REPOST: Global diet and farming methods ‘must change for environment’s sake’

An article IOP Publishing argues that improvements in future agricultural sustainability will most probably be the result of major dietary shifts and increases in farming efficiency. With the world population projected to reach nearly 10 billion by the year 2050, food production methods must dramatically improve to keep up with the intensifying demand. Read more:

 

Reducing meat consumption and using more efficient farming methods globally are essential to stave off irreversible damage to the environmental, a new study says.

 

The research, from the University of Minnesota, also found that future increases in agricultural sustainability are likely to be driven by dietary shifts and increases in efficiency, rather than changes between food production systems.

 

Researchers examined more than 740 production systems for more than 90 different types of food, to understand the links between diets, agricultural production practices and environmental degradation. Their results are published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

 

Lead author Dr Michael Clark said: “If we want to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, but still provide a secure food supply for a growing global population, it is essential to understand how these things are linked.”

 

Using life cycle assessments – which detail the input, output and environmental impact of a food production system – the researchers analysed the comparative environmental impacts of different food production systems (e.g. conventional versus organic; grain-fed versus grass-fed beef; trawling versus non-trawling fisheries; and greenhouse-grown versus open-field produce), different agricultural input efficiencies (such as feed and fertilizer), and different foods.

 

The impacts they studied covered levels of land use, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), fossil fuel energy use, eutrophication (nutrient runoff) and acidification potential.

 

Dr Clark said: “Although high agricultural efficiency consistently correlated with lower environmental impacts, the detailed picture we found was extremely mixed. While organic systems used less energy, they had higher land use, did not offer benefits in GHGs, and tended to have higher eutrophication and acidification potential per unit of food produced. Grass-fed beef, meanwhile, tended to require more land and emit more GHGs than grain-fed beef.”

 

However, the authors note that these findings do not imply conventional practices are sustainable. Instead, they suggest that combining the benefits of different production systems, for example organic’s reduced reliance on chemicals with the high yields of conventional systems, would result in a more sustainable agricultural system.

 

Dr Clark said: “Interestingly, we also found that a shift away from ruminant meats like beef – which have impacts three to 10 times greater than other animal-based foods – towards nutritionally similar foods like pork, poultry or fish would have significant benefits, both for the environment and for human health.

 

“Larger dietary shifts, such as global adoption of low-meat or vegetarian diets, would offer even larger benefits to environmental sustainability and human health.”

 

Co-author Professor David Tilman said: “It’s essential we take action through policy and education to increase public adoption of low-impact and healthy foods, as well the adoption of low impact, high efficiency agricultural production systems.

 

“A lack of action would result in massive increases in agriculture’s environmental impacts including the clearing of 200 to 1000 million hectares of land for agricultural use, an approximately three-fold increase in fertilizer and pesticide applications, an 80 per cent increase in agricultural GHG emissions and a rapid rise in the prevalence of diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

 

Professor Tilman added: “The steps we have outlined, if adopted individually, offer large environmental benefits. Simultaneous adoption of these and other solutions, however, could prevent any increase in agriculture’s environmental impacts. We must make serious choices, before agricultural activities cause substantial, and potentially irreversible, environmental damage.”

How biodiversity relates to economic development

Image source: totallandscapecare.com

 

Nature has provided mankind with all the resources we need for survival. In fact, it has contributed to the dramatic progress of different civilizations around the world. However, the increasing number of population eventually led to a higher demand in goods and raw materials. As a result, it has not only devastated the planet but it also threatened whatever nature has to offer into extinction.

 

Several nations have acknowledged the importance of nature to sustain a society and its economy by depending on the rich biodiversity readily available to them. Unfortunately, the unrestrained consumption of these resources is starting to show its effects particularly on people below the poverty line who depend on agriculture and fishing to feed their family.

 

Biodiversity provides us with different products for consumption such as fish, firewood, timber, medicinal plants, and many more. Non consumptive uses include recreation, science, education, as well as natural pest control.

