Public Opposition to Fracking Grows Worldwide

By Paul Brown

Public opposition to pumping water and chemicals into the ground to extract gas from shale—the technique known as

fracking

—is growing even in the countries whose governments are most in favor.


Anti-fracking protests in London.

Although only four countries—France, Bulgaria, Germany and Scotland—have an outright fracking ban at the moment, many districts in countries that allow fracking in some areas ban it in others.

This is true

in the U.S.

and

in Canada

, where potential wells will not be developed because local authorities have refused permission.

The carrot for governments generally has been the promise from the fossil fuel companies of large quantities of cheaply-extracted gas that will last for decades and cut their reliance on imports.


Fracking Boom

This has certainly been true in the U.S. and Canada, where a large-scale fracking boom has altered the balance of world energy resources and

cut the price of gas

so much that both coal and nuclear have struggled to remain competitive in electricity production.

In theory,

China has even larger reserves of shale gas

and is anxious to phase out coal plants, actively exploring a cleaner home-grown gas industry of its own.

But allegations that fracking contaminates water supplies and creates small earthquakes have led to a backlash in local communities across the world.

In Algeria, for example, where water is extremely precious, it led to large-scale protests. And in Europe, a much more crowded continent where homes and villages are always close to the proposed drilling sites, there has been a lot of local opposition.

The issue has also become much more controversial because of the increasing awareness of

climate change

.

Exploiting new fossil fuel reserves is seen as being against the spirit of last year’s

Paris Agreement on climate change

, when all the governments of the world signed up to prevent dangerous global warming.

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Starting a new fracking industry seems incompatible with the declared aim of governments in keeping global temperature rise below 2°C.

The UK government, while signing up to the Paris Agreement, is enthusiastically backing fracking to provide a home-grown source of gas for 50 years, and has

overturned local authority objections

to allow exploratory wells to be drilled in Lancashire, northwest England.

However, the ban remains in place in Scotland because of public opposition and a large renewables industry.

But it seems unlikely that fracking will have an easy ride even in England. A

report by the University of Nottingham on public attitudes to the new industry

has shown that support has sunk to an all-time low in the UK.

It has dropped from 58 percent in favor in July 2013 to just more than 37 percent in October 2016—the first time that a majority of people has been against fracking. The surveys have been running annually since 2012.

The reasons for opposition are all environmental, because of local effects and also the unacceptability of more fossil fuels as an energy source.

While local environment concerns dominated early opposition, the wider implications of climate change and the issue of exploiting new fossil fuel reserves is becoming more important.


Downturn in Support

The survey asks whether shale gas should be part of the UK energy mix. Since this question was first posed in July 2013, shale gas continues to lag behind in popularity, compared with other energy sources. And according to this latest survey, it remains the energy source the public are least likely to want in the UK’s 2025 energy mix.

Professor Sarah O’Hara, of the

School of Geography

at Nottingham and co-director of the survey, said:

“The sharp downturn in support for the extraction and use of shale gas in the UK over the last 12 months is hugely significant, as is the fact that for the first time since we began running the survey in March 2012 more people are against shale gas extraction than in favor.

"It is clear that people are not only concerned about possible impact on their immediate environment, something that dominated early debates around shale gas, but importantly are beginning to think more broadly about the implications for greenhouse gas emissions and future climate change.”

Mathew Humphrey, professor of political theory at Nottingham’s

School of Politics and International Relations

and survey co-director, said: “The results of the survey show that the government will increasingly have its work cut out selling fracking to the UK public.”

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Will Coconut Oil Get Rid of My Acne?

By Kayla McDonell

Acne is a common skin disease that affects up to 80 percent of people in their lifetime.

It is most common among teenagers, but it can affect adults of all ages.


Coconut oil is high in medium-chain fatty acids that have been shown to kill the acne-causing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.


Shutterstock

Because of

coconut oil

’s many health properties, some people have started using it to treat acne.

This involves applying coconut oil directly to the

skin

, as well as eating it.

However, while coconut oil

has been studied

for

various health benefits

, very little research has examined its ability to fight acne.


What Causes Acne?

Acne forms when oil and dead skin cells clog up pores.

Pores are little holes in the skin, often referred to as hair follicles. Each hair follicle is connected to a sebaceous gland, which produces an oily substance called sebum.

When too much sebum is produced, it can fill and plug the hair follicle. This causes bacteria known as


Propionibacterium acnes


or

P. acnes

, to grow.

