Scientists Find Fluoride Causes Hypothyroidism Leading To Depression, Weight Gain, and Worse


The tables are finally starting to turn in regard to the perception that the world has of water fluoridation following the release of at least two reputable studies over the past three years documenting the adverse health effects caused by the chemical.

Researchers from the University of Kent, a public research university based in the United Kingdom, conducted the latest and considerably groundbreaking study on the health effects potentially caused by adding fluoride to the public’s water.

After studying data obtained from nearly every medical practice in England, scientists found that fluoride may be increasing the risk for hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, obesity and depression.

Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the study included the largest population ever analyzed in relation to the adverse health effects caused by water fluoridation.

Recent UK study includes the “largest population ever studied in regard to adverse effects of elevated fluoride exposure”

After collecting data from 99 percent of England’s 8,020 general medical practices, researchers found that the locations with fluoridated water were 30 percent more likely to have high levels of hypothyroidism, compared to areas with low, natural levels of the chemical in the water.

This means that up to 15,000 people could be suffering from depression, weight gain, fatigue and aching muscles, all of which could theoretically be prevented if fluoride were removed from the water, according to The Telegraph.

“Overall, there were 9 percent more cases of underactive thyroid in fluoridated places,” reports Newsweek, which also notes that 10 percent of England’s water is fluoridated compared with nearly 70 percent of America’s.

The science paper also compared the fluoridated city of Birmingham with the city of Manchester, which refrains from fluoridating, and found that doctor’s offices in Birmingham were nearly twice as likely to report high levels of hypothyroidism.

The new report has some experts questioning their stance on water fluoridation.

“The study is an important one because it is large enough to detect differences of potential significance to the health of the population,” said Trevor Sheldon, a medical researcher and dean of the Hill York Medical School who has published numerous studies in this field.

Sheldon, who in the past supported fluoride, admits that the “case for general water fluoridation” is no longer clear.

New fluoride study contradicts last year’s report by Public Health England that states fluoride is “safe and effective” for improving dental health

Released in March of last year, Public Health England’s report states that “there is no evidence of harm to health in fluoridated areas,” and no differences were found between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas in regard to rates of hip fractures, osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer), cancers overall, Down’s syndrome births and all other recorded causes of death.

New research, however, suggests that the spike in the number of cases of hypothyroidism in areas such as the West Midlands and the North East of England is “concerning for people living in those areas.”

“The difference between the West Midlands, which fluoridates, and Manchester, which doesn’t was particularly striking. There were nearly double the number of cases in Manchester,” said the study’s lead author Stephen Peckham.

Women 15 times more likely to develop underactive thyroid

“Underactive thyroid is a particularly nasty thing to have and it can lead to other long term health problems. I do think councils need to think again about putting fluoride in the water. There are far safer ways to improve dental health.”

Hypothyroidism is particularly a cause for concern for women, as they’re 15 times more likely than men to develop the condition. Previous studies suggest that fluoride inhibits the thyroid’s ability to use iodine, which is an essential mineral for a healthy thyroid, the master gland in the human body.

 

Sources:
http://www.newsweek.com
http://jech.bmj.com
http://www.telegraph.co.uk
https://www.gov.uk

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Dealing with Stress at workplace


Stress at the workplace is common for an employee. Each employee is facing stress at the workplace, but the amount of stress is different from individual to individual and situation to situation. An incident for an employee may cause stress, but the same incident for other employees may not be the cause of stress.

Stress at the workplace not only affects the job satisfaction and performance of an employee, but stress also affects personal life, health and relationship of an employee.

What is stress?

“Stress is a reaction people have to pressure placed upon them and occurs when pressures exceed the individual’s ability to cope”

Stress may be positive or negative, if due to stress the performance of the individual is increased then it is positive stress, but due to stress when the performance is decreased it is negative stress. Stress is a normal part of life and every individual is facing stress in routine life. Stress has both implications, if stress is positive then it is good but if stress is negative then it is harmful. In other words, stress in a certain limit can be good but if stress exceeds the limit then it becomes harmful.

Factors Influencing Organizational /Work Stress.

The following factors directly or indirectly affect the stress level of employees.

  • Workload

The higher workload to the individual employee is a major factor for stress. If an employee is unable to complete the given work in a time frame, the level of stress increases.

  • Working Hour.

Too many working hours or odd working hours may become the major factor of stress.

  • Environment hazards

Some working places are prone to environmental hazards and adversely affect the health of an employee, for example, the chemical industry.

  • Poor Infrastructure at working place

Some working places do not have proper infrastructure facilities such as ventilation, proper seating arrangement, drinking water, toilet etc. which may become the cause of stress.

  • The drive for success

The employee may have a very high drive for success. Sometimes they cannot bear the little failure and create stress for them.

  • Changing work patterns.

Sometimes employees are used to doing work in a certain pattern but if there is a change in working patterns initially employee suffer stress.

  • Little job control.

Sometimes employees do not have any control over his job or have very little control which can also lead to stress.

  • Poor communication.

In an organization, proper communication is very important. Conflict will arise due to miss communication or poor communication, which may lead to stress in employees.

  • Lack of support.

In the organization, proper coordination and support are required. If there is no support from the superior or colleague, then an organization cannot achieve the targets which result in stress.

Early Warning Signs of Work Stress

There are various physical and mental signs of stress such as Headache, sleep disturbances, difficulty in concentrating, short temper, job dissatisfaction, low morale etc.

Stress Management Strategies

Stress can become a silent killer if it exceeds level for more time. So one should identify the stress and if it is negative for a long time, a remedy to control that stress must be searched out. Following are some strategies to control stress.

Recognize the Problem

The most important point is to recognize the source of negative stress. This is not an admission of weakness or inability to cope, but it is a way to identify the problem and plan measures to overcome it.

Stress Management Techniques

  • Change your thinking
  • Change your behaviour
  • Change your lifestyle

Change Your Thinking.

The best way to minimize the level of stress is to change the way you think about the incident. One can change the thinking by way of

(1)     Re-framing

Reframing is a technique to change the way you look at things in order to feel better about them.