 

Image source: downtoearth.org

 

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Report emphasized the benefits of diversity to the local and international population. Furthermore, the report highlighted the social and economic costs of biodiversity loss and the massive ecosystem degradation. The results are then compared to the costs of proper and effective conservation and sustainable use of these resources.

 

Perhaps the biggest challenge that we are facing today is to have the right knowledge and tools to maintain a healthy environment not only for us but also for the future generation. In addition, government of every country should come together to integrate biodiversity and corresponding ecological issues when creating policies and programs in order to promote sustainable development in a global scale.

 

Green tech, clean energy, and the knowledge economy sectors are working together to create new industry strategies that will not only protect the environment but can also empower revenue models. In fact, there are currently exchange-traded funds and other forms of pooled fund investments that specifically invest in green stocks. After all, progress does not always mean ecological degradation.

REPOST: Poor overall environmental quality linked to elevated cancer rates

Apparently, the rapidly deteriorating and increasingly polluted environment is causing so much more dilemmas than just rising sea levels, biodiversity loss, and changing weather patterns. Exposure to pollutants has also largely contributed to the snowballing number of cases of cancer and most probably, many other dreaded diseases. Here’s an article from UIC News Center for more details:

 

 

Nationwide, counties with the poorest quality across five domains – air, water, land, the built environment and sociodemographic – had the highest incidence of cancer, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer.

 

Poor air quality and factors of the built environment — such as the presence of major highways and the availability of public transit and housing – – were the most strongly associated with high cancer rates, while water quality and land pollution had no measurable effect.

 

The findings may help reduce cancer by driving policy to lower pollution in areas with high cancer rates linked to the environment.

 

Previous research has shown that genetics can be blamed for only about half of all cancers, suggesting that exposure to environmental toxins or socioeconomic factors may also play a role.

 

“Most research has focused on single environmental factors like air pollution or toxins in water,” said Jyotsna Jagai, research assistant professor of environmental and occupational health in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “But these single factors don’t paint a comprehensive picture of what a person is exposed to in their environment — and may not be as helpful in predicting cancer risk, which is impacted by multiple factors including the air you breathe, the water you drink, the neighborhood you live in, and your exposure to myriad toxins, chemicals and pollutants.”

 

Read the full report HERE.

Four nonprofits that lead the fight against Climate Change

The dawn of the 21st century was marked with numerous advancements in the field of science and technology, improving not only our way of life but people’s understanding of our physical world as well. However, this optimism did not fully bloom when we realized that coupled with the progress, our environment was starting to die on us as evident in the destructive effects of the shifting climate.

 

In definition, climate change is the shift in global and regional weather patterns and scientists believe that it is attributed to the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human’s use of fossil fuels.

 

The world’s economy may lose up to $12 trillion to climate change, unless greenhouse gases are tackled.

 

Image source: arkansasconsumer.org

 

When the environment is on peril, it can have rippling effects on many other facets of life as well. Property damage caused by erratic weather patterns may become more severe, livelihoods could be destroyed, food production will be jeopardized, and many industries that are directly or indirectly dependent on natural resources will be put at risk. According to the Independent, the world’s economy may lose up to $12 trillion to climate change, unless greenhouse gases are tackled.

 

The big question now is: is there a way to save the planet? Our hope lies in these top nonprofits that lead the fight against climate change and like them, you can do your part, too.

 

Image source: unido.org

 

Sierra Club Foundation is a California-based nonprofit organization. They believe in the importance of an effective conversion to a resource-efficient, clean energy economy that can serve the people without harming nature.

 

Greenpeace was founded in 1971 in Canada. Their organization is perhaps the most visible pro-environment group in the world, raising environmental issues to public awareness. Their actions have effectively influenced policy-making in both private and public sectors.

 

Union of Concerned Scientists is a science advocacy organization based in the United States and the group is composed of private citizens and professional scientists. It was founded in 1969 and has been promoting policies such as state laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the national renewable energy standard.

 

350.org is a New York-based organization founded in 2007 and their primary advocacy is to fight global warming. In addition, they were one of the boldest international organizations that helped publicize the harmful increase of carbon dioxide emissions through their online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions.

