Daniel Benor, MD
A new book reveals that the greatest regret of the elderly is that they wasted so much time worrying. Karl Pillemer presents practical observations contributed by 1,200 older Americans representing a broad spectrum of the population who were interviewed in the continuing Cornell Le...
Dear Dan, I am continually amazed with the results of the WHEE session you did with me in Phoenix. Every time I revisit the event of losing my beautiful home - I see it as a beautiful memory forever filed in my consciousness as an achievement, to have known, felt and experienced.&n...
I have been in full-time private practice since 2007. I am a multi-faceted holistic health practitioner whose passion is to empower people to consciously and holistically improve their health and quality of life. My greatest reward comes from my clients’ success in attaining their health goals and sharing with them my enthusiasm for healthy living. Trained in iridology, allergy recognition and elimination, cancer coaching, and nutrition, I added WHEE to my practice in 2008 after intense WHEE Level One training with Dr. Dan Benor.
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Studies and Progress Notes (Feb 2012)
* * SPIRITUAL AWARENESS AND WHOLISTIC HEALING * *
Healing Touch reduces children's pain following surgery
IJHC – WHR Observations It is most helpful to have evidence of the efficacy of this non-invasive, safe treatment for pain. Pain medications carry numerous risks.
The objective of this study was to investigate changes in pain and comfort level among children who received healing touch therapy after undergoing surgery at an academic children's medical center. A retrospective database review of prepain and postpain and comfort scores was conducted. Clinical records of 1,613 patients aged 0 to 21 years who received postoperative healing touch therapy from October 2004 to November 2007 were reviewed. Arousal state was recorded by the therapist as asleep, awakening, and/or crying. Pain level was assessed using the well-validated visual analog scale, with 0 = no pain to 10 = worst pain ever. The holistic therapist observed and recorded patient comfort level by using a similar scale, with 0 = severe discomfort, crying, inconsolable, to 10 = relaxed, comfortable, interacting appropriately. The healing touch intervention was administered in the postanesthesia care unit by one of two registered nurse, certified healing touch practitioners. The healing touch sequence included healer centering/attuning with patient, and pretreatment energy assessment; healing touch intervention included magnetic passes, and full body and area-specific techniques. This intervention varied among patients based on the initial energy assessment. Children underwent a variety of operative procedures, including Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) (47%), plastics (14%), orthopedic (11%), gastrointestinal (GI) (11%), general (9%), dental (6%), and other (11%). Children who were awakening from anesthesia (n = 455) had a significant change in pain score (4.9 vs 2.1; P < .0001) and comfort level (6.3 vs 8.6; P < .0001) with the healing touch intervention. Crying children had an even more marked change in pain (n = 115; 6.0 to 2.7; P< .0001) and comfort scores (n = 254; 3.8 to 8.1; P< .0001). Sleeping children did not have significant changes in perceived pain (n = 889; .01 vs .01; P = .6) and comfort (n = 965; 9.92 vs 9.95; P = .06), but awake children had highly significant changes in pain (n = 34; 5.6 vs 1.9; P < .0001) and comfort scores (n = 50; 4.6 vs 8.7; P< .0001) with healing touch. This study provides preliminary support for the use of healing touch therapy to decrease pain and increase comfort for children during the post-operative period. Many limitations to this retrospective review exist, including reporting bias on pain and comfort measures, lack of a randomized control group, variability of the intervention among subjects, and lack of information regarding the timing of administration of pain medication. Studies utilizing stronger study designs are warranted to assess the benefit of this noninvasive therapy for managing pain in children.
Source: Michelle Zimmer, Monica Meier, and Wendy Rolf. Effect of Healing Touch on children's pain and comfort in the postoperative period. Explore 2009, 5(3), 157-8.
* * FUTURE RESEARCH IN WHOLISTIC HEALING * *
The IJHC/WHR E-Zine features monthly suggestions for future research in healing. READERS ARE INVITED TO SUBMIT SUGGESTIONS FOR TOPICS TO STUDY
I am hopeful that the above study will be replicated. Both the intervention and the study are easily implemented.
* * WHOLISTIC APPROACHES * *
America's largest database confirms supplement safety
IJHC – WHR Observations Doctors have warned that taking vitamins could be dangerous. It is helpful to have the safety of vitamins confirmed by the U.S. National Poison Data System. This is in stark contrast with the dangers of conventional medicine, which kills 250,000 people annually in the US alone.
