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Friday, October 20 2017 @ 11:22 PM UTC


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The skinny on obesity: It costs US $270B a year

Health & EnvironmentBy RITA DELFINER

Overweight and obesity are weighing on the US economy -- costing a big, fat $270 billion every year.

So says the Society of Actuaries in a study, released yesterday, analyzing the "increased need for medical care and loss of economic productivity resulting from excess mortality and disability."

"Just shows . . . obesity has a real impact on our economy," said co-author Don Behan, whose study crunched numbers from 500 research articles.

The estimated tab:

* For medical care caused by overweight and obesity is $115 billion.

* For productivity lost to excess mortality is $45 billion.

* For productivity lost to disability for active workers is $40 billion.

* For productivity lost to overweight or obesity for totally disabled workers is $65 billion.

The annual cost to Canada? A relatively reed-thin $30 billion, the study found.

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No Such Thing As Free Parking

Health & EnvironmentFirst Nationwide Count of Parking Spaces Reveals High Environmental Cost

The 250 million cars and trucks on America's roads get a bad rap for being environmentally unfriendly. Climate scientists say that automobiles add an array of greenhouse gases and harmful particulates into the Earth's atmosphere, yet little research has been done to estimate the impact parking spaces -- where those automobiles spend 95 percent of their time -- have on our planet.

"I think it's a surprisingly unknown quantity," said Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor and author of the book "The High Cost of Free Parking." "[Parking] is the single biggest land use in any city. It's kind of like dark matter in the universe, we know it's there, but we don't have any idea how much there is."
"The environmental effects of parking are not just from encouraging the use of the automobile over public transit or walking and biking," the group stated in their paper, "but also from ... activities related to building and maintaining the infrastructure."

"There's actually a larger infrastructure for parking than for roadways," said Chester. "This speaks to the sort of hidden infrastructure components that are there to store our vehicles when they're not moving."
"Only in the last 5-10 years have we been giving some thought to whether there should be an abundance of free parking," said Chester. "Ninety-nine percent of automobile trips end in free parking and this has a major effect on people's choice of what means of transportation to take."
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The American Energy Spectrum

Health & EnvironmentA really nice Flash interactive graph that breaks down different energy sources, and different energy uses. We utilize 40 QBTU and waste 54.5 QBTU. The largest source of waste is from the transportation sector.

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Green design/Build services help The Park School provide hands-on learning opportunity

Health & EnvironmentThere are those that oppose extra width on roads and bike trails for bicyclists because of the "environmental damage they do by increased impervious surface." Which is like opposing LED power indicator lights for "excessive" power drain while still using 100+ watt incandescent bulbs and driving a vehicle that gets less then 20mpg. Fix the bigger problems first! This article from Sustainable Stormwater Management highlights fixing a parking lot. This is a nice jester but why do we still build parking lots with absolutely no thought for the environment and no one is complaining about that?
Completed bioretention facility along parking area at Park School in Baltimore, Maryland.
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State making little progress with Smart Growth, study says

Health & Environment[B' Spokes: You could say that Smart Growth is a way of preserving biking on country roads as well as making urban areas more bikeable. Granted this is not the focus of Smart Growth but it is way we support it.]

&quot;Gerrit Knaap, director of the center, said there are &quot;a few bright spots,&quot; notably the preservation of land and recent promotion of development around transit stops in the Baltimore and Washington areas. But overall, he said, &quot;the evidence suggests that we haven't really bent the curves [of growth] in ways we hoped we would.&quot;

The study, underwritten by the Abell Foundation, assessed trends in population and employment, transportation, housing and development and in natural area preservation through 2007. It comes on the eve of a daylong state forum Friday on sustainability convened by Gov. Martin O'Malley, who ran for governor in 2006 on a pledge to strengthen Smart Growth policies. The session is meant to help the O'Malley administration shape its approach to environmental protection, farming and growth over the next four years.&quot;
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How did obesity become a partisan fight?

Health & EnvironmentBy Fred Hiatt

In that context, the first lady's campaign would seem to have struck Goldilocks perfection. The obesity epidemic is a genuine public health emergency, with vast implications for the nation's well-being, economy and even national security. And yet, could anyone really be against children eating healthier food and getting more exercise? Could anyone really object to White House assistant chef Sam Kass trying to interest Elmo in a vegetable-laden burrito?

Well, yes, if Michelle Obama is for it, someone will be against it. Someone like Glenn Beck, for example, who was moved to rail against carrot sticks, or Sarah Palin, who warned that Obama wants to deprive us all of dessert.

And when you look a little deeper, it's not surprising that a crusade seemingly beyond questioning would become a political battle. Interests that might feel threatened by Let's Move include the fast-food industry, agribusiness, soft-drink manufacturers, real estate developers (because suburban sprawl is implicated), broadcasters and their advertisers (of sugary cereals and the like), and the oil-and-gas and automotive sectors (because people ought to walk more and drive less).

Throw in connections to the health-care debate (because preventive services will be key to controlling the epidemic), race (because of differential patterns of obesity) and red state-blue state hostilities (the reddest states tend to be the fattest), and it turns out there are few landmines that Michelle Obama didn't trip by asking us all to shed a few pounds.