 

Supporting these organizations will make huge difference, but even in our own little ways, we can also do some things that could potentially save our planet. Planting more trees, capitalizing on green technology, investing in clean energy, increasing recycling initiatives, and even selecting non-polluting stocks (businesses) are small actions than can already have big positive impact.

Connecting to nature: The prescription to a clearer mind

Life is full of ups and downs, but sometimes the downs become too severe to handle. They stack up over time until individuals get stuck in a hole that they can’t climb out from. That’s when depression begins to develop. Arguably, it is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders worldwide and affects various aspects of the people’s lives, including their financial wellbeing. Making money decisions is difficult to carry out when the mind is too clouded with negative thoughts or overpowered by destructive emotions.

 

Depression so hard to recognize because it just creeps up on people insidiously. The moment one’s family and friends realize the gravity of the situation, the damage has already been done. Those who are feeling its effects might be wondering “What’s the best course of action to get out of this funk?” According to researchers, hiking and nature appreciation are the answers.

 

Image source: huffingtonpost.com

 

A study done by Stanford scientists were able to find evidence that hiking and surrounding oneself with nature could significantly lower the risk of depression. What they did was that they created two groups. One group would walk 90 minutes in a natural setting while the other in an urban setting. They were able to observe a significant decrease in the activity of the part of the brain which plays a major role in depression in the group who followed a trail through the trees.

 

Majority of the global population resides in urban settlements and that number is growing at a steady pace. As their disconnection with nature increases, so does the incidence of depression and other mental health disorders. That’s why during the planning process, it is noteworthy to find ways which will increase people’s exposure to the environment as much as possible.

 

Image source: timeout.com

 

In the US, national parks are the most popular destinations for nature exploration and outdoor activities. Not only are they excellent venues to clear the mind and relax the soul, but they are also a major source of revenues for their respective jurisdictions. In 2015, more than 300 million park visits were recorded, which translates to $32 billion in economic output to the U.S. economy and support to over 295,000 jobs.

REPOST: Fishing seminar perfect Father’s Day gift

This day-long seminar will feature inshore fishing guides, offshore charter boat captains, and fishing tackle representatives. The event is something very informative for anglers, whether they are beginners or experts themselves. Read the full article on TCPALM.

 

Many anglers off the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches will learn tips on how to catch daytime swordfish in nearby offshore waters at the Florida Sportfishing Seminar June 17 at Harbourside Place in Jupiter. | (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY SETH FUNT)

 

Fish don’t stand a chance.

 

Father’s Day weekend, a collection of some of the most skilled fishing professionals ever assembled for one event, will share their expertise with anglers at the South Florida Sport Fishing Seminar Series and Expo at Harbourside Place in Jupiter. The day-long affair will feature inshore fishing guides and offshore charter boat captains plus professional crew members and fishing tackle representatives who fish out of marinas along the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches.

 

Topics covered include everything from how to fish with artificial lures in shallow water for trout to live bait techniques when targeting kingfish, sailfish and dolphin offshore. Bottom fishing the reefs for snapper and grouper, long-range fishing for yellowfin tuna, kite fishing, deep-dropping, live baiting for tarpon, permit and redfish, and how to target snook, how to catch cobia, and best tips for rigging dead baits all will be covered, said co-organizer Capt. Patrick Price of DayMaker charters in Stuart.

 

“It’s really a ‘build your own syllabus’ kind of seminar,” said co-organizer Seth Funt, a crew member of Boynton Beach-based tournament fishing team Three Buoys. “This will be something very informative for anglers whether they are beginners or experts themselves.”

 

Each presentation will feature several captains with experience in the topic sharing tips conversationally with attendees. Funt said when a particular presentation ends, the captains who presented will then move to a conference room where anglers who wish to learn more information can speak to them in a smaller setting.

 

“An angler will be able to ask more questions like how to pen live baits of someone like Capt Ray Rosher, or what are Capt. Ed Zyak’s favorite rigging tips when using a D.O.A. shrimp for a big trout on the flats,” Funt said.

