1284607055KSuKT3Worldwide, electric power-generating stations annually release about 12,000,000,000 tons of CO2 from the combustion of oil, coal and natural gas.

Home and commercial heating is responsible for another 11,000,000,000 tons, together releasing 23,000,000,000 tons of CO2, all contributing to climate change.

But what if that greenhouse gas were harnessed and converted into electricity?

“Why not?” was the response of Bert Hamelers and colleagues from Wetsus, the Dutch center of excellence in sustainable water technology.

The team used a capacitive electrochemical cell:

“Built roughly like a battery, the cell has two electrodes—one surrounded by a membrane that allows hydrogen ions to flow in and out, and the other that does the same with bicarbonate ions, produced when carbon dioxide is bubbled through water.”

They harvest the chemical energy in CO2 emissions using a two-stage process:

First, by pumping water flushed with CO2 through the cell, they caused the hydrogen and carbonate ions to flow into their respective electrodes.  The ion separation charged the cell and drove an electrical current.

Second, once the electrodes had reached their capacity to absorb ions, researchers pumped air-bubbled CO2 emissions from power plants, industrial smokestacks and residential heating worldwide through the cell, thus driving the ions out of the electrodes and back into the cell.

By repeating these two steps, the cell produces electrical power.

The potential for the new process could generate about 1570 terawatt-hours of power each year, about 400 times that produced by the Hoover Dam.

Like other hydroelectric power facilities, the Wetsus-produced electricity wouldn’t add to global carbon dioxide emissions.

Source:   Smart Planet Daily, July 25, 2013        Science NOW, July 2013       Study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, July 25, 2013



KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s more to nature than meets the ear.

And when the calls of birds, insects and amphibians are recorded and translated by noted musician, educator and naturalist Lisa Rainsong, I promise that you’ll experience the calls of the natural world in a new dimension.

Here’s the link to Lisa’s Greater Anglewing Katydids:


Lisa is an interesting and entertaining speaker; you can contact her through her website.


20412595-teenage-girl-eating-chocolate-barThe young woman mirrors my own enthusiasm and facial expression when I open a Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark candy bar.

In a new meta-analysis of recent studies, Luc Djousse, MD, DSc and colleagues from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that consumption of dark chocolate significantly lowered LDL (Lousy) cholesterol.

Overall, eating dark chocolate resulted in average lowered rates of 6.23mg/dL in total cholesterol and 4.9 mg/dl in LDL.  The cocoa had no effect on HDL (Healthy) cholesterol or on triglycerides.  Consuming dark chocolate produced more beneficial results than did drinking hot cocoa.

Despite the saturated fat and calories in chocolate, researchers believe it’s the flavanols (antioxidants) in dark chocolate that inhibit cholesterol absorption as well as the body’s receptors for LDL cholesterol.

Also, it’s possible that the saturated fat in chocolate is different from the fats that boost LDLs.  Stearic acid makes up 33% of the total fat in cocoa butter and more than 50% of the saturated fat.  Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory, observes, “Some lipid experts (and chocolate manufacturers) note that stearic acid is a ‘neutral’ saturated fat as it does not appear to increase LDL.”

He further commented that the new meta-analysis “ . . . “confirms earlier reports that dark chocolate/cocoa does not induce untoward lipid profiles and can even lower slightly LDL and total cholesterol as determined in randomized clinical trials.

“But note well that all these trials were essentially short-term in duration and some used quite high doses.”

OK, so how much dark chocolate can we consume without guilt?  Blumberg says, “The findings suggest that this indulgent treat can reasonably be included in a heart-healthy diet—in small amounts that do not increase body weight.”

 Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, August 12, 2013      Studies published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


17911661-hot-dogPancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.  Difficult to detect in its early stages, the frequency of its incidence is increasing.

Susanna Larsson, PhD, of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, and colleagues reviewed studies involving more than 2,000,000 people, 6643 of whom had pancreatic cancer.  They found an across the board link with processed meats—bacon, sausage, ham and lunch meats—and all patients with pancreatic cancer.

But the link between red meat consumption and pancreatic cancer existed only for men, perhaps because men consume larger amounts of red meat than do women.

The study suggests that processed meats likely affect cancer risk because of the compounds, including nitrites, used in curing the meat.  Other studies show that the chemicals induce pancreatic cancer in animals.

