Sustainable Growth An Oxymoron

Few Things Grow Forever

By Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy

Warnings about ecological breakdown have become ubiquitous. Over the past few years, major newspapers, including the Guardian and the New York Times, have carried alarming stories on soil depletion, deforestation, and the collapse of fish stocks and insect populations. These crises are being driven by global economic growth, and its accompanying consumption, which is destroying the Earth’s biosphere and blowing past key planetary boundaries that scientists say must be respected to avoid triggering collapse.

Many policymakers have responded by pushing for what has come to be called “green growth.” All we need to do, they argue, is invest in more efficient technology and introduce the right incentives, and we’ll be able to keep growing while simultaneously reducing our impact on the natural world, which is already at an unsustainable level. In technical terms, the goal is to achieve “absolute decoupling” of GDP from the total use of natural resources, according to the U.N. definition.

It sounds like an elegant solution to an otherwise catastrophic problem. There’s just one hitch: New evidence suggests that green growth isn’t the panacea everyone has been hoping for. In fact, it isn’t even possible.

Green growth first became a buzz phrase in 2012 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. In the run-up to the conference, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the U.N. Environment Program all produced reports promoting green growth. Today, it is a core plank of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

sustainability and capitalism

But the promise of green growth turns out to have been based more on wishful thinking than on evidence.

In the years since the Rio conference, three major empirical studies have arrived at the same rather troubling conclusion: Even under the best conditions, absolute decoupling of GDP from resource use is not possible on a global scale.

A team of scientists led by the German researcher Monika Dittrich first raised doubts in 2012. The group ran a sophisticated computer model that predicted what would happen to global resource use if economic growth continued on its current trajectory, increasing at about 2 to 3 percent per year. It found that human consumption of natural resources (including fish, livestock, forests, metals, minerals, and fossil fuels) would rise from 70 billion metric tons per year in 2012 to 180 billion metric tons per year by 2050. For reference, a sustainable level of resource use is about 50 billion metric tons per year—a boundary we breached back in 2000.

The team then reran the model to see what would happen if every nation on Earth immediately adopted best practice in efficient resource use (an extremely optimistic assumption). The results improved; resource consumption would hit only 93 billion metric tons by 2050. But that is still a lot more than we’re consuming today. Burning through all those resources could hardly be described as absolute decoupling or green growth.

In 2016, a second team of scientists tested a different premise: one in which the world’s nations all agreed to go above and beyond existing best practice. In their best-case scenario, the researchers assumed a tax that would raise the global price of carbon from $50 to $236 per metric ton and imagined technological innovations that would double the efficiency with which we use resources. The results were almost exactly the same as in Dittrich’s study. Under these conditions, if the global economy kept growing by 3 percent each year, we’d still hit about 95 billion metric tons of resource use by 2050. Bottom line: no absolute decoupling.

Finally, last year the U.N. Environment Program—once one of the main cheerleaders of green growth theory—weighed in on the debate. It tested a scenario with carbon priced at a whopping $573 per metric ton, slapped on a resource extraction tax, and assumed rapid technological innovation spurred by strong government support. The result? We hit 132 billion metric tons by 2050. This finding is worse than those of the two previous studies because the researchers accounted for the “rebound effect,” whereby improvements in resource efficiency drive down prices and cause demand to rise—thus canceling out some of the gains.

deforestation and endangered species

Study after study shows the same thing. Scientists are beginning to realize that there are physical limits to how efficiently we can use resources. Sure, we might be able to produce cars and iPhones and skyscrapers more efficiently, but we can’t produce them out of thin air. We might shift the economy to services such as education and yoga, but even universities and workout studios require material inputs. 

We might shift the economy to services such as education and yoga, but even universities and workout studios require material inputs. Once we reach the limits of efficiency, pursuing any degree of economic growth drives resource use back up.

These problems throw the entire concept of green growth into doubt and necessitate some radical rethinking. Remember that each of the three studies used highly optimistic assumptions. We are nowhere near imposing a global carbon tax today, much less one of nearly $600 per metric ton, and resource efficiency is currently getting worse, not better. Yet the studies suggest that even if we do everything right, decoupling economic growth with resource use will remain elusive and our environmental problems will continue to worsen.

Preventing that outcome will require a whole new paradigm. High taxes and technological innovation will help, but they’re not going to be enough. The only realistic shot humanity has at averting ecological collapse is to impose hard caps on resource use, as the economist Daniel O’Neill recently proposed. Such caps, enforced by national governments or by international treaties, could ensure that we do not extract more from the land and the seas than the Earth can safely regenerate. We could also ditch GDP as an indicator of economic success and adopt a more balanced measure like the genuine progress indicator (GPI), which accounts for pollution and natural asset depletion. Using GPI would help us maximize socially good outcomes while minimizing ecologically bad ones.