 

Funt said Florida Freedivers of North Palm Beach will be there with its own section to help answer questions for people who wish to learn more about spearfishing cobia on area reefs, or perhaps learning the best spots to dive for lobster and spear hogfish in the Bahamas.

 

Continue reading HERE.

Learning About Preferred Stocks and Common Stocks

StocksIn the business of investing, especially if you will be dealing with stocks, you must know their types and what exactly will they do to your money. This way, you can keep your options open, as to what kind of stock would work better for you. But first, let’s first handle their definition, then allow me to break down their differences to you so you have a better understanding of them.

Let’s start with preferred stock. Anyone who holds it gets a fixed dividend. If a company is making more than its assets than their common stock, then they belong to this class. The dividends should be paid out from its preferred shares before dividends to common shareholders. Note that shares of this one has nothing to do with a stockholder’s voting rights.

Now, I’m not talking about one gets to vote who in the next presidential election. This is about who gets a say from decisions regarding the corporate rules and regulations to who gets to be a part of the board. Basically, if there are any major changes in a corporation, stockholders have the right to have a vote on it, otherwise, changes can’t be made.

This stock has all the features of debts, which also helps in paying fixed dividends and even common stocksequities. Preferred stocks could have a higher value just because of those things that it could do to a stockholder’s investment.
I would like to say that if you are a stockholder in this kind of stock, you are someone of priority compared to those who belong to the class of common stockholders in the area of dividends. The advantage of this one is that its stocks get a lot of yields than the other one and stockholders can get their shares on a monthly basis and even quarterly (depends on the voting of course).
If you are wondering how do they fix the dividends? Well, the basis is through a benchmark interest. This is a good option because supposed a company is starting to go downhill, shareholders on this stock could get their payment in arrears before common shareholders can get theirs. They might not get it in cash, but they would still be able to get it accumulatively.
Let us now talk about the common stock. Basically, it is the money or fund that a corporation has.

The people who own it are generally under the management of the board. If you are a common stockholder, then keep in mind that you are not the priority when it comes to exactly owning funds in the corporation. But don’t get me wrong, you still have your rights to your investment in the company when it is time for liquidation, BUT only after other stockholders superior to you are completely paid.
Now, that you know about these two, you can now decide what type of a stockholder would you rather be. I’ll be glad to walk you through other finer details about being a stockholder if you stay tuned.

HOW TO SURVIVE IN A CURRENCY WAR

China just devalued the Yuan, setting it at 6.4 to the US Dollar, its lowest in four years.

Thus rings another cannon blast in the currency war unfolding in today’s world economy.

The foreign exchange market is always a zero-sum game.  One currency always has to win against another.  A currency can only rise or fall in value relative to another going in the opposite direction.  And in the present global economic climate, most countries want to boost exports and grab a bigger share of international trade by devaluing their currency.  Everyone wants to go in the same direction.  But since a country can only devalue its currency by conversely increasing the value of another, we are now in the present wartime scenario of the currency markets.

currency wars

In a currency war, however, everyone actually risks losing something.

We can look back in history – to the 1930s – when a currency war also erupted in the world.   At that time, then United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt confiscated gold and authorized the immediate devaluation of the US Dollar by 69%.  Prior to that, countries like Japan, New Zealand, Britain and France had also already left the gold standard and were devaluing their currencies to stimulate their exports.  After the United States, the Swiss, the Chinese and the Dutch also followed suit in devaluing their currencies.  Back and forth, those nations’ economic policies went against each other.  Each nation inching to pull one over the other.  That currency war was eventually resolved – by World War II.

Fast forward to today.  The United States began printing money in a frenzy in 2008 in order to arrest the economic collapse caused by a bursting housing bubble.  In effect, the US was significantly devaluing its currency by doing so.  Brazil was enraged at this, and decried how the western economies had defrauded it in trade.  The European continent, not to be outdone, also began its quantitative easing measures as a means of solving the economic crises that beset it.  Japan then followed. And then China.  In a currency war, each country trying to outmaneuver the rest.  Everyone going back and forth on their wins and losses.  But ultimately, everyone is bound to suffer net losses in trade.

