Guide to planet retirement

Download 78.35 Kb.
Date conversion23.11.2017
Size78.35 Kb.



IN THIS ISSUE: Page 1: Protect Against Zika Virus

Page 3: Gut Feelings

Page 6: Plastics Can Be Poison!

Page 6: Cosmetics Can Be Poison!

Page 9: Prevent Back Pain

Page 10 Sleep Your Way to Skinny

Page 10: 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud

Page 13: Pros and Cons of Recycling

Page 14: Pros and Cons of Planting More Trees

Page 15: Wild and Wooly

Page 15: Inspiration for Geezers With Dance Fever

Page 15: Inspiration from Out of This World


You can observe a lot by just watching.

--Yogi Berra

This is important! Readers in the Top Mosquito Cities should are at greater risks for mosquito-borne infections, including the incurable Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, West Nile virus, and dengue. The ranking is by incidence of the viruses:

  1. Atlanta

  2. Chicago

  3. Washington, D.C.

  4. Detroit

  5. New York

  6. Dallas-Ft. Worth

  7. Nashville, Tenn.

  8. Charlotte, N.C.

  9. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

  10. Boston

  11. Memphis, Tenn.

  12. Houston

  13. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

  14. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.

  15. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich.

  16. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., Asheville, N.C.

  17. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.

  18. Cleveland-Akron-Canton

  19. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

  20. Phoenix

  21. Richmond-Petersburg, Va.

  22. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

  23. Hartford-New Haven, Conn.

  24. Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourn, Fla.

  25. Charleston, S.C.

  26. Mobile-Pensacola, Fla.

  27. Indianapolis

  28. Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Mich.

  29. Bangor, Maine

  30. Philadelphia

  31. West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Fla.

  32. Columbus, Ohio

  33. Lansing, Mich.

  34. Knoxville, Tenn.

  35. Wayne, Ind.

  36. Tulsa, Okla.

  37. Baltimore, Md.

  38. Greensboro-High Pt.-Winston-Salem, N.C.

  39. Burlington, Vt.-Plattsburgh, N.Y.

  40. Portland-Auburn, Ore.

  41. Buffalo, N.Y.

  42. Shreveport, La.

  43. New Orleans

  44. LaFayette, La.

  45. Cincinnati, Ohio

  46. Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C.

  47. Birmingham, Ala.

  48. Austin, Texas

  49. Kansas City, Mo.

  50. Macon, Ga.

Don’t be complacent if you are in a city at the bottom of the list. It only takes one bite to get infected. And only a small percentage of infected persons show flu-like symptoms. Others feel fine and can transmit the virus easily, as it is found in blood, spit, and semen.

As temperatures increase, so will the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses. While June, July and August are the prime months for mosquito activity, mosquito season can begin as early as March in the southern part of the United States where temperatures are warmer. Mosquitoes affect people in every state in the U.S.

Most Common Mosquitoes in the United States:

  • Aedes Mosquitoes: The most common types of Aedes mosquitoes are commonly referred to as Asian tiger or yellow fever mosquitoes. They can carry and spread Zika virus, Chikungunya virus and Dengue virus. They are most common in the southern United States. Aedes mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and also bite at dusk and dawn.

  • Culex Mosquitoes: These mosquitoes are in every state and can carry and spread West Nile virus. They are most common at dusk and dawn.

  • Anopheles Mosquitoes: In addition to spreading Malaria, which has been considered eradicated from the United States, these mosquitoes can transmit dog heart worm and other viruses. They have been found in every state and are most active at dusk and dawn.

Zika virus has become a major concern over the past year after thousands of cases were reported in South and Central America, the Caribbean and American Samoa, and more than 190 travel-related cases were reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Scientists are working hard to find a vaccine for the viruses, but so far the only protection is preventing mosquito bites. Here are some things that you can do to help protect against mosquito-borne illnesses:

Eliminate Standing Water

  • Check gutters, buckets, toys and other containers, as mosquitoes can breed in just a few inches of standing water -- indoors and out. Zika was even found in an indoor pet’s water bowl!