But there’s no escaping the obvious conclusion. Ultimately, bringing our civilization back within planetary boundaries is going to require that we liberate ourselves from our dependence on economic growth—starting with rich nations. This might sound scarier than it really is. Ending growth doesn’t mean shutting down economic activity—it simply means that next year we can’t produce and consume more than we are doing this year. It might also mean shrinking certain sectors that are particularly damaging to our ecology and that are unnecessary for human flourishing, such as advertising, commuting, and single-use products.

But ending growth doesn’t mean that living standards need to take a hit. Our planet provides more than enough for all of us; the problem is that its resources are not equally distributed. We can improve people’s lives right now simply by sharing what we already have more fairly, rather than plundering the Earth for more. Maybe this means better public services. Maybe it means basic income. Maybe it means a shorter working week that allows us to scale down production while still delivering full employment. Policies such as these—and countless others—will be crucial to not only surviving the 21st century but also flourishing in it.

Read The Full Story On Foreign Policy

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Nike Campaign Tackles Racism, Injustice

Bill Of Rights Supporters Quash Call For Boycott

Nike just took a big step by taking its marketing campaign into the political arena. Despite calls for boycotts from those who support racism and fascism, the new ad campaign has already generated plenty of free publicity and a spike in sales.

The racists and fascists claim that Nike, Colin Kaepernick and others who protest the murders of unarmed American citizens by public servants is anti-American, unpatriotic and disrespectful to veterans, members of the armed services and police officers. Not so fast. Let’s cut through the rhetoric and propaganda.

Over the past 50 years, African-Americans and Hispanic soldiers have seen more front line duty in the U.S. military than their white counterparts. They have incurred more fatalities than whites. The discrimination continues and minorities have paid their dues. So, if any social group in America has earned the right to use the flag and a song as an opportunity to draw attention to ongoing racism, fascism and corruption, it’s racial minorities. They are defending America and Americans, when public servants only want to defend themselves with shallow symbols and conversations.

Ironically and undeniably, African-Americans and other minorities have fought in the nation’s wars for centuries. They have eagerly defended the basic freedoms that are denied to their families. In addition to discrimination, this institutional racism is a form of taxation without representation. Similar injustices and abuses sparked the American Revolution and gave rise to the formation of this great nation. As our forefathers intended, the flag flies for everyone or it flies for no one.

It’s time to defend much more than just a piece of cloth. Our air, food and water are being contaminated with industrial waste. Neurodegenerative disease is the fastest-growing cause of death in America and the world. Autism continues to soar because of the rampant release of neurotoxins into the world we depend upon. Public property and budgets are being plundered. The nation is on its way to bankruptcy with a record national debt and a bankruptcy expert at the helm. Yet, the only conversation mainstream media and the White House can muster is one about the national anthem. It’s time for deeper conversations. Answers begin with the truth and the misguided national anthem debate is a convenient smokescreen for a hijacked administration. The fascists who are wrapping themselves in the American flag are actually anti-American traitors. They stand only for themselves. They would make Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels proud. Just say no to their ignorance and hate.

Colin Kaepernick ad campaign NIKE

When Colin Kaepernick took a stand against racism, injustice and many other social ills in August 2016, President Trump and other sick minds twisted the conversation with old school propaganda. Instead of addressing the issues of racism, murder, corruption, cover-ups and more, those who stand up for these victims are being attacked. Their patriotism has been questioned. Their second-amendment rights have been challenged. My guess is that millions of patriots from years gone by are rolling over in their graves as public servants are shooting unarmed citizens in the back. Those who speak up are being stabbed in the back. The party line is that these shootings will continue until morale improves. That’s the fascist party.

It’s interesting how the machine is quicker to defend a symbol of a free nation than defending the people themselves. Propaganda is alive and well and Americans owe it to themselves, their families and their nation to think for themselves on this issues and many others.

Kaepernick signed a new, multiyear deal with Nike that makes him a face of the 30th anniversary of the sports apparel company’s “Just Do It” campaign. With just one tweet, the former NFL quarterback and Nike have set the world on fire, causing a flurry of stories in major publications, inspiring a top trending hashtag across social media.

