UN gives 12-year deadline to crush climate change


Climate change activists holding a banner that reads '1POINT5 = LIFE LINE' during previous UN Climate Conference. /

Climate change activists holding a banner that reads ‘1POINT5 = LIFE LINE’ during previous UN Climate Conference.

Speed read

  • Latest UN report sets 2030 deadline to implement global emission goals
  • 2015 Paris pledges will not be enough to avoid cataclysmic warning by 2100
  • But mitigation must be well-planned to avoid negative impacts on poor people, say experts
The world’s politicians have just over a decade left to implement drastic transformations in their energy, food and transport systems that could avoid dangerous climate change, a report has revealed.

The report, published today by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that crucial policies to reduce global warming must be in place by 2030 to avoid the worst. If emissions continue at the current rate, 1.5 degrees of warming could be reached between 2030 and 2052, and temperatures would continue to rise steeply, the IPCC authors said.

According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth has already warmed by nearly a degree since 1900 due to carbon emissions from industry, farming, heating, and transport. Stabilising global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial level is possible, the authors of the report said. But, they added, meeting the goal will depend entirely on the political will of all countries.

“But it also comes with some wishful thinking that the messages are being taken up by the public, by policymakers and by governments,”

Hans-Otto Pörtner

The aim of the report was to follow up on the Paris Agreement, a set of targets to limit climate change signed at a UN summit in Paris, France, in 2015. Scientists have warned that, even if all pledges under the agreement are implemented, humans will still emit around 58 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2030, far beyond the 35gt needed to halt global warming at 1.5 degrees.

The report highlights a number of potential pathways to prevent further warming, including removing carbon from the atmosphere, phasing out coal and reducing food waste. “The preparation of this report […] was a benefit in itself,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, an ecologist at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, who chairs an IPCC working group. “But it also comes with some wishful thinking that the messages are being taken up by the public, by policymakers and by governments.”

The IPCC report pointed out that there would be significant differences between a 1.5 degree world and 2 degrees of global warming. Under a 2-degree scenario, the proportion of people exposed to heat waves at least once every five years would leap from 14 to 37 percent. This will increase ozone-related mortality and the spread of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, the report warned.

Even under the 1.5-degree scenario, ocean fishing is expected to decline by 1.5 million tonnes a year. But this figure would double, were global mean temperatures to reach 2 degrees of additional warming, the report said.

However, the IPCC authors make it clear that some mitigation measures need to be carefully managed to avoid negative ‘trade-offs’. “Any poorly designed policy is going to have unexpected consequences,” says Joyashree Roy, an economics researcher at Jadavpur University in India, who coordinated the report’s summary for policymakers. “For example, if we adopted bioenergy at massive scale, this may lead to competition for land, which in turn may cause food prices to spike.”

Niklas Höhne, a co-founder of the NewClimate Institute think tank in the Netherlands, said that many transformations have already happened on a small scale. “One example is renewable energy, that has developed much faster than people thought only five years ago,” he told SciDev.Net. “Right now, renewables are so cheap that are outpricing coal even in countries like India, where people always thought this would never happen.”

Höhne concedes that the 1.5 degree target by itself is an aspirational goal, but that striving for it keeps global leaders aware of the problem. “Whether we reach it or not,” he said, “is not the most important question.”

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Act fast to halt the decline of insect numbers


A bee on an almond flower.

A bee on an almond flower.

Speed read

  • Insects disappearing eight times faster than mammals
  • Decline fuelled by destructive dynamic in pesticide use
  • Action needed as first line of defence in three steps
Researchers, policymakers and donors should act fast to halt the diminishing insect numbers, writes Wei Zhang.

Insects are among the most diverse and successful organisms on our planet. Their significant contributions to vital ecological functions including pollination, pest control and maintenance of wildlife cannot be ignored.

But a scientific review of insect numbers published earlier this year startlingly warns that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles. Meanwhile, some species such as houseflies and cockroaches are likely to boom.

“Both regulatory and market-based interventions are needed to reduce farmers’ reliance on insecticide-based control in the long run,”

Wei Zhang, International Food Policy Research Institute

This should concern not only professionals in agriculture, but also in health and development. This “plague of pests” could have many detrimental impacts on human health and livelihoods — especially those of the poor. It could undermine decades of hard-earned progress in development.

Why the decline?

Insects provide ecosystem services, such as pollination and pest suppression, which are essential for agriculture and for the people whose livelihoods depend on it. As natural enemies of crop pests, insects reduce the likelihood and frequency of disease outbreaks and the need for synthetic insecticides, known to harm human health and the environment.

The use of pesticides is a major cause of the alarming insect declines outlined in the review. They decimate beneficial insect communities, including those that control pests. Unlike natural pest control, they also cost money — a burden for resource-constrained farmers in low- and middle-income countries such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Pests often develop resistance to insecticides, and this is a key part of a destructive dynamic where insecticides become more expensive and possibly more toxic. A recent study I led describes how the feedback loop works: if biocontrol is effective at crop level, a farmer may refrain from using pesticides, allowing the natural pest enemies to thrive. But if insecticide use is indiscriminate, then natural enemies may not be effective, and their life cycle may be disrupted — ultimately destroying the ecosystem service they provide.

In other words, farmers can develop a ‘lock-in’ syndrome where continued heavy spraying is necessary to compensate for the missing beneficial insects that this same spraying has caused, a syndrome we called the “pesticide treadmill”.

More alarming is the fact that the insect crisis is just one among many environmental threats. This is not surprising. The challenges today’s world faces, as well as their many underlying drivers, are interlinked. A recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research warns of a potentially deadly combination of factors. These include climate change, mass loss of species, topsoil erosion, deforestation, and acidifying oceans, which are driving a complex, dynamic process of environmental destabilisation that has reached critical levels.

The UN FAO’s new report on biodiversity for food and agriculture, which is based on data gathered in 91 countries, concludes that the plants, animals, and microorganisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline. If these critical species are lost, it “places the future of our food system under severe threat”, it states. The report identifies land-use changes, pollution and climate change as causes of biodiversity loss.

How to act

What can researchers, development practitioners, and policymakers do? More attention should be directed toward three main areas simultaneously.

