A global team of researchers recently published an article in the scientific journal Nature detailing the state of our ocean’s health, and unlike most projections of the ocean’s future health, this paper cautiously explains that we can successfully restore the ocean by 2050—if we act fast.
The researcher’s point towards the remarkable resiliency of the ocean, which has been on display in the past year as whale populations have rebounded greatly. In fact, the proportion of marine species assessed as threatened with global extinction by the IUCN has dropped from 18 percent in 2000 to 11.4 percent in 2019.
The researchers identified nine components that are key to rebuilding the oceans: salt marshes, mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, kelp, oyster reefs, fisheries, megafauna, and the deep ocean. The scientists recommend a range of actions that are required including protecting species, harvesting wisely and restoring habitats. A big challenge is climate change, which is raising sea levels and making the waters more acidic. The amount of warming that has already taken place will likely make rebuilding tropical reefs quite difficult.
Another big question is money. The new study estimates that it will cost $10 to 20 billion a year to rebuild marine life by 2050. But the review also points out that for every dollar invested, the expected return would be $10. The authors acknowledge that governments have many other issues on their minds right now but they believe that rescuing the oceans is a very achievable goal. In other words, let’s get to work!
Cancer is one of humanity’s leading killers, and the main reason for that is it’s often hard to detect until it’s too late. But that might be about to change. Researchers have developed a new type of AI-powered blood test that can accurately detect over 50 different types of cancer and even identify where it is in the body.
There are just so many types of cancer that it’s virtually impossible to keep an eye out for all of them through routine tests. Instead, the disease usually isn’t detected until doctors begin specifically looking for it, after a patient experiences symptoms. And in many cases, by then it can be too late.
Ideally, there would be routine test patients can undergo that would flag any type of cancer that may be budding in the body, giving treatment the best shot of being successful. And that’s just what the new study is working towards. The test uses a machine-learning algorithm to search for specific chemical changes to DNA, called methylation patterns, that are associated with cancer.
This is found in the form of cell-free DNA (cfDNA), which is shed into the bloodstream from many cells, including tumors. The researchers started by training a machine learning algorithm on over 3,000 blood samples in the Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas (CCGA). Half of these had cancer – one of 50 different types – while the other half didn’t. Once the algorithm had learned what methylation patterns to look for, it was put to work on classifying a further 1,200 samples, of which half had cancer. And sure enough, the new test was largely successful, becoming more accurate for later stages of cancer.
It was able to detect 18 percent of stage I tumors, 43 percent of stage II, 81 percent of stage III and 93 percent of stage IV. It was also able to pinpoint which tissue the cancer had originated in with an accuracy of 93 percent, and importantly the false positive rate was just 0.7 percent. While the team says that the results should be generalizable to a larger population, more tests will need to be done in larger groups to further develop the test.
Coronavirus is unique because of its truly global impact, but with that said, it’s also exposing inequalities in our world. For many migrants, for instance, sheltering in a safe space is not always a possibility. Gaining access to healthcare is also not so simple.
To make amends for this, Portugal has temporarily given all migrants and asylum seekers full citizenship rights, granting them full access to the country’s healthcare as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus escalates in the country.
The move will “unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens” with applications pending with Portuguese immigration, meaning they are “in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory,” until June 30, the Portuguese Council of Ministers said on Friday. The Portuguese Council of Ministers explained that the decision was taken to “reduce the risks for public health” of maintaining the current scheduling of appointments at the immigration office, for both the border agents and the migrants and asylum seekers.
At a time where we need shared humanity, Portugal’s decision is a one that all countries should consider.
The clapping starts at 8 p.m. every evening. Across the world now, from São Paulo to Amsterdam, residents of cities confined to their homes by anti-coronavirus self-isolation measures are assembling on balconies, at windows, and in doorways to applaud the emergency service providers helping COVID-19 sufferers. Darkened streets that have most of the day been vacant and silent — emptied out by social distancing and lockdowns — alight with the glow from open drapes and fill with the sound of neighbors united in a common sound, if from a distance.
The health workers receiving the ovation deserve the appreciation — but the nightly applause isn’t just for them. It’s also a way for residents shut indoors to remind themselves that, just outside their doors, there is a whole community of people in the same situation. The way people band together in response to disasters is a key factor in a community’s ability to recover, and as we’re seeing, we humans are quite agile and creative when it comes to adapting community initiatives to a touch-free world.
