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Take an interactive tour of the world’s (cutest) vanishing species

Take an interactive tour of the world’s (cutest) vanishing species

By on 9 Jun 2015commentsShare

The humble sun bear.

Bryan James

File this under “superlatives you have never considered awarding before” — here’s the most adorable primer on extinction you’ve ever seen.

A British design firm made the “Species in Pieces” exhibition to showcase 30 “of the world’s most interesting but unfortunately endangered species.” Over a meditatively mournful piano track, the animals assemble and disassemble from a series of animated triangles. Click through, and you get facts about the threats facing each delightful creature, statistics about remaining populations, and videos of the real-life animals swimming or crawling or rolling adorably around.

On the hit list are cuties like the vaquita, a tiny dolphin that lives (for now) in the Gulf of Mexico. Newborns, as the site adorably informs us, are “the size of a loaf of bread,” and constantly look like they’re smiling.

The vaquita.

Bryan James

Then there’s the three-banded Brazilian armadillo, just returned from a tour of duty as the 2014 FIFA World Cup mascot. It may be an endearing match for jaguars and athletes’ feet alike — not to mention our hearts — but it doesn’t stand a chance against habitat loss and climate change.

Brazilian armadillo. Bryan James

The list goes on, with teeny golden frogs and wee pygmy sloths and the squee-worthy forest owlet. Like a lot of awareness-raising art, it’s not clear what we should do or feel at the end of a project like this. So until I can think up something more productive, I’ll just settle for a combination of swooning and sobbing and watching slow loris video compilations. Please, join me.



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Take an interactive tour of the world’s (cutest) vanishing species

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Bummer for anti-Keystoners: Report finds no conflict of interest, despite obvious conflicts of interest

Bummer for anti-Keystoners: Report finds no conflict of interest, despite obvious conflicts of interest

Michael Fleshman

Environmental Resources Management, the consulting firm hired by the State Department to review the potential environmental effects of the Keystone XL pipeline, did all sorts of dodgy and deceptive stuff, but none of it amounted to serious rule breaking — at least according to the State Department’s inspector general.

The Office of Inspector General today published a report that found ERM did not violate the State Department’s conflict-of-interest rules as it bid for the Keystone contract and wrote its study. Climate activists and environmentalists had requested the investigation by the inspector general, and now they’re none too pleased with the results.

Last month, the State Department released the environmental impact study written by ERM. It found that Keystone would not have significant climate impacts, even though sections of the study actually contradict that top-level finding. Grist’s Ben Adler recently highlighted the top three flaws with the study.

Bloomberg has compiled a handy list of questionable behavior by ERM:

Beginning in June 2012, ERM failed:

• to disclose a possible conflict of interest to the State Department until two months after it won the contract, as reported by … Jim Snyder at Bloomberg News;

• to reconcile why ERM listed TransCanada as a client in its marketing materials the year before it began the Keystone contract, even though ERM and TransCanada had both told State that they had not worked together for at least five years;

• to acknowledge, until the summer of 2013, that one of its divisions (ERM West) was working alongside TransCanada on the Alaska Pipeline Project;

• to alert State, until it was already under scrutiny for conflicts of interest, that it was bidding on new contracts in western Canada that might include two new projects for TransCanada, first flagged by the Washington Post;

• to note, as Politico has, that as recently as 2010 it was part of a lobbying group, the International Carbon Black Association, that’s partly owned by TransCanada through a subsidiary (Cancarb), and that includes major Keystone XL proponents and potential beneficiaries;

• to mention that it’s listed as a member of several trade organizations that support Keystone XL, among them the Western Energy Alliance, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association;

• to explain why ERM subcontractors who had worked on TransCanada projects in the past were suddenly removed roughly 24 hours after they were first posted (in a PDF) on the Web, a gaffe that led to a scoop for Mother Jones when the contractor names reappeared later with their affiliations redacted. …

Far more alarming than any of the above, ERM also relied on another firm to complete its Keystone assessment—and that company, as it happens, is owned outright by a tar sands developer.

As reported by Inside Climate News, critical analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in the Keystone XL EIS relies on research by Jacobs Consultancy, “a subsidiary of Jacobs Engineering, a giant natural resources development company with extensive operations in Alberta’s tar sands fields. The engineering company has worked on dozens of major projects in the region over the years. Its most recent contract, with Canadian oil sands leader Suncor, was announced in January.”

Apparently none of that bothered the inspector general.

