might crash. You’d probably cancel your trip and go back to binge-watching The Crown.

And that’s because there’s an incomprehensibly long list of things that could go wrong during launch, which SpaceX is no stranger to after a Falcon 9 exploded in midflight in 2015 and a launch pad test in 2016 destroyed both a rocket and a half-billion dollar Facebook satellite. Both of those events are quick examples of how small anomalies or flaws can cascade into disastrous results. And that’s understandable, because the sheer nature of launching things into space is a literally explosive process.

In addition, this is far from the first time an expensive satellite has been lost. Russia, the country whose Sputnik 1 was the first satellite ever launched, lost contact with a $45 million satellite just last year, and that’s just the latest in a long string of launch failures to plague the country in recent years. Japan lost contact with a $250 million astronomy satellite a month after launch in 2016. Closer to home, the U.S. military lost contact with a reconnaissance satellite in 2006 shortly after launch and had to shoot it down two years later.

Sunday’s failure is going to hurt a lot more than those other losses, but perhaps it’s the high-profile development that might push the space industry forward in the long run. Rocket scientist and Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin told NBC News he compares the risks of spaceflight today to the risks of air travel in its infancy and that running more launches and missions will inevitably help teach all launch parties how to conduct safer space travel.

In addition, this might also be the incentive we need to push for more radical approaches to satellites. The advent of 3-D printing technology means we might soon just build our satellites directly in space and avoid the potential mess (and insane costs) that come with a rocket launch and payload deployment.

Nevertheless, the risks to any satellite will never fully go away.
Earth’s orbit will always be an unstable region for any object, thanks to continued atmospheric drag, solar wind, gravitational influences from outside Earth, the nuanced physics we still have a shaky grasp of. When it comes to space, there will always be a host of factors that can turn a routine mission into an aggravating setback.

Los Angeles Often Burns in the Movies. Now It’s Burning in Real Life.

Los Angeles Often Burns in the Movies. Now It’s Burning in Real Life.

by Laura Bliss @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by CityLab and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

You’ve seen Los Angeles burning in the movies. But a video shot from a car on the Interstate 405 early Wednesday morning was as apocalyptic a view of my city as in any disaster film.

Along the dry edge of the Sepulveda Pass, where the country’s busiest freeway bridges the Santa Monica Mountains, a brush fire is roiling acres of houses, museums, and religious centers. Thousands have evacuated; many structures are already in flames. A few miles downhill, in the San Fernando Valley, soot is dusting my childhood home.

Dubbed the Skirball Fire, this is the fourth major blaze in the greater L.A. area this week; it arrives two months after fires in Northern California wine country claimed 44 lives and $3 billion in property damage. Now, ferocious flames in Southern California’s Santa Clarita, Sylmar, and Ventura areas are destroying homes and driving out thousands of residents; they will rage for days to come. Drought and record-breaking heat, driven by a changing climate, are making both ends of the state more fire-prone. It’s been months since L.A.’s hills have had a good soak.

But the main culprit of these fires is the Santa Ana winds—powerful, withering gusts of air that lash down from the high desert to the coast nearly every autumn. They turn embers into high-intensity blazes notoriously difficult to battle. This year, surface temperature changes in the Pacific have created a pressure gradient especially conducive to the winds. Southern California experienced twice as many Santa Ana days as usual in October; December typically brings 10 such days, and by the end of this week, the region will have already had six.

For all the praise of its “perfect weather,” L.A. is often seen as a city created in defiance of the laws of nature. Before flooded Houston acquired a similar reputation, critics argued that parched, hilly, quake-prone Los Angeles should never have been built where it is: The land is too dry, the earth too unstable. In pop culture, the hubris of its existence brings spectacular punishment—witness L.A. split open by earthquakes, destroyed in alien attacks, consumed by fire. Dubbed the “Devil Winds” in legend and literature, the Santa Ana is an old fixture of this trope, mythicized as a force of insanity, murder, and suicide. “The violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability,” Joan Didion wrote in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. “The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.”

Some viewers will find it hard to separate the freeway footage of the Skirball Fire, and the multimillion dollar homes it is burning to the ground (including, yes, Rupert Murdoch’s), from these strong cinematic associations. For those in East Coast cities in particular, perhaps, it will stir up a certain moralism about where cities should and should not be—reminiscent, perhaps, of how hurricane damage was often characterized as karma for overdevelopment in Florida and Texas. Why were people living there to begin with?

Undoubtedly, California’s fires have lessons for urban planners: Some of the foothill communities burning this week have recently developed further into the wild-land interface, inserting homes into fire-prone areas. Zoning and other land-use policies may need to be re-examined, among other ways leaders must prepare for and mitigate the effects of an always-burning future, as the warming atmosphere fans Santa Ana flames.

But today, as the world watches Los Angeles burn, the view is not only familiar from the movies. Every city is now examining itself in the face of climate change and its companion threats of sea-level rise, devastating storms, and extreme heat. Where should we be building and rebuilding? Who gets to live here, and how should we live? These are no longer questions that haunt only residents of L.A., where a rapprochement with catastrophe has long been part of the civic contract. New York, Boston, D.C., and the rest are looking at themselves in the mirror, too; in a sense, all cities are defying nature now.

Once despised by so many urbanists for its “uncultured,” car-centric sprawl, L.A. has become an unlikely leader in this dialogue, with ambitious plans to transform its transportation networks, densify the city, and reduce climate impacts. Los Angeles is burning, but now there is a Devil Wind blowing around the world. The hubris, and the responsibility to act, is everyone’s to share.

Is an Organic Mattress Worthwhile? | 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

Is an Organic Mattress Worthwhile? | 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

There are a lot of different mattresses available that you can choose from these days—so many that it may sometimes seem a little bit confusing to have to decide. If you have been to a mattress store like 2 Brothers Mattress recently, you probably saw...

Poofy Organics Black Friday Sale Details!

Poofy Organics Black Friday Sale Details!

by ecofriendlymamausa @ Eco-friendly baby/family products MADE in USA

Poofy Organics sales only happen 3 times/year so I hope you don’t miss this great offer! 15% off your entire order, 1/2 price-free shipping on qualifying orders, 24 gift sets to make your healthy Holiday gift-giving a breeze!!! Here are all the details for my Poofy by Jess weekend sale event:

Thinking Outside the Moving Box

by The Modern Gal @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post. I’ve been in the middle of moving into a new old house, of which you’ll probably hear a lot about here since I’ll be blogging about being green at home. It’s been a slow move with the intent of giving myself time to purge all [...]

Pedal Power to the Rescue

by Jacob @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post. On Monday I became a bike commuter for the very first time, and I can’t say that I was perfectly prepared for it. First, I don’t have anything resembling a roadside repair kit to fix problems with tires or chains on my 10-mile trip to [...]

Boost Your Vertical – Parley Adidas EQT Support Adv Eco-Friendly Kicks

by Josh Dorfman @ Lazy Environmentalist

Street cred meets eco-cred with the Adidas EQT Support ADV Parley Sneakers. Tested in the Lazy E lab, these shoes increased my vertical leap by six inches, taking it from 12 inches all the way up to 18 inches. I could almost reach the gingerbread cookies my wife hid from the kids above the kitchen […]

This Land Was Your Land

This Land Was Your Land

by Elizabeth Shogren @ Slate Articles

This story is republished from High Country News as part of a collaboration with Climate Desk.

President Donald Trump has spent the past year steadily undoing Obama-era environmental protections, especially rules designed to fight climate change. By law, agencies must go through a lengthy process to rescind or rewrite many rules, but executive orders and other policies are easier to erase. Some of the rollbacks have major implications for the West and public lands.

Here we take a look at some of the most important rollbacks of the past year:


Trump slashed two national monuments in southern Utah and is considering changes to other monuments in the West. Under Trump’s boundaries, Bears Ears becomes two separate management units: Indian Creek and Shash Jáa. The two together are just 15 percent of the footprint protected by President Barack Obama in 2016. The new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is about half its original size. Countless archaeological, paleontological, cultural, and scenic treasures are left out of Trump’s new boundaries. Bears Ears and Escalante supporters are suing to block this unprecedented action.

Arctic Refuge

At the Trump administration’s urging, Congress in December opened parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. This was an enormous loss for the Gwich’in, a Native Alaskan people, and environmental groups, which had successfully protected the refuge from drilling for decades. Drilling in the refuge is part of a broader policy of the administration to increase oil production in Alaska and in Western public lands in general. In December, the administration offered the largest lease sale ever in the National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska. But companies bid on a tiny fraction of land available—only seven of the 900 tracts offered.

Clean Water Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This rule—particularly important in the arid West—mandates, for example, protecting tributaries that connect to navigable waterways and adjoining wetlands, even if they flow only part of the year. If it’s revoked, those tributaries could be filled in, ditched, or diverted for construction or farming without federal review.

In October, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether federal district courts or appeals courts should hear several pending cases challenging the rule. It’s unclear when it will issue a decision. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to write a new rule describing which waters and wetlands warrant federal protection and which should be left to state discretion. In the meantime, the Trump administration is trying to delay the date the Obama rule goes into effect until 2020 in case the courts uphold it.

The EPA also plans to eliminate protection of many wetlands and streams by narrowing the definition of a “navigable water.” This will be especially significant in the arid West, where most streams run only part of the year or after rain events.

Fossil fuel royalties rule

In August, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke repealed a 2016 Obama rule designed to ensure that taxpayers get a fair return on oil, gas, and coal. The Obama administration estimated the rule would have increased the royalties that fossil fuel industries pay to mine and drill federal lands and waters by about $80 million a year. The rule was meant to eliminate a loophole that allows companies to sell to affiliated companies that then export and resell the minerals at higher prices, reducing royalties. Zinke said it was too complex and plans to draft a new rule.

BLM methane rule

In 2016, the Bureau of Land Management implemented a rule limiting how much methane can be released from some 96,000 oil and gas wells on federal and tribal lands. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the 2016 rule’s goal was to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, smog and health problems, as well as to increase royalties. Industry claims the rule is too onerous and duplicates state rules.

Congressional Republicans tried unsuccessfully in May to erase the rule using the Congressional Review Act. The BLM in December suspended it until 2019, and Zinke plans to rewrite it.

EPA methane rule

The EPA also passed a rule in 2016 designed to limit methane emissions, but from new and modified oil and gas wells, compressor stations, pneumatic pumps, and similar equipment. It was a key part of Obama’s climate change agenda; his administration projected that industry’s costs would be partially offset by revenues from recovering and selling more natural gas. Pruitt has sought to prevent the rule from going into effect, but environmentalists and the states of New Mexico and California have been fighting him in court. The EPA now has proposed suspending the rule for two years while it redrafts it.

National Environmental Policy Act reviews

In an Aug. 31 secretarial order, the Department of Interior “streamlined” agencies’ processes for analyzing the environmental impacts of major actions. Now, agencies may not spend more than a year to complete environmental impact statements, nor may their final reports be more than 150 pages or 300 pages “for unusually complex projects.”

Environmental groups fear the arbitrary deadlines will hinder public engagement in public-land decisions. But John Freemuth, a public policy professor at Boise State University, said environmental impact statements are often long and incomprehensible to most people. “Trying to make this process work better and happen quicker is probably not a bad thing, unless it’s done for surrogate reasons, like to get more coal off the land,” Freemuth says.

Federal coal

Obama wanted the federal coal-mining program to better reflect its costs to taxpayers and the planet. So in 2016, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell placed a three-year moratorium on new coal leases on federal land while reviewing the program, which produces about 40 percent of the coal burned in the U.S. for electricity.

This March, Zinke canceled both the moratorium and the review. Given declining demand for coal, though, there’s been no rush for new leases. One exception: Cloud Peak Energy is seeking to expand operations in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

National parks management

The National Park Service in August rescinded a sweeping December 2016 policy instructing managers to use an adaptive approach to decision-making, taking into account uncertainties such as climate change impacts, and erring on the side of caution to protect natural and cultural resources. The policy also committed to address worker harassment. Now, NPS says revoking the order avoids confusion while Zinke establishes his own vision for the parks.

Also in August, the agency ended a six-year policy that allowed parks to ban the sale of disposable water bottles to decrease waste and greenhouse gas pollution. Western parks that banned bottled water included Arizona’s Grand Canyon; Arches, Bryce, and Canyonlands in Utah; Saguaro in Arizona; and Colorado National Monument.

Power plants

The EPA has taken steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era regulation intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. The Supreme Court had already stayed the rule, pending court review. The Trump administration asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit not to rule in the case, and in August the court agreed to suspend its review.

Trump’s EPA also is reconsidering an earlier Obama administration rule that required that all new power plants meet greenhouse gas standards, which roughly equate to emissions from modern natural gas plants. The rule effectively banned the construction of new conventional coal-fired power plants and remains in effect.


Trump revoked Obama administration policies that had blocked or postponed construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Environmentalists had long objected to Keystone XL because the heavy tar sands crude oil that it carries has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional crude oil. It requires a lot of energy to get tar sands out of the ground and process it for transporting by pipelines.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and many supporters from other tribes and the environmental community staged a monthslong protest to oppose DAPL. They raised concerns about sovereignty and the risk that potential spills pose to water resources that the tribe needs for farming and other uses. Trump touts the pipeline projects as key parts of his energy independence and infrastructure plans.

Cleaner cars

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are considering backtracking from Obama’s plans to boost fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025.

The outcome is important in the West because California has led the rest of the country in pressing for cleaner cars, both to improve its air quality and achieve its climate change goals. California has fiercely objected to the possible rollback and vows to keep the standards. Thirteen other states, including Oregon and Washington, also warned Pruitt not to weaken the fuel standards and vowed to defend them in court if he does.

Offshore drilling

Obama withdrew large sections of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from drilling to protect marine habitats. In an April executive order, Trump reversed the withdrawals and ordered annual lease sales in those areas, including in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic. Environmental groups have sued in federal court, challenging the legality of Trump’s action.

Blowout prevention rule

In April, Trump ordered a reconsideration of a 2016 rule designed to prevent the kind of engineering failures that led to the catastrophic 2010 BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. That explosion killed 11 workers and inundated the fragile coast and deep sea with the largest marine oil spill ever seen, pummeling the Gulf’s seafood industry, killing thousands of marine mammals and rare sea turtles, and contaminating their habitats.

The chairmen of the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling warned in a New York Times opinion piece that Trump’s order threatens the most important safeguard for preventing repeats of the BP disaster.

Social cost of carbon

Trump abolished policies crafted by the Obama administration to consider the cost of climate change to future generations when considering the costs and benefits of proposed regulations and when analyzing the environmental impacts of government actions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The social cost of carbon is a dollar amount that represents how much a ton of carbon pollution will “cost” society over the long run, such as the loss of usable dry land because of sea level rise, stresses to agriculture from droughts, and increased need for air conditioning. Trump’s March executive order directs agencies to use a 2003 policy that does not include directions on calculating these future costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Trump administration’s approach has started to run afoul of the courts. A federal judge in August blocked a major expansion of a coal mine in Montana and ordered the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to redo its environmental analysis. The judge took issue with the agency’s argument that the millions of tons of extra greenhouse gas emissions from the Montana mine would not result in any costs to society because if that coal weren’t burned, other coal would be. Judge Donald Molloy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana said the conclusion was illogical and put the agency’s “thumb on the scale by inflating the benefits of the action while minimizing its impacts.”

Floods and infrastructure

As part of his strategy to prepare the United States for the greater risks of climate change, Obama signed an executive order in 2015 requiring that the federal government consider sea level rise and storm surge when designing infrastructure and building in flood-prone areas. Just days before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Trump signed an executive order revoking Obama’s order.

Trump defended his decision as an incentive for investments in infrastructure. Many professional engineers, insurance companies, and environmentalists objected to the repeal, saying that the standard protected people and property and reduced expenses to the federal government associated with rebuilding after flooding.

Harmful Misconceptions about Sleep

by seoteam @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

We tend to hear myths about sleep. Many have been around since before we were born, and people tend to simply accept them as fact. While most of these are fairly harmless, some are highly detrimental to your health. Here are a few such examples,...

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What’s in Your Mattress?

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

What’s In Your Mattress? We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so why is it that there seems to be more of an emphasis on finding an inexpensive mattress instead of one that is actually safe and will last? Trust me, I love finding excellent deals just like everyone else, but what exactly […]

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Review: If You Visit Tulum, You Can’t Miss This Tour of the Sian Ka’an Bio Reserve

by Alden Wicker @ Ecocult

You might think the only thing to do in Tulum is party and drink cocktails on the beach. But you absolutely cannot leave Quintana Roo without seeing the second longest barrier reef in the world in the Sian Ka'an bioreserve. Here's the best way to visit.

The post Review: If You Visit Tulum, You Can’t Miss This Tour of the Sian Ka’an Bio Reserve appeared first on Ecocult.

Is it better to sleep on your back?

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

Is It Better To Sleep On Your Back? Written by Laura, November 15, 2011 It’s Up To Your Body Generally speaking, lying on your back creates the most consistent support for your spine. Your muscles and tissues can relax evenly in all directions. Like a baby, or a kitten napping on its back, you can […]

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by denverorganic @ The Natural Sleep Store

In Store Coupons for The Natural Sleep Store Coupon Take 15% off of one full priced product! Redeemable at 928 W 8th Avenue, Denver CO 80204. Valid only for in store customers. 15% off coupon valid only on full priced items. Can not be combined with other promotions or discounts. Can not be used on […]

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Featured Product: Avocado Green Mattress & the questions I asked as an eco-consumer.

Featured Product: Avocado Green Mattress & the questions I asked as an eco-consumer.

Green Upward

A couple weeks ago Avocado Green Mattress reached out to me to see if I would be interested in representing their mattress on my blog. Like any good eco-consumer I wanted to know more about how the mattress fit into the environment. The following is the series of questions I asked them via email and

A British Grocer Is Selling an Avocado Without a Pit

A British Grocer Is Selling an Avocado Without a Pit

by Aaron Mak @ Slate Articles

The seemingly docile avocado is, as it turns out, responsible for a growing number of mangled hands and emergency room visits. The variety of textures—sturdy and slippery skin, soft flesh, solid pit—can make cutting the buttery fruit a perilous endeavor.

Luckily for chefs who are squeamish about bloodying their hands, the British supermarket chain Marks and Spencer has begun selling a safety-conscious “cocktail avocado,” which has softer skin and no pit. At the moment, the avocado alternative is only available for sale to consumers in the UK.

The Guardian interviewed a food specialist at Marks and Spencer on the matter, who said, “We’ve had the mini, the giant, ready sliced and we’re now launching the holy grail of avocados—stoneless.”

In May, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons issued a warning for “avocado hands,” which is the result of amateur cooks stabbing and slashing their hands when attempting to slice an avocado. The St. Thomas Hospital in the U.K. even claims they experience a “post-brunch surge” of such cases on Saturdays. The injury can require complex and expensive surgery in order to properly mend as tendon and nerve damage are not uncommon; the wife of a New York Times staffer reportedly racked up a $20,000 hospital bill after an avocado-related mishap. Simon Eccles, the secretary for the surgeons’ association, further suggested that the fruit come with warning labels.

The cocktail avocado, which is the fruit of an un-pollinated avocado blossom that develops without a seed, is slightly smaller (two to three inches in length) and easier to eat. Only available in December, the cocktail avocados grow in Spain and are usually reserved for the chefs of high-end restaurants in Paris.

Those who wish to partake can either eat it whole—the skin is edible—or peel it by removing one end and then squeezing the contents out. Safety comes at a price, however: one cocktail avocado costs around $2.70.

But for millennials who apparently spend exorbitant amounts on avocado toast, cocktail avocados might seem like a steal.

Find an Eco-Friendly Mattress Without Breaking the Bank

Find an Eco-Friendly Mattress Without Breaking the Bank

Amerisleep Blog

Read this step-by-step guide for tips on finding an affordable, eco-friendly mattress for better, healthier sleep.

Hitting the Road: Eco-Friendly Winter Car Tips

by @ Green Home Library

Conventional methods of dealing with harsh, winter season driving include using a variety of toxic chemicals. Try these eco-friendly winter car tips that do less harm to people and planet.

Better Antifreeze

Antifreeze is a byproduct of winter that many do not realize can be replaced with a greener alternative.

Old antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is very dangerous, capable of injuring pets and children due to its bright color and sweet taste. It should be completely removed from your radiator and recycled.

Replace with propylene glycol antifreeze, a far less toxic alternative that is even found in some foods as well as health and beauty aids.

Note: Switching antifreeze should be discussed beforehand with a mechanic that understands the workings of your particular vehicle.

Fight the Fog

Naturally stop your windows from fogging due to extreme inside/outside temperature changes by using a saltwater and vinegar solution (1:3). Dip in a sponge and rub on the outside of your windows before driving to safely fight the fog.

For other natural window cleaning choices look for N-13 ammonia-free products as well as natural streak-free window glass cleaners.

Snow Away

A simple way to clear the snow and ice from around your car is by shoveling and then sprinkling rock salt or urea-based de-icers throughout the area.

However, it is estimated that,

“The heavy use of road salts can lead to damage to vegetation, to organisms in soil, to birds, and to other wildlife. Almost all chloride ions from road salts eventually find their way into waterways, whether by direct run-off into surface water or by moving through the soil and groundwater.” (Green Venture)

If you must use road salt, look for those containing calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) or potassium acetate (KAc) which are less toxic. Otherwise, try these snow melting alternatives:

Brick Sand - Brick sand, which can be purchased at your local building supply store, is coarser, and more granular enabling it to work faster than regular sand. Plus, it offers excellent traction and has a low albedo which means it can absorb sunlight and melt snow faster.

Ash - Wood burned ash from a fireplace can also be used to melt snow. It too provides traction and has a low albedo.

Cat Litter - You can use new or old (strained) cat litter to melt snow as well. This material offers high traction. Keep a bag in your trunk for getting out of stuck-in-the-snow situations.

Electric Mat - The Ice-Away Snow Melt Mat works great for cars parked in a driveway surrounded by snow. Simply set it up before snowfall and turn it on when the white begins. It’s durable, inexpensive to operate and is designed to be left out in harsh weather all season long.

Go Pro Wash

Many people think that washing their own car is a better alternative to professional car washes. In reality, it is more expensive, wasteful and toxic to wash your own car. A car wash uses about 40 gallons of water per car while filtering and recycling it as well (5 minutes of garden hose use releases about 63 gallons). They also remove salt and debris from the undercarriage which can reduce corrosion. This winter (and beyond) use a car wash instead.

This Eco-friendly winter car advice is a small example of the few efforts you can make to create a clean, green, less toxic season.

Astrophysical Delight

Astrophysical Delight

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

2017 may have been an insane, demoralizing year, but at least we still had the marvels above us. Throughout the year, the wonders—and wanderers—of space continued to offer excitement that nearly everyone could rally behind. Even if your interest in the night sky was only cursory, there was no denying how fun it was to watch SpaceX land a rocket on a drone ship in the middle of the ocean, to learn from NASA what planets it had discovered, and to join with millions to take in the eclipse.

And beyond the news, space looked like it always does: amazing. This year, we had some of our most jaw-dropping opportunities ever to take it in. Here are some of the biggest space sights and stories of 2017, as seen through the images that captured them.

Boeing and SpaceX Reveal Their Spiffy New Spacesuits

Aerospace companies don’t normally get to flex their sartorial muscles, so Boeing took full advantage of the new year in January by debuting its new spacesuit. SpaceX followed suit in September with its own spacesuit design. NASA astronauts will actually wear these into space when the two companies begin formal launches of their crewed space vehicles to take Americans to the International Space Station and back.

Scientists Discover a New Star System of Seven Potentially Habitable Planets

Finding even one new world humans may be able to travel to and colonize is a thrilling discovery. Back in February, NASA scientists announced they had found a star system of seven potentially habitable worlds, orbiting a dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1, sitting 40 light-years away. No, it’s almost certainly not home to aliens—and if it is, we won’t know for a while. But it’s going to be an important focus for astronomers for a very long time.

Maybe We Could Live on This Super-Earth One Day?

Ideally, we’ll want to live on planets where we won’t feel like our legs and arms are taped to anvils, but interstellar beggars looking for a new home can’t be choosy. In April, scientists announced the discovery of LHS 1140 b, a potentially habitable “super-Earth” exoplanet that is somewhere between 4.8 and 8.5 times the Earth’s mass, about 41 light-years away. It’s doubtful most people will be able to tolerate the gravitational effects of such a world, but hey, livable is livable, right?

Jupiter’s Red Spot Gets an Up-Close and Personal Shot

Since the summer of 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has orbited Jupiter and collected a trove of incredible images that make the gas giant look like a finely woven tapestry of astrophysical delight. This year saw an even better collection of images, including unprecedented close-ups of the Giant Red Spot.

The Total Solar Eclipse

Unless you were living in a cave this year (reasonable choice!), you remember this well. On Aug. 21, the moon made the sun disappear and then made it reappear a few minutes later. Consolation for the unlucky: The U.S. will experience another one like it in 2024, so if you didn’t get enough eclipse this year, you only have to wait six years.

Peggy Whitson Breaks an Astronaut Record and Returns Home

This year, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson officially broke the record for total days spent in space. After accruing 665 days in space, including 289 days on her latest mission to the International Space Station, Whitson finally returned home on Sept. 3.

Cassini’s Last Hurrah

On Sept. 15, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft finally closed its 20-year mission to study Saturn and its system when it trudged headfirst into the planet’s atmosphere and was destroyed. It was the end of an era that produced some of the most stunning pictures of Saturn the world has ever seen.

Greetings to the First Interstellar Visitor to the Solar System

In October, astronomers stumbled on a strange, never-before-seen cigar-shaped rock. Turns out it was an asteroid that had sauntered into our solar system from elsewhere. ‘Oumuamua, the first-known interstellar visitor to the solar system, is already on its way out, but not before scientists got a chance to see whether it was actually the handiwork of intelligent aliens trying to tell us something (spoiler alert: it’s not aliens).

Scientists Observe Gravitational Waves From a Collision of Neutron Stars

Just when you thought gravitational waves were passé, here comes a new reason to get hyped up once again. On Oct. 16, American and European physicists announced they had once again detected gravitational waves from an astrophysical event—this time not from two black holes merging into one but from two neutron stars colliding with one another, shining new light on these mysteriously small, ultra-dense balls of light and energy.

And 11 Light-Years Away Is an Earth-Size Exoplanet That’s Our Best Chance at Finding Aliens

What makes the newly discovered Ross 128 b such a promising hope for finding extraterrestrial life? The star it’s orbiting is an inactive red dwarf. Quiet stars don’t fling toxic bouts of radiation every which way, which means the chances of Ross 128 b being a more temperate world amenable to life are much higher. And in 79,000 years, future generations might have a chance to visit it themselves when the planet makes its way toward our neck of the woods!

SpaceX Ends the Year With Its Weirdest Launch Yet

SpaceX had a perfect launch record this year. The company pulled off a whopping 18 of them and ended the year with one that managed to freak out all of Southern California. The evening mission occurred during twilight. The sun was still shining off a condensing cloud, creating a glowing effect in the night sky. Many mistook the scene for a UFO. Thanks, Elon!

In 1770, the Sky Over East Asia Turned Crimson Red for Nine Days

In 1770, the Sky Over East Asia Turned Crimson Red for Nine Days

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

For multiple days in 1770, a swath of sky over Japan, the Korean Peninsula, and the eastern coast of China looked as if it had been set ablaze, illuminated in a scorching red light. No one knew what caused it, and we only knew it happened thanks to a few scant recordings that survived the intervening centuries. It wasn’t until modern astronomy gave us a better understanding of aurora events centuries later that we learned what prompted it: A magnetic storm caused by solar activity likely struck Earth’s atmosphere, creating a crimson spectacle few people have seen since.

Now, new documents reveal that there is a lot more to the story than just a red hue to the sky. A team of Japanese researchers unearthed a trove of 111 historical documents in East Asia that show that the red auroral display actually lasted not two days as we thought, but nine, from Sept, 10–19, 1770. The storm may have been the longest geomagnetic storm on human record, and the region of sky it covered was twice as large as historians initially thought.

Aurora are caused by charged particles hitting the planet’s upper atmosphere. When the sun spews out a flare or has a violent belch of some sort, it shoots off charged particles like electrons toward the rest of space. When these particles hit the oxygen and nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere, they charge up the gases themselves. As those excited gases return to their normal states, they emit that excess energy in the form of gorgeous celestial lights. One of the most famous and regular instances of aurora is, of course, aurora borealis—the northern lights—which captivates the upper latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

Aurora can come in different colors and shapes. Scientists are still fuzzy on what creates any specific shapes and sizes for the lights, but it’s thought that they move in harmony with Earth’s magnetic field. The color generated depends on which gases were initially hit—oxygen emits a red light (as well as greenish-yellow), so it would seem oxygen was behind the 1770 storm. That also means it was powerful enough to pierce into some lower portions of the atmosphere where oxygen is more abundant, which explains how it was able to give the sky such an apocalyptic makeover.

The documents discovered were all written in September and October of 1770. They include government records and personal diary entries, which in sum suggest that the fiery aurora ranged from Japan to the Chinese mainland.

The team also compared sunspot drawings made by astronomers at the time with drawings recorded during the solar storm of 1859. That storm, which lasted two nights, was caused by the Carrington flare and is something of a standard by which astronomers assess other solar events. Up until now, it’s been considered the most extreme solar storm on the record. But the sunspots drawn during the 1770 event were twice as big as those recorded during the Carrington event.

While the study is a fun glimpse into an end-of-the-world spectacle that never was, the conditions that caused the 1770 storm could strike again. If it does, it might actually feel like the end of the world this time around—these days, solar storms and space weather events are big threats to the world’s electrical grids, communications systems, and GPS instruments orbiting the planet. A single bad storm like the 1859 Carrington flare, or something much worse, could have devastating consequences for our connectivity, causing up to $2 trillion in global costs and devastating countless lives. NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently launched and turned the Deep Space Climate Observatory to study such events and investigate signs that could let us know when a particularly nasty storm might strike. Even so, the world is still underprepared for any devastating storm.

“Modern civilization heavily relies on satellites and large-scale power grids,” the researchers write. “If such events were to strike the Earth now, the consequences could be catastrophic.”

In other words, we’ll have much more to fear than just a red sky this time around.

Sell Handmade Crafts?

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

Do you have a gift for crafting, painting, or other artistry? Turn it into a profitable online business easily when you sell handmade crafts on Eco Local Markets Other online marketplaces charge you membership fees, listing fees for every product, and marketing fees if you want anyone to see your product. On top of that, […]

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Organic Mattress Guide • Insteading

Organic Mattress Guide • Insteading


Prices for 2016's top organic and eco-friendly mattresses. Read on if you want to sleep without chemicals and synthetic fabrics next to you.

5 Ways to Boost Your Bedtime Routine for Better Health

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

One of the most important things you can do for good physical health and your overall well-being, is to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends that school aged children get at least 10 hours of sleep daily; teens between 9 and 10 hours daily; and adults between 7 and 8 hours daily. Establishing a healthy bedtime Read More

Sleep Positions

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

We know the classics: starfish, fetal, side, stomach, stick straight, and many more. However, what is the best sleep position for you and how can you get the most out of your sleep position? SIDE SLEEPERS There are so many different ways to sleep on your side, but all help relieve and calm insomnia and […]

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by denverorganic @ The Natural Sleep Store

The Natural Sleep Store Denver Organic Mattress Showroom Hours Please call 866.663.0859 or email to make an appointment. Store Hours : Monday-Friday: 10:00am – 12:30pm and 1:00pm – 6:00pm Saturday: 10:00am – 6:00pm Sunday: 10:00am – 6:00pm We close on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years Day. Denver Showroom Phone: 1.303.623.2261

The post Hours appeared first on The Natural Sleep Store.

Do You Have Any Sales Coming Up?

by The Natural Mattress Store @ The Natural Mattress Store

That is a question I hear from time to time. It causes me to marvel at human nature. We all want a “deal” and when we hear the word “sale” we smile and think we are saving money.

Read more

The post Do You Have Any Sales Coming Up? appeared first on The Natural Mattress Store.

Beer Review: Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew

by Jacob @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post. Image credit: I should warn you, my being new to the Greenists and all, that I am a beer geek. I see a Guinness and think “light beer.” (It’s actually lower in alcohol and calories than Budweiser.) I’ve taken notes on every single new [...]

How to Find the Most Comfortable Mattress

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

What’s The Most Comfortable Mattress Type? So you want to know what the most comfortable mattress is? The quick answer: The mattress that best suits your needs will prove to be the most comfortable. This isn’t a cop-out, it’s just the quick answer. The truth is, there is no magic mattress that is best for […]

The post How to Find the Most Comfortable Mattress appeared first on Sleep Junkie.

Is a Cat a Liquid?

Is a Cat a Liquid?

by Marc-Antoine Fardin @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published on the Conversation and was republished here with permission.

A liquid is traditionally defined as a material that adapts its shape to fit a container. Yet under certain conditions, cats seem to fit this definition.

This somewhat paradoxical observation emerged on the web a few years ago and joined the long list of internet memes involving our feline friends. When I first saw this question it made me laugh and then think. I decided to reformulate it to illustrate some problems at the heart of rheology, the study of the deformations and flows of matter. My study on the rheology of cats won the 2017 Ig Nobel prize in physics.

The prizes are awarded every year by Improbable Research, an organization devoted to science and humor. The goal is to highlight scientific studies that first make people laugh, then think. A ceremony is held every year at Harvard University.

At the center of the definition of a liquid is an action: A material must be able to modify its form to fit within a container. The action must also have a characteristic duration. In rheology, this is called the relaxation time. Determining if something is liquid depends on whether it’s observed over a time period that’s shorter or longer than the relaxation time.

If we take cats as our example, the fact is that they can adapt their shape to their containers if we give them enough time. Cats are thus liquid if we give them the time to become liquid. In rheology, the state of a material is not really a fixed property—what must be measured is the relaxation time. What is its value, and on what does it depend? For example, does the relaxation time of a cat vary with its age? (In rheology, we speak of thixotropy.)

Could the type of container be a factor? (In rheology, this is studied in “wetting” problems.) Or does it vary with the cat’s degree of stress? (One speaks of “shear thickening” if the relaxation time increases with stress or “shear thinning” if the opposite is true.) Of course, we mean stress in the mechanical sense rather than emotional, but the two meanings may overlap in some cases.

What cats show clearly is that determining the state of a material requires comparing two time periods: the relaxation time and the experimental time, which is the time elapsed since the onset of deformation initiated by the container. For instance, it may be the time elapsed since the cat stepped into a sink. Conventionally, one divides the relaxation time by the experimental time, and if the result is more than 1, the material is relatively solid; if the result is lower than 1, the material is relatively liquid.

This is referred to as the Deborah number, after the biblical priestess who remarked that on geological time scales (“before God”) even mountains flowed. On shorter time scales, one can see glaciers progressively flowing down valleys.

Even if the relaxation time is very large (days, years), the behavior can be that of a liquid if the Deborah number is small (compared to 1). Conversely, even if the relaxation time is very small (milliseconds), the behavior can be that of a solid if the Deborah number is large (compared to 1). This is the case if one observes a water balloon at the instant when it’s popped.

The Deborah number is an example of a dimensionless number: Since we divide one time period by another, the ratio does not have any unit. In rheology, and in science more generally, there are many dimensionless numbers that can be used to determine the state or regime of a material or system.

For liquids, there is another dimensionless number that can be used to estimate whether the flow will be turbulent, with vortices, or whether it will calmly follow the outline of the container (we say that the flow is laminar).

If the flow speed is V and the container has a typical size h perpendicular to the flow, then we can define the velocity gradient V/h. The inverse of this velocity gradient scales as a time.

Comparing this duration and the relaxation time produces the Reynolds number in the case of fluids dominated by inertia (like water) or the Weissenberg number for those dominated by elasticity (like cake batter). If these dimensionless numbers are large in comparison to 1, then the flow is likely to be turbulent. If they’re small in comparison to 1, the flow is likely to be laminar.

Asking the question of whether cats were a liquid allowed me to illustrate the use of these dimensionless numbers in rheology. I hope that it will make people laugh and then think.

Gold Certified Sustainable Mattress Store

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

Mattress Lot gets the gold! The neighborhood owned mattress store is Portland’s first ever mattress store to earn the prestigious Read More

The post Gold Certified Sustainable Mattress Store appeared first on The Mattress Lot.

On Sleeping Styles and Positions

by seoteam @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

There’s always something mysterious about sleep. Other than allowing us to regain our strength in a very elaborate fashion, it also gives a number of hints about our health and the type of lifestyle we have. There have been many studies and surveys about sleeping,...

The post On Sleeping Styles and Positions appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

5 Reasons Why Composting is the Greenest Thing You Can Do

by Mimi Schultz @ Nest Organics

It’s no secret that keen environmentalists love talking about composting. Here’s five reasons why it’s a key factor for sustainability and features prominently in green debates. 1. Composting reduces landfill waste and incineration, and therefore emissions. Modern waste management methods are environmental tragedies. Waste lies stagnant in landfill sites where the vital oxygen that is […]

Trump’s New NASA Chief Controls One of the Most Important Parts of Climate Science

Trump’s New NASA Chief Controls One of the Most Important Parts of Climate Science

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

President Donald Trump has made no effort to hide his vehement disbelief that climate change is real: He’s chosen to pull the country out of the 2016 Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and he’s found egregious ways to dismantle much of former President Barack Obama’s moves to combat it, too. And now, NASA, it seems, will not escape Trump’s disdain of sound environmental policy. Trump’s nominee for the agency’s new administrator is Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., a man who’s been vying for the job since the election, and who is also no friend to climate science.

In 2013, for instance, Bridenstine said matter-of-factly on the congressional floor that global temperatures “stopped rising 10 years ago”—a pretty bold statement for someone with no real scientific background. His explanation? “Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with sun output and ocean cycles.” Needless to say, that’s not quite how it works.

On Wednesday, the Senate’s science committee held a hearing to finally question Bridenstine on his qualifications, and the Democratic members of the committee raced to grill him on his scientific literacy. For his part, the congressman told the committee his views of climate change have evolved.

“I believe carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. I believe that humans have contributed to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he said. Bridenstine said that he “absolutely” believes climate change is real and that it was creating tangible problems in the form of increased rain and storm formation. “All that is very real and happening.”

It is, of course, good that he could get behind a true statement like that, but it’s extremely disheartening that his reputation necessitated such a statement to be made in the first place. Even more disheartening was that he copped out on the question of whether human activity was the leading cause of climate change—something the vast majority of scientists say is true. “We’re just scratching the surface,” he said, defecting to the classic denialist line that more studies were needed.

Obviously Bridenstine should join us in the year 2017 and accept that humans are causing climatic havoc, but hey, if he actually does think we need to learn more, NASA’s the perfect place to start.

Although NASA’s a powerhouse name thanks to its space travel exploits, it also plays a critically underrated role in the world of Earth science research. One of the reasons why climate scientists are so good at their jobs is because they’re able to utilize the data observed and collected by a variety of NASA’s orbital satellites, taking real-time measurements of the Earth’s temperatures, atmospheric chemistry, fluctuations and changes in ocean currents and air movements, and glacier melts. The world’s scientists are given unimpeded access to that data, so they can translate those raw numbers into trends and conclusions that help us understand the world that we inhabit. That’s one of the reasons we know the Earth is getting warmer, the sea levels are rising faster, and humans are to blame. NASA’s tools and minds are essential to tracking this phenomenon.

A lot of this is in the form of imagery. Those state-of-the-art cameras on those satellites are some of the best tools used in showing people much of the Arctic has been lost in the past few decades; the extent to which coastlines are now becoming inundated by flood waters and rising tides; the loss of fertile, green land to extended drought; and more. Moreover, this isn’t work other government agencies could easily pick up. Besides how crucial it is to have NASA engineers at the helm in designing, building, and operating these forms of equipment, there’s an institutional knowledge and expertise that would be lost by trying to shuffle these investigations into other places.

Trump clearly doesn’t care about this work. The administration’s proposed 2018 budget—hypothetical, yes, but meaningful when it comes to discerning intent—would put the kibosh on five different Earth science missions, including a pernicious move to needlessly end an Earth-imaging mission that’s already ongoing. It’s proposed as a cost-saving measure, but in government terms, the savings are not huge—$191 million in 2018 and $850 million over four years amounts to a fraction of NASA’s overall annual budget of about $19 billion.

