Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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Intermittent fasting can keep the body ‘young’ at a cellular level. Researchers at Harvard found that temporarily restricting diet keeps the mitochondria – an important part of the cell to health aging – in homeostasis, which in turn helps to improve lifespan. Last year, Newcastle University research confirmed the crucial role of the mitochondria in human cell aging, and therefore, the aging of our bodies. Mitochondria break down carbohydrates and fatty acids, giving energy to the cell. For this reason, they are often referred to as the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells. The Newcastle University researchers found that without their aged mitochondria, cells appeared younger. Mitochondria exist in two states, and when they are alternating appropriately between these two states, they are in homeostasis. The Harvard researchers found that mitochondria stay in homeostasis better when an organism – in their study, a nematode worm – has an intermittently restricted diet. At the same time, being able to swing as they’re supposed to from one state to the other is key to the longevity-enhancing effects of intermittent fasting. The researchers also found that intermittent fasting helped to coordinate the activities of the mitochondria with peroxisomes, other cell parts that have an antioxidant effect and contribute to longevity. This newfound understanding of how fasting works at a cellular level could be a key to discovering therapies that could be beneficial to extending life expectancies and keeping the body younger.
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There’s the much-criticised battery hen egg, and then the pricier organic and free-range varieties. But for the truly ethically committed, how about the carbon-neutral egg, laid in what has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly farm? Dutch stores are now selling so-called “Kipster eggs” laid at a shiny new farm. The intention is to rethink the place of animals in the food chain, according to Ruud Zanders, the poultry farmer and university lecturer behind the farm. Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil. The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people. “It makes no sense for us to be competing with animals for food,” Zanders said. “And 70% of the carbon footprint in eggs is accounted for by the feed for the chickens.” Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. By using waste food as feed, the farm is ... cutting deeply into its carbon footprint.
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Roughly forty percent of the world's population - 2.3 billion people - lives in water-stressed areas. Seawater desalination offers the potential for an abundant and steady source of fresh water. Large-scale desalination efforts began in the 1930s, though they relied on [an energy intensive] process known as multi-stage flash distillation (MSF). It wasn't until the late 1950s that the modern, membrane-based reverse osmosis (RO) technology came into existence. Currently, state of the art research is exploring the use of water-channeling proteins called aquaporins (AQPs), which the human body uses to ferry water across cellular membranes, as well as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for incorporation into RO applications. As of 2015, roughly 18,000 desalination plants were in operation worldwide. Today, RO is the most efficient and widely accessible means of desalination at our disposal. Modern RO systems consume around a third of the power required by older MSF plants. These two distillation technologies are not mutually exclusive and have been combined into hybrid MSF/RO systems. Take the soon-to-be-completed Al Khafji desalination plant in the UAE, for example. It will produce 60,000 cubic meters of water per day while drawing power from a grid-connected solar power plant spanning more than 119 hectares and generating up to 45.7MW of power. Not only do these hybrid systems reduce the plant's carbon footprint but up to 40 percent, they drastically reduce fuel costs.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Pollution kills more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. 16% of all the deaths in the world, as a matter of fact. And many of these are in China, where in 2015 it was estimated that the dense air pollution contributes to between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths every year. What happens when a regime on the more ... authoritarian [end] of the spectrum decides to take the environment seriously? We’re finding out in China, which has temporarily shut down 40% of its factories in the past year, and charged staff from over 80,000 of them with criminal offences for breaking emission limits. "[B]asically, you're seeing these inspectors go into factories for surprise inspections," Gary Huang from 80/20 Sourcing told NPR. "They're instituting daily fines, and sometimes – in the real severe cases – criminal enforcement. People are getting put in jail." “For those areas that have suffered ecological damage, their leaders and cadres will be held responsible for life,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy director of the Communist Party’s office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs. “Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”
Every two years, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), America’s official source for energy statistics, issues 10-year projections about how much solar, wind and conventional energy the future holds for the US. Every two years, since the mid-1990s, the EIA’s projections turn out to be wrong. Last year, they proved spectacularly wrong. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, and Statista recently teamed up to analyze the EIA’s predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIA’s 10-year estimates between 2006 to 2016 systematically understated the share of wind, solar and gas. Solar capacity, in particular, was a whopping 4,813% [or 48 times] more in 2016 than the EIA had predicted in 2006 it would be. The EIA regularly underestimates the growth in renewables but overestimates US fossil-fuel consumption. These estimates matter because they form the basis for actions by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. The agency’s “projections bear little resemblance to market realities” because they ignore publicly available evidence, argues the clean-energy non-profit Advanced Energy Economy. Michael Grunwald at Politico reports the EIA seems to base its projections on the assumption that renewable energy costs won’t fall much, when in fact they keep plunging.