Here’s what Jason Kowalski of activist group had to say about today’s report: “Far from exonerating the State Department of wrongdoing, the Inspector General report simply concludes that such dirty dealings are business as usual.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) argued that the inspector general’s report was too narrow. It focused, he said, on “whether the State Department followed its own flawed process for selecting a third-party contractor. The fact that the answer is ‘yes’ doesn’t address any outstanding concerns about the integrity of ERM’s work, the State Department’s in-house ability to evaluate its quality or whether the process itself needs to be reformed.”

Just yesterday, Grijalva asked the Government Accountability Office to do a separate investigation into State’s process for vetting contractors, and he says the GAO is planning to act on his request.

Meanwhile, anti-Keystone activists are gearing up for yet another arrest-provoking protest in front of the White House on Sunday. More on that coming soon.

Lisa Hymas is senior editor at Grist. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.Find this article interesting? Donate now to support our work.Read more: Business & Technology


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Bummer for anti-Keystoners: Report finds no conflict of interest, despite obvious conflicts of interest

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Green Health Care Design Is Affordable

The first hospital in the world to receive the LEED Platinum Certification, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas has six interior gardens representing different ecosystems in which sister facilities are located. Photo: Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas

It’s OK, health care, take a chance on going green. A study five years ago and a follow-up done just to be sure have confirmed that there’s a minimal cost, if any, to give health care facilities greener designs.

Results of the first study, “Demystifying First-Cost Green Building Premiums in Healthcare,” conducted in 2008, showed that the capital cost premium for green health care design was 2.4 percent. A lot of questions among health care institutions were circling at the time about green design and its costs. Authors of the study believed the results would put the cost concerns to rest. “We thought the findings would help to be a myth-buster,” co-author Gail Vittori told Healthcare Design.

But the data wasn’t enough. Concern over cost premiums persisted. The topic was revisited in a new study that used a new set of hospital projects, all completed between 2010 and 2012. And all were Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified for new construction by the U.S. Green Building Council.

What were the results? The averages were similar, with only a little variation. But health care institutions remain skittish about embracing green design. Authors of the study say they think it’s because the idea of being green is still new to health care, an industry with a risk-averse nature.

For more information, see the article in Healthcare Design.


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Green Health Care Design Is Affordable

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Why scientific proof isn’t always needed to justify concerns


Trident K9 Warriors – Michael Ritland & Gary Brozek

As Seen on “60 Minutes”! As a Navy SEAL during a combat deployment in Iraq, Mike Ritland saw a military working dog in action and instantly knew he’d found his true calling. Ritland started his own company training and supplying dogs for the SEAL teams, U.S. Government, and Department of Defense. He knew that fewer than 1 percent of […]

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Index Astartes: Chaplains – Games Workshop

Chaplains are the warrior-priests of the Space Marine Chapters, bringing the word of the Emperor into battle and lending their righteous fury to their battle-brothers. Encased in black armour an armed with an eagle topped Crozius Arcanum, they strike fear into the enemies of the Imperium. About This Series: The Adeptus Astartes are genetically engineered war […]

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Index Astartes: Codex Astartes – Games Workshop

The Codex Astartes details the doctrine of the Space Marine Chapters, compiled and written by the Primarch of the Ultramarines, Roboute Guilliman. While not every Chapter follows the Codex completely, it lays the foundation for their organisation and tactics. About this series: The Adeptus Astartes are genetically engineered warriors, created by the Emperor […]

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Munitorum: Shuriken Catapult – Games Workshop

The shuriken catapult is the preferred weapon of the Eldar and uses solid-state ammunition carved into monofilament discs, which are propelled into the enemy. Reliable and deadly Eldar Guardians use these weapons to great effect where their ‘shurikens’ cut easily through enemy armour and flesh. About this series: Weapons are the tools of war, and with them a […]

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Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Asmodai – Games Workshop

Asmodai is the Interrogator-Chaplain of the Dark Angels Chapter, and a zealous hunter of the Fallen. Using his Blades of Reason to inflict torturous pain upon traitors to the Chapter, Asmodai carves confessions from his captives, forcing them to repent before granting them death. About This Series: The galaxy burns with the fires of countless wars and confli […]

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Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids – Editors of Martha Stewart Living

Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids focuses on craft projects that children, aged three to twelve, can make with their parents. These projects are fun, yet serve a practical purpose; children can wear, decorate, and play with what they make. Filled with ideas for a range of ages, skill levels, and interests, this book lets children’s creativi […]

