Daily Digest 10/2 – Good News Friday: Overlooked Variable Is Key to Pandemic, A Smarter Fall Cleanup

This is Good News Friday, where we find some good economic, energy, and environmental news and share it with PP readers. Please send any positive news to [email protected] with subject header “Good News Friday.” We will save and post weekly. Enjoy!


Laughter May Be Effective Medicine for These Trying Times (jdargis)

Laughter releases nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels, reduces blood pressure and decreases clotting, Dr. Miller said. An epidemiological study of older men and women in Japan confirmed that those who tend to laugh more have a lower risk of major cardiovascular illness. Possessing a healthy sense of humor is also associated with living longer, an epidemiological study from Norway reported, although the correlation appears to be stronger for women than for men.

This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic (Andy B.)

There are COVID-19 incidents in which a single person likely infected 80 percent or more of the people in the room in just a few hours. But, at other times, COVID-19 can be surprisingly much less contagious. Overdispersion and super-spreading of this virus are found in research across the globe. A growing number of studies estimate that a majority of infected people may not infect a single other person. A recent paper found that in Hong Kong, which had extensive testing and contact tracing, about 19 percent of cases were responsible for 80 percent of transmission, while 69 percent of cases did not infect another person. This finding is not rare: Multiple studies from the beginning have suggested that as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission, and that many people barely transmit it.

How to Talk to a Friend Who ‘Doesn’t See the Point’ in Voting This Year (jdargis)

Every expert I spoke to talked at length about the fact that we are voting for more than just the next president on November 3. “That is the most important thing to consider when you decide if you’re going to vote or not,” Capodice said. “You’re voting for your state senators and representatives, for sheriff, your local judges, your school board… all those jobs have an inordinately larger effect on your life and your family and your community than the president of the United States does.”

Watch Adorable 5-Week-Old Panda Cub Crawl to Its Mother in National Zoo Video (TourGuideDC)

Laurie Thompson, the assistant curator of giant pandas, explained in an update that at one month old, the panda cub relies on its mother’s milk for all of its nutritional needs. When the cub is around one year old, the majority of its diet will be made up of bamboo and other solid foods, but it still may nurse for comfort up to the age of 18 months.

Why Male Baboons Benefit From Female Friends (jdargis)

Although males and females may groom each other, there isn’t much male-male grooming or bonding in the Amboseli population. Pairs of female baboons, on the other hand, form “lifelong bonds,” Dr. Campos said, and earlier research has shown that female baboons with strong relationships live longer than socially isolated females.

A Smarter Fall Cleanup (jdargis)

So how do you make a responsible plan that acknowledges both ecology and your horticultural goals? Maybe it’s better to think of fall garden cleanup as an editing job — not some wholesale, wall-to-wall regimen like vacuuming the living room.

Becca Rodomsky-Bish, of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Margaret T. McGrath, a Cornell plant pathologist (both serious home gardeners beyond their day jobs), shared advice about how to proceed.

Mayors of 12 Major Cities Commit to Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies, Invest in Green and Just Recovery from COVID-19 Crisis (Bill M.)

Signatories, unveiled at a virtual Climate Week NYC event, include: Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver. According to Energy Policy Tracker, more than $200 billion in COVID-19 recovery funds are being pledged to fossil fuels, though risky investments in coal, oil, and gas are key drivers of the climate emergency. Continued investment in fossil fuels drives emissions that endanger the Paris Agreement goals, jeopardize efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, and threaten to lock dangerous carbon emissions into economies, especially as governments determine preferred pathways to a COVID-19 recovery.

An Ancient Town Submerged: Hasankeyf Underwater (sv)

Last year, I featured photos of the efforts made to move parts of the ancient Turkish town of Hasankeyf to a new location, as a massive dam project was about to cause the Tigris River to rise and flood the area. A year later, the reservoir behind Ilisu Dam has largely filled up, inundating the historic town and surrounding archaeological sites, despite years of protests by residents and activists. Most of Hasankeyf’s residents were relocated to New Hasankeyf, a village made up of government-built housing on the opposite shore, as their old homes were slowly submerged. Now, to encourage tourism, authorities are allowing swimming in the reservoir, and boat tours are being offered. Collected here are images from the past year, as Hasankeyf was slowly engulfed by the rising Tigris River.

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