From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jedediah-purdy/climate-apocalypse-andor_b_8131368.html
In the last week, a group of scientists and a prominent historian each predicted a climate apocalypse. The scientists, led by Ricarda Winkelmann of Germany’s Potsdam University, issued a paper finding that, if humans burn the rest of the world’s estimated fossil fuel reserves — which might take only another 140 years at current rates of increase — effectively all of the world’s ice will melt, and sea levels will rise some 160 feet, enough to change the surface of the planet and drown, among others, New York, London, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and all of Bangladesh.
Historian Timothy Snyder of Yale argued in the New York Times that climate change may bring us the next Hitler. If we ignore the warnings of science and don’t start investing in clean technologies, climate shocks will push countries into panic-inducing scarcity, inspiring everything from ethnic and religious conflict in Africa and the Middle East to imperial land grabs by a hungry and worried China. The Nazi precedent is at the heart of Snyder’s essay, which is titled “The Next Genocide.” For him, Hitler’s genocidal war for “lebensraum,” or “living space” for Germans, is a paradigm of an anti-scientific response to an ecological crisis. Snyder emphasizes that Hitler rejected scientific measures to increase crop yields and called for Germans to colonize Ukraine and the rest of Europe’s grain belt as protection against a food-poor future.
Taken together, these two warnings underscore the discomforting fact that the future of the planet is a political problem. The map of every coastline, the habitability or uninhabitability of the places where billions of people live today, will arise from policy decisions, as surely as if we were detonating those cities, or literally playing God and raising the seas with a word. This is only an especially vivid example of the new human condition, the Anthropocene, in which people are a geological force shaping the Earth. From now on, the world we inhabit will be the one we have made. We can’t decide to stop shaping the planet, but only what shape to give it. And the only way to decide deliberately and explicitly is through politics. Nothing else can bind and direct us in the right way.
And, as Snyder emphasizes, ecological crisis can make politics horrible. It can power the worst politics imaginable, to the point of genocide. But avoiding that awful future isn’t just a matter of accepting scientific guidance and opposing evil where it arises.
Instead, we can ask what kind of politics makes ecological crises less terrible. Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel laureate in economics, famously observed that no famine has ever taken place in a democracy. That is, a natural disaster isn’t simply a matter of drought or crop failure; it is a joint product of these events and political decisions: who gets the food, whether to let people starve. No democracy has let its own people starve — which is an abstract way of saying that democratic citizens have not let one another starve, or, more muscularly, have refused to be starved. There is a key here to a politics for the Anthropocene: a world of ecological crisis, where ecology is both a political problem and a political creation, must be democratic, or else it will be terrible.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jedediah-purdy/climate-apocalypse-andor_b_8131368.html
Alternatinve medicine is called quackery and is a dangerous fraud. As Tim Minchin says “There is a word for alternative medicine that works… Ah yes. It’s called medicine.”
By Susan Sered
September 4, 2015
Holistic healing sounds like a good thing. I certainly believe that each of us is far more than a cluster of discrete organs, bones and cells. I also believe that the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone; the mind and the body are a cohesive unit; that every illness experience is embedded in a wider social context; that environment matters; and that the manner in which a healer relates to a patient can result in widely different outcomes. And while we Americans may be suspicious that some brands of healing are nothing but quackery, unless the healer interferes with standard bio-medical treatment (for example, by telling patients they must stop receiving cancer chemotherapy) we tend to see holistic healing as benign” Even if it doesn’t “work” it helps people struggling with pain and disease feel better.
That assumption, I’ve come to see, needs to be looked at a bit more closely.
A number of years ago I conducted interviews with 46 Boston-area complementary and alternative medicine practitioners who told me during an initial phone call that they treat breast cancer patients.
Their healing modalities ranged from acupuncture to Zen shiatsu therapy and from homeopathy to past life regression.
All of the healers explained that bio-medical treatment alone is insufficient because it only targets the symptom (cancer) and not the underlying causes of the disease. (Only a very few of the healers actively discourage their patients from continuing bio-medical treatment.) The deeper, root causes identified by the healers cluster into a few categories:
*Elements of the modern environment or lifestyle that cause or contribute to the rise in rates of breast cancer; for example, air pollution, computers sending out electromagnetic rays which typically are parallel to the level of a woman’s breast, deodorants and antibiotics.
*Food and drink related causes such as alcohol abuse, dairy products, artificial sweeteners and gluten.
*Personal experiences and character traits including trauma, social isolation, lack of self-acceptance and feelings of resentment.
As I listened to healers (almost all of whom I very much liked on a personal level) I began to understand that through invoking these root causes the healers were actually reframing or expanding breast cancer from a discrete physical disease of a body part to a much larger problem potentially involving all areas of a woman’s life (and possibly her past lives as well).
By Alexandra Ossola
September 9, 2015
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on Wednesday that it will invest a total of $35 million toward research into dietary supplements. Five research centers will spend the next five years investigating the effectiveness of some of the most popular “natural” dietary supplements in the country.
This research is important because the medical benefits of many nutritional supplements are unproven, despite the fact that about one-fifth of Americans take them. Antioxidant supplements, for example, have been found to stave off cancer, among other diseases, in some patients but worsen preexisting lung tumors in mice. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower your risk of heart attack, or it could increase your risk of prostate cancer, or do nothing to stop cognitive decline. If any of these chemicals contains a miracle cure—or if health-conscious people are unwittingly hastening their demise—doctors should probably know.
Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who has written extensively about vitamins and nutritional supplements, sees the value in these sorts of studies, even if the result is negative—in the past, similar studies have shown that taking concentrated garlic doesn’t slow bad cholesterol, or that the herb saw palmetto can’t help an enlarged prostate. “When patients want to take [these supplements] physicians can say ‘Don’t do it, take a statin instead. And don’t take garlic because it’s “natural”—it just doesn’t work,’” Offit says. The term “natural” is deceiving, he adds, since most drugs are derived from compounds found in nature.
But Offit doesn’t think the NIH’s investment in research will solve the real issue with supplements: a lack of strict regulation. “The problem is getting a quality product in an unregulated industry. I cannot emphasize this more strongly—the FDA simply does not regulate [supplements],” he says. Though the FDA does claim to regulate supplements, studies in recent years have shown that the nutritional supplements sold in health food stores contain varying quantities of the active ingredient that is often different from what is on the bottle, plus a whole bunch of extra ingredients not even mentioned on the label. Earlier this year, the New York State Attorney General conducted an investigation, adding to the mounting evidence against the efficacy of these supplements.