Reaction to Kaepernick’s tweet was swift. Almost immediately, “Just Do It” and “Nike” became top trending terms on Twitter in the United States, and by morning the hashtag #NikeBoycott was one of the most used on the social media service. People posted videos and photographs of themselves destroying their Nike apparel in response to the company’s decision to work with Kaepernick.

Nike’s stock price fell more than two percent after the announcement. While some investors are likely nervous that the company’s decision to feature Kaepernick could inspire a boycott, the stock price of Adidas also was down more than two percent that morning. The broader stock market downturn was being blamed on worries about tense negotiations over NAFTA. But one week later, Nike reported that online sales had jumped by 31 percent after unveiling the campaign.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision two years ago. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Read The Full Story About NIKE, Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem.

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Wakatobi A Diver’s Paradise

World-Class Scuba Diving Across Indonesia

Indonesia has some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling destinations in the world. Wakatobi National Park is one of the most fascinating diving destinations in all of Indonesia.

Wakatobi (pronounced WAHK-kah-TOH-bee) features a luxury dive resort in southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia. The area includes 143 islands, but only four of them are inhabited. Since 2005 the park has been listed as a tentative World Heritage Site. In 2012 it was added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Wakatobi was established following an extensive search to identify the perfect location for a dive resort in terms of geography, climate, oceanic topography and marine biodiversity. To ensure its future, the developers created one of the largest privately protected marine reserves in the world.

Wakatobi is the third largest marine park in Indonesia. It hosts 942 fish species and 750 coral reef species, versus 50 in the Caribbean and 300 in the Red Sea. Wakatobi covers 1.4 million hectares. It includes the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. The islands form the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Jacques Cousteau called the Wakatobi area an “Underwater Nirwana.”

Wakatobi scuba dive

Having identified the premier location, the developers built an island paradise with the essential facilities and comforts to make an unforgettable dive trip. From shore or by boat, you have exclusive access to 50 dive sites, miles of pristine reefs, where diverse and dramatic undersea landscapes harbor the highest level of marine biodiversity on the planet. New and undocumented species continue to be discovered at Wakatobi.

The House Reef is a cornucopia of marine life, which you can enter directly from the beach or the jetty. The coral top is host to sea grass offering refuge to species such as filefish, blue ringed octopus and bumphead parrotfish, while the corals are home to numerous colorful juveniles of many species. The dramatic drop off where the wall begins offers glimpses out into the blue and down the wall – turtles, bumphead parrotfish, rays, mild mannered triggerfish, box fish and puffer fish can be seen among many other species.

Wakatobi’s resident octopus can put on quite a show for those who know where to look. The creature displays native cunning; it adapts, and learns and you’ll find it lurking on the reefs of Wakatobi. Octopi truly are among the ocean’s most intriguing animals. The reefs and shallows around Wakatobi are home to several dozen species of these stealthy cephalopods, and should you spot one, you are in for an entertaining treat. Some are masters of camouflage and misdirection, while others use a combination of natural cover and improvised props to cloak their movements.

In a tranquil island setting far from crowds and cities, with no other divers for at least 100 miles, Wakatobi seamlessly blends five-star amenities and civilized comforts with a pristine natural environment; a pairing that has secured its reputation as one of the world’s finest resorts.

Underwater visibility is mostly between 20 and 50 meters. You can enjoy diving 365 days a year at Wakatobi. The climate is drier than most parts of Indonesia, and the surrounding reefs and islands protect the area from major storms.

Whether you are a non-diver or would simply like to take a break from the scheduled dives, Wakatobi offers a several non-diving activities, both water-based and on land, to absorb you whether you are looking for physical or intellectual distraction.

Visitors also enjoy kite surfing, paddle boarding, yoga, meditation, nature walks and village tours.

The inhabited islands are home to about 100,000 people, including the Bajo communities. The Bajo are seafaring nomads who inhabit many of Indonesia’s remote islands. They believe that they direct descendants of the sea. Once known as nomadic sea gypsies, the children are taught to hunt and preserve the ocean. They also possess unbelievable skills such as walking on the ocean floor and diving at depths of 25-50 meters without the aid of scuba gear. They can survive for months at sea without food supplies or modern equipment.

Anano Beach is a great place to observe sea turtles in their natural habitat. The incredible white sandy beach is home to two types of sea turtles, Honu (green turtles) and Koila (hawksbill turtles). Depending on the timing of your trip, you might get to see the turtles spawn, hatch and migrate to sea. The optimal time to observe spawning is during the full moon where green turtles usually gather at the shoreline in preparation to lay their eggs in the early hours of the morning. This enchanting beach is also a popular spot for divers and sun loungers.