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Iyanden – A Codex: Eldar Supplement – Games Workshop

For thousands of years, the Eldar of Iyanden have sailed through the sea of stars, defending the galaxy’s eastern rim from the threat of Chaos. They have won great victories, but have known terrible tragedy also; what was once the most populous of craftworlds is now but a shadow of its former glory. This supplement to Codex: Eldar allows you to ta […]

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Munitorum: Banshee Mask – Games Workshop

The banshee mask is worn by the Eldar Howling Banshee Aspect Warriors giving them a fearsome appearance as they charge into the fray. Not merely a piece of armour, the mask releases a keening cry when the Banshee’s attack, stunning their foes and leaving them defenceless. About This Series: Weapons are the tools of war, and with them and other wargear, soldi […]

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Index Astartes: Dreadnought – Games Workshop

Dreadnoughts are powerful fighting machines piloted by the entombed remains of great Space Marine heroes. Often used in shock assaults or boarding actions, Dreadnoughts are capable of using heavy weapons with deadly and brutal proficiency. About this series: The Adeptus Astartes are genetically engineered warriors, created by the Emperor of Mankind and tempe […]

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How to Raise the Perfect Dog – Cesar Millan & Melissa Jo Peltier

From the bestselling author and star of National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer , the only resource you’ll need for raising a happy, healthy dog. For the millions of people every year who consider bringing a puppy into their lives–as well as those who have already brought a dog home–Cesar Millan, the preeminent dog behavior expert, says, “Yes, […]

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Why scientific proof isn’t always needed to justify concerns

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Washington Post Provides New History of NSA Surveillance Programs

Mother Jones

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Barton Gellman has a big piece in the Washington Post today about NSA’s codenamed surveillance programs that draws on “a classified NSA history of STELLARWIND and interviews with high-ranking intelligence officials.” STELLARWIND, an umbrella name for the original Bush-era program that collected phone and internet data, was succeeded by four separate programs:

Two of the four collection programs, one each for telephony and the Internet, process trillions of “metadata” records for storage and analysis in systems called MAINWAY and MARINA, respectively. Metadata includes highly revealing information about the times, places, devices and participants in electronic communication, but not its contents. The bulk collection of telephone call records from Verizon Business Services, disclosed this month by the British newspaper the Guardian, is one source of raw intelligence for MAINWAY.

The other two types of collection, which operate on a much smaller scale, are aimed at content. One of them intercepts telephone calls and routes the spoken words to a system called NUCLEON.

For Internet content, the most important source collection is the PRISM project reported on June 6 by The Washington Post and the Guardian. It draws from data held by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other Silicon Valley giants, collectively the richest depositories of personal information in history.

….The Post has learned that similar orders have been renewed every three months for other large U.S. phone companies, including Bell South and AT&T, since May 24, 2006. On that day, the surveillance court made a fundamental shift in its approach to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which permits the FBI to compel production of “business records” that are relevant to a particular terrorism investigation and to share those in some circumstances with the NSA. Henceforth, the court ruled, it would define the relevant business records as the entirety of a telephone company’s call database.

Gellman also tells us for the first time what it was that caused the famous 2004 showdown in John Ashcroft’s hospital room:

Telephone metadata was not the issue that sparked a rebellion at the Justice Department, first by Jack Goldsmith of the Office of Legal Counsel and then by Comey, who was acting attorney general because John D. Ashcroft was in intensive care with acute gallstone pancreatitis. It was Internet metadata.

At Bush’s direction, in orders prepared by David Addington, the counsel to Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the NSA had been siphoning e-mail metadata and technical records of Skype calls from data links owned by AT&T, Sprint and MCI, which later merged with Verizon.

For reasons unspecified in the report, Goldsmith and Comey became convinced that Bush had no lawful authority to do that.

In other words, it wasn’t the collection of telephone records that upset Comey, it was the collection of email, chat, Skype and other internet communications records. There’s more at the link about the showdown over the data collection programs, as well as the secret policies and legal opinions that govern exactly what NSA can and can’t do.

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Fukushima meltdown’s latest victims: American uranium jobs

Fukushima meltdown’s latest victims: American uranium jobs

Department of Energy

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant will shutter.

In comic books, radioactive disasters make stuff be massive. But in the real world, the Fukushima meltdown of 2011 is having the opposite effect on the worldwide nuclear power sector.

The sector is rapidly shrinking from the Hulk that it used to be, leading the U.S. government to announce on Friday that it is jumping out of the unprofitable uranium enrichment business.