No Deaths from Vitamins There was not even one death caused by a vitamin supplement in 2010, according to the most recent information collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System. The new 203-page annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, published online at http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/Portals/0/2010%20NPDS%20Annual%20Report.pdf, shows zero deaths from multiple vitamins; zero deaths from any of the B vitamins; zero deaths from vitamins A, C, D, or E; and zero deaths from any other vitamin. Additionally, there were no deaths whatsoever from any amino acid or dietary mineral supplement. Three people died from non-supplement mineral poisoning: two from medical use of sodium and one from non-supplemental iron. On page 131, the AAPCC report specifically indicates that the iron fatality was not from a nutritional supplement. Fifty-seven poison centers provide coast-to-coast data for the National Poison Data System, "one of the few real-time national surveillance systems in existence, providing a model public health surveillance system for all types of exposures, public health event identification, resilience response and situational awareness tracking." Well over half of the U.S. population takes daily nutritional supplements. Even if each of those people took only one single tablet daily, that makes 165,000,000 individual doses per day, for a total of over 60 billion doses annually. Since many persons take far more than just one single vitamin or mineral tablet, actual consumption is considerably higher, and the safety of nutritional supplements is all the more remarkable. Over 60 billion doses of vitamin and mineral supplements per year in the USA, and not a single fatality. Not one. If vitamin and mineral supplements are allegedly so "dangerous," as the FDA and news media so often claim, then where are the bodies?
Reference: Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Green JL, Rumack BH, Dart RC. 2010 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 28th Annual Report. The full text article is available for free download at http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/Portals/0/2010%20NPDS%20Annual%20Report.pdf The data mentioned above are found in Table 22B. Mineral data on page 131; vitamin data on pages 137-139 .
Source:Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, December 28, 2011 Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org
IJHC – WHR Observations It is heartening to see a re-investment in treating people rather than just addressing symptoms or diseases.
The College of Medicine was launched in the UK in 2010. The College brings together doctors, nurses and other health professionals with patients and scientists. No other health body does that. The College is unique. Together we are redefining what good medicine means. That includes a renewal of the traditional values of service, commitment and compassion. College professionals regard their work as a vocation not just a job. For all of us, our focus is on patients and we believe that science, systems and structures must fit their needs ˆ rather than forcing patients to fit the needs of technology and administration.
IJHC – WHR Observations Back pain accounts for 50 billion dollars lost to industry in the US annually; 8 billion dollars in Canada. Conventional medicine has limited success in treating chronic back pains. Spinal manipulation and various other approaches, including WHEE, can be enormously helpful for back pain and many other types of pain.
Evidence-based answers from the Family Physicians Inquiries Network Richard O. Speakman, MD; Robert Persons, DO Eglin Air Force Base, Family Medicine Residency, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla William F. Nichols, MLS Eglin Air Force Base, Fla
Evidence summary Low back pain, defined as pain between the thoracic cage and proximal thighs, is the fifth most common reason for physician visits in the United States.(1,2) The pain can be characterized by its duration: acute, <4 weeks; subacute, >4 weeks but <3 months; and chronic, >3 months.(1,3) Pharmacologic treatments for low back pain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, opioids, and muscle relaxants.(2,3) Nonpharmacologic options comprise exercise, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and yoga. (2,3) Self-care includes handouts, books, heat, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation. Traction, corsets, bed rest, home care, and diathermy are considered harmful. (3)
How SMT compares with other treatments A 2004 Cochrane meta-analysis of 39 RCTs with a total of 5486 patients concluded that SMT was superior to placebo and as effective as all other treatments in reducing low back pain.(3) SMT wasn’t more helpful than other forms of treatment.(1,3) Neither the professional training of the SMT provider nor the patient’s level of radiating pain was associated with better outcomes. (3) Compared with patients who received sham therapy for acute low back pain, SMT-treated patients showed a 10-mm improvement in pain on a visual analog scale (VAS) (95% confidence interval [CI], 2-17 mm) and no statistically significant difference in function on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ). (3) No significant clinical or statistical differences were noted between SMT and conventional care/analgesics, physical therapy/exercise, and back school. SMT patients reported only slightly more pain reduction (4 mm on a 100-mm scale [95% CI, 1-8 mm]) and no significant improvement in function compared with patients treated with nonbeneficial modalities, such as traction, bed rest, or topical gel. Patients with chronic low back pain showed a 19-mm improvement in pain on the VAS (95% CI, 3-35 mm) and functional gains of 3.3 mm on the RMDQ (95% CI, 0.6-6.0 mm) compared with patients receiving sham therapy.
Complications from SMT are rare The American Pain Society (APS) and the American College of Physicians (ACP) recently published a comprehensive review of RCTs published from 2000 to 2006 that examined nonpharmacologic treatments for low back pain.(2) They evaluated 69 trials in 10 systematic reviews of the efficacy of SMT. Five higher-quality reviews reached conclusions consistent with the Cochrane review—there was no difference between SMT and other effective therapies. Two lower-quality reviews (based on 1-3 trials with low numbers) found SMT superior to other effective treatments. (1,2) Based on a review of more than 70 controlled trials, the APS and ACP concluded that the risk of a serious complication from SMT (worsening lumbar disk herniation or cauda equina syndrome) is rare, less than 1 per 1 million patient visits. (2)
Recommendations The APS and ACP guidelines recommend adding nonpharmacologic therapies such as SMT for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain when patients don’t improve with self-care.(4)
Acknowledgement· The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the US air Force medical Service or the US air Force at large.