Adventurers also enjoy the majestic Lakasa cave, which is is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The cave descends 120 meters. Locals believe that it has mystical properties. East and West come together at Wakatobi’s spa, which blends the best of Indonesian and European traditions.

Read The Full Story About Wakatobi, Sulawesi, Indonesia

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language and travel guide Indonesia Gary Chandler

Fracking Dividing Communities Across Colorado

Health, Safety Concerns Remain

Fracking isn’t new to the Rocky Mountains. The oil industry drilled its first fracking well in Colorado near Boulder in 1901. The practice gained notoriety in the state with the infamous oil shale project near Parachute several decades ago, but it collapsed and remained dormant for years. Since then, fracking has become a modern day gold rush for many people in Colorado. It’s been a nightmare for others.

Unfortunately, health and safety concerns continue to take a back seat in public policy and private practice. The debate is gaining momentum again as oil prices and drilling activity rebound at a rapid pace.

Today, oil and gas companies continue concentrating the majority of their drilling in Weld County near Greeley and Garfield County near Rifle. Weld County taps into the Niobrara Shale Foundation, which also covers portions of Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The second largest area in Colorado for fracking is in Garfield County, which gets its resources from the Piceance Basin. The Piceance Basin is thought to have one of the richest and thickest oil shale deposits in the world. Because Colorado is isolated from the major refining centers, producers must absorb a $12-$14 per barrel discount to cover transportation costs.

fracking and public health

Dinosaurs vs. Technology

  • Colorado accounts for almost 4 percent of U.S. total crude oil production and also holds about 4 percent of the nation’s proved crude oil reserves;
  • Colorado has the sixth largest natural gas reserves, and 11 of the nation’s 100 biggest natural gas fields are located in the state;
  • Electricity from renewable sources has more than doubled since 2010 to around 20 percent of Colorado’s net electricity generation in 2016, led by increased wind power from the state’s roughly 1,900 turbines;
  • Colorado leads the nation in gross withdrawals of coal-bed methane from producing wells; and
  • In 2016, Colorado was ranked 10th for installed solar power capacity and 11th in the nation for actual solar electricity generation.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Center (EIA), Colorado’s production of crude oil surged in 2010. Since then, production has more than tripled in the last five years–peaking in August 2015 at 357 thousand barrels per day (kbd). Subsequently, there was a decrease in production when oil prices crashed from $100 per barrel to $26 per barrel, but the market is rising fast. EIA’s latest Colorado production data from April 2017 puts production at 352 kbd (up from 317 kbd in 2016). A recent economic report prepared by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association found that oil and gas development added $31.7 billion to Colorado’s economy in 2014.

Colorado already is dotted with hydraulic fracking wells/ More are on the way. This growth is reviving the turmoil that accompanied the last boom, pitting neighbors against neighbors and communities against corporations. It’s also reviving talk about collusion, corruption and public policy that ignores public opinion, public health and public safety.

Concerned residents who live near these areas are worried about groundwater contamination, chemical exposure, air pollution impacts, and fracking-induced earthquakes. They also have concerns about industrial accidents. As such, fracking is a major issue at the ballot box in Colorado. Both opponents and supporters try to influence the outcomes.

  • In 2012, the city of Longmont passed an initiative that put an indefinite ban on fracking;

  • In 2013, the city of Lafayette approved a similar measure;

  • In 2013, Broomfield, Boulder and Fort Collins passed initiatives that imposed five-year fracking suspensions;

  • In 2014, the city of Loveland defeated an initiative to suspend fracking for two years;

  • In 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court denied local governments the right to make home rules on fracking. So much for decentralized government and citizen-based democracy.

In few places is the tension more evident than along Colorado’s Front Range, where a fracking boom is colliding with a population explosion. Drilling applications in the state have risen 70 percent in just a year, while the area north of Denver is expected to double in population by 2050.

Read The Full Story About Fracking Colorado

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Infectious Waste Fueling Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism

Reforming Policy, Practices Can Save Millions Of Lives

Neurodegenerative disease and autism have been surging around the world for the past 30 years. A man-made disaster is creating a public health disaster that’s still unfolding.

Neurotoxins are driving the epidemic more than age–in some countries than others. Teenagers are now dying of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease–the most severe form of brain wasting disease.

Alzheimer’s disease alone is taking the lives of 50-100 million people around the world now. As millions die, even more will be diagnosed. Millions more are suffering in silence with a misdiagnosis or no diagnosis. Misinformation and mismanagement are fanning the flames.