The Energy Department is closing the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky at the end of the month. The plant opened in the 1950s to help the nation develop its nuclear arsenal, and in the 1960s it began enriching uranium for power plants. Federal officials say the refinery’s operations, which were privatized in the 1990s, are no longer sustainable. From Lex 18 News:

Soft demand for enriched uranium, stemming partly from the disaster in Japan when a tsunami crippled a nuclear plant, coupled with steep production costs triggered the decision, USEC spokesman Jeremy Derryberry said. Production will be phased out in the next month.

“We’ve been telegraphing for a long time that the plant had a limited lifetime,” Derryberry said. “That was only accelerated by what happened in Japan.”

Japan was an important market for the Paducah plant’s enriched uranium, but nearly all of Japan’s workable reactors have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

“What that essentially does is take a huge chunk of demand out of the market, at least in the near term,” Derryberry said. “With no demand, there’s an excess of supply. Prices go down. We just haven’t been able to find additional customers for the plant’s capacity.”

The Courier-Journal reports that the land upon which the facility operates is heavily polluted and that the government’s decision to close it has long been anticipated:

A Courier-Journal series in 2000 revealed that waterways, underground water, soil, plants and animals had been contaminated with some of the most dangerous chemicals known, including plutonium and dioxin.

“We will certainly work hard to keep the funding up” for the cleanup, Newberry said.

The Obama administration has been reluctant to keep the plant open. But a year ago, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a one-year extension under which the federal government and energy suppliers provided a market for the uranium.

But Chu also told [Senate minority leader Mitch] McConnell at a 2011 Senate hearing that 1950s technology used to enrich uranium for nuclear power plants was “energy-intensive, and I would rather us invest in more forward-leaning technologies.”

The closure will hit McCracken County hard, with at least 1,000 uranium enrichment-related jobs set to be lost. Meanwhile, the number of coal jobs in the state is at its lowest level since record-keeping began in 1950.

Some state lawmakers have been trying to give the state’s economy and workforce an Incredible Hulk-colored jolt by pushing the Clean Energy Opportunity Act. The legislation would force utilities to sell increasing amounts of renewable energy, implement energy efficiency measures and take other labor-intensive strides towards greening the state’s coal-dependent grid.

Despite one projection that the act could sustain as many as 2,8000 jobs every year over a decade and reduce electricity prices, the legislature let the bill die last year, with some lawmakers saying it would threaten the state’s coal sector. The legislation was reintroduced in February, but it has yet to receive so much as a committee hearing.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who


, posts articles to


, and

blogs about ecology

. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:


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Fukushima meltdown’s latest victims: American uranium jobs

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GOP: Obama Is Responsible for "A Culture of Intimidation"

Mother Jones

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Apparently this is the latest Republican thing. They can’t show that Obama has been actually involved in the IRS scandal—or in any of the other squabbles currently roiling Washington DC, for that matter—so now they’ve gotten together and agreed on a new party line: Obama is responsible for all of this stuff anyway because he’s relentlessly stoked a “culture of intimidation” against his adversaries. “The president demonizes his opponents,” Mitch McConnell said with a straight face on Sunday, and this is at the root of all our problems.

Paul Mirengoff correctly suggests that this sounds whiny—”the kind of thing I’d expect from Democrats.” But he agrees with the basic premise that Obama demonizes his opponents, and points us to an NRO piece by Eliana Johnson that provides the proof. I was curious, so I clicked the link. Just what has Obama done to strike fear into Republicans’ hearts?

Well, only three things apparently. First, he dissed Fox News and then tried to exclude them from the network pool. Second, at an explicitly partisan DNC fundraiser following the Citizens United decision, he castigated “harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates all across the country.” AFP, of course, is supported by the Koch brothers. And apparently Obama has also said some uncomplimentary things about Rush Limbaugh. This is the full bill of particulars.

I’ll give them the Fox thing. Trying to keep Fox out of the press pool was bush league nonsense. But really. Kicking back at the rancid bile that spews out of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth on a daily basis? Telling a bunch of rich Democratic donors that they’re up against lots of rich Republican donors, so please open your wallets? This is a culture of intimidation?

Conservatives, of course, have fostered a culture not of intimidation, but of rank hatred so insane you can practically see the spittle flecks every time they talk about Obama. And yet, when Obama returns fire, even with his trademark restraint, it’s time to bring out the smelling salts. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic

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Obamacare Doesn’t Make Employers Cover Spouses. Does That Matter?