(2)    Positive Thinking

Here one should think about the positive aspects of incidents and focus on strength.

 Change Behaviour

A person should express their thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly to others

  • Get Organized

Here one has to prioritize their objectives, duties and activities and make them manageable and achievable.

  • Ventilation
  • One has to talk with friends/colleagues about the problems.
  • Humour

Laughter is the best medicine and best way to relieve stress.

  • Diversion and Distraction

Get away from things that bother you.

 Change Your Lifestyle

  • Diet: Balanced diet is very important for healthy living. One should have proper calories, nutrition and vitamins. The healthy body can resist the stress easily.
  • Smoking and alcohol: One should avoid alcohol and smoking from routine life.
  • Exercise: Exercise can help to lower your stress level. Regular exercise gives positive effects on mood, resulting from lowering stress level.
  • Leisure and relaxation: Going out with family in natural places such as forest, beach, mountains etc. reduce the stress level.

 

 

To conclude one can say that stress is a part of life, we need to identify the sources of stress and need to manage stress so that one can have better performance and more productivity

Ceftriaxone-Resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae Arrives in North America


The first known case of ceftriaxone-resistant gonorrhea is identified from a woman in Canada.

 

Antimicrobial resistance has, increasingly, limited treatment options for gonorrhea. The CDC recommends dual therapy with ceftriaxone and azithromycin. Few ceftriaxone-resistant isolates have been reported; only five have been reported worldwide through October 2017, most in Asia and none in North America. Investigators from Canada now report on a 23-year-old woman with genital gonorrhea first diagnosed with a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) and subsequently through culture.

Agar dilution antimicrobial susceptibility testing confirmed the isolate’s resistance to ceftriaxone (minimum inhibitory concentration = 1 µg/mL), cefixime (MIC = 2 µg/mL), ciprofloxacin (MIC = 32 µg/mL), and tetracycline (MIC = 4 µg/mL) and susceptibility to azithromycin (MIC = 0.5 µg/mL). Although there are no formal breakpoints for cefixime or ceftriaxone resistance, the reported MICs are tenfold higher than what is considered reduced susceptibility. The patient reported having a sexual partner who had unprotected sex during a trip to China and Thailand before their month-long relationship. Molecular typing showed that the isolate carried the penA-60 allele, which was identical to that found in a ceftriaxone-resistant isolate identified in 2015 in Japan.

Comment

Historically, antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae emerged in Asia and then spread to other countries including the U.S., usually first in Hawaii or the West Coast (N Engl J Med 2012; 366:485). Because gonorrhea is now mostly diagnosed through nonculture methods such as NAATs, surveillance for antimicrobial susceptibility is a public health priority. The CDC’s GISP surveillance system, set up in 1986, has found fewer than 1.5% of isolates with reduced susceptibility to ceftriaxone (defined as MIC ≥0.125 µg/mL) and none with resistance, defined as an MIC ≥0.25 µg/mL (MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016; 65:1). Now that a ceftriaxone-resistant N. gonorrhoeae isolate has been identified in North America, clinicians must be vigilant and consider performing a culture in cases where the infection was acquired in Asia or, like in this case, when the patient had sexual contact with someone who had unprotected intercourse in Asia.

London air pollution is restricting children’s lung development – new research


Air pollution is known to contribute to early deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular disease. There is also mounting evidence to show that breathing polluted air increases the risk of dementia. Children are vulnerable, too: exposure to air pollution has been associated with babies being born underweight, as well as poorer cognitive development and lung function during childhood.

Cities including London are looking to tackle the social, economic and environmental costs of air pollution by improving urban air quality using low emission zones. In these zones, the most polluting vehicles are restricted from entering, or drivers are penalised to encourage them to take up lower emission technologies. London’s low emission zone was rolled out in four stages from February 2008 to January 2012, affecting mainly heavy and light goods vehicles, such as delivery trucks and vans.

But our new research, involving more than 2,000 children in four of London’s inner-city boroughs, reveals that while these measures are beginning to improve air quality, they do not yet protect children from the harmful effects of air pollution. It is the most detailed assessment of how a low emission zone has performed to date.

Young lungs

Our study focused mainly on the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney, but also included primary schools in the City of London and Greenwich. All of these areas experienced high levels of air pollution from traffic, and exceeded the annual EU limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO₂). What’s more, they have a very young demographic and are among the UK’s most deprived areas.

Between 2008-9 and 2013-14, we measured changes to air pollution concentrations in London, while also conducting a detailed examination of children’s lung function and respiratory symptoms in these areas.

Every year for five years, we measured the lung function in separate groups of 400 children, aged eight to nine years old. We then considered these measurements alongside the children’s estimated exposure to air pollution, which took into account where they lived, and the periods they spent at home and at school.

Our findings confirmed that long-term exposure to urban air pollution is related to smaller lung volumes among children. The average exposure for all children over the five years of our study was 40.7 micrograms of NO₂ per cubic metre of air, which was equivalent to a reduction in lung volume of approximately 5%.

A long-term effect. Shutterstock.

Changes of this magnitude would not be of immediate clinical significance; the children would be unaware of them and they would not affect their daily lives. But our results show that children’s lungs are not developing as well as they could. This is important, because failure to attain optimal lung growth by adulthood often leads to poor health in later life.

Over the course of the study, we also observed some evidence of a reduction in rhinitis (a constant runny nose). But we found no reduction in asthma symptoms, nor in the proportion of children with underdeveloped lungs.

Air pollution falls

While the introduction of the low emission zone did relatively little to improve children’s respiratory health, we did find positive signs that it was beginning to reduce pollution. Using data from the London Air Quality Network – which monitors air pollution – we detected small reductions in concentrations of NO₂, although overall levels of the pollutant remained very high in the areas we looked at.

The maximum reduction in NO₂ concentrations we detected amounted to seven micrograms per cubic metre over the five years of our study, or roughly 1.4 micrograms per cubic metre each year. For context, the EU limit for NO₂ concentrations is 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Background levels of NO₂ for inner city London, where our study was located, decreased from 50 micrograms to 45 micrograms per cubic metre, over five years. NO₂ concentrations by the roadside experienced a greater reduction, from 75 micrograms to 68 micrograms per cubic metre, over the course of our study.