Bridenstine said Wednesday he wants to continue NASA’s Earth science work, but it’s entirely unclear how aggressive he’ll work to this end. Those five missions Trump wants to nix were meant to replace a fleet of old climate satellites that are on their last legs, and currently there’s no real plan to replace them. Moreover, while Bridenstine has said he intends to lead NASA apolitically and will not seek to punish or reassign Earth science researchers for their views, it’s incredibly doubtful NASA’s personnel will have much confidence in Bridenstine’s ability to protect NASA from Trump’s brash whims.

Instead, Bridenstine’s nomination feels a lot like another recurring theme of the new administration: disarm the clout of federal agencies from the inside by appointing heads who will toe an adversarial line. He seems to be a softer cut of that strategy but part of the plan nonetheless.

Will Puerto Rico’s Official Death Count From Maria Ever Be Accurate?

Will Puerto Rico’s Official Death Count From Maria Ever Be Accurate?

by Alexis R. Santos-Lozada @ Slate Articles

This story is republished with permission from the Conversation.

“If you don’t get away from those areas, you are going to die.” That phrase concluded Puerto Rico Secretary of Public Safety Héctor Pesquera’s press conference before Hurricane Maria.

Three months after the storm, he is one of the fiercest protectors of the official death count. As of Dec. 29, the Department of Public Safety had certified 64 deaths due to Hurricane Maria.

However, estimates reported by CNN, the New York Times, and others tell a very different story.

I was part of the team of demographers that developed the first independent estimates of excess deaths, with the objective of informing the public. Like the estimates published by those media outlets, our numbers contrasted significantly with the official figure. The most shocking results from our study suggest that deaths in September and October were 25 percent above the historical patterns—with about 1,085 added deaths following the hurricane.

Determining the number of excess deaths after a natural disaster is not only a mathematical exercise. Undercounting deaths reduces the attention to the crisis Puerto Ricans live day by day. It can also delay international recovery efforts and the approval of policies to help those who need it the most.

Death counts for Hurricane Maria
How many people died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria? The official count is at 64, but studies by other researchers and media outlets estimate many hundreds more.

Our study compared preliminary data from the Department of Public Safety with historical patterns for the same months in the past decade. In other words, we compared the number of deaths in September and October last year with data from the same period of time in 2010 to 2016. This is how we concluded that there were 1,085 extra deaths, in excess of historical ranges.

So why are more than 1,000 deaths missing from the official count? My colleagues and I suspect it may come down to how deaths are recorded by government officials.

In Puerto Rico, deaths are recorded using international classifications. This system doesn’t capture all of the circumstances surrounding a death that happens following a natural disaster. The death may have been accelerated by some conditions—like difficulty communicating during the emergency.

Deaths associated with a particular natural disaster can be classified as direct or indirect deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, direct deaths are those “directly attributable to the forces of the disaster or by the direct consequences of these forces, such as structural collapse, flying debris or radiation exposure.”

“Indirect deaths” may be associated with any unsafe or unhealthy conditions before, during, and after the natural disaster.

For example, Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s power grid. So, someone whose life depended on a dialysis machine would no longer be able to use one. In official certificates, their death would be classified as kidney-related and not attributed to the hurricane—even though the death was accelerated by lack of resources required by the patient to stay alive.

The same would happen to someone whose life depended on respiratory aid. Their death would be classified as pulmonary-related.

Or, say a person feels chest pain and suspects a heart attack. Their immediate reaction might be to call 911. A working communications structure may be able to get help in time and save a life. But in the days following Hurricane Maria, only 25 percent of the cellphone towers were working. Communication was virtually impossible.

Under the international system, a death resulting from these circumstances would be classified as a result of cardiovascular conditions and would not be attributed to the hurricane either.

In light of the mounting evidence, Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló has ordered a review of the causes of death for those who died after Hurricane Maria.

The review is a step in the right direction. But will the official count change? Probably not. As of Wednesday, the government was requiring families to visit the Department of Public Safety and to report if a death was related to Hurricane Maria. But merely revising the causes of death is not enough to determine whether that death was indirectly related to Hurricane Maria. Those in charge of the death count review will need to interview families and ask them about the conditions surrounding the tragedy.

Following the impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the CDC published guidelines that state and territorial governments should follow to determine whether a death is related or not to a specific event. Following these guidelines could provide the government of Puerto Rico with a more realistic death count. It remains to be seen whether the new count will follow this protocol.

An accurate death count could be used to inform policies, supplement requests for aid in the national and international context, and inform local governments as they prepare for future natural disasters that may impact Puerto Rico, particularly extreme weather events now that climate change is expected to worsen. Hurricane Maria was the first storm to destroy the power grid in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is six months away from the next hurricane season, and experts predict it will be an active one.

Finally, minimized figures could weaken efforts to provide relief to communities affected by the hurricane at the local and international level. Given that Puerto Rico does not hold political power in Congress and that the only representative does not vote, it’s crucial to convey the reality to all elected officials, so that their votes align with the necessities of those who are still in Puerto Rico.

With Syria Signing the Paris Agreement, U.S. Will Be Only Nation Opposed to Climate Action

With Syria Signing the Paris Agreement, U.S. Will Be Only Nation Opposed to Climate Action

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

On Tuesday, representatives of the Syrian government announced the country’s intention to sign the Paris Climate Accord, the international pact attempting to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Syria’s announcement brings the total count of committed countries to 197 and leaves the United States alone in its intention to withdraw from the agreement, a decision President Donald Trump announced in early June. (Due to the logistics of the agreement, the earliest date Trump can officially take this action is Nov. 4, 2020—the day after the next presidential election.)

When Trump announced his intentions, only two other countries had not committed to the agreement: Syria and Nicaragua, for very different reasons. Nicaragua, which sits between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, said the stipulations of the climate treaty actually weren’t severe enough. Syria, meanwhile, was in the middle of a civil war as the accords were being drawn up and debated. But in October, Nicaragua finally signed on to the treaty, with vice president and first lady Rosario Murillo calling it “the only instrument we have” to combat climate change. And Syria’s commitment, which was announced during the United Nations’ 2017 climate change conference currently underway in Germany, means the United States is now the only nation unwilling to join. (Trump is not in Germany; he is currently on a diplomatic trip through Asia.)

A White House spokesperson referred reporters to the statement it released after Nicaragua signed, which repeated Trump’s June line that the administration was pulling out because it was a bad deal for the U.S. “[T]he United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable for our country,” the official statement read.

The United States is currently second only to China when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, participants were essentially allowed to set their own targets for emissions reductions, creating a collaborative process that many thought was our best hope for action. It’s also worth noting that most of the nations that signed on and are actively working to meet the Paris goals still aren’t actually succeeding: As the New York Times demonstrates, the European Union, Canada, China, and of course, the United States are all falling short of their goals.

This isn’t great news, of course, but the 197 signatories still haven’t given up. The whole reason Syrian delegates were in Germany today was for a United Nations conference aimed at closing these gaps between promises and reality. It’s also possible that the United States’ withdrawal has renewed a sense of commitment from other countries—and from states and cities within our own country. As Syria begins to lay out its path to climate action, many American cities and states are still working on limiting their own carbon emissions, sort of like unofficial mini-signatories to the climate accords. California and New York are creating policies that support renewable energy and a shift to electric vehicles. Given how motivating the backlash to the election of Donald Trump was to climate activists the world over, his decision to pull out of a widely-supported international program is another drop of fuel in an already raging fire, and could, in a way, actually serve as a strong motivation to complete this daunting task.

Within the U.S., it also illustrates the divide between Republican leadership and the American people when it comes to climate action. The majority of Americans—7 out of 10—supported the Paris Agreement. And they support other climate strategies, too: One poll suggests 69 percent want to restrict carbon emissions from coal plants. But the White House and Republican-led Congress are dead-set on doing the opposite.

So what happens next? Even if the United States had stayed in the agreement, it’s clear it would have been hard to meet our goals. But by prematurely skipping out, the federal government is now free to ignore the commitments it had made. Hopefully, Americans will pick up the mantle on climate action even without federal support. That way, we wouldn’t have to isolate our entire country, just our president.

Reusable Mama Cloth Pad review: Party in my Pants!

Reusable Mama Cloth Pad review: Party in my Pants!

by ecofriendlymamausa @ Eco-friendly baby/family products MADE in USA

WARNING: this post discusses menstruation & reusable options. I’ve had some people react negatively to this in the past. I understand this may not be an option all of you are interested in. If you are not, turn back, keep scrolling. If you are, read on please! My “green” journey never ends. I continue to […]

Room Alterations for a Great Sleep

by seoteam @ 2 Brothers Mattress – Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork

At 2 Brothers Mattress, our goal is to help provide you with the materials to get the perfect night’s sleep every night. Our mattresses come in a wide range of prices, styles and comfort arrangements to make sleep a simpler and more relaxing process for...

The post Room Alterations for a Great Sleep appeared first on 2 Brothers Mattress - Best Price Gurantee- Salt Lake, West Jordan, Orem, American Fork.

Memorial Mattress Special May 22-29

by Nest @ Nest Organics

    Save up to $600 from May 22-29! Receive FREE organic pillow(s) and a sheet set with every adult Naturepedic mattress purchase!

A Mattress With Customized Firmness and Support Is Best

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

  Buying a mattress is a very personal choice. There is not one mattress thickness, firmness and support which is perfect for everyone. Therefore, it’s important that you are able to customize your mattress, so that it is perfect for your particular sleeping pattern and body type. One of the wonderful things about PlushBeds 100% natural latex mattresses is that they are hand crafted and customized Read More

Why Are Conservatives More Susceptible to Believing Lies?

Why Are Conservatives More Susceptible to Believing Lies?

by John Ehrenreich @ Slate Articles

Many conservatives have a loose relationship with facts. The right-wing denial of what most people think of as accepted reality starts with political issues: As recently as 2016, 45 percent of Republicans still believed that the Affordable Care Act included “death panels” (it doesn’t). A 2015 poll found that 54 percent of GOP primary voters believed then-President Obama to be a Muslim (…he isn’t).

Then there are the false beliefs about generally accepted science. Only 25 percent of self-proclaimed Trump voters agree that climate change is caused by human activities. Only 43 percent of Republicans overall believe that humans have evolved over time.

And then it gets really crazy. Almost 1 in 6 Trump voters, while simultaneously viewing photographs of the crowds at the 2016 inauguration of Donald Trump and at the 2012 inauguration of Barack Obama , insisted that the former were larger. Sixty-six percent of self-described “very conservative” Americans seriously believe that “Muslims are covertly implementing Sharia law in American courts.” Forty-six percent of Trump voters polled just after the 2016 election either thought that Hillary Clinton was connected to a child sex trafficking ring run out of the basement of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., or weren’t sure if it was true.

If “truth” is judged on the basis of Enlightenment ideas of reason and more or less objective “evidence,” many of the substantive positions common on the right seem to border on delusional. The left is certainly not immune to credulity (most commonly about the safety of vaccines, GMO foods, and fracking), but the right seems to specialize in it. “Misinformation is currently predominantly a pathology of the right,” concluded a team of scholars from the Harvard Kennedy School and Northeastern University at a February 2017 conference. A BuzzFeed analysis found that three main hyperconservative Facebook pages were roughly twice as likely as three leading ultraliberal Facebook pages to publish fake or misleading information.

Why are conservatives so susceptible to misinformation? The right wing’s disregard for facts and reasoning is not a matter of stupidity or lack of education. College-educated Republicans are actually more likely than less-educated Republicans to have believed that Barack Obama was a Muslim and that “death panels” were part of the ACA. And for political conservatives, but not for liberals, greater knowledge of science and math is associated with a greater likelihood of dismissing what almost all scientists believe about the human causation of global warming.

It’s also not just misinformation gained from too many hours listening to Fox News, either, because correcting the falsehoods doesn’t change their opinions. For example, nine months following the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, the percentage of Republicans who believed that he was not American-born was actually higher than before the release. Similarly, during the 2012 presidential campaign, Democrats corrected their previous overestimates of the unemployment rate after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the actual data. Republicans’ overestimated even more than before.

Part of the problem is widespread suspicion of facts—any facts. Both mistrust of scientists and other “experts” and mistrust of the mass media that reports what scientists and experts believe have increased among conservatives (but not among liberals) since the early ’80s. The mistrust has in part, at least, been deliberately inculcated. The fossil fuel industry publicizes studies to confuse the climate change debate; Big Pharma hides unfavorable information on drug safety and efficacy; and many schools in conservative areas teach students that evolution is “just a theory.” The public is understandably confused about both the findings and methods of science. “Fake news” deliberately created for political or economic gain and Donald Trump’s claims that media sites that disagree with him are “fake news” add to the mistrust.

But, the gullibility of many on the right seems to have deeper roots even than this. That may be because at the most basic level, conservatives and liberals seem to hold different beliefs about what constitutes “truth.” Finding facts and pursuing evidence and trusting science is part of liberal ideology itself. For many conservatives, faith and intuition and trust in revealed truth appear as equally valid sources of truth.

To understand how these differences manifest and what we might do about them, it helps to understand how all humans reason and rationalize: In other words, let’s take a detour into psychology. Freud distinguished between “errors” on the one hand, “illusions” and “delusions” on the other. Errors, he argued, simply reflect lack of knowledge or poor logic; Aristotle’s belief that vermin form out of dung was an error. But illusions and delusions are based on conscious or unconscious wishes; Columbus’s belief that he had found a new route to the Indies was a delusion based on his wish that he had done so.

Although Freud is out of favor with many contemporary psychologists, modern cognitive psychology suggests that he was on the right track. The tenacity of many of the right’s beliefs in the face of evidence, rational arguments, and common sense suggest that these beliefs are not merely alternate interpretations of facts but are instead illusions rooted in unconscious wishes. 

This is a very human thing to do. As popular writers such as Daniel Kahneman, Cass Sunstein, and Richard Thaler have pointed out, we often use shortcuts when we reason, shortcuts that enable us to make decisions quickly and with little expenditure of mental energy. But they also often lead us astray—we underestimate the risks of events that unfold slowly and whose consequences are felt only over the long term (think global warming) and overestimate the likelihood of events that unfold rapidly and have immediate consequences (think terrorist attacks).

Our reasoning is also influenced (motivated, psychologists would say) by our emotions and instincts. This manifests in all kinds of ways: We need to maintain a positive self-image, to stave off anxiety and guilt, and to preserve social relationships. We also seek to maintain consistency in our beliefs, meaning that when people simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values, one or the other must go. And so we pay more attention and give more credence to information and assertions that confirm what we already believe: Liberals enthusiastically recount even the most tenuous circumstantial evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, and dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporters happily believe that the crowd really was bigger at his candidate’s inauguration.

These limits to “objective” reasoning apply to everyone, of course—left and right. Why is it that conservatives have taken the lead in falling off the deep edge?

The answer, I think, lies in the interaction between reasoning processes and personality. It’s each person’s particular motivations and particular psychological makeup that affects how they search for information, what information they pay attention to, how they assess the accuracy and meaning of the information, what information they retain, and what conclusions they draw. But conservatives and liberals typically differ in their particular psychological makeups. And if you add up all of these particular differences, you get two groups that are systematically motivated to believe different things.

Psychologists have repeatedly reported that self-described conservatives tend to place a higher value than those to their left on deference to tradition and authority. They are more likely to value stability, conformity, and order, and have more difficulty tolerating novelty and ambiguity and uncertainty. They are more sensitive than liberals to information suggesting the possibility of danger than to information suggesting benefits. And they are more moralistic and more likely to repress unconscious drives towards unconventional sexuality.

Fairness and kindness place lower on the list of moral priorities for conservatives than for liberals. Conservatives show a stronger preference for higher status groups, are more accepting of inequality and injustice, and are less empathic (at least towards those outside their immediate family). As one Tea Party member told University of California sociologist Arlie Hochschild, “People think we are not good people if we don’t feel sorry for blacks and immigrants and Syrian refugees. But I am a good person and I don’t feel sorry for them.”

Baptist minister and former Republican congressman J.C. Watts put it succinctly. Campaigning for Sen. Rand Paul in Iowa in 2015 he observed, “The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good.”

These conservative traits lead directly to conservative views on many issues, just as liberal traits tend to lead to liberal views on many issues. But when you consider how these conservative traits and these conservative views interact with commonly shared patterns of motivated reasoning, it becomes clearer why conservatives may be more likely to run into errors in reasoning and into difficulty judging accurately what is true and what is false.

It’s not just that Trump is “their” president, so they want to defend him. Conservatives’ greater acceptance of hierarchy and trust in authority may lead to greater faith that what the president says must be true, even when the “facts” would seem to indicate otherwise. The New York Times cataloged no less than 117 clearly false statements proclaimed publicly by Trump in the first six months of his presidency, with no evident loss in his supporters’ faith in him. In the same way, greater faith in the legitimacy of the decisions of corporate CEOs may strengthen the tendency to deny evidence that there are any potential benefits from regulation of industry.

Similarly, greater valuation of stability, greater sensitivity to the possibility of danger, and greater difficulty tolerating difference and change lead to greater anxiety about social change and so support greater credulity with respect to lurid tales of the dangers posed by immigrants. And higher levels of repression and greater adherence to tradition and traditional sources of moral judgment increase the credibility of claims that gay marriage is a threat to the “traditional” family.

Conservatives are also less introspective, less attentive to their inner feelings, and less likely to override their “gut” reactions and engage in further reflection to find a correct answer. As a result, they may be more likely to rely on error-prone cognitive shortcuts, less aware of their own unconscious biases, and less likely to respond to factual corrections to previously held beliefs.

The differences in how conservatives and liberals process information are augmented by an asymmetry in group psychological processes. Yes, we all seek to keep our social environment stable and predictable. Beliefs that might threaten relationships with family, neighbors, and friends (e.g., for a fundamentalist evangelical to believe that humans are the result of Darwinian evolution or for a coal miner to believe that climate change is real and human-made) must be ignored or denied, at peril of disrupting the relationships. But among all Americans, the intensity of social networks has declined in recent years. Church attendance and union membership, participation in community organizations, and direct political involvement have flagged. Conservatives come disproportionately from rural areas and small towns, where social networks remain smaller, but denser and more homogeneous than in the big cities that liberals dominate. As a result, the opinions of family, friends, and community may be more potent in conservative hotbeds than in the more anonymous big cities where Democrats dominate.

The lack of shared reality between left and right in America today has contributed greatly to our current political polarization. Despite occasional left forays into reality denial, conservatives are far more likely to accept misinformation and outright lies. Deliberate campaigns of misinformation and conservative preferences for information that fits in with their pre-existing ideology provide only a partial explanation. Faulty reasoning and judgment, rooted in the interactions between modes of reasoning and judgment shared by all with the specific personality patterns found disproportionately among conservatives may also play a central role.

Which Natural Mattress is Right For You? | Mama Natural

Which Natural Mattress is Right For You? | Mama Natural

Mama Natural

So it’s time for us to get a new mattress, and, of course, I’m looking for a natural, “eco-friendly” one. After all, a lot of conventional mattresses are made with harmful chemicals and all sorts of bad stuff and we sleep (and sometimes co-sleep with our kids) on these things for 8 hours a night! …

Ending the “War on Coal” Could Cause a Public Health Crisis

Ending the “War on Coal” Could Cause a Public Health Crisis

by Emily Atkin @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by New Republic and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

Of all the scenes of devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, one video has stood out. Shot from a balcony or rooftop, it depicts six seconds of horror: the city of Guayama, on the island’s southern coast, engulfed by a violent river. Deep, fast-moving water rushes through the streets, slipping over cars and picking up debris. The images would be jarring in any city, but they are particularly terrifying in this one. Guayama is home not just to 42,000 people, who are now struggling to survive, but also to a five-story-tall pile of toxic coal ash—another environmental catastrophe in the making.

Weeks after Hurricane Maria’s landfall, the status of Guayama’s coal-ash pile remains unclear. How much of this waste—the leftovers from burning coal—got into the floodwater or into the air? The company that owns the pile, AES Puerto Rico, did not respond to requests for comment. But scientific researchers have long raised concerns that the coal ash, which contains high levels of arsenic, mercury, and chromium, represents a massive health hazard—one that Maria has now likely exacerbated.

This is hardly an isolated issue. There are more than 1,000 coal-ash storage sites across the United States, from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Denver. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the coal industry generates 130 million tons of ash each year, making it one of the largest sources of industrial waste in the country. According to the Sierra Club, this waste has contaminated more than 23,000 miles of waterways—including nearly 400 bodies of water used for human consumption. Duke University scientists have found that coal-ash storage ponds consistently contaminate nearby water sources, threatening both wildlife and people.

The consequences for human health can be serious. Families living near a coal-ash pond in Belmont, North Carolina, for example, have reported abnormally high rates of cancer, and in 2015, the state advised residents not to drink tap water or cook with it. The coal industry hotly disputes the idea that coal-ash ponds are responsible, but environmentalists argue that the link appears clear. “We’ve had really high spikes in arsenic in our main drinking water source in the region, and it’s because for years we didn’t have enough regulation,” says Sam Perkins, the program director at the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The last thing we need to be doing is adding any more coal ash to these sites.”

But in the name of ending the so-called war on coal, the Trump administration has been loosening environmental regulations designed to keep coal ash in check. The EPA has repealed restrictions on toxic waste from mountaintop-removal mining, which sends dangerous heavy metals tumbling into streams and rivers. And it has put on hold a regulation that restricted the levels of mercury, arsenic, and other pollutants coal plants can produce and that prohibited certain types of chemical-laden waste from being discharged into bodies of water. The EPA estimated that the policy would have decreased coal waste by 1.4 billion pounds each year—a huge benefit to public health. But the rule would also have cost the coal industry $480 million annually, due to the new treatment systems and other equipment coal plants would need to install.

In fact, one of the administration’s most recent decisions came via a request by AES Puerto Rico. Earlier this year, the company asked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to pause a regulation regarding the monitoring and storage of coal ash. And in September—before Hurricane Maria hit—AES got what it wanted: Pruitt announced he would reconsider the Obama-era rule, which would have required coal companies to make sure their waste pits are not leaking or otherwise threatening human health. The regulation would have meant an existential threat for the industry. Forcing companies to monitor the pollution from their coal waste would have revealed just how great a health hazard coal ash truly represents—potentially exposing coal companies to costly class-action lawsuits that could result in payouts in the millions.

Environmentalists have consoled themselves with the knowledge that Trump can’t actually prevent coal’s downfall. Most analysts agree that coal can’t compete with alternative energy sources like natural gas, wind, and solar, which are easier and cheaper to produce. “The long-term prognosis for the coal industry in every region from now through 2050 is poor,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has concluded. Even Robert Murray, the founder and chief executive of America’s biggest coal firm, Murray Energy, has said that Trump should “temper his expectations” when it comes to resuscitating the coal industry. “He can’t bring them back,” Murray has said of mining jobs.

But as the crisis in Puerto Rico suggests, even a short-term surge in coal production may have lasting repercussions. By dismantling regulations that limit the amount of waste these companies produce and that enable the government to hold them accountable for polluting, Trump is compounding a public health disaster that every powerful storm surge will compound further—and that will continue long after the last coal-fired power plant shuts down.

8 Cold-Weather Tips for Better Sleep

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

More than just a temperature change, cooler weather affects the air, habits, and even sleep. It’s time to pack away your flip-flops, and bring out the pumpkin spice lattes. Fall is here, and the colder winter temperatures are on their way. Besides staying warm, winter brings its own unique challenges for sleep. From dry air […]

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NASA Is Pivoting to Astrobiology

NASA Is Pivoting to Astrobiology

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

On Wednesday, NASA announced its selection of two robotic mission concepts as the top finalists for a launch to be held in the mid-2020s: an exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan and a trip to a comet to retrieve compound samples for lab testing. While the missions are radically different in what they’ll investigate, both underscore a larger pivot in NASA’s allocation of time, resources, and manpower toward extraterrestrial worlds in the hopes of one day finding a planet or moon capable of hosting life—or already hosting, yes, aliens.

The mission to Titan, called Dragonfly, would send a dronelike spacecraft out to the moon to study the world’s chemistry and potential habitability. Titan is thought to possess a subsurface liquid ocean that could be a breeding ground for biological life. Along with Titan’s dense atmosphere, its conditions are extremely encouraging for scientists hoping to stumble on signs of extraterrestrial life within our solar system.

The other mission, the Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return, or CAESAR, would expand on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to assess the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. CAESAR would take a step forward and study the comet’s origin and history in hopes of learning more about how comets could be the delivery boys of materials essential to the evolution and support of life, such as water and other organic compounds.

NASA will select one mission sometime in spring 2019 for continued development, ostensibly for launch sometime in the next decade. But more importantly, the selection of these two missions, over 12 others, is key evidence that NASA is pivoting its science missions toward astrobiology. This is a purposeful pivot that makes sense given recent history.

In just a few years, for example, NASA will launch its Mars 2020 rover to the red planet with the explicit goal of investigating whether Mars was once habitable and home to extraterrestrial organisms. The Juno spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter is surveying the planet’s atmosphere to learn whether gas giants are a sort of chemical lab for materials essential to life. Some agency experts are making the case for why other ocean worlds orbiting Jupiter and Saturn, like Enceladus or Europa, are worthy destinations for the search for alien life, too.   

Outside the solar system, scientists already suspect nearly every star in the galaxy possesses a planet. Rough estimates suggest the vast majority of those aren’t gaseous giants like Saturn or Jupiter but rocky like Earth. Many of them, we’re learning as we tally up our exoplanet discoveries, sit in regions around their stars where they might be capable of possessing an atmosphere and liquid surface water—meaning life could make a home there. Of the 3,504 exoplanets scientists have found and confirmed, 53 are thought to be potentially habitable. And when you remember space is literally infinite, it seems bonkers to bet against the possibility life exists somewhere.

Additionally, the more we learn about life here on Earth, the more it seems possible that even in harsh environmental conditions, alien life could still evolve and learn to survive. The ability of tardigrades to survive the vacuum of space itself feels like proof of that.

There’s more reason to believe the astrobiology push is a permanent fixture of NASA’s vision for its future. Just this week, New Scientist reported on NASA’s ongoing efforts to develop plans for a robotic mission into interstellar space by 2069 (the 100-year anniversary of Apollo 11). The plan is to send a spacecraft to investigate the nearest exoplanet to Earth, Proxima b, located just 4.24 light-years away. Although those plans are far in the future and will require a massive upgrade in space propulsion technology, it’s clear the agency wants to be at the forefront of what is possibly the most exciting scientific endeavor of the century. (Russian billionaire Yuri Milner is already throwing $100 million to that goal in the form of his Breakthrough Starshot project, which aims to send ultralight nanocraft to explore the same region that’s home to Proxima b.)

This year, Congress told NASA to “search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe.” It seems the agency is taking that directive to heart and pivoting to astrobiology.

The Largest Known Prime Number

The Largest Known Prime Number

by Evelyn Lamb @ Slate Articles

Update, Jan. 4, 2018: On Wednesday, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search announced that a computer owned by Jonathan Pace in Germantown, Tennessee, discovered a new prime number. At 23,249,425 digits, the number, known as M77232917, is now the largest known prime.

In 2016, I wrote the following article about the previous largest known prime, which is now the second largest known prime. Its name is M74207281, and it’s about a million digits shorter than the shiny new prime. But other than a few details about whose computer found it and exactly how long it is, I could have written this article today about the new prime. So we’re sharing it with you again.

It’s exciting to find a new largest known prime number, but this is another verse of the same song. Both numbers, like nine of the 10 largest known prime numbers, have a special form and are called Mersenne primes. We find them because that’s where we keep looking. The light is better there. Between these two largest known primes lie an unfathomable number of monstrously large primes; we may never find even one.

Original, Jan. 22, 2016: Earlier this week, BBC News reported an important mathematical finding, sharing the news under the headline “Largest Known Prime Number Discovered in Missouri.” That phrasing makes it sound a bit like this new prime number—it’s 274,207,281-1, by the way—was found in the middle of some road, underneath a street lamp. That’s actually not a bad way to think about it.

We know about this enormous prime number thanks to the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. The Mersenne hunt, known as GIMPS, is a large distributed computing project in which volunteers run software to search for prime numbers. Perhaps the best-known analogue is SETI@home, which searches for signs of extraterrestrial life. GIMPS has had a bit more tangible success than SETI, with 15 primes discovered so far. The shiny new prime, charmingly nicknamed M74207281, is the fourth found by University of Central Missouri mathematician Curtis Cooper using GIMPS software. This one is 22,338,618 digits long.

A prime number is a whole number whose only factors are 1 and itself. The numbers 2, 3, 5, and 7 are prime, but 4 is not because it can be factored as 2 x 2. (For reasons of convenience, we don’t consider 1 to be a prime.) The M in GIMPS and in M74207281 stands for Marin Mersenne, a 17th-century French friar who studied the numbers that bear his name. Mersenne numbers are 1 less than a power of 2. Mersenne primes, logically enough, are Mersenne numbers that are also prime. The number 3 is a Mersenne prime because it’s one less than 22, which is 4. The next few Mersenne primes are 7, 31, and 127.

M74207281 is the 49th known Mersenne prime. The next largest known prime, 257,885,161-1, is also a Mersenne prime. So is the one after that. And the next one. And the next one. All in all, the 11 largest known primes are Mersenne.

Why do we know about so many large Mersenne primes and so few large non-Mersenne ones? It’s not because large Mersenne primes are particularly common, and it’s not a spectacular coincidence. That brings us back to the road and the street lamp. There are several different versions of the story. A man, perhaps he’s drunk, is on his hands and knees underneath a streetlight. A kind passerby, perhaps a police officer, stops to ask what he’s doing. “I’m looking for my keys,” the man replies. “Did you lose them over here?” the officer asks. “No, I lost them down the street,” the man says, “but the light is better here.”

We keep finding large Mersenne primes because the light is better there.

First, we know that only a few Mersenne numbers are even candidates for being Mersenne primes. The exponent n in 2n-1 needs to be prime, so we don’t need to bother to check 26-1, for example.* There are a few other technical conditions that make certain prime exponents more enticing to try. Finally, there’s a particular test of primeness—the Lucas–Lehmer test—that can only be used on Mersenne numbers.

To understand why the test even exists, let’s take a detour to explore why we bother finding primes in the first place. There are infinitely many of them, so it’s not like we’re going to eventually find the biggest one. But aside from being interesting in a “math for math’s sake” kind of way, finding primes is good business. RSA encryption, one of the standard ways to scramble data online, requires the user (perhaps your bank or Amazon) to come up with two big primes and multiply them together. Assuming the encryption is implemented correctly, the difficulty of factoring the resulting product is the only thing between hackers and your credit card number.

This new Mersenne prime is not going to be used for encryption any time soon. Currently we only need primes that are a few hundred digits long to keep our secrets safe, so the millions of digits in M74207281 are overkill, for now.

You can’t just look up a 300-digit prime in a table. (There are about 10297 of them. Even if we wanted to, we physically could not write them all down.) To find large primes to use in RSA encryption, we need to test randomly generated numbers for primality. One way to do this is trial division: Divide the number by smaller numbers and see if you ever get a whole number back. For large primes, this takes way too long. Hence there are primality tests that can determine whether a number is prime without actually factoring it. The Lucas-Lehmer test is one of the best.

The heat death of the universe would occur before we could get even a fraction of the way through trial division of a number with 22 million digits. It only took a month, however, for a computer to use the Lucas-Lehmer test to determine that M74207281 is prime. There are no other primality tests that run nearly as quickly for arbitrary 22 million–digit numbers.

How many primes have we missed by looking for them mostly under the Lucas-Lehmer street lamp? We don’t know the exact answer, but the prime number theorem gets us close enough. It makes sense that primes get less common as we stroll out on the number line. Fully 40 percent of one-digit numbers are prime, 22 percent of two-digit numbers are prime, and only 16 percent of three-digit numbers are. The prime number theorem, first proved in the late 1800s, quantifies that decline. It says that in general, the number of primes less than n tends to n/ln(n) as n increases. (Here ln is the natural logarithm.)

We can use the prime number theorem to estimate how many missing primes there are between M74207281 and the next smallest prime. We just plug 274,207,281-1 into n/ln(n) and get, well, a really big number. We can write it most compactly by stacking exponents: 10107.349. This number has about 22,338,610 digits, give or take a couple, so we can also write it as 1022,338,610.

Another visit to the prime number theorem shows there are approximately 1017,425,163 primes less than the next-largest known prime. That sounds impressive until you realize 1017,425,163 is less than 0.000000000001 percent of 1022,338,610.

Stop and think about that for a moment. There are about 1022,338,610 primes less than M74207281, and approximately all of them are between it and the next-largest known prime. If you want to be charitable, you could say we have some gaps in our knowledge of prime numbers. But really, it makes more sense to say we have gaps in our lack of knowledge. The millions upon millions of prime numbers we’ve already found make up approximately 0 percent of the primes that are less than M74207281. Each one is a little grain of sand, a speck that does little to cover up our overwhelming ignorance of exactly where the prime numbers live.

Correction, Jan. 22, 2016: This story originally referred to a possible prime number as 2n-1. That number should have been rendered as 2n-1. (Return.)

Smoke From California’s Wildfires Will Only Get Worse

Smoke From California’s Wildfires Will Only Get Worse

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

The Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality map of California is pretty scary looking right now: Rapidly disappearing green blobs show the last areas where the air is clear, while yellow, orange, and even red bubbles metastasize just north of Los Angeles, bringing irritants and toxic particles with them. The Rorschach image is the result of several wildfires ongoing in California, namely the record-breaking Thomas wildfire, which has been raging north of L.A. for a week and has already burned an area the size of New York City. In its wake, the Thomas blaze has left behind a plume of smoke—and the potential for health hazards that comes with it. Thanks to the prevailing winds, meteorologists say the air pollution is only going to get worse before it gets better.

Air quality maps are like a game of golf—the lower the score, the better the air. Right now, large swaths of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, from the central valley down to the Pacific coast, have been assigned air quality index scores over 100, triggering public health warnings across the state. Fresno’s AQI, for example, was hovering around 119, so officials have labeled the air “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” which include children, pregnant people, and the elderly. Santa Barbara, meanwhile, has an AQI of 188, and the air has been labeled unhealthy for everyone.

But what’s actually so harmful about the wind? And what does someone living under the blanket of smoke actually do about it?

Smoke carries microscopic particles that, above a certain density, can harm human health. The biggest particles can cause irritation to your eyes and nose, which is unpleasant, but the smallest of these particles do a lot worse. Called PM2.5, these minuscule particles can be one-thirtieth the width of a human hair or smaller, allowing them to be inhaled deep into the lungs. There, they can embed themselves in the tissues and exacerbate all kinds of diseases. People with asthma and other respiratory diseases are the first to notice—their breathing becomes even more labored, often triggering a trip to the emergency room—but other people are at risk, too. When the air quality is bad enough, even healthy people can suffer wheezing, phlegm, and inflammation.

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to clear the air. Cleansing the airspace over California will require time and the right winds. Right now, the opposite is happening, with winds coming in from the ocean and pushing the Thomas wildfire’s smoke up and over the state. But people can still take precautions. The EPA recommends people stay indoors as much as possible, with the windows closed and air conditioners, air filters, and air cleaners blasting. If you have to drive, it’s advisable to recirculate the air in the car by pushing that button in the center console of a car partially enveloped by a curving arrow. For people who elect to go outside, it’s recommended that physical activity is reduced. (Don’t go jogging outdoors right now.) And if you’re going to be out for a long time, wear a real particulate protection mask, because a surgical paper mask does absolutely no good.

The 10 Best All-Natural and Organic Mattress Sources

The 10 Best All-Natural and Organic Mattress Sources

Apartment Therapy

Buying a new mattress is a big investment, and knowing where to go to find the best options for your health and for the planet—not to mention for a sound night's sleep— is key

The Best Memory Foam Mattress for Staying Cool

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

Nothing feels better than slipping into cool sheets on a hot night, and many mattress shoppers concerned about coolness wonder if a memory foam mattress can fit the bill. Within the memory foam industry, there are a variety of formulas and iterations that can affect coolness. Reviews can help highlight differences between brands and models, […]

The post The Best Memory Foam Mattress for Staying Cool appeared first on The Best Mattress.

Mattress Lot featured in 48 Hour Film Festival entry

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

Directed by Mattress Lot Delivery Manager Casey McFerone, “Flirting Interrupted” is a clever romance/drama short film produced entirely on-site in Read More

The post Mattress Lot featured in 48 Hour Film Festival entry appeared first on The Mattress Lot.

Why Did 20 Octopuses Recently Wash Up on a Wales Beach?

Why Did 20 Octopuses Recently Wash Up on a Wales Beach?

by Gavan Cooke @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on The Conversation and has been republished here with permission.

A beach in Wales recently faced an eight-armed invasion. Over 20 octopuses were reportedly seen crawling up New Quay beach on the west coast of the country, with many later being found dead after failing to make it back to the sea.

Strandings of octopuses and other cephalopods (squishy, intelligent creatures including squid and cuttlefish) are pretty rare, and the exact truth of why this happened may never be known. But there are several theories that might help us to better understand this unusual event.

1. They became stranded like whales do.

Whale strandings are often put down to failures in the animals’ natural navigating abilities, which involve sending out sonar signals and sensing the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. Sometimes the shoreline is too complex for these abilities to work, or there may be interference from human activities or even magnetic space weather.

But similar explanations aren’t likely to apply to the octopuses as they don’t navigate this way (instead we think they use a mental map like humans). Their hearing and auditory organs are comparatively simple and they can only hear at very narrow frequencies, which are not thought to be used for navigation.

2. A storm blew them ashore.

This is quite an appealing idea. Octopuses are (relatively) small and it’s easy to imagine them being caught in the forceful waves and washing up in large numbers. The coast of Britain has certainly been battered by storms recently.

There was also a high tide at around the time the octopuses are thought to have started appearing—so could a storm surge have dropped them on the beach? A sandy beach is not where you would expect these rocky seabed animals to be, so something unusual must have taken them to it.

3. They were looking for food.

While there have been anecdotal reports of octopuses leaping from rock pool to rock pool at low tide to grab a snack, this hasn’t included the curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa) found on New Quay beach. Although they do eat crabs, this species is normally found at much greater depths. We can’t rule this theory out but we also know that, instead of undergoing a frenzied feasting period, this species eats less in these waters at this time of year.

4. The octopuses were senile.

As silly as this sounds, it is a plausible option. Like nearly all cephalopods, these octopuses are strictly semelparous, meaning they breed once and then die. October is the last hurrah for this species, and adults go through a period known as “senescence” after breeding.

This final stage of their lives causes the animals to rapidly deteriorate and behave very oddly. Many of the videos showing giant squid behaving weirdly in the shallows can probably be explained by this old-age senility.

This was my first thought, but a major reservation about this hypothesis is that these older octopuses normally show signs of physical deterioration. For example, their skin goes white and peels, cataracts can be common, and the animals generally appear to be in poor condition and get skin diseases. So far, I have not seen any evidence of this poor body condition normally associated with senescence.

5. Octopus numbers may be increasing.

One apparently encouraging implication to this sad tale is that it might indicate an increase in the numbers of octopuses in the sea. All year, I have been seeing reports of greater and greater numbers of all cephalopods in U.K. waters, especially octopuses. At the end of the summer, my social media feed was comparatively buzzing with videos of excited bathers spotting octopuses in rock pools, something not seen much before in U.K. waters. I’ve also seen many videos of huge groups of cuttlefish, a cephalopod species usually found in much smaller groups.

There are several possible explanations for this. Overfishing might be reducing numbers of cephalopod predators. The increase in sea temperatures related to climate change could be helping southerly species, such as Octopus vulgaris, “invade” our waters.

Another intriguing aspect of this event is that so many were found in the same place. Octopuses generally are thought to be solitary creatures, including Elodone cirrhosa. But a recent finding suggests we may have to reevaluate much of what we know regarding the sociability of these animals. Perhaps these octopuses had gathered for mating and got caught up in a powerful set of waves.

