Americans are more aware of climate change than ever (quick post)

“Two major new polls are in, and they both found that Americans are more attuned to the threats of climate change than ever before.
My colleague John Schwartz wrote about one of the big surveys, which was conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate
Change Communication. It found that about 73 percent of Americans believe global warming is occurring, a record high and a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015. Another record: The percentage of Americans who said global warming is personally important to them was 72 percent, an increase of nine points since March.
Those results mirrored a separate survey, from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, that found 71 percent of Americans believe climate change is happening. About half of those people said they found the science of climate change to be more conclusive than it was five years ago and the vast majority cited extreme weather as the main reason.
And the science remains dire. A new study, which my colleague John also wrote about, found that  Greenland is losing ice at a pace never before seen. The authors found that the ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. It’s part of a growing body of research, John noted, that shows the effects of rising global temperatures are mounting.”

(Lisa Friedman, New York Times, January 16, 2019)
Camp Fire, Paradise, California
Camp Fire, Paradise, California, USA
(Eric Thayer, New York Times)

Consumer DNA testing–no oversight, no peer review, only estimates (quick post)

In a recent test, identical twins received different ancestry profiles from each of five well-known consumer DNA testing companies; the results should have been identical.

The difference comes through the calculations done by the companies–the reference panels and algorithms used; data that is kept secret by the companies. Remember that the results of this kind of testing are no more than estimates; they are not precise scientific fact —

(Charlsie Agro and Luke Denne, CBC News, January 18, 2019).

Identical twins and consumer DNA testing

Consumer DNA testing and the placebo effect (quick post)

Research shows that receiving genetic risk information for Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, etc. through consumer DNA testing can change actual body physiology, exertion/endurance during exercise, and the feeling of fullness after eating “in a self-fulfilling manner.” “Effects of perceived genetic risk … were sometimes greater than the effects associated with actual genetic risk.”

The placebo and nocebo effects can be powerful —

(Bradley P. Turnwald, et al., Nature Human Behavior, December 10, 2018).

Consumer DNA testing can create a powerful placebo or nocebo effect.

Plants can recognize kin (quick post)

As with humans and other animals, the evidence is mounting that plants can also recognize genetic “kin” (other plants that are similar) and will adapt to help them in ways like constraining the spread of roots, changing the number of flowers produced, and shifting leaves to minimize shading of nearby plants. There is also evidence that rice and sunflowers planted with kin results in higher yields —

(Elizabeth Pennisi, Science, January 3, 2019).

Sunflowers can recognize genetically-similar plants.

Plastic waste (quick post)

What has happened with plastic waste?

It’s still a huge problem; but, while China and other countries have heavily restricted imports, countries like Malaysia and Turkey are now recycling-and incinerating-more. See the numbers from the UK —

(Roger Harrabin & Tom Edgington, BBC, January 1, 2019).

See also —

Now that China will no longer take it, the U.S. and other countries will have to deal with their own plastic waste

Plastic waste is still a huge problem