First, natural and semi-natural habitats should be protected. The diverse value of these habitats — in providing a wide array of ecosystem services themselves, as well as supporting organisms that provide ecosystem services — should be made more ‘visible’ and accounted for in decision-making.

Valuation and modelling studies should be carried out to help understand where their benefits lie. This goes for both economic and other benefits, who receives them, and how species and different land use types interact. Research is also needed to improve the governance of crucial habitats.

More urgently, researchers must be more proactive and effective at communicating their findings to the public, governments, non-governmental organisations and other key stakeholders. Innovations in technology and policies are needed alongside public campaigns aimed at influencing cultural change.

Second, the adoption of biodiversity-friendly practices should be accelerated. Although now more common, these are not growing quickly enough. Researchers at the CGIAR, a global partnership in which I am a member, are well-positioned to tackle this.

Finally, farmers should be supported to use synthetic insecticides and other agro-chemicals judiciously. The overuse of synthetic insecticides is driven by a number of factors: prices that do not account for the social and environmental costs associated with their use, distorting policies, lack of knowledge and awareness, and an absence of risk management tools such as technical support and insurance. Both regulatory and market-based interventions are needed to reduce farmers’ reliance on insecticide-based control in the long run.

Together, these three strategies can help address the threat posed by the dangerous decline in insect populations. Managing the crop pest problem, so that pests and natural enemies co-exist and sustain a balance resilient to environmental shocks, is our first line of defence.

If this line holds, we can avoid getting to the stage where we are trying to ‘control’ the problem and many of the negative social, economic and environmental consequences associated with our interventions.

Wei Zhang is a research fellow in the Environmental, Production and Technology division of the International Food Policy Research Institute, based in Washington, D.C., United States. She can be contacted at w.zhang@cgiar.org
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.

References

[1] Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys  Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers (Biological Conservation, April 2019)
[2] Wei Zhang and others Multidecadal, county-level analysis of the effects of land use, Bt cotton, and weather on cotton pests in China (PNAS, 14 August 2018)
[3] Patrick W Weddle and others History of IPM in California pears—50 years of pesticide use and the transition to biologically intensive IPM (Pest Management Science, 13 October 2009)
[4] Laurie Laybourn-Langton and others This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown (Institute for Public Policy Research, February 2019)
[5] The state of the world’s biodiversity for food and agriculture (UN FAO, 2019)

Beware: US salmon may be crawling with Japanese tapeworm, say scientists


 

Image: Beware: US salmon may be crawling with Japanese tapeworm, say scientists

A recently published study in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases says wild caught Alaskan salmon may harbor a species of tapeworm previously known to infect only Asian fish. Researchers warn that based on their findings, any salmon caught along the North American Pacific coast may have the parasite. The concern is that if you eat the fish undercooked or raw, you could become a host to this gruesome organism.

CNN reports that the tapeworm newly discovered in Alaskan salmon is named Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, also known as the Japanese broad tapeworm. This species accounts for the most infections in humans, in contradiction to the previous belief that the dubious distinction went to the most common fish tapeworm, Diphyllobothrium latum. A team of scientists found four species of Pacific salmon known to carry the Japanese tapeworm: chum salmon, masu salmon, pink salmon and sockeye salmon. These fish are caught and then shipped worldwide, so the infection may occur in humans anywhere on the planet. (RELATED: Stay informed about the health risks of food ingredients at Ingredients.news)

Tapeworms, including the Japanese version can grow to 30 feet inside a human digestive tract. Infestation often goes undetected, because symptoms may often be mild, with symptoms largely attributed to other conditions by medical practitioners. When fish are commercially caught worldwide, they are placed on ice for the journey to port. But this does not freeze the fish, it only refrigerates them. To kill the possibly present parasite worms, the fish need to be frozen. Salmon sushi at a restaurant or store can be assumed to be an unsafe commodity unless you know it has been frozen or you freeze it yourself. Additionally, the fish can be sufficiently cooked for assurance of safety against parasitic infection.

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Jayde Ferguson, a scientist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game believes, “The tapeworm itself is probably not new — it’s just that more skilled parasitologist started looking for it. Identifying these parasites is challenging. This was simply a more detailed evaluation of the Diphyllobothrium that has occurred here for over a millennium.”

Professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Dr. William Schaffner stated, “Because we do things that we haven’t done before, now, we have these fresh caught fish that can be transported anywhere and eaten raw. … I am sure we will be on the lookout for this kind of tapeworm going forward.”

Parasitic worms – an under-recognized epidemic

Naturopath Marijah McCain is a widely experienced healer who apprenticed with a parasitologist and knows firsthand about these disgusting critters and how to rid the body of the menace. Though rare, various helminths (worms) such as the tapeworm can find a home in your brain with grave consequences. Quoting Marijah:

“Myself and a handful of others, like Dr. Hulda Clark, have spent years trying to bring the parasite issue to the forefront of preventative & curative medicine. The good news is the medical field is slowly training their doctors once again on the health risks of parasites… Most Americans carry parasites and this is currently a serious health issue. Parasites are not meant to kill you, they just sit inside you and steal your nutrition. But, when a person gets weakened from another ailment the parasites can take hold and become life threatening. This is why EVERYONE with any health disorder should do an anti-parasite program at least once a year. Twice a year if you live with animals. People interested in maintaining good health should also do routine parasite cleansing…”

Marijah says that symptoms caused by parasites include gas, diarrhea, chronic constipation, bloating, fatigue, skin rashes, mood swings, insomnia, nail biting, dry skin, weight gain, bad breath, brittle hair, hair loss, and muscle cramping. Because parasites can invade any tissue in the body, symptoms can occur anywhere. Dr. McCain states that parasites are a contributing factor in conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, some heart disease, arthritis, asthma, as well as others. She points out that in the US, the medical system is in denial about the health risks of parasitic infections, and doctors make a huge blunder when they fail to recognize the role that parasites play in disease. “Parasites are the cause of hundreds of misdiagnosed ailments,” she claims, and recommends natural anti-parasite formulas in lieu of conventional toxic allopathic medications.