The bacteria get trapped in the follicle, which causes your white blood cells to attack it. This results in skin inflammation, which leads to acne.

Symptoms of acne include whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. Some cases are more severe than others.

Many factors contribute to the development of acne, including hormone changes, genetics, diet, stress and infection.


Summary:

Acne starts when oil and dead skin cells clog up skin pores, causing inflammation. Many factors contribute to this condition.


The Fatty Acids in Coconut Oil Help Kill The Bacteria That Cause Acne

Coconut oil consists almost entirely of

medium-chain fatty acids

(MCFAs).

MCFAs have strong antimicrobial effects, which means they can kill disease-causing microorganisms.

Almost 50 percent of the fatty acids found in coconut oil are the medium-chain lauric acid.

Lauric acid may help kill harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses in the body. On its own, lauric acid has been shown to kill

P. acnes

(

1

,

2

).

In one study, lauric acid was more effective at killing these bacteria than benzoyl peroxide—a popular acne treatment. It also showed therapeutic potential against inflammation caused by the bacteria (

3

).

In another study, lauric acid was combined with retinoic acid. Together, they inhibited the growth of the acne-causing skin bacteria (

4

).

Coconut oil also contains capric, caproic and caprylic medium-chain fatty acids. While not as powerful as lauric acid, some of these are also effective against the bacteria that cause acne (

5

).

This property only works when applying coconut oil

directly to the skin

, as this is where the acne-causing bacteria are located.


Summary:

Coconut oil is high in medium-chain fatty acids that have been shown to kill the acne-causing bacteria called

Propionibacterium acnes

.


Applying Coconut Oil to Your Skin Can Moisturize It and Help With Healing

Many people with acne suffer from skin damage, which can lead to scarring.

Moisturizing the skin is an important step in keeping it healthy. That’s because your skin needs adequate moisture to fight infection and heal properly.

Research shows that applying coconut oil to the skin can help relieve dry skin while fighting bacteria (

6

).

In fact, studies show that using coconut oil as a moisturizer is as effective or more effective than using mineral oil (

7

,

8

).

Additionally, coconut oil may help heal your skin and prevent it from scarring.

In one study, rats with wounds treated with coconut oil experienced less inflammation and increased production of

collagen

, a major skin component (

9

).

As a result, their wounds healed much faster.

Keeping your skin moisturized may reduce the risk of developing acne scars (

10

).


Summary:

Coconut oil effectively moisturizes the skin. It may also help heal skin damage and reduce scarring.


Eating Coconut Oil May Help Fight Inflammation

The fatty acids in coconut oil may also fight acne-induced

inflammation

.

Multiple test-tube and animal studies have demonstrated the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil (

11

,

12

,

13

).

These findings suggest that eating coconut oil may help reduce the redness and swelling of inflammatory acne.

However, this effect needs to be confirmed in human studies.


Summary:

Eating coconut oil may help reduce the inflammation associated with acne, but more research is needed.


Applying Coconut Oil to the Skin Is Not Recommended If You Have Oily Skin

Eating coconut oil isn’t problematic for most people.

However, some people apply it directly to the skin as a facial cleanser or moisturizer.

This may be beneficial against acne, but it’s not recommended for people who have very oily skin.

Coconut oil is highly comedogenic, which means it can clog pores. Consequently, it may actually make acne worse for some people.


Summary

: When applied to the skin, coconut oil may clog pores and make acne worse. It is not recommended for those with very oily skin.


Should You Treat Acne With Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which helps kill the bacteria that cause acne.

Applying coconut oil to the skin can kill acne-causing bacteria and increase moisture, which may also reduce acne scarring.

However, coconut oil may be problematic for people with very oily skin.

To avoid making the problem worse, you may want to check with a dermatologist before trying it out.

However, eating coconut oil is safe. The studies showing health benefits used two tablespoons (30 ml) per day.

If you

want to try it

, organic, virgin coconut oil is the best kind.


Reposted with permission from our media associate

Authority Nutrition

.

National Geographic: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Warming Arctic

The rate at which Arctic sea ice is shrinking due to

climate change

continues to make headlines as scientists monitor and predict what is “becoming a

journey into uncharted territory

.”



Recent data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed sea ice in the Arctic

hit its summer low point

, tying 2007 for the second lowest extent on record.

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With global temperatures on rise and already at levels not seen in

100,000 years

, melting Arctic sea ice is only expected to get worse as temperatures there are warming at least twice as fast as the global average. Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center,



said

he wouldn’t be surprised if the Arctic were “essentially ice free” by 2030.

