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❤️ Insights for a Better Life

25% of all tweets denying the existence of the climate crisis are produced by bots

Oliver Milman, The Guardian »

The stunning levels of Twitter bot activity on topics related to global heating and the climate crisis is distorting the online discourse to include far more climate science denialism than it would otherwise.

An analysis of millions of tweets from around the period when Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement found that bots tended to applaud the president for his actions and spread misinformation about the science.

The study of Twitter bots and climate was undertaken by Brown University and has yet to be published. Bots are a type of software that can be directed to autonomously tweet, retweet, like or direct message on Twitter, under the guise of a human-fronted account.

Mediterranean diet increases good gut bacteria which is linked to healthy living

Half the participants were asked to eat more vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil, and fish – and less red meat and dairy.

Paul O’Toole, University College Cork

Since our everyday diets have such a big affect on the gut microbiome, our team was curious to see if it can be used to promote healthy ageing. We looked at a total of 612 people aged 65-79, from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland. We asked half of them to change their normal diet to a Mediterranean diet for a full year. This involved eating more vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil and fish, and eating less red meat, dairy products and saturated fats. The other half of participants stuck to their usual diet.

We initially found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had better cognitive function and memory, less inflammation, and better bone strength. However, what we really wanted to know was whether or not the microbiome was involved in these changes.

[…]

Many of the participants were also pre-frail (meaning their bone strength and density would start decreasing) at the beginning of the study. We found the group who followed their regular diet became frailer over the course of the one-year study. However, those that followed the Mediterranean diet were less frail.

The link between frailty, inflammation, and cognitive function, to changes in the microbiome was stronger than the link between these measures and dietary changes. This suggests that the diet alone wasn’t enough to improve these three markers. Rather, the microbiome had to change too – and the diet caused these changes to the microbiome.

[…]

Future studies will need to focus on what key ingredients in a Mediterranean diet were responsible for these positive microbiome changes. But in the meantime, it’s clear that the more you can stick to a Mediterranean diet, the higher your levels of good bacteria linked to healthy ageing will be.

Paul O’Toole, Professor of Microbial Genomics, School of Microbiology and APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork

This excerpt is from an article published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Solar energy has become so accessible that new farms are being built in the most unexpected places – like the Arctic

Jody Ellis, BBC »

Sited a few hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Willow farm gets less than six hours of daylight during the winter months. In January, the Alaskan solar company Renewable IPP switched this 10-acre farm on, making it the largest in the state. Its output is expected to be 1.35 megawatt hours per year – enough to provide power for about 120 average homes year-round. The farm is made up of 11 rows of panels, nine 133 kW rows and two smaller 70kW rows that were the farm’s pilot project.

The pace of climate change in the Arctic and its surroundings is much greater than other parts of the world, leading to an urgent need to reduce the use of fossil fuels and expand renewable energy options. Renewable’s four founding business partners met while working in Alaska’s oil industry. The four shared a mutual interest in renewable energy, with some of them having experimented with DIY solar projects at home. After generating power for their own homes, they wanted to find a way to expand solar within the state.

Consumer Reports has released their list of the 10 best vehicles for 2020

Five Toyotas (including the Lexus, their luxury brand), two Subarus, a Honda, a Kia, and a Tesla.

Tesla is the only American brand to make it onto the list.

Under US$25,000
Small Car: Toyota Corolla

US$25,000 – US$35,000
Small SUV: Subaru Forester
Hybrid: Toyota Prius
Midsized Sedan: Subaru Legacy

US$35,000 – US$45,000
Large Sedan: Toyota Avalon
Midsized, Three-Row SUV: Kia Telluride
Compact Pickup Truck: Honda Ridgeline

US$45,000 – US$55,000
Midsized SUV: Lexus RX
Sports Car: Toyota Supra
Electric Car: Tesla Model 3

The whole article is available on the Consumer Reports site.

Five ways hiking is good for you

  1. Hiking keeps your mind sharper than many other forms of exercise
  2. Hiking helps to keep you calm and happy
  3. Hiking helps your relationships
  4. Hiking can increase our creativity
  5. Hiking helps cement a positive relationship with the natural world

Jill Suttie, Greater Good Magazine »

The experience of hiking is unique, research suggests, conveying benefits beyond what you receive from typical exercise. Not only does it oxygenate your heart, it helps keep your mind sharper, your body calmer, your creativity more alive, and your relationships happier. And, if you’re like me and happen to live in a place where nearby woods allow for hiking among trees, all the better: Evidence suggests that being around trees may provide extra benefits, perhaps because of certain organic compounds that trees exude that boost our mood and our overall psychological well-being.

Hiking in nature is so powerful for our health and well-being that some doctors have begun prescribing it as an adjunct to other treatments for disease. As one group of researchers puts it, “The synergistic effect of physical activity and time spent in nature make hiking an ideal activity to increase overall health and wellness.”

Read the whole article to read more about the science behind the benefits of hiking.

Oil and gas firms ‘have had far worse climate impact than thought’

Jonathan Watts, The Guardian »

The oil and gas industry has had a far worse impact on the climate than previously believed, according to a study indicating that human emissions of fossil methane have been underestimated by up to 40%.

Although the research will add to pressure on fossil fuel companies, scientists said there was cause for hope because it showed a big extra benefit could come from tighter regulation of the industry and a faster shift towards renewable energy.

Methane has a greenhouse effect that is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period and is responsible for at least 25% of global heating, according to the UN Environment Programme.

Infants exposed to cleaning products are more likely to develop asthma later in life

Ben Cousins, CTV News »

The study, published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, used the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Cohort Study to determine the levels of cleaning product exposure for 2,022 Canadian infants in the first three months of their lives..

The researchers then assessed the children at the age of three to determine if they had developed asthma, wheeze or allergies. The researchers found an association between early exposure to cleaning products and a risk of asthma and wheeze, though there appears to be no such connection to allergies.

The Neighbors’ Window

Financial Times Video » Are we getting enough sleep?

Financial Times via YouTube »

A third of people in the UK get less than the recommended 7-9 hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But ostrich pillows, nap pods, wearable devices and sleep robots can all supposedly help. The FT’s Daniel Garrahan tests out some of the latest sleep solutions.

Milk. White poison or healthy drink?

Kurzgesagt, writing via YouTube »

Over the last decade milk has become a bit controversial. Some people say it’s a necessary and nutritious food, vital for healthy bones, but others say it can cause cancer and lead to an early death.

So who is right? And why are we drinking it anyway?

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