References 1. Chou R, Huffman LH. Nonpharmacologic therapies for acute and chronic low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:492–504. 2. Kinkade S. Evaluation and treatment of acute low back pain. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75:1181–1188. 3. Assendelft WJ, Morton SC, Yu EI, et al. Spinal manipulative therapy for low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD000447. 4. Chou R, Qaseem A, Snow V, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:478–491.
IJHC – WHR Observations Vitamin C is being recommended in high doses for treatment of viral infections, cancer and other problems. Medical recommendations tend to be on the very lowest end of the recommendation spectrum. It is not generally appreciated that there may be markedly enhanced responses to large doses of vitamin C and other vitamins.
Vitamin C As An Antiviral: It's All About Dose
One of the most frequent questions from Orthomolecular Medicine News Service readers is, "Just how much vitamin C should I take?"
Our bodies cannot make vitamin C (ascorbate), although most animals can. We must get it from our food and from supplements. But how much do we really need? Persistent arguments on this question may be settled by looking at how much vitamin C animals manufacture in their bodies. The answer is: quite a lot. Most animals make the human body-weight equivalent of 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams a day. It is unlikely that animals would have evolved to make this much vitamin C if they did not need it and use it. Indeed, cells in many human body tissues concentrate vitamin C by 25-fold or more over blood concentration.
Each person's need for vitamin C differs because of differences in genetics and individual biochemistry [1,2,3]. Further, our bodies undergo different stresses, and we certainly eat different foods. Therefore, the daily need for ascorbate to maintain health for an adult varies between 2,000 - 20,000 mg/day. Linus Pauling personally took 18,000 mg of vitamin C daily. Although he was often ridiculed for this, it is interesting to note that Dr. Pauling had two more Nobel prizes than any of his critics. He died at age 93. Abram Hoffer, MD, a colleague of Pauling's, took megadoses of vitamin C and successfully gave it to thousands of patients over 55 years of medical practice. Dr. Hoffer died at age 91.
Antiviral Function When we are challenged with a viral infection, our need for vitamin C can rise dramatically, depending on the body's immune function, level of injury, infection, or environmental toxicity such as cigarette smoke [4,5]. Ascorbate at sufficiently high doses can prevent viral disease and greatly speed recovery from an acute viral infection. Surprising to some, this was originally observed by physicians in the 1940s and has been verified and re-verified over the last 60 years by doctors who achieved quick and complete recovery in their patients with ascorbate mega-doses . The effective therapeutic dose is based on clinical observation and bowel tolerance. Clinical observation is essentially "taking enough C to be symptom free, whatever that amount may be." Bowel tolerance means exactly what you think it means: the amount that can be absorbed from the gut without causing loose stools. [5,6]. Very high doses, 30,000 - 200,000 mg, divided up throughout the day, are remarkably non-toxic and have been documented by physicians as curing viral diseases as various as the common cold, flu, hepatitis, viral pneumonia, and even polio. [4,5,7]. On first reading this may sound incredible. We invite interested persons to read further, starting with the references listed below, and especially Dr. Frederick R. Klenner's Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C. This short book is posted in its entirety at http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/198x/smith-lh-clinical_guide_1988.htm.
Mechanism For Ascorbate Antiviral Effect Several mechanisms for vitamin C's antiviral effect are known or suggested from studies [4,8]. The antioxidant property of ascorbate promotes a reducing environment in the bloodstream and tissues, enhancing the body's response to oxidative stress from inflammation , thereby helping to fight microbes and viruses that propagate in stressful conditions . Ascorbate has been shown to have specific antiviral effects in which it inactivates the RNA or DNA of viruses [11,12,13], or in the assembly of the virus .
Vitamin C is also involved in enhancing several functions of the immune system. Ascorbate can enhance the production of interferon, which helps prevent cells from being infected by a virus [15,16]. Ascorbate stimulates the activity of antibodies , and in megadoses seems to have a role in mitochondrial energy production  . It can enhance phagocyte function, which is the body's mechanism for removing viral particles and other unwanted debris . White blood cells, involved in the body's defense against infections of all types, concentrate ascorbate up to 80 times plasma levels, which, if you take enough vitamin C, allows them to bring huge amounts of ascorbate to the site of the infection . Many different components of the immune response, B-cells, T-cells, NK cells, and also cytokine production, all with important roles in the immune response, are enhanced by ascorbate [19-23]. Additionally, ascorbate improves the immune response from vaccination [24,25].