Bhutan is arguably the world’s happiest country. It’s also one of the greenest. That’s no coincidence. In fact, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck developed his signature Gross National Happiness index based on four pillars: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance. Other countries have taken note, since the Himalayan kingdom is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative. Also noteworthy: This is happening despite increasing tourism. As a travel destination Bhutan remains unique, sandwiched between its heavily industrialized neighbors China and India. The isolated nation only opened up to foreign visits in 1974 and allowed TVs in 1999. Bhutan has built sustainability into its national identity. In fact, the constitution mandates that 60 percent of its landmass be maintained and protected as forest. “The health facilities in Bhutan are free and education up to high school is also free. For those who advance, the education is free until the [college] degree,” a representative of the Bhutan Tourism Council wrote in an email. There are many reasons Bhutan is carbon negative. Aside from its protected forests, it has won world records for planting the most trees per hour, says Erin Levi, the author of the forthcoming Bradt Travel Guide to Bhutan. “The ratio of people to land mass—it's about the same size as Switzerland with just one tenth the population. Its slow path to development—the first road was only built in the 1960s, which also means people were very slow to get cars,” Levi said.
Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.
The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant situated on the mid-Atlantic ridge, is the newest and largest geothermal plant in Iceland - a country that heats 90% of its homes using geothermal water. The plant has now become the first in history to capture carbon dioxide from ambient air, using a system of fans and filters, and then store it in bedrock 700 metres down. There the gas reacts with basaltic rock and forms solid minerals, creating a permanent storage solution, and turning Hellisheidi into a negative emissions site. The EU-funded project [is] capable of capturing 50 metric tons of CO2 each year. Christoph Gebald, Founder and CEO at Climeworks, said: “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous. Our plan is to offer carbon removal to individuals, corporates and organizations as a means to reverse their non-avoidable carbon emissions.′ It also costs $600 per ton of carbon dioxide, a figure they are hoping to reduce to $100 per ton. Iceland currently runs 100% of it’s electricity from renewable sources.
[Dale] Ross is the mayor of Georgetown, population 65,000, and he has become a minor celebrity in environmental circles as a result of a pioneering decision in 2015 to get all the city’s electricity from renewable sources. Georgetown’s location in oil-and-gas-centric Texas and Ross’s politics add to the strangeness of the tale. The mayor is a staunch Republican. “You should see the fan mail that I get, especially with the movies,” Ross grinned. The 58-year-old said the decision to follow the lead of Burlington, Vermont – the first US city to run solely on renewable energy – was not the product of liberal do-gooder vapours wafting up Interstate 35 from nearby Austin. It was based on cold-eyed pragmatism, the fruit of the kind of careful numerical analysis he performs in his day job as a certified public accountant. “The revolution is here,” he said. “And I’m a good little Republican, a rightwing fiscal conservative. When it comes to making decisions based on facts, that’s what we do.” The facts, Ross said, are that when Georgetown negotiated power supply deals the cost was about the same between natural gas and wind and solar, but the natural gas option would provide only a seven-year guaranteed contract whereas 20-25 year proposals were on the table from renewable providers. Georgetown officials decided to lock in a long-term rate to eliminate price volatility. [Energy] prices in the city, Ross said, have declined from 11.4˘ per kilowatt hour in 2008 to 8.5˘ this year.
One of the world's largest fossil fuel companies is betting on electric cars. Royal Dutch Shell revealed a deal on Thursday to acquire NewMotion, one of Europe's largest electric vehicle charging providers. NewMotion specializes in converting parking spots into electric charging stations. The Dutch firm has more than 30,000 electric charge points in Europe, [and] says its founding mission was to "contribute to a cleaner world by eradicating fossil fuels." Now, it will be owned by one of the world's largest fossil fuel companies, albeit one that is investing more on renewable energy. That makes sense because European investors and governments have been cracking down on oil's most reliable customer: the internal combustion engine. Norway, France, Germany and the U.K. have all announced efforts to phase out vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels. Shell is based in The Netherlands, where electric cars are popular and the government has set a target to boost sales even further. Barclays warned in a recent report that by 2025 oil demand could be lowered by 3.5 million barrels per day due to electric vehicles and increased fuel efficiency on conventional autos. If electric vehicles become one-third of the car market by 2040, oil demand could drop by 9 million barrels per day from today's levels, Barclays estimates.
