Spring Issue April 2023
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Better Living Through Well Being

An urgent need for action was recently reported by the trustees of the board of the Social Security and Medicare programs in their annual report. This is the kind of news that gets easily missed when other more high profile stories are dominating the media. At the current pace, if no action is taken by lawmakers to implement reforms soon, severe benefit cuts to Social Security will be felt by 2034 and to Medicare as early as 2031. This is primarily due to the rapid aging of the U.S. population with the number of beneficiaries rising rapidly as baby boomers retire, and also because the persistently lower birth rates since the baby boom have caused slower growth of employment and GDP compared with the early days of the Federal social insurance programs.

Since the enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935, Americans have grown up with a sense of believing that social insurance for their future retirement income, disability benefits, and healthcare needs would always be there for them. Now the fact that projected costs of both Social Security and Medicare will grow faster than GDP through the mid-2030s is a reality that must start to be mitigated through strategic reforms to current federal law. The magnitude of the challenge to keeping the retirement program solvent over the next 75 years is illustrated by an estimate that dedicated revenues would need to be raised from an immediate permanent payroll tax increase, or that scheduled benefits would have to be immediately and permanently reduced, or a combination of the two would need to occur.

Another significant issue sought to be addressed by Congress is the need to fill the two public trustee positions on the board of the Social Security and Medicare programs that have been vacant since 2015. By law, there are six members of the Social Security and Medicare board of trustees to oversee the financial operations of their trust funds. Four of them serve by virtue of their positions in the federal government and its cabinet. So the only two who are members of the public at large are missing. This serious omission of public trustee positions needs to be remedied in time to have a meaningful role in preparing the 2024 annual report.


Science Moms is a nonpartisan group of climate scientists and mothers who aim to arm other moms with the tools and resources needed to act now and preserve our children’s future. They have launched an ad campaign as part of an ongoing effort to demystify climate change, talk honestly about its impact on families and give moms the information they need to help preserve the world for their kids. They have an action plan on their website for tackling climate change, encouraging moms to swap out dirty energy-powered items with clean energy versions.

Recently passed federal climate laws, like The Inflation Reduction Act and The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, allocate hundreds of billions of dollars toward making clean energy more affordable. By offering thousands of dollars of savings to households to purchase products like heat pumps, the Federal Government is finally equipping parents with the means to usher in a clean energy future. Key funds allocated to governments will institute additional needed changes like the electrification of school bus fleets.


The third annual ranking by MIT Technology Review Insights’ Green Future Index 2023 of how countries are progressing toward a sustainable, low-carbon future sees progress wavering as atmospheric carbon levels soar. Although there are clear leaders, the report reveals some uncomfortable truths about the link between wealth and a country’s ability to define its low-carbon future. However, commitment to improving sustainability is not limited to high-income countries, with developing nations such as Argentina and Indonesia making significant progress.


The loss of land surface reflectivity due to global warming in the Tibetan Plateau region could impact glacier volume and the Asian monsoon rainfall. An international research team has recently performed climate and glacier modeling to study the impacts of Tibetan Plateau surface darkening on its glacier volume as well as the climate of the surrounding and remote regions in Asia. Their predictions are crucial for informing policymakers in developing better management policies an water allocation strategies. The local and remote impacts of the surface darkening also includes an intensification of the “South Flood-North Drought” pattern in East Asia.


The 2022 Moving Forward Report issued by the National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council finds that decarbonizing the building sector will require a massive, strategic, and coordinated effort by the public and remote sectors. The building sector is a significant contributor to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, both in the U.S. and globally. One of the Consultative Council’s recommendations is that federal, state, and local governments and the building industry should increase investment in understanding and overcoming the challenges to decarbonization posed by the existing building stock.


Other articles of interest in this TMIS eNewsletter for Spring 2023:

* Sustainability and Impact Report provides a blueprint for carbon reduction in the transportation industry.

* International leader in responsible tourism highlights commitments for reducing its carbon footprint and eliminating food waste, among others.

* Annals of Family Medicine research papers highlight momentum for primary care physicians providing whole-patient care and outline characteristics of practicing collaboratively with behavioral health professionals.

* Recent survey shows Gen Z leads the veganism trend more than other generations, changing the health and food landscape as we know it, and causing the meat-substitute industry to grow into a billion-dollar business.

* New research shows daily dose of wild blueberries helps improve memory, executive function, and blood pressure in healthy older adults.

* Research paper’s findings in Fish and Fisheries provide important support for elucidating the physical-biological coupling mechanisms of mesoscale dyanamics and offer new insights for improving the prediction of fishery resources and potential fishing grounds.


I am grateful to be in a collaborative business with many talented and skilled professionals. Your feedback is always welcome.