“Dramatic and unprecedented warming in the Arctic is driving

sea level rise

, affecting

weather patterns

around the world and may trigger even more changes in the climate system,”

according to

the World Meteorological Organization.

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As part of his climate change documentary,


Before the Flood


,

Leonardo DiCaprio

visited the Arctic with National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Enric Sala to see for himself what is happening in the region.

While walking with DiCaprio on the edge of the sea ice in the high Canadian Arctic, Sala told him that “we will not be able to stand on the frozen sea anymore in about 25 years.”

Scientific projections, he said, show that by 2040 there’s going to be almost no sea ice left in the entire Arctic.

Sala sat down with National Geographic to answer five questions regarding the critical state of Earth’s sea ice, and what it means for us. Watch here:

​Join the World’s Top Climbers as They Ascend Mount Everest

Sports Illustrated is producing the first virtual-reality (VR) documentary series that will let viewers join a team of mountain climbers as they make the perilous ascent to the top of

Mount Everest

.

The series,

Capturing Everest

, follows four fearless climbers—including Garrett Madison, who summited Everest six times, and Brent Bishop, who summited Everest three times—as they make the two-month trek. Views will include those from cameras both strapped on the climbers and on zip lines around them.


“Capturing an ascent in VR makes the unattainable seem attainable while at the same time reinforcing the mythology of Everest,” Chris Stone, Time Inc. Sports Illustrated Group editorial director,

said

. “This production is both extraordinarily real and unreal all at once. We are thrilled to bring the viewer along for the odyssey.”

The series will debut in early 2017 on Time Inc.’s new

LIFE VR

platform and will also be released on SI.com in 360-degree video, according to

Sports Illustrated

, which partnered with

Endemol Shine Beyond USA

for the project.

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6 Reasons Eating a Vegan Diet Is Healthy for You

By Alina Petre


Vegan

diets are known to help people

lose weight

.

However, they also offer an array of additional health benefits.


Whole-food vegan diets are generally higher in certain nutrients.


iStock

For starters, a vegan diet may help you maintain a healthy heart.

What’s more, this diet may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Here are 6 science-based benefits of vegan diets.


1. A Vegan Diet Is Richer in Certain Nutrients

If you switch to

a vegan diet

from a typical Western diet, you’ll

eliminate meat

and animal products.

This will inevitably lead you to rely more heavily on other foods. In the case of a whole-foods vegan diet, replacements take the form of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

Since these foods make up a larger proportion of a vegan diet than a typical Western diet, they can contribute to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients.

For instance, several studies have reported that vegan diets tend to provide more fiber,

antioxidants

and beneficial plant compounds. They also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E (

1

,

2

,

3

,

4

).

However, not all vegan diets are created equal.

For instance, poorly planned vegan diets may provide insufficient amounts of essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine or zinc (

5

).

That’s why it’s important to stay away from nutrient-poor, fast-food vegan options. Instead, base your diet around nutrient-rich whole plants and fortified foods. You may also want to

consider supplements

like vitamin B12.


Bottom Line:

Whole-food vegan diets are generally higher in certain nutrients. However, make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs.


2. It Can Help You Lose Excess Weight

An increasing number of people are turning to plant-based diets in the hope of shedding excess weight.

This is perhaps

for good reason

.

Many observational studies show that vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans (

6

,

7

).

In addition, several randomized controlled studies—the gold standard in scientific research—report that vegan diets are more effective for weight loss than the diets they are compared to (

8

,

9

,

10

,

11

,

12

,

13

,

14

,

15

,

16

).

In one study, a vegan diet helped participants lose 9.3 lbs (4.2 kg) more than a control diet over an 18-week study period (

9

).

Interestingly, participants on the vegan diet lost more weight than those who followed calorie-restricted diets, even when the vegan groups were allowed to eat until they felt full (

10

,

11

).

What’s more, a recent small study comparing the weight loss effects of five different diets concluded that

vegetarian and vegan diets

were just as well-accepted as semi-vegetarian and standard Western diets (

17

).

Even when they weren’t following their diets perfectly, the vegetarian and vegan groups still lost slightly more weight than those on a standard Western diet.


Bottom Line:

Vegan diets have a natural tendency to reduce your calorie intake. This makes them effective at promoting weight loss without the need to actively focus on cutting calories.


3. It Appears to Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Improve Kidney Function

Going vegan may also have benefits for type 2 diabetes and declining kidney function.