By the end of our study in 2013-14, large areas of central London still weren’t compliant with EU air quality standards – and won’t be for some time at this rate of change.

We didn’t detect significant reductions in the level of particulate matter over the course of our study. But this could be because a much larger proportion of particulate matter pollution comes from tyre and brake wear, rather than tail pipe emissions, as well as other sources, so small changes due to the low emission zone would have been hard to quantify.

The route forward

Evidence from elsewhere shows that improving air quality can help ensure children’s lungs develop normally. In California, the long-running Children’s Health Study found that driving down pollution does reduce the proportion of children with clinically small lungs – though it’s pertinent to note that NO₂ concentrations in their study in the mid-1990s were already lower than those in London today.

Our findings should encourage local and national governments to take more ambitious actions to improve air quality, and ultimately public health. The ultra-low emission zone, which will be introduced in central London on April 8, 2019, seems a positive move towards this end.

The scheme, which will be expanded to the boundaries set by the North and South circular roads in October 2021, targets most vehicles in London – not just a small fraction of the fleet. The low emission zone seems to be the right treatment – now it’s time to increase the dose.

Your exposure to air pollution could be much higher than your neighbour’s – here’s why


Each year, tens of thousands of people in the UK die early due to air pollution, which is linked to asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. The health risk presented by air pollution depends on how much dirty air we breathe over time. Pollution levels in UK cities regularly exceed the limits set by the World Health Organisation. But people’s exposure to pollution can vary greatly between people living on the same street, or even the same house.

Currently, health authorities estimate exposure to air pollution based on outdoor pollution at a person’s home address. But we don’t just sit outside our front doors all day – we each follow our personal daily schedules. The environment at home, in transit and at work or school all affect our exposure to pollution. Knowing this can help governments to create more effective policies and provide better advice to the public on how to reduce their exposure.

By equipping volunteers with portable pollution sensors, scientists have shown that exposure to air pollution during the day can vary substantially. For example, commuting during peak hour can account for a significant proportion of the pollution we’re exposed to – even though commuting only takes up a small part of our day.

By contrast, being indoors is often associated with lower exposure to pollution, because buildings provide some protection against outdoor pollutants. But gas cookers, wood burners and household cleaning products can also create high levels of indoor pollution.

How habits influence exposure

With all these different sources and levels of pollution around us, our daily activities and habits have a big influence on how much polluted air we breathe. Even couples who live together can have different exposures: a person who stays at home may experience up to 30% less pollution than their partner who commutes to work.

A 24-hour measurement of a person’s pollution exposure, which varies throughout the day. McCreddin et al., CC BY-SA

Small changes in our daily routines can significantly reduce our exposure to air pollution. In a study in London, participants were able to decrease their exposure during commuting by 25% to 90% by choosing alternative routes or modes of transport. Active commuters who walk or cycle are usually less exposed to pollution than people travelling by car or bus – this might be because vehicles travel in a queue, so air pollution from the vehicle directly in front gets drawn in through ventilation systems and trapped inside. The air is also much cleaner on overground trains than on the underground.

Displaying public information about pollution hot spots and ways to avoid them can help. The Wellbeing Walk is a signposted backstreet walking route taking ten to 15 minutes between London’s Euston and King’s Cross stations, which exposes walkers to 50% less pollution than the main road. Since its launch in 2015, the number of people taking the healthier path has tripled. There need to be many more initiatives like this in cities.

Modelling human movements

Being able to tell when and where people are most exposed to pollution makes it possible to compare the benefits of different solutions. That’s why scientists have created computer models to simulate different scenarios. By combining information on outdoor pollution, pollution on transport and people’s travel routes, these models help us understand how people’s movements contribute to their personal exposure.

Computer exposure models for cities, including London, Leicester and Hong Kong among others, are beginning to give us a better picture of how people are exposed to harmful pollution. But the answers they provide are often complicated.

Commuting: the shorter the better. Harry Green/Shutterstock.

For example, the model for London suggests that on average citizens are exposed to less pollution than previously estimated. But many individuals still experience extremely high pollution during long periods on transport – so a lengthy commute by car, bus or underground could mean you’re among the most affected.

What’s more, the model does not yet account for pollution created indoors through cooking or wood burning. Including these additional sources of pollution may well shake up the results.

More data, please

The UK’s clean air strategy aims to halve the number of people exposed to particulate pollution above World Health Organisation guidelines by 2025. But surprisingly little is known about pollution levels inside our homes, schools and workplaces. If the strategy is to meet its goal, the government will need more data and better methods to estimate people’s exposure to air pollution.

Any model needs to be confirmed using actual measurements, to ensure we can trust what the model predicts about our exposure. Although the technology is advancing, portable pollution sensors are still bulky and heavy. Recruiting volunteers to carry these sensors wherever they go can be difficult. Phone-integrated sensors could make this easier in the future, but their reliability is still debated among scientists.

Improving outdoor air quality is currently a top priority in cities across Europe – and rightly so. But measurements and computer models are indicating that our exposure to pollution is much more varied and complex than currently estimated. We should build on this knowledge to develop measures that deliver the greatest reduction in human exposure and empower citizens to make healthier choices in their daily routines.

Air pollution may be making us less intelligent


Long-term exposure to air pollution was linked to cognitive decline in elderly people.

Not only is air pollution bad for our lungs and heart, it turns out it could actually be making us less intelligent, too. A recent study found that in elderly people living in China, long-term exposure to air pollution may hinder cognitive performance (things like our ability to pay attention, to recall past knowledge and generate new information) in verbal and maths tests. As people age, the link between air pollution and their mental decline becomes stronger. The study also found men and less educated people were especially at risk, though the reason why is currently unknown.

We already have compelling evidence that air pollution – especially the tiniest, invisible particulates in pollution – damages the brain in both humans and animals. Traffic pollution is associated with dementia, delinquent behaviour in adolescents, and stunted brain development in children who attend highly polluted schools.

