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On the News With Thom Hartmann: More Than 600,000 Miles of Arctic Sea Ice Have Disappeared, and More

Since 1979, more than 600,000 square miles of winter sea ice have disappeared — an area larger than twice the size of Texas.

In today’s On the News segment: The current rate of sea ice loss could lead to ice-free summers in the Arctic within the next two decades; a new study is identifying food that can help prevent chronic inflammation that leads to many causes of death; cells may carry the memory of an injury; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.


Thom Hartmann here — on the best of the rest of Science and Green News…

You need to know this… David Appell, Yale Climate Connections, is asking the question — Will the Arctic be ice-free within the next two decades? When white sea ice melts, the ocean loses its reflective surface and the darker water absorbs more heat from the sun. Kristina Pistone of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames Research Center says, “melting Arctic sea ice is not only a symptom of global warming, it’s also an important contributor because of the albedo effect.” So — when Arctic sea ice melts, the underlying ocean water absorbs more of the sun’s heat and warms up. Then that melts more sea ice, producing the dreaded “positive feedback” effect that’s only “positive” in that it generates more heat. Since 1979, over 600,000 square miles of winter sea ice have disappeared — an area larger than twice the size of Texas. Pistone said that rate of loss could lead to ice-free summers in the Arctic within the next two decades. This will be disastrous for local ecosystems, accelerate global warming and affect weather patterns worldwide.

Did you know there are foods that help with chronic inflammation? Well… A new study by the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, is identifying food that can help prevent chronic inflammation that leads to many causes of death. It now looks like diets rich in fruits and vegetables, that contain polyphenols, are the ones to look for. What are they? Onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea and açai berries for starters. How do they do this? T-cells, or T-lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell that circulates around our bodies, constantly monitoring for cellular abnormalities and infections. They contribute to cell signalling molecules (cytokines) that aid cell-to-cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. Cytokines are modulated by fruit and vegetable intake. Sian Richardson, was involved with this study, said polyphenols, “may help reduce the release of pro-inflammatory mediators in people at risk of chronic inflammation.”

According to a new study published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a chemical commonly used in the food manufacturing process, can increase fat storage in the body even before birth. This studies shows that the cell lines exposed to increasingly higher levels of BBP also showed higher levels of adipogenesis. This is how fat cells develop — and apparently they develop five-times higher, depending on the dose. Mahua Choudhury, Ph.D, who led this study, said, “We were quite surprised by the results. We had thought we would see some increase, but nothing this dramatic.” I’m surprised too. Aren’t you…? More than one-third of adult Americans are obese, and obesity contributes to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. It now looks like plastics may be contributing to this problem….

Let’s get geeky on music. Ever wonder what’s happening in a musician’s brain when they’re actually playing a song? What about when a musician starts improvising — starts playing music directly “off the cuff”? Thanks to the research from Dr. Charles Limb — an ear and throat doctor and surgeon who also happens to be obsessed with music — we now have a much better idea. Over the last few years — Limb put jazz musicians and rappers into MRI machines to see what’s happening in their brain when they improvise or freestyle rap. Inside of the MRI machine — he’d have them simply play scales followed by having them improvise on scales — and then he’d have the musicians play a memorized piece of music — and then finally he’d have them play an improvised version of that. What he found was when one of the subjects started improvising — parts of the brain that are associated with “self-expression” were activated — language regions and at times regions associated with visual imagery activated too. But what’s really interesting is that regions of the brain that are involved in inhibition — the parts of the brain that self-monitor and hold us back from saying and doing offensive or inappropriate things — were actually LESS active during improvisation. Limb points out, “Without this type of creativity, humans wouldn’t have advanced as a species.” He’s right, understanding creativity and how humans improvise — especially in groups — isn’t just fascinating: It’s critical to understanding how humans have been so successful as a species.

Can mushrooms treat depression? Looks like it. The Imperial College London, in a study gave patients psilocybin, a hallucinogenic chemical found in the mushrooms. Dr. Cahart-Harris of the study said a “majority of the patients had a rapid dip in their depressive signs, including predictable side effects like nausea, anxiety and headaches.” Looks like the mushroom’s psilocybin targets the brain’s receptors, which usually responds to the hormone serotonin, that is involved in mood.

Cells may carry the memory of an injury. A recent study by Science News, shows why chronic pain can last even when the injury that caused it has gone. Although the research is just starting, this could explain how small and seemingly harmless injuries leaving a molecular “footprint” which may lead to chronic pain.

Scientists have confirmed — a folk remedy repels mosquitoes. The American beautyberry plant, Callicarpa americana, keeps chomping insects away. Charles T. Bryson, an ARS botanist in Stoneville, Mississippi, said, “I was a small child, maybe 7 or 8 years old, when he told me about the plant the first time. For almost 40 years, I’ve grabbed a handful of leaves, crushed them and rubbed them on my skin with the same results.” Now it’s been been proven and the naturally chemical has been found that repels insects in this plant.

And finally… In closing — you can now drink beer and save ocean life. Cheers to that. Saltwater Brewery in Florida has collaborate with the New York-based ad agency We Believers — to create a plastic-free six-pack ring that feeds marine life, rather than hurting them.

And that’s the way it is — for the week of May 23, 2016 — on the Science & Green News….

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