Despite millions of deaths, experts suggest that the prevalence of the disease will quadruple by 2050, if not sooner. Unfortunately, there is a growing stack of evidence that Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other brain diseases are transmissible. There is zero evidence to the contrary. Victims also are being misdiagnosed and undiagnosed at an alarming rate.

 

Prions

A variety of factors can trigger neurodegenerative disease, including genetics, head trauma and neurotoxins. Deadly, self-replicating proteins appear to be one of those neurotoxins.

Prions (PREE-ons) are a deadly and unstoppable form of protein that migrates, mutates, multiplies and kills with unparalleled efficiency. Dr. Prusiner coined the term as a contraction for proteinaceous infectious particlePrions cause fatal neurodegenerative disease in humans and animals by converting the cellular version of prion protein into a toxic form that erodes the brain and body. Prions migrate, mutate and multiply. They get stronger as they move up the food chain. At the top of the food chain, humans are highly vulnerable to prion disease. The prions shed from humans are the deadliest and most aggressive. Mismanaging human prions is a big mistake.

Alzheimer's disease and prion disease

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing prions and prion disease. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we all are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence and reckless disregard for public health.

Prions are a formidable threat. When the U.S. government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, it included a provision to halt research on infectious prions in all but two laboratories. It classified prions as select agents that pose an extreme risk to food, water and health systems. Unfortunately, the Center For Disease Control quietly took prions off the list about two years ago because the classification criminalized multi-billion dollar industries and many industry practices.

Prion Disease

Prion disease also is known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” Prusiner claims that all forms of TSE are caused by infectious prions. Prion disease often is described as a wasting disease that causes a loss of body mass and brain mass.

TSE is a spectrum disease that varies in severity and symptoms. It depends on which region of the brain is impacted first and by what prion mutation. Few cases are identical in terms of symptoms and diagnoses. When the presenting symptom is memory loss, the diagnoses flow along the following chart.

prion disease and CJD

In humans, the prion spectrum includes Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and an extremely aggressive version known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The difference between these diseases is very slight and often indistinguishable to neurologists. For example, millions of people have been told that they have Alzheimer’s disease, when, in reality, it’s CJD–where it’s clearly infectious.

“It is well known that CJD is transmissible via surgical or medical procedures involving prion-infected brain tissue. Our finding of infectious prions in skin is important since it not only raises concerns about the potential for disease transmission via common surgeries not involving the brain, but also suggests that skin biopsies and autopsies may enhance pre-mortem and post-mortem CJD diagnosis,” said Wenquan Zou, Associate Professor of Pathology and Neurology and Associate Director of the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “The level of prion infectivity detected in CJD skin was surprisingly significant, but still much lower than that in CJD brains. Further investigation is necessary to determine whether extra precautions should be taken during non-neurosurgeries of CJD patients, especially when surgical instruments will be reused.”

Prion infectivity is highly concentrated in brain tissue, but it’s also in all bodily fluids and tissue. CJD transmission has occurred after patients were exposed to surgical tools previously contaminated by CJD victims. It’s also happening due to many other pathways.

According to neuroscientists Dr. Laura Manuelidis, at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses are actually CJD.

CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones, but it has not been declared a reportable disease across the U.S. and many other nations.

Millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Millions of patients and caregivers are being misinformed, misguided and exposed to an aggressive prion disease.

Read The Full Story About the Neurodegenerative Disease epidemic.

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Sewage, Radioactive Waste Polluting Land, Sea

Australia Building Support To End Dumping

Cruise ships would be stopped from dumping waste near the Great Barrier Reef under draft laws to protect Australia’s coastline from dangerous pollutants.

Tonnes of cargo slurry is being dumped from ships in Australian waters, polluting the ocean with sewage, food scraps and even radioactive waste.

There is cross-parliament support for changes to legislation to prevent ships dumping potentially harmful pollutants within specific maritime areas.

whales and prion disease

“Large amounts of toxic liquids including dredged materials, industrial waste, sewage sludge and radioactive waste are illegally dumped in waters near our island home,” government backbencher Jason Falinski said.

Legislation passed the lower house on Wednesday that would require shippers to identify whether their bulk cargo is harmful to the marine environment or not. That would then determine how and where residue can be discharged, including proximity to land.

Labor transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said up to 500 tonne of cargo slurry including residue of the load could be released from a single ship when it’s cleaned at the end of a journey.

 

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships

“The main reason why tourists say they come to Australia is about our coastline and our marine environment,” Mr Albanese said.