How does an individual protect himself in a currency war?

Don’t be limited to onshore investments (advice I learned from lom).  Some economists are predicting a collapse of the US Dollar within 2016.  If an American has one hundred percent of his asset holdings denominated in US Dollars, he is bound to lose everything he has should such a collapse occur.  However, if the individual holds his assets in different currencies, he is hedged against a significant drop in the value of the US Dollar.  Our current global economy is characterized by highly interconnected markets and greater accessibility to all those markets.  Innovations in the bond, equity and foreign exchange markets have also increased the options available to investors.  An investor can and should spread his eggs across many and varied baskets especially since diversification is possible now, more than ever.   Hedge funds also offer many possibilities not only to be protected but to also even profit from the collapse of a currency such as the US Dollar.  Foreign mutual funds invested in foreign bonds, currencies and gold are also another investment option.

Keep assets as liquid as possible.  If one’s portfolio is tied up in real estate or art that require a longer turn-around time, he might not be able to quickly respond and adapt to sudden changes in market conditions.  Having liquid assets makes an investor more mobile and enables him to shift his assets from one class, market or geographic location to another.

Hold some investments in gold (or similar precious metals).  Gold has always been considered the reserve currency when all other reserve currencies fail.  This is primarily because no one can create gold by fiat.  It has a fixed and limited supply, contrary to the currencies we have today, which can be set and reset by governments at whim.  At the same time, gold has shown itself to have an inverse relationship with the US dollar through history.  Investors run to gold in times of market uncertainty as it has proven itself as a reliable store of value time and time again.

China recently revealed that it has been quietly hoarding gold reserves since 2009, to the tune of an average 100 metric tons per year.  Although analysts anticipating a possible rate hike by the United States Federal Reserve are not so bullish on the price of gold, some investors, like the People’s Bank of China, continue to build their stockpile of gold as a means of diversifying their portfolios.

In summary, the ravages of a currency war on nations’ economies may be inevitable, but individual entities can still take precautionary measures that will help them survive and even thrive under such harsh economic conditions.

How To Invest Money In The Stock Market

Putting your money in the bank as your savings account is not enough if you want it to grow. The interest rates that bank offer in an annual basis is ridiculously low that you probably would enjoy all your hard earned money by the time you already have grandkis. The best way to make your money flourish is to invest it in a profitable place like a stock market. Although it is a good idea, there are still some things that you must know regarding it before you just throw all your savings in there without completely knowing what it is in the first place.investment risks

There are risks involved (just like any other investments) and it is a must that you are prepared for some unexpected negative outcome along the way. Keep in mind that the market or pretty much any industry or company cannot be stagnant with its money flow. One day it could go up and there are days when you will see it going down and I have to tell you that when that happens, it is not the end of the world.

The first thing you must do is research for the right company or business where you want to put your money in. Don’t just read about a company, but instead do thorough research. Usually, a broker would entice you to buy a specific stock in a market, I would suggest to not buy immediately without weighing the pros and cons.

Most brokers (especially in Wall Street) are trained to hard sell that you will just find yourself buying some stocks you probably haven’t even heard of. Worst is that you might even encounter some companies that would sell some fraudulent accounts, only to find out that in the end your money went to nothing because the said account does not even exist.

Make sure to find a go-to person when it comes to this who is trustworthy enough and someone knowledgeable in the field of finance. I would also say not to place ALL your money, especially NOT ALL your savings in one stock. That is not a wise move because there is a big chance of you losing them all. There is also a chance that you might gain even more than 100% of what you gave out, but it is best to keep your expectations low because the market is always fluctuating on a daily basis.

Allow me to summarize this, research the company you want to invest in. Find a broker who would help you out through the process and before you give out your money and sign any deal, make sure that you read the terms and condition of the company and your broker’s so you won’t have problems in the end.

The stock market is a tricky place and it is very unpredictable. It is also important that you have your own decision before buying a stock. This means, you can’t just be easily influenced by the people around you.