Climate Change Is Having a Major Impact on Global Health


Warming temperatures are exposing more people to heat waves and increasing the risk of disease spread

Prolonged and deadly heat waves are becoming more common, leaving millions at risk. Credit: Matteo Colombo 

A devastating heat wave swept across Europe in 2003, killing tens of thousands of people, scientists estimate. Many were elderly, with limited mobility, and some already suffered from chronic diseases. But climate change is making such extreme weather more common—and the effects will not be limited to the old and sick. Warming temperatures do not only threaten lives directly. They also cause billions of hours of lost labor, enhance conditions for the spread of infectious diseases and reduce crop yields, according to a recent report.

The report, published last December in the Lancet, represents the latest findings of the Lancet Countdown—a coalition of international research organizations collaborating with the World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization. The group tracks the health impacts of—and government responses to—climate change.

“It affects everyone around the world—every single person, every single population. No country is immune,” says Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet Countdown and one of many co-authors of the report. “We’ve been seeing these impacts for some time now.”

Credit: Amanada Montañez; Source: “The 2018 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: Shaping the Health of Nations for Centuries to Come,” by Nick Watts et al., in Lancet, Vol. 392; December 8, 2018

The report found that millions of people worldwide are vulnerable to heat-related disease and death and that populations in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean are especially susceptible—most likely because they have more elderly people living in urban areas. Adults older than 65 are particularly at risk, as are those with chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes. Places where humans tend to live are exposed to an average temperature change that is more than twice the global average—0.8 versus 0.3 degree Celsius (graphic). There were 157 million more “heat wave exposure events” (one heat wave experienced by one person) in 2017 than in 2000. Compared with 1986 to 2005, each person was exposed to, on average, 1.4 more days of heat wave per year from 2000 to 2017. That may not seem like a lot, but as Watts notes, “someone who is 75 and suffers from kidney disease can probably survive three to four days of heat wave but not five or six.”

Sweltering temperatures also affect productivity. A staggering 153 billion hours of labor—80 percent of them in agriculture—were lost to excessive heat in 2017, the new report found, with the most vulnerable areas being in India, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South America. The first stage of heat’s impact is discomfort, says report co-author Tord Kjellstrom, director of the Health and Environment International Trust in New Zealand and a consultant on environmental and occupational health. But there comes a point at which it is simply too hot for the body to function. For example, sweating heavily without replenishing water can result in chronic kidney disease, Kjellstrom notes. News reports have documented farm workers in Central America dying from kidney problems after years of working in the hot fields. Richer countries such as the U.S. may avoid the worst effects because of better access to drinking water and, in the case of indoor work, air-conditioning. But these solutions can be expensive, Kjellstrom says.

Then there are indirect effects. For example, warmer temperatures have increased the geographical ranges of organisms that spread dengue fever, malaria and cholera. The “vectorial capacity”—a measure of how easily a disease carrier can transmit a pathogen—of dengue virus, which is spread by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, reached a record high in 2016. The percentage of coastline suitable for bacteria in the Vibrio genus (which includes the species that causes cholera) increased from the 1980s to the 2010s in the Baltic region and northeastern U.S. by 24 and 27 percent, respectively. In Africa’s highlands, environmental suitability for the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite increased by nearly 21 percent from the 1950s to the 2010s.

Climate change also threatens food security. Our planet still produces more than enough food for the world, but 30 countries have seen crop yields decline as a result of extreme weather, the report found.

“Overall, the report does suggest very serious concerns about the way in which climate change is evolving and its potential implications for human health,” says Andy Haines, a professor of environmental change and public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the 2018 report but has co-authored previous Lancet Countdown assessments. “One of the problems is that we don’t have enough data on the actual impacts, particularly in the low-income countries,” which will likely be most affected, he says.

The report did find some bright spots: in 2015, 30 of 40 countries surveyed by the WHO reported having climate change health adaptation plans, and 65 percent of cities have undertaken (or are undertaking) risk assessments that address threats to public health infrastructure. But worldwide spending on health adaptation is still under 5 percent of all climate adaptation spending. And funding has not matched that pledged in the Paris Agreement, the global climate accord that is set to take effect in 2020.

Among the biggest steps countries can take to mitigate these health effects are phasing out coal-fired power and shifting to greener forms of transportation, Watts says. Electric vehicles are making inroads in places, he notes—and “active” transport, such as walking or cycling, is also important. Tallying up the costs of climate change, Watts says, makes it clear that “our response or lack of response is going to determine our health over the next century.”

Brainy Birds


Scientist Irene Pepperberg with African grey parrot, Griffin.

Irene Pepperberg, a research associate in Harvard’s Psychology Department, with African grey parrot Griffin.

Usually, calling someone a bird-brain is meant as an insult, but an African grey parrot named Griffin is rewriting the rules when it comes to avian intelligence.

A new study shows the African grey can perform some cognitive tasks at levels beyond that of 5-year-old humans. The results not only suggest that humans aren’t the only species capable of making complex inferences, but also point to flaws in a widely used test of animal intelligence. The study is described in a November paper published online in Behaviour.  

The paper arose from a collaboration among cognitive psychologists Irene Pepperberg, a research associate in Harvard’s Psychology Department; Francesca Cornero ’19; Suzanne Gray A.L.B. ’15, now the manager of the Alex Foundation at the Pepperberg Lab; and developmental psychologists Susan Carey, the Henry A. Morss Jr. and Elisabeth W. Morss Professor of Psychology, and Shilpa Mody, Ph.D. ’16.

The classic study uses a two-cup test. A reward is hidden in one of two cups; subjects are then shown that one cup is empty, and those that successfully choose the other cup are thought to employ a process known as “inference by exclusion” — reasoning that the reward is in cup A or B; if it is not in A, it must be in B.

For years, researchers have argued that young children, including infants as young as 17 months, and animals from a wide number of species, including grey parrots, understand this process.

“This is really about logic,” Pepperberg said. “In the wild, nonhumans must make these kinds of choices when they decide on things like, ‘Where should I forage? I saw other creatures eating food in this area. … If there’s nothing right here, I should deduce that something is nearby.’”

But what’s important about this study is not just that Griffin is, in some ways, as smart as a 5-year-old, but, said Pepperberg, “We also argue that this two-cup task, which has been the gold standard, only tells you about a certain level of ability. If you really want to study inference by exclusion, you have to go to the more complicated three- and four-cup tasks.”