  • Change water weekly in bird baths, fountains, potted plants and any containers that hold standing water.

  • Keep pool water treated and circulating.

Prevent Mosquito Bites

One of the best ways to get rid of mosquitoes is to control their population by limiting their breeding capabilities. When a mosquito sucks your blood, they are actually making their reproductive output more efficient. Without the isoleucine they extract from your blood, females can only lay 10 eggs at most. But with the isoleucine, they can lay up to 100. So the less you allow mosquitoes to bite you, the less of them there will be.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

  • Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents containing one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535.

  • Use mosquito netting around your bed if you like to sleep with open windows.

Eliminate Entry Points

  • Use air-conditioning when possible.

  • Close gaps around windows and in walls.

  • Repair and use window and door screens to help prevent entry.

Do mosquito traps really get rid of mosquitoes? I had one in the corner of my yard when I lived in Florida and it was amazing -- clearing an acre in every direction of mosquitoes. The trap was attached to a propane tank and slowly emitted a tiny amount of CO2 -- which is what attracts mosquitoes to animals like us! It worked so well that my neighbors all thanked me and you could tell right away when you were out of the “zone!” But, there is no "best mosquito trap" for all mosquitoes. The mosquito species, trap placement, wind velocity, population, etc. all affect performance.

You can also call a pest control professional. They can spray areas regularly where mosquitoes breed, including in gutters, etc. that are hard to reach.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control site ( for the latest information on known Zika-affected areas and updated travel alerts.


I was interested to read the latest on how microbes in our intestines can play games with the mind! Twenty-two men took the same magic pill for four weeks. When interviewed, they said they felt less daily stress and their memories were sharper. The brain benefits were subtle, but the results, reported at last year’s annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, got attention. That’s because the pills were not a precise chemical formula synthesized by the pharmaceutical industry. The capsules were brimming with bacteria -- probiotics!

Probiotics are bacteria in our intestines that are possibly working at more than just keeping our bodies healthy: they may be changing our minds. Recent studies have begun turning up hints about how the bacteria living in the gut can alter the way the brain works. These findings raise a question with profound implications for mental health: Can we soothe our brains by cultivating our bacteria?

Bacteria that make brain chemicals

Type of bacteria
Neural messengers


Dopamine, norepinephrine


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)




Norepinephrine, serotonin


Acetylcholine, GABA



By tinkering with the gut’s bacterial residents, scientists have changed the behavior of lab animals and small numbers of people. Microbial meddling has turned anxious mice bold and shy mice social. Rats inoculated with bacteria from depressed people develop signs of depression themselves. And small studies of people suggest that eating specific kinds of bacteria may change brain activity and ease anxiety. Because gut bacteria can make the very chemicals that brain cells use to communicate, the idea makes a certain amount of sense.  

Though preliminary, such results suggest that the right bacteria in your gut could brighten mood and perhaps even combat anxiety and depression -- “psychobiotics.” But no one knows the exact ingredients for a healthy microbial community, and the recipe probably differs from person to person. And it’s not always simple to deliver microbes to the gut and persuade them to stay.

Ted Dinan, the psychiatrist who coined the term “psycho­biotics,” made his discoveries by studying two dangerous bacteria (E.coli and Campylobacter) in the water supply of a Canadian town after a 2000 flood. About half the town’s population got ill for 10 days on average, and a handful of people died. But most of the population suffered from severe depression for years after the flood. Other notorious bacteria have been tied to depression, such as those behind syphilis and the cattle-related brucellosis, and not just because ill people feel sad, but because there’s something specific about an off-kilter microbiome that can harm mental health.

Studying germ-free mice

Bacteria in the gut may help brains develop, based on studies from mice born and raised without bacteria. These mice are different from normal mice in several key brain areas.