In animals, mice exposed to urban air pollution for four months showed reduced brain function and inflammatory responses in major brain regions. This meant the brain tissues changed in response to the harmful stimuli produced by the pollution.

We don’t yet know which aspects of the air pollution particulate “cocktail” (such as the size, number or composition of particles) contribute most to reported brain deterioration. However, there’s evidence that nanoscale pollution particles might be one cause.

These particles are around 2,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, and can be moved around the body via the bloodstream after being inhaled. They may even reach the brain directly through the olfactory nerves that give the brain information about smell. This would let the particles bypass the blood-brain barrier, which normally protects the brain from harmful things circulating in the bloodstream.

Postmortem brain samples from people exposed to high levels of air pollution while living in Mexico City and Manchester, UK, displayed the typical signs of Alzheimer’s disease. These included clumps of abnormal protein fragments (plaques) between nerve cells, inflammation, and an abundance of metal-rich nanoparticles (including iron, copper, nickel, platinum, and cobalt) in the brain.

Automobiles are a major cause of the world’s air pollution.

The metal-rich nanoparticles found in these brain samples are similar to those found everywhere in urban air pollution, which form from burning oil and other fuel, and wear in engines and brakes. These toxic nanoparticles are often associated with other hazardous compounds, including polyaromatic hydrocarbons that occur naturally in fossil fuels, and can cause kidney and liver damage, and cancer.

Repeatedly inhaling nanoparticles found in air pollution may have a number of negative effects on the brain, including chronic inflammation of the brain’s nerve cells. When we inhale air pollution, it may activate the brain’s immune cells, the microglia. Breathing air pollution may constantly activate the killing response in immune cells, which can allow dangerous molecules, known as reactive oxygen species, to form more often. High levels of these molecules could cause cell damage and cell death.

The presence of iron found in air pollution may speed up this process. Iron-rich (magnetite) nanoparticles are directly associated with plaques in the brain. Magnetite nanoparticles can also increase the toxicity of the abnormal proteins found at the centre of the plaques. Postmortem analysis of brains from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients shows that microglial activation is common in these neurodegenerative diseases.


The latest study of the link between air pollution and declining intelligence, alongside the evidence we already have for the link between air pollution and dementia, makes the case for cutting down air pollution even more compelling. A combination of changes to vehicle technology, regulation and policy could provide a practical way to reduce the health burden of air pollution globally.

However, there are some things we can do to protect ourselves. Driving less and walking or cycling more can reduce pollution. If you have to use a car, driving smoothly without fierce acceleration or braking, and avoiding travel during rush hours, can reduce emissions. Keeping windows closed and recirculating air in the car might help to reduce pollution exposure during traffic jams as well.

Reducing vehicle use by walking or cycling instead could have a major impact on air pollution levels.

But young children are among the most vulnerable because their brains are still developing. Many schools are located close to major roads, so substantially reducing air pollution is necessary. Planting specific tree species that are good at capturing particulates along roads or around schools could help.

Indoor pollution can also cause health problems, so ventilation is needed while cooking. Open fires (both indoors and outdoors) are a significant source of particulate pollution, with woodburning stoves producing a large percentage of outdoor air pollution in the winter. Using dry, well-seasoned wood, and an efficient ecodesign-rated stove is essential if you don’t want to pollute the atmosphere around your home. If you live in a naturally-ventilated house next to a busy road, using living spaces at the back of the house or upstairs will reduce your pollution exposure daily.

Finally, what’s good for your heart is good for your brain. Keeping your brain active and stimulated, eating a good diet rich in antioxidants, and keeping fit and active can all build up resilience. But as we don’t yet know exactly the mechanisms by which pollution causes damage to our brains – and how, if possible, their effects might be reversed – the best way we can protect ourselves is to reduce or avoid pollution exposure as much as possible.

How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind — from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist


“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” — Unknown.

I’m an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities. That’s why I spent the last three years as a Design Ethicist at Google caring about how to design things in a way that defends a billion people’s minds from getting hijacked.

When using technology, we often focus optimistically on all the things it does for us. But I want to show you where it might do the opposite.

Where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses?

I learned to think this way when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.

That’s me performing sleight of hand magic at my mother’s birthday party

And this is exactly what product designers do to your mind. They play your psychological vulnerabilities (consciously and unconsciously) against you in the race to grab your attention.

I want to show you how they do it.

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices

Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn’t choose in the first place.

This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize enough how deep this insight is.

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)
How empowering is this menu of choices for the need, “I ran out of toothpaste”?

For example, imagine you’re out with friends on a Tuesday night and want to keep the conversation going. You open Yelp to find nearby recommendations and see a list of bars. The group turns into a huddle of faces staring down at their phones comparing bars. They scrutinize the photos of each, comparing cocktail drinks. Is this menu still relevant to the original desire of the group?

It’s not that bars aren’t a good choice, it’s that Yelp substituted the group’s original question (“where can we go to keep talking?”) with a different question (“what’s a bar with good photos of cocktails?”) all by shaping the menu.

Moreover, the group falls for the illusion that Yelp’s menu represents a complete set of choices for where to go. While looking down at their phones, they don’t see the park across the street with a band playing live music. They miss the pop-up gallery on the other side of the street serving crepes and coffee. Neither of those show up on Yelp’s menu.

Yelp subtly reframes the group’s need “where can we go to keep talking?” in terms of photos of cocktails served.

The more choices technology gives us in nearly every domain of our lives (information, events, places to go, friends, dating, jobs) — the more we assume that our phone is always the most empowering and useful menu to pick from. Is it?