Based on Carey and Mody’s notion that the two-cup task wasn’t an effective test of human cognition — that subjects could be choosing that B cup simply by default, not because they think the reward must be there — Pepperberg, Gray, and Cornero decided to put Griffin’s apparent smarts to the test.

Designed to add a wrinkle to the two-cup task, the more complex tests work like this: For the three-cup test, one reward is hidden in a single cup, and another is placed in one of two additional cups to one side of the first cup. When faced with a choice, participants should pick the single cup, as it is the only cup guaranteed to have a reward. This task doesn’t test inference by exclusion, but does test understanding of certainty versus mere possibility — a precursor to exclusion.

Tests have shown that, until they reach about 2 and a half years old, young children fail at similar tasks. The same goes for apes. But Griffin outperformed even 5-year-olds.

The four-cup test works similarly: Rewards are placed in one cup of each pair, then one cup in a pair is shown to be empty. Successful subjects will then pick the other cup in that pair, understanding that it must hold the reward, and that they have only a 50-50 chance of finding the reward in the other pair. Two-and-a-half-year-old children again fail, showing that they do not fully understand inference by exclusion.

Researchers in Harvard’s Psychology Department conduct a four-cup test on an African grey parrot.

Though Griffin passed both tests with flying colors, Pepperberg, Cornero, and Gray wanted to be sure he hadn’t simply learned to choose whichever cup was next to the empty one, so they designed a series of additional trials to test this possibility.

“Basically, we forced him to gamble,” Pepperberg said. “For a small percentage of trials, we would put nothing on one side and show him an empty cup on that side … so he if wanted a reward, and understood the system, he’d know that now he couldn’t go to the cup next to the empty one; instead he’d have to gamble on the 50-50 side. And he hated it, but he did it on all the trials in the subset.”

The trio even developed a test in which he had the choice between the guaranteed small reward of a nut or, in a small percentage of trials, gambling and potentially receiving one of his favorite treats — a Skittle.

“We wanted to make sure he wasn’t just avoiding the empty side completely … and, again, that he didn’t always pick the cup next to the one that was empty,” Pepperberg said. “If he wanted that very special candy, he’d have to go to the 50-50 side. A good-enough percentage of the time, he gambled. But what was interesting was that if he lost, he wouldn’t gamble on the next trial.”

Ultimately, Pepperberg said, tests like these don’t only reveal the intelligence of birds like Griffin, but also help shed light on the roots of human intelligence.

“Birds are separated from us by 300 million years of evolution, and their brains are organized differently than ours,” Pepperberg said. “That’s why this was so exciting — because we were able to show that Griffin was working at the level of a 5-year-old, on a task at which even apes would not likely succeed.”

Sea Creatures Still Arriving in the U.S. on Plastic Debris From the Japanese Tsunami Eight Years Ago


Marine biologists don’t know how long different species can survive adrift in the open ocean, and some may become invasive when they reach new shores

Plastic Cup
Plastic debris is providing a new vessel for potentially invasive species to cross large distances.

The open ocean is essentially a marine desert. So far from shore, starved of nutrients like phosphorus (which enters the ocean as runoff from land), not much lives out on the open sea.

So when living animals started washing up along the coasts of the Pacific Northwest and California, clinging to plastic debris that was swept out to sea by the 2011 Japanese tsunami, 4,300 miles away, it raised a few eyebrows. And when the living animals—mostly shellfish and crustaceans, but also marine worms, sea stars, sponges and even fish—kept arriving year after year, it raised even more.

By February 2017, nearly 300 species of living organisms had made landfall on the shores of Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. Jim Carlton, professor of marine sciences at Williams College, and colleagues published a study that year in the journal Science documenting the castaways that had made the trip from Japan to North America.

Two years later, the animals are still arriving, Carlton said earlier this month at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Debris seems to wash up on the shore seasonally, and the most recent recorded sighting of a living animal—a tiny crab—was last July.

Somehow, these creatures, adapted for life on the coasts, are surviving at sea for at least seven years—five years longer than previously documented instances of marine rafting.

“What we’re waiting for is whether or not the spring 2019 pulse brings to North America the same arrival of Japanese tsunami marine debris and living species that it has for the past seven years,” Carlton says. There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t. Thanks to this research, we now have no upper limit on the length of time coastal animals can survive adrift at sea.

Plastic Rafters
The debris from Japan ranged from the small, like buoys, to the very large, like the dock shown in upper right. 

When the Tōhoku tsunami washed boats, plastic docks, buoys, crates, ropes, and propane tanks out to sea, the natural disaster became the first opportunity to track a large debris field over an immense distance—one of the only times scientists had a known origin point and time for marine junk. “It was as if we had done a giant experiment, tossed out millions of objects with a date on them,” Carlton says.

Much of the 2011 debris was made of plastic, unlike the last time Japan was hit by a tsunami of this size, in 1933, many years before the widespread emergence of plastic goods. Wooden objects degrade in the ocean in just two or three years as they are munched on by wood-eating worms, Carlton says, so any organisms that might be clinging to a wooden debris raft only have a couple years to make it to shore. Plastic, on the other hand, doesn’t degrade, which helps explain how a wood-and-fiberglass fishing boat, the Sai-Shou Maru, washed up on a Washington beach in 2013 with five live fish inside.

The combination of the emergence of plastic, the probability that climate change will intensify hurricanes and typhoons, and the ability of marine species to drift on the open ocean for half a decade or more creates a new vector for invasive species, Carlton says. For now, it’s not clear whether any of the species that survived the Pacific crossing have established themselves on the West Coast of the U.S. Determining that a foreign organism has taken root takes time and effort. Carlton says his team is already likely missing some organisms, simply because the number of pieces of debris associated with the tsunami is in the thousands or tens of thousands.

“We’re only sampling a fraction of the debris field,” he says. “It’s possible the species that will successfully invade will be a species we will not successfully detect.”

If a species establishes itself after floating across the ocean, it won’t be the first. Famously, in 1995, a population of 15 iguanas rafted 200 miles on trees ripped from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Enough survived to start a new colony on Anguilla, and they’re now considered invasive. Since that first documented journey, scientists have begun to study how animals of all kinds manage to raft across the seas.