- Mary Michele McLaughlin

From the Front Page of TMIS News
Click on links below to view Full Stories.

Ignoring Trustees' Warnings is Not Standing Up for Seniors
Washington, DC

The Concord Coalition has said that this year's reports from the Social Security and Medicare trustees demonstrate an urgent need for action to avoid severe benefit cuts by 2034 for Social Security's combined retirement and disability programs, and by 2031 for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance).

"Doing nothing to improve the financial outlook of Social Security and Medicare is not 'standing up for seniors.' It is political cowardice and fiscal malfeasance," said Concord Coalition executive director Robert L. Bixby.

"These two programs are enormously important for millions of American families who rely on them for current or future retirement income, disability benefits, and healthcare needs. Under current law, however, the only thing anyone can rely on is the certainty that Social Security and Medicare face sudden cuts if Congress and the president fail to act. It is deeply disappointing that lawmakers of both parties routinely ignore the trustees' warnings. With insolvency moving closer, they should make it a priority this year to find solutions that are both fiscally and generationally responsible," Bixby said.

As detailed in the reports, both programs contribute to steadily rising budget deficits while at the same time neither program can pay the full amount of scheduled benefits under current law. Ignoring the warnings in these reports will leave the public unprepared for changes that must inevitably be made to put these vital programs on a sustainable trajectory.

Full Story

Science Moms Launch $2 Million Campaign To Accelerate Clean Energy Transition
New York, New York

Science Moms — a nonpartisan group of scientists who engage moms in tackling climate change — announced the launch of a $2 million ad campaign. The campaign, dubbed "Cleanversations", seeks to spark conversations about the risks that dirty energy poses to kids' health and raise awareness of the resources now available to parents and local governments to help accelerate the transition to clean energy.

The new "Cleanversations" ads — entitled "Smoking Bus" and "Game Show" — will run through Earth Day on platforms like YouTube, Hulu, TikTok, Instagram, Out of Home, and several local TV and radio stations. This campaign is part of a consistent multi-million dollar media spend from Science Moms over the past two years to get moms off the sidelines and demand from their leaders a bold plan to stop big polluters. "Smoking Bus" dramatizes the connection between the toxic fumes found in diesel school buses and the same ones found in cigarettes, while "Game Show" taps into the over-the-top excitement a mom will feel when she discovers how huge the savings and health benefits of clean energy are for her children.

"Clean energy laws are good for our kids and the climate," said Dr. Lisa Patel, a pediatrician, the Executive Director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, and the newest member of Science Moms. "Kids are not just little adults — they consume higher quantities of food, water, and air per pound of body weight, making them uniquely vulnerable to pollution and extreme weather events. Thankfully, there is an army of moms who have shown, time and again, that they are able to move mountains in the name of protecting our children's future. Who is more motivated to get school boards to switch from toxic diesel buses to clean electric vehicles than moms?"

Full Story

MIT Technology Review Insights' Green Future Index 2023 third annual ranking sees progress wavering as atmospheric carbon levels soar
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Produced by MIT Technology Review Insights in association with Kyndryl, Intel, and Iris Ceramica Group, the Green Future Index (GFI) is the third annual comparative ranking of 76 nations and territories on their progress toward developing a sustainable, low-carbon future for their economies and societies.

Based on qualitative and quantitative research conducted between June 2022 and January 2023, the interactive Green Future Index 2023 measures the extent to which countries and territories are moving toward a green future by reducing carbon emissions, developing clean energy, innovating in green sectors, and preserving the environment, as well as the degree to which governments are implementing effective climate policies.

The key findings of the Green Future Index 2023 report are as follows:

Full Story

Third Pole Darkening Affects Local and Remote Climates, Finds a Report from the Third Pole Environment
Beijing, China

The loss of land surface reflectivity in this region could impact glacier volume and the Asian monsoon rainfall.

Owing to global warming effects, the Tibetan Plateau (TP) region has experienced drastic changes in its land surface, characterized by melting glaciers, loss of snow cover, and vegetation greening. These, in turn, have led to a darkening of the land surface, characterized by a lower surface albedo and higher absorption of shortwave radiation. This has resulted in increased surface temperatures, contributing to the surface darkening. However, the climatic and glaciological effects of such darkening over the TP have not been assessed or quantified.

Against this backdrop, an international team of researchers, led by Prof. Shilong Piao from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the new Third Pole Environment (TPE) leader, set out to investigate how surface darkening over the TP would impact regional as well as remote climates in Asia. Their study was made available online on January 03, 2023, and published in Volume 14 of the journal Nature Communications. "Given that the darkening trend of the TP is likely to continue in a warmer future, it is critical to close the knowledge gap on how it will influence the climate and glacier volume in the TP as well as in other remote regions," explains Prof. Piao.