Summary Vitamin C at high doses is effective in preventing viral infection and enhancing recovery. Several mechanisms are known, including specific viral anti-replication processes and enhancement of many components of the body's cellular immune system. When taken at an appropriate dose in a timely manner, ascorbate is our best tool for curing acute viral illness.
References:  Williams RJ, Deason G (1967) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 57:1638-1641. Individuality in vitamin C needs.  Pauling L (1986) How to Live Longer And Feel Better, by Linus Pauling (Paperback - May 2006) ISBN-13: 9780870710964  Hoffer A, Saul AW (2009) Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone: Megavitamin Therapeutics for Families and Physicians. ISBN-13: 9781591202264  Levy TE (2002) Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins. ISBN-13: 9781401069636  Hickey S, Saul AW (2008) Vitamin C: The Real Story, the Remarkable and Controversial Healing Factor. ISBN-13: 9781591202233  Cathcart RF (1981) Vitamin C, titrating to bowel tolerance, anascorbemia, and acute induced scurvy. Med Hypotheses. 7:1359-1376.  Klenner FR (1979) The significance of high daily intake of ascorbic acid in preventive medicine, in: Physician's Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine, Third Edition, 1979, Roger Williams, PhD, ed., p 51-59.  Webb AL, Villamor E (2007) Update: Effects of antioxidant and non-antioxidant vitamin supplementation on immune function. Nutrition Reviews 65:181-217  Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH (2006) Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 50:85-94.  Kastenbauer S, Koedel U, Becker BF, Pfister HW (2002) Oxidative stress in bacterial meningitis in humans. Neurology. 58:186-191.  Murata A, Oyadomari R, Ohashi T, Kitagawa K. (1975) Mechanism of inactivation of bacteriophage deltaA containing single-stranded DNA by ascorbic acid. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 21:261-269.  Harakeh S, Jariwalla RJ, Pauling L (1990) Suppression of human immunodeficiency virus replication by ascorbate in chronically and acutely infected cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 87:7245-7249.  White LA, Freeman CY, Forrester BD, Chappell WA (1986) In vitro effect of ascorbic acid on infectivity of herpesviruses and paramyxoviruses. J Clin Microbiol. 24:527-531.  Furuya A, Uozaki M, Yamasaki H, Arakawa T, Arita M, Koyama AH (2008) Antiviral effects of ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acids in vitro. Int J Mol Med. 22:541-545.  Gerber, WF (1975) Effect of ascorbic acid, sodium salicylate and caffeine on the serum interferon level in response to viral infection. Pharmacology, 13: 228.  Karpinska T, Kawecki Z, Kandefer-Szerszen M (1982) The influence of ultraviolet irradiation, L-ascorbic acid and calcium chloride on the induction of interferon in human embryo fibroblasts. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 30:33-37.  Anderson R, Dittrich OC (1979) Effects of ascorbate on leucocytes: Part IV. Increased neutrophil function and clinical improvement after oral ascorbate in 2 patients with chronic granulomatous disease. S Afr Med J. 1;56476-80.  Gonz lez MJ, Miranda JR, Riordan HD (2005) Vitamin C as an Ergogenic Aid. J Orthomolecular Med 20:100-102.  Kennes B, Dumont I, Brohee D, Hubert C, Neve P (1983) Effect of vitamin C supplements on cell-mediated immunity in old people. Gerontology. 29:305-310.  Siegel BV, Morton JI (1984) Vitamin C and immunity: influence of ascorbate on prostaglandin E2 synthesis and implications for natural killer cell activity. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 54:339-342.  Jeng KC, Yang CS, Siu WY, Tsai YS, Liao WJ, Kuo JS (1996) Supplementation with vitamins C and E enhances cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 64:960-965.  Campbell JD, Cole M, Bunditrutavorn B, Vella AT (1999) Ascorbic acid is a potent inhibitor of various forms of T cell apoptosis. Cell Immunol. 194:1-5.  Schwager J, Schulze J (1997) Influence of ascorbic acid on the response to mitogens and interleukin production of porcine lymphocytes. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 67:10-16.  Banic S (1982) Immunostimulation by vitamin C. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 23:49-52.  Wu CC, Dorairajan T, Lin TL (2000) Effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the immune response of chickens vaccinated and challenged with infectious bursal disease virus. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 74:145-152.
Textiles can sense and display the wearer's emotions
IJHC – WHR Observations This is an amazing, wonderful technology that can help in psychotherapy. Imagine people who are suffering because they are emotionally sensitive and demonstrative, living in families that are emotionally unaware, closed or avoidant. wearing
Design Probe: Skin Dresses As part of a general shift of smart textile development from intelligent to sensitive, Philips’s skin dress senses and even predicts the emotional state of the wearer. The dresses use “emotive technology,” displaying pattern and color changes that identify shifts in the emotional status of the wearer. The emotions are sensed through the skin via a phenomenon called intra body signaling. Philips developed the “soft technology” as a research and development project to explore the potential uses of skin and emotional sensing electronic textiles.