Under a white tent on the shores of the Dead Sea, Huda Abuarquob's frustration melted away. Dancing arm-in-arm with thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women, she felt hope surround her. The women, who came together Sunday morning in the "Peace Tent," had marched through the desert to the lowest point on earth, to demand an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The march was the culmination of two weeks of events, attended by more than 30,000 women, throughout Israel and the West Bank, organized by Women Wage Peace, a grassroots organization calling for a "bilaterally acceptable political agreement." The last round of [peace] negotiations ... fell apart in April 2014, with the two sides blaming each other. A few months later, Israel and Gaza were at war. Women Wage Peace was founded in the aftermath of the Gaza war, when organizers felt there was a need for a different approach. "Something happened in 2014," said Yael Triedel, an Israeli who participated in the march. "The recognition that this is it. We have to do it. The leaders didn't manage to do it so far, and it's our responsibility to make it happen." On Sunday evening, tens of thousands of women gathered ... for the conclusion of the peace march. Former Knesset member Shakib Shanan, whose son was one of two border police officers killed near Jerusalem's holiest site in mid-July, spoke at the park. "We are allowed to say this out loud - we are lovers of peace.
Note: Don't miss pictures of this beautiful and powerful event at the link above.
There is a powerful reason that automakers worldwide are speeding up their efforts to develop electric vehicles - and that reason is China. Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars. That is forcing automakers from Detroit to Yokohama and Seoul to Stuttgart to pick up the pace of transformation. Beijing has already called for one out of every five cars sold in China to run on alternative fuel by 2025. Last month, China issued new rules that would require the world’s carmakers to sell more alternative-energy cars here if they wanted to continue selling regular ones. China has reshaped industries before. This, however, would be on a different scale. If China succeeds - and there is no guarantee - Beijing’s policy makers will be front and center reimagining the global auto industry. Already, China is the world’s largest maker and seller of electric cars. Chinese buyers are on track to snap up almost 300,000 of them this year, three times the number expected to be sold in the United States and more than the rest of the world combined. The country’s market heft is considerable. China buys more General Motors-branded cars than Americans do. Even for Tesla, the still-small American maker of luxury electric sedans, China has become the second-largest market, even though China’s taxes on imported cars are 10 times as high as those in the United States.
As balconies bristle with tree branches and sunshine dapples the leaves of thousands of plants, two apartment buildings in the heart of Milan have almost disappeared under lush forest. The brainchild of Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, the Bosco Verticale ... uses more than 20,000 trees and plants to adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom - a project now being exported all over the world. Cherry, apple and olive trees spill over balconies alongside beeches and larches, selected and positioned according to their resistance to wind and preference for sunlight or humidity. Boeri said the idea came from his obsession with trees and determination to make them "an essential component of architecture," particularly as a weapon to combat climate change. Boeri worked closely with botanists to create a nursery of a thousand trees that have been trained to grow under specific conditions. The team faced numerous challenges, from how the balconies should be structured to take the weight of the plants, to ... what needed to go into the soil. They even carried out resistance tests at a hurricane centre in Miami. "For every human being living in the building, there are about two trees, 10 shrubs and 40 plants," Boeri said. The vegetation soon transformed into a veritable wildlife park: 9,000 ladybirds brought over from Germany to eat parasites - to leave the plants pesticide free - multiplied over the space of a few weeks. "We did not expect ... the incredible amount of birds that nested here," Boeri said.