In the longer term, and at a more global scale, human interference may benefit some species rather than others. We joke that rats and cockroaches will inherit the Earth, but cephalopods may also be a benefactor. We overfish their predators and they possibly do not suffer from ocean acidification like other invertebrates. If this is indeed a happy note in a time of generally bad news for marine life, I for one welcome our new cephalopod overlords.

Helping Kids Learn To Reduce, Reuse And Recycle

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

By reducing the amount of natural resources you consume, reusing items that would otherwise go to waste, and recycling trash so it can be re-purposed, you’re helping ensure a brighter future for the children of today. However, planning for the future not only includes taking steps in the present day, but also preparing for tomorrow. […]

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Interview with Glass for Your Mom: The Glass Industry vs. Local Artists

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

Of all the artistry on Earth, there are few crafts as unique and mysterious as glass blowing. Jeremy Friedly, of “Glass for Your Mom” in Lancaster, PA filled me in on his business and the 1200-year history of the craft. This little cutie was my first sale at the Artwork today! I love when a […]

The post Interview with Glass for Your Mom: The Glass Industry vs. Local Artists appeared first on Eco Local Markets.

Tips & Tricks To Winterize Your Home

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

One of the best perks of making your home more green is that it makes a ton of financial sense.  Windy, rainy and cool weather is already here.  For the amount of money you may spend on candy and Halloween decorations this year you could winterize your home, reduce your carbon footprint, be more comfy... Continue reading »

The California Wildfires Have Ravaged These Areas the Worst

The California Wildfires Have Ravaged These Areas the Worst

by Lila Thulin @ Slate Articles

The images and accounts of the fires ravaging the greater Los Angeles area look like still frames from an apocalyptic film: cars on a highway to hell, charred skeletons of houses, red-tinged skies. You’ve likely seen the images of freeway exit signs backgrounded by blazes or heard Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch’s Bel-Air vineyard estate was being singed. “These are days that break your heart,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to the Los Angeles Times.

But beyond this horror reel of images, here’s an update on the extent of the numerous brush fires, which, propelled by the strong Santa Ana winds, have torched more than 116,300 acres.

The largest and longest-lasting fire threatening the palm-treed landscape around Los Angeles is the Thomas Fire, which began Monday evening in Ventura County, more than 60 miles northwest of the city. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, as of Thursday morning, the fire has burned 96,000 acres (that’s 150 square miles, or close to three times the size of the largest of the devastating Napa Valley fires this October), but it’s only 5 percent contained.

More than 50,000 residents have been evacuated, and more than 100 structures have been destroyed (including, the Los Angeles Times reports, the Vista del Mar psychiatric hospital). In the course of firefighting, the 101 freeway was shut down between 4 and 7 a.m. Thursday morning, effectively cutting off Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. (A woman’s body was found in the evacuation area as part of a single-vehicle crash, but authorities haven’t concluded whether the death was related to the fire.)

The Skirball Fire was Wednesday’s most dramatic headline fodder: It broke out early that morning in the wealthy Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, near UCLA and the famous Getty Museum. It temporarily shut down the 405 freeway, the busiest interstate in the county, during peak morning commute hours. It also prompted UCLA officials to cancel classes for half of Wednesday and all of Thursday. As of Thursday morning, it spanned 475 acres and was only 5 percent contained.

Further north in the Angeles National Forest, the Creek Fire burned 12,605 acres and was 10 percent contained as of Thursday morning. Since its start in the predawn hours Tuesday, it had destroyed 15 structures. California State University, Northridge, canceled classes. While there have been no confirmed human casualties, nearly 30 horses died in the fire, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The last uncontained wildfire covers a 7,000-acre swath of the northern suburb of Santa Clarita. The Rye Fire, which began Tuesday morning, had caused 1,300 homes to evacuate by Wednesday afternoon but had destroyed only one structure and was 15 percent contained by Thursday morning.

Other fires, like a 260-acre fire in San Bernardino or a blaze that popped up in Malibu on Thursday morning, have been fully contained as of publication time.

What prompted the series of quick-moving wildfires? The brush burning index, a way for the fire department to tabulate risk based on moisture readings, dead vegetation fuel, meteorologist forecasts that factor in humidity and wind, and historical data, is considered to be “extreme” if it’s above 162. But the brush burning index for this Wednesday into Thursday was a whopping 296, the highest the fire chief said he’s ever seen, according to NBC Los Angeles.

The notorious Santa Ana winds this year are especially vicious; CNN reports that the previous time the winds resulted in multiple days of red flags and warnings was a decade ago. Fortunately, on Thursday, the winds did not reach the fire-whipping speeds that forecasters had feared.

And there’s one last thing to keep in mind with these fires: It’s the new normal. As Daniel Berlant, deputy director of Calfire, told the New York Times, “In the last decade we’ve had more and more fires in nontraditional fire season months, which really emphasizes the changing climate that we have here in California.”

The Best Mattresses (and Ones to Avoid) 2018 Edition

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

We hear from people all the time that buying a new mattress is too confusing these days. Between the new brands available online and the seemingly endless models by traditional in-store brands, it feels like you need a college degree in beds just to make a decision. The Best Mattresses of 2018: 30-Second Summary We […]

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Building with Intention: Beneficial Eco-Friendly Building Techniques

by Nest @ Nest Organics

Organic and Natural Latex Mattresses

by The Natural Mattress Store @ The Natural Mattress Store

At The Natural Mattress Store, we manufacture certified organic and natural mattresses that are amongst the purest mattresses on the planet. 

Read more

The post Organic and Natural Latex Mattresses appeared first on The Natural Mattress Store.

It’s Illegal for Hospitals to Not Provide Translation Services. So Why Is Proper Translation Still Scarce?

It’s Illegal for Hospitals to Not Provide Translation Services. So Why Is Proper Translation Still Scarce?

by Terena Bell @ Slate Articles

Do you speak a second language fluently? Sort of fluently? Or maybe you partially remember high school Spanish? Well, show up with the right friend at the wrong hospital and you too can be a medical interpreter: Let them know you can say a few words, and the job can be yours.

It sounds insane—that a hospital would give you a job you’re not remotely qualified for, especially one that could have serious repercussions for someone’s health. But the state of medical translation means that it is too frequently the case. As far back as 1996, research from Emory University School of Medicine showed that 76 percent of Spanish-speaking patients went without an interpreter in the emergency department. Data on the subject is scarce, but anecdotal evidence indicates little has changed. One doctor at Mt. Sinai in New York, a hospital that often sees patients who don’t speak English, told me her colleagues frequently ask her to interpret Arabic, a language she doesn’t even speak, because she has a Middle Eastern last name (she requested anonymity for professional reasons). This is all part of an ad-hoc system that often means if translation is provided at all, it’s likely from a bystander, family member, or friend with no idea how to say things like “mitral valve prolapse” in a foreign language.

Why? You might wonder if it’s because ER doctors have to save lives quickly, and finding an interpreter could cause delays. That sounds reasonable, but hospitals have plenty of protocols that help them achieve complicated outcomes quickly—language access ought to be one of them. Nor is it because medical interpreters don’t exist or can’t be found. Instead, underuse of medical interpreters seems to stem from misunderstanding how proper translation improves medical outcomes, and that it’s not only fiscally possible, it’s actually fiscally prudent, since it’s illegal not to offer.

Medical interpreters are supposed to be certified. Credentials from both the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters are accepted. For additional qualifications, you can pursue a master’s in interpreting or a graduate certificate from universities across the country. Like doctors, interpreters are also required to pursue continued education every year. It’s in the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) Code of Ethics: “The interpreter strives to continually further his/her knowledge and skills.”

Hospitals would never dream of letting a patient’s friend operate just because she can hold a scalpel. But they ask bilingual relatives to interpret all the time, disregarding how critical communication is to patient care. Get one word wrong and the consequences can be life-changing: After staff misunderstood intoxicado (Spanish for “poisoned”) as “drunk,” Florida teen Willie Ramirez received the wrong care and ended up paralyzed. In Oregon, Elidiana Valdez-Lemus died after 911 misinterpreted her address. Lack of proper translation has consequences outside of emergencies, too: Erika Williams, a second-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, summarized research to show that when there’s a language barrier, patients “receive less preventative care,” don’t take medication as prescribed, “and are more likely to leave the hospital against medical advice.”

Federal civil rights laws state that hospitals must provide people—all people—with equal access to care, regardless of “race, color, or national origin.” That’s the phrase used in Title VI, the first law pertaining to professional interpreters. If “national origin” doesn’t indicate language as a discriminator clearly enough, in Executive Order 13166, President Bill Clinton implicitly stated any organization receiving federal funds—like Medicaid or Medicare—must provide “meaningful language access.” If they don’t, facilities are supposed to lose those funds.

But this doesn’t always happen. Chris Carter, president of the Association of Language Companies, the U.S. trade organization for translation and interpreting providers, says hospitals rarely become proactively compliant: “Unfortunately, member companies of the ALC have noticed in recent years that healthcare organizations usually wait until they are audited by the [Department of Justice] and found non-compliant with [Affordable Care Act] Section 1557 or other laws before they shift from ad hoc service provision to implementing an organized Language Access Plan.”

Is providing interpretation prohibitively expensive? Not in the context of what medical care costs—and how expensive mistakes are. From 2005–2015, I owned an interpreting company. When we opened, an on-site Spanish interpreter cost $25 an hour. If you wanted someone by phone, it was $1.50 a minute. Interpreting services are also reimbursed by certain types of insurance. But the No. 1 sales objection we heard from hospital administrators was that professional interpreting was too expensive.

Under the ACA, failure to provide a medical interpreter can be met with a $70,000 fine—for each encounter with a patient. Which means that the cost of not providing an interpreter, even if it doesn’t lead to errors, is astronomically higher than the cost of paying for one.

At least for now. As states file ACA waivers, they aren’t just opting out of Obamacare’s better-known parts. They’re also giving hospitals permission to shortchange limited-English speakers’ care. It’s true that Title VI is there to fall back on, but it’s rarely and arbitrarily enforced. It’s the ACA’s hefty fines that have been the impetus forcing hospitals to change: Carter says that since ACA audits began, interpreting companies have seen many hospitals working with professional interpreters for the first time, an improvement he’s noticed industrywide.

“The risks are too high to give up and to say quality interpretation for everyone in America just can’t be done,” Carter says.

The right to understand what doctors are doing to your body is fundamental. The right to know your own diagnosis is basic, to know when surgery is being performed on what, to understand why people are putting needles and tubes inside you. Interpreting isn’t too expensive—it’s essential to providing accurate medical care. Hospitals’ failure to appreciate and act on this is not a failure that we should dismiss for mere budgeting. It’s a manifestation of racism that should no longer have a place in our society.

5 Things You Can Do To Be A Conscious and Ethical Consumer This Holiday Season

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

You have the power to make a meaningful impact on humanity’s greatest challenges, particularly during the holiday season. There are things you can do that will make your purchases better for the planet and humanity, as you shop. Shop Local and Small Businesses There are many benefits to gain when you choose to shop from local and/or small businesses. Local shops and small businesses tend to carry Read More

How To Affordably Go Green In Style Without Breaking A Sweat

by Josh Dorfman @ Lazy Environmentalist

Rapid advances in technology have dramatically lowered production costs making innovative green products increasingly accessible. Coupled with funding sources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, inventors and designers are finding fresh ways to bring amazing, eco-friendly products and services to market. Here’s a starter list of design-focused, green solutions that are easy to implement and will enhance […]

Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland

Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland

by Kurt Andersen @ Slate Articles

Adapted from Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History copyright © 2017 by Kurt Andersen. With permission from the publisher, Random House. All rights reserved.

Forty-eight hours ago, after watching Oprah Winfrey give a terrific, rousing feminist speech on an awards show, millions of Americans instantly, giddily decided that the ideal 2020 Democratic nominee had appeared. An extremely rich and famous and exciting star and impresario—but one who seems intelligent and wise and kind, the non–Bizarro World version of the sitting president.

Some wet-blanketing followed immediately, among the best from the New York Times Magazine writer Thomas Chatterton Williams in an op-ed headlined “Oprah, Don’t Do It.” “It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act,” he wrote. “Indeed, the magical thinking fueling the idea of Oprah in 2020 is a worrisome sign about the state of the Democratic Party.”

Despite the “magical thinking” reference, neither Williams nor other skeptics have seriously addressed the big qualm I have about the prospect of a President Winfrey: Perhaps more than any other single American, she is responsible for giving national platforms and legitimacy to all sorts of magical thinking, from pseudoscientific to purely mystical, fantasies about extraterrestrials, paranormal experience, satanic cults, and more. The various fantasies she has promoted on all her media platforms—her daily TV show with its 12 million devoted viewers, her magazine, her website, her cable channel—aren’t as dangerous as Donald Trump’s mainstreaming of false conspiracy theories, but for three decades she has had a major role in encouraging Americans to abandon reason and science in favor of the wishful and imaginary.

Oprah went on the air nationally in the 1980s, just as non-Christian faith healing and channeling the spirits of the dead and “harmonic convergence” and alternative medicine and all the rest of the New Age movement had scaled up. By the 1990s, there was a big, respectable, glamorous New Age counterestablishment. Marianne Williamson, one of the new superstar New Age preachers, popularized a “channeled” book of spiritual revelation, A Course in Miracles: The author, a Columbia University psychology professor who was anonymous until after her death in the 1980s, had claimed that its 1,333 pages were dictated to her by Jesus. Her basic idea was that physical existence is a collective illusion—”the dream.” Endorsed by Williamson, the book became a gigantic best-seller. Deepak Chopra had been a distinguished endocrinologist before he quit regular medicine in his 30s to become the “physician to the gods” in the Transcendental Meditation organization and in 1989 hung out his own shingle as wise man, author, lecturer, and marketer of dietary supplements.

Out of its various threads, the philosophy now had its basic doctrines in place: Rationalism is mostly wrongheaded, mystical feelings should override scientific understandings, reality is an illusion one can remake to suit oneself. The 1960s countercultural relativism out of which all that flowed originated mainly as a means of fighting the Man, unmasking the oppressive charlatans-in-charge. But now they had become mind-blowing ways to make yourself happy and successful by becoming the charlatan-in-charge of your own little piece of the universe. “It’s not just the interpretation of objective reality that is subjective,” according to Chopra. “Objective reality per se is a concept of reality we have created subjectively.”

Exactly how had Chopra and Williamson become so conspicuous and influential? They were anointed in 1992 and 1993 by Oprah Winfrey.

As I say, she is an ecumenical promoter of fantasies. Remember the satanic panic, the mass hysteria during the 1980s and early ’90s about satanists abusing and murdering children that resulted in the wrongful convictions of dozens of people who collectively spent hundreds of years incarcerated? Multiple Oprah episodes featured the celebrity “victims” who got that fantasy going. When a Christian questioner in her audience once described her as New Age, Winfrey was pissed. “I am not ‘New Age’ anything,” she said, “and I resent being called that. I don’t see spirits in the trees, and I don’t sit in the room with crystals.” Maybe not those two things specifically; she’s the respectable promoter of New Age belief and practice and nostrums, a member of the elite and friend to presidents, five of whom have appeared on her shows. New Age, Oprah-style, shares with American Christianities their special mixtures of superstition, selfishness, and a refusal to believe in the random. “Nothing about my life is lucky,” she has said. “Nothing. A lot of grace. A lot of blessings. A lot of divine order. But I don’t believe in luck.”

Most of the best-known prophets and denominational leaders in the New Age realm owe their careers to Winfrey. Her man Eckhart Tolle, for instance, whose books The Power of Now and A New Earth sold millions of copies apiece, is a successful crusader against reason itself. “Thinking has become a disease,” he writes, to be supplanted by feeling “the inner energy field of your body.” The two of them conducted a series of web-based video seminars in 2008.

New Age, because it’s so American, so utterly democratic and decentralized, has multiple sacred texts. One of the most widely read and influential is Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, emphatically placed in the canon by Winfrey as soon as it was published a decade ago. “I’ve been talking about this for years on my show,” Winfrey said during one of the author’s multiple appearances on Oprah. “I just never called it The Secret.”

The Secret takes the American fundamentals, individualism and supernaturalism and belief in belief, and strips away the middlemen and most of the pious packaging—God, Jesus, virtue, hard work rewarded, perfect bliss only in the afterlife. What’s left is a “law of attraction,” and if you just crave anything hard enough, it will become yours. Belief is all. The Secret’s extreme version of magical thinking goes far beyond its predecessors’. It is staggering. A parody would be almost impossible. It was No. 1 on the Times’s nonfiction list for three years and sold about 20 million copies.

“There isn’t a single thing that you cannot do with this knowledge,” the book promises. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, The Secret can give you whatever you want.” Because it’s a scientific fact.

The law of attraction is a law of nature. It is as impartial as the law of gravity. Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts. … In the moment you ask, and believe, and know you already have it in the unseen, the entire universe shifts to bring it into the scene. You must act, speak, and think, as though you are receiving it now. Why? The universe is a mirror, and the law of attraction is mirroring back to your dominant thoughts. … It takes no time for the universe to manifest what you want. Any time delay you experience is due to your delay in getting to the place of believing.

To be clear, Byrne’s talking mainly not about spiritual contentment but things, objects, lovers, cash. “The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts. … It is not your job to work out ‘how’ the money will come to you. It is your job to ask. … Leave the details to the Universe on how it will bring it about.” She warns that rationalism can neutralize the magic—in fact, awareness of the real world beyond one’s individual orbit can be problematic. “When I discovered The Secret, I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good.”

Right around the time The Secret came out, habitués of its general vicinity started buzzing about the year 2012. Ancient Mesoamericans, people were saying, had predicted that in 2012—specifically, Dec. 21—humankind’s present existence would … transition, when the current 5,125-year-long period ends. New Age religion-makers, like American Protestants, now had their own ancient prophecy for their own dreams of something like a near-future Armageddon and supernaturally wonderful aftermath.

Winfrey ended the daily Oprah broadcasts in 2011, and a month before the final episode, she interviewed Shirley MacLaine for the millionth time and asked about 2012: “What’s gonna happen to us as a species?”

“We’re coming into an alignment,” MacLaine explained. “It is the first time in 26,000 years—36,000 years—26,000 years, I’m sorry, that this has occurred. … You have an alignment where this solar system is on direct alignment with the center of the galaxy. That carries with it a very profound electromagnetic frequency—”

“Vibration,” Winfrey interjected.

“… vibration,” MacLaine agreed, “and gravitational pull. Hence the weather. What does that do to consciousness? What does that do to our sense of reality?” It’s why people feel rushed and stressed, she said.

Winfrey asked her audience for an amen: “Are you all feeling that?” They were.

“So my stuff isn’t really that far out. But what’s actually happening, Oprah,” MacLaine continued, explaining how the relevant astrology proved the supernatural inflection point was exactly 620 days away. “It’s the end of that 26,000-year procession of the equinox” and “the threshold of a new beginning. And I think what this pressure, this kind of psychic, spiritual pressure we’re all feeling is about, is that your internal soul is telling you ‘Get your act together.’”

* * *

It’s one thing to try to experience more peace of mind or feel in sync with a divine order. Mixing magical thinking with medical science and physiology, however, can get problematic. A generation after its emergence as a thing hippies did, alternative medicine became ubiquitous and mainstream. As with so many of the phenomena I discuss in my book Fantasyland, it’s driven by nostalgia and anti-establishment mistrust of experts, has quasi-religious underpinnings, and comes in both happy and unhappy versions.

And has been brought to you by Oprah Winfrey.

In 2004, a very handsome heart surgeon, prominent but not famous, appeared on Oprah to promote a book about alternative medicine. His very name—Dr. Oz!—would be way too over-the-top for a character in a comic novel. After Harvard, Mehmet Oz earned both an M.D. and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, then became a top practitioner and professor of heart surgery at Columbia University and director of its Cardiovascular Institute. Timing is everything—young Dr. Oz arrived at Columbia right after it set up its Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the 1990s.

Soon he was bringing an “energy healer” into his operating room, who placed her hands on patients as he performed surgery, and inviting a reporter to watch. According to Dr. Oz, who is married to a reiki master, such healers have the power to tune in to their scientifically undetectable “energies” and redirect them as necessary while he’s cutting open their hearts. When the New Yorker’s science reporter Michael Specter told Oz he knew of no evidence that reiki works, the doctor agreed—“if you are talking purely about data.” For people in his magical-thinking sphere, purely about data is a phrase like mainstream and establishment and rational and fact, meaning elitist, narrow, and blind to the disruptive truths. “Medicine is a very religious experience,” Oz told Specter, then added a kicker directly from the relativist 1960s: “I have my religion and you have yours.”

After that first appearance on Oprah, he proceeded to come on her show 61 more times, usually wearing surgical scrubs. In 2009, Winfrey’s company launched the daily Dr. Oz show, on which he pushes miracle elixirs, homeopathy, imaginary energies, and psychics who communicate with the dead. He regularly uses the words miracle and magic. A supplement extracted from tamarind “could be the magic ingredient that lets you lose weight without diet and exercise.” Green coffee beans—even though “you may think that magic is make-believe”—are actually a “magic weight-loss cure,” a “miracle pill [that] can burn fat fast. This is very exciting. And it’s breaking news.” For a study in the British medical journal BMJ, a team of experienced evidence reviewers analyzed Dr. Oz’s on-air advice—80 randomly chosen recommendations from 2013. The investigators found legitimate supporting evidence for fewer than half. The most famous physician in the United States, the man Oprah Winfrey branded as “America’s doctor,” is a dispenser of make-believe.

Oz has encouraged viewers to believe that vaccines cause autism and other illnesses—as did Winfrey on her show before him. In 2007, long after the fraudulent 1998 paper that launched the anti-vaccine movement had been discredited, she gave an Oprah episode over to the actress Jenny McCarthy, a public face of the movement. That was where McCarthy gave the perfect defense of her credentials: “The University of Google is where I got my degree from!”

If Ronald Reagan became the first king of his magical-thinking realm in the 1980s, Oprah Winfrey became the first queen of hers in the following decade. Like Reagan, I believe she’s both sincere and a brilliant Barnumesque promoter of a dream world.

Discussing my book a couple of months ago on Sam Harris’ podcast Waking Up, I was arguing that the realm of Fantasyland is, when it comes to politics, highly asymmetrical—the American right much more than the left has given itself over to belief in the untrue and disbelief in the true, a fact of which President Donald Trump is a stark embodiment.

“Who would be, and could there be,” I asked Harris, “a Trump of the left that people on the left would, against their better judgment say ‘She’s a kook, and she’s terrible in this way, but she believes in socialized medicine, and this, and that—I’m going with her.’ To what degree and under what circumstances could that happen? It’s hard to imagine the equivalent, but I’m willing to accept that we might have to make those choices eventually.”

Such as who, Harris asked. Well, I replied, “people talk very seriously about Oprah Winfrey being a potential Democratic nominee for president. Is that my Trump moment, [like] what honest Republicans had to do with Donald Trump, and decide ‘No, I can’t abide this’ and became Never Trumpers? Would I be a Never Oprah person? That will be a test for me.”

I’ve been encouraged these past three days by the “whoa, Oprah” reactions among some liberals—as I was by the Republican resistance to Trump during the first six or nine months of his candidacy. When she starts polling ahead of all the mere politicians seeking the Democratic nomination, let alone winning primaries, we’ll see how stalwart the reality-based, anti-celebrity, naysaying faction remains.

Could Pharmacists Help Fix Health Care?

Could Pharmacists Help Fix Health Care?

by Vishal Khetpal @ Slate Articles

Over the weekend, CVS Health and Aetna formally announced their long-rumored plans to merge. Many have already tried to divine what the merger’s legacy might be, as it’s certainly poised to shake up America’s economy and health care system. Some have fixated on the new company’s presumed antagonist, Amazon, and how the merger might force a rewrite of the retail giant’s play for the pharmaceutical market. Others suggest that the merger may be a big win for consumers, and could lower drug prices in the short term. Meanwhile, the local media in Rhode Island—the state where I’m currently writing this essay—have focused on how the merger would make the Ocean State home to America’s third-biggest company.

The CVS-Aetna merger’s most sweeping implication, however, may have more to do with the company’s past, rather than its future. After its most recent series of evolutions—rebranding as a health-focused company, buying Caremark, and now merging with Aetna—it’s easy to forget that CVS once started as a drugstore. But to me, this past raises the question: How will the merger affect the pharmacists who work within them and who still remain at the center of the company’s growing push to influence every interaction of the American consumer’s health care experience? And how will this shape a profession that a pharmacy school dean once called “the most overeducated and underutilized health care professionals in America”?

It’s difficult today to believe that pharmacists and doctors in America share similar occupational origins. According to William Kelly, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy, both trace their roots back to the apothecary shops lining cobblestone streets in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York in the 1700s—owned by proto-physicians who treated the sick, sold goods from a general store, and concocted their own drugs from Old World patent medicines and New World herbs. But as our gargantuan health care system emerged, both professions have been siloed into different roles. Over time, it could be argued that doctors staked their claim to treating our patients while pharmacists took stewardship over drugs we prescribe to them.

Today, the work and training of pharmacists can be taken for granted. Medical education to become a physician still generally involves a longer overall timeline, but pharmacists do attend school for six to eight years, taking courses in topics like law and economics while also taking science classes and gaining clinical experience. They can complete residencies and fellowships, and have to take board examinations—including one in jurisprudence, which doctors don’t take—to earn their state licenses.

Yet the legal landscape is unforgiving for pharmacists across the country. What pharmacists can and can’t do on their own varies greatly from state to state. As Rep. Buddy Carter—a Georgia Republican and pharmacist—wrote in an op-ed for the Hill last year, Medicare Part B doesn’t even recognize pharmacists as reimbursable health care professionals. Many of the Affordable Care Act’s Accountable Care Organizations have also left pharmacists out of their networks. And public perceptions of what pharmacists do, despite their insight, often don’t match up to their training and expertise.

But as costs continue to grow for health care systems here and around the world, pharmacists have become increasingly utilized as direct patient care providers, rather than just as overqualified dispensaries. Provinces across Canada have been using pharmacists for issues like emergency contraception counseling, colon cancer screening, and even treating minor ailments like acne and oral thrush. Here in the United States, Medicaid programs have deployed pharmacists as smoking-cessation counselors, patient educators, and diabetes case managers. Veterans Affairs uses clinical pharmacists to decrease waiting times for patients seeking care for chronic conditions, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Research suggests that pharmacists have increased flu vaccination rates, in states where they can give them. And in Medicare Part D (as well as in other programs), pharmacists frequently provide medication-therapy management, where they work with patients to simplify drug regimens, check for any possible drug-to-drug interactions, modify dosing, and encourage the use of generic drugs when appropriate.

Reporting since the merger also has highlighted the possible future role of CVS’s Minute Clinics, which work with physician groups and are staffed by nurse practitioners. These retail clinics operate within in the crucial gap between a primary care provider’s office and an urgent care facility. But CVS’s pharmacy-staffed locations outnumber their Minute Clinics by 9 to 1, and are far more likely to be found in rural communities.

Within this context, the CVS-Aetna merger could instead transfer more practices empowering pharmacists into the private sector—as Aetna effectively gains access to an army of its own pharmacists scattered across the country, both willing and able to perform many of the necessary functions of primary care. Building upon CVS’s decision to quit selling tobacco products in 2014, the new company could encourage insurance policyholders to seek smoking cessation by pharmacists, rather than in the doctor’s office. CVS-Aetna could route routine immunizations to its brick-and-mortar locations and use pharmacists, seeing their patients frequently, to promote public health messages on issues like breastfeeding and exercise. It may even expand the Pharmacy Advisor program currently operated by CVS—which bears similarities to medication-therapy management—to all Aetna users too, in states where this may be legal.

Adding to the responsibilities of pharmacists, as these trends continue, won’t come without its complications, nor does it guarantee benefits. Pharmacy schools today have had trouble keeping up with the growing influx of students seeking to attend them. MCPHS University in Boston, for example, recently went under probation for high student-to-professor ratios and overcrowded buildings on its campus. Policies around liability and malpractice insurance may have to change. And although medical therapy management makes lots of clinical sense in theory, practical data is inconclusive on how much it actually saves in cost to payers.

Nevertheless, the possible rise of pharmacists in American health care, resulting from the CVS-Aetna merger, could ultimately help alleviate primary care shortages across much of our country and continue to move us toward a system that prioritizes team-based maintenance over individual heroics. At a recent inter-professional workshop my medical school hosted with local pharmacist, nursing, and social work programs, I was able to appreciate the strengths different health professionals can bring to the table in a medical team. The nursing students could take blood pressure far better than I could (as well as many of my peers, according to a recent study); the social work students held a more nuanced grasp of community resources available to our patients to quit smoking and lose weight.

Pharmacists, many of whom could soon work for a merged CVS and Aetna, ought to be better integrated into this new delivery model for health care. Even today, they have an especially important role to address perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced by our health care system, which is medication adherence. Up to half of medications I will prescribe to my patients, if nothing changes, will not end up taken as I might imagine in the exam room. It’s a sobering reminder that teams, rather than individuals, will be managing the diseases faced by many of our patients in the coming years.

The Truth About Memory Foam

by Mimi Schultz @ Nest Organics

What is Memory Foam? The Benefits and Drawbacks Written by Liz for the Savvy Rest Mattress Blog, December 13, 2017 What is memory foam? Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that was first created by NASA in the 1960’s. It was originally used as padding in helmets and seats, but it soon became […]

Store Floor Models on Sale! June 2017

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

We have a few of the store’s floor models on sale! Queen Ergo 8 by Green Sleep and Twin Sized Savvy Rest Earthspring are 25% off. Twin White Lotus Organic Cotton and Wool Dreamton 50% off! We also have an in stock Queen Ergovea Valencia which is 15% off. Please stop by today to try […]

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Free Delivery — Cyclists or Bus Riders

by tracy @ The Mattress Lot

Mattress Lot’s owners and team members are committed to alternative transit options which help reduce carbon emissions. We encourage our Read More

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We Wanted to Believe

We Wanted to Believe

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

If you wanted to believe, 2017 was the year to do it. Thanks to an explosion of new discoveries of potentially habitable planets outside our solar system, a better understanding of how life might evolve on other worlds, and not inconsequentially a shift in the culture, aliens are no longer regarded as just another realm of paranormal craziness. We now have a modern-day NASA that is explicitly directed to look for life, billionaires pouring money into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and a Department of Defense that admits it was studying UFO sightings for some time.

Sandwiched between the 10th and 11th seasons of The X-Files, 2017 felt like the year aliens finally, actually, for real this time went mainstream. Nearly 61 percent of the world’s population believes alien life exists somewhere in the universe. That’s little surprise when you think about how much happened this year.

For starters, NASA scientists began the year with the announced discovery of seven potentially habitable exoplanets in the TRAPPIST-1 star system, 40 light-years away. It’s going to take more some powerful instruments to really determine whether any of those planets possess the essentials for life (liquid water, an atmosphere that keeps things warm and fuzzy, a star that isn’t spewing out violent radiation in every direction), and the system is way too far for anyone to even dream about sending a spacecraft there before we’re all dead and gone. But the system’s discovery is a critical sign that potentially habitable worlds are probably much more common—and closer—than we had ever imagined.

Let’s not forget some of the other exoplanets that stoked our hopes of finding extraterrestrial neighbors. Ross 128 b, 11 light-years away, is probably our best chance at finding living aliens thanks to its quiet host star (the detection of strange radio signals fed hopes that an alien civilization was living nearby). GJ 237 b, a little over 12 light-years away, is a “super-Earth” that could support life as well (SETI scientists actually beamed a musical message over to the system to make contact with any intelligent lifeforms in the neighborhood). And 39 light-years away, astronomers found evidence that an Earth-sized bugger called GJ 1132 b had an atmosphere to potentially allow life on the surface to thrive.

Within our own solar system, NASA found new hopes that aliens might actually just be a quick hop away, living on worlds like Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus. These rocks possess underground liquid oceans that could be the perfect mixing pots for the evolution of extraterrestrial life. The knowledge that even Earthbound life can withstand extreme environments is spurring the potential greenlight for missions to Saturn’s moon Titan or to a nearby comet to look for life or the ingredients for life—part of what looks like the agency’s new emphasis of astrobiology missions.

Could we one day find lifeforms that are as smart or smarter than our own species? There’s no shortage of sharp minds pondering the question. New theories are being pitched that maybe the aliens aren’t actually all dead—they’re just in a deep sleep. Maybe it’s actually better off this way? Movies like Alien: Covenant and Life were good reminders that not all lifeforms are peaceful. Maybe we should just count our blessings and stay quiet until we figure out how we might be able to defend ourselves from a hostile alien invasion.

There’s little chance of that actually happening. A strange interstellar asteroid decided to stop by the solar system for a visit, and one of the first things scientists decided to do was see whether it was actually an alien ship. It wasn’t, of course, but it just goes to show you that even the most implausible explanation wouldn’t go uninvestigated in 2017. In the future, however, we’ll probably just let the intelligent machines handle the hard work.

But all of these developments were at least grounded in the processes and logic that define scientific research. There was another facet to this year’s obsession with aliens that hewed closer to what most of us have heard before: UFOs and government involvement. Hacking collective Anonymous got things heated in the middle of the summer when it claimed NASA was about to reveal the existence of aliens. That didn’t happen—perhaps because the agency decided it to hold off on such a bombshell announcement, or almost definitely because it has never found evidence of aliens.

OK, so a bunch of hackers turned out to be wrong about aliens. That’s nothing special. What is special, however, is the New York Times publishing a piece detailing the government’s five-year, $22 million program to investigate UFOs. It’s been a few weeks, and the media is still trying to make sense of it all. Only in 2017 could the craziest news of the year not be that the Pentagon actually admitted that such a program once existed.

(Also, I still can’t believe Tom DeLonge was onto something real.)

And less than a week after the New York Times piece was published, SpaceX’s final launch of the year turned Southern California’s skies into an eerie scene out of an alien-invasion movie. It wasn’t a UFO, of course, but the timing couldn’t have been better.

If 2017 was a banner year for talking about aliens and UFOs with earnestness and enthusiasm, 2018 seems poised to take all of those conversations to new heights. The rapid advancement of new technology and the circulation of new data—combined with increasingly favorable odds that something is out there—means that as time passes, our search for cosmic companionship will only get more intense.

How to Have a Sustainable Thanksgiving

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

Another holiday, another opportunity to save on food, money, and resources! Here’s 5 tips to lower your environmental impact and have a sustainable Thanksgiving. 1. Go turkeyless Abstaining from a processed, store-bought turkey this year lightens your carbon footprint by loads. Poultry is considered a “high impact” generator of greenhouse gases, especially when raised in […]

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Healthy Energy

by Destiny Hagest @ Avocado Green Mattress

Healthy Energy | The alternative energy drink you need to try.Read More ...

The post Healthy Energy appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

Non-toxic vs. Organic Mattress Review | Wellness Mama

Non-toxic vs. Organic Mattress Review | Wellness Mama

Wellness Mama®

There are many organic mattress choices but not all are really chemical free and sometimes a non-toxic mattress may be better (& cheaper!)

Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic

by Nest @ Nest Organics

Article Source Link: Source: Alan Greene, MD (Organic Trade Association), Bob Scowcroft (Organic Farming Research Foundation), Sylvia Tawse (Fresh Ideas Group) Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic 1. Reduce The Toxic Load: Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and our Bodies Buying organic food promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. […]

Family rescues a magpie that becomes their loyal friend & frequent houseguest

by (Lori Zimmer) @ Inhabitots

Are There Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) In Your Mattress?

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

What Are VOCs? Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are used, in the manufacturing process, of many items found in our homes. The term “volatile” means that these are chemicals that can easily get into the air that you breathe each day and end up inside of your body. “Organic” means that they are carbon-based. U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have discovered that VOCs Read More

Making Electro-Mechanical Equipment Greener and More Reliable

by Jess Nielsen @

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the impact of various electro-mechanical technologies in manufacturing and industrial production is usually greater than the impact of smaller appliances. To demonstrate how end-consumer choices can rarely be made based on too much information, we decided to have a look at an obscure technology that is vastly used in many day-to-day electrical and mechanical appliances, from old cars to Chanel bags. It bears an even more confusing name – impregnation technology. Now, who can’t be intrigued? Although it basically means that the material in the part has been thoroughly permeated, so that

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The Wait Can Kill You

The Wait Can Kill You

by Chavi Eve Karkowsky @ Slate Articles

Jane Doe, the 17-year-old girl held in federal custody, underwent her termination of pregnancy on Wednesday, at approximately 16 weeks of gestation, four weeks after requesting the procedure. Four weeks is 28 days—less than a full calendar month, but as long as one cycle of the moon, at least one and maybe two paychecks. But in the end, she received the procedure; she got what she chose and what she needed.

But that delay mattered, because when it comes to abortion, timing is everything. Time is blood loss. Time is risk. Time is danger.

The easiest way to understand this is to discuss surgical complexity. A termination procedure prior to 10 weeks is simple and common. It can be performed via a medical abortion, using pills, and can be safely recommended. Many patients can have their terminations done in the office, without special machinery, without an operating room.

A termination at 12 weeks is still a simple procedure, involving a dilation and curettage, which almost any qualified OB-GYN provider can do. It is over in less than 20 minutes.

A termination performed after approximately 14 weeks becomes a more complicated surgery. Sometime around this gestational age, the cervix—the opening to the uterus—needs to be dilated more than can safely be accomplished in the operating room on the day of procedure. The cervix needs to prepared, either with medications or with dilators placed the day prior to the procedure. The most common dilators are osmotic ones; they are placed during a speculum exam and left in the cervix, where they absorb moisture and expand over 12 to 24 hours. This dilates the cervix, and it often creates some cramping. The dilators are removed immediately prior to the termination of pregnancy the next day. Even with the best medical care, pain medications, and moral support, none of this is pleasant.

A termination performed even later—sometimes 17 weeks, sometimes 18 weeks, sometimes 20 weeks—needs two days of dilation. So the patient, here a 17-year-old, might get dilators placed on a Wednesday and go home. She would return on a Thursday, have those dilators removed and new ones placed, and go home. She would then return, finally, on a Friday, with nothing to eat before her operating-room time. Finally, 48 hours after she started, she would undergo her procedure.

That’s one of the differences a month can make.

Here’s another difference a month can make: Study after study has shown that termination of pregnancy is, overall, an extremely safe procedure. (Please note, ideally before you comment, that termination of pregnancy is, at every gestational age, safer than continuation of pregnancy. Continuing a pregnancy and delivering a baby is one of the riskiest things a young woman can do in this country of high and rising maternal mortality rates.) But the risks attendant to the surgical procedure of abortion dramatically increase with gestational age. Again, time is risk. For example, in one study looking at the overall risk of death from abortion, the overall risk was very low—0.7 deaths per 100,000 legal induced abortions. But the risk of death from termination of pregnancy increased exponentially—by 38 percent—for each additional week of gestation. Women who have abortions at 13 to 15 weeks are almost 15 times more likely to die of abortion-related causes than women who undergo one before eight weeks; women who undergo one at 16 to 20 weeks are 30 times as likely to die. In this damning study, the authors point out that “up to 87 percent of deaths in women who chose to terminate their pregnancies after 8 weeks of gestation may have been avoidable if these women had accessed abortion services before 8 weeks of gestation.” The finding that increasing gestational age equals increased risks of all kinds in pregnancy termination has been consistently found through many studies.

This tactic of delay isn’t just Jane Doe’s problem. All around this country, anti-abortion groups are working to make abortion take longer. They may not be able to outlaw it, but they make it harder—they make it more onerous, and they make it happen later. And that costs a patient a week, two weeks, a month. But what it really costs her is pain, and safety, and maybe sometimes more. Those tactics mean that sometimes the abortion is prevented, and that’s the goal of the anti-abortion groups. But sometimes those tactics mean that the abortion does happen, but is more uncomfortable, more extensive, and less safe. These tactics are very comfortable offering as casualties a woman’s pain, and her risks, and her body.

That’s the month Jane Doe just went through. None of us can imagine what Jane Doe’s extra month of waiting cost her, emotionally or financially or legally. But medically, this month had consequences. That month of delay tactics meant that her body was placed in more danger and more pain than it needed to be, just as those delay tactics do the same to women everywhere around this country every day. That month mattered to her, and to all of them, and maybe to you.