The team’s findings support the American Cancer Society’s recommendations to limit red and processed meat intake.

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter,  August 5, 2013       Study published in British Journal of Cancer, January 31, 2012


NCP photo for storyDamage along beach in Mantoloking NJ, five months after Hurricane Sandy  Photo credit Wendell A Davis Jr, FEMA

Researchers at the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University say that the best protection from rising sea levels and storms in the US is a combination of engineering and conservation.

Marine ecologist and lead author of the study, Katie Arkema, says “ . . . the traditional approaches to protecting our shorelines, such as seawalls, levees and coastal buffering, don’t always do a sufficient job.”  She and her team addressed the question of the role of coastal habitats in providing protection.

Their first step was to gather data from local, state and national agencies about which coastal habitats might provide protection to coastal areas during extreme weather.  The next step was to assess and rank the amount of protection offered by each area.

Then they studied tide gauge measurements from 1992-2006, Global Sea-Level Rise scenarios from NOAA and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report.

From the above information, the team created a Hazard Index to assess individual communities’ risks based on the effects of habitat type, shoreline type, wind, waves, sea-level rise, storm surge potential and topographic relief.

The results showed that as sea levels rise, natural defenses of coastal forests and shrubs offer significant protection in some areas.  Habitat offers less protection in other areas, probably because it can’t keep up with climate change.

Arkema notes that the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico areas are at highest risk from sea-level rise and storms because of their “ . . . low-lying habitats—mud flats and sandy beaches.”

Natural habitat is most protective of populations and property value in Florida, New York and California.  In fact, were that protective habitat lost, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts residents would be exposed to higher risk from storm hazards.

Vivien Gornitz of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, applauds the study.  She says it’s the first time that the habitat protection aspect of the US shoreline has been studied and demonstrates “ . . . the value of having as much natural habitat or coastline as possible in terms of potential protection against sea-level rise and storm surges.”

Gornitz wasn’t involved in the Stanford study.

SOURCE:  Earth Magazine, July 16, 2013   Study published in Nature Climate Change, July 2013


12927129-sad-coupleThough discussions of erectile dysfunction (ED) are becoming more mainstream, many men and women don’t have a good understanding of the condition.

Here are 4 important facts about ED:

1.  ED is often caused by diseases or conditions associated with aging.  Or it may be caused by side effects of medications used to treat the conditions.  It can also be caused by prostate surgery, stress, depression and problems associated with relationships.

2.  ED may be caused by tissues’ loss of elasticity and by the slowing down of nerve communication.

3.  Cardiovascular disease often leads to ED because clogged arteries affect blood vessels throughout the body, not just vessels of the heart.  In 30% of the men who consult their doctors regarding ED, the ED is the first clue that they have cardiovascular disease.

4.  The Massachusetts Male Aging Study suggests that there may be a natural ebb and flow of ED.  For some men, ED may occur, last for a considerable amount of time and then partly or fully disappear without any treatment.

Source:  Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, August 3, 2013


r7_brainatrophyalzMRIs of normal and atrophying brains Photo credit Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Numerous factors determine which people will develop Alzheimer’s disease and which won’t.  Factors such as age, family history and gender are beyond our control.  Those factors within our control are the pillars of a healthy lifestyle—exercise, good nutrition, an appropriate weight.

The factors that assure our physical health have the same effect on assuring our mental health.

Here are 5 steps to follow to keep Alzheimer’s at bay:

1.  Maintain a healthy weight by cutting back on calories and increasing exercise if you need to lose a few pounds.

2.  Measure your waistline.  A National Institutes of Health panel recommends women maintain a waist measurement of no more than 35 inches and men measure no more than 40 inches.

3.  Eat mindfully.  Eat heartily of colorful, vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables while cutting down on calories from sweets, sodas and refined grains.  Avoid unhealthy fats and mindless snacking.  Pay attention to portion size.

4.  Exercise regularly to control weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.   Walk briskly (4 mph) for 2.5 to 5 hours weekly, or jog (6 mph) for half that time.

5.  Monitor important health numbers.  Ask your doctor about your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and make sure you keep them in healthy ranges.

Source:  Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, August 10, 2013