The “most empowering” menu is different than the menu that has the most choices. But when we blindly surrender to the menus we’re given, it’s easy to lose track of the difference:

  • “Who’s free tonight to hang out?” becomes a menu of most recent people who texted us (who we could ping).
  • “What’s happening in the world?” becomes a menu of news feed stories.
  • “Who’s single to go on a date?” becomes a menu of faces to swipe on Tinder (instead of local events with friends, or urban adventures nearby).
  • “I have to respond to this email.” becomes a menu of keys to type a response (instead of empowering ways to communicate with a person).
All user interfaces are menus. What if your email client gave you empowering choices of ways to respond, instead of “what message do you want to type back?” (Design by Tristan Harris)

When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications — it frames the experience of “waking up in the morning” around a menu of “all the things I’ve missed since yesterday.” (for more examples, see Joe Edelman’s Empowering Design talk)

A list of notifications when we wake up in the morning — how empowering is this menu of choices when we wake up? Does it reflect what we care about? (from Joe Edelman’s Empowering Design Talk)

By shaping the menus we pick from, technology hijacks the way we perceive our choices and replaces them with new ones. But the closer we pay attention to the options we’re given, the more we’ll notice when they don’t actually align with our true needs.

Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets

If you’re an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine.

The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices?

How often do you check your email per day?

One major reason why is the #1 psychological ingredient in slot machines: intermittent variable rewards.

If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable.

Does this effect really work on people? Yes. Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined. Relative to other kinds of gambling, people get ‘problematically involved’ with slot machines 3–4x faster according to NYU professor Natasha Dow Schull, author of Addiction by Design.

Image courtesy of Jopwell

But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:

  • When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.
  • When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.
  • When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.
  • When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.
  • When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.

Apps and websites sprinkle intermittent variable rewards all over their products because it’s good for business.

But in other cases, slot machines emerge by accident. For example, there is no malicious corporation behind all of email who consciously chose to make it a slot machine. No one profits when millions check their email and nothing’s there. Neither did Apple and Google’s designers want phones to work like slot machines. It emerged by accident.

But now companies like Apple and Google have a responsibility to reduce these effects by converting intermittent variable rewards into less addictive, more predictable ones with better design. For example, they could empower people to set predictable times during the day or week for when they want to check “slot machine” apps, and correspondingly adjust when new messages are delivered to align with those times.

Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI)

Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.”

If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities — it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — because (aha, I win) you might miss something important:

  • This keeps us subscribed to newsletters even after they haven’t delivered recent benefits (“what if I miss a future announcement?”)
  • This keeps us “friended” to people with whom we haven’t spoke in ages (“what if I miss something important from them?”)
  • This keeps us swiping faces on dating apps, even when we haven’t even met up with anyone in a while (“what if I miss that one hot match who likes me?”)
  • This keeps us using social media (“what if I miss that important news story or fall behind what my friends are talking about?”)

But if we zoom into that fear, we’ll discover that it’s unbounded: we’ll always miss something important at any point when we stop using something.

  • There are magic moments on Facebook we’ll miss by not using it for the 6th hour (e.g. an old friend who’s visiting town right now).
  • There are magic moments we’ll miss on Tinder (e.g. our dream romantic partner) by not swiping our 700th match.
  • There are emergency phone calls we’ll miss if we’re not connected 24/7.

But living moment to moment with the fear of missing something isn’t how we’re built to live.

And it’s amazing how quickly, once we let go of that fear, we wake up from the illusion. When we unplug for more than a day, unsubscribe from those notifications, or go to Camp Grounded — the concerns we thought we’d have don’t actually happen.

We don’t miss what we don’t see.

The thought, “what if I miss something important?” is generated in advance of unplugging, unsubscribing, or turning off — not after. Imagine if tech companies recognized that, and helped us proactively tune our relationships with friends and businesses in terms of what we define as “time well spent” for our lives, instead of in terms of what we might miss.

Hijack #4: Social Approval

Easily one of the most persuasive things a human being can receive.

We’re all vulnerable to social approval. The need to belong, to be approved or appreciated by our peers is among the highest human motivations. But now our social approval is in the hands of tech companies.

When I get tagged by my friend Marc, I imagine him making a conscious choice to tag me. But I don’t see how a company like Facebook orchestrated his doing that in the first place.

Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat can manipulate how often people get tagged in photos by automatically suggesting all the faces people should tag (e.g. by showing a box with a 1-click confirmation, “Tag Tristan in this photo?”).

So when Marc tags me, he’s actually responding to Facebook’s suggestion, not making an independent choice. But through design choices like this, Facebook controls the multiplier for how often millions of people experience their social approval on the line.

Facebook uses automatic suggestions like this to get people to tag more people, creating more social externalities and interruptions.

The same happens when we change our main profile photo — Facebook knows that’s a moment when we’re vulnerable to social approval: “what do my friends think of my new pic?” Facebook can rank this higher in the news feed, so it sticks around for longer and more friends will like or comment on it. Each time they like or comment on it, we’ll get pulled right back.

Everyone innately responds to social approval, but some demographics (teenagers) are more vulnerable to it than others. That’s why it’s so important to recognize how powerful designers are when they exploit this vulnerability.

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)

  • You do me a favor — I owe you one next time.
  • You say, “thank you”— I have to say “you’re welcome.”
  • You send me an email— it’s rude not to get back to you.
  • You follow me — it’s rude not to follow you back. (especially for teenagers)

We are vulnerable to needing to reciprocate others’ gestures. But as with Social Approval, tech companies now manipulate how often we experience it.

In some cases, it’s by accident. Email, texting and messaging apps are social reciprocity factories. But in other cases, companies exploit this vulnerability on purpose.

LinkedIn is the most obvious offender. LinkedIn wants as many people creating social obligations for each other as possible, because each time they reciprocate (by accepting a connection, responding to a message, or endorsing someone back for a skill) they have to come back to linkedin.com where they can get people to spend more time.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn exploits an asymmetry in perception. When you receive an invitation from someone to connect, you imagine that person making a conscious choice to invite you, when in reality, they likely unconsciously responded to LinkedIn’s list of suggested contacts. In other words, LinkedIn turns your unconscious impulses (to “add” a person) into new social obligations that millions of people feel obligated to repay. All while they profit from the time people spend doing it.

Imagine millions of people getting interrupted like this throughout their day, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, reciprocating each other — all designed by companies who profit from it.

Welcome to social media.

After accepting an endorsement, LinkedIn takes advantage of your bias to reciprocate by offering *four* additional people for you to endorse in return.

Imagine if technology companies had a responsibility to minimize social reciprocity. Or if there was an independent organization that represented the public’s interests — an industry consortium or an FDA for tech — that monitored when technology companies abused these biases?

