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Energy Department report fuels rumors about COVID-19 origins



The origin of COVID-19 remains obscure. Three years after the start of the pandemic, it is still unclear whether the disease-causing coronavirus leaked from a laboratory or was transmitted to humans from an animal.

What is known is that when it comes to disinformation about COVID-19, any new message about the origin of the virus quickly causes a relapse and a return of misleading claims about the virus, vaccines and masks that have reverberated since the start of the pandemic.

It happened again this week after the Department of Energy confirmed that a secret low-certainty report determined that the virus came from a lab. Within hours, references to COVID-19-related conspiracy theories began to rise online, with many commentators saying that the secret report was proof that they were right all along.


Algae farming fish help coral reefs recover from bleaching



Farmer fish are territorial and protect their algae gardens.


The fish caring for the fibrous algae patches seem to protect branching corals from the worst effects of sea heat and help them recover from bleaching.

In 2019, reefs off Moorea Island in French Polynesia in the South Pacific experienced their worst heat stress in 14 years. Due to approximately six weeks of unusually warm waters, branching corals are bleaching en masse, losing the symbiotic algae that live in them and provide most of their food.

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Why you should make the most of extra daylight when setting your clocks | biology



IIf we removed walls, ceilings, street lights, screens and let our senses guide us, we could get up at sunrise and sleep when it sets. Artificial lighting and blackout blinds allow us to choose our waking hours, but is it good for us to go to bed late under the light of electric bulbs and then sleep late? On Sunday, March 26, the clock changes to British Summer Time. That’s why we need to make the most of the extra daylight.

Why is morning light so important?

The body’s 24-hour cycle – its circadian rhythm – is controlled by light. “We evolved in the open,” says Dr Christine Blum, a sleep researcher at the Center for Chronobiology at the University of Basel. “So our biological clock is especially sensitive to daylight.”

This function, sometimes referred to as the circadian pacemaker, is found in suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain’s control center, the hypothalamus.

The most important timestamp of the environment – or timer – SCN achievement ambient light. “We receive information about time in the environment through our eyes,” Bloom says.

According to Blume, the non-image-forming light-sensitive cells in the eye primarily connect our internal biological clock to our environment. “[They are] especially sensitive to short waveswhich we sometimes call blue,” she says.

blue light has very short, high energy wavelength. This is what we see most often in the morning and in the middle of the day.

Morning light, according to Bloom, causes a “phase shift.” It adjusts the internal biological clock, speeding it up a little, helping you get tired more quickly in the evening.

In fact, morning light is so important that there is strong evidence that it powerful antidepressant – sometimes as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants.

Serotonin, often referred to as the body’s natural antidepressant, is produced when sunlight hits the eyes. The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are designed to increase serotonin levels in the brain. However, these medications can come with numerous side effects, from anxiety to diarrhea to sexual dysfunction.

On the other hand, using daylight to treat depression has no such side effects. Morning Light Therapy has been proven to useful in treatment seasonal affective disorder (SAD), perinatal depression, bipolar depression, eating disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Studies have also shown that exposure to morning light significantly improves attention and mood. He can reduce chronic pain, promote growth energy levels and mental performanceand as a result sleep better.

In the evening, as the sun approaches the horizon, blue light waves scatter into the atmosphere, while longer, redder light waves reach the earth’s surface. It is at this time that the master biological clock initiates production melatonina hormone that promotes sleep.

In this way, our circadian rhythm aligns our sleep and wakefulness with day and night, creating a healthy restorative cycle that allows for increased daytime activity.

“People often think they’re either larks or owls, but most of us fall somewhere in between.” Photographer: SimpleImages/Getty Images

How daylight can help you sleep

Getting enough natural light throughout the day critical for quality sleep at night – and sleep is essential if you want to function during the day. When you sleep, your brain forms new thought connections and memories are combined. Without sleep, your ability to concentrate, learn, and remember deteriorates.

Sleep deprivation also affects emotional memory processing, leading to a tendency to choose and remember negative memories after insufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation has been linked to psychiatric disorders such asbipolar disorder, anxiety and depression.

Is yours the immune system also depends on sleep. While you sleep, it produces protective, infection-fighting antibodies and cytokines. Lack of sleep prevents this defense from being built up, so your body may not be able to resist invaders and it may take longer to recover from illness.

Disrupted circadian rhythm is associated with a number of health problems, including: cancer, cardiovascular dysfunction, reproductive problems and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

Appetite, hormones, immune function: daylight helps regulate everything and more.

This daily cycle regulates not only our sleep and wake patterns, but also digestion, hormonal activity and other vital body functions.

“We have one biological master clock, which I like to think of as the conductor of an orchestra,” Bloom says. “And we have other clocks, for example, in the liver, heart and skin — in virtually every cell in the body.”

These trillions of tiny clocks are our natural timing devices, regulating the physiological functions of the entire body over a period of approximately 24 hours.

So, if you mess up your main watch, you mess up every other day-to-day function as well.

Take, for example, appetite. Have you ever noticed that you feel hungry when you are tired? More and more evidence is emerging linking lack of sleep with weight gain and obesity.

The production of hormones depends on sleep. Two of these hormones these are leptin, which tells your brain that you are full, and ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.” It has been found that sleep deprivation reduce leptin and increase ghrelinencouraging you to eat more than you really need.

I’m an owl, should I force myself to get up with the sun?