Striatum: In mice without bacteria, the flux of the neural messengers dopamine and serotonin is altered in the striatum, a brain area involved in movement and emotional responses. New connections may form more readily in the striatum too. These changes may cause bacteria-free animals to move and explore abnormally.

Hippocampus: Involved in memory and navigation, the hippocampi of germ-free mice have reduced levels of molecules that sense serotonin and the growth factor BDNF. These mice display memory problems.

Amygdala: Germ-free mice have changes in the levels of serotonin, BDNF and other signaling molecules in the amygdala, a brain structure involved in emotions. These alterations might contribute to an increase in risk-taking behavior.

Hypothalamus:  The brain’s stress responder, the hypothalamus, shows boosts in corticotropin-releasing factor and adrenocorticotropic hormone in germ-free mice. The changes might be related to the animals’ heightened stress responses.

The bottom line is that microbes influence behavior broad and complex and ways. And fecal microbes transplanted from depressed humans into lab rats transmitted depression and anxiety behaviors to the formerly carefree rodents. Rats that got a microbiome from a person without depression showed no changes in behavior. This suggests that microbiomes of people with depression differ from those of people without depression, raising the possibility that a diseased microbiome could be to blame.

By sheer numbers, human bodies are awash in bacteria. A recent study estimates there are just as many bacterial cells as human cells in our bodies. Just how legions of bacteria get messages to the brain isn’t clear, though scientists have already found some likely communication channels. Chemically, gut microbes and the brain actually speak the same language. The microbiome churns out the mood-influencing neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Bacteria can also change how the central nervous system uses these chemicals. Signals between the gut and the brain may zip along the “vagus nerve,” a multilane highway that connects the two. Although scientists don’t understand the details of how messages move along the vagus nerve, they do know that this highway is important. Snip the nerve in mice and the bacteria no longer have an effect on behavior, and when the gut-to-brain messages change, problems can arise.

Other communications channels appear to be open via chemical messengers, such as serotonin, and by molecules that travel via the immune system. 

So, how do we increase the good bacteria in our gut? One of the easiest ways to do so is through food: eating probiotics, such as yogurt or kefir, that contain bacteria and choosing a diet packed with “prebiotic” foods, such as fiber and garlic, onion and asparagus. You can also take probiotics in pill, powder, and even gummy form. This is a good idea especially after taking antibiotics. Combating stress may be another way to change the microbiome, so do some yoga, meditation, or just stretching.

For the complete article:

Plastics can be Poison!

I have written about this before, but more and more evidence is being published, so I am writing about this again. Bisphenol, more commonly known as BPA, is one of hundreds of endocrine-disrupting chemical found in most flexible plastic containers, consumer products, household carpets, cosmetics, etc. and is now acknowledged as the cause in adults of autoimmune diseases, including “juvenile” type 1 diabetes, and birth defects in offspring. Endocrine disruptors attack the pancreas in humans, causing fatigue, weakness, blurred vision. Triclosan, an endocrine disruptor, was used in Colgate Total toothpaste until last year. The U.S. Food and Drug administration still insists that BPA is safe, but the EU, US and Canada stopped using it in baby bottles.

That’s great for the babies, but the rest of use are exposed to as many as 12 BPA-type chemicals in cosmetics, fragrances, flexible plastic food and beverage containers, and conditions such as heat and deterioration can cause them to contaminate consumables.

Bottom line:

  • Use glass, ceramic or steel containers; every flexible plastic has an endocrine disruptor.

  • Never microwave food or drink in flexible plastic because the heat can cause a degree of leaching of the chemicals into the food or drink -- and the effect can be cumulative.

For more info:


Makeup is supposed to make you look even more beautiful, but that beauty comes at a cost when you consider the toxic chemicals that are lurking in most brands of eye shadows, liners, mascaras, makeup brushes, eyelash curlers and false-lash adhesives. Nail polish too!