IJHC – WHR Observations Cross-fertilizations across professional disciplines can often be enormously helpful - addressing problems with solutions that are outside the box of one discipline but common in the other one.
One day, video games will beat climate change Brian Merchant
Can good game design inspire real-world behavior change? Critics and developers are increasingly arguing they can. Last Friday, I dropped by the Soho House NYC to attend an intimate salon called 'Gaming for Good' put on by design blog heavyweights PSFK. The event was the result of a collaboration between PSFK and Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, the organization that ran the unorthodox '24 Hours of Reality' program a few months back.
PSFK recently released a report, 'The Future of Gaming', that analyzes emergent trends in the industry. In it, they conclude that there are many such trends that "brands, non-profits and communities can leverage to build engagement and motivate their target audience towards achieving a desired goal or outcome." That games can be used for good--beyond straightforward educational programs that have long been a staple of the medium--is a notion that's beginning to draw more and more attention. The 'Games for Change' conference I attended earlier this year devoted a few days to exploring specifically that concept.
The Games for Good salon marked the conclusion of a design contest of the same name: PSFK and Climate Reality had teamed up to solicit gaming concepts from designers around the world. Their task was to imagine a game that would engage players in a way that simultaneously helped tackle the climate crisis. The concepts rolled in, and the results ranged from quirky cellphone apps to wildly ambitious games involving massive digital avatars. I've already profiled a couple of the most impressive; the Oregon Trail-style 'Climate Trail', and the expansive 'Realitree'.
And there were tons of others--Farmville hacks, games designed to help players battle climate change-denying trolls on online comment boards (!), a green version of Foursquare, and a tool that helps users catalog the climate impact of products in the marketplace. Most were well thought-out, and with the right kind of financial support, some could feasibly be widely played.
But it's the concept itself that's more exciting than anything. When I attended the Games for Change conference over the summer, many of the games struck me as well-intentioned reincarnations of those educational PC games my parents bought for me in elementary school; they mostly sat, collecting dust, on the shelves. A handful in this go-round hit the same hurdle. A good educational game can't feel like it was designed to be educational. So, when panelist Aaron Dignan (Al Gore and marketing wiz Alex Bogusky were the others), author of Game Frame: Using Games as a Strategy for Success, noted that we were only beginning to see the potential of such gamification, the notion started to seem more promising.
He noted that the still-growing ubiquity of video games, along with a booming market for app games, was flooding the industry with new talent. Video gaming is no longer a niche industry; it now attracts talent from all walks of life. And as with any other sector, video game developers and programmers may soon be seeking out more meaningful outlets than "designing the next first-person shooter", as Dignan said. Developing a game that helps subtly provide players with good information about climate change or inspire them to take political action may seem like a more rewarding career path.
In other words, these fledgling attempts to create games that both entertain players and harness their participation for the greater good are just the first wave in a percolating trend that has yet to truly pick up speed. It might be hard to imagine a smartphone game that could catalyze widespread social change right now--and I haven't seen anything yet that comes close--but the floodgates are just opening.
IJHC – WHR Observations Governments are not making any meaningful changes that will prevent global heating. The average person in colder climates is pleased to have milder winters. Voters who might make a difference are being disinformed by the media about the immanent dangers of decreased water supplies and desertification in increasing parts of the world, and corporate greed for short-term profits continues to outweigh all efforts to deal with carbon emissions that are causing the global heating.
Climate Change: Who Cares Any More? SIMON KUPER - Financial Times (U.K.)
When someone offered me a trip to India, I said, 'Definitely.” A couple of years ago I’d have fretted about the carbon emissions. But like almost everyone else, I have given up trying to prevent climate change. We in the west have recently made an unspoken bet: we’re going to wing it, run the risk of climatic catastrophe, and hope that it is mostly faraway people in poor countries who will suffer.
Worries about climate probably peaked in 2007. That year I attended a workshop full of northern European policymakers and politicians. The moderator asked who believed climate change was a serious problem. Practically everyone in the room raised their hands. We then spent two days discussing action. I left feeling that if you were running a country like Britain in 2007, you probably thought climate change was the single overriding issue. Terrorism, immigration and even the economy were details by comparison.
But in 2008 the economic crisis hit. To quote political scientist Roger Pielke Jr’s 'iron law”: 'When policies focused on economic growth confront policies focused on emissions reductions, it is economic growth that will win out every time.” In fact, Pielke, who teaches at the University of Colorado, thinks the pre-2008 talk about action was mostly just talk anyway. 'It was easier for our societies to pretend we were doing something on the issue when we felt rich, and were naive about the challenges of actually transforming our energy system,” he says. 'But we never adopted any policies that had a chance to do the job.”