Insinuations from her critics notwithstanding, Obama has not endorsed nanny-state or controversial remedies such as ending sugar subsidies, imposing soda-pop taxes or zoning McDonald's out of certain neighborhoods. Instead, she is pushing for positive, voluntary change: more recess and physical activity, more playgrounds, more vegetable gardens, fresher food in schools and grocery stores, better education on the issue for parents and children.

All of this makes total sense, and historians will marvel (much as they will at climate-change deniers) that anyone could doubt it. The percentage of American adults who are obese more than doubled in the past 30 years, from 15 percent to 34 percent (with another 34 percent overweight); the share of obese children and teenagers more than tripled, from 5 percent to 17 percent. In fact, the astonishing acceleration of the epidemic (which may now have leveled off) might explain some of the skepticism; it takes a while for awareness to catch up to statistics.

But the statistics are scary. The implications for these children are heartbreaking, literally (obesity is associated with higher incidence of heart disease as well as diabetes) and figuratively. For the nation, it could be bankrupting. Obesity and its attendant ills already may add as much as $147 billion to health-care costs each year, one-tenth of the nation's medical bill, a figure that is certain to rise. And the Army reports that one in four young people is too fat to serve.
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Baltimore Free Farm Sustainability Center!

Health & Environment[B' Spokes: Just to note the project made its funding goal! Big thanks to the 124 people that made this happen.]
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Freinds of Baltimore Biomass we need you help!

Health & EnvironmentWe need you help! Today, the congressional tax package was released with proposed language that significantly reduces the tax credit for Biomass stoves and boilers from 30% to 10%. To change this, we need you to call or email your legislative officials today!

The current 25C tax credit (which expires on Dec. 31, 2010) provides a 30% tax credit of up to $1,500 for wood, pellet and corn stoves and boilers that are at least 75% efficient. However, today's draft tax language drops that credit down to a 10% tax credit up to $500.

Now is not the time to limit investment in clean, renewable, and energy efficient biomass heating appliances. A robust tax credit can be the difference between a family transitioning to an efficient biomass system or not.

Help us right now by contacting your Congressional Representative and Senators today. Tell them to maintain the 25C tax credit level for efficient, renewably-fueled biomass stoves and boilers. The vote could happen as soon as Monday Dec. 13th so don’t wait, take a few minutes to contact you representatives right now.

You can email your Congressman here: <a href=""></a>;

You can email your Senator here: <a href=""></a>;

Please also feel free to forward this email to your friends and family.

Thanks for your help,

George L Peters Jr – <a href=""></a>;
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Animals Are Becoming Obese Like Us, Says Study

Health & Environmentfrom TreeHugger

fat cat measured photo Photo: Yukari* / CC

Obesity rates among people worldwide have soared over the last several decades -- but it turns out that humans aren't the only ones packing on the pounds. According to a recent study from the University of Alabama, many animals that spend time living around humans are evidently more prone to becoming overweight, and researchers aren't entirely sure why.

David Allison, who studies obesity at the UA Birmingham, discovered an inexplicable trend of weight gain in small primates kept in the the university's laboratory. In hopes of learning more about the phenomenon, Allison compared his findings with 24 other data samples collected for animals ranging from domesticated dogs and cats to feral rats and chimpanzees used for research -- and what it pointed to was quite troubling. Animals are getting fatter, just like we are.

There was no single thread running through all 24 data sets that would explain a gain in weight. The animals in some of the data sets might have had access to richer food, but that was not the case in all data sets. Some of the animals might have become less active, but others would have remained at normal activity levels. Yet, they all showed overall weight gain.

The skyrocketing rates of obesity among humans over the last several decades has been attributed to unhealthy diets and increasingly sedentary lifestyles -- but, to Allison's surprise, those factors don't appear to be responsible for the animals in the study getting pudgier. In fact, at least for the lab's primates, they should be getting thinner.

"We can't explain the changes in [the animals] body weight by the fact that they eat out at restaurants more often or the fact that they get less physical education in schools," the researcher quipped in an interview with LiveScience. "There can be other factors beyond what we obviously reach for."

In the absence of any obvious reason why animals are getting fatter, some researchers are beginning to suspect the culprit may be a bit more surreptitious. Chemical additives and genetically modified food sources have been linked to childhood obesity -- and a similar process seems to be taking place within animals.

Unfortunately, this disturbing trend could mean that the overall health of the animals around us is in decline, which might have broader-reaching implications not yet fully understood. But there is one bright spot -- while it may become harder to get your chubby pooch to play fetch, teaching him to roll over and stay will probably be a bit easier.

Via Natural News

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Air Pollution Raises Obesity Risk For Young Animals, Regardless of Diet

Health & Environment&quot;A new study shows that exposure to polluted air early in life, at levels that correspond to the amount of fine particulate pollution found in many US cities, can lead to increased accumulation of abdominal fat and insulin resistance, even if a healthy diet is followed.&quot;
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