What is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers?

by The Best Mattress @ The Best Mattress

There are a number of beds in the market that claim to be the best mattress for side sleepers. Many side sleepers may be unaware that the type of mattress that they choose will greatly influence whether or not they can get a good night’s sleep and wake up without any muscle pain. The reasons […]

The post What is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers? appeared first on The Best Mattress.

The Top Growth Sectors For New and Long Term Jobs

by Mark Whitman @

The global economy is always fluctuating and it seems this becomes more and more pronounced as the years roll on. That being said there are a number of sectors that have been growing for a while and are showing no signs of slowing down. These are the sectors that people should be turning too for new careers or jobs at almost every level. The Past To roll the past up into a few lines is a little pointless but it is always worth looking back before looking around at things now. There is no doubt that manufacturing has always been

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Importance of Green Baby Bedding

by @ Green Home Library

You have been living in progressive times with technological, medical and industrial advances happening practically daily. Yet, with all this forward movement, when it comes to pollution, health, and safety, some free-enterprise ventures remain off course.

Serious health risks are now connected to the toxins from many plastic products which, studies are confirming, have continuously leached into our lives creating accumulative effects linked to disease. Now, plastic toxin exposure is showing to be a threat to our children which is why the importance of green baby bedding is an essential protective first step.

Off-Gassing Risks

When home improvement materials such as paints and plastics are manufactured, the risk of dangerous fumes subtly emitting from some of these products should be concerning. These off-gassed fumes are volatile organic compounds or VOC’s such as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), phthalates and phthalate alternatives. Breathing VOC’s could cause the body to embed toxic residue in muscles and other tissue. Due to an underdeveloped immune system and fragile state, new and existing data show that infants are the most vulnerable groups for contracting these off-gassed toxic emissions.

In a study by researchers at the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, published in Environmental Science & Technology (12/16/14), the abstract states,

“In infant sleep micro-environments, an increase in the temperature of the mattress can cause a significant increase in emission of phthalates from the mattress cover and make the concentration in the infant's breathing zone about four times higher than that in the bulk room air, resulting in potentially high exposure.”

Phthalates and phthalate alternatives are linked to causing disorders of hormonal regulation which may include health conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Early puberty
  • Infertility
  • ADHD
  • Cancer

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) interviewed Dr. Brandon E. Boor, an assistant professor of civil engineering at Purdue University who commented that,

“We need innovative research to come up with manufacturing practices and ingredients that put children’s health first and ensure that we don’t end up with a new toxic chemical.There is now a real movement on the state and federal level to reduce Americans' exposure to flame retardants in furniture, foam and other items, because research shows that these chemicals accumulate in the bodies of people, increase the risk of cancer and can harm hormones”


Mainstream consumerism is continuously bombarded with slick advertising and many manipulated words such as “natural” and “safe.” In reality, most people have no idea that many products they trustingly purchase are ticking time bombs of off-gassing exposure.

When it comes to merchandise for baby and kids, thinking twice about utilizing “off-the-grid” manufacturers, especially for crib mattresses and bedding, could be life saving.

Off-the-grid products come from unconventional companies that offer a variety of alternative options beyond the possible dangers associated with mainstream choices. These might include materials like:

  • Hemp
  • Bamboo
  • Organic cotton
  • All-natural green tea
  • Organic Merino wool

Many green crib mattresses are also made in the USA and meet the same fire safety standards as synthetic choices. Be sure and ask questions when purchasing a green crib mattress such as:

  • Is it organic?
  • Has flame retardant been added to this material?
  • Is this material a good deterrent for mites, bedbugs, etc.?
  • Are there any levels or citations that confirm the authenticity and safety of this mattress?


Baby furniture, bedding and blankets do not need to be a danger zone for your child. The importance of green baby bedding is imperative and can only start with you. It offers peace mind that your child is starting out on the right foot before they can even walk.

What’s the Best Mattress for Back Pain?

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

Learn how to find the best mattress for a bad back. Are you trying to find a good mattress for back pain? One of the hardest medical conditions to cure and treat are those relating to chronic back pain, and it’s something that affects millions of people around the world every day. Over and over, […]

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Trump Blames Shooting on “Mental Health,” a Policy Area He Is Also Actively Undermining

Trump Blames Shooting on “Mental Health,” a Policy Area He Is Also Actively Undermining

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

On Sunday morning, a man opened fire on a congregation at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. According to the most recent count, the gunman killed at least 26 people. The attack, which is the 378th mass shooting in 2017, was met online with a mixture of sadness and cynicism. Many felt deflated by the knowledge that no matter how bad things get, Congress and the White House remain unwilling to consider gun control.

President Trump, who is currently traveling in Asia, explained why he thinks gun control is definitely not the problem when he answered questions about the shooting on Monday morning:

Mental health is your problem here. This was a very—based on preliminary reports—a very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation. I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. ... But this is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event. It’s—these are great people, and a very, very sad event. But that’s the way I view it.

There’s a lot about the president’s statement—and others like it—that just doesn’t add up. For one, it plays into the trope that the main thing we should blame for gun violence is not guns but mental illness, even though the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent (though they do have higher rates of self-harm and suicide). This tendency likely stems from the desire to name our demons, but if you’re looking for a better way to categorize perpetrators of gun violence, your best bet would be to label them “toxically angry.” Many of them seem to suffer from an inability to regulate their emotions, not exactly a mental illness in the traditional sense. It also increasingly seems that many share a history of domestic abuse, using their partners or family members as an outlet for all that aggression long before they grab a gun and head to a church or a school or a movie theater.

In a way, Trump’s decision to evoke mental illness makes some sort of sense: Given what we know about anger, it seems possible that providing people struggling with anger issues the right mental health care could help (though given the ban on studying gun violence, we don’t really know that much for certain). But just like with gun control, it’s not like Trump is actually working to improve America’s policies around his new scapegoat of choice.

In February, Trump signed into a law a bill repealing an Obama-era policy designed to limit access to guns among people with certain mental illnesses. The law, which received its fair share of criticism, would have required the Social Security Administration to flag some people receiving disability benefits for background checks should they try to buy a gun. Trump made this choice because it “could endanger the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens,” according to a statement from the White House at the time.

The plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which the president promises will continue in the new year, jeopardizes mental health care access for those who need it most. In the past few months, the Republicans in Congress have tried to cut away at certain health care coverage requirements they don’t like, including the mandate to provide maternity care and, yes, basic mental health services. Right-wing leaders have also worked to roll back the Obama-era Medicaid expansion, which is the largest source of mental health and substance abuse treatment in the country. The program, which currently provides more than 1 million struggling Americans with care, is one of the only sources of federal support for Americans caught up in the opioid crisis. Trump’s plan to combat that crisis, released late last month, did not meaningfully expand access to mental health care or treatment programs, either—instead he’s peddling the same “just say no“ rhetoric that failed the Reagan administration.

The shooting at the First Baptist Church, like so many other mass shootings in the United States, is not an inevitable result of someone having a “mental health issue.” It’s a gun issue, an anger issue, a social issue—all problems that could have policy-based solutions. Unfortunately, Trump has no plan to stem this tide regardless of what he thinks is to blame.

How to Have a Sustainable Christmas in 4 Easy Steps

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

For us, Christmas means spending time with loved ones, gift exchanging, and tons of lights and decoration. For the environment, Christmas means extreme energy usage, tons of paper and plastic waste, and large carbon footprint. We’ve listed a few easy steps you can take to give the gift of a Sustainable Christmas this season. 1. […]

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The Power of the Placebo

The Power of the Placebo

by Ethan Weiss @ Slate Articles

Every so often, a new study comes along that challenges conventional wisdom in medicine or science. When the conditions are right, these studies can generate a lot of attention in both the popular press and the medical community. In early November, one of these such studies, called the ORBITA study, was published in the Lancet by a group of cardiologists.

The authors had set out to ask and answer a simple question: Does placement of a small wire mesh (called a stent) inside the artery that feeds blood to the heart (the coronary artery) relieve chest pain? One might ask what was novel about this question. The truth is that there was and is nothing novel about the question. The novelty was in the methods the authors used to answer the question: They conducted a prospective randomized controlled clinical trial, or RCT, the gold standard of research. The best RCTs compare the effect of the active intervention to a placebo and the best of the best keep both the subjects and the investigators blind to the intervention. The authors managed to do this for stents and chest pain, something that had never been done before, and in doing so, they had the best chance of preventing the placebo effect from skewing the results.

To understand how stents work, it helps to understand what causes chest pain. Our hearts have a system to feed oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle, through a network of coronary arteries. Arteries can become clogged with a mix of inflammatory cells and fats called plaques that accumulate over a lifetime. When plaques are severe enough, they can cause a restriction of flow causing a mismatch in oxygen supply and demand, and this can lead to what we cardiologists call “chest pain,” or angina. The presentation of angina typically happens in someone who is exercising and is reduced when the person rests, but over time, things can progress to the point where symptoms can leave people unable to do even basic daily activities, or the symptoms of angina can even occur at rest. Sometimes, the plaques can burst like a pimple and that can set off a reaction resulting in the formation of a blood clot cutting off the blood flow completely—resulting in a heart attack if left untreated.

The role of ruptured plaques leading to heart attacks was defined in the early 1980s by pathologists who studied the arteries of patients who had recently died of heart attacks and by a group of cardiologists who fed contrast dye into the coronary arteries of patients who showed up in the emergency room with heart attacks. This was groundbreaking and transformational research demonstrating that heart attacks were caused by ruptured plaques with clots overlying.

In the 1980s a group of doctors developed a technique to compress the plaque by inflating a small balloon advanced over a wire and placed directly in the coronary artery. When inflated at high pressure, this balloon effectively opens the blockage, a technique called angioplasty. Stents were developed to act as a scaffold to keep the artery open. It makes sense to think they would work to relieve pain. They have become the standard of care. Stenting is now used extensively to treat patients with what we call chronic stable angina, or chest pain, and it’s also used to open a completely blocked artery during a heart attack. While the technique is the same, there is one important difference: Angioplasties during a heart attack have been proven to saves lives. Angioplasties to relieve chronic angina have never been proven to actually reduce chest pain.

In 2007, a study much like ORBITA called COURAGE asked whether people with stable chest pain (not heart attacks) did better when treated with optimized medicines alone or medicines plus a stent. The takeaway was that there was no difference—medicines appeared just as good as stents, which generated a ton of attention and controversy. The resulting interpretation seemed to be that medicines were as good as stents when it came to preventing bad things like heart attacks and dying, but that stents were still better at relieving chest pain.

This was always an assumption. There had never been a gold-standard placebo-controlled trial asking whether stents actually improved symptoms better than just medicines alone. The reasons are probably many, but the biggest is that doing a placebo-controlled trial for stents is harder—you can’t just use a sugar pill as the placebo, you actually have to do a fake operation to mimic stent implementation even though half of participants don’t get a stent at all.

ORBITA has several limitations. The study was small (200 patients) as cardiology trials go, and it was limited to people with blockages in just one artery (many patients have multiple blockages). The patients were not very symptomatic, so some argue that this made it hard to detect an improvement with stents, among other smaller complaints, but in my opinion, these criticisms do not take away from the core results (though they may change how we interpret and apply them in the real world of clinical medicine). Ultimately, what ORBITA found was that there was effectively no difference between the patients who got stents and those who got dummy stents. Importantly, there was no difference in the rates of chest pain. None.

The big question, of course, is for patients who have stents. What does this mean for them? Well for one, the study showed no real difference, not that people with stents did worse. They just did the same whether they got the stent or not. In fact, both groups improved. So for patients with stents, there is no reason to panic. There is nothing to do. Again, many patients get stents during a heart attack, and nobody, even the most ardent skeptics, argues with that. Others get stents for chest pain without a heart attack. Those patients can and should know that the stent might not have had a big impact on their chest pain, but if they are feeling better, there is nothing more to do.

The big question for us in cardiology is how we will approach treating patients with chest pain going forward. This is just one study, and though it will likely inform recommendations that make their way down to practicing physicians, I can’t predict how it will all end up. It is very possible that given the results of ORBITA, we will work harder to treat chest pain with medicines before trying stents. I also expect there will be other well-done placebo-controlled trials looking at the effect of stents and other devices.

What ORBITA suggests is that the placebo effect is real and in play in these cases. It suggests that knowing you are getting a procedure can make you feel better. This is very interesting and will hopefully be the basis of future research questions. It’s also a reminder that the researchers’ effort in figuring out how to do a placebo-controlled study for a device like a heart stent was well worth it, and should be used again, to continue to help us understand how much of medicine is what we do, and how much is what people think we are doing.

10 Ways You Can Give Back and Make a Difference This Holiday Season

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

As we gather with friends and family during the holidays, we tend to look back on the year, reflect on our blessings and give thanks. This is also a good time to look for ways to give back to others and make a real difference for the holidays. You don’t need to look far to find meaningful ways to give back this holiday season. Here Read More

DIY Night Cream

by Destiny Hagest @ Avocado Green Mattress

DIY Night Cream | An all-natural recipe that won't clog pores.Read More ...

The post DIY Night Cream appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

Where Are the Opioid Recovery Activists?

Where Are the Opioid Recovery Activists?

by Zachary Siegel @ Slate Articles

Twenty-one months ago, presidential hopefuls from both parties descended on New Hampshire ahead of its primary, hearing in town halls and debates the same thing again and again: Save us. These voters cared little about plans for tax reform or the threat of ISIS. Instead, they asked potential candidates how they plan to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating their communities. There was no time to waste.

Thursday, nearly a year after his election as president, Donald Trump announced that the worsening opioid epidemic is a public health emergency—a far cry from declaring a national emergency, as he promised he would do at the recommendation of the advisory commission he created. What his lesser announcement means is that for the next 90 days, federal agencies can more freely use existing money to mitigate a crisis that currently kills seven Americans an hour. It does not include any additional funds. (Recall that the Zika virus was contained thanks to Congress’ approving an additional $1.1 billion in emergency funds—a fraction of what the opioid crisis needs.) The announcement has been celebrated by some as an important step toward raising awareness, but its ability to make a tangible impact is extremely limited.

If you can say anything about the opioid crisis, it’s that we’re aware of it. September was National Recovery Month, and with it came numerous projects by news outlets dedicated to showing us a worsening overdose crisis whose images we have by now become intimate with. Glamour’s 11-chapter “Women and Opioids” opened with a reconstructed scene of a young woman shooting up in her bathroom, only to immediately realize she was overdosing. The Cincinnati Enquirer delivered a deeply reported tick-tock, “Seven Days of Heroin,” which deployed some 60 reporters, photographers, and videographers around the Ohio city and its surrounding communities to show readers “what an epidemic looks like.” The New Yorker this month ran a photo essay about overdoses in an Ohio county, describing the deaths as having “become impossible to ignore.”

These projects are increasingly hard to stomach. Writer William S. Burroughs brutally portrayed the sicker side of heroin in his 1953 novel Junky, back when writing about drugs was literarily transgressive. By this point in the crisis, these scenes can feel sensationalized—doing more to stoke an emotional response than a spur to action. What does documenting “seven days of heroin” do, if it doesn’t also engage with how we could mitigate the death toll? How many times should we explain how we got here, without looking toward how we should get out?

I kicked heroin five years ago as a lanky, depressed 22-year-old. Since then, I’ve turned to research and journalism, obsessively trying to figure out why opioids kill more Americans year after year despite us being constantly told that all hands are on deck, from local activists to epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, annual heroin deaths have more than tripled since I kicked it in 2012. Heroin use increased the most—by more than 100 percent—among 18- to 25-year-olds from 2011 to 2013. I can pull out lots of numbers like this, but I doubt any of them will surprise you—after years of increasing pressure, we are finally, mind-numbingly, aware of the problem. The question, though, of how to solve it remains. We have good ideas, most of which are thoroughly outlined in the 2016 surgeon general’s report on addiction, which was mostly echoed by Trump’s recent opioid commission. Trump’s team is set to issue more formal recommendations next week, but given Thursday’s disappointing announcement, there is little sign this is a federal government moved to make the changes we need, whatever plan the commission announces on Wednesday. So the question becomes—the question that keeps me up at night—is: Can we force it to?

* * *

The opioid epidemic mirrors the AIDS epidemic in the scope of its tragedy. Both are stigmatized conditions, thought to only infect other people. Tens of thousands died before then–President Ronald Reagan made a peep about the virus—it was activists from ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, who forced his hand on the issue. Every day that his administration ignored its cries, ACT UP vowed to make a stink. And it did.

ACT UP got what it wanted. It fought for legislation and medical research to develop treatments, and now people with AIDS live long, healthy lives.

Both medicine and legislation are required to mitigate the deaths and harms of the overdose crisis. Both could be the focus of political activism. But there are a few major roadblocks to any kind of activist movement arising among the recovery community today. Our treatment is so bad, for one, it leaves an incredible number of people unequipped and disempowered from making their voices heard. And those who don’t end up needing clinical treatment have less motivation to speak up.

An ugly secret about the way America treats addiction is finally unraveling: It’s laughably unscientific, bordering on cruel. For one, there’s the cost of health care. The only reason I’m alive to write this is because my family provided me with what’s called “recovery capital.” My parents paid, out of pocket, tens of thousands of dollars to get me help. And even with their help, I was still treated at one of the most reputable facilities with outdated, confrontational therapies that tried to shame and embarrass the addiction out of me. In a two-year span across several states, I went to detox, outpatient, sober living, back to outpatient, then detoxed in a residential facility where I lived for 90 days before moving to a halfway house and finally back to sober living. Round and round. I learned more about how to kick in rehab by borrowing my friend’s copy of Albert Camus’ The Stranger than I ever did from reading Alcoholics Anonymous–approved literature.

It’s a Kafkaesque ritual that has gone mostly unchanged since the 1950s, when the abstinence-based model of AA was first designed to treat cases of severe alcoholism. Today, a growing number of addiction specialists are rightfully critical of applying the abstinence model to people with an opioid use disorder. Mark Willenbring, former director of treatment research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, thinks it’s downright dangerous. “What do people do when they leave these places? They overdose and die,” he told me. Last year, I wrote in Slate how the majority of treatment centers withhold lifesaving medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, the only known treatments that have evidence backing their potential to cut mortality rates in half.

While the industry is finally being called out as a charlatan-filled racket, where hucksters committing insurance fraud abound, the whole residential model is flawed. “You don’t treat a chronic illness with 30 days of intensive rehab—that’s absurd,” said Willenbring, who after leaving the NIAAA started his own outpatient clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota. “These rehabs have ignored decades of taxpayer-funded research,” he told me. Research points in Willenbring’s favor. Studies repeatedly show residential rehab has no clinical benefit over less expensive outpatient settings that treat patients in their own communities. A widespread misconception among Narcotics Anonymous, the de facto support group for people with heroin addiction, is that being on methadone or buprenorphine means you’re not in “real recovery,” a nebulous distinction that sounds a lot like a Calvinist quest for purity and abstinence.

Maia Szalavitz, journalist and author of Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, has written about addiction and recovery for decades. She told me that like most movements, a lot of time in recovery advocacy is spent, unproductively, fighting one another. For example, the recovery community was against syringe-exchange programs during the AIDS epidemic, which Szalavitz says speaks to a long-standing rift between the 12-step, abstinence-based community and harm-reduction groups.

People who have co-occurring mental health disorders, especially ones that require medication, or who use treatments such as methadone and buprenorphine for opiate use disorder don’t always feel welcome in the recovery community. “I go to AA, but I was not allowed to share at meetings when I was on medication-assisted treatment,” said 47-year-old Francesca Kennedy, who has been going to meetings for more than 20 years in New York.

That the recovery process itself is so difficult means that even people who go through the process and succeed may not find clear communities on the other side—many people, rather than seeing the process as a badge of honor, instead remember it simply as something they endured. But according to oft-cited reports, there are about 23 million Americans “living in recovery.” It’s a huge number of people, most of whom should share common goals. So why aren’t we hearing from them?

One unique aspect of the opioid epidemic is that nothing united this group of people to begin with. Addiction affects all kinds of people, from all social classes, education levels, races, etc. Little is known about the political leanings of “people in recovery.” It’s likely they fall all over the map. While much attention has focused on the overdoses that cluster in rural areas affected by automation and deindustrialization, regions that overwhelmingly voted for Trump, overdoses appear to be happening everywhere.

Of course, that 23 million number includes all drug and alcohol use. There are obvious similarities between these experiences. Often, people with different kinds of addiction run into one another in rehabs and support groups. Someone who was addicted to stimulants can recover right next to someone who was addicted to heroin. It’s tempting to think that whether alcohol or heroin brought someone down, there is a shared experience over which people in recovery bond. But the extent to which this group can be unified at all has been a question among recovery advocates for decades—the most revered of whom is recovery historian William White, who has written more than 300 articles and 17 books on addiction, treatment, and recovery since 1969.

White has studied the identities of people diagnosed with substance use disorder and found three big, though not mutually exclusive, identity styles. According to White’s research, there is the loud-and-proud crowd for whom addiction “has become an important part of their personal identity.” Opposite this group is those who have internalized stigma: “Those whose addiction/recovery status is self-acknowledged but not shared with others due to a sense of personal shame derived from this status.” Between the two poles is a group who holds “recovery-neutral identities,” those who do not self-identify as alcoholics,” “addicts” or “persons in recovery.” (Depending on the situation, I probably straddle the neutral and proud groups.)

Forthcoming research led by John Kelly from Harvard’s Recovery Research Institute (which White collaborated on) adds concrete numbers to these three identities. The articles are still under peer review, but Kelly, the university’s first endowed professor in addiction medicine, told me they found 22.35 million Americans have resolved their drug or alcohol problems—close to the previously reported number. “Roughly half of those (46 percent) adopted a recovery identity,” Kelly said. This could be the loud-and-proud group, who may have had more severe addictions. “The other 54 percent did not adopt a recovery identity,” which could comprise a mix of the neutral or internalized-stigma group.

What are the implications of these findings? Kelly explained that those who’ve adopted the strong pro-recovery identity tend to be the ones who’ve had more severe addictions that required treatment. Kelly described this identity as self-preservative: “You have to remember you have a problem to stay in recovery from; otherwise you’ll be in trouble. There’s a lot more at stake with the severely addicted.” This is the group we think of when we imagine people struggling with addiction—but they aren’t always the loudest voices. For them, simply being in recovery is work enough, or even disabling. If you ask someone who’s been through an addiction that awful, he or she will tell you feeding it had become all-consuming.

But the most interesting finding of Kelly’s is that more than half of the 22 million people who resolved their addictions did so without utilizing any formal treatment or medications—not even self-help by way of AA. (This could explain why so many people don’t adopt recovery identities.) Previous epidemiological surveys have found similarly high rates of what’s called natural remission, or ending addiction with little to no help. We typically don’t hear stories from this group, which explains a stubborn misperception that if you had an addiction, it must have caused significant life problems and that treatment was necessary to beat it. That’s simply not the case for a majority of us.

White told me that any organizing movement “would have to acknowledge the legitimacy of a broader variety of [recovery] approaches, which is slowly happening.” Slow, indeed. Stigma likely plays a role in keeping even the neutrally identifying group from being vocal. But it’s also that these people don’t share their stories because they stopped using before their lives imploded. I know a dozen or so people with this kind of anti-climactic story, some I did heroin with or others whom I watched walk around dazed and forgetful from too many benzodiazepines. They recovered naturally and mostly unscathed. And they don’t talk about it today because, frankly, they don’t have much to say. This is the real, albeit less juicy, story shared by many of us who move through addiction. It’s hard, at this point, to imagine them marching in a rally.

* * *

If there are going to be activists, we may soon start to learn their names. One of the first “stars” might be Ryan Hampton, who directs social media for the addiction advocacy group Facing Addiction. I first heard of Hampton in January, when he mobilized a digital army against Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend. In a Facebook post, Townsend had blamed a spate of celebrity deaths—George Michael, Prince, Carrie Fisher—on their “druggie” lifestyles. Hampton screen-grabbed Townsend’s post before she deleted it and posted the insensitive status alongside Townsend’s name, work phone number, and congressional email address. Hampton then asked some 90,000 people who liked his page “to stop what you’re doing and call Arizona Rep. Kelly Townsend.” Within hours, after a barrage of calls and emails, Townsend clumsily walked back her comment blaming a chronic medical condition on the poor lifestyle choices of celebrity “tweakers.”

Hampton, a former heroin user who identifies as being in “long-term recovery,” is good at this kind of thing. In White’s rubric, he fits neatly into the loud-and-proud category. Hampton described his own rehab experience to me as a horror show: He wound up on never-ending waitlists and was rapidly detoxed off methadone, a dangerous move that goes against evidence. When I asked his mother to describe that time to me, she said, “I’m a teacher, a single parent. My resources are limited. … I helped him as much as I could squeeze an onion.” She searched until eventually finding a rehab center in Pasadena, California, that would take Hampton on a sliding scale.

Facing Addiction sees itself as providing a voice for the community, and that often means amplifying their voices on social media (they also have a blog for people to share their stories). In January, Jim Hood, who co-founded Facing Addiction in 2012 after his 20-year-old son died from an accidental overdose inside his dorm, posted a scathing indictment of Sephora for carrying a line of eyeshadow called “druggie.” Hood implored the company to “meet with leaders of the recovery movement and join us in facing addiction.” A social media pack led by Hampton digitally stormed the cosmetic brand, and Sephora apologized to Facing Addiction via tweet and stopped carrying the product.

But social media campaigns, while self-expressive and cathartic, are one thing. Having a group as diffuse as “people in recovery” fight for specific policies that meet their needs is something else entirely. Facing Addiction has become increasingly successful in its effort to build bridges in a fragmented field. It’s uniting the treatment community, for instance, over holding facilities accountable to track outcomes, which few currently do (Facing Addiction also partners with dozens of rehabs). Hampton and his work partner, Garrett Hade, met in rehab, and they’re now traveling around the country broadcasting local efforts to address addiction—everywhere from inside jails and prisons to suffering communities in Ohio. Instead of working in church basements, the organization takes the opposite approach, being intentionally loud and visible in its attempt at reducing the human cost sapped by a stigmatized illness, one that people still think of as a sin or crime.

Hampton’s own rise to prominence—his personal social media accounts now reach some 4 million people every month—is hardly apolitical. He began in earnest when he was elected as one of 551 delegates that California would send to the Democratic National Convention in 2016. To secure his spot, he herded some 70 people in his Pasadena recovery network—mostly twentysomethings fresh out of rehab—to the delegates breakfast, a political event open to all voters to select the state’s delegates. Few from Hampton’s crew had ever voted before; some hadn’t been registered until Hampton nudged them along. To get enough votes, the group fanned out among the liberal California crowd and shared how they were trying to beat addiction, or at the very least their attempts to beat addiction, and that Hampton’s goal was to make recovery part of the political dialogue during the election. He won by a landslide.

This should serve as ample evidence there is hunger for the recovery community to build, well, a community, and to raise their voices together. But the question remains: How should it be done? Though a Democrat, Hampton is nothing if not willing to play nice with others. He says he gets beat up on his social media all the time for criticizing Trump (he will message those people back and try to explain that his attacks aren’t personal). “No doubt the Democratic Party platform has been very strong for us, but we live in the age of Trump. We live in the age of a Republican Congress. We need Republican support,” he told me. In early August, he teamed up with none other than Jeb Bush and Dr. Oz to co-author an op-ed in HuffPost imploring the president to declare the epidemic a national emergency. Despite this week’s slow steps to start to take action, it feels worrisomely possible that, along with the dearth of other policy accomplishments of the Trump administration, the overdose crisis will simply continue to get the short end of the stick.

That is, unless, the people and the loved ones of those people, who the crisis hits the hardest, start to make some noise. Despite the heterogeneity of the millions in recovery, Harvard’s John Kelly is optimistic about Facing Addiction’s political organizing. “Even if you took 1 percent of that 11 million who identify as being in recovery, who are real go-getters, hardcore activists, you still have around 10,000 or 11,000 people,” he said. Referring to Hampton, he said, “Imagine if you have 11,000 folks like him, duplicates of him out there—that could instigate a lot of change.”

* * *

But the problem that faced HIV/AIDS activists is a similar one now facing the larger recovery community: For everyone who joins it, there are others who don’t survive to be their own advocates. In August, Hampton texted me that a friend of his, whose recovery efforts he was sponsoring, had died of an overdose in a Pasadena sober house. Naloxone, the drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, wasn’t available in the house. Not having naloxone available in a sober house is like running a hospital without a defibrillator. Worse still, some facilities choose not to keep naloxone around because they incorrectly think it “enables” or “encourages” using.

Hampton’s sadness boiled into anger. “His death was 100 percent preventable,” he said over the phone. “It costs $1,500 a month to live there. The owner and operators should have naloxone on hand and know how to use it.” (His response as an organizer was to invite Missouri harm reductionist Chad Sabora to California to distribute naloxone and train sober houses and treatment centers on how to use it.)

Overdoses leave loved ones behind—loved ones who are part of the group of people whose lives are intimately connected to the recovery movement and who may be persuaded to vote for political candidates who make real solutions a priority. Parents of overdose victims have started grief groups, such as Broken No More, and in the process have become powerful voices in addiction advocacy. The GOP’s thwarted attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act this year, if they had passed, would have likely stunted efforts to curb overdoses. “It could’ve rolled back years, if not decades, of progress on this issue,” Hampton said.

Given this, Hampton still believes Republicans can help solve the crisis: “Yes. Clearly, they’re in power,” he said. “The president campaigned on it. They have the capacity to do this.” But, he adds, “Whether or not they will actually take advantage and do the right thing is yet to be known.”

In the press, the overdose crisis is constantly referred to as one of the only issues left that has bipartisan support. But what if one party is actively working against evidence-based solutions? Take, for instance, Indiana social conservatives who recently shut down a syringe exchange program. What if activism actually needs to be partisan? Other countries have been where we are with rising overdoses; by using a combination of harm reduction tools, criminal justice reform, and modern medicine, they were able to solve their own drug crises. That progress is detailed in a recent report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy called “The Opioid Crisis in North America.”

But much stands in the way or even threatens similar progress from happening in America. Our obsession with incarceration is one: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health found the overdose death rate is 120 times higher for people released from prisons and jails in its state. A whopping 46 percent of federal prisoners, disproportionately nonwhite, are in on drug offenses. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated he favors policies that would renew the failed “war on drugs.”

We need mental health care and better rehab, but we also need more education and understanding. Columbia University’s Carl Hart, who teaches a course on drugs and behavior at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, refutes politicians’ convenient calls for more “beds.” Hart points out that most of the people dying are combining opiates with other sedatives, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. “They are dying from ignorance, not the drugs,” Hart said. Another factor causing a spike in overdoses is überpotent, illicit fentanyl, which can be deadly even for more experienced users who have an opioid tolerance. Dan Ciccarone, the lead investigator of a study called Heroin in Transition that tracks America’s heroin supply, told me we’re no longer in an opioid crisis—he calls it a poisoning crisis.

But all these solutions as outlined—criminal justice reform, affordable health care, changing the way substance use is stigmatized in society—are not being pursued equally by the two major political parties. And the party endorsing them as solutions is not the party in charge. It may seem uncouth to take a movement that is gutting the entire country and acknowledge that only the Democrats have a platform set up to combat the crisis in a way we know will help. But perhaps giving up the myth of a bipartisan crisis is a lesson we can take from recovery itself: The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one.

There’s little reason to have faith that the current government in power will implement policies that will keep people alive. And there’s even less reason to wait. As unimaginable as it seems, the overdose crisis is going to get worse before it gets better. I can only hope that those who feel powerless over their addictions may realize that by working together, we have more power than we know.

10 Trustworthy Green Product Databases for Building or Renovating Your Home

by Janelle Sorensen @ Elemental Green

Farm Dreams Workshop

by Mimi Schultz @ Nest Organics

Dreaming of starting your own farm? Check out this great program with the Organic Growers School here in Asheville, NC… Farm Dreams is an entry-level, day-long workshop designed to help people who are seeking practical, common-sense information on sustainable farming and how to move forward. This is a great workshop to attend if you are […]

Here’s the Expertise Scott Pruitt Is Removing From the EPA’s Advisory Boards

Here’s the Expertise Scott Pruitt Is Removing From the EPA’s Advisory Boards

by Lila Thulin @ Slate Articles

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has made yet another frightening decision that seems likely to further untether the agency he leads from sound environmental science. The former attorney general of Oklahoma announced Tuesday that scientists receiving EPA grants for their research would no longer be eligible to serve on committees that provide his agency with expert scientific input, including the Scientific Advisory Board, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, and the Board of Scientific Counselors. In a memo that echoed a recent speech at the Heritage Foundation, Pruitt outlined the unprecedented rules as a way to guard against conflict of interest (no comparable rules prohibit committee members from having ties to industry) and “promote fresh perspectives” (likely Pruitt’s own personal euphemism for incorporating climate change denialism). The EPA head also reprised the controversial decision he’d made this June to not renew contracts for the Board of Scientific Counselors: Incumbent committee members who have only served one three-year term will not be asked to return to the agency, even though it has recently been routine for them to serve two terms, according to the New Republic.

This roster slashing allows Pruitt, who has extensive ties to the energy industry, to fill 21 of the 42 seats on the Scientific Advisory Board. According to a list procured by E&E News—but unconfirmed by the EPA—Pruitt loaded the panel with male scientists from the Midwest and South, several with ties to industry or local government (he also recently decreased its annual number of meetings through a new charter), and announced that Michael Honeycutt, who has expressed doubt over the health dangers posed by ozone, would chair the committee.

The move to limit scientists who receive grants is particularly worrisome. As Ana Diez Roux, the just-replaced chairwoman of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, said in an email to Science magazine, “The top scientists, the ones most qualified to provide objective and transparent scientific advice to EPA, are of course the scientists who will likely be most successful at obtaining highly competitive federal grants. … It would be a disservice to the American public to exclude those most qualified from serving on these panels.”

By comparing the leaked list of Pruitt’s nominations to current rosters that included term limit data, Slate compiled a list of the scientists whose expertise the EPA will no longer benefit from because these changes cut their time on its advisory boards short:

The Scientific Advisory Board provides reports on scientific topics (like fracking or toxic chemicals) that pertain to EPA regulations. Here are the members whose terms will not be renewed:

Deborah Hall Bennett (first term slated to end in 2019) of the University of California, Davis, an expert on pollutants and environmental epidemiology

Kiros Berhane (first term slated to end in 2018) of the University of Southern California, an EPA-funded expert on using statistics to analyze the health impacts of climate change, air pollution, and occupational exposure

Sylvie Brouder (first term ended in 2017) of Purdue University, an expert on crop nutrition, soil fertility, and agricultural systems

Ana Diez Roux (former CASAC chairwoman, first term on SAB ended in 2017) of Drexel University, an expert on race and neighborhood-related health disparities.

Robert Johnston (second term slated to end in 2018) of Clark University, an expert on the economics of flooding and sea level rise. When asked about the new rules, Johnston said to Politico Pro, “I think it’s really unfortunate that that role is now being politicized in a way that it never has before under any administration.”

Catherine Karr (second term slated to end in 2018) of the University of Washington, an expert on children’s environmental health.

Francine Laden (second term slated to end in 2018) of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, an EPA-funded expert on environmental risk factors for cancer and respiratory disease. Laden told Politico Pro she has “serious concerns about the motivations and implications of this decision.”

Denise Mauzerall (first term ended 2017) of Princeton University, an expert on air pollution policy

Kari Nadeau (first term slated to end in 2018) of the Stanford University School of Medicine, an expert on allergy and asthma immunology

Jeanne VanBriesen (second term slated to end in 2018) of Carnegie Mellon University, an expert on environmental systems and the impacts of energy extraction

Elke Weber (first term ended 2017) of Princeton University, an expert on decision-making and risk analysis in financial and environmental choices

Charles Werth (first term ended 2017) of the University of Texas at Austin, an expert in clean energy, water treatment, and pollution

Robyn Wilson (first term slated to end in 2018) of Ohio State University, an EPA-funded expert in land management decision-making and risk analysis. Wilson tweeted:

On the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, a smaller panel that offers insight on air pollution standards and health effects, these members will be leaving their positions earlier than anticipated:

Donna Kenski (first term slated to end in 2019) of the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium (an EPA-funded nonprofit), an expert on air quality monitoring. Kenski told the New York Times, “The really galling part of this is that it’s all in an effort to avoid conflict of interest, but they pretend that the industry people who are being offered up positions on the panel are somehow unbiased because they’re not getting money from EPA.”

Ronald Wyzga (second term slated to end in 2018) of the Electric Power Research Institute, an expert on the health effects of air pollution

If there’s any silver lining to be had, it’s this: Pruitt didn’t seem to rely on his panel of experts much anyway. In September, outgoing board chairman Peter Thorne wrote to the administrator that “the SAB stands ready to serve and encourages you to take full advantage of the vital resource we can provide,” but then, the Washington Post notes, “Pruitt never met with the group.”

Unfortunately, given Pruitt’s history, it seems quite likely that he’ll make better use of the board once he’s stocked it with industry insiders.

Leesa vs Lull Mattress- What You Need To Know

by Frank Apodaca @ The Sleep Judge

Why Is Slate Questioning Gardasil?

Why Is Slate Questioning Gardasil?

by Susan Matthews @ Slate Articles

Read Slate’s investigative piece on Gardasil.

I was vaccinated with Gardasil in 2007, right after the vaccine was first approved. If I were faced with the choice today, I would still choose to get vaccinated with Gardasil—even after editing Fred Joelving’s piece detailing the problems with the clinical trial tasked with ensuring the vaccine’s efficacy and safety prior to approval. That’s because the decision around vaccination is a decision that involves weighing the evidence on potential benefits versus potential harms, and to my eye, the potential benefits greatly outweigh the potential harms. Gardasil has been shown to effectively prevent HPV, which is very likely to reduce your chance of cervical cancer. Gardasil has not been proven to have any significant side effects.

What Joelving’s story does suggest, thanks to its remarkable and thorough reporting, is that the clinical trials in which Gardasil was tested may have been inadequately designed, and that this failure in design likely rendered the trial incapable of accurately assessing whether the vaccine causes autoimmune disorders in a very small number of genetically predisposed young women who receive it. This flaw doesn’t really change the calculation on whether or not people should receive Gardasil, in my opinion—even if the vaccine does cause autoimmune disorders in a very small number of genetically predisposed women, and that’s a huge if, the benefits of the vaccine are still likely to outweigh the potential harms.

So why run this story? From my perspective, this story has important ramifications for public health. Because even if it turns out that Gardasil does not cause autoimmune disorders in anyone (which is possible), the fact remains that these trials were designed in a way that meant they would probably be unable to reliably assess this potential relationship. And to me, that’s worrying because clinical trials, particularly those used to assess medicine that will be used on large numbers of people prophylactically, ought to be able to make such assessments. And if we’ve been failing on this front, we should know that, so we can correct for it. This is how science is supposed to work.

If this story were about almost anything besides a vaccine, I doubt I would be writing this. The value of understanding potential side effects and ensuring that our clinical trials are robust enough to do so would be apparent, I suspect. But because it is about a vaccine, this is much more complicated, because there’s a (legitimate) fear that this story could be used to bolster a case that vaccines are bad and untrustworthy. And bolstering that case could have real and serious ramifications for public health if it leads to more people not getting vaccinated.

That’s possible. It’s also, in my opinion, a terrible reason to not run an excellent and nuanced piece of journalism about something that is true and, indeed, something that is in the public’s interest to know. I would even go as far as to say that refusing to cover a possible problem with a vaccine because it might cause people who are already distrustful of vaccines to be more distrustful is itself a counterproductive action: It further entrenches us on opposite sides that become driven more by ideology than by truth. And the truth is that science can be imperfect, and evidence can be incomplete. When that is the case, we should be upfront and transparent about it—in fact, I believe that doing so serves to bolster our credibility rather than diminish it.

Sometimes reassessments of science happen in the lab. Sometimes reassessments of science happen on the pages of a newsmagazine. When the latter happens, it is also the media’s responsibility to be clear about how the individuals reading the story ought to interpret it. One of the best and worst things about health journalism is how closely it intersects with its readers—everyone has a body, and so everyone has increased incentive to parse this information, and to assess if it should influence their own choices about how to care for themselves. The stakes are high and ever-complicated by how difficult it is to properly convey the distinction between public health and personal health.