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay

YouTube autoplays the next video after a countdown

Another way to hijack people is to keep them consuming things, even when they aren’t hungry anymore.

How? Easy. Take an experience that was bounded and finite, and turn it into a bottomless flow that keeps going.

Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories.

Tech companies exploit the same principle. News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.

It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t). A huge portion of traffic on these websites is driven by autoplaying the next thing.

Facebook autoplays the next video after a countdown

Tech companies often claim that “we’re just making it easier for users to see the video they want to watch” when they are actually serving their business interests. And you can’t blame them, because increasing “time spent” is the currency they compete for.

Instead, imagine if technology companies empowered you to consciously bound your experience to align with what would be “time well spent” for you. Not just bounding the quantity of time you spend, but the qualities of what would be “time well spent.”

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery

Companies know that messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously (like email or any deferred inbox).

Given the choice, Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, WeChat or SnapChat for that matter) would prefer to design their messaging system to interrupt recipients immediately (and show a chat box) instead of helping users respect each other’s attention.

In other words, interruption is good for business.

It’s also in their interest to heighten the feeling of urgency and social reciprocity. For example, Facebook automatically tells the sender when you “saw” their message, instead of letting you avoid disclosing whether you read it (“now that you know I’ve seen the message, I feel even more obligated to respond.”)

By contrast, Apple more respectfully lets users toggle “Read Receipts” on or off.

The problem is, maximizing interruptions in the name of business creates a tragedy of the commons, ruining global attention spans and causing billions of unnecessary interruptions each day. This is a huge problem we need to fix with shared design standards (potentially, as part of Time Well Spent).

Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons

Another way apps hijack you is by taking your reasons for visiting the app (to perform a task) and make them inseparable from the app’s business reasons (maximizing how much we consume once we’re there).

For example, in the physical world of grocery stores, the #1 and #2 most popular reasons to visit are pharmacy refills and buying milk. But grocery stores want to maximize how much people buy, so they put the pharmacy and the milk at the back of the store.

In other words, they make the thing customers want (milk, pharmacy) inseparable from what the business wants. If stores were truly organized to support people, they would put the most popular items in the front.

Tech companies design their websites the same way. For example, when you you want to look up a Facebook event happening tonight (your reason) the Facebook app doesn’t allow you to access it without first landing on the news feed (their reasons), and that’s on purpose. Facebook wants to convert every reason you have for using Facebook, into their reason which is to maximize the time you spend consuming things.

Instead, imagine if …

  • Twitter gave you a separate way to post a tweet than having to see their news feed.
  • Facebook gave a separate way to look up Facebook Events going on tonight, without being forced to use their news feed.
  • Facebook gave you a separate way to use Facebook Connect as a passport for creating new accounts on 3rd party apps and websites, without being forced to install Facebook’s entire app, news feed and notifications.

In a Time Well Spent world, there is always a direct way to get what you want separately from what businesses want. Imagine a digital “bill of rights” outlining design standards that forced the products used by billions of people to let them navigate directly to what they want without needing to go through intentionally placed distractions.

Imagine if web browsers empowered you to navigate directly to what you want — especially for sites that intentionally detour you toward their reasons.

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices

We’re told that it’s enough for businesses to “make choices available.”

  • “If you don’t like it you can always use a different product.”
  • “If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe.”
  • “If you’re addicted to our app, you can always uninstall it from your phone.”

Businesses naturally want to make the choices they want you to make easier, and the choices they don’t want you to make harder. Magicians do the same thing. You make it easier for a spectator to pick the thing you want them to pick, and harder to pick the thing you don’t.

For example, NYTimes.com lets you “make a free choice” to cancel your digital subscription. But instead of just doing it when you hit “Cancel Subscription,” they send you an email with information on how to cancel your account by calling a phone number that’s only open at certain times.

NYTimes claims it’s giving a free choice to cancel your account

Instead of viewing the world in terms of availability of choices, we should view the world in terms of friction required to enact choices. Imagine a world where choices were labeled with how difficult they were to fulfill (like coefficients of friction) and there was an independent entity — an industry consortium or non-profit — that labeled these difficulties and set standards for how easy navigation should be.

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies

Facebook promises an easy choice to “See Photo.” Would we still click if it gave the true price tag?

Lastly, apps can exploit people’s inability to forecast the consequences of a click.

People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them. Sales people use “foot in the door” techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (“just one click to see which tweet got retweeted”) and escalate from there (“why don’t you stay awhile?”). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick.

Imagine if web browsers and smartphones, the gateways through which people make these choices, were truly watching out for people and helped them forecast the consequences of clicks (based on real data about what benefits and costs it actually had?).

That’s why I add “Estimated reading time” to the top of my posts. When you put the “true cost” of a choice in front of people, you’re treating your users or audience with dignity and respect. In a Time Well Spent internet, choices could be framed in terms of projected cost and benefit, so people were empowered to make informed choices by default, not by doing extra work.

TripAdvisor uses a “foot in the door” technique by asking for a single click review (“How many stars?”) while hiding the three page survey of questions behind the click.

Summary And How We Can Fix This

Are you upset that technology hijacks your agency? I am too. I’ve listed a few techniques but there are literally thousands. Imagine whole bookshelves, seminars, workshops and trainings that teach aspiring tech entrepreneurs techniques like these. Imagine hundreds of engineers whose job every day is to invent new ways to keep you hooked.

The ultimate freedom is a free mind, and we need technology that’s on our team to help us live, feel, think and act freely.

We need our smartphones, notifications screens and web browsers to be exoskeletons for our minds and interpersonal relationships that put our values, not our impulses, first. People’s time is valuable. And we should protect it with the same rigor as privacy and other digital rights.

15 Things People Who Deal With Suicidal Thoughts Want You To Know


Dealing with suicidal ideation isn’t uncommon, but because it’s so difficult to talk about, a lot of people have misconceptions about what it’s like, and what it is and isn’t.

Having persistent thoughts of suicide is known as suicidal ideation. People can have passive suicidal ideation – feeling like they want to die but not acting on it – or active suicidal ideation, which, like it sounds, includes making plans.