Experts say using these chemicals can lead to red, scaly eyelids, blood-shot eyes, dry eye disease, and serious long-term health conditions.

What’s more, although more than 1,300 chemicals are banned from cosmetics in Europe, only 11 are in the U.S.

Here are for 10 chemicals to avoid and ways you can find better alternatives.

1. Carbon black
Carbon black is a powder found in eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow and eyebrow shadow and has been linked to cancer and organ system toxicity.

It will show up on the label as carbon black, D & C Black No. 2, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black and thermal black.

2. Ethanolamine compounds
“The problem with ethanolamines is that they can be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund and director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

To spot ethanolamines, avoid products that contain ingredients with the letters DEA, TEA and MEA.

3. BAK
Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is a preservative found in eyeliner, mascara and makeup remover.  BAK is well documented to be toxic to the epithelial cells of the eyes. These cells keep dust, water and bacteria out of the eye and provide a smooth surface on the cornea to absorb and distribute oxygen and cell nutrients from tears to the rest of the cornea.

BAK can be listed under various names including benzalkonium chloride, quaternium-15 or guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride.

4. Prime yellow carnauba wax
Used in mascara and eyeliners to stiffen the product and make them waterproof, prime yellow carnauba wax clogs the oil glands in the eyes and can lead to dry eye disease, which affects 3.2 million women age 50 and older, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Using products that contain waxes isn’t a good idea, although Japan wax might be a safer alternative, said Dr. Leslie E. O'Dell, director of the Dry Eye Center of Pennsylvania in Mechanicsburg and Manchester.

5. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

Formaldehyde and preservatives that release the chemical are strongly linked to allergic reactions and cancer. Formaldehyde can be listed as such on the label but it might also be listed as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin and urea.

6. Parabens

I wrote about this in a previous Boomer’s Guide and went around my house throwing out shampoos, conditioners, and lotions. But they are also in eye make up. Parabens are preservatives that are used to prevent the growth of bacteria in makeup products, but they’re absorbed through the skin and easily transmitted into the bloodstream. They’re also endocrine disruptors and are linked to reproductive toxicity, early puberty and breast cancer. Parabens can also make dry eye worse since they prohibit the oil glands that line the eyelid from secreting enough oil, O’Dell said.

When reading labels, avoid anything with the suffix-paraben.

7. Aluminum powder
Used to give eye makeup its hue, aluminum powder is both a neurotoxin and has been linked to organ system toxicity. Makeup labels will list aluminum, LB Pigment 5 or pigment metal.

8. Retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate
Two forms of vitamin A, retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate, have been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity. They’re also found in anti-aging face creams and eye creams.

Even if you don’t have dry eye disease, you should avoid vitamin A. There are well-documented studies that show that it will kill the oil glands and once they’re gone, you can’t rebuild them.  

9. Heavy metals

Nickel and chrome are two heavy metals found in all types of makeup, especially in green or metallic shadows, as well as makeup brushes, even the expensive types, O’Dell said.

Heavy metals are neurotoxins that have been linked to brain damage. Nickel in particular has been associated with lung cancer and respiratory concerns. What’s more, up to 17 percent of women have a nickel allergy, which can cause dry, itchy eyelids, a red skin rash and watery blisters.

What’s problematic about these heavy metals is that because they’re often a contaminant of other products, they may not be listed on the label.

10. Titanium dioxide
Typically found in sunscreen, titanium dioxide is safe but when it’s in powder form, it can be problematic and is also a possible carcinogen. Titanium dioxide is labeled as such or as TiO2.

How to avoid chemicals in eye makeup:

Avoid waterproof.
Don’t use mascara and eyeliners labeled “waterproof” since they can lead to dry eye disease. If you’re using them because your eyes water a lot, it’s better to see your doctor first to figure out the cause.