On a larger scale, these efforts take the form of organized volunteer networks and mutual-aid groups that are mobilizing neighbors to help each other out with simple tasks that social isolation has made difficult, such as picking up medications, walking dogs, or just calling for a chat. Zoom out and you can see impressive systems forming, such as France’s 40,000-member volunteer website En Premiere Ligne (“In the Line of Fire”) or the more than 1,500 local mutual aid groups that have sprung up across the UK.
But social solidarity doesn’t just take place on a national scale. It’s the sum of countless gestures that keep communities up and running, many of them small and homespun. For instance, in Berlin, neighbors have turned local fences into sharing centers where people hang items such as clothes and food in front of their homes for other people who might need them. The fences have also been used as message boards for homeless people, communicating which open shelters are thoroughly cleaned daily and have enough space to practice social distancing.
All in all, while the coronavirus has certainly shaken the world, it has also shone a light on the power of community and its ability to help people in the face of a crisis.
To deal with stress, high performers from Tim Ferriss to Mark Cuban swear by taking the time to journal and reflect on their days. This is why journaling is even more powerful during times of stress—and why you should consider pulling out your pen and writing down your thoughts.
Your memory is unreliable: In Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s classic The Black Swan, there’s a great quote about journaling.
“While we have a highly unstable memory, a diary provides indelible facts recorded more or less immediately; it thus allows the fixation of an unrevised perception and enables us to later study events in their own context.” The point is that we can gather insights after something happened, but we don’t remember how we were processing things while they happened. By journaling, you can better process your thoughts and learn from them.
It is the only possible way to learn from the past: How did you navigate your biggest challenge, say, five years ago? Chances are you don’t remember the feelings you navigated, the insecurities you overcame or the ways you grew. If you do remember, your view has been shaped by almost 2000 days of experience. Your view is tainted, abstracted and revised. But if you take a moment to journal every day, you can use the lessons you learned from these corona experiences to deal with future moments of adversity.
In short, journaling is a perfect tool for crafting future wisdom.
Humans have evolved to thrive in partnerships, but even the earliest hunters and gatherers went their separate ways during the day in search of food. If modern-day relationships operate in a similar style of symbiosis to those of our ancient ancestors, then COVID-19 has effectively trapped us all in our caves. So how do you maintain a functional and positive relationship during extended periods of quarantine?
Back in January, we talked about the negativity effect: how evolution and the development of fight or flight instincts have trained our brains to react more strongly to negativity than positivity, and remember bad moments more vividly. Relationships follow this principle as well. As longtime partners find themselves sharing even more of their day together and newer couples experience cohabitation for the first time, it is all too easy to dwell on our partner’s negative traits, rather than all their positive ones. So what’s the cure?
The rule of four says it takes four positive things to outweigh one negative in our minds. So try recalling positive and happy memories or behaviors and focusing on what you love about your partner. A great way to do this is by looking back at old photos and memorabilia of experiences you have shared together. Never had the time to look at the pictures from that old vacation? Well, now is the time. This creates nostalgia, which researchers have found can actually improve one’s satisfaction with the present and make people more optimistic.
Rather than trying to be the perfect partner in these trying times, instead, focus on the little things. Consider cooking one of your partner’s favorite meals or organizing the junk drawer you have been meaning to get around to. Also, remember that this is a stress-inducing time for many of us. Before you react, think about how confinement and global anxiety could be affecting your partner’s words and actions.
For better or for worse, this is undoubtedly going to be a period of change for many couples. There is enough stress and uncertainty with everything going on in the outside world, bring positivity and cooperation into your home and allow your relationship to grow to its fullest potential. Enjoy this time together before work and busy schedules begin to impinge on it once again.
Yesterday we shared a story about how the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates society’s ability to act fast in the face of a crisis. If we choose to apply this amazing human capacity for action to the climate crisis, we may already have a bit of a head start with massive emissions drops due to the virus.
Researchers estimate that greenhouse gas emissions in Europe will drop 24.4 percent this year due to the coronavirus lockdown. The estimate by Marcus Ferdinand of Independent Commodity Intelligence Services parallels the estimated drop of 25 percent in China made by the Centre for Research in Energy and Clean Air. 24.4 percent would mean 388.8 million tons less of carbon entering the atmosphere.
The projection took into account reduced factory operations and lowered demands for commercial aviation. Italy, one of the first European countries to lockdown, did so on March 9th, closing down nearly all automotive and steel factories. Spain and France followed suit in mid-March and experienced subsequent drops in energy demand.
Power demand alone in Italy was down 10 percent by March 18th, and this is estimated to rise to 16 percent as warmer weather prompts residents to stop using their heaters.
Due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, airline traffic has decreased significantly. Lufthansa Group is only operating 5 percent of its originally scheduled flights at the moment.