Indeed, vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher

insulin sensitivity

and up to a 50–78 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (

7

,

18

,

19

,

20

,

21

).

Studies even report that vegan diets lower blood sugar levels in diabetics more than the diets from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Heart Association and National Cholesterol Education Program (

10

,

12

,

13

,

22

).

In one study, 43 percent of participants following a vegan diet were able to reduce their dosage of blood-sugar-lowering medication, compared to only 26 percent in the group that followed an ADA-recommended diet (

22

).

Other studies report that diabetics who substitute meat for

plant protein

may reduce their risk of poor kidney function (

23

,

24

,

25

,

26

,

27

,

28

).

What’s more, several studies report that a vegan diet may be able to provide complete relief of systemic distal

polyneuropathy

symptoms—a condition in diabetics that causes sharp, burning pain (

29

,

30

).


Bottom Line:

Vegan diets may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They are also particularly effective at reducing blood sugar levels and may help prevent further medical issues from developing.


4. A Vegan Diet May Protect Against Certain Cancers

According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by factors within your control, including diet.

For instance, eating legumes regularly may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by about 9–18 percent (

31

).

Research also suggests that eating at least seven portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day may lower your risk of dying from cancer by up to 15 percent (

32

).

Vegans generally eat considerably more legumes, fruit and vegetables than non-vegans. This may explain why a recent review of 96 studies found that vegans may benefit from a 15 percent lower risk of developing or dying from cancer (

7

).

What’s more, vegan diets generally contain more soy products, which may offer some protection against breast cancer (

33

,

34

,

35

).

Avoiding certain animal products may also help reduce the risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers.

That may be because vegan diets are devoid of smoked or

processed meats

and meats cooked at high temperatures, which are thought to promote certain types of cancers (

36

,

37

,

38

,

39

).

Vegans also avoid dairy products, which some studies show may slightly increase the risk of

prostate cancer

(

40

).

On the other hand, there is also evidence that dairy may help reduce the risk of other cancers, such as colorectal cancer. Therefore, it’s likely that avoiding dairy is not the factor that lowers vegans’ overall risk of cancer (

41

).

It’s important to note that these studies are observational in nature. They make it impossible to pinpoint the exact reason why vegans have a lower risk of cancer.

However, until researchers know more, it seems wise to focus on increasing the amount of fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes you eat each day while limiting your consumption of processed, smoked and overcooked meat.


Bottom Line:

Certain aspects of the vegan diet may offer protection against prostate, breast and colon cancers.



5. It’s Linked to a Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and fiber is linked to a lower risk of heart disease (

32

,

42

,

43

,

44

,

45

).

All of these are generally eaten in large amounts in well-planned vegan diets.

Observational studies comparing vegans to vegetarians and the general population report that vegans may benefit from up to a 75 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure (

20

).

Vegans may also have up to a 42 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease (

20

).

What’s more, several randomized controlled studies report that vegan diets are much more effective at

reducing blood sugar

, LDL cholesterol and total

cholesterol levels

than the diets they are compared to (

7

,

9

,

10

,

12

,

46

).

This may be particularly beneficial to heart health since reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels may reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 46 percent (

47

).

Compared to the general population, vegans also tend to consume more whole grains and nuts, both of which are good for your heart (

48

,

49

).


Bottom Line:

Vegan diets may benefit heart health by significantly reducing the risk factors that contribute to heart disease.


6. A Vegan Diet Can Reduce Pain from Arthritis

A few studies have reported that a vegan diet has positive effects in people with different types of arthritis.

One study randomly assigned 40 arthritic participants to either continue eating their omnivorous diet or switch to a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet for six weeks.

Those on the vegan diet reported higher energy levels and better general functioning than those who didn’t change their diet (

50

).

Two other studies investigated the effects of a probiotic-rich, raw food vegan diet on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Both reported that participants in the vegan group experienced a greater improvement in symptoms such as pain, joint swelling and morning stiffness than those who continued their omnivorous diet (

51

,

52

).


Bottom Line:

Vegan diets based on probiotic-rich whole foods can significantly decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Take Home Message

Vegan diets may provide an array of health benefits.

For the most part, the exact reasons why these benefits occur are not fully known.

That said, until further research emerges, it can only benefit you to increase the amount of nutrient-rich, whole plant foods in your diet.


Reposted with permission from our media associate

Authority Nutrition

.

