Friday, October 19, 2018

The passage of Hurricane Michael through the Deep South this week inflicted less damage than feared even though the storm came ashore as a Category 4--nearly a 5--with wind gusts of 155 mph.  Estimates of the economic cost are about $30-53 billion. That figure is exceeded only by Katrina, the most damaging hurricane in modern times:

The point to take away is that damaging storms will be more frequent and intense as the greenhouse effect radically alters the planet's climate system.  In fact, global warming is now viewed as a threat to national security by the military establishment.  Maybe this influential determination will be enough for the politicians to bring the US back to the Paris Climate Accord.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Australia's Other Reef

If you have been reading this space, then  you know about the bleaching crisis that is killing the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's eastern shore.  Australia is blessed by another great reef off its Indian Ocean coast and it is near pristine because of its remote location.  The Ningaloo Reef is slowly being discovered, however. Today more than 180,000 tourists each year bring over $140m to the Ningaloo region. People still fish but they also bring sea kayaks, snorkelling gear and surfboards. Tourism in the region is continuing to grow significantly and the main draw card is Ningaloo.  The Australian government's attention is also alerted as it develops plans for the exploitation of Commonwealth waters off its coasts. The Ningaloo Marine Reserve was extended by 400 kms in 2004 by the Western Australian provincial government.  But the Abbott government in Canberra has made no secret of giving priority to fishing and mining interests. 

There is a proposal to build a pipeline factory for the oil and gas industry in Exmouth Gulf next door to the world-heritage Ningaloo Reef.  If built pipe bundles destined for offshore platforms and subsea pipelines would be transported across the vast Gulf, endangering coral and hundreds of other species that use the gulf for foraging and nurseries.  The Gulf is virtually undeveloped and home to whales, dugongs, whale sharks, manta rays and extensive mangroves rich in biodiversity.  In 2010 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recommended the Gulf be considered for inclusion in the proposed Ningaloo world heritage site because of its importance as a marine nursey.  In 2011 Ningaloo Reef, one the world's largest near shore, was listed but the Gulf was excluded. The proposed project is being assessed by the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority.  One fishing guide said people do not come to wilderness places like Ningaloo to see a factory. Australia is running out of pristine places.  Ningaloo Reef is definitely on US Person's short list of places he wants to see.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Major Donation to Protect African Wildlife

enjoying a bender on Marula fruit, credit R. Couper
It will take a lot of money to protect dwindling wildlife populations from extinction because it is Mammon that is decimating their numbers.  A prominent wildlife conservation group, the African Wildlife Foundation has pledged $25 million to combat illegal wildlife trade across the continent in the next four years.  Turning the tide against the illegal trade in animal parts is at a critical juncture as underdeveloped African nations attempt to modernize their economies to support burgeoning human populations.  The aide provided by the Foundation will help.  Some populations of endangered and threatened species are beginning to stabilize according to Kaddu Sebunya, president of the organization attending a wildlife conference in London last week.  He also emphasized the need for African solutions to the loss of habitat an illegal poaching problems.

Current protection projects include training sniffer dogs to detect illegal shipments.  Training more rangers to patrol and protect is also on the agenda   Perhaps more importantly, AWF is funneling some of the money to judges and prosecutors to give them the capacity to arrest, convict and incarcerate sometimes politically connected and influential poachers and traders.

the boys tie one on, credit R. Couper
A positive development in the war on wildlife trade is that China's ban on ivory trading, in effect for nine months, seems to be having an effect.  The demand for ivory in the biggest market country is dropping according to a survey funded by the World Wildlife Fund.  According to that survey 72 percent of respondents said they would not purchase ivory compared to 80 percent last year before the ban went into effect.  Every year 30,000 African elephants were slaughtered to supply the Chinese demand for ivory.  The clamour grew worldwide for something to be done to prevent the elephants' extinction.   In 2015 the leaders of China and the US signed an agreement to end the illegal sale of ivory in their countries.  It is not clear from the survey what impact the ban is actually having on Chinese attitudes toward purchasing ivory.  Only about 8% of the Chinese know about the ban.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

This Week in the Russian Connection

credit: John Cole
BC Idonwanna sez: He run from dugout too!
The co-foundar of Fusion GPS, the Washington security firm that spawned the now famous Steale Dossier, Glenn Simpson, is refusing to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on the grounds of hisn 1st and 5th Amendment privileges.  He was subpoenaed to appear on October 16th at a private deposition by the Committee's chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Trump ally.  Stimpson's attorney said in a letter his client declined to answer committee questions,  because "This Committee’s inquiry is not designed to discover the truth. The obvious – and at times explicitly stated – goal of this Committee is to discredit and otherwise damage witnesses to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election..."