Jon Waters, a professor at New Zealand’s University of Otago, studies how mollusks, sea stars and other creatures float on natural rafts made of kelp. Waters, who isn’t involved in the Japan tsunami research, said that kelp is “amazingly robust” and can last up to two years at sea. In this instance, the creatures bring their own food with them—either the kelp itself or the microbial and algal species that live on the kelp.

But when creatures raft on plastic, the question of what they eat is more complicated. “We had assumed that food is pretty limited out there,” Carlton says.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch presents a unique opportunity to study the organisms’ “pre-landing story,” as Carlton calls it. Linsey Haram, a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, is planning to study samples from the Pacific gyre to learn more about the communities that live on the ocean between the coasts. Hopefully the study will shed light on what rafting animals eat. Haram said via email that the hitchhikers might “be living off of algae, animals and detritus present on their singular ‘rafts,’” or they may be surviving off the limited plankton and dissolved minerals in the water.

Knowing that rafting species can survive for years “adds a whole new dimension” to the work, Waters says, emphasizing “how important this type of process can be for marine biodiversity research.”

Animals have been rafting across seas for millennia. Madagascar was probably populated by animals that rafted from mainland Africa 60 million years ago. But our plastic waste has made it possible for organisms to travel farther and longer than we ever thought they could.

World Wildlife Day 2019: This year’s theme is ‘life below water’


The United Nations recognises 3 March as ‘World Wildlife Day’, and this year, the focus is on marine species and aims to align closely with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14, which is ‘life below water’. The objective is to raise awareness about the diversity of marine wildlife and its benefits to our everyday lives. The programme also aims to ensure that the biodiversity of marine life is preserved for generations to come.

According to the UN website, the world’s oceans and their elements, which include their temperature, chemistry, currents and ways of life, drive the global systems that make the Earth inhabitable for human beings. “How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counterbalance the effects of climate change,” the website said.

“Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, reaching below the level at which they can produce sustainable yields,” the website further added.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a message regarding the aim of the day. He said, “Marine species provide indispensable ecosystem services. Plankton enrich the atmosphere with oxygen and more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for sustenance and livelihoods. Marine and coastal resources and the industries they support are estimated to be worth at least $3 trillion a year, some 5 percent of global GDP.”

“Sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems are the objectives of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Today, ocean life is under severe pressure, ranging from climate change to pollution, the loss of coastal habitats and the overexploitation of marine species. Some one-third of commercial fish stocks are overfished, and many other species — from albatrosses to turtles — are imperilled by the unsustainable use of ocean resources.”

Even a ‘Limited’ Nuclear War Could Wreck Earth’s Climate And Trigger Global Famine


Deadly tensions between India and Pakistan are boiling over in Kashmir, a disputed territory at the northern border of each country.

A regional conflict is worrisome enough, but climate scientists warn that if either country launches just a portion of its nuclear weapons, the situation might escalate into a global environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

On February 14, a suicide bomber killed at least 40 Indian troops in a convoy travelling through Kashmir. A militant group based in Pakistan called Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. India responded by launching airstrikes against its neighbour – the first in roughly 50 years – and Pakistan has said it shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured one of the pilots.

Both countries possess about 140 to 150 nuclear weapons. Though nuclear conflict is unlikely, Pakistani leaders have said their military is preparing for “all eventualities“. The country has also assembled its group responsible for making decisions on nuclear strikes.

“This is the premier nuclear flashpoint in the world,” Ben Rhodes, a political commentator, said on Wednesday’s episode of the “Pod Save the World” podcast.

For that reason, climate scientists have modelled how an exchange of nuclear weapons between the two countries – what is technically called a limited regional nuclear war – might affect the world.

Though the explosions would be local, the ramifications would be global, that research concluded. The ozone layer could be crippled and Earth’s climate may cool for years, triggering crop and fishery losses that would result in what the researchers called a “global nuclear famine”.

“The danger of nuclear winter has been under-understood – poorly understood – by both policymakers and the public,” Michael Mills, a researcher at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Business Insider.

“It has reached a point where we found that nuclear weapons are largely unusable because of the global impacts.”

Why a ‘small’ nuclear war could ravage Earth

When a nuclear weapon explodes, its effects extend beyond the structure-toppling blast wave, blinding fireball, and mushroom cloud. Nuclear detonations close to the ground, for example, can spread radioactive debris called fallout for hundreds of miles.

But the most frightening effect is intense heat that can ignite structures for miles around. Those fires, if they occur in industrial areas or densely populated cities, can lead to a frightening phenomenon called a firestorm.

“These firestorms release many times the energy stored in nuclear weapons themselves,” Mills said. “They basically create their own weather and pull things into them, burning all of it.”

Mills helped model the outcome of an India-Pakistan nuclear war in a 2014 study. In that scenario, each country exchanges 50 weapons, less than half of its arsenal. Each of those weapons is capable of triggering a Hiroshima-size explosion, or about 15 kilotons’ worth of TNT.

The model suggested those explosions would release about 5 million tons of smoke into the air, triggering a decades-long nuclear winter.

The effects of this nuclear conflict would eliminate 20 to 50 percent of the ozone layer over populated areas. Surface temperatures would become colder than they have been for at least 1,000 years.

The bombs in the researchers’ scenario are about as powerful as the Little Boy nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, enough to devastate a city.

But that’s far weaker than many weapons that exist today. The latest device North Korea tested was estimated to be about 10 times as powerful as Little Boy. The US and Russia each possess weapons 1,000 times as powerful.

Still, the number of weapons used is more important than strength, according to the calculations in this study.

How firestorms would wreck the climate

Most of the smoke in the scenario the researchers considered would come from firestorms that would tear through buildings, vehicles, fuel depots, vegetation, and more.

This smoke would rise through the troposphere (the atmospheric zone closest to the ground), and particles would then be deposited in a higher layer called the stratosphere. From there, tiny black-carbon aerosols could spread around the globe.

“The lifetime of a smoke particle in the stratosphere is about five years. In the troposphere, the lifetime is one week,” Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University who worked on the study, told Business Insider.