To help others better understand suicide and suicidal ideation, we asked the BuzzFeed Community what they wished other people understood about their experience. Hundreds of people reached out with their stories — heartbreaking and hopeful, personal and thoughtful — and here were some of the most common things they want more people to know:

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

1. Suicidal ideation isn’t always about wanting to die — it’s a lot more complicated than that.

It can be feeling like you don’t have another way to make the pain stop or hopelessness about the future. It can be indifference about life or the hope that an accident or disease takes the choice out of your hands. It can be about making reckless or self-sabotaging decisions. Everyone experiences it differently.

2. Not everyone who deals with suicidal thoughts is an active suicide risk.

When we talk about suicidal thoughts, a lot of people imagine it means someone is standing on a proverbial ledge. But suicidality exists on a spectrum, and passive suicidal ideation — meaning chronically not wanting to be alive, but not necessarily actively wanting to die — is a thing people often forget about.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

3. Plenty of people function day-to-day despite having suicidal ideation, so never assume you can tell what someone is going through.

For some, suicidal ideation is as ordinary as feeling hungry or tired. It gnaws at you, but you carry on anyway.

4. But that doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting, scary, or intense to deal with.

You can still struggle and need help and support even if you’re not an active risk for suicide — in fact, getting that help and support early is one of the important ways to lessen the chance of reaching the point when suicide becomes a real option.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

5. You don’t always “get over” dealing with suicidal ideation — plenty of people have developed ways to manage it.

Like many mental illnesses, suicidal thoughts can be something you live with and adapt to with proper treatment and support. You come up with an arsenal of coping skills, develop emergency plans, and learn how to identify signs that you need to reach out for help.

6. It can affect all kinds of people, no matter their gender, age, or life circumstances.

You don’t need a “reason” to feel suicidal and it can impact you no matter how “good” you have it. Mental illness does not discriminate.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

7. That said, some people feel suicidal as a direct result of a traumatic or distressing event.

Grief, abuse, financial problems, remorse, rejection, a breakup, and unemployment are all possible triggers for suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

8. And ideation can come on suddenly and unexpectedly and feel entirely out of character.

Not everyone’s suicidal thoughts are chronic or familiar — and if they hit when you’ve never had thoughts of that nature, it can be petrifying.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

9. Hearing people talk about how suicide is selfish or cowardly is incredibly hurtful — and also factually incorrect.

There’s no way to know what it’s like to feel so hopeless that death seems like the only option unless you have been there — and if you have, you know there’s nothing selfish or cowardly about it.

10. Suicide attempts don’t have to be brought on by a “tipping point” or something that “pushed them over the edge.”

Suicide attempts can seem sudden and out of nowhere from the outside, and people often assume there must be a tangible reason, but a lot of the time it’s more complicated than that. Attempts happen when someone feels like they no longer can cope with an overwhelming situation or feelings.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

11. Getting therapy or medication isn’t a magic fix — so encouragements to “get help” can be a little demoralizing.

Yes, help is absolutely necessary and can save lives. But taking the first step to reach out isn’t the only difficult part of the process. Healing from or learning to manage suicidal thoughts takes a lot of time and work, so don’t assume that because someone is suicidal it’s because they haven’t sought help.

12. On that note, there are different and sometimes better ways to help someone than sharing suicide lifelines.

People share suicide lifelines with the best of intentions — but if you think someone is struggling, reach out. Ask them how you can be supportive. Tell them you care about them. Real contact and compassion can go a lot further than seeing hotline numbers tossed into the void.

13. Telling people that they have ~so much to live for~ isn’t helpful.

It just reads as, “You’re wrong to feel this way.” Same with asking them to imagine how hurt their loved ones will be. All that kind of talk does is add more pressure, guilt, and hopelessness.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

14. Talking about suicide doesn’t increase the risk or “give people ideas.”

There’s this misconception that talking about suicide will lead to suicide, but suicidal ideation is bred in isolation. Those conversations aren’t easy — but it’s so important to be able to have an open dialogue and ask the hard questions.

15. In general, dealing with suicidal ideation is a lot more common than you might think it is.

Obviously, it’s comforting to think of suicidal ideation as a distant, theoretical thing that happens to other people and not anyone you know. But the more you realize that people around you — people close to you, even — could be dealing with this without you knowing, the more we can normalize talking about it. And the more we can talk about it, the closer we are to making sure no one has to suffer alone.

If you are thinking about suicide or just need to talk to someone, you can speak to someone by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and or by texting HOME to 741741, the Crisis Text Line. And here are suicide helplines outside the US.

As Overdose Deaths Soar To Record Highs, FDA Approves New Painkiller 1,000x MORE Powerful Than Morphine


 

Purdue Pharma and other pioneers of powerful opioid painkillers probably felt a twinge of regret on Friday when the FDA approved a powerful new opioid painkiller that’s 10 times stronger than fentanyl  – the deadly synthetic opioid that’s been blamed for the record number of drug overdose deaths recorded in 2017 – and 1,000 times more powerful than morphine, ignoring the objections of lawmakers and its own advisory committee in the process.

After all that trouble that purveyors of opioids like Purdue and the Sackler family went to in order to win approval –doctoring internal research and suborning doctors to convince the FDA to approve powerful painkillers like OxyContin despite wildly underestimating the drug’s abuse potential – the agency might very well have approved those drugs any way? And opioid makers might have been able to avoid some of the legal consequences stemming from this dishonesty, like the avalanche of lawsuits brought by state AGs.

What’s perhaps even more galling is that the FDA approved the drug after official data showed 2017 was the deadliest year for overdose deaths in US history, with more than 70,000 recorded drug-related fatalities, many of which were caused by powerful synthetic opioids like the main ingredient in Dsuvia, the brand name under which the new painkiller will be sold.

Dsuvia is a 3-millimeter tablet of sufentanil made by AcelRx. It’s a sublingual tablet intended to provide effective pain relief in patients for whom most oral painkillers aren’t effective. The FDA’s advisory committee voted 10-3 to recommend approval of the drug, a decision that was accepted by the FDA on Friday. The agency justified its decision by insisting that Dsuvia would be subject to “very tight” restrictions.