His colleague Steve Georganas said there would always be a risk to Australian ports but regulation should encourage best practice to protect the sea.

The changes come from the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, to which Australia is a signatory.

Read The Full Story About Sewage and Our Seas

Camels Contracting Prion Disease

Few Mammals Immune To Transmissible Brain Disease

Italian and Algerian researchers released new evidence of prion disease in three dromedary camels found in an Algerian slaughterhouse, according to a new study in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The discovery, now being called camel prion disease (CPD), has raised more questions than answers about this deadly illness characterized by misfolded brain proteins.

Alzheimer's disease and prion disease

“These camels are quite intriguing,” prion expert Valerie Sim, MD, associate professor at the University of Alberta, told CIDRAP News. “If we know anything about prions it’s that they can they can cross species; it’s not easy to do, but they can. So it’s very concerning if you have any infected animals in the food supply chain.”

Sim was not involved in the new study.

In prion disease, the normal shape of a protein is contorted pr folded, which triggers a domino-like effect in neighboring proteins, leading to fatal and severe neurodegenerative disease. Prion diseases can affect both humans and animals, and though inter-species transmission is rare, it can happen, as it did most famously during the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow epidemic, which started in the late 1980s in the United Kingdom.

In both humans and animals, the diseases can happen spontaneously, or they can be inherited from a genetic mutation or, rarely, transmitted when a person eats the meat of an infected animal. The last category, infectious prion disease, is the most concerning for researchers working on the human-animal interface (human sewage is the largest prion pathway in the world–which exposes land and sea mammals to prion disease).

land application sewage sludge

The prion threat to all mammals

“Is there a clear exposure risk in camels? That’s what’s needed to be understood,” said Sim. She said that the presence of prions in the camels’ lymph tissues suggests the disease was acquired and not spontaneous, likely from something the animal was digesting.

In the Emerging Infectious Diseases study, researchers describe CPD in three symptomatic camels from a Saharan population in southeastern Algeria, where the animals were brought for slaughter to the Ouargla abattoir in 2015 and 2016. Dromedary camels are commonly slaughtered and consumed in many parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

Breeders bringing the camels to slaughter noted several neurologic symptoms from 2010 to 2015 in about 3 percent of their animals, including “weight loss; behavioral abnormalities; and neurologic signs, such as tremors, aggressiveness, hyperreactivity, typical down and upward movements of the head, hesitant and uncertain gait, ataxia of the hind limbs, occasional falls, and difficulty getting up.”

Anecdotal evidence collected from employees at the slaughterhouse suggests that these symptoms have been present since the 1980s.

The researchers, from Algeria and Rome, took brain samples as well as samples from the cervical, prescapular, and lumbar aortic lymph nodes from three symptomatic and one healthy camel. They confirmed the diagnosis by the presence of disease-specific prion protein in brain tissues from the symptomatic animals. The authors said the presence of prions in the lymph nodes suggests infection, but the disease remains a mystery.

Disease origin unknown?

“The origin of CPD is unknown. It might be a disease unique to dromedaries or a malady deriving from transmission of a prion disease from another species,” the authors concluded. They noted, however, that BSE from imported meat in the late 1980s cannot be ruled out. The likely source is human sewage, which can infect food, water and air (posing a massive public health threat around the globe).

Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News, said the study was noteworthy especially as it comes on the heels of new information from Canadian researchers that showed that chronic wasting disease—another prion disease—in deer and their relatives can be transmitted to non-human primates fed meat from infected animals.

“The whole issue of prions and meat consumption is a new and much more serious topic we need to look at,” Osterholm said. “Even though there’s no evidence that there is transmission [from camels], the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Unfortunately, meat consumption is only one of many pathways for prions to infect humans and other mammals. Neurological disease is now the fastest-growing cause of death around the world. As the human population gets sicker with neurodegenerative disease, prion pathways multiply and intensify. Prions discharged from humans are the most deadly and aggressive form of prions, which migrate, multiply and mutate as they move up the food chain.

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Caregivers At Risk In Battle Against Brain Disease

Spouses Of Those With Alzheimer’s Likely To Contract Brain Disease

Millions of people are becoming caregivers for friends and family members with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a silent epidemic that’s creating family crises around the world. In addition to the shock of the sudden dependency, at least some caregivers (family members and professionals) are being misinformed and exposed to deadly pathogens that can spread the disease.

“A good caregiver who understands the disease, its symptoms and progression is crucial to the overall well-being of people with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Fred Kobylarz, a dementia expert at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. “Alzheimer’s has become pervasive in the United States and around the world. It affects people in all walks of life,” Kobylarz said. “It is a problem that needs action and attention.”