The countries of Chile and Niue just made a huge splash in the world of ocean conservation. Niue, a tiny South Pacific island nation with a population of roughly 1,600, has turned 40 percent of its exclusive economic zone into a marine park, and Chile added two new marine parks where fishing and all other extractive activities are banned. Together, the three new parks protect some 290,000 square miles of ocean - an area more than twice the size of Germany. The two countries will announce their new marine protected areas (MPAs) at the Our Ocean conference. The Niue reserve ... protects 49,000 square miles of ocean - more than 30 square miles for each man, woman, and child living on the island today. Like the similarly small Cook Islands, which have protected more than 700,000 square miles of ocean, Niue currently lacks representation in the UN. “It is no small feat for a small-island developing state to make such a tremendous and tangible contribution to ocean conservation,” says Brendon Pasisi, director of the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) project. On the other side of the Pacific, Chile has unveiled two new reserves that protect 240,000 square miles of ocean from fishing and all other extractive activities - a combined area nearly the size of France. “Chile is a fishing country, and most fisheries there are fully exploited ... but this government has realized that there is no future of fisheries without significant protection,” says National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala.
Google released a line of new products on Wednesday, including its first pair of premium wireless headphones, which can support live translation between languages. When the Google Pixel Buds are paired with a new handset, the Google Pixel 2, the earbuds can tap into Google Assistant, Google's artificially intelligent voice-activated product. In addition to the translation of 40 languages, Google Assistant can also alert users to notifications, send texts and give directions. The translation feature can be conjured by saying "help me speak French," or any other language. "It's an incredible application of Google Translate powered by machine learning - it's like having a personal translator by your side," [Google product manager Juston] Payne said. Payne and another Google employee demonstrated a conversation between someone speaking Swedish and another person responding in English. During the demonstration, one employee, speaking Swedish, had Pixel Buds and the Pixel phone. When the phone was addressed in English, the earbuds translated the phrase into Swedish in her ear. The Swedish speaker then spoke back in Swedish through the earbuds by pressing on the right bud to summon Google Assistant. Google Assistant translated that Swedish reply back into an English phrase, which was played through the phone's speakers so the English speaker could hear.
Note: Watch a demonstration of this new translation assistant in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
From seed banks to free food pantries, the little library movement is taking off in neighborhoods across the country. Audrey Barbakoff ... wanted a place for people to share and donate vegetable, flower, and herb seeds. Barbakoff, who works as a librarian on Bainbridge Island, Washington, thought that the public library was the perfect place to house a seed library. In 2014, the group and the library staff teamed up to build a seed shed right behind the Bainbridge branch. Residents bring their seeds to the library and the staff organize, label, and store them in the shed where people are free to take what they need. In March, Holly Dyck ... decided to host a clothes swap on campus. Her idea caught on with more than 50 students who gathered in a student lounge to swap clothes that had rarely or never been worn. Darla Bradish ... heard about the Little Free Library movement and imagined a similar concept, but with food. “I see the need for little free food pantries in my community,” Bradish says. “It’s hard for some people ... to get to the local food bank, so I thought why not place little food pantries in the neighborhoods.” Bradish got her program, Kitsap Neighborhood Little Free Pantries, approved by her county’s public health district and set up the first two little pantries. The success of her project led to the local corrections department offering to build her more pantry boxes. “One guy got his paycheck, but couldn’t cash it until the next day,” she says. “So, he came to one of the pantries to find out what he was going to eat for dinner.”
In March I went to see Henrik Poulsen, the boss of Dong Energy, in Copenhagen. Dong stands for Danish oil and natural gas. It was, like Shell and BP, involved in fossil fuel exploration and production. But in less than a decade it has become an 85% offshore wind company, and is divesting its coal, oil and gas interests. By 2023, Dong Energy will be very close to zero carbon. That is a pretty staggering transformation in a very short space of time. Talking to Poulsen made me realise that we were on the cusp of a quiet revolution. From being the most expensive form of renewable energy, offshore wind was fast becoming the cheapest form of large-scale, low-carbon generation bar none. As Poulsen said: “When you go 10 years into the future and you look back, I think we will look at these years, 2016, 2017, 2018, as the inflection point. I think we’ll look back and say wow ... Something happened for wind and solar energy during those years that completely changed the dynamic.” But he also said that “without the UK government and what they have done for the past five or six years, we wouldn’t have been where we are today. I’m glad to see that it’s paying off.” There’s a pleasing symmetry in fighting climate change, a truly enormous problem that remains invisible to most people in the UK, with offshore wind, an equivalently huge and equally invisible solution.