“There are very tight restrictions being placed on the distribution and use of this product,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a written statement Friday regarding his agency’s approval of Dsuvia. “We’ve learned much from the harmful impact that other oral opioid products can have in the context of the opioid crisis. We’ve applied those hard lessons as part of the steps we’re taking to address safety concerns for Dsuvia.”

Still, some of the agency’s actions looked to critics like attempts to stifle internal criticism. For example, the agency scheduled the advisory committee vote on a day where the chairman of the committee, who was opposed to approval, could not attend – while circumventing its normal vetting process, despite the fact that the member in question had notified the agency of his unavailability months beforehand.

But the FDA rejected any and all criticisms related to Dsuvia being sold as a street drug by insisting that the risk of diversion (when doctor-prescribed drugs are illicitly sold on the black market) was low because the drug would only be prescribed in hospital settings, and wouldn’t be doled out at pharmacies. But critics said that, given its potency, Dsuvia would “for sure” be diverted at some level. They also rejected the FDA’s argument that Dsuvia satisfied an important need for pain treatment: offering rapid, effective relief for obese patients or others lacking easily accessible veins.

While a niche may eventually be found for Dsuvia, “it’s not like we need it…and it’s for sure, at some level, going to be diverted,” said Dr. Palmer MacKie, assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Eskenazi Health Integrative Pain Program in Indianapolis. “Do we really want an opportunity to divert another medicine?”

Fortunately for Dsuvia’s manufacturer, AcelRx, these public health risks pale in comparison to the enormous profits that the company stands to reap from sales. The company anticipates $1.1 billion in annual sales, and hopes to have its product in hospitals early next year.

It goes without saying that cancer patients and others suffering from life threatening illnesses have a legitimate need for effective pain relief. But when the FDA says Dsuvia is needed in the hospital setting, it probably isn’t telling the whole story. Because, as the Washington Post pointed out, the medication’s development was financed in part by the Department of Defense, which believes Dsuvia will be an effective treatment for emergency pain relief on the battlefield – like when a soldier gets his legs blown off after accidentally stepping on an IUD.

This is the ‘last generation’ that can save nature, WWF says


Global wildlife populations have fallen by 60% in just over four decades, as accelerating pollution, deforestation, climate change and other manmade factors have created a “mindblowing” crisis, the World Wildlife Fund has warned in a damning new report.

The total numbers of more than 4,000 mammal, bird, fish, reptile and amphibian species declined rapidly between 1970 and 2014, the Living Planet Report 2018 says.
Current rates of species extinction are now up to 1,000 times higher than before human involvement in animal ecosystems became a factor.
The proportion of the planet’s land that is free from human impact is projected to drop from a quarter to a tenth by 2050, as habitat removal, hunting, pollution, disease and climate change continue to spread, the organization added.
The group has called for an international treaty, modeled on the Paris climate agreement, to be drafted to protect wildlife and reverse human impacts on nature.
It warned that current efforts to protect the natural world are not keeping up with the speed of manmade destruction.
The crisis is “unprecedented in its speed, in its scale and because it is single-handed,” said Marco Lambertini, the WWF’s director general. “It’s mindblowing. … We’re talking about 40 years. It’s not even a blink of an eye compared to the history of life on Earth.”
“Now that we have the power to control and even damage nature, we continue to (use) it as if we were the hunters and gatherers of 20,000 years ago, with the technology of the 21st century,” he added. “We’re still taking nature for granted, and it has to stop.”
WWF UK Chief Executive Tanya Steele added in a statement, “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”
The report also found that 90% of seabirds have plastics in their stomachs, compared with 5% in 1960, while about half of the world’s shallow-water corals have been lost in the past three decades.
Animal life dropped the most rapidly in tropical areas of Latin America and the Caribbean, with an 89% fall in populations since 1970, while species that rely on freshwater habitats, like frogs and river fish, declined in population by 83%.

Methods of destruction

The report outlines the various ways in which human activities have led to losses in animal populations.
Species highlighted include African elephants, which declined in number in Tanzania by 60% in just five years between 2009 and 2014, mainly due to ivory poaching.
Deforestation in Borneo, designed to make way for timber and palm oil plantations, led to the loss of 100,000 orangutans between 1999 and 2015, the report estimated.
And the number of polar bears is expected to decline by 30% by 2050 as global warming causes Arctic ice to melt, making their habitats increasingly precarious.
Wildlife is not just “nice to have,” the report said, warning that human health, food and medicine supplies, as well as global financial stability, are all damaged by declines in wildlife and nature.
The welfare of up to 3 billion people who rely on wildlife to eat and work has reduced because of land degradation, and services relying on nature are worth around $125 trillion globally, the report said.
“The collapse of wildlife populations over the last half-century is a shocking measure of humanity’s impact on our planet,” John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said in response to the report, joining WWF in calling for “urgent action from world leaders.”
“From the decline of orangutans due to deforestation for palm oil to the ruinous impact of climate change on Arctic habitats to plastic pollution destroying marine wildlife, we cannot continue with business as usual,” he added.

‘A global deal’

International action is needed over the next two years in order to stem the tide of natural destruction, the organization noted, urging world governments and businesses to strike a deal similar to the 2016 Paris agreement for climate change.
“If we want a world with orangutans and puffins, clean air and enough food for everyone, we need urgent action from our leaders and a new global deal for nature and people that kick starts a global program of recovery,” Steele said in her statement.

He can hear species disappearing

He can hear species disappearing 05:40
The WWF has urged the 196 member nations of the Convention on Biological Diversity to consider a range of targets when they meet in Egypt in late November.
It also encouraged a deal to be struck at the 75th United Nations General Assembly in 2020.
The group is pushing for “a target that should be equivalent to the 2 degrees target (to limit global temperature rises) of the Paris agreement, and we still have to work out what the target is,” Lambertini said.
“There is a limit to what we can destroy, and there is a minimum amount of nature that we need to preserve,” Lambertini added, noting in the study that the international community has a “rapidly closing window for action.”