On another front, George Pappadopoulos, a former Trump aide whose campaign activities triggered an FBI counter-espionage investigation, has agreed to appear before the Committee voluntarily to testify.  His testimony is likely to provide more fodder for Repugnants who have accused former officials at the bureau of letting anti-Trump sentiment fuel the investigation.  To US Person these developments indicate that the Russian Connection has entered a primarily political arena in anticipation that Robert Mueller will issue an investigative memo showing the Rich Kid's culpability for obstruction of justice, and possibly conspiracy with foreign agents to illegally influence the outcome of the 2016 election.  In the words of one prominent Hollywood celebrity, "Our federal government has become a freak show."

Friday, October 12, 2018

COTW: Why You are Overweight

US Person posts this chart that shows by far the United States has the most obese persons than other developed countries:

Obesity is an increasing problem worldwide, but the United States leads in fat.  Why is this?  Several factors stand out as causes.  Modern life is more sedentary now than in the 4 million years man has inhabited the planet.  Most of that history was lived as hunter-gatherers who literally did not know when they would eat the next meal.  Consequently, our bodies evolved to store fat which would be converted to energy when needed.  Sedentary lifestyles are not conducive to burning off stored fat.  To make matters worse, when the body is confronted with a substance it is not programed to digest, such as synthetic ingredients in so-called "diet" foods, its default mechanism is to store the substance as fat tissue.  Exercise and activity is therefore essential to controlling weight gain.

Our bodies are inhabited by millions of microbes, some of which are beneficial and aid body function, while others are detrimental.  One of the bad microbes is Candida, which thrives on sugar. Our diets are loaded with extra sugar.  Most processed foods contain added sugar; carbonated beverages are the worse offenders.  Candida proliferates in our guts, feeding on the high sugar intake, thus imbalancing the operation of our digestive tract which depends on beneficial microbes to breakdown foodstuffs. Candida can cause a person to crave more sugar, similar to the experience of drug addiction.  Reducing sugar intake and ingesting beneficial microbes, or probiotics, can restore the proper operation of our digestive tract.  Processed foods are also loaded with preservatives which make it difficult for beneficial microbes to breakdown ingested foods.  Obviously preservatives prolong a product's shelf life, allowing more time for sale.  But biology dictates fresh food is best for human digestion.

Another supplement worth trying to control weight gain is digestive enzymes, particularly amalayse, lipase, and bromelain.  These enzymes are necessary to the chemical reactions that reduce nutrients to usable molecules that our bodies can convert to energy and muscle, not fat.  Consuming these enzymes can increase the digestive tract's energy conversion efficiency.  To give any benefit the enzymes must survive the stomach's high acidity, so look for enzyme complexes that are formulated to reach the intestines.

For some people,  emotional eating is a difficult problem to overcome.  When our system is stressed by anxiety, depression, or other emotional upset, our body prepares to "fight or flight", a biological reaction that is hardwired into our organism; the body stores fat for potential use in defending itself.  There are natural substances that suppress appetite.  One of the most effective is Caralluma Fimbriata, a succulent plant found in India and northern Africa.  Native hunters would consume the plant to allow them to go without eating for days. Ingesting the plant reduces the production of the hormone, ghrelin, preventing the production of a hunger-inducing molecule.  It is available now as a dietary supplement.

So if you are a couch potato who compulsively consumes sugary beverages and processed foods high in fat and carbohydrates while watching your team lose the big game or the latest plot twist in your favorite soap opera, you should understand why you do not  lose weight.