This story has important implications for public health, much more so than for personal health. It is also a story that shows how investigating questions of public health can intersect with personal health—as Kesia Lyng’s story demonstrates, we rely on individuals to help us assess those bigger questions. But when it comes to the personal health of its readers, this story does not offer much advice, and that’s on purpose. The takeaway is not that you should not get vaccinated—as noted above, I still would. The takeaway is that science is an iterative process, and the more upfront we are about that, the better.

Is This Cigar-Shaped Asteroid Watching Us?

Is This Cigar-Shaped Asteroid Watching Us?

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

Are intelligent extraterrestrials trying to communicate with or study us? Some scientists think that’s a possibility—and that it’s happening right now. Starting at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, researchers with the Breakthrough Listen initiative began pointing a powerful radio telescope toward a mysterious object visiting the solar system, hopeful they could detect signs that the interstellar interloper is actually of alien origin.

The object in question is ‘Oumuamua, an asteroid from another star system currently zipping past Jupiter at about 196,000 miles per hour, too fast to be trapped by the sun’s gravitational pull. First discovered in mid-October by astronomers at the Pan-STARRS project at the University of Hawaii, the 800-meter-long, 80-meter-wide, cigar-shaped rock is, technically speaking, weird as hell—and that’s precisely why some scientists think it’s not a natural object.

If you’ve spent time learning about UFOs, then you might already know that most experts who believe interstellar travel is possible posit that such a ship would probably be shaped like a cigar or needle, because it would be lean and aerodynamic enough to minimize friction and slim the chances of colliding with another object or harmful gas and dust. Especially given how solid it looks and how fast it’s going, ‘Oumuamua, which means scout or messenger in Hawaiian, is really unlike anything else. With the asteroid making a fast exit from our solar system, scientists are eager to figure out whether the bugger might actually be an alien spacecraft—maybe a vessel for living beings, maybe a robotic probe, maybe something else entirely—however unlikely that might be.

Breakthrough Initiatives, launched by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner to study the galaxy for signs of extraterrestrials, is most famous for its Stephen Hawking–backed Starshot project to send cheap spacecraft to Alpha Centauri at one-fifth the speed of light to find signs of habitability or alien life. Its more conventional SETI sister project, Listen, uses radio telescopes to scan space and listen for complex radio signals that might be signs of an alien civilization.

For 10 hours on Wednesday, Breakthrough Listen will point the Green Bank Telescope, based in West Virginia, at ‘Oumuamua and listen for anything unusual emanating from the object that doesn’t have a conventional explanation. The Green Bank Telescope could detect signals on the scale of a mobile phone coming from ‘Oumuamua, Milner tells Scientific American.

Even if there’s no signal coming from ‘Oumuamua, the Green Bank observations can still collect valuable insight on whether the asteroid possesses water or ice or exhibits any strange chemistry.

There’s no exact timetable for when Breakthrough Listen will announce its findings, but it should be sooner rather than later. It’s highly unlikely ‘Oumuamua is a sign aliens exist, but even skeptics will have to admit there’s rarely been a better object to pin our ET hopes on than this bizarre-looking rock.

Clean Bedding

by The Natural Mattress Store @ The Natural Mattress Store

Cleaning your bedroom might not be your favorite chore, but it’s necessary to do to create the right sleeping environment for a great nights rest. 

Read more

The post Clean Bedding appeared first on The Natural Mattress Store.

What Makes Avocado Green Mattress Different? Interview with Avocado's Jessica Hann

What Makes Avocado Green Mattress Different? Interview with Avocado's Jessica Hann

Eco Local Markets

When we think of eco-friendly products, mattresses aren't the first to come to mind. However, many contain chemicals, toxins, and harmful VOCs. That's where Avocado Green Mattress comes in. I had the delight of speaking to Avocado's own Jessica Hann about the business and its commitment to health and

Cure Anxiety Naturally

by Jessica Hann @ Avocado Green Mattress

Treat Anxiety Naturally | The best essential oils for anxiety.Read More ...

The post Cure Anxiety Naturally appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

7 Linen Curtains For The Airy, Eco-Conscious Home

7 Linen Curtains For The Airy, Eco-Conscious Home

by Staff Guide @ The Good Trade

If you’re like us and trying to piece together an eco-friendly home, then you’ll know how difficult it is to find pure linen curtains, only finding linen-polyester or linen-cotton blends. But not anymore! We’ve done the hard work so you can enjoy the benefits: we rounded up seven brands offering 100% linen curtains online.

Best Organic Mattress Reviews 2018

Best Organic Mattress Reviews 2018

The Sleep Judge

Natural and organic mattresses are just what they sound like. The construction of some or most of the materials is made up of natural components such as wool and cotton. If you are prepared to make a sizable investment in a product that will feature some of the best quality materials in the industry, I'm excited to walk you through the various types of natural and organic mattresses on the market. There is a lot more to consider than meets the eye to help you find the best natural and organic mattress to meet your needs, so let's jump right in! Comparison Table Why the Popularity in Organic Mattresses? Highly Durable What Makes an Organic Bed? Check the Expiration Date on Certifications Latex and Control Union Common Organic Components Organic cotton Organic wool Understanding the Manufacturing Process Adhesives, Flame Retardants, and Other Man-Made Materials You Won't Find Organic vs. Non-Organic vs. Eco-Friendly Pros and Cons of Organic Mattresses Understanding Volatile

6 Health and Nutrition Experts Share Their Favorite Bedtime Snacks

by Marygrace Taylor @ Amerisleep Blog

If you’ve ever polished off a pint of ice cream or a full-size bag of chips after dinner, you know that what you eat before bed can have a major impact on your ability to fall (and stay) asleep. But sleep-friendly snacking is about more than just steering clear of rich, gut-busting fare. Turns out, […]

The post 6 Health and Nutrition Experts Share Their Favorite Bedtime Snacks appeared first on Amerisleep Blog.

Revealed: The Real Price of Litter

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

Many of us know the environmental issues of air travel, over-consumption and fast fashion. But what about the very real damage that litter can do? Money Guru, a financial advice website, has looked at the tangible cost litter has on individuals and the environment. With 46,000 pieces of plastic for every square metre of ocean, […]

The post Revealed: The Real Price of Litter appeared first on Greenne.

A Guide to Understanding a Million vs. a Billion vs. a Trillion

A Guide to Understanding a Million vs. a Billion vs. a Trillion

by Andrew D. Hwang @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published on the Conversation and was republished here with permission.

National discussions of crucial importance to ordinary citizens—such as funding for scientific and medical research, bailouts of financial institutions, and the current Republican tax proposals—inevitably involve dollar figures in the millions, billions, and trillions.

Unfortunately, math anxiety is widespread even among intelligent, highly educated people.

Complicating the issue further, citizens emotionally undeterred by billions and trillions are nonetheless likely to be ill-equipped for meaningful analysis because most people don’t correctly intuit large numbers.

Happily, anyone who can understand tens, hundreds, and thousands can develop habits and skills to accurately navigate millions, billions, and trillions. Stay with me, especially if you’re math-averse: I’ll show you how to use school arithmetic, common knowledge, and a little imagination to train your emotional sense for the large numbers shaping our daily lives.

Unlike Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, scientists and mathematicians are not exacting mental calculators but habitual estimators and analogy-makers. We use “back of the envelope” calculations to orient our intuition.

The bailout of AIG after the mortgage-backed securities crisis cost more than $125 billion. The Panama Papers document upward of $20 trillion hidden in a dark labyrinth of shell companies and other tax shelters over the past 40 years. (The recently published Paradise Papers paint an even more extensive picture.) On the bright side, we recovered $165 million in bonuses from AIG executives. That’s something, right?

Let’s find out: On a scale where a million dollars is one penny, the AIG bailout cost taxpayers $1,250. The Panama Papers document at least $200,000 missing from the world economy. On the bright side, we recovered $1.65 in executive bonuses.

In an innumerate world, this is what passes for fiscal justice.

Let’s run through that again: If one penny represents a million, then one thousand pennies, or $10, represents a billion. On the same scale, one million pennies, or $10,000, represents a trillion. When assessing a trillion-dollar expenditure, debating a billion dollars is quibbling over $10 on a $10,000 purchase.

Here, we’ve scaled monetary amounts so that “1,000,000” comprises one unit, then equated that unit to a familiar—and paltry—quantity, one penny. Scaling numbers to the realm of the familiar harnesses our intuition toward understanding relative sizes.

In a sound bite, a savings of $200 million might sound comparable to a $20 trillion cost. Scaling reveals the truth: One is a $2 (200 cent) beverage, the other the $200,000 price of an American home.

Suppose you landed a job paying $1 per second, or $3,600 per hour. (I assume your actual pay, like mine, is a tiny fraction of this. Indulge the fantasy!) For simplicity, assume you’re paid 24/7.

At this rate, it would take 1 million seconds to acquire $1 million. How long is that in familiar terms? In round numbers, 1 million seconds is 17,000 minutes. That’s 280 hours, or 11.6 days. At $1 per second, chances are you can retire comfortably at the end of a month or few.

At the same job, it takes 11,600 days, or about 31.7 years, to accumulate $1 billion: doable, but you’d better start young.

To acquire $1 trillion takes 31,700 years. This crummy job doesn’t pay enough!

This analogy gives a taste for the absolute size of a billion, and perhaps of a trillion. It also shows the utter impossibility of an ordinary worker earning $1 billion. No job pays a round-the-clock hourly wage of $3,600.

Let’s examine the wealth of actual multibillionaires. Our calculations prove that they acquired more than $1 per second over long intervals. How much more?

Testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 27, William Browder, an American-born businessman with extensive Russian dealings, estimated that Vladimir Putin controls assets of $200 billion. Let’s assume this figure is substantially correct and that Putin’s meteoric rise began 17 years ago, when he first became president of Russia. What is Putin’s average income?

Seventeen years is about 540 million seconds; $200 billion divided by this is … wow, $370 per second. That’s $1,340,000 per hour. Yet even at this colossal rate, acquiring $1 trillion takes 85 years.

The Panama Papers document some $20 trillion—the combined fortunes of 100 Vladimir Putins—sequestered in shell companies, untaxed and untraceable. Though the rate of leakage has surely increased over time, for simplicity let’s assume this wealth has bled steadily from the global economy, an annual loss of about $500 billion.

How much is this in familiar terms? To find out, divide $500 billion by 31.6 million seconds. Conservatively speaking, the Panama Papers document an ongoing loss averaging $16,000 per second, around the clock, for 40 years.

American cities are now vying for a $5 billion Amazon headquarters, a windfall to transform the local economy lucky enough to win the contract. At the same time, the world economy hemorrhages that amount into a fiscal black hole every few days. Merely stemming this Niagara (not recovering the money already lost) would amount to 100 new Amazon headquarters per year.

The root cause of our economic plight looms in plain sight when we know the proper scale on which to look. By overcoming math phobia, wielding simple arithmetic, refusing to be muddled by “gazillions,” we become better citizens, avoiding squabbling over pennies when tens of thousands of dollars are missing.

Sealy Mattress Warranty Troubles

by @ Eco Mattress Store | Memory Foam Mattress | Latex Organic Mattresses: Latest News

Consumer spends over $400 trying to get Sealy Mattress to honor their warranty, and still has NO mattress to show for his time and money.


Check out this News item from the great consumer protection website, The Consumerist.


Beware that not all mattress makers will honor their warranty, or even make a product that holds up well enough to earn a warranty.

Sustainable Construction Trends That Will Rock 2018

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

Technology is continuously improving and setting new standards, including higher environmental sustainability. Winds of green change sweep across construction yards, propelling building projects to another exciting year. Yes, many trends come and go, but there are also those that become an integral part of the industry. Green building falls into the latter category as something […]

The post Sustainable Construction Trends That Will Rock 2018 appeared first on Greenne.

Meatless Mondays – Eggless Salad

by Allie @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post. Only bloggers will understand the odd urge to photograph your lunch before you eat it so you can share with your readers.  Last night, I had a half-brick of tofu left over from dinner, and decided to whip up some eggless salad.  As I was [...]

At the Bonn Climate Talks, Many Americans Are Desperately Separating Themselves From Trump

At the Bonn Climate Talks, Many Americans Are Desperately Separating Themselves From Trump

by Oliver Milman @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by the Guardian and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

Deep schisms in the U.S. over climate change are on show at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany, where two sharply different visions of America’s role in addressing dangerous global warming have been put forward to the world.

Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement has created a vacuum into which dozens of state, city, and business leaders have leapt, with the aim of convincing other countries at the international summit that the administration is out of kilter with the American people.

The counter-Trump movement in Bonn is being spearheaded by Jerry Brown, the governor of California, and Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City. Brown, in particular, has assumed the role of a de facto U.S. leader, scheduling more than two-dozen events to agitate for renewable energy and emissions cuts to combat what he has called an “existential crisis.”

A U.S. Climate Action Center has been set up for delegates in Bonn, representing the climate change priorities of several thousand U.S. cities, states, tribes, and businesses. Corporate giants Mars, Walmart, and Citi are expected to push for action on climate change. The center is in lieu of an official U.S. presence—for the first time, the U.S. government won’t have a pavilion at the annual U.N. climate summit.

At the razzamatazz opening of the alternative U.S. center on Thursday, California state Sen. Ricardo Lara told the audience: “Greetings from the official resistance to the Trump administration.” Pausing for cheers and applause, he said: “Let’s relish being rebels. Despite what happens in D.C., we’re still here.”

Guests were served free jelly doughnuts and coffee. “It’s the least we can do after Trump’s announcement that we are leaving,” said one U.S. activist.

At 2,500 square meters, the alternative U.S. dome—which is marked with the hashtag #wearestillin—is the biggest pavilion at the climate talks. Organizers say it is probably the biggest for any U.S. group in the history of climate conference.

“It’s nice that it’s hard to miss. This is big because our movement is big,” said one of the organizers, Lou Leonard of WWF. “Here we show energy, momentum, and confidence. It would slow negotiations down if people in the halls were thinking the U.S. is not with them.”

Following recent decisions by Nicaragua and Syria to join the Paris pact, the U.S. stands alone as the only country in the world to oppose the deal.

“The U.S. is now split, and world opinion is going with the state and local players, rather than the federal player,” said Jonathan Pershing, who was the U.S. government’s special envoy on climate change until last year.

“The U.S. is at odds with every other country in the world, and yet we see it represented by a federal government as well as competing governors, mayors, and members of Congress. It reflects an enormous tension in the U.S. political system over climate change.”

The Trump administration has sent a delegation to Bonn, with the U.S. still officially engaged in implementing the Paris deal until it is able to exit in 2020. Thomas Shannon, an experienced state department diplomat who has previously voiced concern about climate change, is leading the U.S. delegation, assisted by Trigg Talley, who was Pershing’s deputy.

The White House has confirmed that the U.S. will promote the “efficient” use of coal, nuclear energy, and natural gas as an answer to climate change in a presentation to delegates in Bonn. Trump has vowed to revive America’s ailing coal sector, but this message is likely to provoke outrage on the global stage.

“It will raise hackles,” said Pershing. “It’s not an argument that people will accept internationally.”

Differences may sharpen next week when countries start to discuss financing plans, but so far observers say it has mostly been business as usual.

“We are seeing 196 parties trying to move forward and put the Paris accord into effect. They don’t want to let the U.S. impede that progress,” said David Waskow of the World Resources Institute.

But participants from other nations said the change is already apparent.

“It’s as though the U.S. negotiators have been dipped in aspic,” said one delegate. “They are scared stiff of upsetting the White House. They try to be constructive, but they don’t want that known.”

Another delegate said: “We have lost the leadership the U.S. used to provide. They have the best negotiating team, and they usually put forward strong arguments, but in talks this year, they have been quiet. You can feel they are a little lost. It must be so hard for them now. I sympathize.”

“I think it’s all going to be a little awkward,” said Sue Biniaz, a former state department official who was the lead U.S. lawyer at climate negotiations for two decades.

“In the past the U.S. was the leader and brought a lot of ideas to the table. That will be a loss. But other countries, rightly or wrongly, think the U.S. may stay in under some circumstances, so I wouldn’t expect too much hostility.”

A coalition of 14 U.S. states, including California and New York, have said they are on track to meet the U.S. target of a 26-28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. The goal was set by Barack Obama’s administration as part of the Paris agreement between 195 nations to avoid dangerous global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius.

Brown has raised his profile in recent months by meeting China’s leadership to discuss clean energy technology and becoming a special adviser for states and regions during the Bonn talks.

On Tuesday, he met EU leaders in Brussels as a prelude to talks on how to link California’s cap-and-trade emissions system with the similar emissions mechanism used by the 28-state bloc. California has a legislated goal to cut its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

“We are truly facing a challenge unprecedented in human history,” Brown said in a speech to the European Parliament. “We have to completely transform to a zero-carbon world. We have to do it faster than most people are probably thinking about. 2050 is too late.”

In a nod to the clout of large U.S. states, Brown later included two of them when naming countries that could do more on climate change—“the United States, Texas, California, Russia, India.”

European leaders welcomed Brown’s words.

“The approach of Mr. Trump is not necessarily as helpful as it might be. But we are delighted to have Gov. Brown here because it shows there is a strong commitment from the U.S.,” said Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament.

However, governors such as Brown or Andrew Cuomo, his New York counterpart, cannot officially take the place of the U.S. president in U.N. climate talks. Their emissions pledges do not supersede the official U.S. position, and in any case, the 14 committed states only have influence over around half of total U.S. emissions.

Analysts have warned that without national leadership, the U.S. is in danger of missing its emissions reduction goals and will jeopardize international efforts to stave off 2 degrees Celsius of warming, which would lead to elevated sea level rise, intensified droughts, heat waves, and wildfires.

Brian Schatz, a Democratic senator from Hawaii who is attending the Bonn talks, said members of Congress, including Republicans, were concerned over how the withdrawal has hurt America’s standing in the world.

“If you show up at a climate conference to talk about coal, you’re likely to be ignored,” he said. “I think the ‘We Are Still In’ delegation will get more attention than the executive branch.

We’ve gone from the indispensable leader to being the only country not engaged in climate change. Many people in Congress are troubled not only from a climate standpoint but a geopolitical standpoint. China is happy to take that leadership from us.”

Sleeping in Hotels

by Destiny Hagest @ Avocado Green Mattress

Sleep Better in Hotels | Seven ways to get a better night's rest in a hotel room.Read More ...

The post Sleeping in Hotels appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

Seed Saving

by Howling Hill @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post. One bonuses of participating in any CSA is the availability and access to seeds that are not genetically modified or altered. Thus, I have been seeding some of the bounty from my CSA. So far I have two types of tomato (above), yellow watermelon, honeydew melon, and [...]

13 idyllic, organic family farm stay vacations around the world

by (Beverley Mitchell) @ Inhabitots

You may have never considered vacationing on a farm, but did you know farm stays are available the world over? If you love the great outdoors, basing yourself at a farm stay whether you holiday in the U.S. or overseas could be the perfect holiday option for the whole family. You'll gain great insight into the life and culture of your host region or country, it will be less disruptive than hotel hopping, and there's the added bonus that your children will gain a deeper understanding of where their...

Organic and Eco-Friendly Mattress Reviews - Sustainable Slumber

Organic and Eco-Friendly Mattress Reviews - Sustainable Slumber

Sustainable Slumber

Shopping for an organic or eco-friendly mattress can be an overwhelming experience. Our advice is to do your research before making this investment and Sustainable Slumber is here to help! The following companies offer organic or natural mattresses and we have summarized the most important features of their products.   Nest Bedding The Q3 Natural …

Trump Wants to Go to the Moon. Do Private Space Companies?

Trump Wants to Go to the Moon. Do Private Space Companies?

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a new space policy directive, aimed at sending American astronauts back to the moon. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been obsessing over this goal for months now. In a recent interview with Scientific American, Scott Pace, the executive secretary for the White House’s newly resurrected National Space Council, gave a short defense of exactly why Trump was so interested in the moon, arguing that while President Obama’s previous push for Mars- and asteroid-oriented missions had some merits, they “were so ambitious that they really didn’t provide opportunities for international or commercial partnerships.” These partnerships, Pace noted, are the real reason to engage with space exploration—as he put it, “the reason we do space is not simply to do it, but to advance U.S. national interests.”

The White House thinks it can use crewed lunar missions to bolster its relationship with the commercial space industry. The only problem with this reasoning is that the commercial space industry isn’t really that interested in the moon—they have their sights set on loftier goals, and there isn’t really great evidence that a pit stop at the moon will help them achieve these aims.

The real thing that would make redirecting to the moon worthwhile for them is if there’s money to be made there. It’s true that companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are making fast strides in cutting costs through reusable architectures, but each launch is still far from profitable. And even though the space industry has always been understood as a long-term play—eventually, ventures like asteroid mining, space tourism, deep-space travel, and others will put their books in the black—in the meantime, they have to be cautious and discerning. “These folks are not running charities,” says Scott Hubbard, a Stanford professor and 40-year veteran in space-related research. (Hubbard also recently authored a piece in New Space arguing that a shift to the moon could derail plans to get to Mars.) “This is for-profit business, whether it’s Jeff Bezos, or Elon Musk, or Lockheed Martin, or Boeing.”

If there are valuable resources on the moon to mine, the investment could pay off. But so far we don’t have a clear enough picture of what might be worth taking to warrant the investment of sending people up there. Helium-3 has been touted as one resource, but there’s no certainty it’s available in large quantities on the moon, nor is there a financially sustainable method of extracting it and transporting it back to Earth yet. Similarly, there could be huge reserves of water ice on the moon, which could give rise to a water-based lunar economy, but that is similarly hypothetical and hard to establish. We could verify that with more investigation, but it would be faster (and cheaper) to do that with robots, not people.

Perhaps this explains why so few private companies have lunar ambitions. Astrobotic, Moon Express, and Blue Origin are developing robotic technologies relevant to delivering cargo to and from the moon, which could support something like a mining operation, but this doesn’t actually require them to land on the moon. Similarly, others, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing are focused on getting to the moon—but to orbit it, not to land on its surface. And both companies are already partnering with NASA to develop architectures related to the Deep Space Gateway, a space station capable of moving between Earth and the moon, as a staging platform for human missions to Mars in the 2030s, and places beyond after that.

“Our ultimate mission and goal is really to get humans to the vicinity of Mars, and to the surface as soon as possible,” says Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin’s NextSTEP program manager. “[Our program] is focused primarily on the on-orbit piece, not surface missions.”

Nevertheless, Pratt said the Deep Space Gateway project can be used to support crewed (or uncrewed) lunar surface missions, and the company would be open to seeing to what role it could play in landing on the moon. Likewise, Boeing doesn’t currently have any surface lunar plans of its own, but a Boeing spokesperson says if NASA elects to send a crewed mission to the moon, its willing to support that approach and find ways to participate.*

It’s understandable that even though private industry might be more jazzed about Mars, they’ll still follow the money to the moon. If the government is offering lucrative contracts to commercial players for lunar missions, few companies are going to say no.

If private companies want to go to Mars to make money, then isn’t it already in their financial interest to use the lunar surface as a proving ground for testing and developing new technologies? Maybe! But that reasoning is somewhat tenuous. The moon might be a useful way to test out certain technologies relevant to traveling to and living on Mars—Pratt cites remote navigation instruments and guidance tracking—but these things could be tested remotely from orbit. But humans don’t need to land on the moon and build a lunar colony to train for Mars. There’s no lunar atmosphere, which makes testing launch and entry technologies designed for Mars irrelevant. The utter lack of climate and lower gravity means the two worlds require vastly different life-support system designs.

There are more abstract reasons for the U.S. to go to the moon (mostly that it could be a PR win for our country and our president), but for the private industry, it would most likely mean forgoing the long-term vision of Mars in favor of short-term gains. If the government is ponying up the cash, though, the commercial sector will have little trouble making that pivot—maybe with one eye still on the red planet.

*Correction, Jan. 5, 2018: This article originally misstated that Boeing doesn't have lunar plans. Boeing doesn't have any surface lunar plans. (Return.)

5 Conscious Employers Promoting Equality, Diversity, And Family-Friendly Benefits For Women

5 Conscious Employers Promoting Equality, Diversity, And Family-Friendly Benefits For Women

by Kayti Christian @ The Good Trade

Pay gaps, harassment, and gender inequality are still issues for women in the workplace—even in 2018. We are hopeful for a greater shift towards workplaces that prioritize equality, diversity, and family-friendly benefits. If you or someone you know is looking for a new job this year, here are five of the best companies we’ve found that prioritize women’s advancement, safety, and gender equality. 

Review: Glamping at the Romantic, Eco-Friendly Prana Boutique Hotel in Tulum

by Alden Wicker @ Ecocult

With so many supposedly "eco" hotels in Tulum that are greenwashing and even actively harming the local ecosystems, we were careful to choose a hotel that was both luxurious and truly sustainable.

The post Review: Glamping at the Romantic, Eco-Friendly Prana Boutique Hotel in Tulum appeared first on Ecocult.

Dirty & Dangerous

by amerisleep101 @ Amerisleep Blog

According to a recent survey, the most common complaint from hotel guests is noisy neighbors. The second most common? Filth. After all, when you go on vacation, you expect to be pampered, comfortable, and relaxed. At the very least, you want a clean, safe place to rest your head at night. You want to know […]

The post Dirty & Dangerous appeared first on Amerisleep Blog.

The Best Sustainable and Artisan Shops and Fashion in Granada, Nicaragua

by Abigail Davidson @ Ecocult

From street artisans to community-impact boutiques, here are the best places to shop ethically and sustainably in Granada, Nicaragua!

The post The Best Sustainable and Artisan Shops and Fashion in Granada, Nicaragua appeared first on Ecocult.

7 Green Ideas for Outdoor Rooms and Granny Flats

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

Just like your main building, your granny flat and outdoor rooms can also be environmentally friendly. All you need to do is use the right materials and be smart about the design, and your home addition will be eco-friendly and beautiful.  Here are some great tips you must check out before you start your building. […]

The post 7 Green Ideas for Outdoor Rooms and Granny Flats appeared first on Greenne.

Eco-Friendly Dusting, the Second Most Natural Way I Know How

by Stefanie @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post. My last year of college, I lived with two roommates in a surprisingly spotless off-campus apartment. Rather, it was surprisingly spotless when we moved in. (We looked for housing a bit late in the prior school year, and given that it was slim pickings at [...]

Could the 17-Foot Python Swallow the Avocado as Big as Your Head?

Could the 17-Foot Python Swallow the Avocado as Big as Your Head?

by Matthew Dessem @ Slate Articles

It’s hard to keep track of all of the signs that we’re living in the Biblical End Times lately, but there are two recent, seemingly unrelated developments worthy of special notice. First, as the Miami Herald reports, snake hunter Jason Leon captured a 17-foot Burmese python in the Florida Everglades early Monday morning. The python is an invasive species which has been preying on small mammals in the area, and the South Florida Water Management District has been offering a bounty for these snakes; Leon’s snake is the largest caught in the hunt so far. It’s a really big snake:

Meanwhile, West Hawaii Today reports that Kealakekua resident Pamela Wang has discovered an avocado the size of a human head. The avocado, a mammoth example of the Daily 11 variety, weighed in at 5.23 pounds; if its weight is verified by Guinness, it will smash the previous world record for heaviest avocado, a now-puny-seeming 4 pounds, 13.2 ounces. According to Wang, half of one half of the avocado was sufficient to feed ten people. It’s a really big avocado:

Beyond the omens-and-portents quality of giant snakes and giant avocados appearing in the same week—and really, what doesn’t seem like a sign of impending doom these days?—the simultaneous appearance of a giant serpent and a giant avocado raises one very important, very scientific question: Could the 17-foot Burmese python swallow the gigantic avocado?

My initial inquiries into this crucial matter were, unfortunately, inconclusive. Google Scholar revealed a shocking lack of peer-reviewed research into the matter:

It’s not for me to speculate as to whether this gap in scientific knowledge stems from a deliberate cover-up on the part of Big Avocado or Big Python. Rather, my mission was a simpler one: to bring the correct answer to Slate’s readers before a plague of avocado-eating pythons devastated the country, particularly avocado-loving millennials.

As modern science offered very little hard research on the subject of 17-foot Burmese pythons eating avocados the size of a human head, I decided to consult sources from a time when science was a less timid about asking the tough questions: the thirteenth century. Deep within the British Library’s collection of illuminated manuscripts, I discovered a long-forgotten text (Harley MS 3244, written sometime between 1236 and 1250) with an illustrated bestiary that, I hoped, would some light on the matter. Almost immediately, I found exactly what I was looking for:

As Medieval scholars well knew, but we have apparently forgotten, serpents, including the Burmese python, have long, dog-like ears and enjoy flying through the air over open flames, calling out merrily to their fellow snakes, presumably in Latin. Although this did not have a direct bearing on the question of Burmese pythons swallowing avocados the size of human heads, it is difficult to explain the tell-tale bulge in the serpent’s belly as anything other than an avocado (or, perhaps, several avocados). Conveniently, this also explains why human-head-sized avocados were such a rare ingredient in medieval cooking: the flying, talking, dog-eared Burmese pythons ate them all!

With this scientific and historical breakthrough in mind, I consulted H. Bradley Shaffer, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science. Jealous of credit, I did not share the fruits of my research into medieval knowledge of avocado-eating pythons, but I did ask directly whether or not a 17-foot python could eat an avocado the size of a human head. The professor responded immediately and definitively:

Based on what I saw in the video and my knowledge of large snakes, I’d estimate that a 17 foot Burmese has a head about 8 inches long. That means it can essentially ingest something roughly 16 inches in diameter, more or less. The avocado looks to me to be about 6–8 inches in diameter. Its shape makes it much easier for a snake to eat—if it were the same volume, but a sphere, it would be a lot harder.
My opinion:
- No problem for that snake to eat that avocado
- However, snakes are purely carnivores. It would never, ever eat an avocado. Or a watermelon or a head of lettuce.

You’ll notice that Professor Shaffer’s response does not rule out the possibility that the flying, talking snakes of the thirteenth century enjoyed eating giant avocados, so expect my findings on that matter to be published in a leading scientific journal soon. However, the 17-foot Burmese python recently discovered in Florida, according to Professor Shaffer, could eat the human-head-sized avocado recently discovered in Hawaii, but would choose not to as a matter of personal preference. Lending credence to Professor Shaffer’s theory is one additional piece of evidence: the 17-foot Burmese python was shot in the head upon capture, and is reportedly dead. Although research in the matter is not definitive, scientists have long argued that dead snakes don’t eat much of anything at all, not even delicious, enormous avocados.

Which raises another question, even more important: could the avocado the size of a human head eat the 17-foot Burmese python? Probably not, at least not that particular avocado: it’s already been picked and eaten. However, especially in the case of dead 17-foot Burmese pythons, it seems plausible that an avocado tree could, in a sense, eat the python, by absorbing nutrients from its corpse as it decomposed and was reabsorbed in the soil. According to the California Avocado Commission, the plant’s roots are only six inches under the surface, making them ideal for sucking up every last bit of nutrition from dead, 17-foot Burmese pythons, and it seems plausible that a well-irrigated, python-rich soil would help produce more avocados the size of human heads. Advantage: avocado!

The results, then, are clear and irrefutable: avocado growers should immediately wrap dead, 17-foot Burmese pythons around the trunks of each of their avocado trees near the base, water normally, and wait patiently for a crop of human-head sized avocados. Burmese python problem: solved. Tiny avocado problem: solved. Flying, talking, fire-loving serpent problem: not an actual problem. As the odor of rotting snakes wafts over the human-head-sized avocado orchards of tomorrow, we should all remember who to thank: science.

Progress On The Single Screw Chair

by Josh Dorfman @ Lazy Environmentalist

Years ago when I founded Vivavi, one of the first modern design,  sustainable furniture retailers, I admired the work of Portland-based designer Christopher Douglas. His flat-pack, knock-down furniture collection was a sensation, and we sold a bunch of it. This past June, Christopher and I reconnected and have been collaborating for the past few months […]

Inhabitots is moving to Inhabitat

by (Beth Shea) @ Inhabitots

Hello faithful Inhabitots readers! We have an important announcement to make. We are moving back home to live with mom. We will be moving all of our wonderful kid-related, green design and parenting stories back to our mother site, Inhabitat, so that we can more easily manage our websites and content. After the migration is complete, you'll be able to access all of Inhabitots content by clicking on the "Kids" category tab on Inhabitat, or by following this link. All of the old urls will forward...

Introduce kids to the magic of solar power with these tiny working toy solar houses and automobiles

by (Jennifer Chait) @ Inhabitots

If you're looking for an utterly charming (and affordable) way to introduce your little one to the magic of solar power, then Litogami is the way to go. Litogami offers a wide range of beautiful and tiny toy houses and solar automobiles you build from scratch via a kit, then power them up. Litogami products are perfect as a stand alone decor item, toy addition to a play city or block set or can even be used as a creative nightlight in the nursery! Litogami solar kits are made of recycled or PEFC/FSC...

5 Healthy & Eco-Friendly Ways To Reduce Plastic In Your Everyday Life

5 Healthy & Eco-Friendly Ways To Reduce Plastic In Your Everyday Life

by Courtney Jay Biebl @ The Good Trade

Plastic does not biodegrade and plastic gives off toxic chemicals that when ingested or worn, can have long lasting consequences. We're beginning the quest to open our minds to alternatives, in both what we use and what we throw away. If we ask more questions and look deeper, we can change our approach to plastic use and chase the negative impact we may have on our environment and ourselves.

SolarMill: Eco-Manufacturing in the USA

SolarMill: Eco-Manufacturing in the USA

by Gabriella Jacobsen @ Green Upward Blog - Green Upward

The SolarMill studio is a eco-tech wonderland of solar energy based creativity and concepts, and I was ~sunstruck~ by their work. They are a small design and manufacturing studio that is entirely solar-powered. Their mission is to effect a solar renaissance: to inspire others to harness the power of the sun to meet their own energy needs. In doing so, they are reducing carbon emissions by researching and developing radical new methods of mass production. They are passionate about designing high quality consumer products made in a responsible way.

There Is No Ban on Words at the CDC

There Is No Ban on Words at the CDC

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had banned  certain scientific words from use at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to an unnamed, outraged CDC source, higher-ups instructed staffers to avoid seven phrases in budget documents: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. In the days since, editorials have likened this to censorship in China, Cuba, and Belarus; to Polish laws prohibiting certain language to describe the Holocaust; and to the totalitarian regime described in 1984.* Follow-up reports said the “irrational and very dangerous” policy on budget language might put “millions of lives in danger” with its “an astonishing attack on reality-based medical treatment.”

But if reality is indeed in danger here, it’s not because of Donald Trump. The story of the language rules at CDC has quickly broken free of underlying facts. Despite what you may have heard, the alleged “ban” of seven words does not reveal a secret “War on Science” carried out by thought police in Washington; nor is it some evil plot to “enforce a political and ideological agenda,” as the Washington Post editorial board suggested. A more sober measure of this soggy crumb of news—one that’s, well, evidence-based rather than reflexive—suggests it should be understood as a byproduct of the Trump administration’s much-less-secret war on science funding. It appears that the ban is an attempt by bureaucrats to save their favorite projects from unforgiving budget cuts.

That explanation would be consistent with what’s been reported to this point. According to CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, “There are no banned, prohibited or forbidden words at the CDC—period.” Meanwhile, anonymous sources at the Department of Health and Human Services told the National Review’s Yuval Levin this week that any language changes did not originate with political appointees, but instead came from career CDC officials who were strategizing how best to frame their upcoming budget request to Congress. What we’re seeing, his interviews suggest, is not a top-down effort to stamp out certain public-health initiatives, like those that aim to help the LGTBQ community, but, in fact, the opposite: a bottom-up attempt by lifers in the agency to reframe (and thus preserve) the very work they suspect may be in the greatest danger.

Reports about the seven dirty words at CDC should be understood in light of that budgetary process. Right now, the Trump administration is in the middle of preparing its fiscal 2019 request, to be submitted to Congress this coming February. It’s likely that the staffers at each agency at HHS have already submitted their proposals for how much money they think they need, for which specific projects, along with “budget narratives” explaining why. These, in turn, have probably been passed up to the budget team for the whole department, aggregated and sent on to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House. Now the OMB is trying to combine proposals from across the federal government into one colossal document to be reviewed by lawmakers.

There are internal negotiations at each step, says Stuart Shapiro, professor of public policy at Rutgers University and a former OMB employee. The OMB may demand steeper cuts from budget staffers at HHS, for example; HHS may send specific feedback down to CDC with suggestions for where and how to trim. This scrutiny is likely to be extra intense this year, given the Trump administration’s extraordinary steps to reduce government spending. In its first budget request delivered last May, the White House called for cuts of $1.2 billion from the CDC, $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health, and $2.5 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency. (For comparison, the last Republican president, George W. Bush, proposed increasing NIH funding by $2.8 billion in his first budget request and cutting funds for the EPA by $500 million.)

HHS staffers have been telling those at CDC and other agencies that it would be better to avoid any phrases that might attract extra notice from the budget-slashers higher up the chain. This is tactical advice: They want to bolster the CDC’s position during these negotiations. Levin suggests that words like vulnerable, entitlement, or diversity might annoy Republicans in Congress and make them less inclined to grant requested funds. But it seems more likely that the same advice is meant to ward off cuts from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and his team of budget hawks; after all, they’ve been more tight-fisted than even congressional Republicans. (The latter rejected the Trump administration’s most dramatic cuts to science spending earlier this year.)

While back-and-forth discussions about budget documents may be normal, Shapiro says current staffers’ wariness of potential trigger words such as entitlement seems like something new. It’s also indicative of where we are today: Given this administration’s zeal for shrinking government and the radical polarization of political debate, it makes sense that bureaucrats would be doing whatever they can think of to protect their work from scrutiny. That is to say, their censorship is both strategic and self-imposed.

That may help explain why the list of forbidden phrases is so peculiar. Its haphazard composition hints at something other than a secretive attempt to stifle free expression in the government; to me, it reads more like some left-leaning functionary’s best guess about the words that might be banned by the White House, if the White House were to bother banning words. A few entries on the list make sense: It’s easy to imagine the Trump administration pushing back on uses of transgender, for example. But what about a word like fetus? That would seem to be a pretty useful term to have at your disposal, whatever your position on the ethics of abortion. And what of science-based and evidence-based? Those phrases don’t support any one political agenda; if anything, they’re maddeningly generic and easily abused by either side. (According to the Post, one senior CDC official told the staff that science-based and evidence-based should be abandoned because they’ve been overused.)

Some will argue that censorship can still be dangerous, even when it’s not imposed. That’s clearly not the case in this scenario. What we’re seeing from the CDC is not an effort to suppress unwelcome research, but rather an effort to conceal it under euphemism. If there is a secret plot at work in any of these lexical decisions, it’s aimed at simple-minded White House hacks and ideologues in Congress. Staffers have been advised to swap out the phrase science-based, for instance, for a more elaborate and confusing sentence: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” Similarly, we’ve learned in recent months that staffers at the EPA have been rebranding satellites that help keep track of climate change as those that study “weather,” and that they’ve elected to replace the phrase “climate change” with “climate resiliency” in documents. We’ve heard that a director at the Department of Agriculture advised her team that carbon-sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction should instead be described as “building soil organic matter” and “increasing nutrient use efficiency.” “We won’t change the modeling,” the director told them, “just how we talk about it.”

It matters that this bullshit has been bubbling up from within the rank-and-file instead of raining down upon them. That is to say, it’s the scientists who have been using doublespeak to manipulate their bosses, not vice-versa.

Yet journalists have reported on these middle-management directives as if they were new and shocking evidence of the Trump administration’s sneaky plan to interfere with scientific research. In a follow-up story published Thursday, the Post puts the ban on words at CDC in the context of “a linguistic battle [waged] across official Washington, seeking to shift public perception of key policies by changing the way the federal government talks about climate change, scientific evidence and disadvantaged communities.”

The invocation of a secret war on science, or “1984-ish thought control,” doesn’t fit the fact that many of the language changes are coming from the lifelong bureaucrats and not their political overlords. Even when these changes are delivered from on high, it’s not clear how far the practice strays from that of prior administrations. Thursday’s story in the Post points out that directed euphemisms are the norm in Washington: Barack Obama’s budget team, for example, swapped out the “global war on terror” for what it called “overseas contingency operations.” It may be that the Trump team’s efforts in this area have been more aggressive (or cartoonish) than those that came before—but they’re all related.