Nowadays few societies even pretend to be doing anything anymore. The Copenhagen global summit on climate in 2009 flopped. Carbon emissions are rising at the high end of the scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Worse, the global economy is becoming less carbon-efficient per unit of output, as more countries turn to coal. When Japan and Germany decided to go off nuclear after the Fukushima disaster, they weren’t thinking about climate.
It’s sometimes said that democracies think too short-term to be able to tackle climate change. Well, dictatorships aren’t tackling it either. They too obey Pielke’s iron law. If they can get an extra person a car, they will. Sure, countries are developing alternative energies such as wind and solar. It’s handy to have something besides fossil fuels. But we will still consume every molecule of fossil fuel we can find.
Illustration showing two men pushing a globeNo big state is doing enough about climate change. For the planet, it barely matters whether Barack Obama (who believes climate change is real) or Rick Perry (who doesn’t) wins next year’s US election. Obama won’t stop climate change either. Ordinary people sense the cause is lost. The wasteful minutiae of daily life that might once have worried us – running a big bath, eating a steak, idly googling old classmates – we now just do. Governments aren’t taxing this waste much.
We journalists are dropping the topic too. It’s been a thrilling year for news, but the great absence on the news sites is climate change. Max Boykoff, a colleague of Pielke’s at Colorado who tracks newspaper coverage of the issue, finds that European and north American newspapers are writing much less about it now than in 2006/7. Asian newspapers are also writing somewhat less, even though their economies are doing fine. The environment bores readers.
Almost everyone has given up. The question then becomes: what will happen? Nobody is sure. Almost all climate scientists think the outcome will be bad, perhaps catastrophic. They foresee more storms, droughts, floods and crop failures around the world, as Obama said in 2009 when he was still talking about these things. However, climate is far too complex a system to permit exact predictions. Nobody knows whether global temperatures will rise two degrees centigrade this century, nor whether that is the tipping point for catastrophe. When climate scientists make exact predictions, says Pielke, it’s usually a bid to focus the minds of politicians and voters. It hasn’t worked.
Rich countries now have a semi-conscious plan: whatever happens, we’ll have the money to cope. We’ll build dikes, or pipe in more water from somewhere else, or turn up the aircon if it gets too hot. Our model is the Netherlands: the country below sea level protects itself against flooding through a network of dams, sluices and barriers. This costs about €45 per Dutch person per year. The Dutch think that even as climate change raises sea levels, their defences can cope for another four centuries. By then there’ll be new technologies.
In short, rich countries will buy protection. If they need to abandon vulnerable cities like New Orleans or Venice, they will. The bigger problem is for poor countries. If Bangladesh floods or Nigeria dries up, they probably won’t cope well. But then our mental health in the west is built on not worrying too much about what happens to Bangladeshis or Nigerians.
Wholesale approval of genetically engineered foods - Obama Administration Disappoints/Angers Public
IJHC – WHR Observations The elected politicians in the US government (and many others) no longer hold the public interest as their primary objective. They are promoting the interests of corporations like Monsanto, who make large contributions to their election campaigns.
Agent Orange Herbicide Ingredient Would be Widely Used
WISCONSIN - January 4 - Over the holidays, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its approval of a novel strain of genetically engineered corn, developed by Monsanto, purportedly being “drought tolerant.”
Despite receiving nearly 45,000 public comments in opposition to this particular genetically engineered (GE) corn variety (and only 23 comments in favor), the Obama administration gave Monsanto the green light to release its newest GE corn variety freely into the environment and American food supply, without any governmental oversight or safety tracking.
“President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack just sent a clear message to the American public that they do not care about our concerns with genetically engineered food and their questionable safety, adverse environmental impacts, and detrimental effects on farmers, especially organic farmers,” says Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst with The Cornucopia Institute.
“This is just the latest in a string of approvals of genetically engineered crops, and it is clear that despite campaign promises of change from Obama, he has not had the courage to stand strong against the powerful agribusiness and biotechnology lobbies,” Kastel added.
In addition to its announcement approving Monsanto’s newest GE corn variety, the USDA also opened a 60-day public comment period for two additional petitions – one for Monsanto’s GE soybean containing higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, that does not naturally occur in soybeans, and the other from Dow AgroSciences for corn that has been genetically engineered to better resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D.
While the USDA attempts to assure the public that 2,4-D is safe, scientists have raised serious concerns about the safety of this herbicide, which was used as a key ingredient in “Agent Orange,” used to defoliate forests and croplands in the Vietnam War.