Mother Jones

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Despite the 37 bills to repeal it and the scores of lawsuits filed against it, Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, is going to be in full swing soon. But the historic health insurance reform law is going to face many more bumps in the road as it is rolled out. One corner of Obamacare that hasn’t gotten much attention is the fact that it will not require employers to cover spouses, which experts say could lead some employers to drop coverage for Americans’ significant others.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that employers offer health insurance to workers and their dependents. But the law defines dependents as children, not spouses. And although some health care law experts say this is not going to result in any big changes in the way that employers provide insurance for husbands and wives, others contend that implementation of the law could end up leaving some spouses out of family plans, forcing them to buy insurance elsewhere.

“Right now there are virtually no employers that just offer coverage for the employee and their children,” says Tim Jost, a health care law scholar at the Washington and Lee University School of Law who regularly consults with Obama administration officials on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “Whether that will change or not, who knows. We will probably see at least some employers who will offer individual and child coverage, but not coverage for spouses.”

If you live in a household that is in the upper-income range—one that takes in more than $94,000 a year (above 78 percent of households)—and you get dropped from your spouse’s coverage, you won’t be able to get a government subsidy to purchase insurance on the government-run insurance exchanges being set up by the health law. So, say there’s a family in which each parent makes $47,000 a year, but only one has coverage. The spouse that is not covered would have to buy private insurance, which costs hundreds of dollars a month.

If you’re middle income or poor, and your spouse’s employer drops you from her health coverage, you’ll be able to shop on the exchange with a subsidy. Even though your coverage would not be free, the idea is that at least it would be kind of affordable. Unless it’s not. When people buy coverage on the exchange, their subsidy will be based on household income. As Jost points out, the problem is that household income for people using the exchanges will be measured before the household pays for the employer-provided health insurance. So the employee could be paying up to 9.5 percent of her income on health insurance for herself (the most that Obamacare will allow insurers to charge for employer-sponsored plans), or an even greater share of her income for individual and child coverage, and still her spouse’s subsidy on the exchange would be based on that much higher pre-health-care-costs income level.

“It’s a potential problem,” says Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, a group that backs Obamacare. “There could be some folks that get lost in the shuffle. And that is not insignificant…If you’re one of few people adversely affected by something, it doesn’t matter that everyone else on the planet is getting the benefit.” (The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment for the story.)

But Rome adds that the situation “has to be put in context.” He points out that this potential glitch doesn’t change the fact that some 30 million people currently without insurance will get coverage under Obamacare. And Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who helped craft Obama’s health care law, notes that “we’re still a hell of a lot better off than we are today.”

Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, adds that it’s unlikely that too many employers will drop spouses anyway. “Family coverage is valued employee benefit,” she says. “I don’t see that this provision is going to change what employers do.” Rome agrees: “If you are an employer and you provide good quality health care for your employees, including dependent coverage, it’s because you understand that a good benefits package is the best way to recruit and retain top-notch employees.”

Still, Rome says that Obamacare advocates would like to be able to address technical issues in the law, such as this potential spousal coverage problem, but that the Republican-controlled House makes that impossible. “It is an imperfection in the law and there are some things many of us want to fix,” Rome says. “And we could if we did not have a GOP House of Representatives obsessed with repealing the law.”

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Kosher salt: Don’t stress about sodium intake (unless you’re an average American)

Kosher salt: Don’t stress about sodium intake (unless you’re an average American)


Go crazy, dude.

Salt’s membership in junk food’s holy trinity (along with sugar and fat) means it’s one of the food industry’s essential tools for making its products addictively good. (Journalist Michael Moss reveals this in his eye-opening book Salt Sugar Fat, but if you’ve ever housed a box of Cheez-Its solo, you already knew that.) For decades now, limiting salt intake has been part of the public-health mantra; groups like the American Heart Association vilify salt for its links to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and recommend that we all aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams a day of salt consumption.

But all of a sudden a new report is causing a stir by saying that recommendation may be meaningless, and that consuming extremely low levels of sodium could actually be harmful.

Far out. Pass the Cheez-Its!