The team adopted a high-resolution land-atmosphere global climate model (LMDZOR) and an open global glacier model (OGGM) to study the impact of TP surface darkening under a high-emission scenario. With this setup, they conducted two "experiments" to track the changes. The first was a control experiment with the present albedo values, while the second was a scenario experiment with future albedo values over the TP. Furthermore, they used LMDZOR-simulated near-surface precipitation and air temperatures to drive the OGGM for predicting the albedo-induced glacier melting by the end of the century.

Full Story

NIBS Consultative Council Issues Report on Decarbonization of the U.S. Built Environment
Washington, DC

The National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council has issued its 2022 Moving Forward Report, looking closely at the climate emergency and the path toward decarbonization of the U.S. built environment.

The report specifically examines embodied and operational carbon and greenhouse gases in existing buildings and new construction, providing realistic and effective carbon-reducing recommendations directly to President Joe Biden and policymakers, as well as to industry stakeholders.

"Human-induced climate change is a threat to human life and society, and steps must be taken across economic sectors to reduce the adverse impact of carbon and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions," said AC Powell, JD, CPS, President and CEO of NIBS. "Progress has been made, but there is still far to go."

The building sector is a significant contributor to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both in the U.S. and globally. These GHG emissions contribute to the widespread and worsening impacts of human-induced climate change, and can have adverse effects on local environments and populations by compromising indoor air quality and exacerbating outdoor air pollution. Mitigating these effects by decarbonizing the building sector will take an economy-wide effort, but the need to achieve near- and long-term emissions reductions is critically important.

Full Story

How data intelligence is tackling the climate crisis delivering better outcomes for the planet and the bottom line
London, England

Geotab Inc. ("Geotab") — a global leader in connected transportation solutions — has released its 2022 Sustainability and Impact Report, titled "Unlocking the power of data for a sustainable future," which outlines the company's environmental, social and ethical impact, and highlights how data intelligence is a key driver of success in the carbon reduction journey. The report also includes examples of how organisations in the transportation sector are starting and managing carbon reduction initiatives using data intelligence to inform their decision-making and transition.

"The transportation sector has one of the biggest global opportunities to truly impact the climate crisis. At Geotab, we are learning from our own efforts and feel privileged to share this knowledge, supporting our customers and partners with their sustainability goals through connected transportation solutions and data insights," said Neil Cawse, CEO and founder of Geotab. "This report demonstrates our commitment to continuously improving our sustainability practices to make a positive impact on the planet."

With over 3.2 million connected vehicles around the world, Geotab is uniquely positioned to help accelerate decarbonisation in the transportation sector by providing a full suite of data-driven tools and insights to support fleets on their sustainability journeys (including the EV Suitability Assessment (EVSA) and Green Fleet Dashboard), scaling electrification and technology innovation through education (such as the Geotab EV Drivers Handbook), and collaborating on research projects.

Full Story

Iberostar Group Reduces 24,500 Tons of CO2 in 2022 and Moves EVEN Closer Towards Achieving Decarbonizaton by 2030
Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Iberostar Group, an international leader in responsible tourism, has released its Wave of Change 2022 Year in Review to outline progress on its sustainability efforts. Among its achievements, Iberostar reduced 10% of its carbon footprint in 2022, equating to 24,500 tons of CO2 emissions.

In addition to the 2022 results, the report includes some of the company's most ambitious plans for 2023, including supporting a circular economy, promoting the consumption of responsibly sourced seafood and improving the coastal health of the ecosystems surrounding its hotels.

"The 2022 results are proof of our commitment to responsible tourism, generating value in our operations while maintaining quality and customer service, a commitment that is proving to be profitable," said Gloria Fluxa, Vice-Chairman and Chief Sustainability Officer, Iberostar Group. "Our progress towards achieving our 2030 Agenda is evidence of our commitment to real and tangible change in how we understand and enjoy tourism."

Full Story

Annals of Family Medicine: New Research Papers Outline the Importance of Whole-Person Patient Care, Identifying Where Gaps Are Occurring, and How to Close Those Gaps
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Momentum has been growing for primary care physicians to provide whole-patient care, which includes addressing their physical and behavioral health needs through team collaboration. Two articles published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine identify the characteristics of primary care practitioners and clinics that are more likely to close the gaps on uniting the two aspects of care, as well as a first-person essay that shows how integrated patient care can improve patients' overall health.

Characteristics of Family Physicians Practicing Collaboratively With Behavioral Health Professionals 

Research led by Sebastian Tong, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine, scanned questionnaire responses to determine the characteristics of family physicians who work collaboratively with behavioral health professionals. The team cited prior research showing that integrated behavioral health can improve mental health and overall health outcomes, patient care experience, and clinician satisfaction, while reducing health care use and costs.