2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide, and scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. Four separate studies in the United States reported an association with chlorophenoxy herbicide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"The concern is that, just like Monsanto's genetically engineered corn that is resistant to RoundUp™ (glyphosate) herbicide, the approval of a cultivar resistant to 2,4-D will cause an exponential increase in the use of this toxic agrichemical," Kastel stated.
Research by the EPA found that babies born in counties with high rates of 2,4-D application to farm fields were significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits. These birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates.
The results also showed a higher likelihood of birth defects in babies conceived in the spring, when herbicide application rates peak.
In its petition, Dow AgroSciences states that 2,4-D is increasingly important for chemical farmers because of the presence of weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate, as a result of the widespread use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant crops.
When Monsanto introduced glyphosate, it was touted as a safer and less toxic alternative to herbicides like 2,4-D. Now, an emerging body of scientific literature is raising serious concerns about the safety of glyphosate as well.
“The concern that the use of GE crops, which are resistant to particular herbicides, leads to the creation of 'superweeds' is now shown to be valid and serious, as even the chemical companies now recognize and admit this is a problem,” says Kastel.
“In 2012 the USDA is proposing approving a new GE corn variety that is resistant to a different toxic herbicide, escalating the toxic treadmill in chemical-dependent agriculture,” said Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. “This is nothing more than a band-aid solution to a serious problem, and will only give rise to more superweeds, more herbicide pollution in our environment, more herbicide poisoning, while likely leading to the need for even more toxic herbicides a couple of years down the line. This foolish circle has to end,” Feldman said.
Farm research groups like The Cornucopia Institute are also concerned with the impact of genetically engineered crops on organic farmers, whose organic crops are already at risk of contamination with Monsanto’s unnatural DNA, from pollen drift.
In its Environmental Assessment of the “drought tolerant” Monsanto corn, the USDA conceded that gene flow of corn pollen is likely to occur. It is well-established that corn pollen travels, and pollen from genetically engineered plants will contaminate natural corn plants.
“The irony, of course, is that organic fields and crops are much more drought tolerant, because common sense and field trials show healthy and biologically active organic soil retains moisture much better than tired and depleted soil on conventional monoculture farms, and organic crops are healthier and more robust than conventional crops,” said Charlotte Vallaeys, a researcher at Cornucopia.
“But Monsanto cannot profit from healthy soil and healthy organic crops, while they can profit from genetically engineering, patenting, and owning new life forms,” Vallaeys continued. “It’s unfortunate that the Obama administration is equally misguided by supporting Monsanto and Dow’s petitions and ignoring citizens' demand for an immediate end to approving these genetically engineered crops in our food supply.”
The newest genetically engineered soybean petitioned by Monsanto is one of the first to claim a public health benefit, since it has been engineered to contain higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, stearidonic acid.
“Genetically engineering a ubiquitous monoculture crop to contain higher levels of just one particular nutrient will not solve our public health crisis, and might even exacerbate it, since a healthy diet is about much more than simply increasing the levels of one particular omega-3 fatty acid,” said Vallaeys. “It’s another band-aid solution that will do little to address the root of the problem with our nation’s “nutrition” problem, which is people eating too many processed foods containing corn and soybean derivatives, and not eating a varied diet of nutrient-rich wholesome foods.”
The USDA surveyed 43 foods and compared their nutritional content in 1999 to original testing that took place in 1950. Half of the nutrients measured declined by 6 to 38%. "Industrial agriculture, as compared to organics, have relegated our diets to a lot of empty calories," Vallaeys added.
On the campaign trail in 2007, the President said that genetically modified foods should be labeled because Americans “should know what they are buying.”
Despite promises of change, Mr. Obama appointed former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as USDA Secretary, who had gained notoriety in agricultural circles after being named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Obama subsequently appointed two pro-GMO agrochemical company lobbyists to powerful positions in his administration. Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist, became food czar at the Food and Drug Administration. Islam Siddiqui, a lifelong pesticide lobbyist and GMO advocate, was appointed Chief Agricultural Negotiator.
These appointments revealed the tight grip that Monsanto and other biotech corporations have on elected officials, and raised further doubts regarding the promises for change by the current administration.
Adding insult to injury, the Obama USDA’s timing for announcing notices related to genetic engineering mirrors the Bush administration's approach of burying the news and actively discouraging public participation. The FDA declared GMO salmon was safe, on the Friday before the long Labor Day weekend in 2010.
Then the USDA made their highly controversial decision to deregulate GMO alfalfa during the busy holiday season of 2010. Their decision is being challenged by The Cornucopia Institute, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety and scores of other plaintiffs in federal court.
More recently, the announcement that Monsanto’s newest genetically engineered corn had been deregulated, and that Monsanto and Dow had petitioned for additional approval of GMO corn and soybeans, came the week between Christmas and the New Year Day holiday.