Alzheimers disease epidemic

Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, but not all do. Some may even go back to normal cognition.

The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease vary from person to person. For many, decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as speech, vision, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists don’t yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease in most people. There is a genetic component to some cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Late-onset Alzheimer’s arises from a complex series of brain changes that occur over decades. The causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Read The Full Story About Alzheimer’s Disease and Risks To Caregivers.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Alzheimer’s Taking Financial Toll On Society

Neurodegenerative Disease The Fastest-Growing Cause Of Death

Someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds. There were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia diagnoses in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people in 2017. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050. The X factor is the number of people who have dementia, but have not been diagnosed. It’s estimated that the real number is drastically higher.

Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 58 percent of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 68 percent.

The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia is US$818 billion in 2015, which represents 1.09 percent of global GDP. By 2018, the global cost of dementia will rise above a US$1 trillion.

Alzheimer's disease epidemic

This figure includes costs attributed to informal care (unpaid care provided by family and others), direct costs of social care (provided by community care professionals, and in residential home settings) and the direct costs of medical care (the costs of treating dementia and other conditions in primary and secondary care).

In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that Alzheimer’s disease is already costing citizens $277 billion annually, including $186 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Between 2000 and 2015, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease as recorded on death certificates increased 123 percent, while deaths from the number one cause of death (heart disease) decreased 11 percent. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease isn’t always diagnosed and it isn’t accurately reported as the cause of death in the majority of cases. Eighty-three percent of the help provided to older adults in the United States comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers. Nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

Read the full story about the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Build Your Business Credit Report, Brand

DUNS Number Can Help, Hurt Business

Businesses of all sizes spend billions of dollars every year to build their brands and bottom lines. Meanwhile, millions of these businesses are oblivious to their business credit report at Dun & Bradstreet, which can deprive them of important opportunities.

Lenders, vendors, insurance companies and prospective clients often check these credit reports as part of their due diligence. They use the reports from Dun & Bradstreet to investigate companies that they are thinking about doing business with. They use these credit reports for both credibility and creditworthiness. These companies and government agencies go to Dun & Bradstreet to make sure that your company is legitimate, viable, stable, reliable and big enough to handle the job. In fact, your business can’t apply for government contracts and grants without a DUNS number (business credit report).

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Unfortunately, many small- and medium-sized businesses fail to create and manage their business credit reports, which can impact their brands and bottom lines in many ways. Such failures speak volumes about a business, while adding to the challenges in the marketplace.

Dun & Bradstreet has been the global leader in commercial credit reporting for more than 170 years. It holds credit reports for millions of companies around the world. If your company doesn’t have a credit report on file, you can apply for a DUNS number for free. D&B will host that file for the life of your business at no charge. The key is to make sure that your credit file is as accurate as possible and as influential as possible. This can help you separate your personal credit from your business credit, which will protect your FICO score and build your D&B scores and ratings.

Once your file has enough data, Dun & Bradstreet will generate scores and ratings for your business on nine different levels that measure the financial strength of your company. An organization’s business credit file is a collection of scores and ratings that allude to an organization’s ability to make good on contractual obligations. For example, the PayDex score indicates the timeliness that your company pays it bills.These scores and ratings can help or hurt a business in numerous ways:

  • a business can use these metrics when deciding to contract with a supplier;
  • a bank can use the information in a credit report when deciding to offer a loan; 
  • an insurance company might use your business credit report to decide whether or not to issue an insurance policy to your company and when calculating your premium; and
  • business owners can use the scores themselves in an attempt to improve their credibility.

Other businesses may be using your DUNS number to make critical decisions that could help or possibly hinder your business. Proactively managing your credit report pays dividends in many ways.

D&B can help you beef up your credit report, while helping you keep a sharp eye on the creditworthiness of others. The key to generating strong scores and ratings is to build in as much positive payment history as possible (operating expenses). Operating expenses are proof that your business pays its bills in full and on time. It requires a paid service from Dun & Bradstreet to build in your positive payment history because D&B will put boots on the ground to verify your trade references and to manually build them into your credit report. It’s an investment that will pay dividends for many years to come. Credit-building is an important part of due diligence, risk management and reputation management.

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Crossbow Communications is an international marketing and public affairs firm. We can help you influence public opinion, public policy and business decisions around the globe. We can help build your brand, your bottom line and a better world. Our headquarters are in Denver, Colorado. We’re opening a new office in Phoenix, Arizona.