Sadly, it’s not quite that simple. The report, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confuses more than it clarifies. It looks at studies on sodium intake and health outcomes conducted since 2005 — the last time the U.S. issued dietary guidelines on salt. Back then, the USDA recommended that the general population consume 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day, and that populations at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure limit intake to 1,500 milligrams. The more recent evidence calls those guidelines into question. The New York Times reports:

“As you go below the 2,300 mark, there is an absence of data in terms of benefit and there begin to be suggestions in subgroup populations about potential harms,” said Dr. Brian L. Strom, chairman of the committee and a professor of public health at the University of Pennsylvania. He explained that the possible harms included increased rates of heart attacks and an increased risk of death. …

There are physiological consequences of consuming little sodium, said Dr. Michael H. Alderman, a dietary sodium expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who was not a member of the committee. As sodium levels plunge, triglyceride levels increase, insulin resistance increases, and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system increases. Each of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease.

“Those are all bad things,” Dr. Alderman said. “A health effect can’t be predicted by looking at one physiological consequence. There has to be a net effect.”

Medical and public health experts responded to the new assessment of the evidence with elation or concern, depending on where they stand in the salt debates.

Some experts worry the report will send the wrong message — that we’re off the hook in terms of watching our salt. A spokesperson for the AHA said the group “remained concerned about the large amount of sodium in processed foods, which makes it almost impossible for most Americans to cut back.”

When average sodium consumption in the U.S. and around the world is still 3,400 milligrams a day (that’s according to the Institute of Medicine; Moss puts the figure at 8,500 milligrams), the report’s warnings are useless at best and misleading at worst. Americans’ sodium problem has never been a matter of oversalting our potatoes at the dinner table, as we were originally led to believe (in his book, Moss recounts the campaign to demonize the household salt shaker). Rather, our problems stem from overconsumption of sodium-laden processed food.

But while misguidedly health-conscious Americans have been suffering bland food in fear of heart disease, the processed- and fast-food industries have made little effort to reduce the sodium content of their products. A single serving of chicken strips or Caesar salad dressing can negate any table-salt stinginess. A recent study found that between 2005 and 2011, the salt content of processed foods declined by an average of 3.5 percent; for fast food, it increased 2.6 percent. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Both of these changes were so small that they could have been due to chance, said study researcher Dr. Stephen Havas, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. …

Currently, 9 in 10 Americans eat too much salt, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The government recommends people limit their salt intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. …

“That’s nearly impossible for people to do right now, given how much salt is in restaurant and processed foods,” Havas said.

As with anything, a moderate amount of salt is good for you, and for some people, consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of it a day could apparently lead to low insulin levels, heart attacks, and death. But if you’re anything like the average American, you’re nowhere close to levels that low. So carry on with what you already knew: Fast food and processed food are loaded with salt and other ingredients designed to get you hooked. Avoid them as much as possible, and you should be just fine. Pass the salt shaker.

Claire Thompson is an editorial assistant at Grist.

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Some Shoppers Actively Avoid ‘Green’ Products

Photo: CERTs

Buying a green product—an energy-saving lightbulb or bird-friendly coffee—can give shoppers a feeling of satisfaction for doing a small part to help the environment. But green-certified product label don’t give everyone the warm fuzzies. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences found that some politically conservative shoppers actively avoid products that advertise their environmental friendliness.

The researchers conducted two studies to investigate how political ideology might influence a shopper’s choices. The researchers surveyed around 650 Americans ranging in age from 19 to 81. The interviewees answered questions about their political leanings, the value of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and their thoughts on the environment and on energy efficiency.

The results revealed that the more conservative a survey taker, the less likely he was to support energy-efficient technology. The researchers attributed this finding to the lower value that political conservatives place on reducing carbon emissions rather than on energy independence or reducing energy costs, both of which still appealed to this group of people.

In a second study, around 200 participants were given $2 to spend on either a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb or an incandescent bulb. Before making their purchase, the researchers informed the participants that the CFL bulb reduce energy costs by 75 percent. Some of the CFL bulbs also included a “Protect the Environment” sticker on their box.

When the researchers placed the CFL bulbs at $1.50 and the incandescent bulb at just 50 cents, conservative participants but not liberal ones were less likely to buy it. However, when that more expensive CFL bulb did not include a “Protect the Environment” sticker, liberals and conservatives were just as likely to buy it.

In other groups of participants, the CFL and incandescent bulbs were both sold for 50 cents. In this case, conservatives bought the CFL more often than the incandescent bulb.

While energy efficiency and green labeling is a popular marketing strategy today, the researchers point out that in some cases this may work against the product and polarize potential customers. Instead, in order to attract political conservatives, providing a competitive price tag may be the surest way to promote purchases.

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Some Shoppers Actively Avoid ‘Green’ Products

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