“People often think they’re either larks or owls, but most of us fall somewhere in between,” Bloom says. The real owls, Blume explains, are those who suffer from “delayed sleep phase syndrome.”

“They can’t fall asleep before 2 am or even later, and for them waking up at 8 am is like waking up at 5 am for everyone else.”

Most of us just have a penchant for owls. We prefer to stay up late and wake up at 8am rather than 6:30am, but it’s pretty easy to retrain our circadian rhythm by limiting light in the evening and going to bed earlier.

“Nature has come up with something that allows us to synchronize with the outside world,” Bloom says. “Our bodies and the world communicate. Your chronotype is the interaction between genetics and exposure to light, i.e. behavior. You can adapt to some extent.”

But I can lie on the weekend, right?

The problem comes during the weekend when we have the freedom to sleep whenever we want. Often we shift our circadian rhythms to a later time, which can lead to sleepy Monday mornings.

“We call this mismatch between social and internal biological rhythms ‘social jet lag,'” Blume says.

Bloom recommends making sure you get plenty of natural light in the morning and avoid artificial light in the evening to speed up your body clock, effectively putting it on a more socially acceptable schedule.

And, Bloom says, it’s important to go out. On a clear summer day, you can easily 100,000 lux (a measure of the intensity of the light level). This is about 200 times the standard lighting you would see indoors.

“Even on a cloudy day, the light outside is much brighter than inside,” Bloom says. “We often underestimate the brightness of daylight.”

Being outdoors brings other benefits as well. Vitamin D – “sunshine vitamin– Produced when sunlight hits the skin. This vitamin helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus needed to build bones. This was also found to reduce the growth of cancer cells, help control infections and reduce inflammation.

In addition, just 10 minutes in a natural setting has been shown to increase feelings of alertness. Happiness, reduce stress another improve focus. And spending time outdoors can reduce loneliness, improve immune function – even protect your eyesight.

So, when the clock rushes forward, should we get up and take care of our biological clock?

“It’s something free and natural,” Bloom says. “I always recommend natural daylight.”

Go for a walk, run or bike ride first thing in the morning and avoid the blue light of screens in the evening – you’ll sleep better at night and feel better.

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Samoan Prime Minister Urges World to Save Pacific Islanders from Climate Crisis | climate crisis



The world must step back from the brink of climate catastrophe to save the people of the Pacific from annihilation, Samoan Prime Minister urged.

On the eve of an important report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, expected to be the scientific “last warning” of the climate emergency, Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa issued a desperate call to action.

“We are all affected, but the extent of the impact depends on the specific circumstances of the countries. So our low-lying atoll countries are right here, we live with it,” Mataafa said.

“There are already examples of communities in the Pacific, entire communities that have moved to different countries,” she said. “They really have to deal with issues of sovereignty through the loss of land.”

Mataafa warned that all countries will face mounting damage if they do not act now. “This is a collective problem, no one is immune from the effects of climate change,” she said in an interview with the Guardian. “Therefore, it is very important for the global family to adhere to the definitions [to cut greenhouse gas emissions] which have already been made. It seems more immediate to us [in the Pacific] but it still affects all of us.”

Fiame Naomi Mataafa. Photographer: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the IPCC will present final summary of their latest global climate science assessment. Known as the ‘summary report’, it is expected to warn that the world has only a few years to make a deep transition to a global low-carbon economy or face catastrophe caused by extreme weather, including sea level rise, extreme heat. devastating droughts, more severe floods and a range of other impacts.

The report also laid out ways to achieve this low-carbon economy and keep global warming within the critical threshold of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, above which the IPCC has warned of consequences that would quickly become catastrophic and irreversible.

Mataafa said: “With the work of the IPCC, there is a glimmer of hope that there is a body of evidence that can support the decisions that need to be made. [People in Samoa are] having faith that [this message] endure.”

The IPCC is the world’s leading group of climate scientists, with hundreds of leading authors drawing on the peer-reviewed work of thousands of scientists to produce comprehensive reports spanning thousands of long pages summarizing global knowledge of the crisis.

Over the past two years, the IPCC has published its sixth such assessment since 1988, in three parts from August 2021 to March 2022. This final report, called the Synthesis Report, will summarize previous warnings and present them to governments around the world. .

The IPCC reports take six to eight years to complete, so they will be the last before 2030, when the world may already have passed the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced in the next few years.

Professor Emily Schuckburg, director of Cambridge Zero at the University of Cambridge, said: “The science is clearer than ever and once again scientists around the world are reminding us how little time we have left to limit warming to 1.5°C. Even now, at 1.1°C, climate change is deadly.”

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Alok Sharma, president of the 2021 UN climate summit Cop26, said governments must respond. “The IPCC reports continue to serve as a wake-up call for world leaders to act much faster if we are to maintain any hope of maintaining 1.5C. While we are seeing some progress, frankly, we are moving too slowly towards decarbonizing our economy and adapting to a changing climate,” he told The Guardian.

He called for more investment. “Finance is key, and the trillions of dollars of climate change that many leaders have been talking about is now critical,” he said.

The Pacific islands are among the countries most at risk, Mataaf said, and have been instrumental in calling for other countries to accept the 1.5-degree Celsius limit.

Consisting of nine small islands in the mid-Pacific Ocean about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, Samoa has higher landmass than many of its atoll neighbors. But the country is still facing rising sea levels and more destructive storms.

Mataafa, Samoa’s first female prime minister, attended a Commonwealth Secretariat event in London last week to discuss the role of women in tackling the climate crisis.

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