Sunday, May 29, 2022

Rising temperatures erode human sleep globally

So global warming will endanger your sleep? Given the ubiquity of temperature-control devices from fans to to air-conditioning, probably not. And the effect observed was tiny anyway. They found that greater warmth would lose you just 50 hours of sleep per YEAR


Ambient temperatures are rising worldwide, with the greatest increases recorded at night. Concurrently, the prevalence of insufficient sleep is rising in many populations. Yet it remains unclear whether warmer-than-average temperatures causally impact objective measures of sleep globally. Here, we link billions of repeated sleep measurements from sleep-tracking wristbands comprising over 7 million sleep records (n = 47,628) across 68 countries to local daily meteorological data. Controlling for individual, seasonal, and time-varying confounds, increased temperature shortens sleep primarily through delayed onset, increasing the probability of insufficient sleep. The temperature effect on sleep loss is substantially larger for residents from lower-income countries and older adults, and females are affected more than males. Those in hotter regions experience comparably more sleep loss per degree of warming, suggesting limited adaptation. By 2099, suboptimal temperatures may erode 50–58 h of sleep per person-year, with climate change producing geographic inequalities that scale with future emissions.


UK to relax law on gene-edited food in post-Brexit change from EU

The UK has begun the passage of a law that will allow the sale of food that has been gene-edited to improve human health and curb environmental impacts, in one of the country’s first big post-Brexit divergences with the European Union.

The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill introduced today will allow crops that have had their genome edited to be treated differently in England from genetically-modified organisms, which can involve foreign DNA from other species. There was a de facto ban on both under EU rules that the UK carried over when leaving the bloc, but GE crops could be developed, grown and sold in England if the law passes. They could also be sold in Wales and Scotland, but not in Northern Ireland as it is still subject to some EU rules as part of the Brexit agreement.

“These gene editing tools have the ability to mimic natural breeding, and generate changes within a species that we find desirable for one reason or another,” says Gideon Henderson, chief scientific adviser at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. “There’s potential for UK economic growth in this area, also potential for UK environmental benefit.”

This week, researchers revealed a tomato had been edited using CRISPR technology to make it a rich source of vitamin D. Other mooted uses for the technology include making more drought-resilient to cope with climate change, and creating crops resistant to diseases so farmers can use fewer pesticides, which have been linked to insect declines.

The vast majority of the UK public, 88 per cent, are opposed to the rule change allowing gene-edited food to be sold. However, to date there has been no major backlash akin to the one against GMO “Frankenfood” where campaigners ripped out crops in field trials more than two decades ago.

Accounts differ on when gene-edited food might be in shops. Environment minister George Eustice has claimed next year. Henderson says: “In the next four or five years, I would anticipate seeing a slew of potential new products arriving.” There are no plans to require retailers to label products that are gene-edited.

New Scientist asked the UK’s major supermarkets to confirm if they would be selling gene-edited food, but none of them were prepared to say yes.

Under the proposed law, only gene-edited crops with traits that could also be produced using traditional plant breeding will be allowed. An expert committee advising Eustice, ACRE, will decide if products meet that criteria or not, though exactly how is unclear at this stage.

The proposed rule changes, which the government is hoping become law later this year, initially apply only to crops. However, the law would mean secondary legislation, which does not require parliamentary scrutiny, could be given the green light for gene-editing in livestock later.


Republicans Can Stop ESG Political Bias

I’m old enough to remember when liberals accused big business of consistently being on the side of Republicans. But in 2022 the woke left is poised to conquer corporate America and has set in motion a strategy to enforce their radical environmental and social agenda on publicly traded corporations.

A sudden abundance of liberal shareholders isn’t what’s driving this new trend of woke capitalism, and it certainly isn’t a reflection of consumer demand. Rather, the shift is entirely manufactured by a handful of very large and powerful Wall Street financiers promoting left-wing environmental, social and governance goals (ESG), and ignoring the interests of businesses and their employees.

ESG is a pernicious strategy, because it allows the left to accomplish what it could never hope to achieve at the ballot box or through competition in the free market. ESG empowers an unelected cabal of bureaucrats, regulators and activist investors to rate companies based on their adherence to left-wing values. Like the social credit scores issued by the Chinese Communist Party, a low ESG score can be devastating, making it virtually impossible for a company to raise capital—and that is exactly the point.

Last week the S&P 500 ESG Index delisted Tesla because it claimed the electric automaker lacked a “low carbon strategy.” In reality, the left is likely targeting Tesla CEO Elon Musk because of his commitment to free speech and his criticism of the Biden administration.

ESG scores are not only inherently political, as evidenced by the attack on Tesla and Mr. Musk, but they are completely subjective, and often hypocritical. In one particularly egregious example, Exxon Mobil and Chevron received less favorable ESG scores than Russian energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft, in which Vladimir Putin’s government is a major shareholder. What exactly is the left’s criteria when companies largely controlled by Mr. Putin’s murderous regime are ranked higher than American companies? It is revealing to note that proponents of ESG, despite their altruistic pretenses, almost never refuse to do business with China or Russia—two of the world’s biggest polluters with well-documented histories of human rights abuses.