Solar Power Weekly Roundup EP9 :: Saint Lucia Goes Solar, Cost-Competitive Solar, Energy-Efficiency Revolution, EBRD on Sun-Wind-Solar, US Gov Big Solar Purchase, Vote No on Amendment 1

Solar Power Weekly Roundup EP9 :: Saint Lucia Goes Solar, Cost-Competitive Solar, Energy-Efficiency Revolution, EBRD on Sun-Wind-Solar, US Gov Big Solar Purchase, Vote No on Amendment 1 Some of our favorite stories from around the web this week in the solar power industry. Solar Power Comes to Saint Lucia Island in the Sun: Saint Lucia Goes Solar The installation team prepare to install the final panel.     Cost-Competive Solar Power on the Way Cost-Competitive Solar Is Coming Soon to a Grid…

Read More

Solar Power Weekly Roundup EP9 :: Saint Lucia Goes Solar, Cost-Competitive Solar, Energy-Efficiency Revolution, EBRD on Sun-Wind-Solar, US Gov Big Solar Purchase, Vote No on Amendment 1 published first on Solar Solutions Team Blog

Climate Denial Collides With Extreme Weather

By John Hocevar

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew ripped through southeast

Florida

, doing more than $26 billion in damage and killing at least 65 people. At the time, I was working on a masters degree in marine biology in southeast Florida; several of my close friends lost their homes during the storm.

Our marine lab was at the end of a barrier island and there were so many overturned Australian pines along the road that it looked like someone had dumped a giant bag of Lincoln Logs. I remember helping friends move their belongings off houseboats and out of trailers to higher and safer ground, and the mint green color of the sky just before our transformer blew up.


Houses surrounded by water in St. Augustine, Florida Oct. 8 in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.


Marc Serota / Greenpeace

Strangest of all, I remember being asked to shoot holes in the deck of a yacht to try to put it on the bottom and prevent it from destroying everything else by being thrown around by wind and storm surge.

Two decades later, another devastating storm—

Hurricane Matthew

—has wreaked havoc in the southeastern U.S. and claimed more than 1,000 lives in Haiti.


The Link Between Climate Change and Hurricane Season

For a long time, the science has been clear that our reliance on fossil fuels has not only been heating our planet, but also fueling

bigger and more devastating storms

.

Hurricanes

Katrina

and

Sandy

helped make this real for millions of people, especially those who lost homes or loved ones in New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

It has also been clear for a long time that Florida, with its expansive coastline covered with high rise hotels and condominiums often just a few feet above sea level, is among one of the most vulnerable places in the world to

extreme weather

heightened by

climate change

.


Property damaged along the coast in St. Augustine, Florida Oct. 8 in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.


Marc Serota / Greenpeace

I studied coral reef conservation in grad school. At the time,

coral bleaching

was a new phenomenon, and no one had yet imagined that coral reefs might be driven to extinction in the coming decades. Much of Florida’s reef tract has been given State Park or National Marine Sanctuary status, but in recent years it has been dying so quickly you can almost watch it happen.

Climate-driven bleaching is one of the main culprits, with implications for a tourism industry that brings 100 million people and $50 billion to Florida each year.


Climate Change and the Politics of Denial

By outright

denying the science of climate change

and the threat it poses to his state, Florida Gov. Scott has utterly failed the people of Florida.


Now that the waters receded and the power is back on, we need to think carefully about whether climate deniers like Gov. Scott are suitable candidates to take responsibility for our future.

Instead of working to reduce carbon emissions and build strategies to cope with climate impacts like

sea level rise

, erosion,

flooding

, saltwater intrusion, insect-borne disease outbreaks and

extreme heat

, he has stuck his head in Florida’s sand. Famously, Scott even

banned state employees

from using the phrase climate change. This would be irresponsible anywhere, but in a state like Florida on the frontlines of the climate battle, it borders on criminal negligence.


Boats are damaged and sunk in St. Augustine, Florida, Oct. 8 in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.


Marc Serota / Greenpeace

Scott has been busy dealing with the impacts of Hurricane Matthew on Florida’s people, environment and businesses, which left

more than 1,000 dead in Haiti

and is the worst to hit Florida in decades.

Now that the waters receded and the power is back on, we need to think carefully about whether climate deniers like Scott—and his party’s presidential nominee

Donald Trump

—are suitable candidates to take responsibility for our future.

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For a growing number of people who suffer at the hands climate-denialist politics, the answer is clear.


John Hocevar is a trained marine biologist and an accomplished campaigner, explorer and marine scientist, John has helped win several major victories for marine conservation since becoming the director of Greenpeace’s oceans campaign in 2004.