In any case, it’s not like no one knows what our current president has been up to in the broader sense. You don’t have to search for secret anti-science signals in agency proceedings when he’s putting climate-change skeptics in control at the EPA, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Interior, and leaving one-third of the most important science posts vacant. And there’s not much point to parsing adjectives in budgetary language when the most recent budget calls for cuts to science by the billions.

For all the blatancy of this administration, we’re still obsessing over red-alarm reports about its use of scientific language—which words are in and which are out. In October, for example, the Nation reported on the DOI’s new strategic plan. Surely it would have been jarring simply to describe that plan’s instrumental view of nature, with its firm avowal of “American energy dominance” and suggestion that millions of acres of public lands and waters may soon be auctioned off for oil and gas development. Yet in keeping with the trend for extraneous lexicographical analysis, the Nation story notes right up near the top that the new document makes no mention whatsoever of climate change, while the phrase turned up 46 times in a version put out under Obama; and also that it mentions conservation 25 times, compared to 74 in the Obama plan.

I agree it’s telling, in some way, that the department tasked with protecting America’s natural resources won’t even mention global warming once in its strategic plan, but does this information really add anything to what we knew already? Same goes for all that  news—so much news—about the Trump administration’s efforts to excise every use of “climate change” or “global warming” from its official websites. We’ve heard these words have been “purged” from; that they’ve been “deleted” from; that they’ve been “scrubbed” from If we claim those purges and deletions are informative, then what should we make of the fact that one can still find those phrases, climate change and global warming, on several of the sites from which they’ve supposedly been erased? Would we then conclude that the Trump administration is not perhaps as hostile toward the science of the climate as we’d thought?

Rather than endlessly track these proxy measures of corruption, we’d be better off closely watching things that happen in plain sight: the drastic paring back of environmental regulations; major cuts to public-health and science funding; rampant conflicts of interest in science leadership; and a blatant disregard for scientific expertise. These actions should freak you far more than any list of seven words self-censored by the CDC.

Correction, Dec. 22, 2017: This story originally stated that Polish laws that enforce Holocaust denial. The laws dictate that specific language be avoided in discussing the Holocaust. (Return.)

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Eco-friendly Mattress Protectors


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23 Eco-Friendly Things to Do in Granada, Nicaragua

by Abigail Davidson @ Ecocult

Granada, Nicaragua may not be the first place you think of when it comes to sustainable travel. But in actuality, the Central American country is filled with eco-friendly hotels, restaurants, and excursions for the conscious traveler or nomad. I recently lived in Granada for a month and absolutely loved its beauty and character. The colonial charm of the small city combined with the lush greenery and fresh water surrounding is hard not to fall in love with!

The post 23 Eco-Friendly Things to Do in Granada, Nicaragua appeared first on Ecocult.

Why should you purchase a Natural Mattress?

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays and end of year activities, it is time to take a well-deserved rest. A comfortable mattress is essential to making sure you get a good night’s sleep. The New Year brings “white” sales, but at Green Energy Times, we like to call them “green” sales. Perhaps you […]

The post Why should you purchase a Natural Mattress? appeared first on Natural Mattress Company.

What We Packed in Our Carry-ons for 1 Year of Travel Around the World

by Alden Wicker @ Ecocult

This packing list is for a couple: an early thirties woman and late thirties man, who plan on traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia for a year of travel!

The post What We Packed in Our Carry-ons for 1 Year of Travel Around the World appeared first on Ecocult.

Why Are We So Bad at Predicting How Much Snow We’ll Get?

Why Are We So Bad at Predicting How Much Snow We’ll Get?

by Geoff Fox @ Slate Articles

How much is it going to snow Thursday? As a meteorologist, the bane of my existence is predicting snow. It is the most difficult forecast I make with dozens of different ways it can go wrong. More troubling, it’s probably the forecast most scrutinized before and after the fact.

But why? What is it about snow that makes it so tough to pin down?

Though temperatures at ground level are important, the critical numbers for assessing snowfall are much higher up in the atmosphere. We’re looking for ice crystal growth, which happens when the air is wet enough and cold enough—sometimes down to -20° Fahrenheit, though the biggest snow growth happens at somewhat warmer temperatures.

The ice crystals start small, but as they collide, they grow, until finally they’re large enough and heavy enough to fall to Earth. Snow is water plus air—air being very important. It’s the fluff factor, the reason an inch of water can be 5 inches of snow or 30 inches or something in between. The snow liquid ratio, or SLR, is different for every storm (high SLRs are good for skiing, bad for snowballs). And that’s what we’re trying to predict—how much liquid is going to produce how much snow.

Most snowstorms are driven by low pressure systems hundreds of miles across. Around the low, warm air rises and cools. That causes water vapor in the air to condense and form clouds. Liquid droplets come next until gravity and temperature begin to dominate. For those who live in snow belts there’s a second method to produce snow, the lake effect. Assessing these two methods of snow production should allow you to get a good idea of how much snow to expect, but often your final estimate is really the combination of two estimates.

The process is very exacting, intricate even. When temperatures are cold enough and the wind properly aligned through the atmosphere, lake effect snow produces narrow bands of intense snow that are extremely hard to predict. For example, I drove from Buffalo, New York, to Erie, Pennsylvania, one winter’s day. Downtown Buffalo had flurries, but as I headed into the “Southtowns,” conditions became dicey. The snow rate was a few inches an hour. And then, a few miles later along Lake Erie’s shore, the snow stopped, clouds parted, and the sun came out. My trip back saw the exact same conditions in the exact same places. Nothing had moved.

Marquette, Michigan, is a good example of how this makes forecasting more difficult. Not only does Marquette get your run-of-the-mill winter storms, it also gets lake effect snow. Lake effect there has an SLR in the 30 to 40:1 range, meaning that one inch of liquid equals 30–40 inches of snow. The larger storms that pass through are 10 to 15:1. Figuring out how this hybrid storm is going to combine includes a lot of room for error. Luckily, Marquette averages around 17 feet of snow per year—lots of time to practice.

So we forecast the amount of water, then how that water will act as it drops. Most of the time the atmosphere warms as the flakes fall … but not always. What starts in the clouds as snow can fall as sleet, rain, freezing rain, or even graupel (snowflakes pocked with rime ice). The form it falls in obviously changes how much snow ends up on the ground.

When and how you measure snow affects the final total, too. Officially it’s measured off the ground on a “snow board,” usually a large piece of plywood. Snowflakes fill gaps in the snow pile as they fall. Measuring every hour, without giving the snow time to settle will give a higher amount than measuring every six.

Over the years forecasts have improved. There are fewer busts. One reason we’ve gotten better is through improved computer modeling: We can now look at the atmosphere a little more finely. The grid points and time steps are closer together. The mathematical integration of physics is better honed.

Your mileage may vary, but accumulation amounts now have real-world usefulness. I couldn’t always say that. I still hate forecasting it, though.

What to look for in a platform bed

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

Everyone wants their bedroom to be a relaxing oasis. It should be filled with calming colors, creative patterns, quality fabrics and sentimental items. The space needs the simplistic comforts of an organic mattress, fluffy pillows, and soft sheets, but it also needs a statement piece, a finishing touch that pulls the room together and makes it […]

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Weekend Reading: Everything We Knew About Non-Toxic Beauty Might Be Wrong

by Alden Wicker @ Ecocult

Hello from Panama! We just got back from our days deep in the jungle at the eco village Kalu Yala. I have much to say about it, but I must gather my thoughts. In the meantime, here is all the juicy news from the world of sustainability: Fashion The fashion label GANT, which has some sustainable pieces like organic cotton sweatshirts and lyocell blouses, announced a partnership with Waterkeeper Alliance this week. They’re starting with helping Riverkeeper expand their plastic collections in Costa Rica. | EcoCult inbox Knitted sneakers (and consumers’ love of natural materials) are fueling the record high price of wool. | The Business of Fashion In just four days, top fashion CEOs earn a garment worker’s lifetime pay. | Quartz How responsible is your cashmere, really? | Fashionista Kering and H&M were crowned the most sustainable fashion firms. | Retail Gazette  Why people forget that their jeans were made with child labor. | Moneyish Travel Tara Nolan at The Conscious Connoisseur wrote about 8 eco-conscious destinations for mindbodygreen, and she was nice enough to include my recommendation to visit Oaxaca! | mindbodygreen  Don’t you dare show up in a developing country and ask for handouts. It’s not clever or cool. | Quartz Hong […]

The post Weekend Reading: Everything We Knew About Non-Toxic Beauty Might Be Wrong appeared first on Ecocult.

Screen Time

by Destiny Hagest @ Avocado Green Mattress

Screen Time | How it's affecting your sleep schedule.Read More ...

The post Screen Time appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

How To Find An Affordable Natural Organic Mattress

How To Find An Affordable Natural Organic Mattress

Rodale's Organic Life

4 tips for buying the best non-toxic bedding for a healthier night's sleep.

What Actually Is “Clean” or “Renewable” Energy?

What Actually Is “Clean” or “Renewable” Energy?

by Meg Charlton @ Slate Articles

In his ongoing quest to dismantle his predecessor’s signature achievements, President Trump is threatening to repeal the Clean Power Plan. On its face, the news is discouraging: The law’s state-by-state carbon emissions guidelines and strict regulations on coal-fired power plants were on track to have a huge impact. By 2030, the bill’s guidelines would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the utility sector to below 2005 levels, which would have enabled America to meet its commitments to lowering carbon dioxide emissions made in the Paris climate accord. Losing it would seem to be an enormous blow.

But the panic seems to be premature. Many states, including California, home to nearly 40 million power-consuming people, are on track to exceed their emissions goals with or without the bill’s help. The bill would have hastened changes in states that are more reluctant, but the U.S. is, according to the most recent numbers, still on track to meet the emissions goals the bill set forth. That’s because cities and states have a large amount of autonomy to fight climate change on their own. In the wake of Trump’s election, many local and state governments have taken the power (excuse the pun) into their own hands. There has been a burst of mass movements—from the coalition of states pledging that they’re “still in” the Paris Agreement to the cities resolving to run on 100 percent renewable energy—to make sure they’re providing clean energy to their residents.

Unfortunately, this patchwork of pledges and coalitions highlights one of the most basic issues with the pursuit of “clean power” as a policy goal—we have no real, common definition of what “clean” actually means in this context. Calling a power source “clean” is kind of like calling a food “all natural.” As a consumer who both regularly buys “all natural” food and has supported “clean energy” projects, I will tell you that branding works, at least on me. It sounds so wholesome, so virtuous—but it also tells me very little about the product itself.

Even the term renewable doesn’t have a strict definition. Everyone can agree that wind and solar are renewable, but beyond that, things can get contentious. Is a brand-new large-scale hydroelectric dam “renewable”? (According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, no.) What about wood pellets? (According to the EU, yes.) Municipal waste? (Depends whom you ask.) Each rule defines the terms afresh and allows for different fuel sources to be anointed accordingly. And the documents that make these distinctions are, of course, political, subject to the same last-minute maneuvering and local interests as any other industry.

Take Burlington, Vermont, the archetype of lefty governance. In 2015, it became the first city in America to run entirely on renewable energy—fossil fuel free, residents said—and the city was widely celebrated for the accomplishment. But some environmental advocates quickly pushed back, pointing out that the fuel source that put it over the edge was biomass, or really, just lumber. While much of one plant’s wood was coming from wood waste, some advocates pointed out that there were trees specifically logged for the purpose of being burned at the power plant. The pushback was sharp enough that it led to an editor’s note being added to an otherwise glowing PBS report on the city’s transition. And just over the border in Massachusetts, mere miles away, biomass is far more heavily restricted and regulated. (Another crucial part of Burlington’s energy portfolio was large-scale hydroelectric, the future development of which would be verboten under the aforementioned U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution.)

Even wind and solar aren’t necessarily as “clean” as you might expect. Germany’s Energiewende strategy was launched in 2010 with the express goals of lowering its carbon output well below its 1990 levels and shifting its electric grid toward wind and solar. By 2016, the country had seemingly achieved its goal; for a brief and shining moment that year, Germans were getting a staggering 90 percent of their power from renewables. But during this same heady period, their carbon emissions actually rose and have proved stubbornly high in the year since.

The reasons for Germany’s rising emissions are multifold—it has shifted away from nuclear and also just started consuming more energy in general. But at least one is related to the mechanics of power grids: Wind and solar (at least for now) still need backup power sources that can run when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Power grids are designed to have a constant perfect match of supply and demand and—because we don’t yet have the battery technology available at an industrial scale for storage of wind and solar energy—we are reliant on backup power systems to keep the system running consistently. Germany’s backup power is, overwhelmingly, coal. And although coal’s share of the German power grid is declining, the country is still, in essence, doubling up, with an older, more polluting system running by necessity alongside a newer, less polluting one.

These are just two examples of our understanding of “renewable” or “clean” going awry. I’m not suggesting the places that tried to enact them were purposefully misleading their public, nor even that their policies were misguided. I am just saying that when it comes to assessing carbon life cycles, things get complicated quickly.

So what do we do about it? We could certainly try to create better definitions or standards for each, but it seems almost inevitable that we will never have a perfect definition of what constitutes “clean” or “renewable.” Technologies will continue to improve, emerge, and evolve. And, just as today’s do, those changing technologies will have their own trade-offs. Instead, we as power consumers and citizens must be proactive and look behind those virtue-signaling labels to have the complicated conversations about emissions. After all, our federal government has ensured that this critical work is not its problem—now it’s up to all of us.

Looking For Best Eco Friendly Mattress - Eco Green Mattress Reviews

Looking For Best Eco Friendly Mattress - Eco Green Mattress Reviews

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What Is An Eco Friendly Mattress? Find out whether they're worth buying

What Is An Eco Friendly Mattress? Find out whether they're worth buying

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Green Moving and Storage Options

by @ Green Home Library

Whether you are moving to another location, cleaning out your home, or setting up a storage option there are a variety of ways to keep it Eco-friendly. Before you dive into things like cardboard, plastic, and tape, give some thought to the many ways you can approach your task with as low a carbon footprint as you can.

Boxing Day

Re-using boxes for storage and moving means keeping them out of the landfill and one less bunch of new boxes purchased.

According to a 2014 report posted by B2B Community, corrugated cardboard was considered as having the best track record of any packing material. At the time of this report, it was rated that in 1993 55% of corrugated cardboard was recycled and in 2011 the number rose to 91%.

Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 9 cubic yards of landfill space, 700 gallons of water, and 46 gallons of water. Even though you won’t be using one ton of cardboard, you will be part of all the people that jump on board and eventually do hit these numbers.

Reusable boxes should be clean, as thick as possible and undamaged. They can be found at places like:

  • Supermarkets
  • Liquor stores
  • Warehouses
  • Bookstores
  • Starbucks
  • Craigslist free stuff section

Collect the News

Tons of newspapers are discarded everyday. If you need to pack and store items, newspaper is one of the best materials. It is readily available, protective when bunched in bulk (particularly for kitchen and dining items), and best of all it’s free when a day old.

Collect piles of newspaper and use generously to avoid wasteful and Eco-unfriendly plastic, styrofoam, or other packing material.

Pick a Green Team

For a moving company or storage space, do your green research. Many of these companies may sound good on the surface but you should find out what kind of green track record they have.

Some questions to ask include:

  • Do you use recycled materials?
  • Are your moving trucks Eco-friendly? (ie: electric, biodiesel, hybrid)
  • Does your storage space include green additions such as energy efficient lighting, heating, air-conditioning or insulation?
  • Do you use any green power options like wind, hydro or solar sourcing?
  • Do you use photocells or motion sensors? (devices to detect movement or natural light and turn on interior lights accordingly)

Rent It All

Before you run around sifting through supermarket dumpsters for usable moving boxes or spill out the Legos to fill another plastic bin, some companies are offering a greener way.

If you don’t mind spending the extra money you may be able to utilize organizations that will rent you an entire moving or storage kit. This is everything from boxes, tape and markers to wardrobe holders, rolling closets and customized packing units. You can even go a step further and pay for a team to do all the packing while you delegate.

Although more expensive, renting these services reduces waste, limits fossil fuel use and decreases excess personal energy.


Nowadays there are many companies in this industry offering green choices that are worth the effort. No longer does it need to be a time of stress and waste when the stress is hard enough to deal with. Try these green moving and storage options so your project is a clean, Eco-friendly experience.

The StoryTime Rocking Chair was designed by a dad of three who didn't have a big enough lap for all his kids!

by (Cat DiStasio) @ Inhabitots

Hal Taylor is a craftsman, a father of three, and probably a genius. He was experienced in the art of handcrafting beautiful rocking chairs, and when his brood went from two to three children, he had an epiphany. Everyone couldn’t fit in a traditional rocking chair for story time, a favorite activity among his little ones, but a rocking chair with three seats would be a lot more accommodating. Thus, the StoryTime Rocking Chair was born. Taylor’s inspired invention becomes even...

What Is The Best Eco-Friendly Way To Clean Your Mattress?

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

Is It Important To Clean Your Mattress? You spend one-third of your lifetime sleeping on your mattress, so it’s important to keep it clean and fresh. Cleaning your mattress, in the best eco-friendly way, may seem complicated. However, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think. Many people don’t realize the importance of cleaning their mattresses regularly, even though there may be dirt, dust Read More

HOW TO: Make raw vegan cashew cheese

by (Marni Fogelson) @ Inhabitots

One of the hardest things to give up when becoming vegan (or trying to eat less animal-based foods) is cheese. There are several yummy vegan cheese options available now, but making your own raw nut cheese is easy and healthy, so give it a try! I first had raw, vegan nut cheese at a shi-shi raw restaurant in New York City and was blown away: who knew a raw cheese could taste so flavorful and creamy? This particular recipe yields a versatile cheese that is great on pasta, as the filling of ravioli,...

Eggs 101- Clean Up Your Carton

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

Most of us buy eggs without thinking much about them, but the cartons you pick up at the supermarket are worth scrutinizing. Of the labels you’ll see, the most important are “certified organic,” biodynamic,” and “pasture raised,” Why? Eggs that bear these designations are superior for nutrition and for cooking. But it’s also a matter... Continue reading »

Where to Get Good Coffee in Granada, Nicaragua

by Abigail Davidson @ Ecocult

A decade ago, you would have had a difficult time finding high quality coffee in Nicaragua. Coffee farmers could make so much more money by exporting it that none of the good stuff stayed in the country. In recent years, however, there has been a growing community of people who want to keep some of their amazing coffee to enjoy themselves -- and I don't blame them one bit! Here are a few places where you can get your hands on some of the good stuff.

The post Where to Get Good Coffee in Granada, Nicaragua appeared first on Ecocult.


by denverorganic @ The Natural Sleep Store

Financing is Available!   Get your new organic mattress and bedding now, and pay later! No payments and 6 months no interest for qualified buyers.  Apply today!

The post Financing appeared first on The Natural Sleep Store.

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Best Soft Mattress for Your Needs

by Candace Osmond @ The Sleep Judge

11 Best Eco-Friendly Home Brands That Are Actually Chic

11 Best Eco-Friendly Home Brands That Are Actually Chic

by Jasmine Sanberg @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

Everyday should be earth day! If you love this planet and home design as much as we do, listen up. These days, minding your environmental and social impact right along with inspired design is easier than ever. Yes, “eco” can often conjure up crunchy associations, but we’re here to open your eyes to a new class of eco-conscious retailers that prove green is gorgeous. Read on.

Trump’s Cuts to National Monuments Hurt Native Americans Most

Trump’s Cuts to National Monuments Hurt Native Americans Most

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

In Utah on Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced their decision to dramatically reduce the size of two of the state’s national monuments—Bears Ears National Monument will be cut by 80 percent, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 45 percent. The move, which is legally fraught and an unusual use of presidential power, will likely allow for mining and drilling to return to the land.

The move is not just an attack on beautiful landscapes, treasured public lands that are widely revered by Americans at large, though it is that. The administration’s assault on these national monuments is in line with many of its other moves, which is to say that it is also an attack on minorities. In this case, it’s an affront to the Native American tribes that actively petitioned against these particular delistings.

Bears Ears, which will reportedly be reduced by some 1.15 million acres, was established by President Barack Obama in December 2016, making it one of his final moves in office. Co-managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and several Native American tribal groups that have lived in the region for millennia, Bears Ears has both unusual geographic features—like the two protruding mesas from which the monument got its name—and numerous archaeological and spiritual sites. (Grand Staircase-Escalante, which will be reduced by about 900,000 acres, was established by President Bill Clinton in 1996.)

In response to Trump’s Salt Lake City speech and signing, the Navajo Nation, one of several stewards of Bears Ears, issued a statement stating its intent to take the matter of the monument to court. “The decision to reduce the size of the Monument is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bear Ears,” Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, said in the statement. “The reduction in the size of the Monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”

While Trump’s move is unusual, it’s not completely unprecedented. Woodrow Wilson redrew the boundaries on Mount Olympus National Monument, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an effort to appease ranchers, cut away at the Grand Canyon when it was a monument. (Both have since been made, by acts of Congress, national parks, protected for their scenic, inspirational, educational, or recreational value, rather than their historical, cultural, or scientific interest.) But despite these actions, the legal rights of presidents to redraw such boundaries has never been clarified explicitly, which is why the court challenge could have legs.

What is more clear are Trump’s motivations. By redrawing the boundaries on two Utah national monuments, he creates new opportunities for private industry to profit off the land. While grazing cattle was already allowed at Bears Ears under the Obama-era rules, reducing the amount of protected land could allow for the infiltration of mining, drilling, and other resource extraction companies. The decision also allows Trump to solidify his friendship with Utah’s leadership, including Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, many of whom believe Obama’s decision to place Utah’s land under federal control was unfair and maybe unlawful. While the Antiquities Act of 1906 gave presidents fairly limitless power when it came to designating of national monuments, it called for monuments to be restricted to the  “smallest area compatible” with the preservation of key features. By slicing and dicing the land, Trump and Zinke seem to believe they’re rightfully reversing Obama’s “federal overreach” and bringing the monuments into agreement with the law as they interpret it.

Zinke said Monday that the move was “giving rural America a voice.” But the proposed cuts clearly violate the wishes of the five Native American tribes that are partners in protecting the land. This is the second statement the Navajo Nation has had to release about President Trump in the past week: The first came after an earlier event ostensibly to honor the Navajo code talkers who served the United States during World War II, during which Trump used the slur Pocahontas in reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, all while standing under a prominent portrait of his favorite president, Andrew Jackson, whose Indian Removal Act started the Trail of Tears. The plan also seems to fly in the face of the majority of the 1 million public comments Americans left on Zinke’s monument proposal earlier this year, most of which were in support of continued land conservation.

Like so many of Trump’s favorite initiatives, the modifications of these two national monuments is certain to make some already rich men even richer—and the rest of our nation a lot poorer.

Top 10 Eco-Friendly and Organic Fashion and Clothing Brands

Top 10 Eco-Friendly and Organic Fashion and Clothing Brands

by Mary Daniel @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

Nowadays in fashion, the words eco-friendly, organic and sustainable get bandied around a lot. Which is a good thing. Except that sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between a brand that's actually helping to make the planet a better place--and one that's just riding the eco bandwagon with a less-than-well intentioned "organic" label.

Mayonnaise Isn’t Just For Your Ham Sandwich

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

According to, the first ready-made mayonnaise was sold in the US in 1905 at a little deli in New York owned and operated by Richard Hellmann. It is reported that Mr. Hellmann sold his wife’s mayonnaise in open wooden boats. This of course would be used as a spread for a sandwich. But we... Continue reading »

Avocado Green Mattress Review + Coupon Code | RIZKNOWS

Avocado Green Mattress Review + Coupon Code | RIZKNOWS


Everything you should know about the Avocado Green Mattress, including design/construction, pricing, firmness/softness, and motion transfer + discounts!

An Allegation, Then a Prestigious Professorship

An Allegation, Then a Prestigious Professorship

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

On Monday, I reported that Todd Heatherton, an expert on the psychology of self-control and one of three Dartmouth neuroscientists now under criminal investigation for sexual misconduct, allegedly groped a 21-year-old graduate student at an academic conference in February 2002. On Wednesday, a former colleague of Heatherton’s—Jennifer Groh, now a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University—posted details of a separate alleged groping incident from the same winter. Groh says she reported that incident to Dartmouth’s associate dean of social sciences a few days after it happened. A few months later, the school provided Heatherton with a prestigious named professorship.

Groh summarized this episode in an Oct. 14 email to Dartmouth’s dean of faculty and the school’s vice president for institutional diversity and equity. She sent that email after learning that Heatherton—along with colleagues Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen—had come under scrutiny this year for what the school has variously described in statements as “sexual misconduct” and “serious misconduct.” Groh says that after sending that email, she subsequently shared her story with both Dartmouth’s investigator and representatives of local law enforcement. On Wednesday, she posted a copy of her email to a private Facebook page. The Valley News of West Lebanon, New Hampshire, first reported on this posting Wednesday evening.

The alleged incident that Groh described happened during a graduate recruiting event for the Department of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences in 2002. Multiple former students and faculty members who spent time at PBS have told me these events were occasions for excessive drinking. One professor remembers bottles of whiskey being passed around, and his colleagues doing shots with grad school applicants. A former student in the department recalls a recruit getting “blasted out of his mind” and vomiting. “They were applauding it,” this student said. “They were like, ‘This guy’s definitely coming.’ ”

Groh was not present at the recruiting event in 2002; she says she first heard stories about the incident from other members of the faculty. The alleged victim met with her in private a few days later, Groh says, for a “very solemn” conversation. According to Groh, this graduate student told her that Heatherton had placed his hands on both her breasts at the event, while at the same time criticizing her performance in the lab. “ ‘You’re really not doing very well,’ ” Groh remembers the student saying, quoting the words Heatherton had allegedly said to her.

A few days after speaking with the graduate student, Groh says, she described the alleged incident to the associate dean for social sciences, Richard Wright. She doesn’t remember the details of their conversation but says she got the sense that she “was not the first person to tell him about it,” and that “he felt the behavior was inappropriate.” She did not hear anything further on the matter, and she was not aware of any formal response from the administration. (Wright declined to comment.)

Another former member of the faculty in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences says he was aware in 2002 of the allegation that Heatherton had groped a graduate student, and that he was also aware that Groh had reported it. “I knew that story, and was familiar with that story, before [Groh] posted it [on Wednesday],” he told me. “Her story is consistent with my recollection.”

On Wednesday, Dartblog published a statement from one of Heatherton’s attorneys. It read, in full:

Dartmouth was aware of this incident 15 years ago, investigated it, and determined it was accidental and totally unintentional—not a sexual touching at all. Therefore, the College determined that there was no need for any disciplinary action.
There is absolutely nothing in Todd’s personnel file about this.

Heatherton’s attorneys provided Slate with the same statement, adding that “neither [Heatherton] nor his attorneys are going to answer other questions.”

Groh’s response to the statement: “The student conveyed to me that she was touched on both breasts with both hands. She conveyed that she perceived it as inappropriate.”

Within a few months of the alleged incident, Heatherton received the school’s Champion International Professorship—an honor that is “intended to recognize and reward members of the Dartmouth faculty whose teaching is true to the highest standards of Dartmouth’s educational mission and whose scholarship has contributed to the advancement of knowledge in their chosen fields.” The title comes with a “modest research stipend,” a Dartmouth representative said on Thursday.

Groh was upset to learn of this appointment. “I was immensely frustrated and disappointed,” she told me.

The alleged incident between Heatherton and the graduate student would come up again in 2005, when Groh was up for tenure. Heatherton had taken over as chairman of the department, and Groh—who asserts that she’d been very successful at securing grant funding—felt her promotion was being unfairly delayed. In the meantime, Bill Kelley, who had arrived at Dartmouth three years after she did, was given tenure. “I felt that was fishy,” she says. It occurred to her that her reporting of the alleged incident from 2002 might have been one of several factors in her tenure being delayed. She filed a complaint with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, and, according to Groh, a formal investigation was launched. Groh doesn’t remember if she brought up the 2002 report specifically in her complaint. The woman who Groh says led this investigation, Michelle Meyers, has since died. The director of Dartmouth’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at the time of this complaint did not respond to an interview request. A Dartmouth representative said the school “cannot comment on the details of a personnel matter” and that the tenure process is confidential.

Groh says her tenure case went very smoothly after she filed that complaint with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity. Heatherton stepped down from his role as department chairman in October 2005, after just one-and-a-half years in the position. Associate Dean for Social Sciences Michael Mastanduno announced that move in an email to PBS faculty. (Groh provided me with this email.) Mastanduno’s message did not mention the complaint against Heatherton. In light of “an extraordinarily complex set of opportunities” for the department, the email said, Heatherton agreed that “it is best that he step down as Chair prior to the end of his expected term so that he can focus on [a multi-laboratory neuroscience grant], his own research, and the social brain sciences initiative.” Mastanduno also asked the faculty “to join [him] in thanking Todd [Heatherton] for his outstanding efforts on behalf of the department.” Heatherton remained the school’s Champion International professor until 2010, at which point he was named the Lincoln Filene professor of human relations, a title he holds today.

Groh left Dartmouth in 2006. “It wasn’t a good fit for me professionally, and it wasn’t a culture that I wanted to be a part of,” she told me.

Update, Nov. 18, 6:55 p.m.: Todd Heatherton’s name has been removed from web pages relating to the two psychology textbooks he co-authored for W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Psychological Science, written with Michael Gazzaniga and Diane Halpern, first came out in 2003, with a sixth edition due out next year. Psychology in Your Life, written with Gazzaniga and Sarah Grison, was first published in 2015 and is now in its second edition. Heatherton is no longer listed among the authors of these books at,, or, though his name appears on the covers of those books, and can be found on cached versions of some bookseller web pages. Meanwhile, Heatherton’s author page on the W. W. Norton website now lists only the defunct Canadian edition of Psychological Science. A cached version of that page from earlier this month includes the American editions of both books. Neither W. W. Norton nor Heatherton has responded to a request for comment.

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To Air is Human

by Mickey @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post. While walking through our apartment complex this morning coming back from a meeting, I made a point of counting all the open windows I saw. It was easy: zero. And no, I wasn’t casing the joint, making notes about which units contained flat-screen TVs and [...]

Organic Mattress | Eco-friendly Mattress | Green Mattress

Organic Mattress | Eco-friendly Mattress | Green Mattress


An organic mattress is the perfect compliment to your toxic-free lifestyle. From the food that you eat to the items you purchase for in and around your home, you want it all to be as close to natural as possible.

It’s Time to Let Go of Our Dreams of Going to Venus

It’s Time to Let Go of Our Dreams of Going to Venus

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

The most recent time NASA launched a mission to Venus was in 1989. The Magellan orbiter lasted four years, transmitting data back to Earth that had to be recorded onto physical tapes. These were archaic times.

The generation-long drought of missions solely intended to study Venus was extended further last Wednesday, when NASA selected two projects as finalists for a mid-2020s science mission. None of the three Venus projects were chosen. One did receive additional funding for more research and development, but it will have to wait till the next application cycle to contend again for mission selection.

The general public might be more or less ambivalent to such a decision, but within the scientific community, there’s plenty of lamenting that Venus continues to draw the short straw when it comes to NASA’s science program.

But NASA is right. It’s time to let go of Venus.

There have always been good reasons to conduct missions to Venus: Earth and Venus share comparable sizes, densities, and overall geographies, and many scientists believe Venus represents a sort of glimpse into an alternate reality of what Earth could have turned out to be. While our planet is a warm, loving environment that’s allowed life to evolve and thrive, Venus is an 850 degree Fahrenheit extraterrestrial hell, covered in a dense atmosphere of sulfuric acid and surface pressures that we only see on Earth at depths of about 1 kilometer underwater. When previous missions have gone to Venus, they’ve been searching for clues that could explain how some planets transform into habitable worlds, and others don’t. That information could be very useful for understanding what other worlds and directions we ought to focus our attention on.

But there are two major reasons it’s time to move on from Venus. The first is cost and accessibility. Jim Green, the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, told reporters last Wednesday that going to Venus is still an incredibly difficult venture. The planet’s hellacious environment is a destructive force. Spending millions or billions of dollars on a lander that can’t last more than a few hours is a hard sell against projects that can study other worlds for several years on end, like Mars or Saturn’s moon Titan. Scientists are making strides in computer chips and technologies that could handle Venus, but a working lander or rover is still very far in the future. We could stick to orbiters and be safe, but there’s only so much you can learn about a place from high above.

The second reason to ignore Venus harkens back to what NASA is more interested in these days: extraterrestrial life. NASA is pivoting its science program deeper into astrobiology to find worlds that could be habitable to life—be it by humans or aliens. Mars, for instance, is a place we will certainly set foot on one day, and there are high hopes we could find signs of past or present microorganisms on the planet. Ocean worlds, like Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa, also possess subsurface liquid oceans that might be breeding grounds for lifeforms. And even though these worlds are freezing, habitat technologies that keep colonists warm and fuzzy are already conceivable. If we can eventually perfect terraforming technologies, we could warm these worlds up so they’re more amenable to future denizens.

Venus is not like that. It’s almost certainly lifeless in its current state. We can’t even get simple instruments on Venus to survive for more than a few hours before they melt and combust. It’s almost unthinkable humans will ever set foot on the surface. And terraforming as we currently think about it means warming a planet up (which we’re pretty experienced at!), not cooling it down. If Venus ever decides to chill out, it will be millions or billions of years from now, as a natural process.

It’s sad to say, but Venus is more of a sideshow when it comes to planetary science these days. It might be time to accept we won’t be visiting the yellow planet for quite a long time. Let’s give ourselves a moment to mourn, and move on.

Buying The Best Cooling Mattress Pad -10 Top Picks

by Emily Smith @ Sleepluv

The post Buying The Best Cooling Mattress Pad -10 Top Picks appeared first on Sleepluv .

Finding the best cooling mattress pad is important for hot sleepers, menopause sufferers, and even those folks with lots of hot snuggly nighttime companions. I used to be the person putting on wool socks and seeking out extra blankets every night until I adopted an under the covers cat and later the same year moved […]

The post Buying The Best Cooling Mattress Pad -10 Top Picks appeared first on Sleepluv .

Kids Beds Chemical Exposure Organic Mattress

Kids Beds Chemical Exposure Organic Mattress

Healthy Child

Is the toxicity of your kids beds a concern? Learn how to choose a safe non toxic organic mattress for your kids and avoid chemical exposure.

The Best Healthy and Sustainable Restaurants in Granada, Nicaragua

by Abigail Davidson @ Ecocult

Eating healthy and sustainable in Granada, Nicaragua isn't difficult... if you know where to go. Whether you're looking for a grocery store or a restaurant, here are the best eco-friendly spots to eat.

The post The Best Healthy and Sustainable Restaurants in Granada, Nicaragua appeared first on Ecocult.

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Latex Mattress

by Mike Hassenberg @ Natural Mattress Company

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Latex Mattress If you’re interested in buying natural latex mattresses but don’t exactly know where to start, here is the basic information you’ll need to know. It’s Not Pure Latex Even if someone sells a mattress as “100% latex” it’s not technically true. The natural sap from the rubber […]

The post What You Need to Know Before Buying a Latex Mattress appeared first on Natural Mattress Company.

8 Eco Friendly Brands that are Saving the World

8 Eco Friendly Brands that are Saving the World

by Karen Mulvey @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

We’ve all heard it, reduce, reuse and recycle campaigns that have been pushed hard during the last few decades. We all know that taking care of the environment is a must and starts with us.  Climate change is a continuing problem and it’s never too early to pay attention and see how businesses affect the planet.  In case you need a reminder to go towards the more eco-friendly direction just take a look at how many people now a days are more eco aware.  

17 Organic And Eco-Friendly Beauty and Cosmetic Products For Everyday

17 Organic And Eco-Friendly Beauty and Cosmetic Products For Everyday

by Mary Daniel @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

Finding the best organic, natural and eco-friendly beauty products and skincare can be a challenge.  While we love to create our own personal spa days with a good DIY beauty concoction (probably involving coconut oil), we’re still very much product junkies that can’t get enough of our monthly beauty hauls.

How to Find a Nontoxic and Sustainable Mattress - Ecocult

How to Find a Nontoxic and Sustainable Mattress - Ecocult


I have something admit. My mattress is not eco-friendly. Well, it is in the sense that I bought it used. Three years ago, I was sleeping on the Ikea mattress I had bought off the girl who lived in my room before me. When a downstairs neighbor had to abruptly move out and sell all his furniture, I picked up a Tempur-Pedic mattress for $300 (! They usually start at $1,600). That mattress is now covered with organic sheets, pillows, and pillow covers. But I never seriously considered getting a new one, even though I know most mattresses contain fire retardants, volatile organic compounds, and formaldehyde which offgas into our air while we sleep on them. Hours a night. Almost every night. For years. In fact, my mattress must be the most toxic thing in my home. And yet, mattresses are expensive. And getting rid of my current mattress would entail throwing it out – because of bed bugs, nobody wants to buy or even take an old mattress. But now that you can recycle your mattress in New York City, I might be ready to switch mine out. But buyer beware: Not all mattress companies who bill themselves as eco-friendly …

How to Buy an Eco Friendly Mattress

How to Buy an Eco Friendly Mattress


Buying a mattress free of harmful chemicals and gentle on the environment is no easy task. A mattress expert weighs in.

Products on Display

by denverorganic @ The Natural Sleep Store

Organic Mattresses: On The Natural Sleep Store’s Denver Organic Mattress showroom floor, we are currently featuring organic mattresses from the following manufacturers: Green Sleep (Dolcezza and Ergo Concept 8), Bella Sera (Nove 3 and Nove 3 Pillowtop), Savvy Rest (Organic Serenity), Royal-Pedic (Natural Cotton With Wool Wrap), Suite Sleep (Little Pocket Spring), Naturepedic (2 in […]

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Compare Black Friday and Cyber Monday Mattress Sales: Macy’s, Sears, Mattress Firm & More

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

Are you prepared for the insanity of the 2017 Black Friday mattress sales? Though they can get a little crazy, these sales are a great time to get the most for your money. Mattresses tend to be one of the larger purchases made in households, so getting a good deal can go a long way. […]

The post Compare Black Friday and Cyber Monday Mattress Sales: Macy’s, Sears, Mattress Firm & More appeared first on Sleep Junkie.

Choosing an Organic Kids Mattress

by Jane Sheppard @ Healthy Child

  One of the most important decisions a parent can make is choosing an organic kids mattress. Sleep is critical to your child’s health and well-being, and since kids spend more than one third of their lives in direct exposure to their mattress materials it’s crucial to their health that those mattress materials be safe, …Read More

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Can You Use This Data Set to Find Serial Killers?

Can You Use This Data Set to Find Serial Killers?

by Andrew Gelman @ Slate Articles

We statisticians and social scientists are always trying to ensure that the data we collect or use are accurate, complete, and clean. We use data to estimate the effects of policies, and answering those questions requires data strong enough and clean enough to survive scrutiny. But data can also be used to ask questions, to look for interesting patterns, and one interesting thing about this type of endeavor is that it may not require the data to be quite as pristine.

This may explain part of why we were captivated by Alec Wilkinson’s recent New Yorker story on Thomas Hargrove, a retired reporter and current “homicide archivist” who “has the largest catalogue of killings in the country” that he analyses using an algorithm, “which he sometimes calls a serial-killer detector.” In his piece, Wilkinson recounts a story from 2010, when Hargrove uncovered a pattern of murders in Indiana that led to the discovery of a serial killer. Hargrove’s Murder Accountability Project is a fascinating example of citizen science that can help to motivate police departments to improve their work, and we applaud Hargrove’s efforts.

The story also inspired us to check out his data. Hargrove collected as much homicide data as was available online by downloading the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report data from 1976–2015. He then went the extra mile to obtain additional and (until then) generally unavailable data from Alabama, Florida, Illinois, and D.C. He used unknown offender sex as a proxy for unsolved case and grouped these cases by geographic area (county or metro area), weapon, and sex. Such cases are unfortunately not uncommon, especially if the victims are women. (There are also cases of multiple homicides of young men and unknown offenders, but data suggests that women are more likely to be targeted by serial killers.) Studying these individual groups, he found that he was able to find cases of suspected serial homicides, with young women as victims and unknown offenders, and this is what led to the discovery of the serial killer.