Public Affairs Strategy

Modern Strategists Blend Government Relations, Public Relations and Marketing

Public affairs is another term for stakeholder relations among individuals and groups with common and competing agendas. It’s typically found at the crossroads of public opinion and public policy. Stakeholders often include politicians, civil servants, influencers, customers, communities, clients, shareholders, trade associations, think tanks, business groups, charities, unions, the media and more.

Public affairs practitioners engage stakeholders to educate, motivate and deescalate. It’s essentially a specialized form of marketing, where the product is an outcome that usually impacts people, planet and profits. Public affairs professionals help shape the debate with strategy and messaging. Not all lobbyists are registered. Most work behind the scenes with research, strategy, writing and coalition-building.

government corruption

Public affairs work combines government relations, media relations, issue management, stakeholder relations, corporate and social responsibility, and strategic communications advice. Practitioners aim to influence public opinion and public policy by building on common ground with stakeholders. Unfortunately, propaganda and misinformation has long been part of the equation.

Political chaos is the norm and public affairs professionals must anticipate, plan and respond without missing a beat. Strategists are reevaluating the best practices of opportunism and risk management.

While stocks soar, trust in corporate America and elected officials in Washington, D.C., continues to drop. America’s discontent with politics and business is not party-specific. A new survey conducted by the Public Affairs Council, in conjunction with Morning Consult, finds that Clinton and Trump voters have more in common than you might think: neither group trusts Washington politicians nor America’s CEOs.

The online survey polled 2,201 adults on their attitudes and expectations for major companies and elected officials. The surprising findings show bipartisan agreement on sentiment.

● Clinton and Trump voters agree that Washington can’t be trusted. 58 percent of Trump voters, 59 percent of Clinton voters and 63 percent of conservatives say elected officials in Washington have low honesty and ethical standards, despite Republican control of Congress and the White House; and

● Only 47 percent of Americans trust major companies to behave ethically, and only nine percent of Trump voters and eight percent of Clinton voters give CEOs high scores for honesty.

“Businesses are worried about core issues like trade and tax reform, and they’re also jumping into public debates on immigration, racism, LGBT rights and climate change,” said Doug Pinkham, president of the Public Affairs Council. “But with all the political turmoil in Washington, their world feels riskier. Many firms are having a difficult time finding their footing at the intersection of business and modern American politics.”

According to the study, there’s a correlation between the most untrusted industries and perceived underregulation. When compared to other industries, technology companies are considered the most trustworthy and least in need of new regulations. Conversely, pharmaceutical and health insurance firms are considered the least trustworthy and the most under-regulated.

Read The Full Story About Public Affairs Today

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Crossbow is an award-winning and record-setting strategic communications firm that has influenced public opinion and public policy around the globe. We have worked with some of the most influential organizations, corporations and journalists in the world. We have offices in Denver and Phoenix.

Are Recent Hurricanes Fueled By Climate Change?

Tensions Rising With Tides and Temperatures

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have poured new fuel on the debate over man-made climate change. It’s unfortunate that there is even a debate at all. We are wasting critical time and resources as we seek to justify our overconsumption and our fascination with capitalizing on the misfortunes of others.

Houston will never be the same. Islands across the Florida Keys have been reduced to rubble. Puerto Rico is largely uninhabitable with lack of power, water and food. Residents of New York and New Jersey still haven’t recovered from hurricane Sandy. New Orleans is still suffering from the impacts of Katrina in 2005. Meanwhile, in the wake of each disaster comes the fraud and fleecing of innocent citizens in the danger zone and beyond.

hurricane and climate change

Since global warming and climate change are beyond the grasp of the special interests and their disciples, let’s dissect the issue from a different perspective.

The issue really boils down to energy waste and air pollution. Those who deny global warming are blowing smoke up your skirt. They want you to think that air pollution is fertilizer. Without taxpayer subsidies of billions of dollars annually, free-market capitalism would drive energy policies and innovation vs. costly policies that promote inefficiency and waste (not to mention favoritism/fascism, which isn’t capitalism). Does that waste and market manipulation contribute to global warming?

Conduct an experiment. Turn on your car and close the garage. CO2 builds up in the atmosphere just like it does in your garage. CO2 kills people and the planet.

Add global deforestation to the equation and we are staring at an ecological disaster and a public health disaster (deforestation is like turning off the exhaust fan in your garage). So, is it a good idea to waste energy and our only God-given home?

Reprinted with permission from Greener Cities.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It specializes in health and environmental issues, including sustainable cities and communities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.