Use coconut oil.
Coconut oil is gentle, natural and effective for removing eye makeup. Just put a bit on a cotton swab and wipe. 

Read labels carefully.

When purchasing makeup, choose brands with the fewest ingredients possible. Just because a product is labeled “hypoallergenic” or “natural,” doesn’t mean it’s safe. 

“There’s no legal definition of the word ‘natural;’ it’s a marketing claim,” Nudelman said.

What’s more, “organic” may only refer to the ingredients that are certified organic, not the entire product itself. And always avoid products that contain fragrance.

“One simple word can hide dozens and dozens of ingredients, some of which can be toxic,” Nudelman said.

Get an eye exam.

Whether you have symptoms or not, it’s always a good idea to see your doctor for an eye exam. Your doctor can detect issues before they become a bigger and give you a list of ingredients in makeup you should avoid.

Get an app.
It can take hours to read labels, compare products and find safe brands. Download an app like Good Guide, Think Dirty or the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living.

And don’t forget nail polish!

  • Before you get that pedicure so you can strut your flip flops, remember what vanity can cost you: exposure from the nail polish to ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, dimethyl adepate, heptane -- in addition to dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde — commonly referred to as the ''toxic trio," which have been linked to respiratory and skin problems, liver and kidney damage, birth defects, and cancer.

For more info:

Prevent back pain

I have been getting up at 5 AM just to watch a 20-minute Classical Stretch session with Miranda Esmond-White on PBS. If you have not heard of her, I highly recommend her amazing moves -- a mix between yoga, pilates and ballet. These moves are simple, no impact, and relieve pain as well as contribute to overall well-being. I don’t know what time she is on in your time zone, but here is her website:

According to Miranda, a Boomer who was a ballerina until she injured her foot, now trains professional athletes, Olympians, and people like us. Her main message is that the body will heal itself if aligned properly. Using her exercises, most low back pain tends to resolve on its own within a few weeks. Talk to your doctor about stretches, medications and other self-care measures to reduce your pain symptoms.

One of the best ways to prevent back pain is to keep your back muscles strong. Follow these steps to help protect your back and prevent back pain:

  • Do back-strengthening and stretching exercises at least 2 or 3 times a week.

  • Stand and sit up straight.

  • Avoid heavy lifting. If you do lift something heavy, bend your knees and keep your back straight. This way, your leg muscles will do most of the work.
  • Stay active. Regular physical activity can help keep your back muscles strong. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week.

  • If you are overweight, lose weight to help lower the strain on your back.

  • Try a yoga class.

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes your bones weaker and more likely to fracture (break). Spine fractures from osteoporosis are a leading cause of back pain.

There are different kinds of back pain.
Back pain can feel like a dull, constant ache or a sudden, sharp pain. Back pain often gets better on its own, but acute back pain is pain that lasts from a few days to a few weeks. It’s often caused by an accident, a fall, or moving something that’s too heavy. Acute back pain usually gets better without any treatment. Chronic back pain is pain that lasts for more than 3 months. It’s much less common than acute back pain. Most chronic back pain can be treated without surgery. 
Who gets back pain?

Most people have back pain at some point in their lives. It’s one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor or nurse -- especially as they get older. Without lifting, pushing, or pulling something that's too heavy, main causes of back pain include:

  • Have poor posture (don’t stand and sit up straight)

  • Aren’t physically active

  • Are overweight

  • Fall or have an accident

  • Have a health problem that can cause back pain (like arthritis or cancer)

  • Smoke

For more info: Reprinted on March 8, 2016, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, please visit


A poor night’s sleep can leave you feeling foggy and drowsy throughout the day. But sleep deprivation also makes you hungry, which leads to higher risks of weight gain and obesity.

Researchers have shown that sleep deprivation has effects in the body similar to activation of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system, a key player in the brain’s regulation of appetite and energy levels. Perhaps most well-known for being activated by chemicals found in marijuana, the eCB system affects the brain’s motivation and reward circuits and can spark a desire for tasty foods.