"When attempting to bury controversial news, it's not uncommon for the government to issue press releases on days when the public isn't paying attention and the news media is on vacation," noted Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel. "The Bush administration did the same thing when announcing that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) had entered the domestic food chain."
Citizens can comment on the proposed approval of Dow’s 2,4-D tolerant corn and Monsanto’s stearidonic acid soybeans until February 27, 2012.
The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit farm policy research group, is dedicated to the fight for economic justice for the family-scale farming community. Their Organic Integrity Project acts as a corporate and governmental watchdog assuring that no compromises to the credibility of organic farming methods and the food it produces are made in the pursuit of profit. www.cornucopia.org
* * HUMAN ECOLOGY * *
The Jive Aces present: Bring Me Sunshine
IJHC – WHR Observations How we respond to our life challenges is our choice.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is dominated by vested interests whose influences run counter to the stated aims of the WHO
IJHC – WHR Observations When will we effectively confront halt the corporate and corrupt governmental greed that is destroying our world?
This is a bit belated report from the Rio World Conference on the Social Determinants of Health. The conference was convened by the World Health Organization together with the government of Brazil, to whom many thanks, for their enabling many colleagues from the People’s Health Movement to attend.
The conference was billed as the way to advance the cause of Closing The Gap in a Generation (1), the report of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. Cynics had a feeling that it would be nothing of the kind, and once again, the facts supported cynicism, I am sorry to say. Preparations for the conference turned out to be a case study of what is now amounting to a kind of ‘war of the words’. This is being fought between all those in the UN system and member states who believe in public health and public goods, and those who remain committed to ‘business as usual’ at the time when the world’s financial institutions and banks are collapsing under the weight of their own greed.
Successive drafts of the final conference’s Political Declaration were covered in crossed-out and bracketed clauses and phrases, as the wealthy nations got to work, ‘toning down’ and eliminating almost all traces of real quantifiable concrete measurable and accountable progress on behalf of the majority of people in the world whose suffering increases.
As battle-scarred public health warriors expected, the powerful nations won most of the battles. But not all. We did not come or go quietly, and it became apparent in the conference that more and more key people in the UN system and national governments have also concluded that the current systems of political, financial and social governance are broken. In clear interventions, WHO director-general Margaret Chan indicated this almost in so many words. But UN agencies are choked with executives who believe in alliances with the transnational corporations that with its allies are wrecking our world. Some of these executives will perhaps be working for such corporations in due course. That’s where the stock options and nice pensions are.
The frustration in the conference halls was so intense that no less than three alternative declarations were circulated. One of them came from the organisation of which I am a member, the People’s Health Movement; one from the Latin American Association of Social Medicine (www.alames.org ); and one from the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (www.ifmsa.org ). Revealing too was the fact that the representative of civil society in the panel in the closing ceremony, our PHM colleague David Sanders, was the one person during the three days to receive a standing ovation from the floor. He made comments fully in line with what I say here below.
Sir Michael Marmot, chair of the WHO Social Determinants Commission, was at the centre of the Rio conference. We believe he is as frustrated as we are. Here is what he said in a recent issue of the WHO Bulletin (2). I insert my own comments.
‘Closing the Gap in a Generation is a rousing call. Did the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health really believe it to be possible? Technically, certainly’. (This is a telling word. It’s code for saying that there is pressure to take the politics out of policy issues and reduce them to technical ‘fixes’)
‘Yes, there is a greater than 40-year spread in life expectancy among countries and dramatic social gradients in health within countries. But the evidence suggests that we can make great progress towards closing the health gap by improving, as the Commission put it, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These include ensuring: equity for every child from the start, healthier environments, fair employment and decent work, social protection across the life course and universal health care. To make such progress, we must also deal with inequalities in power, money and resources – the social injustice that is killing on a grand scale. At a more fundamental level, our vision is to create the conditions so that every person may enjoy the freedoms that lead to improved health – what we call empowerment’. (And does he believe that this now is really happening? Read on...)
In the three years since Closing the Gap in a Generation was published, there is no question that there is much to make us gloomy: the global financial crisis and the steps put in place to deal with it have worse impacts on the poor and relatively disadvantaged; the persistence of bad governance nationally and globally; climate change and inequitable measures for mitigation and adaptation and, in many countries, an increase in health inequalities’. (Quite. Exactly. He then goes on to make some rather vague positive points. But the signal is clear. The only conference that could start to make a real difference in favour of rights, equity and justice would be one that resulted in a Declaration that acknowledged the outrageous misery and poverty that has been and is being accelerated by the present dominant systems of governance. Did that happen? No, it did not. Did Michael Marmot expect this would happen? I have not asked him).
Source: November, 2011 Blog of Claudio Schuftan (Forwarded by Jack Salmon)
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