Finance was always meant to facilitate investment and spur economic growth benefiting the entire country. But President Biden’s regulators are weaponizing the financial system to shut down economic growth in the energy industry in the name of environmental extremism. The president’s climate envoy, John Kerry, is pressuring banks to refuse to make loans to U.S. oil and gas companies, leaving them unable to increase production.

Activist investors in the private sector are all too happy to play along. In one recent instance, an insurgent shareholder, backed by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, forced Exxon Mobil to put three environmentalists on its corporate board.

Without government intervention, the ESG craze will only get worse. Mastercard recently announced that it will begin “linking employee compensation to ESG goals.” In other words, paychecks will no longer be based on an employee’s performance but on how well they conform to the woke political opinions of their supervisors.

In April, a California court struck down state laws requiring corporations to select board members based on race and sex, delivering a victory for the right to equal treatment guaranteed by the Constitution. States, cities and Congress should follow suit by adopting measures to discourage the use of ESG principles.

States with large employee pension funds invested in the stock market would be well advised to rein in massive investment firms like BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard, which manage a combined $22 trillion in assets and are pushing a radical ESG agenda. State and local governments should entrust their money to managers that don’t work against their residents’ best interests. States should also pass model legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council requiring government pension-fund managers to vote the state’s shares, rather than delegating that authority to huge Wall Street firms.

Most important, the next Republican president and GOP Congress should work to end the use of ESG principles nationwide. For the free market to thrive, it must be truly free. ?


A skeptical view of sustainable living

The Idiocy of Tiny Houses and Electric Vehicles

The only readily available statistics are from 2013, but they indicate tiny home owners are older, whiter, and have higher incomes than the national average, even without adjusting for the large percentage of retirees who are living off pensions.

Like everything else, sustainability has gone commercial. Tiny houses and electric cars are trendy, but if you’re abandoning a perfectly functional home to build a tiny one, or a dependable gas vehicle to go electric, you’re just wasting money on more crap.

To live more sustainably, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

One could make the argument that over 10–15 years, what you’ll save on gas or utilities will make up for splurging on a tiny house or a Tesla, but this is more of a rationalization. When it comes to shiny objects, we decide to buy first, then figure out how to justify it later.

44% of the people who buy tiny homes regret it, 20% of electric car owners switch back to gas-powered cars, 43% report driving more once they go electric, and 78% keep at least one gas-powered vehicle.

The biggest complaint about tiny houses? They’re too tiny.

The biggest complaint about electric cars? Not enough range or charging stations, and home charging systems are too expensive.

This isn’t sustainability, it’s just buying more garbage, all of which has to be mined, manufactured, transported, and maintained.

Consider the amount of labor and materials wasted when needlessly replacing a two ton vehicle 78% of drivers keep anyway. All you have is another car that has to be serviced, registered, and insured. If everyone could afford a dependable, long-range electric vehicle — which was supposed to be the point — how many of the current owners of EVs would even want one?

The average cost of a tiny house is $30,000-$60,000, depending on size, location, plumbing, electricity, and your ability and willingness to build it on your own. This is still out of reach for most Americans, even if they’re willing to live out in the middle of nowhere without plumbing and solar power only, which requires several batteries, inverters, and large panels if you want to maintain any semblance of the life you’re accustomed to.

The most modest independent solar power systems can recharge a phone or a laptop, and maybe power an electric fan for a few hours assuming it’s sunny. No TV, air conditioning, microwave, or dependability, unless you’re willing to spend tens of thousands on additional panels, batteries, and industrial strength inverters, and even then, a cloudy week could leave you powerless.

Conceding you’re one of the few who can afford a cramped house and an extra field of panels to power your car, is this really the best use of your money if your goal is to live sustainably?

Instead of going small, you could rent out a few rooms in your house, if only for storage, or shutter and seal them to save on utilities. This would give you a taste of living tiny before you commit. Or you could put that money toward providing housing for people who actually need it.

You might squeeze another 100,000 miles out of a reliable old car with great gas mileage. Wait until you actually have to replace it, and you’ll have the option of purchasing a cheaper electric vehicle with better range than anything available today.

We like to buy stuff because it’s tangible and typically visible. One of the reasons I suspect people are dissatisfied with tiny houses is because they can’t drag enough people over to show them off, or don’t have enough power to keep posting pictures on social media.

Tiny houses and electric cars have been co-opted by lifestyle salesmen, so save your money or put it toward causes that can help instead, like libraries, homeless shelters, and expanding mass transit. If you want to live in a cramped overpriced dwelling where you don’t need a car, try NYC. Large cities are greener than smaller ones and the suburbs, and you’ll be cured of tiny houses for life.




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