More than 60% of the 25,222 family practitioners who responded to the questionnaire reported that they did not work collaboratively with behavioral health professionals. Physician characteristics that were significantly associated with increased odds of working with a behavioral health professional included being female and working as core/salaried faculty at an academic institution.

Full Story

7 Out Of 10 Gen Z Will Keep Being Vegan In The Next 5 Years - Gen Z Is Leading The Veganism Trend, Data Says
Indianapolis, Indiana

The plant-based food market is expected to continue to boom in the near future with Generation Z being the main driving force. But what does the future look like? According to a recent survey conducted by MIDDS, 70% of Gen Z will continue to pursue a vegan diet within the next five years.

MIDSS polled over 3000 Gen Zers to learn how this generation will shape the future of the food and health industry. Surprisingly, the majority are in favor of a vegan diet. And while they might not all want to be vegan themselves, it's clear that the vegan trend is going to continue to convert meat-eaters to a more plant-based diet. 

Gen Z is the population born between 1997 and 2012. Right now, they're in their pre-teens up to about 28 years old. They're the digital natives of the world; the first ones born into a fully digital era. They're also the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. History.

Full Story

New Study Reinforces Powerful Benefits of Wild Blueberries on Cardiovascular and Brain Function
Ornono, Maine

New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition further supports that daily consumption of wild blueberries improves episodic memory, executive function, and blood pressure in healthy adults. The 12-week clinical trial called BluFlow, led by Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, Associate Professor in Nutrition at the Department of Nutritional Sciences of King's College London, and Professor Claire Williams, Chair of Neuroscience in the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, investigated the cognitive and vascular benefits of daily wild blueberry consumption in healthy older individuals.

BluFlow Study Design & Results

The BluFlow, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial focused on healthy older men and women, ages 65 to 80. Participants were divided into two groups with one receiving a beverage made with 26 grams of freeze dried whole wild blueberry powder (equivalent to about ¾ cup whole berries, or 178 grams of fresh blueberries) and the other, a placebo matched for macro and micronutrients, as well as fiber, color, and taste. Both groups consumed their beverages daily at the same time over the course of 12 weeks.

Scientists found that daily wild blueberry supplementation for 12 weeks led to improvements in cognitive and vascular function. Specifically, those who consumed the wild blueberry beverage daily exhibited:

  • Improved episodic memory (AVLT immediate word recall)
  • Improved accuracy and quicker reaction time on switch task (executive function)
  • Improved peripheral vascular function (flow mediated dilation (FMD) and lower systolic blood pressure)

"In terms of vascular function, our results reinforce what we've found before in younger populations—that consuming wild blueberries improves blood vessel function as well as lowers blood pressure. We think the effects are driven by the blue pigments in blueberries, the anthocyanins, and we found increases in their metabolites in the blood and urine of the volunteers consuming wild blueberry. This study also documented increases in some beneficial bacteria in the gut that seem to be driven by wild blueberry consumption, although larger studies are needed to confirm the role of the gut microbiota on the beneficial effects seen here," explains Dr Rodriguez-Mateos.

Full Story

Researchers from Shandong University Reveal How Ocean Mesoscale Eddies Modulate Global Human Fishing Activities
Jinan, China

Fishing is one of the oldest forms of human use of the ocean, playing an important role in supporting food security and in national revenues and employment. Recently, researches from the Institute of Marine Science and Technology, Shandong University, China, have published a research paper entitled "Mesoscale eddies modulate the dynamics of human fishing activities in the global midlatitude ocean" in Fish and Fisheries. For the first time, this study quantified the global pattern of how mesoscale eddies affect fishing activities and found that fishing activities (mainly targeting tuna) in mid-latitude oceans exhibit opposite responses to cyclonic eddies and anticyclonic eddies. The study also proposed a novel "ecological conduits (barriers)" hypothesis related to mesoscale eddies to explain this phenomenon.

Mesoscale eddies are high-energy rotating water masses that are widely present in the upper ocean, with spatial scales ranging from 10s-100s km and typically lasting for weeks even years. The complex physical processes caused by mesoscale eddies, such as trapping, stirring, pumping, and mixing, dominate local biogeochemical processes. Generally, cyclonic eddies are considered to be regions of high primary productivity and conversely, anticyclonic eddies are thought to be impoverished "ocean deserts". Due to the changes in local environmental and foraging conditions caused by eddies, the distribution of high trophic organisms, such as fish species, are expected to be significantly affected, which in turn affects human fishing activities.

Clarifying the effects of mesoscale eddies on these high trophic organisms is key to the comprehensive understanding of the biophysical interactions in the ocean as well as the fishermen decision-making behaviors.

Full Story

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