Colorado resident Michael Kent recently sat down at a tattoo parlor in Colorado Springs to have his swastikas covered up. Kent, a former neo-Nazi, credits an African-American parole officer named Tiffany Whittier with helping him to see beyond skin color and changing his views about white supremacy. “If it wasn’t for her I would have seeped back into it,” said Kent. “I look at her as family.” Whittier, 45, even inspired Kent, 38, to take down the Nazi flags he had hanging in his living room and replace them with smiley faces. “I’m not here to judge him. That’s not my job to judge. My job is to be that positive person in someone’s life,” Whittier said. Redemption Ink, a national non-profit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos, helped connect Kent with Fallen Heroes Tattoo in Colorado to begin the 15-hour process of covering his swastikas. The sterile environment is new to Kent who had his previous ink work done in prison. “I’ve never, never, never been inside of a tattoo shop getting a professional tattoo,” he said. Kent believes the painful process will help him move forward after spending years as a member of a violent skinhead group based in Arizona. As a father of two young children, Kent also hopes his children will see the world differently. “I don’t want my kids to live the life I lived and live with hate,” said Kent. “I want my kids to know me for who I am now—a good father, a hard worker, and a good provider.”
All you need is love. Love is all you need. I'm singing that old Beatles song in my head and trying to wrap my mind around a beautiful love-fueled relationship between members of Black Lives Matter and the most passionate Trump supporters. That word - love - came up in a conversation with Hawk Newsome, who represents Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. "At some point, we're going to have to talk to the other side," he told me. And realize, he added, sometimes the situation calls for "words, for love, for compassion, as opposed to words of anger." He realized that smack in the middle of hundreds of pro-Trumpers at the Mother of All Rallies event ... in Washington, DC. As Newsome and his fellow activists waded through the mostly white crowd, ready to do battle, something totally radical happened. A Trump supporter, speaking from a makeshift stage, invited him to speak. "We're going to give you two minutes of our platform to put your message out," the Trump supporter told Newsome. "Whether they disagree or agree with your message is irrelevant. It's the fact you have a right to have the message." "This was a first-time occurrence," [Newsome said]. "It was hostile before we were invited on that stage." But, when he took the stage and started shouting his beliefs and found that some in the crowd actually listened, that word popped into his head - love. It's a small thing, which shines the light on what we already know - love and compassion go a long way. We just have to listen to that song in our heads.
It is often said that money doesn’t bring happiness, but researchers may have found the two things that do – sex and sleep. The Living Well Index, developed by researchers Oxford Economics, found that spending time in the bedroom is a lot more significant than quadrupling your income. A poll carried out by the National Centre for Social Research found that the most rested people score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggled with their sleep. People who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives score seven points lower on average than those who say they were very satisfied. By the same metric, increasing household income from Ł12,500 to Ł50,000 results in an increase of just two points. The report ... said: “For the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of someone at the top of the index would be equivalent to them having over four times as much disposable income,” adding that sleep was the “strongest indicator of a broader sense of well-being”. Other factors include living in a strong community, job security and the health of close relatives. The analysis also found ... a strong association between happiness and having a young child at home. “Baby boomers” who were still in work were the second-happiest group because of good job security and a high standard of living. The survey of 8,250 adults also found that older people are objectively happier than younger ones – even when other factors, such as wealth and lifestyle, are controlled.
One September morning in 1983, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, a 44-year-old commanding officer with the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, saved the world from erupting into nuclear war. Petrov died on May 19 ... at his home in the Moscow suburb of Fryazino. According to the New York Times, he lived at his Fryazino home alone on a pension. How did Petrov “save the world?” On Sept. 26, 1983, Oko (the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellite system for nuclear attack) detected that the United States had launched five ballistic missiles, all headed toward the USSR. But as the alarms went off and screens flashing the word “LAUNCH” lit up, Petrov, who was just a few hours into his shift as duty officer at command center Serpukhov-15, remained calm. “For 15 seconds, we were in a state of shock,” he told The Washington Post in 1999. Petrov’s gut feeling ... led him to believe the launch reports were probably false. “When people start a war, they don't start it with only five missiles,” he remembered thinking. He said his decision to stand down ... was “at best, a ‘50-50’ guess.” And, as Wired Magazine put it in 2007, “he hoped to hell he was right.” That gut feeling and Petrov’s calm, common-sense analysis saved the world from potential catastrophe. The satellite that signaled the false alarm had picked up the sun’s reflection atop the clouds, mistaking it for a missile launch. After the classified incident became public ... Petrov went on to earn the German Media Prize in 2012 (other GMP winners include Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and Kofi Anan).
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.