“So in the stratosphere, the lifetime of smoke particles is much longer, which gives it 250 times the impact.”

The fine soot would cause the stratosphere, normally below freezing, to be dozens of degrees warmer than usual for five years. It would take two decades for conditions to return to normal.

This would cause ozone loss “on a scale never observed,” the study said.

That ozone damage would consequently allow harmful amounts of ultraviolet radiation from the sun to reach the ground, hurting crops and humans, harming ocean plankton, and affecting vulnerable species all over the planet.

But it gets worse: Earth’s ecosystems would also be threatened by suddenly colder temperatures.

Screen Shot 2019 03 01 at 3.52.36 pm(Mills et al., Earth’s Future, 2014)

The fine black soot in the stratosphere would prevent some sun from reaching the ground. The researchers calculated that average temperatures around the world would drop by about 1.5 degrees Celsius over the five years following the nuclear blasts.

In populated areas of North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, changes could be more extreme (as illustrated in the graphic above). Winters there would be about 2.5 degrees colder and summers between 1 and 4 degrees colder, reducing critical growing seasons by 10 to 40 days. Expanded sea ice would also prolong the cooling process, since ice reflects sunlight away.

“It’d be cold and dark and dry on the ground, and that would affect plants,” Robock said. “This is something everybody should be concerned about because of the potential global effects.”

The change in ocean temperatures could devastate sea life and fisheries that much of the world relies on for food. Such sudden blows to the food supply and the “ensuing panic” could cause “a global nuclear famine”, according to the study’s authors.

Temperatures wouldn’t return to normal for more than 25 years.

The effects might be much worse than previously thought

Robock is working on new models of nuclear-winter scenarios; his team was awarded a nearly US$3 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to do so.

“You’d think the Department of Defence and the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies would fund this research, but they didn’t and had no interest,” he said.

Since his earlier modelling work, Robock said, the potential effects of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan have gotten worse. That’s because India and Pakistan now have more nuclear weapons, and their cities have grown.

“It could be about five times worse than what we’ve previously calculated,” he said.

Because of his intimate knowledge of the potential consequences, Robock advocates the reduction of nuclear arsenals around the world. He said he thinks Russia and the US – which has nearly 7,000 nuclear weapons – are in a unique position to lead the way.

“Why don’t the US and Russia each get down to 200? That’s a first step,” Robock said.

“If President Trump wants the Nobel Peace Prize, he should get rid of land-based missiles, which are on hair-trigger alert, because we don’t need them,” he added.

“That’s how he’ll get a peace prize – not by saying we have more than anyone else.”

Even The Creatures in The Ocean’s Deepest Chasms Are Now Eating Plastic


The deepest parts of the ocean aren’t easy to get to. They’re found in fissures in the seafloor, and the creatures there are strange – adapted to the dark, the cold, and the crushing pressure.

But in those trenches, at hadopelagic depths greater than 7,000 metres (20,000 feet), our impact on this world has still been felt. For the first time, in the stomachs of scuttling creatures retrieved from six of the ocean’s deepest places, scientists have found plastic.

A team of researchers from Newcastle University in the UK sent “landers” to the bottom of the sea in six hadopelagic trenches, across a broad range of sites: Japan, Izu-Bonin, Peru-Chile, New Hebrides, Kermadec, and the deepest known part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

trenches globe(Jamieson et al., RSOS, 2019)

Each of these landers is equipped with monitoring and sampling equipment; when they were pulled back to the surface, they had collected a variety of small marine creatures called amphipods for further study.

Between the six trenches, they had collected 90 animals that they studied further, looking for plastic in the hindguts – towards the end of their digestive tracts – to rule out any recent ingestion, such as on the way up from the bottom of the ocean.

They found plastic in the guts of 72 percent of the animals. That’s pretty bad. But it gets worse. The deeper they went, the more plastic they found.

From the New Hebrides Trench, plastic was found in 50 percent of the amphipods. But from the Challenger Deep, at a depth of 10,890 metres (35,730 feet), 100 percent of the animals had plastic in their guts.

“This study has shown that man-made microfibres are culminating and accumulating in an ecosystem inhabited by species we poorly understand, cannot observe experimentally and have failed to obtain baseline data for prior to contamination,” said marine scientist Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in 2017, when he revealed the findings.

“These observations are the deepest possible record of microplastic occurrence and ingestion, indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris.”

Last year, a plastic bag was spotted in the Mariana Trench. Now Jamieson and his team have published the results of their study, showing that this is not an isolated incident. Our garbage is making its way to the bottom of the ocean globally, and we should all be ashamed.

The plastic microparticles, on examination, were mostly semi-synthetic cellulosic fibres used in clothing. The team also found nylon, polyethylene, polyamide, and unidentified polyvinyls closely resembling polyvinyl alcohol or polyvinylchloride – PVA and PVC.

And it’s likely that these once-pristine ocean trenches are the last stop for our trash. Once it’s there, there’s nowhere else for it to go.

“It is intuitive that the ultimate sink for this debris, in whatever size, is the deep sea,” Jamieson said. “If you contaminate a river, it can be flushed clean. If you contaminate a coastline, it can be diluted by the tides. But, in the deepest point of the oceans, it just sits there.

“It can’t flush and there are no animals going in and out of those trenches.”

We don’t know what that means for the animals down there, but it may not be good. Ingestion of plastic rubbish is a known killer of sea turtles, and last year we saw multiple whales washed up onto shorelines, killed by plastic pollution.

For amphipods, a gutful of indigestible plastic could affect buoyancy and mobility, making them more vulnerable to predators. And down in the trenches, where food is scarce, the disruption of one source of prey could have a devastating domino effect.

It has impacts for research, too. Recent advances in technology have opened up hadopelagic exploration in unprecedented ways, and we’re finding all sorts of exciting new species, such as the Mariana snailfish discovered in 2017.

But humanity has been wreaking plastic havoc for far too long. According to a study published in 2017, by 2015 over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic had been produced by humans since the 1950s. Over 6.3 billion of those tons had been discarded – ending up in landfill or the natural environment.

It’s hard to know exactly how much is making its way into the ocean, but a 2015 study found that the figure was up to 12.7 million metric tons in 2010 alone.