Although these reductions are great news for the environment, they come at the cost of damaging economic effects. Ferdinand stresses that these estimates are preliminary and, while emissions are actively falling, the actual yearly drop remains to be seen. Hopefully, governments can look to these emission drops as a great starting place for rebuilding a post-coronavirus economy that promotes the well-being of citizens and the planet we live on.
Be it baking or needlepoint, since the start of the outbreak, quarantine has been encouraging many people to take up new hobbies as a means to keep busy and make their time at home a little more enjoyable. But what if there was a hobby that would help stave off boredom during self-isolation while also benefit the scientific community at the same time?
Well, guess what? It turns out that the pandemic can be a great opportunity for people to get involved in citizen science projects, in which non-scientists can lend their time to a sort of crowd-sourced research project.
One of them is the Galaxy Zoo — a project where astronomers capture new images of outer space, and participants help classify any galaxies that pop up, thus actively contributing to our broader understanding of the Universe.
Surveying the night sky can give astronomers an insurmountable pile of new information — and enlisting an army of volunteers can be a crucial part of figuring out what’s actually going on.
If you would like to be part of this amazing initiative and become a galactic explorer while cooped up at home, don’t hesitate to learn more about the project here.
Like many other public venues, cinemas have not been spared from the coronavirus shut down, leaving many moviegoers no other choice than to wait it out until they see the big screens again. But it appears that’s not necessarily the case everywhere.
A resourceful cineplex in Schertz, Texas, has unveiled this weekend its initiative to turn the parking lot of its closed movie theater into a “drive-in” cinema — providing movie fans an out-of-home outlet to watch recent Hollywood blockbusters.
Every evening, movie fans can park their cars in the theater parking lot and enjoy a film from the COVID-safe confines of their automobile. And the best of it, the screenings are free — tho reservations are highly recommended — and patrons can order food from the theater’s kitchen.
The cinema has taken significant measures to ensure the health of its patrons. Guests will have the opportunity to order menu items from the theater kitchen via a custom mobile ordering interface that was built specifically for this initiative. All payments are made through the app and no cash is accepted. When orders are ready, an EVO employee equipped with protective gloves brings the items to the driver’s side door.
As for the technical part of it, the exterior wall of the theater was painted with high-grain white paint for increased visibility and sound is transmitted directly to each vehicle through AM/FM radios. Everything else is also well thought through: indoor restrooms are available with sanitary and social distancing measures in place; films begin at dusk and end in time to meet the local area’s 10 p.m. curfew restriction.
The coronavirus may have brought the world to a halt, but initiatives like these serve as a testament that even in times of adversity the community spirit cannot be torn apart.
Last week we shared some yoga poses that help to bring you calmness. This week, we are sharing some grounding poses to help you conquer fear because you can never have too much beneficial yoga in your life, right?
These poses, shared by Yoga Journal, emphasize strength and centering to help you move past fear.
- Kapalabhati (Breath of Fire): Sit with your legs crossed and take a deep filling breath. Then, while maintaining the expansion in your chest, take fifty small, short, fast exhales through your nose to clear stagnation.
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Stand tall and ground your feet downward while maintaining engagement in your legs. Hold your arms at your sides and relax your jaw.
- Vrksasana (Tree Pose): Turn your leg out 45 degrees and bend to meet your calf or upper thigh with the sole of your foot. Press your palms together at your chest and practice on both sides.
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold): Stand with your feet hips distance apart and fold at the waist to let your head and arms hang heavy. Place a block under your head if you would like and experiment with rolling more of your weight into the balls of your feet.
- Plank Pose: Place your hand directly below your shoulders and walk your feet back until your body is parallel with the floor. Engage your legs and glutes and hold for five breaths.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose): From plank pose, raise your hips high to form a “v” with your body. Spread your weight through your entire hands and keep a microbend in your knees. You can try using a block under your head in this pose as well.
- Balasana (Child’s Pose): From a kneeling position, bring your knees apart and your toes together and sit back onto your heels. Stretch your hands out long in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor.
- Sukhasana (Easy Pose): Cross your legs while seated and hinge forward at the waist. Place a block under your forehead to rest your head on in front of you.
- Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold): Extend your legs out long in front of you and place a block between them. Bend at the waist and drape your torso over your legs, using the block to support your head.
- Savasana (Corpse Pose) With Additional Weight: Savasana is the relaxed position at the end of many practices where you simply lay on your back and free your muscles of tension. Use a bolster, pillows, or a rolled-up blanket to add weight on top of yourself while practicing savasana for added grounding.