The researchers enrolled 14 healthy, non-obese people—11 men and 3 women—who were 18 to 30 years old. The participants were placed on a fixed diet and allowed either a normal 8.5 hours of sleep or a restricted 4.5 hours of sleep for 4 consecutive days. All participants underwent both sleep conditions in a controlled clinical setting, with at least 4 weeks in between testing. For both conditions, the researchers collected blood samples from the participants beginning the afternoon following the second night. When sleep-deprived, participants had eCB levels in the afternoons that were both higher and lasted longer than when they’d had a full night’s rest. This occurred around the same time that they reported increases in hunger and appetite.

After dinner on the fourth night, the participants fasted until the next afternoon. They were then allowed to choose their own meals and snacks for the rest of the day. All food was prepared and served in the clinical setting. Under both sleep conditions, people consumed about 90% of their daily calories at their first meal. But when sleep-deprived, they consumed more and unhealthier snacks in between meals. This is when eCB levels were at their highest, suggesting that eCBs were driving binge and overeating.

The researchers explain that self control is impaired when you haven’t had enough sleep, so you are more likely to eat junk food. Do that again and again, and you pack on the pounds.

Additional studies are needed to look at how changes in eCB levels and timing are affected by other cues, such as the body’s internal clock or meal schedules. For more info:


I have written about this before also, but fraud is still on the rise in the U.S. and around the world. Even if you know this already, this is a good refresher because scammers are bombarding us from all sides -- the phone, email, postal mail, and the internet -- to trick you into sending money or giving out personal information.

What to do to stop a scam:

  • Assume that everyone is trying to cheat you. It may be true, and it puts you on red alert.

  • Know who you’re dealing with. Try to find a vendor’s physical address (not a P.O. Box) and phone number. With internet phone services and other web-based technologies, it’s tough to tell where someone is calling from. Do an online search for the company name and website, and look for reviews. If people report negative experiences, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk.  After all, a deal is good only if you get a product that actually works as promised.

  • Know that wiring money is like sending cash. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the request a secret.
  • Read your monthly statements. Scammers steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name. Dishonest merchants bill you for monthly “membership fees” and other goods or services without your authorization. If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t okay, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor immediately. Even a $.10 charge could be a test run by a credit card thief.

  • After a disaster, give only to established charities. In the aftermath of a disaster, give to an established charity, rather than one that has sprung up overnight. Pop-up charities probably don’t have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activity. 

  • Talk to your doctor before you buy health products or treatments. Ask about research that supports a product’s claims – and possible risks or side effects. In addition, buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies. Otherwise, you could end up with products that are fake, expired, or mislabeled – in short, products that could be dangerous to your health. 

  • Remember there's no sure thing in investing. If someone contacts you with low-risk, high-return investment opportunities, stay away. When you hear pitches that insist you act now, that guarantee big profits, that promise little or no financial risk, or that demand that you send cash immediately, report them at

What not to do

  • Don’t send money to someone you don’t know. Not to an online seller you’ve never heard of – or an online love interest who asks for money. It’s best to do business with sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider using a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card.

  • If you think you’ve found a good deal, but you aren’t familiar with the company, check it out. Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what comes up — on the first page of results as well as on the later pages.
  • Never pay fees first for the promise of a big pay-off later — whether it’s for a loan, a job, a grant or a so-called prize.

  • Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You’re responsible for the checks you deposit: If a check turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for paying back the bank. No matter how convincing the story, someone who overpays with a check is almost certainly a scam artist.

  • Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information. It doesn't matter whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. Don’t click on links or call phone numbers included in the message, either. It’s called phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you got a message like this and you are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card – or your statement – and check on it.