So we have never seen the Mariana snailfish as it existed in an uncontaminated ocean.

“We have no baseline to measure them against. There is no data about them in their pristine state,” Jamieson said.

“The more you think about it, the more depressing it is.”

The deepest parts of the ocean aren’t easy to get to. They’re found in fissures in the seafloor, and the creatures there are strange – adapted to the dark, the cold, and the crushing pressure.

But in those trenches, at hadopelagic depths greater than 7,000 metres (20,000 feet), our impact on this world has still been felt. For the first time, in the stomachs of scuttling creatures retrieved from six of the ocean’s deepest places, scientists have found plastic.

A team of researchers from Newcastle University in the UK sent “landers” to the bottom of the sea in six hadopelagic trenches, across a broad range of sites: Japan, Izu-Bonin, Peru-Chile, New Hebrides, Kermadec, and the deepest known part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

trenches globe(Jamieson et al., RSOS, 2019)

Each of these landers is equipped with monitoring and sampling equipment; when they were pulled back to the surface, they had collected a variety of small marine creatures called amphipods for further study.

Between the six trenches, they had collected 90 animals that they studied further, looking for plastic in the hindguts – towards the end of their digestive tracts – to rule out any recent ingestion, such as on the way up from the bottom of the ocean.

They found plastic in the guts of 72 percent of the animals. That’s pretty bad. But it gets worse. The deeper they went, the more plastic they found.

From the New Hebrides Trench, plastic was found in 50 percent of the amphipods. But from the Challenger Deep, at a depth of 10,890 metres (35,730 feet), 100 percent of the animals had plastic in their guts.

“This study has shown that man-made microfibres are culminating and accumulating in an ecosystem inhabited by species we poorly understand, cannot observe experimentally and have failed to obtain baseline data for prior to contamination,” said marine scientist Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in 2017, when he revealed the findings.

“These observations are the deepest possible record of microplastic occurrence and ingestion, indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris.”

Last year, a plastic bag was spotted in the Mariana Trench. Now Jamieson and his team have published the results of their study, showing that this is not an isolated incident. Our garbage is making its way to the bottom of the ocean globally, and we should all be ashamed.

The plastic microparticles, on examination, were mostly semi-synthetic cellulosic fibres used in clothing. The team also found nylon, polyethylene, polyamide, and unidentified polyvinyls closely resembling polyvinyl alcohol or polyvinylchloride – PVA and PVC.

And it’s likely that these once-pristine ocean trenches are the last stop for our trash. Once it’s there, there’s nowhere else for it to go.

“It is intuitive that the ultimate sink for this debris, in whatever size, is the deep sea,” Jamieson said. “If you contaminate a river, it can be flushed clean. If you contaminate a coastline, it can be diluted by the tides. But, in the deepest point of the oceans, it just sits there.

“It can’t flush and there are no animals going in and out of those trenches.”

We don’t know what that means for the animals down there, but it may not be good. Ingestion of plastic rubbish is a known killer of sea turtles, and last year we saw multiple whales washed up onto shorelines, killed by plastic pollution.

For amphipods, a gutful of indigestible plastic could affect buoyancy and mobility, making them more vulnerable to predators. And down in the trenches, where food is scarce, the disruption of one source of prey could have a devastating domino effect.

It has impacts for research, too. Recent advances in technology have opened up hadopelagic exploration in unprecedented ways, and we’re finding all sorts of exciting new species, such as the Mariana snailfish discovered in 2017.

But humanity has been wreaking plastic havoc for far too long. According to a study published in 2017, by 2015 over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic had been produced by humans since the 1950s. Over 6.3 billion of those tons had been discarded – ending up in landfill or the natural environment.

It’s hard to know exactly how much is making its way into the ocean, but a 2015 study found that the figure was up to 12.7 million metric tons in 2010 alone.

So we have never seen the Mariana snailfish as it existed in an uncontaminated ocean.

“We have no baseline to measure them against. There is no data about them in their pristine state,” Jamieson said.

“The more you think about it, the more depressing it is.”

“Excuse Me While I Lather My Child In This Toxic Death Cream.” (Sunscreen)


 

Summer is here, and now is the time we see massive amounts of people lather themselves up with sunscreen, alongside corporate marketing campaigns that stress the need of protection from the sun. Sure, we do indeed need protection to prevent sunburns, but you don’t want to block out all of the sun. It’s rich in vitamin D, and provides a number of other health benefits, which includes fighting cancer. It almost seems as if we’ve been made to fear the sun, and, as a result, adults and children are being drenched in a bath of toxic hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Why is this a concern? Well, it’s a concern because science has long shown that it doesn’t take long for whatever you put on your skin to enter into your bloodstream. For example, a fairly recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives shows a very significant drop in hormone-disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products, after switching to ‘cleaner’ products. These chemicals include oxybenzone, triclosan, parabens, phthalates, and more. The significant drop was seen after urine samples were conducted. You can read more about that and access the study here. All of these ingredients are found within most poplar sunscreens.

When it comes to sunscreen in particular, multiple studies from across the world have examined sunscreen, its contents, and what happens with regard to penetration and absorption after applying it to your skin. One example comes out of the faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Manitoba, Canada. The purpose of the study was to develop a method for quantifying common sunscreen agents. Results demonstrated a significant penetration of all sunscreen agents into the skin. Basically, all of these chemicals are entering multiple tissues within the body. (source)

So, the next question becomes, are the ingredients used to make sunscreen, which are entering into our bloodstream, something to be concerned about? The science given to us by the corporations will say that no, there is nothing to be concerned about. By now, one should know not to trust these corporations when it comes to their product explanations. It wasn’t long ago that Johnson & Johnson was recently found guilty of knowingly having a cancer-causing baby powder on the market. You can read more about that here.

This is precisely why we wanted to bring attention to an  article written earlier this month published by the Huffington Post titled: “Excuse Me While I Lather My Child In This Toxic Death Cream.” In it, mother Sarah Kallies expresses her concern of the problems that are brought up with everything these days, and that we live in a world where everything seems to be bad for you. She expresses how being pro-active is not wrong, and that caring about these issues is not wrong, but that she is just ‘tired of it all,’ and how she doesn’t know if she is ‘getting it right.’ It carries the tone of ‘not caring’ and ‘what are you going to do at the end of the day.’

