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A major cause of global warming due to the greenhouse effect is the inefficient combustion of everything from coal and natural gas to charcoal and firewood used throughout the third world and the massive amount of smoke created by slash and burn agriculture. Attention is now being given to the fact that trace gases and soot (black carbon) are 25 to 4,000 times more potent warmers than carbon dioxide (CO2) alone and that curbing these emissions with use of more efficient burners and methods of refrigeration (other than HFCs) will have immediate effects on both air pollution and global warming. This is because trace gases and soot are short-lived pollutants. Once released, they remain in the atmosphere for just a short time, compared to the centuries of CO2, so cutting their emissions would bring much faster benefits than from CO2 mitigation alone. If we can reduce our emissions of methane by 50 percent, black carbon by 90%, and fully replace HFCs by the year 2030, we can cut projected global warming by half in the next 35 years.

Recognition for these and other significant scientific findings reflected in the Frontier of Knowledge Award in Climate Change, has been given to climatologist Veerabhadran Ramanthan, coming just one month after the historic Paris summit on climate change. Ramanthan says that the concentration on curbing the short-lived gases should not exclude efforts to curb CO2, but because limiting CO2 emissions alone will not deliver the Paris target, we need to “press the two levers.” In his view, trace gases and soot represent “a powerful card in our hand, and now is the time to play it.”

Climate change for Ramanthan “is an essentially moral problem which demands that we change our behavior as a society and start to think beyond ourselves and even our children; which means thinking about our own planet and those living far away.” Ten years ago, after working on climate change for over thirty years, producing ‘one bad-news paper after another,’ and then nothing being enacted from all of the scientific evidence, Ramanthan slipped into depression. Just then, he received a call from the Vatican inviting him to join the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This brought him into contact with important spiritual leaders and instilled a fresh optimism. “We scientists have no moral authority to tell others how to behave, but religious leaders have that authority. There are two points on which all religions agree: the protection of the poor, and the protection of nature, of creation. The struggle against climate change is a point of union between all religions, and also between religion and science,” Ramanthan said.


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Greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste could see a 10-fold net reduction by implementing the cold chain in developing countries. This declaration was made at this year’s World Cold Chain Summit in Singapore, along with a call to action to begin “The Age of Food Efficiency.” The summit is helping to connect a global dialogue on how accessible refrigeration can reduce food waste and feed a growing population with fresh foods that contain necessary micronutrients for good health and development.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve experienced the ‘Age of Energy Efficiency,’ taking the same power base that produces enough to feed 10 billion people, which is enough for those on the planet today and those that will join us in 2050, and in the process avoid more production and environmental emissions that come with it. The potential to extend food supplies, with the help of an improved green cold chain is extraordinary,” the sponsor said.

Read the full transcript from the Summit at http://naturalleader.com/programs/future-of-food/ .

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The U.S. Conference of Mayors has released this year’s survey of 22 major cities regarding issues of hunger and homelessness. Findings show that low wages is the leading cause of hunger and lack of affordable housing is the leading cause of homelessness. Despite improvement in the nation’s economy, more and more people with jobs still need emergency food assistance. Most cities expect the demand to increase moderately in the coming year, and most believe housing shortages will remain the same. The report calls for better use of resources and a broader policy response from Congress to address these issues using a comprehensive approach, including improving jobs, wages, income and strengthening child nutrition programs, which serve as the first line of defense.

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A study published in the journal, “Childhood Obesity,” has concluded that a child’s family income matters more than race in determining a preponderance for obesity. Obesity rates among adults and children in the United States have risen steadily in the past few decades. About 18.4 percent of 12-19-year-olds are overweight or obese and there is a 70 percent chance that childhood obesity will continue into adulthood. This is a concerning health issue because obesity can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and abnormal glucose tolerance or diabetes. Fortunately, grass roots efforts in collaboration with public and private partners is changing the tide in teaching students the importance of making healthy food choices and reducing time spent watching TV and video games.

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Other articles of interest in this Winter 2016 TMIS eNewsletter:

* Annual survey of nutrition experts predicts nutrition trends for 2016.

* Documentary film, “The Scientist,” focuses on Professor Raphael Mechoulam’s pioneering work with cannabis (begun in the 1960s), the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, and its clinical importance.

* Private company develops a non-toxic insecticide alternative for the cultivation of cannabis.

* CDC reviews the most pressing public health challenges of 2015 and previews plans for 2016.

* Multicare Health System in Washington state launches a new virtual care service with online diagnosis as a safe, fast, and affordable treatment option.

* Winter weather safety tips for electric and gas utility consumers.


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- Mary Michele McLaughlin


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