MAP makes its data and some computer code available to others who might be interested in examining it in their own communities. After checking it out, we have a few words of caution for those who might want to examine the data and use it themselves.

One problem is that the data MAP uses isn’t as clean as it could be. Their analysis implicitly assumes that if the SHR has no information on the offender’s sex, the offender is unknown. But this is incorrect: If a homicide is cleared after the SHR is filed, there is no way of updating that record, and it remains in the SHR file as uncleared. Moreover, some agencies do not provide information about offenders as a matter of policy; they may have been burned by defense attorneys who noted that their original description of the offender (including but not limited to offender sex) was incorrect. These and other problems with this data set are described in a report, “Bridging Gaps in Police Crime Data,” which one of us (Maltz) prepared for the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1999.

Other anomalies became apparent in our first examinations of the MAP data. When looking at data, it helps to start with the area you’re most familiar with, so for us that meant examining the homicide data from Manhattan. In looking at this, we noticed that the New York Police Department does not separate out the crime data among the five counties that comprise New York City—all murders, regardless of where they happened, were logged in Manhattan. That’s certainly a problem if you’re trying to track murders by location.

But also, we noticed some other problems with their data. Here’s a figure that we obtained from the MAP website.

But here’s a figure that you get for New York County using SHR data (note: The SHR began in 1976, so it doesn’t go back as far as the earlier graph, which used UCR data):

The gray bars on the charts represent cases cleared—a crime is considered cleared if an arrest results or if the homicide is assumed successfully dealt with for other reasons. On the MAP version, from 2003–2012, it appears that there were zero homicide clearances in Manhattan. This seems unrealistic, and indeed, the second chart shows that this was not the case. What appears to have happened is that the NYPD simply did not report its clearance data to the FBI’s UCR program (but did to its SHR program) for that 10-year period; this is just one of the many reasons that clearance data can be unreliable.

So when the MAP website makes judgments about which states and regions are better or worse in clearing homicides, those judgments are based on similar possibly unreliable data.

This is not to detract from the accomplishments of the Murder Accountability Project. They were able to find a nugget when sifting through a stream of messy data, which we, who deal professionally with such data on a daily basis, applaud. But if you’re automatically sifting through data, you have to be concerned with data quality, with the relation between the numbers in your computer and the underlying reality they are supposed to represent. In this case, we’re concerned, given that we did not trawl through the visualizations looking for mistakes; rather, we found a problem in the very first place we looked.

Not all cases of incomplete reporting of clearances are going to be as easily discoverable as the one we found in New York City. If you’re planning to use this data set, be on the lookout for anomalies in reporting.

Create a Successful Market on Eco Local Markets

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

Creating an attractive online store can be tricky. That’s why we have done all the hard work for you. Our elite marketplace allows you to upload multiple product images, descriptions and choose between local pick-up, local delivery and shipping. These flexible options allow you to create a successful market on Eco Local Markets. Tip 1: […]

The post Create a Successful Market on Eco Local Markets appeared first on Eco Local Markets.

Want to Win a Nobel Prize? Retract a Paper.

Want to Win a Nobel Prize? Retract a Paper.

by Adam Marcus @ Slate Articles

Retracting a paper is supposed to be a kiss of death to a career in science, right? Not if you think that winning a Nobel Prize is a mark of achievement, which pretty much everyone does.

Just ask Michael Rosbash, who shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work on circadian rhythms, aka the body’s internal clock. Rosbash, of Brandeis University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, retracted a paper in 2016 because the results couldn’t be replicated. The researcher who couldn’t replicate them? Michael Young, who shared the 2017 Nobel with Rosbash.

This wasn’t a first. Harvard’s Jack Szostak retracted a paper in 2009. Months later, he got that early morning call from the Nobel committee for his work. And he hasn’t been afraid to correct the record since, either. In 2016, Szostak and his colleagues published a paper in Nature Chemistry that offered potentially breakthrough clues for how RNA might have preceded DNA as the key chemical of life on Earth—a possibility that has captivated and frustrated biologists for half a century. But when Tivoli Olsen, a researcher in Szostak’s lab, repeated the experiments last year, she couldn’t get the same results. The scientists had made a mistake interpreting their initial data. Once that realization settled in, they retracted the paper—a turn of events Szostak described as “definitely embarrassing.”

The simplistic message might be: Want to win a Nobel Prize? Try retracting a paper. That logic is obviously ridiculous. It confuses correlation with causation in a way that—wait for it—should be retracted. The vast majority of those who’ve won Nobel Prizes have not retracted any papers, and the vast majority of retractions were not by those who’ve won Nobels. The advice is as tongue-in-cheek as Nobelist Richard Roberts’ “Ten Simple Rules to Win A Nobel Prize,” which include “Be Sure to Pick Your Family Carefully” (meaning, yes, your biological family) and “Always Be Nice to Swedish Scientists.”

But what isn’t absurd is the idea that admitting mistakes shouldn’t be an indelible mark of Cain that kills your career. Quite the opposite. A growing body of evidence points to this encouraging conclusion: Scientists who acknowledge honest errors and retract their flawed findings send a signal to their colleagues and peers that their future studies are worthy of trust. In turn, those researchers are no less likely to cite those studies—an essential form of endorsement in science. (We should also note that when it’s clear a retraction is for misconduct, researchers see a significant dip in citations, which is a reminder that scientists still look down on such behavior.)

Still, although the noble actions of the aforementioned Nobel winners are encouraging, they’re not likely to trigger a flood of nostra culpa from scientists. And despite the hints of a trust dividend for transparency, researchers still have few incentives to be open about their errors. But that, too, might be changing—in part thanks to the reproducibility crisis rippling through science. One recent analysis of 100 published psychology studies famously found that less than 40 percent of primary findings held up to repeat experiments. (Rates seem similar across many fields, though psychology has been the focus of media coverage of the issue.)

In 2016, a pair of scientists in Texas and France—since joined by a third colleague in Germany—launched the Loss-of-Confidence Project. This effort encourages researchers in psychology to notify the field when they have reason to doubt their own findings by submitting a form expressing the reason for the doubt (statistical flaws, for example, or a problem with methodology).

As the creators of the Loss-of-Confidence Project rightly point out, the authors of the original studies are in the best position—presuming they’ve tried to build on their work—to say if the findings are robust, or if they warrant concern. “However, except for few notable exceptions … researchers do not share this type of information: It is anything but common to publicly declare that one has lost confidence in one’s own previous findings,” they write.

But the project goes beyond simply encouraging researchers to admit their mistakes. Indeed, here’s where their idea is particularly clever: The end product of the whole form process is a publishable paper detailing the soul-searching effort. That’s a juicy carrot; after all, publications are the coin of the realm in science—which is a big reason that retracting them can be so traumatic.

Of course, coming up with a solution for the “publish or perish” culture is by no means easy. A few retraction-Nobel pairs are almost certainly not enough to do the trick, and the Loss-of-Confidence Project likely isn’t either, as smart as it is. It might even be the topic of a future Nobel prize in economics—which, someone will no doubt point out in the comments, is not technically a Nobel, but instead the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. There, we got the ball rolling with a retraction. The rest is up to you, economists.

Organic on a Budget

by Destiny Hagest @ Avocado Green Mattress

Organic on a Budget | Eat organic without breaking the bank.Read More ...

The post Organic on a Budget appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

LOL Something Matters

LOL Something Matters

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles


Ten years ago last fall, Washington Post science writer Shankar Vedantam published an alarming scoop: The truth was useless.

His story started with a flyer issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to counter lies about the flu vaccine. The flyer listed half a dozen statements labeled either “true” or “false”—“Not everyone can take flu vaccine,” for example, or “The side effects are worse than the flu” —along with a paragraph of facts corresponding to each one. Vedantam warned the flyer’s message might be working in reverse. When social psychologists had asked people to read it in a lab, they found the statements bled together in their minds. Yes, the side effects are worse than the flu, they told the scientists half an hour later. That one was true—I saw it on the flyer.

This wasn’t just a problem with vaccines. According to Vedantam, a bunch of peer-reviewed experiments had revealed a somber truth about the human mind: Our brains are biased to believe in faulty information, and corrections only make that bias worse.

This supposed scientific fact jibed with an idea then in circulation. In those days of phantom Iraqi nukes, anti-vaxxer propaganda, and climate change denialism, reality itself appeared to be in danger. Stephen Colbert’s neologism, truthiness—voted word of the year in 2006—had summed up the growing sense of epistemic crisis. “Truth comes from the gut,” Colbert boasted to his audience. “Anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you.”

Back then it seemed as though America had slipped the moorings of her reason and was swiftly drifting toward a “post-fact age.” Scholar Cass Sunstein blamed the internet for this disaster: Online communities, he argued, could serve as “echo chambers” for those with shared beliefs. Then came Vedantam’s piece, with real-life data to support the sense that we all were flailing in a quicksand of deception and that the more we struggled to escape it, the deeper we would sink into the muck.

Writing in Slate last year, former professional fact-checker Jess Zimmerman remembered Vedantam’s article as “my first ‘lol nothing matters’ moment,” when she realized her efforts to correct the record might only make things worse. Another nothing-matters moment followed one week later, when Vedantam told WNYC about a different study. A pair of political scientists had given 130 students a mocked-up news report on a speech about the invasion of Iraq that described the country as “a place where terrorists might get weapons of mass destruction.” Half the subjects then read a correction to that news report, noting that the CIA had found no evidence of such weapons in Iraq. For students who were politically conservative, the correction didn’t work the way it should have; instead of making them more suspicious of the idea that Saddam Hussein had been hiding WMDs, it doubled their belief in it.

News about this research made its way to Slate, the Wall Street Journal, This American Life, la Repubblica in Rome, and several hundred other media outlets around the world. Sunstein cited the result—an “especially disturbing finding,” he declared—in his next book on the nature of extremism.

The study of corrected news reports, like the work on vaccine myths, helped provide a scientific framework for our growing panic over facts. Now we had a set of interlocking theories and experiments on which to hang the claim that truth was being vanquished from democracy—that the internet divides us, that facts will make us dumber, and that debunking doesn’t work. These ideas, and the buzzwords that came with them—filter bubbles, selective exposure, and the backfire effect—would be cited, again and again, as seismic forces pushing us to rival islands of belief.

Ten years on, the same scientific notions have now been used to explain the rise of Donald Trump. The coronation of the man who lied a thousand times, a champion of “alternative facts,” had brought us from the age of truthiness to the era of post-truth—2016’s word of the year. In a span of several weeks after Trump’s inauguration, Slate announced that “It’s Time to Give Up on Facts,” Rolling Stone declared “The End of Facts,” the New Yorker told us “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds,” and the Atlantic ran through “the facts on why facts alone can’t fight false beliefs.” These lamentations continued unabated throughout 2017. Just two weeks ago, Facebook said it would no longer flag phony links with red-box warnings, since pointing to a lie only makes it stronger. The truth, this move implied, does more harm than good.

But there’s a problem with these stories about the end of facts. In the past few years, social scientists armed with better research methods have been revisiting some classic work on the science of post-truth. Based on their results, the most surprising and important revelations from this research—the real lol-nothing-matters stuff—now seem overstated. It may be that the internet does not divide us, that facts don’t make us dumber than we were before, and that debunking doesn’t really lead to further bunk.

In fact, it may be time that we gave up on the truth-y notion that we’re living in a post-truth age. In fact, it may be time that we debunked the whole idea.


We didn’t need some lab experiment to tell us that the truth is often unpersuasive and that it’s hard to change a person’s mind. But that’s not what the end-of-facts researchers were saying. Their work got at something far more worrisome: a fear that facts could blow up in all our faces and that even valid points might reinforce a false belief.

This is not a small distinction. If the truth were merely ineffective, then all our efforts to disperse it—through educational websites, debunking flyers, and back-and-forths on Facebook—would be at worst a waste of time. But what if the truth had a tendency to flip itself around? In that case, those same efforts might be tugging people in the wrong direction, pulling them apart. Even if the tugs were very slight, the effect could multiply in terrifying ways—a million tiny forces from a million tiny arguments that added up to a tidal wave of disagreement.

In 2007, an example of this boomerang phenomenon seemed to be unfolding in real time. Polls showed Americans were more likely to describe then–presidential candidate Barack Obama as a Muslim than a member of any other faith. A related set of smears had oozed across the country via Fwd: Fwd: emails, asserting that Obama joined a Christian church to hide his madrassa past, that he wouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, and that he’d been sworn into the Senate on a copy of the Quran.

In the face of all this faulty information, journalists tried redoubling their focus on the facts. Two weeks before Vedantam wrote his Washington Post piece on the dangers of debunking, the Tampa Bay Times’ Bill Adair launched PolitiFact. Two weeks after, the Post’s Glenn Kessler started his weekly “Fact Checker” column, with its Pinocchio rating scheme. Yet the checkers sensed that certain lies about Obama were resistant to their efforts or were maybe even fueled by them. “The number of Americans who believe Obama is a Muslim has gone up,” a nonplussed Adair told NPR in March 2008. “It was 8 percent back in November. The latest poll, it’s up to 13 percent.”

How could this be happening? Norbert Schwarz, the psychologist whose work on dispelling myths about the flu vaccine had been described in Vedantam’s piece, thought he had the answer. Based on the data he’d collected with his postdoc Ian Skurnik, it seemed to him Obama’s denial of a Muslim past would only make the rumors worse.

Schwarz helped draft a memo to the Obama campaign, sharing this advice. By that point he’d joined a secret panel of advisers to the candidate, a group that included Sunstein as well as several winners of the Nobel Prize. This group—which would later be dubbed an “academic dream team”—had been formed to supply Democratic candidates with cutting-edge research on the psychology of messaging. “In no case should you say that Obama is not a Muslim, since repeating it will only cause a backlash,” Schwarz says he advised the campaign. Instead, Obama should emphasize the fact that he is a Christian and that he brings his family to church.

The dream team never got explicit feedback on this memo, but it did seem to Schwarz that the campaign was heeding his advice. In early 2008, Obama began to focus on pronouncements of his Christian faith and his devoted membership in Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. This would backfire in spectacular fashion: In mid-March, a controversy erupted over unpatriotic sermons from that church’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Schwarz recounts this wistfully, as “an interesting illustration of what can happen when you make the correct recommendation in a world that you have no control over.” In any case, after the election, the boomerang theory of debunking was established as a rule of thumb. In November 2011, a pair of cognitive psychologists in Australia, Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook, published an eight-page pamphlet they called “The Debunking Handbook,” on the “difficult and complex challenge” of correcting misinformation. They cited work from Schwarz and Skurnik, among others, in describing several ways in which debunkings can boomerang or backfire. Arriving when it did, in the middle of the post-fact panic, their handbook satisfied a pressing need. Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, called it “a treasure trove for defenders of reason.” The liberal website Daily Kos said it was a “must read and a must keep reference.” Its text would be translated into 11 languages, including Indonesian and Icelandic.

“The existence of backfire effects” have “emerged more and more over time,” Lewandowksy told Vox in 2014. “If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite. That finding seems to be pretty strong.”


If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite. This improbable idea had been bouncing around the academic literature for decades before Schwarz and others started touting it. The first hints of a boomerang effect for truth emerged in the early 1940s, as the nation grappled with a rash of seditious, wartime rumors. Newspaper fact-check columns, known as “rumor clinics,” sprang up in response to the “fake news” of the time—the claim, say, that a female munitions worker’s head exploded when she went to a beauty parlor for a perm. The rumor clinics spelled out these circulating falsehoods, then explained at length why they were “phony,” “sucker bait,” or “food for propageese.” But experts soon determined that these refutations might be dangerous.

By January 1943, mavens at America’s “rumor-scotching bureau,” the Office of War Information, told the New York Times that debunkers could “make a rumor worse by printing it and denying it in the wrong manner.” Shortly thereafter, an Austrian émigré and sociologist named Paul Lazarsfeld published the results from his seminal study of Ohio voters. Lazarsfeld, who was based at Columbia University’s Office of Radio Research, found these voters had been awash in a “flood of propaganda and counterpropaganda” about the candidates running for president in 1940—but that they’d mostly filtered out the facts they didn’t care for. Like-minded voters tended to communicate only among themselves, he said, which in turn produced “a mutual strengthening of common attitudes,” to the point that even rival facts might only “boomerang” and reinforce their original views.

More examples of the boomerang effect would be presented in the years that followed. In 1973, for example, psychologists presented evidence that the social message of the TV sitcom All in the Family had backfired. The show’s creators aimed to skewer and rebut the attitudes of its central character, the bigot Archie Bunker. But when scientists surveyed high school students in a Midwest town, they found that the most prejudiced teenagers in the group were the ones most likely to be watching Archie every week. “The program is more likely reinforcing prejudice and racism than combating it,” the researchers concluded.

Another famous study, published in 1979, found a boomerang for environmental messages. Researchers in Arizona passed out flyers at a public swimming pool that featured one of three messages: “Don’t Litter,” “Help Keep Your Pool Clean,” or “Obey Pool Safety Rules.” The “Don’t Litter” message seemed to backfire and make the garbage problem worse: Half the people who received that flyer tossed it on the ground, as compared with just one-quarter of the people who’d received the other messages.

In a classic paper, also out in 1979, Stanford psychologists Charles Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark Lepper got at the related concept of motivated reasoning. For that study, which has since been cited thousands of times, they presented undergraduates with conflicting data on the efficacy of the death penalty. They found that the exact same information would be interpreted in different ways, depending on how the subjects felt before the research started. The net effect of their experiment was to make the students more convinced of their original positions—to polarize their thinking.

Thirty years later, as a fresh array of boomerang or backfire effects made its way to print, psychologists Sahara Byrne and Philip Solomon Hart reviewed the science in the field. Their paper cites more than 100 studies of situations where “a strategic message generates the opposite attitude or behavior than was originally intended.” The evidence they cite looks overwhelming, but as I sorted through the underlying literature, I began to wonder if some of these supposed boomerang effects might be weaker than they seemed.

Take the Archie Bunker paper. When the same psychologists ran their survey on a second group of people up in Canada, they did not find the same result. And going by subsequent research on the TV show, published in the 1970s, it seemed that Archie’s antics on All in the Family may have helped diminish prejudice, not increase it.

The study of the poolside flyers, which Byrne and Hart called “one of the most famous research examples of the boomerang effect,” also seemed a little flimsy. The original paper goes through three versions of the same experiment; where the first one seems to show a real effect, the others look like replication failures, with no clear evidence for backfire.

As I poked around these and other studies, I began to feel a sort of boomerang effect vis-à-vis my thinking about boomerangs: Somehow the published evidence was making me less convinced of the soundness of the theory. What if this field of research, like so many others in the social sciences, had been tilted toward producing false positive results?

For decades now, it’s been commonplace for scientists to run studies with insufficient sample sizes or to dig around in datasets with lots of different tools, hoping they might turn up a finding of statistical significance. It’s clear that this approach can gin up phantom signals from a bunch of noise. But it’s worse than that: When researchers go out hunting subtle, true effects with imprecise experiments, their standard ways of testing for significance may exaggerate their findings, or even flip them in the wrong direction. Statistician (and Slate contributor) Andrew Gelman calls this latter research hazard a “type-S” error: one that leads a scientist to assert, with confidence, a relationship that is actually inverse to the truth. When a scientist makes a type-S error, she doesn’t end up with a false positive result so much as an “anti-positive” one; she’s turned the real effect upside down. If she were studying, say, the effect of passing out flyers at a public pool, she might end up thinking that telling people not to litter makes them litter more, instead of less.

It’s easy to imagine how these type-S errors might slither into textbooks. A scientist who found an upside-down result might go on to make a novel and surprising claim, such as: If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite; or facts can make us dumber; or debunking doesn’t work. Since editors at top-tier scientific journals are often drawn to unexpected data, this mistake might then be published as a major finding in the field, with all the press reports and academic accolades that follow. Gelman, for his part, thinks type-S errors might not be the problem here—that the real issue could be that different people might respond to something like a “don’t litter” flyer in different ways in different contexts, for reasons researchers don’t understand. But no matter the underlying reason, in an environment where surprising data thrive and boring studies wither in obscurity, a theory based on boomerangs will have a clear advantage over other, more mundane hypotheses.


The first study highlighted by the Post’s Vedantam—the piece of research that helped kick off the modern wave of post-fact panic—is a mess of contradictions.

In late 2004 or early 2005, Ian Skurnik showed a set of undergrads the CDC’s poster about flu vaccine “facts and myths.” According to a data table from a draft version of the study posted on the website of co-author Carolyn Yoon, Skurnik found the students’ memories were very good when they were tested right way: They labeled the flyer’s “myths” as being true in just 3 percent of their responses. Thirty minutes later, though, that figure jumped to 13 percent. By that point, they’d grown foggy on the details—and the flyer’s message backfired.

This made sense to Skurnik and his colleagues. He already knew from prior research that the more you hear a thing repeated, the more reliable it seems: Familiarity breeds truthiness. Now the study of the flyer suggested this effect would hold even when the thing you’ve heard before has been explicitly negated. Imagine a debunking like one shown on the CDC flyer: The flu shot doesn’t cause the flu. Over half an hour, Skurnik’s study argued, the word doesn’t fades away, while the rest of the message sounded ever more familiar—and thus more true.

His CDC flyer data suggested this all happens very quickly—that debunking can boomerang in minutes.

But that notion didn’t fit with data from another study from the same researchers. For that earlier experiment, published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2005, Skurnik, Yoon, and Norbert Schwarz looked at how college students and senior citizens remembered health claims that were labeled either “true” or “false.” The team found no sign of backfire among the college students after 30 minutes or even after three days. (They did find a boomerang effect for older subjects.)

Meanwhile, the study of the CDC flyer never made its way into a peer-reviewed academic journal. (The research would be summarized in an academic book chapter from 2007.) Vedantam’s write-up for the Post, which claims the study had just been published in a journal, seems to have conflated it with the paper published two years earlier, saying the CDC flyer had been presented both to younger and older subjects and at both a 30-minute and three-day delay.

I asked Skurnik, who’s now an associate professor of marketing at the University of Utah, why his famous flyer study never ended up in print. He said that he and Schwarz had submitted it to Science, but the influential journal decided to reject it because the work had already been described by the New York Times. (I could find no such story in the Times.)

As Skurnik moved along in his career, he says, he allowed “that line of research to get on the back burner.” When others tried to reproduce his research, though, they didn’t always get the same result. Kenzie Cameron, a public health researcher and communications scholar at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, tried a somewhat similar experiment in 2009. She set up her study as a formal clinical trial; instead of testing college undergrads as Skurnik, Yoon, and Schwarz had done, she recruited a racially diverse group of patients over the age of 50, selecting only those who hadn’t gotten vaccinated in the prior year. She mailed each of her subjects a version of the CDC flyer a week before they were due to come in for a checkup. Some of these flyers listed facts and myths in simple statements, others listed only facts, and still others gave specific refutations of the false information.

Cameron had her subjects tested on their knowledge of the flu vaccine on two occasions, once before they’d seen the flyers and again when they came in to see their doctors. She found that every version of the flyer worked: Overall, the patients ended up more informed about the flu vaccine. In fact, the version of the CDC flyer that was closest to the one that Schwarz and Skurnik used ended up the most effective at debunking myths. “We found no evidence that presenting both facts and myths is counterproductive,” Cameron concluded in her paper, which got little notice when it was published in 2013.

There have been other failed attempts to reproduce the Skurnik, Yoon, and Schwarz finding. For a study that came out last June, Briony Swire, Ullrich Ecker, and “Debunking Handbook” co-author Stephan Lewandowsky showed college undergrads several dozen statements of ambiguous veracity (e.g. “Humans can regrow the tips of fingers and toes after they have been amputated”). The students rated their beliefs in each assertion on a scale from 0 to 10, then found out which were facts and which were myths. Finally, the students had to rate their beliefs again, either after waiting 30 minutes or one week. If Skurnik, Yoon, and Schwarz were right, then the debunkings would cause their answers to rebound in the wrong direction: If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite. But the new study found no sign of this effect. The students’ belief in false statements dropped from a baseline score of 6 down to less than 2 after 30 minutes. While their belief crept back up a bit as time went by, the subjects always remained more skeptical of falsehoods than they’d been at the start. The labels never backfired.

A second study from Ecker and Lewandowsky (along with Joshua Hogan), also out last June, found that corrections to news stories were most effective when they repeated the original misinformation in the context of refuting it. This runs counter to the older theory, that mere exposure to a lie—through a facts-and-myths debunking flyer, for example—makes it harder to unseat. The authors noted that the traditional logic of “effective myth debunking may thus need to be revised.”

In other words, at least one variation of the end-of-facts thesis—that debunking sometimes backfires—had lost its grounding in the data. “I’ve tried reasonably hard to find [this backfire effect] myself, and I haven’t been able to,” Ecker told me recently. Unless someone can provide some better evidence, it may be time to ask if this rule of thumb from social science could represent its own variety of rumor: a myth about how myths spread.


Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler described their study, called “When Corrections Fail,” as “the first to directly measure the effectiveness of corrections in a realistic context.” Its results were grim: When the researchers presented conservative-leaning subjects with evidence that cut against their prior points of view—that there were no stockpiled weapons in Iraq just before the U.S. invasion, for example—the information sometimes made them double-down on their pre-existing beliefs. It looked as though the human tendency to engage in motivated reasoning might be worse than anyone imagined. (Eventually this would form the basis for another section of “The Debunking Handbook.”)

With an election looming in the fall of 2008, Nyhan and Reifler’s work went viral in the media. (The final version of their paper would not be published in an academic journal until 2010.) Vedantam wrote up their findings for the Post, and the story spread from there. It soon became the go-to explanation for partisan recalcitrance. “Perception is reality.
Facts don’t matter
,” wrote Jonathan Chait in the New Republic, linking up the new research to presidential candidate John McCain’s “postmodern” disregard for truth. “If [Nyhan and Reifler’s] finding is broadly correct,” Chait wrote, “then the media’s new-found willingness to fact-check McCain will only succeed in rallying the GOP base to his side.”

Political scientists were just as taken by the Nyhan-Reifler findings. A pair of political science graduate students at the University of Chicago, Tom Wood and Ethan Porter, found the study dazzling. “It really stood out as being among the most provocative possible claims” about the science of public opinion, Wood told me in a recent interview. He and Porter had been reviewing old research on how we’re more responsive to the facts that support our pre-existing points of view. The new paper took this idea a full step further. “It said that your factual ignorance could actually be compounded by exposure to factual information,” Wood says. The implications for democracy were calamitous.

By the time he and Porter had funding for their own study of this phenomenon, in 2015, the idea had grown in scope. Aside from all the media coverage, papers had by then been published showing that the facts could boomerang when Republicans were told that Obamacare’s “death panels” didn’t exist or that climate change could lead to more disease. And the original Nyhan-Reifler paper had become a “citation monster,” Wood says. “It’s four times as cited as any comparably aged paper from the same journal.”

He and Porter decided to do a blow-out survey of the topic. Instead of limiting their analysis to just a handful of issues—like Iraqi WMDs, the safety of vaccines, or the science of global warming—they tried to find backfire effects across 52 contentious issues. Their study would provide corrections of false statements from Hillary Clinton on the effects of gun violence, for instance, and from Donald Trump on the rate of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. They also increased the sample size from the Nyhan-Reifler study more than thirtyfold, recruiting more than 10,000 subjects for their five experiments.

In spite of all this effort, and to the surprise of Wood and Porter, the massive replication effort came up with nothing. That’s not to say that Wood and Porter’s subjects were altogether free of motivated reasoning.
The people in the study did give a bit more credence to corrections that fit with their beliefs; in those situations, the new information led them to update their positions more emphatically. But they never showed the effect that made the Nyhan-Reifler paper famous: People’s views did not appear to boomerang against the facts. Among the topics tested in the new research—including whether Saddam had been hiding WMDs—not one produced a backfire. “We were mugged by the evidence,” says Wood.

Meanwhile, Columbia University graduate students Andy Guess and Alex Coppock were chewing over a similar idea: If you tell people one thing, will they end up believing the opposite? Guess and Coppock had come across the 1979 study by Lord, Ross, and Lepper, which showed that adding facts to a discussion of the death penalty only curdles students’ disagreements. But when the grad students looked more closely at that old paper, they were appalled. “We realized it was not a properly randomized experiment,” says Guess.

“We thought it was BS,” says Coppock.

In 2014, the two of them updated the classic study using what they thought was better methodology. Where Lord, Ross, and Lepper tested 48 undergrads on their views about capital punishment, Guess and Coppock assessed that question with the help of 683 subjects recruited via the internet. For follow-up experiments, they tested how different kinds of evidence affected the views of another 1,170 subjects on the minimum wage, and 2,122 more on gun control. In none of these conditions did they find evidence that people grew more stubborn in their views when presented with disconfirming information.

Instead, the studies showed what Coppock calls “gorgeous parallel updating,” by which he means that people on either side of any issue will adjust their beliefs to better fit the facts. If boomerangs occur, he says, they’re the exception, not the rule. The backfire effect “is a truth-y hypothesis,” he told me. “It feels right, that arguing with idiots just makes them stupider.”

Guess also began to wonder about a third axiom of truthiness: Is it really the case that the internet divides us?

For all the influence of the echo chamber theory, Guess found there was not a lot of real-world data to support it. In 2015, he gained access to a potent data set from an online polling firm, which included three weeks’ worth of website tracking for almost 1,400 individuals, tagged with their demographic info and political affiliations. That meant Guess could test the echo chamber theory in the wild—and he found it didn’t hold. Other recent studies—one by Levi Boxell, Matthew Gentzkow, and Jesse M. Shapiro; another by Jacob L. Nelson and James G. Webster—have supported this result: News consumption on the internet does not appear to be as fractured as we thought.

It wasn’t that the standard work on “partisan exposure” had been wrong. Like-minded people do tend to congregate on social networks, said Guess, and they tend to gab about whatever suits their group. But this clumping up and screening out is not unique to online settings; it happens just as much when we get together in the offline world, watch TV, or scan headlines at the newsstand.

Nor are the basic facts about persuasion all that controversial. Yes, people do engage in motivated reasoning. Yes, it’s true that we prefer to cling to our beliefs. Yes, we do give extra credence to the facts we’ve heard repeated. But each of these ideas has also spawned a more extreme (and more disturbing) corollary—that facts can force the human mind to switch into reverse, that facts can drive us even further from the truth. It’s those latter theories, of boomerangs and backfires, that have grown in prominence in recent years, and it’s those latter theories that have lately had to be revised.


Even as new facts accumulate in the science of post-facts, the field will likely be slow to change its course. Norbert Schwarz, for one, has been a vocal critic of the replication movement in social psychology, comparing those who question old ideas to global warming denialists: “You can think of this as psychology’s version of the climate-change debate,” he told Nature in 2012, when doubts emerged about research into social priming. “The consensus of the vast majority of psychologists closely familiar with work in this area gets drowned out by claims of a few persistent priming skeptics.”

Skeptics of the boomerang effect have also run afoul of consensus thinking in their field. Guess and Coppock sent their study to the same journal that published the original Lord, Ross, and Lepper paper in 1979, and it was rejected. Then it was passed over four more times. “We’ve reframed it over and over,” Coppock says. “It’s never rejected on the evidence—they don’t dispute the data. It’s that they don’t believe the inference, that backlash doesn’t happen, is licensed from those data.” As a result, their work remains in purgatory, as a posted manuscript that hasn’t made its way to print. (Guess has only just submitted his paper re-examining the echo chamber theory; it’s now under review for the first time.)

Wood and Porter’s study also faced a wall of opposition during the peer review process; after two rejections, it was finally accepted by a journal just last week.

I asked Coppock: Might there be echo chambers in academia, where scholars keep themselves away from new ideas about the echo chamber? And what if presenting evidence against the backfire effect itself produced a sort of backfire? “I really do believe my finding,” Coppock said. “I think other people believe me, too.” But if his findings were correct, then wouldn’t all those peer reviewers have updated their beliefs in support of his conclusion? He paused for a moment. “In a way,” he said, “the best evidence against our paper is that it keeps getting rejected.”

While some colleagues have been reluctant to believe that backfire effects might be rare or nonexistent, there are some notable exceptions. Nyhan and Reifler, in particular, were open to the news that their original work on the subject had failed to replicate. They ended up working with Wood and Porter on a collaborative research project, which came out last summer, and again found no sign of backfire from correcting misinformation. (Wood describes them as “the heroes of this story.”) Meanwhile, Nyhan and Reifler have found some better evidence of the effect, or something like it, in other settings. And another pair of scholars, Brian Schaffner and Cameron Roche, showed something that looks a bit like backfire in a recent, very large study of how Republicans and Democrats responded to a promising monthly jobs report in 2012. But when Nyhan looks at all the evidence together, he concedes that both the prevalence and magnitude of backfire effects could have been overstated and that it will take careful work to figure out exactly when and how they come in play.

Nyhan has been a champion of the replication movement and of using better research methods. He’s written up the newer data on debunking, and the evidence against the echo chamber theory, for the New York Times. And he’s the one who pointed me to the work from Guess and Coppock, calling it “impressive and important.” In terms of reckoning with recent data, says Nyhan, “it would be ironic if I dug in my heels.”

Yet even if boomerangs turn out to be unusual, he says, there’s little cause for optimism. Facts are, at best, “sometimes mildly effective” at displacing grabby lies, and corrections clearly aren’t working “if the standard is getting rid of misperceptions in the world.”

Ullrich Ecker, the debunking expert who failed to reproduce Schwarz and Skurnik’s finding on the boomerang effect for facts and myths, agrees with Nyhan. “If there’s a strong motivation to hold on to a misconception, then often the corrections are ineffective. Whether or not they backfire, that’s up for debate,” he says. “But look, if it’s ineffective, that’s pretty much the same story as if there’s a small backfire effect.”

There’s a vast difference, though, between these two scenarios. In a world where fact-checking doesn’t work, we may get caught in knots of disagreement. In a world where facts can boomerang, those knots may tighten even as we try to pull away. One is frustrating to imagine. The other is horrifying.

Why, then, has the end-of-facts idea gained so much purchase in both academia and the public mind? It could be an example of what the World War II–era misinformation experts referred to as a “bogie” rumor—a false belief that gives expression to our deepest fears and offers some catharsis. It’s the kind of story that we tell one another even as we hope it isn’t true. Back then, there were bogie rumors that the Japanese had sunk America’s entire fleet of ships or that thousands of our soldiers’ bodies had washed ashore in France. Now, perhaps, we blurt out the bogie rumor that a rumor can’t be scotched—that debunking only makes things worse.

Or it could be that our declarations of a post-truth age are more akin to another form of rumor catalogued during the 1940s: the “pipe dream” tale. These are the stories—the Japanese are out of oil; Adolf Hitler is about to be deposed—we tell to make ourselves feel better. Today’s proclamations about the end of facts could reflect some wishful thinking, too. They let us off the hook for failing to arrive at common ground and say it’s not our fault when people think there really is a war on Christmas or a plague of voter fraud. In this twisted pipe-dream vision of democracy, we needn’t bother with the hard and heavy work of changing people’s minds, since disagreement is a product of our very nature or an unpleasant but irresolvable feature of our age.

It’s time we came together to reject this bogus story and the ersatz science of post-truth. If we can agree on anything it should be this: The end of facts is not a fact.

Climate Litigation Needs to Become a Mass Movement

Climate Litigation Needs to Become a Mass Movement

by Ketan Jha @ Slate Articles

Things are not going well for the Earth. It goes well beyond the Trump administration’s decision to eventually leave the Paris Agreement and Scott Pruitt’s purge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific experts. Even non-American efforts to curb climate change aren’t going so well: Newly released data from the World Meteorological Organization reveal a record increase in average global concentrations of CO2 between 2015 and 2016. The United Nations Environment Programme recently issued its annual synthesis report on the emissions gap, which is the difference between country-specific plans and reductions suggested by scientific consensus. One of the salient findings is that domestic carbon-reduction policies for the 168 countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement amount to just one-third of what is necessary to limit global temperature rise to the Paris boundary of “well below 2 degrees Celsius.”

At the same time, and perhaps in response, litigating to protect the climate is on the rise. If climate litigation is construed broadly, the past 20 years have seen 654 cases tried in the United States and at least 230 in other jurisdictions.

Is readying our collective casebooks and heading for the courthouse actually the best solution? Litigation, after all, is typically an inefficient method of achieving policy reform. The flagship public-interest law efforts during the civil rights movement provide instructive lessons here, particularly when academics and activists are increasingly extending historical parallels between environmental protection and racial justice to climate change. Even where many of the necessary conditions for successful legal reform strategies are present—as with some of the landmark cases tried by NAACP lawyers—there is a strong argument that lawsuits constrained by narrow legal doctrines and limited remedies will rarely be able to produce the kinds of sweeping economic changes required to combat the approaching climate catastrophe.

And yet, even though the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the parent treaty to the Paris Agreement) was drafted 25 years ago, we still do not have coherent global or local plans to limit destructive warming. The Paris Agreement was certainly the right direction after international law’s failure to achieve binding targets, but bottom-up targets only work when national commitments are extremely ambitious. So, in sum, it seems that litigating to reform energy policy is both utterly inefficient and entirely necessary.

These climate cases are not new, but the types of claims at stake are changing. The first wave of momentous actions in the United States chiefly involved efforts by state governments to compel either the executive or private entities to take action, either by forcing agencies to regulate emissions or forcing companies to steadily abate them. Other legal actions by local interest groups and environmental nongovernmental organizations sought to make agencies take climate change into account in relation to species-specific issues, such as the effect of global warming on food security for grizzly bears. More recent American suits tend to tackle specific deregulation plans or administrative omissions and delays. Success rates for local issues vary, and they are a vital part of an effective mass litigation strategy. However, since an ambitious suit calling power companies to account was unanimously shot down in the Supreme Court in 2011, high-impact litigation efforts slowed considerably while temperature-rise projections accelerated. The early American cases failed to unify scientific narratives, the stories and voices of people affected by climate change, and opportune legal moments.

Climate litigation in other countries, however, tells a different story. Here, it is a story about seizing the law as a means of collective action instead of leaving an elite cadre of lawyers to represent the concerns of a few activists and scientists. That narrative begins with the Urgenda case. A Dutch NGO, headed by one of the professors who first suggested the 2 degrees Celsius target, enlisted almost 900 claimants and alleged that government action was insufficient. Urgenda argued, among other things, that even if the Dutch government was bound by EU emissions targets, commitment did not immunize them from legal liability resulting from human health risks posed by climate change. In 2015, the court ordered the government to cut its emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The argument advanced by Urgenda is particularly relevant in light of the new emissions-gap data—governments cannot rest on the laurels of existing targets to deflect the need for comprehensive action.

Even still, the global impact of Urgenda is as much about the form and optics of litigation as the substantive arguments. Urgenda paved the way for multiclaimant lawsuits that highlight the importance of climate action by giving platforms to those who stand to suffer disproportionate harms. Put differently, this nascent wave of climate litigation is about forcing governments to see climate change as a collective human-rights issue and to take action that reflects the dire picture painted by scientists about climate risks to human health.

A similar claim filed by 450 Swiss women, all at least 65 years of age, is currently pending. Like Urgenda, the claimants argue that existing legal targets are insufficient to safeguard their rights under both the European Convention on Human Rights and Swiss constitutional law.

In Belgium, a lawsuit that closely mirrors Urgenda advertises that citizens can become claimants through their website in just two minutes. That case now has nearly 32,000 co-claimants. The NGO responsible for the claim, Klimaatzaak, has enlisted a range of celebrity ambassadors to bolster its legal campaign through social media.

A group of Portuguese schoolchildren, all from a region plagued by destructive forest fires, is suing 47 countries in the European Court of Human Rights to compel similar emissions reductions in the first instance of multistate climate litigation. In just over a month, they have raised about $35,000 from more than 700 donors through CrowdJustice, a platform that connects ordinary people to public-interest lawsuits.

In the United Kingdom, where I’m based and also the ancestral home of the American common law, our case at Plan B.Earth implores the British government to amend their carbon targets to reflect the need for a net-zero emissions policy. The claimants, aged 9–79, include a rabbi concerned about the imminent humanitarian crisis, university students scared for their future, and a supporter with Mauritian heritage who represents the risk of small island states being submerged. In parallel to Urgenda, the U.K.’s current targets fall short of what climate science tells us is necessary to stop dangerous warming.