It was a great article, and it highlights the fact that we are dished a wealth of information that differs from source to source, on a variety of different topics. That being said, things that surround every aspect of human life that are potentially fatal to us and contribute to the rise in cancer, I’d think that’s one thing, out of many, that we should be paying attention to.

A number of studies have raised concerns about various chemicals found within sunscreens. Below are a few examples.

Oxybenzone

This could in fact be the most troublesome ingredient found in the majority of popular sunscreens. It’s used because it really absorbs ultraviolet light well, but it’s believed to be a major cause of hormone disruptions and cell damage, which could in fact promote cancer.

According to the Environmental Working Group:

The chemical oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic reactions. Data are preliminary, but studies have found a link between higher concentrations of oxybenzone and health harms. One study has linked oxybenzone to endometriosis in older women; another found that women with higher levels of oxybenzone during pregnancy had lower birth weight daughters. (source)

It’s true, which is why it’s important to do your research, as there are many studies out there on this chemical.  For example, one study done by the Department of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology at the University of Gottingen in Germany observed regulatory effects on receptor expression for oxybenzone that indicate endocrine disruption (hormone disruption).

A study out of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Zurich determined that oxybenzone, which blocks ultraviolet light, may mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and promotes the growth of cancer cells. (source)

A study out of the Queensland Cancer Fund Laboratories at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia recognized the significance of systemic absorption of sunscreens prompted by multiple studies. Researchers discovered that oxybenzone inhibited cell growth and DNA synthesis and retarded cycle progression in the first of the four phases of the cell cycle. They determined that sunscreen causes mitochondrial stress and changes in drug uptake in certain cell lines. (source)

A study published in the Journal of Health Science by the National Institute of Health Sciences in Japan examined UV stabilizers used in food packages as plastic additives. They found that some UV stabilizers in sunscreen products have estrogenicity in an MCF-7 breast cancer cell assay as well as an immature rat uterotrophic assay. They tested a total of 11 UV stabilizers. 20 kinds of benzophenones were tested using the same assay to demonstrate their estrogenic activity.  (source)

The list goes on and on.

Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A palmitate)

A study conducted by U.S. government scientists suggests that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight (NTP 2012). “Retinyl palmitate was selected by (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for photo-toxicity and photocarcinogenicity testing based on the increasingly widespread use of this compound in cosmetic retail products for use on sun-exposed skin,” reads an October 2000 report by the National Toxicology Program. (source)

This suggests, according to Dr. Merocla, that sunscreen products could actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer, because they contain vitamin A and its derivates, retinol, and retinyl palmitate.

Fragrance

Fragrance refers to a host of harmful hormone-disrupting chemicals mentioned earlier, like Parabens, phthalates, and synthetic musks.

Sun Exposure Can Protect You From Cancer

The Sun isn’t as bad as it’s marketed to be, however; that’s more so an attempt to encourage people to buy products. These corporations don’t really have an interest in protecting us (we’ve seen multiple examples of this). They just don’t care, and they would never tell us that sun exposure can actually protect against cancer. This has been made evident by several studies, which have confirmed that the appropriate amount of sun exposure can actually protect us against skin cancer. (source)

As many of you probably already know, humans require sunlight exposure for vitamin D. Sunburns do indeed cause a concern, and there are many studies that link sunburns to melanoma. Due to different factors, such as cultural changes and fear mongering, our skin is not used to large amounts of sun exposure like it was in the past. If you spend a large portion of your time in the sun, your skin adapts to build a natural immunity. We are naturally built to receive sunlight, and we have gone backwards in this regard. There are alternative ways to protect yourself from sunburns. You can buy natural sunscreens without harmful chemicals. Questioning big name advertisements is crucial to our health in these times of information awareness.

The depletion of the ozone layer only happens seasonally, in winter and spring. We are generally not out in the sun at this time, and do not usually apply sunscreen.  There are people who get melanoma who are less exposed to the sun than others. Research also shows that incidence of melanoma increases in people who are not exposed to the sun. The lack of vitamin D has a strong correlation to melanoma instances.

Only 10 percent of all cancer cases are attributed to all forms of radiation, and UV is a very small part of that (source). When we think of skin cancer we automatically want to blame the sun, but what about other causes of skin cancer that are out there such as arsenic, found in a number of things we ingest or work around (source). Not to mention pesticides, leather preservatives, and glass.

Sunscreens are a huge contributor to toxins in the body, being absorbed within seconds of application. Is it not important to know what you are putting into your body? We now live in a culture where we fear the sun, which is ironic considering it has created all life on Earth. It’s important to remember that fear eventually manifests as reality. The sun has many health benefits so using natural products will ensure that you receive these benefits while keeping your skin safe, ensuring that you aren’t absorbing the dangerous chemicals found in most sunscreens today.

Healthier Alternatives 

When shopping for sunscreens, be sure to read the labels and avoid buying sunscreens containing toxic chemicals. It may be tough to find, but a trip to a natural health store can often do the trick. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium minerals as opposed to the active ingredients listed above. Remember, the best sun protection is wearing clothing to protect you and finding shade. Only use sunscreens when absolutely necessary. It is not necessary you wear sunscreen every time you are out in the sun. Sunscreen does NOT allow the body to absorb any vitamin D from sunlight. So if you plan on being outside for a short period of time, skip the sunscreen and feed your body the vitamin D that will keep it healthy.

Coconut oil has been shown to provide an SPF of about 8 when it comes to sun protection.[1] This means that although it’s protection isn’t very high, it can help. If you were to apply it often, it would not only offer sun protection, but it would also hydrate the skin making it less susceptible to burning. You may also want to try combining natural sunscreens with coconut oil for protection. To do this, at the beginning of your long day out in the sun, use natural sunscreen, and after a few hours, try applying coconut oil to supplement the natural sunscreen and hydrate the skin.

Have you tried using coconut oil as sunscreen before? Or do you use other natural products? Share your results with the community as it’s very helpful for those of us looking for healthier options.

Watch the video.URL:https://youtu.be/K-J6562XEOI

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