  • Don’t play a foreign lottery. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery. And yet messages that tout your chances of winning a foreign lottery, or messages that claim you’ve already won, can be tempting. Inevitably, you have to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you must send money to collect, you haven’t won anything. And if you send any money, you will lose it. You won’t get any money back, either, regardless of promises or guarantees.

If you think you may have been scammed:

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: If you are outside the U.S., file a complaint at

  • Visit, where you’ll find out how to minimize your risk of identity theft.

  • Report scams to your state Attorney General.

  • Learn about what to know and do with scams in the news.
  • The FTC publishes a list of health related scams.

  • Learn how to limit unwanted calls and emails.

  • If you get unsolicited email offers or spam, forward the messages to

  • If you get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through the postal mail, take it to your local postmaster.

For more info: www.


After the Climate Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015, the nations of the world agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions. But recent research into the environmental costs and benefits and some tough-to-ignore market realities have even the most ardent of fans questions the current ideas of recycling.

Recycling, or using old things to make new things is usually a good idea. But scientists are showing that in the U.S. today, on balance, recycling does not benefit either the economy nor the environment. Local governments usually take responsibility for recycling. The practice can deliver profits to city and county budgets when commodity prices are high for recycled goods, but it turns recycling into an unwanted cost when commodity markets dip. And recycling is not cheap. According to economists, the energy, labor and machinery necessary to recycle materials is roughly double the amount needed to simply landfill those materials.

Right now, that equation is being further thrown off by fluctuations in the commodity market. For example, the prices for recycled plastic have dropped dramatically. Some governments that have been selling their plastic recyclables for the last several years are re-thinking their policies around the material now that they may have to pay for it to be recycled. It’s a decision being driven not by waste management goals or environmental concerns, but for economic reasons that could feasibly change in the next couple of years.

The solution, according to economists, activists and many in the design community, is to get smarter about both the design and disposal of materials, and shift responsibility away from local governments and into the hands of manufacturers.

Because most people dispose of used aluminum, paper, plastic and glass in the same way — throw them into a bin and forget about them — it’s easy to think that all recycled materials are created equal. But each material has a unique value to the manufacturer, determined by the rarity of the original resource and the price the recycled material fetches on the commodity market. The recycling process for each also requires a different amount of water and energy and comes with a unique (and sometimes hefty) carbon footprint.

One economist used Japan as his test case because the country makes available all of its municipal cost data for recycling. By evaluating the cost of recycling each material, the energy and emissions involved in recycling, and various benefits (including simply feeling good about doing something believed to have an environmental or social benefit), he came to the conclusion that an optimal recycling rate in most countries would probably be around 10% of most goods. 100% recycling is recommended only for aluminum, other metals and some forms of paper, notably cardboard and other sources of fiber. Optimal rates of recycling plastic and glass might be zero.

What’s the one word in the ‘60s and the same word today: Plastics

We may also need to find a way to decouple recycling from the commodities market. What’s happening with plastics right now is a good example of why. In the eastern U.S., to cite just one example, prices for recycled PET plastic fell from 20 cents a pound in 2014 to less than 10 cents a pound earlier this year, while recycled HDPE prices dipped from just under 40 cents a pound in 2014 to just over 30 cents per pound today. That’s thanks to a confluence of factors: oil prices have dropped from $120 in 2008 to less than $35 a barrel today; growth in the Chinese recycled goods market dropped from its typical steady, double-digit annual growth to 7% in 2015; and the dollar is strong, which makes American recycled materials more expensive than their European or Canadian counterparts.

Changing technologies can also play a role in determining what does or does not make sense from a recycling standpoint. Recycled plastic, for example, was largely used in carpeting 15 years ago, but these days more of it is making its way back into beverage bottles. Fifteen years ago there was zero recycled plastic going toward making new bottles. Now more is going into bottles because the technology has improved, we’re collecting more plastic, and consumers are more aware and are asking for more recycled content.