These European suits bolster the case for unifying social movements mobilized around climate change with legal ones: We can fight political reluctance with grassroots legal actions around the globe. Environmental lawyers in the United States are not oblivious to this opportunity: Juliana v. United States broke new legal ground by enlisting youth plaintiffs, attempting to repurpose a Roman legal doctrine of contested historical provenance, and alleging a constitutional right to a stable climate. In the first rejection of the government’s argument to throw out that case, Judge Thomas Coffin referred to Urgenda as proof that courts can redress climate change.

Old uncertainties about the climate system are fading. Litigation in Australia has helped force the financial sector to consider climate risks that the oil industry has known about for decades. Litigation in Pakistan has helped remedy profound governmental inaction even where legislation had already been passed. These cases make clear that for all the cozy rhetoric, Champagne, and cheering, legislative and executive branches are not doing enough. We need more legal actions engaging citizens in every country to pressure governments to secure a habitable planet for future generations. A number of these lawsuits could be a hollow hope, but they might be all we have left.

Find the Best Labor Day Mattress Sale in 2017 from Sears, Macys & More

by Sleep Junkie @ Sleep Junkie

See what major retailers have in store for Labor Day mattress sale events… This summer holiday seems synonymous with the end of summer, barbecues and a lazy three-day weekend, but as it marks changing seasons it also brings big deals in retail, including Labor Day mattress sale events. As one of the biggest shopping holidays […]

The post Find the Best Labor Day Mattress Sale in 2017 from Sears, Macys & More appeared first on Sleep Junkie.

Three Dartmouth Psychology Professors Are Under Investigation for “Sexual Misconduct”

Three Dartmouth Psychology Professors Are Under Investigation for “Sexual Misconduct”

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

Three tenured professors from the psychological and brain sciences department at Dartmouth College—Todd Heatherton, Bill Kelley, and Paul Whalen—are targets of a criminal investigation, according to official statements from Dartmouth’s president and the New Hampshire attorney general on Oct. 31. The school, which has variously described the allegations as referring to “serious misconduct” and “sexual misconduct,” had already launched its own internal investigation of the three men. Heatherton, Kelley, and Whalen are all on paid leave with restricted campus access, according to the statement from Dartmouth’s president. Heatherton also lost his affiliation at New York University, where he had been a visiting scholar since July.

Attorneys for Heatherton responded that their client “has engaged in no sexual relations with any student” and that he “is confident that he has not violated any written policy of Dartmouth, including policies relating to sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.” They also claim that the investigations into Heatherton are limited to an unspecified “out-of-state matter” and unrelated to the conduct of the other two professors. Kelley and Whalen have not issued any statements and did not respond to interview requests for this story.

A public accounting of the allegations has yet to emerge. (On Friday, Dartmouth’s president refuted the idea that they involved the unethical treatment of research subjects.) But Simine Vazire, a tenured professor of psychology at the University of California–Davis (and one-time Slate contributor), says that several weeks before news of the criminal investigation broke, she learned from a colleague that Dartmouth was seeking information about potential sexual misconduct by its faculty. She reached out to the chair of the psychological and brain sciences department and was connected with an external investigator. On Oct. 17, she told that investigator about an episode from early 2002, in which she alleges Heatherton groped her at an academic conference.

That incident occurred at a waterfront hotel in Savannah, Georgia, she says, where more than 1,300 people had gathered for the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Vazire, who was then a 21-year-old graduate student, was attending one of her first major conferences. Standing in a circle of students and faculty members outside a banquet hall, she found herself beside Heatherton, then in his early 40s and a full professor at Dartmouth. The two had not been introduced. Without saying a word, Vazire says, Heatherton reached his hand behind her, out of view of the others, and squeezed her butt. Erik Noftle, a psychology professor who dated Vazire in the early 2000s, confirms that she described the incident to him a year after it allegedly occurred, in 2003.

Vazire says she wasn’t that upset by the encounter. “This one ass-grabbing, it was just kind of a blip on the radar,” she told me. In sharing her experience, Vazire wanted to make it very clear that she didn’t consider her story of being groped at an academic conference on par with more grievous forms of sexual harassment, nor did she want it to overshadow the pending results of the investigations by Dartmouth and the New Hampshire attorney general. Still, she says the memory has stuck with her, as a first experience of the rampant, casual harassment that pervades the field of psychology and academic science as a whole.

“I do not remember touching her in any way at a conference 15 years ago,” Heatherton said via email. “I have just recently heard of this for the first time, but, if I touched her as she described, all I can say is that I am profoundly sorry.”

Heatherton added that he first remembers meeting Vazire in 2011 and that they have had “a collegial, but distant relationship.” He noted that Vazire emailed him in 2011 to recommend one of her female honors students “who is going to be applying to graduate school with you.” This student confirmed to me that Vazire wrote the email on her behalf but says Vazire also informed her about what had allegedly occurred between her and Heatherton in 2002. The student did not end up attending Dartmouth.

A 2010 survey of female earth scientists found that more than half had experienced sexual harassment in the course of their careers. According to a 2014 study, more than one-quarter of female archaeologists said they’d experienced unwanted physical contact while conducting field research. And a much older study, published in 1986, noted that 31 percent of female graduate trainees in clinical psychology reported receiving sexual advances from at least one male teacher or supervisor; among those women, 71 percent viewed the advances as “coercive.” Several high-profile cases of sexual misconduct by prominent academic scientists have also come to light in recent years. At the University of California–Berkeley, astronomer Geoff Marcy resigned last year after the school found that he had violated sexual harassment policies repeatedly between 2001 and 2010. (Marcy apologized on his website.) In August, the University of Washington fired microbiologist Michael Katze after an investigator found that he had, among other things, created a quid pro quo sexual relationship with one employee and asked another to email escorts on his behalf. This fall, eight people filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the University of Rochester for failing to act appropriately against computational linguist T. Florian Jaeger and alleging that Jaeger engaged in a “long pattern of predatory sexual behavior.” Jaeger, who is on administrative leave pending the results of a new investigation, has noted that the fact that he’s been placed on leave does not constitute an admission of guilt.

Even as a first-year grad student in 2002, Vazire knew Heatherton was an academic star with considerable prestige and power. “I was still young enough to have very idealistic images of famous people in the field,” she says. By that time, Heatherton had published almost 60 peer-reviewed papers, and as the chairman of SPSP Convention Committee, he’d helped establish the group’s annual conference. After the 2001 SPSP meeting, Heatherton crowed to colleagues about its lively and stimulating atmosphere and the ample sales recorded at the cash bar.

Heatherton made his name by studying feelings of guilt and self-control and by helping to devise a model of willpower as a muscle that can be exercised until exhaustion. In particular, he has studied how people restrain themselves from engaging in undesirable behavior. “Is self-regulation failure a matter of lazy self-indulgence … or is it a matter of being overcome by powerful, unstoppable forces?” he asked in a 1996 review of this research. He and his co-author ended that paper with a gloomy observation: “The norms and forces that currently dominate modern Western culture seem generally conducive to weakening self-control,” they wrote. “As long as this is the case, it seems likely that our society will continue to suffer from widespread and even epidemic problems that have self-regulatory failure as a common core.”

Not long before his run-in with Vazire, Heatherton had co-written a book chapter with his graduate student Jennifer Tickle and colleague Mikki Hebl on the psychology of awkward moments. “Awkward moments have far-reaching consequences in the lives of both stigmatized and nonstigmatized individuals,” they wrote.

Starting in the early 2000s, Heatherton ventured into a booming subfield in his discipline, based around the use of magnetic-resonance imaging to capture changing blood flow in the brain. At Dartmouth, he became a leading member of a research group that applied this technique, fMRI, to the study of social psychology. In theory, he could now identify portions of the brain that would “activate” in response to temptation, guilt, awkwardness, or whatever else one might choose to study. On the basis of this research, the exercise of self-control would be construed, in his later work, as a struggle between rival brain areas.

Dartmouth made a huge investment in fMRI technology in September 1999, opening a four-story, $27 million building devoted to the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, or PBS. Dartmouth was the first liberal arts school in the country to have its own scanner dedicated to experimental brain research. A few years later, PBS helped bring in the largest peer-reviewed grant in the history of the institution: $21.8 million to establish a Center for Cognitive and Educational Neuroscience.

PBS was a major power center on campus. By 2002, its most famous member—Michael Gazzaniga, the father of cognitive neuroscience—was serving as the dean of faculty at Dartmouth, having replaced another neuroscientist, Jamshed Bharucha, in that position.* Heatherton served as chair of the department in 2004 and 2005, and he worked closely with Gazzaniga, co-authoring a leading academic textbook, Psychological Science, in 2003. Kelley was recruited to the department in 2000; he and Heatherton became friends and regular scientific collaborators. Whalen arrived at PBS in 2005.

As the department’s influence grew, tensions developed at the college. A report from the Student Assembly, based on input from 800 students and 30 faculty members and titled “The Soul of Dartmouth,” decried the school’s excessive focus on research, singling out PBS for special blame.

The department also had a reputation for rambunctiousness. Over the last week, I’ve reached out to dozens of current and former faculty members, postdocs, graduate students, research technicians, and lab fellows who spent time at PBS during this period or passed through for talks or summer sessions. Many ignored my requests or declined to be interviewed. Most of those who agreed to share their experiences would only do so on condition that their names would not be mentioned in connection with this story. But their stories generally converged on several major points. The culture at PBS was characterized by heavy drinking, multiple sources said, as well as an unusual degree of socializing between faculty and students. Several described a “good old boys” vibe that could be inhospitable to women. An undergraduate who worked in a PBS lab from 2002 to 2004 said “the culture of the department was always very masculine and competitive.”

Elise Temple, who was an assistant professor of education at Dartmouth from 2007 to 2010, with a joint appointment in the PBS department, said that Whalen and Kelley were very popular with graduate students and often partied with them. They would stay out late, Temple said, and encourage everyone to drink. “There was this juvenile attitude that was clearly just not professional,” explained Temple, who now directs the Consumer Neuroscience Group at the company Nielsen. “I remember, [the atmosphere] was like, ‘No, have another drink! Oh, come on, have another drink!’ Like a frat guy kind of thing.”

Temple acknowledged that it’s common for graduate students and faculty to have drinks together from time to time. But she said there was more of this behavior—drinking and socializing among mentors and trainees—at PBS than she’d seen at other institutions.

One member of the faculty from the early 2000s did tell me there wasn’t an unusual degree of partying, and a graduate student who arrived a few years later said the culture was “positive and professional.” Most accounts I heard, though, were more or less consistent with Temple’s. One former student called the level of alcohol use “pretty shocking” and described it as being “like night and day” compared with other psychology departments. People went out drinking after work as a matter of routine, this student claimed, and stayed out very late. A former graduate student at PBS said “partying” might be too strong a word but that there was “a lot of drinking with the professors.” Students made frequent trips to a local restaurant called India Queen after work, the graduate student said, and Kelley would be there “more often than not.”

Multiple sources said Heatherton was less involved in the program’s drinking culture than Kelley and Whalen. Via email, Heatherton said he didn’t think it was accurate to say the PBS department was characterized by heavy drinking or frequent socializing between graduate students and faculty. “I do my best not to socialize with graduate students outside of the work setting, as the mentoring relationship should remain professional,” he wrote, noting that his “main social contact” with graduate students occurs on the annual “Apple Pie Day” he hosts with his wife. He added: “Self-reflection has caused me to recognize that, on occasion, at conferences with other academicians I have consumed too much alcohol. On this I was not alone, but that is no excuse, and I have apologized for my behavior.”

In the mid-2000s, three of the department’s most promising young female professors—Abigail Baird, Jennifer Groh, and Jennifer Richeson—departed for other schools. Richeson would earn a MacArthur “genius” grant the year after leaving; Baird was named a “Rising Star in Psychological Science” in 2008; and Groh received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009. They now direct labs at Yale, Vassar, and Duke, respectively. Another more senior woman at Dartmouth, Laura-Ann Petitto, also left during this period. (None of these professors agreed to comment for this story.) By January 2007, the PBS website included just three women on its list of 16 faculty members. (The PBS website now lists eight women out of 28 faculty members.)

Heatherton notes that it’s not unusual for professors to switch institutions, adding that five male professors also left the department around the same time. One of those was Gazzaniga, who resigned his position as dean after a vote of no confidence from the Dartmouth faculty and then left for the University of California–Santa Barbara. Scott Grafton followed him to Santa Barbara shortly thereafter. A third departing scholar, Kevin Dunbar, was the partner of one of the women who left Dartmouth, Laura-Ann Petitto.

Since then, both Kelley and Whalen have been awarded tenure. Heatherton served as president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2011. Under his direction, the society created a “Responsible Research Task Force” to “discuss the promotion of responsible conduct in social and personality psychology.” In 2016, Dartblog called Heatherton “one of the most respected researchers at the college.”

*Correction, Nov. 14, 2017: This piece originally misidentified Jamshed Bharucha as a former provost of Dartmouth. He served as deputy provost and as dean of faculty. (Return.)

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There Is a Very Useful Test We Could Use to Track Politicians’ Cognitive Decline

There Is a Very Useful Test We Could Use to Track Politicians’ Cognitive Decline

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

On Thursday, when President Donald Trump announced his controversial decision to move the U.S. Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an unusual aspect of his announcement became a focus of the coverage: At the end, when Trump said “God bless the United States," it came out more like “United Shhtates.” While White House representatives said the president's throat was dry, it spurred plenty of speculation.

One particularly nuanced response came from Ford Vox, an expert in brain injury medicine at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. In a piece for Stat, he convincingly argued there might be something physically wrong with the president—and that he needs to be tested. In the piece, which is titled “I’m a brain specialist. I think Trump should be tested for a degenerative brain disease,” Vox writes:

In turning my attention to the president, I see worrisome symptoms that fall into three main categories: problems with language and executive function; problems with social cognition and behavior; and problems with memory, attention, and concentration. None of these are symptoms of being a bad or mean person. Nor do they require spelunking into the depths of his psyche to understand. Instead, they raise concern for a neurocognitive disease process in the same sense that wheezing raises the alarm for asthma.

By the end of the story, Vox concludes that, as least according to his analysis, the president is most likely exhibiting signs of dementia. He should, Vox argues, be submitted to a battery of tests to determine if this is the case. This is not the first—or likely the last—time that Trump has been accused of various mental impairments. Like other articles, there’s nothing about this Vox’s piece that seems more likely to compel the president, his family, or Congress to take any action. But unlike the many pieces that have litigated Trump’s mental health from afar, the solution to how to test for this sort of disorder is actually significantly more straightforward.

In June, Slate’s own Jeremy Samuel Faust wrote about something called the Mini-Mental State Exam. The test, when administered by a professional, is a quick way of assessing the cognitive capacity of an individual who is unsure if they had a “senior moment” or if they found themselves in the midst of a more serious decline. The administer watches for how well a person follows instructions, pays attention, and remembers new details. It is also calibrated to the individual—the first test does not yield a diagnosis. But it does provide a baseline (unique to each person, depending on external factors like education), and once a baseline is established, it can provide extremely useful data as the months and years go by. Indeed, this is often how doctors manage to assess patients who are reluctant or unable to recognize their own decline. Faust wrote the piece following John McCain’s own on-camera lapse, and in it he noted the particular service it might provide in the case of politicians:

In most lines of work, a person’s cognitive decline is “checked” in some manner, most likely by his supervisor. Sometimes it takes a nudge from a co-worker. At age 80, my grandfather was not-so-gently urged to retire by his physician colleagues. But people who can’t be fired—elected officials, especially those with lifetime appointments—have no such checks in place. Hypothetically, yes, elections are supposed to address this, but a politician’s staff and family often “cover” for the individual—either intentionally or unintentionally. You see the same thing with family members and close associates of anyone suffering mental decline—admitting that such decline is more than just normal aging is an extremely emotional task, so it’s entirely understandable why these lapses might occur.

It’s also why I think it would be good policy to ask seniors (geriatric medicine specialists focus on patients starting approximately at the age 65 or 70) in positions of public service to submit to serial MMSE testing.

Trump is 71 years old. At his age, some 5 percent of Americans show signs of dementia. That’s a pretty small number, and even if a leader, especially the president, began to show marked mental decline, what to do about that would be a long and ethically complicated conversation.

What is obvious, though, is that when the stakes are this high, we can’t turn our backs on these kinds of questions. And a good place to start is in gathering as much data as we can.

Why It’s Important To Sleep On A Chemical-Free Mattress

by Amber Merton @ PlushBeds Green Sleep Blog

You spend one-third of your lifetime sleeping in your bed. If you think about it, that’s a lot of time spent snuggling up to your mattress. Your bed should be your sanctuary, allowing you to get the rest your body and mind need, without putting your health at risk. Unfortunately, not all mattresses are healthy to sleep on. Today, all U.S. mattresses must meet federal Read More

How to Find a True “Green Mattress”

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

On your journey to protect the environment and live a green lifestyle, you may have run into mattresses labeled green, all-natural, natural, or organic. Those terms are often used interchangeably, and, because there are no clearly defined regulations for a green mattress, they don’t necessarily mean the mattress is truly green. A true green mattress... Continue reading »

Breakfast to Go

by Destiny Hagest @ Avocado Green Mattress

Breakfast to Go | 13 make-ahead breakfast recipes.Read More ...

The post Breakfast to Go appeared first on Avocado Green Mattress.

Hunting Coyotes in Cities Only Makes Coyote Populations Grow

Hunting Coyotes in Cities Only Makes Coyote Populations Grow

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

Cities have a coyote problem. As the New York Times reported on Tuesday, hunters are increasingly trying to manage the urban coyote populations that have merged with human communities as the latter has spread throughout the continent.

There are plenty of concerns about how wise it is to carry hunting rifles into densely populated cities to shoot canines. But beyond the risks to innocent bystanders and the debate over whether growing urban coyote populations even pose a serious threat to humans, there’s one critical fact that we must keep in mind when deciding if we should hunt urban coyotes: Doing so will likely just make the problem worse.

According to the Times:

Some carnivore ecologists argue, though, that moving the hunt into cities will be self-defeating. They say it replicates the very tactics that have allowed coyotes to prosper despite a concerted onslaught against them. In an adaptation that biologists call fission-fusion, when coyotes come under pressure from hunters, their packs split up into lone animals and pairs, they start producing much larger litters, and they migrate into new areas.

Coyotes are notorious for rapidly adapting to changing circumstances. Rather than retreating into natural environments as cities and suburbs grew, many coyote populations have simply adapted to city life, establishing populations in Tucson or San Francisco or New York City or Washington. As nocturnal animals, they’ve learned to hunt for rats, mice, squirrels, and other urban prey at night. They generally avoid contact with humans.

This adaptability is why ecologists doubt that hunting these creatures will make much of a difference to their urban presence. As the theory of fission-fusion suggests, coyotes have no problem abandoning their normal packs to split up into smaller groups or start hunting as individuals. And when populations are pressured, litter sizes double or triple from the norm of about five or six pups. Families use their nighttime howling and yips to basically take a census of the regional population. When howls go unanswered, the biological response in these animals is to generate a litter that could be as large as 16 pups. Trying to hunt down a family of coyotes might reduce numbers for a season, but it essentially creates a scattering effect that yields more families in more places, with higher brood numbers the following year.

We can see the results of this adaptation in real time. Eradication efforts currently kill up to half a million coyotes a year, but coyote populations have continued to rise to all-time highs. The animals continue to be the biggest killer of livestock in western North America. Plus, urban coyotes seem to be experiencing higher life expectancies than their rural counterparts.

Coyotes are far from endangered. They don’t need our protection, so hunting them is arguably an ethical choice. But given what we know about fission-fusion, hunters who claim they are doing a community service by hunting urban coyotes are fooling themselves and the cities they claim to help. Even if coyotes pose an aggressive danger to people (a debatable premise), hunting them will simply exacerbate the problem. This time around, hunters can’t use conservation management as a legitimate reason for their sport. Perhaps we should try to learn to live with them instead.

8 Foods You Should Always Buy!

by priscillas @ Who's Green?

The nutrients in food work together to create the foundation for your health. It’s the interaction of nutrient-dense foods that enhances immune response, causes cancer cells to die, repairs DNA caused by toxic exposures, and enhances cell-to-cell communication. Here are 8 foods that are some of the best for your health. Avocados Avocados are a great source... Continue reading »

Promotions and Discounts

by denverorganic @ The Natural Sleep Store

Promotions, Special Sales, and Discounts Available in store at The Natural Sleep Store’s Denver Organic Mattress Showroom Promotions: Get two free pillows with the purchase of any Green Sleep Mattress With every Savvy Rest mattress purchase (excluding the Savvy Baby) during the month of March, customers will receive two kapok pillows, a cotton mattress pad, […]

The post Promotions and Discounts appeared first on The Natural Sleep Store.

Downwind From the Fires

Downwind From the Fires

by Will Oremus @ Slate Articles

GOLETA, California—The sky is cloudless here, yet the sun shines dimly through a gray haze tinged with queasy shades of orange and pink. Flecks of ash drift aimlessly down and settle to form a thin layer on plants, cars, and the ground. The air outside tickles your nose and eyes, and wherever you go, it smells like you’re standing next to a bonfire. In many homes, it’s noticeably smoky even indoors. Local hardware stores are sold out of air purifiers.

As wildfires tear through Southern California, devouring homes and forcing evacuations, the danger to those who live and work in their direct path could hardly be clearer. But there’s another group of people who are feeling the fires’ effects in a subtler way—and their health is at risk in ways they may not fully understand.

I live near Santa Barbara, some 20 miles up the coast from the Thomas fire’s northern edge, as of Thursday afternoon. Most of the time, it’s paradise. And its residents feel fortunate even now, as it appears unlikely the fire will reach this far. The University of California–Santa Barbara has opened a shelter for evacuees from Ventura County. People feel relatively safe here.

But maybe they shouldn’t. For a combination of reasons having to do with topography and wind patterns, the smoke from the Thomas fire appears to have picked Santa Barbara and its environs as a place to settle. The result is that this sun-kissed city of 90,000—typically blessed with fresh maritime air—is experiencing its unhealthiest air quality in memory, with conditions comparable to some of the worst days in hyperpolluted Beijing. One difference is that this city and its residents are far less prepared.

People understand that when a fire is coming, they could die. But the risks posed by bad air quality are, well, murkier. Murkier still is what to do about it, and how Western cities like Santa Barbara—which may face more frequent forest fires in the future due to climate change—ought to prepare and keep their residents safe.

The Environmental Protection Agency considers an Air Quality Index of 100 or above to pose health risks. As of 1 p.m. PT on Thursday, Santa Barbara’s AQI for small particulates had climbed to 363—by far the worst in the country, according to the EPA site, and well into the maroon “hazardous” range, which is the most severe on its color-coded AQI chart. That’s higher even than the AQI in places like Ojai and Ventura that are actually on fire. It means that even perfectly healthy adults might suffer some effects, while those in vulnerable groups—small children, the elderly, and those with lung or heart conditions—could face serious risks. It’s close to the 400-plus AQI that Napa experienced during the fires there in October, and far worse than what the rest of the Bay Area saw.

Lyz Hoffman, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District, said she’s never seen anything like it here. Since the county began measuring AQI for fine particulate matter (known as PM 2.5) in 1999, the highest index on record was 124 in Santa Maria in 2001.* There was no predicting it before Thursday. And there’s no indication that it will improve Friday.

When the AQI is in the “unhealthy” or even “very unhealthy” range for a short time, recommendations are relatively straightforward: Stay indoors when possible and consider buying an air purifier. If you must go outside, consider wearing a special type of respiration mask (normal surgical masks won’t help). But in the “hazardous” realm for an extended period, there’s not a whole lot you can do. And what exactly might happen to you isn’t fully clear.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from people who are saying they’re experiencing smoke now inside their houses, or the smell of smoke,” Hoffman told me. “So that’s a concern because we’re advising people to stay indoors as much as possible. But If you can’t keep your indoors clean, it’s not going to be safe for you indoors either.” In that case, she said, her best advice would be for those vulnerable to air pollution to pack up and go somewhere else, if they can, until conditions improve.

The air quality district and public health departments took what precautions what they could Thursday, putting out press releases announcing the danger and setting up stations where people could come and pick up masks. But there was no mobile alert about air quality comparable to the ones sent about the fires themselves.

By Thursday afternoon, many of my neighbors made plans to leave town—and my family is doing the same. But as we pack up, it’s hard not to think about the many other folks who are still planning to work tomorrow, and who will sleep tonight in smoky homes. Not to mention all those sheltering in Santa Barbara as a refuge from the fires farther south.

Nothing Santa Barbara is going through compares to what those in and fleeing Ventura, Santa Paula, or Ojai are experiencing right now. Still, the situation here should worry public health officials and others planning for future wildfires, once the blazes are under control. (And, of course, the threat of wildfires is not confined to California. A 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the area of the United States that’s subject to forest fires has doubled since 1984, and is likely to keep growing.)

When fires menace major cities, such as Los Angeles, local and state officials pour all their resources into protecting population centers. But there’s no stopping the wind—and if it were blowing the other way, it could be 13 million Angelenos at risk instead of 90,000 Santa Barbarans.

*Correction, Dec. 8, 2017: This article originally misstated that Santa Barbara County began measuring an Air Quality Index in 1999. It has been measuring an AQI for fine particulate matter since 1999, but had been measuring an Air Quality Index earlier. Also, due to an editing error, the headline misstated Santa Barbara was upwind from the fires. It was downwind. (Return.)

Green Business Spawns More Green Jobs

by @ Green Home Library

They said it would happen and now it is coming to fruition. Starting with small business ventures and then catching the eye of Big Corp., green entrepreneurship and activist movements have begun spawning more green jobs in America and throughout the globe.

Although the current administration is supporting coal production, the need is no longer there. Since mechanization, coal industry jobs have diminished putting many out of work. The average number of employees at US coal mines dropped by 12% in 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration.

However, there is more demand elsewhere to put workers back on the map in the green sector. According to The Department of Energy's Energy and Employment Report it is predicted that green energy employment will have a 9% growth rate over the next 12 months — higher than any other energy sector.

Currently, Europe and Asia are taking the helm as the US trails, but hangs on to, green sector job growth until hopefully the White House comes to its senses, or succumbs to change.

They’re Blowing in the Wind

That’s right, wind energy jobs have increased from 3.4 million in 2011 to just over 4 million in 2017 according to a report published by the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps program.

Business Insider writes,

“The report estimates that solar and wind jobs are growing at a rate 12 times as fast as the rest of the US economy and suggests that 46% of large firms have hired additional workers to address issues of sustainability over the past two years.”

If you have a small business, look into a wind energy choices from your local electric company. It is required in most states for the consumer to be able to choose their electricity source.

Smart Cities

With the steady growth of smart technology and smart homes, smart cities are on the parallel. Europe has recently reported of a “green jobs for a greener future” initiative citing several urban applications that will inevitably take over many conventional careers.

Some of these include:

  • Municipality - “We have identified, especially from the municipalities side, that there is a need to create new skilled jobs for the creation of specific cross-department teams to work on defining action plans for cities, supporting the design of solutions and an understanding of the needs," says Miguel Garcia, from the REMOURBAN project, which is pioneering new approaches to urban regeneration in the Spanish city of Valladolid, Nottingham in England, and Tepebasi/Eskisehir in Turkey.” (reported by Phys.Org)
  • Building Retrofit - Perfect for green small business startup jobs, retrofitting buildings with clean energy options and fixes has risen in demand due to money saving incentives.
  • Electric Car Infrastructure - As the alternative energy infrastructure rises in demand, more people are becoming electric car charging station installers and maintenance workers.
  • Solar Installation - As solar technology falls in price more commercial and residential installations have been sought after.


It's unfortunate that many will profit from man’s decades long environmental abuse, yet that is exactly what is happening. Certain sectors, small businesses, local organizations and even Big Corp. have finally wrapped their heads around the lucrative potential for green beautification, waterway cleanup, non-toxic cleaning, pure air initiatives and so much more.

One example that was originally considered a job killer is a mandate to cut pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay by 25 percent by 2025. A study of potential cleanup for 6 bay states that includesDelaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Virginia and West Virginia stated,

“If history is any guide, environmental regulations will once again nourish job creation, not bury it,


As more small businesses go green it will inevitably lead the way for business to business and consumer to business green job increase. Add in activist movements and environmental cleanup for more job opportunities and, regardless of antiquated, bottom line only thinkers, more people will see and reap the job benefits of Eco-friendly opportunities.

Meatless Mondays – Mixing Bowl Salad

by Allie @ The Greenists

The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post. Meat-Free Monday doesn’t have to involve a fancy recipe or a lot of work.  Sometimes, it’s nice to just have a simple, throw together meal.  Back in my single days, my favorite easy meal was what I called mixing bowl salad. Yes, it’s exactly what [...]

Christmas Marketing Ideas for Your Local Business

by Eco @ Eco Local Markets

Thanksgiving is over, and that means it’s officially Christmas (well, it’s Christmas according to most radio stations and the music playing in every store)! Though the demand for food, decorations, and gifts was high in the fall, the public demand in winter is even greater, and, as a small business owner, you need some Christmas […]

The post Christmas Marketing Ideas for Your Local Business appeared first on Eco Local Markets.

Side Sleeper: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Your Side

by meridith dennes @ Sleepluv

The post Side Sleeper: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Your Side appeared first on Sleepluv .

The Side Sleeper’s Guide To Sleeping Next to back sleeping, side sleeping is the next best thing. However, for a side sleeper sleeping on the wrong mattress can put you in a world of pain and discomfort. A mystical land of numb arms and tingling fingers. A place of aching shoulders and sore backs. When […]

The post Side Sleeper: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Your Side appeared first on Sleepluv .

3 Small Business Green Savings

by @ Green Home Library

If you're a small business owner you know what it takes to keep afloat. You don’t have the luxury of Big Corp money pouring in to fund frivolous decisions, your business needs every penny in the right place, at the right time, all the time. This is why going green can sometimes be a challenge for small businesses. It requires switching a variety of choices that have been set in place to keep your company running at an even pace.

Changing a workable format is a risky venture but when it comes to going green, the numbers speak for themselves. These small business green savings show how you can integrate green products and green practices that just may, eventually, increase your bottom line.

B2B Reach Out

Business to business communication can be essential as a green money saving tip for small businesses. By reaching out to adjoining companies there is the possibility of working together for a variety of incentives.

European marketing company Imfuna reports that,

“By making environmental friendliness a priority of your business partnerships, you not only encourage other companies to reduce their carbon footprint, but also to reduce their own expenditures; and when companies with which you partner save money, those cost savings are passed along to you.”

Talk to your counterparts about:

  • Combine supplies - Combining green purchases, like industrial cleaning supplies in bulk, can make starting off together financially more feasible.
  • Patriotism - Joining with your suppliers, vendors and B2B neighbors to purchase and show USA made support can be a huge win, particularly when it comes to solar installations and wind power.
  • Beautification - When businesses band together in the name of the environment they must walk the walk, and it will show. Whether outdoor shopping or indoor building office space, the surroundings of your small business should have basic upkeep that you probably pay for, however, there are additional options.

You can work with other small businesses to install green extras such as:

  • Composting bins - Can be sold to local farms for profit.
  • LED public lighting - Saves everyone money on electric bills.
  • Solar powered garbage compactors - Saves on excess garbage costs and fossils fuel use.

Scale Down

Obtaining larger space may be a misstep when it comes to keeping your small business green. Lowering your carbon footprint means less consumption, yet startups and small thriving ventures  are often pressured to expand for more money and stature.

It may seem anti-business but keeping your company at a manageable level that embraces green practices, such as energy efficient lighting, wind or solar power, recycling and more, is a green money saving move. With less overhead you use less energy, create less waste and, if managed well, can increase profits on a low carbon footprint.

Happy Employees

Whether working at a zoo, an office, or any small business, employees that see how you run your company are apt to follow your lead. Moreover, if that lead is a positive message, like Eco-friendly practices, money saving benefits could very well follow.

CNBC reported that,

“A study by UCLA and the University of Paris -Dauphine found that employees at Eco-friendly companies are 16 percent more productive than average.

Professor Magali Delmas, an environmental economist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the UCLA Anderson School of Management commented on the study,

“Adopting green practices isn't just good for the environment, It's good for your employees and it's good for your bottom line. Employees in such green firms are more motivated, receive more training, and benefit from better interpersonal relationships. The employees at green companies are therefore more productive than employees in more conventional firms.”


As more small businesses, consumers and Big Corp. embrace the green movement, cost is finally coming around to a more conventional playing field. These small business green ideas show how jumping on the Eco-friendly band wagon can be good on all fronts.

10 Best Places To Find Eco-Friendly Furniture

10 Best Places To Find Eco-Friendly Furniture

by Jasmine Sanberg @ Eco Friendly Living - Citrus Sleep

Choosing new furniture can be tough. Not only do you have a lot of different styles to choose from, you also need to consider the materials used to create the furniture. For many people, one of the main concerns is whether or not the materials and the processes used to make the furniture are environmentally friendly. If this is also a concern of yours, you will need to do your research in order to be able to find companies that sell sustainable furnishings that are made from all-natural materials and environmentally processes. Here are some of the best eco-friendly and sustainable furniture companies to get your research started.

How Valuable Is Green Space To A City?

by Eco Warrior @ Greenne

According to the World Health Organization, green spaces contribute to reducing air pollution, tackling obesity, and improving mental and physical health, amongst over benefits. Governments are now placing huge emphasis on sustainability, welfare and thoughtful urban planning; for example, Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay are the wonderful culmination of urban planning, green space and art […]

The post How Valuable Is Green Space To A City? appeared first on Greenne.

What the Gardasil Testing May Have Missed

What the Gardasil Testing May Have Missed

by Frederik Joelving @ Slate Articles

Read a companion piece from Slate’s science editor on this investigation.

On a sunny autumn day three years ago, when Kesia Lyng was 30, she had a visit from her youngest sister, Eva. The two were close, and as they sat at the kitchen table in Lyng’s apartment, Eva confronted her chronically ill sibling with a painful fact: “You almost can’t take care of your own kids,” she told her. “You can’t keep pushing yourself so hard.”

Lyng, who was living with her husband and their two children in a lusterless part of Copenhagen, Denmark, had been struggling for years with inexplicable health problems: joint and muscle pains that came and left, powerful headaches, and a crushing exhaustion that even copious amounts of sleep could not cure. She was working part-time in the kitchen of her daughter’s kindergarten, the latest in a string of odd jobs. But her sick days had begun to multiply again. Often she would call her husband at work, sobbing from weariness, and ask to be picked up. At home, she was drained, with no energy to clean or cook or tuck the kids in bed. In her medical records, which she shared with me, her doctor noted that she was “having a very difficult time” and that she worried about losing her job if she asked for a sick leave.

On bad days, Lyng’s symptoms were incapacitating. “Your body is so tired you almost can’t move. Everything hurts. It hurts just to stretch, it hurts to get up. Your feet feel like big blocks. There’s this burning sensation in your body and the feeling that your muscles are about to cramp. Even small things, like having to go and buy milk, can be completely overwhelming,” she told me recently. “I’ve been incredibly frustrated at my body, because it’s so limiting.”

The trouble began in late 2002, just before Lyng turned 19. At first it felt like the flu, but there was no improvement. In the mornings, her body was stiff and achy and she found it increasingly hard to rise. When she was able to get up and go to school, she often fell asleep during class. If she ventured more than a few minutes away from home, she would nap on park benches or in cafes to summon the energy to get back. Eventually, she dropped out of school.

The abrupt transformation baffled people around the teenager. They saw a gregarious tomboy turn into someone who kept breaking dates, spent much of her time in bed, and used painkillers nonstop. “We thought it was a depression,” her friend Nanna Voltolina recalled. “She couldn’t do the same things as the rest of us. It was difficult for me to understand.”

Just before Lyng got sick, she had signed up to participate in a clinical trial of a then-experimental vaccine: Merck’s Gardasil was supposed to prevent infection from human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. The virus causes no harm in the vast majority of people. But some HPV types can lead to genital warts, and others have been found to play a role in nearly all cases of cervical cancer, a malignancy that will affect 6 in 1,000 U.S. women at some point during their life. Lyng’s grandmother had died of cervical cancer the year before, so when a letter arrived offering her $500 to take part in a crucial international test of Gardasil, the decision was easy. She got her first shot of the vaccine at Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen on Sept. 19, 2002.

The symptoms snuck up on her shortly after her second shot on Nov. 14. They never abated. It wasn’t until 2016 that she received her diagnosis—chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The little-understood condition was once dismissed by many as a psychological problem, but is now recognized as a serious long-term illness that may have its roots in abnormal immune responses. There is no established treatment.

In recent years, Lyng has become suspicious that there is a connection between her disease and her Gardasil immunization. Her ailments evoke descriptions found in hundreds of news stories from women who also received the vaccine, as well as several medical case reports from around the world. As these stories began to make headlines, HPV-vaccination rates in Denmark and elsewhere have tumbled and controversy has erupted. Many pointed out, rightly, that the accounts amounted to no more than anecdotal evidence, and that none of them cited data proving that the vaccine had actually caused any harm. The women might have gotten sick anyway, as Lyng might have; indeed, one recent epidemiological study found no increased risk of CFS in Norwegian girls following Gardasil vaccination.

It’s also true that more than 80 million girls and women have been vaccinated against HPV, and the vast majority have suffered no more than temporary discomfort at the injection site. In an emailed statement, Merck said it was “confident” in Gardasil’s safety profile, which “was established in clinical trials involving more than 25,000 females and males” and examined further in several surveillance studies. It also pointed out that regulators had found no scientific support for some of the most heavily publicized concerns, which focused on a couple of serious neurological disorders seen in vaccinated girls. Twice, the firm emphasized to me that according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the benefits of HPV vaccines “continue to outweigh their risks.” Health authorities across the globe share this view. Repeatedly, they have issued reassurances about the thorough randomized trials the vaccines were subjected to before approval. Such studies have long been researchers’ best yardstick to judge if something is a real risk or just a fluke. As the NIH’s National Cancer Institute notes on its website, all three HPV vaccines on the market today “have been tested in tens of thousands of people in the United States and many other countries. Thus far, no serious side effects have been shown to be caused by the vaccines.”

An eight-month investigation by Slate found the major Gardasil trials were flawed from the outset, however, and that regulators allowed unreliable methods to be used to test the vaccine’s safety. While these flaws do not mean Gardasil caused the rare crippling illnesses reported by the media, they are troubling. Public health officials use trials like these both to determine safety and, as evidenced by Merck’s statement above, to reassure the public when concerns like the ones about Gardasil arise. A flawed study design can complicate both tasks.

What is special about Lyng’s case is that she got sick during a clinical test—indeed, the largest-ever randomized placebo-controlled trial of Gardasil—years before the vaccine was approved (which it was, in 2006, in both Europe and the U.S.). Drug regulators tend to look much more seriously at potential side effects that surface during a pre-licensure study, which is what Lyng participated in, rather than after a product has already been found to be safe and been put on the market. But regulators never learned of Lyng’s plight. In fact, her repeated complaints of debilitating symptoms were not even registered in the study as potential side effects (“adverse events,” in medical parlance).

Lyng’s experience was not unique. Interviews with five study participants and more than 2,300 pages of documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests from hospitals and health authorities suggest inadequacies built into Merck’s major clinical tests of Gardasil. To track the safety of its product, the drugmaker used a convoluted method that made objective evaluation and reporting of potential side effects impossible during all but a few weeks of its yearslong trials. At all other times, individual trial investigators used their personal judgment to decide whether or not to report any medical problem as an adverse event—essentially, as a potential side effect worth evaluating further. Other health issues went on a worksheet for “new medical history,” reserved for conditions that bore no relation to the vaccine. This study design put the cart before the horse, asking investigators to decide which symptoms might be side effects, rather than tracking everything in the same way. While the company now says otherwise, there is no indication in the confidential study protocol that it submitted to regulators for approval that it would use new medical history as a safety metric. And it hardly would have qualified as such: The worksheet allotted just one line per entry, with no measurement of symptom severity, duration, outco