Although recycling may not be an optimal fate for plastics, neither is landfilling. For the last 20 years, governments and businesses have been looking into options such as reducing use and returning used materials to the source. Currently, Belgium, Germany, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and Canada have laws restricting the amount of materials used, container shapes, sizes and widths for packaging in about half of all disposable goods. Germany’s efforts reduced the total volume of packaging produced in the country by more than 1.1 million tons from 1992 to 1998 alone, representing a per capita reduction of 33 pounds. Most of that was a reduction in the use of plastics.

Meanwhile, scientists estimate that the oceans will contain more plastics than fish by weight in 30 years, and the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production, and 15% of the annual carbon budget. That’s why some countries — Sweden, for example — have come back around to the idea of incinerating garbage now that technology has evolved to reduce emissions from incinerators. Thirty-two garbage incinerators in Sweden now produce heat for 810,000 households and electricity for 250,000 homes.

Yes, Rachel Carson, it’s all about profits.

Some companies have already created their own take-back programs, motivated by innovation and market forces rather than regulation. For example, Shaw Floors and Interface routinely taking their carpet back to recycle it into new carpet. Coca-Cola made a commitment to use 25% recycled plastic in its bottles by 2015, a number it had to downgrade due to high cost and short supply of recycled material. Walmart is struggling to find the supply to meet its goal of using 3 billion pounds of recycled plastic in packaging by 2020.

Why not go back to recycling milk and Coke bottles? Sorry, those days are gone. Our conspicuous consumption is packaged in plastic.

For the full article:


We have all heard of the potential impact of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)—or the growing of crops, from grasses to trees, that can be burned at power stations for electricity while the carbon emitted is captured and stored.  But, scientists calculate that for the benefits cuts envisioned under the Paris Climate deal, crops solely for carbon removal would have to be planted on 1,060 million to 1,440 million acres of land—about one third of the total arable land on the planet, or half the land area of the United States. 

Such dependence on BECCS could cause a loss of terrestrial species at the end of the century perhaps worse than the losses resulting from a temperature increase of about 2.8 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Techniques to increase carbon sequestered in soil—for example, by plowing biochar, a form of charcoal, into agricultural plots -- would backfire, as the albedo, or reflectivity, of the darkened soil would be reduced, increasing the Earth's heat absorption significantly.

An alternative would be to add pulverized reflective rock-like silicate to the soil surface. But that entails a huge amount of rock. To cut 50 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere (a 12% decrease from current levels), countries would need to apply one to five kilograms per square meter of silicate rock each year to as much as 45% of the Earth's land surface area, mostly in the tropics.  The volume of rock mined and processed would have to exceed the amount of coal currently produced worldwide, at a cost of more than $60 trillion, with environmental degradation of adjacent water systems.

It looks like even our best efforts may not suffice to avoid dangerous climate change. A new study published last month in Nature Climate Change, researchers at Oregon State University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found that the longer-term sea level rise impacts due to climate change will continue well past the 21st century.  Given the long time scales of the carbon cycle, the authors said reducing emissions slightly or even significantly is not sufficient.  The targets must be zero - or even negative carbon emissions - as soon as possible to save the world. Increased research into the impact of carbon dioxide removal would be a good thing, as well as in promising technologies such as solar power.

For the full bad news:

Thanks to Karen for sending this touching and (spoiler alert) heart-wrenching 50-minute video about Timba, the orphaned baby elephant and Albert, his friend the sheep:
Click on the link, and smile:


A Beautiful Planet opened on April 29th in IMAX theaters. Directed by Toni Myers and made in cooperation with NASA, the film was shot by astronauts while on space missions over several months. From the International Space Station, they carried out research and space-walked to make needed repairs. And through it all, they took 3-D videos of our planet. For the film review and trailer with spectacular sights of islands, seas, cities, and the aurora borealis:

Please let me know how topics you would like covered in our next Newsletters!

All previous Newsletters are posted online on the homepage of

The database is protected by copyright © 2017
send message

    Main page