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Climate change is forcing a rift in the Murdoch family

As wildfires spread across Australia last November, newspapers and television networks owned by conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch started pushing a false narrative: Arson, not climate change, was responsible for the crisis.

That wasn’t the only inaccurate claim being bandied about by Murdoch’s conservative news outlets in Australia and the U.S. while millions of acres burned and an estimated billion animals perished. Fox News spread the incorrect claim that 200 arsonists had set Australia on fire. News Corp, the linchpin of Murdoch’s media empire, also pushed the false ideas that environmentalists were opposed to fire prevention measures and that this year’s fires were not out of line with what’s occurred in previous years. The latter claim is diametrically contrary to the science, which indicates rising temperatures are creating conditions ripe for prolonged mega-wildfires.

Murdoch is no stranger to criticism. In a recent op-ed, climate scientist Michael Mann called the mogul an “arsonist.” A six-month New York Times investigation found the Murdoch family turned their outlets into “political influence machines” that “destabilized democracy in North America, Europe, and Australia.” In 2011, Murdoch was denounced left and right when a tabloid he owned called News of the World shuttered after employees hacked into a number of phones, including the device of a recent murder victim.

But it is unusual for Murdoch to catch heat from his own family. In a dramatic turn of events, a spokesperson for Murdoch’s son, James, said the scion felt “frustration” over the way his father’s business covered the crisis on Wednesday. James and his wife Kathryn Murdoch are “particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary,” according to the spokesperson’s statement, which was first reported by the Daily Beast. Murdoch’s decision to distance himself from his family’s views on climate are notable in no small part because he was recently in line to take over the company — his brother, Lachlan, got the gig — and is on the News Corp board of directors.

The spokesperson’s statement says that “Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established,” and that’s true. As chief executive of Sky, James pushed the British television service to go carbon-neutral. He invited former vice president Al Gore to give a lecture on climate change at a Fox corporate retreat. Meanwhile, Kathryn is, by any definition, a climate advocate. She’s a trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund and Climate Central, and was the director of strategy and communications for the Clinton Climate Initiative for four years.

Now that James is no longer directly involved with his family’s company apart from sitting on News Corp’s board of directors, his comments will likely have little bearing on whether News Corp and Fox News continue to sow disinformation. But fans of HBO’s blockbuster TV drama Succession, a thinly veiled dramatization of the Murdoch family’s exploits, know the younger Murdoch’s public stand would make for extremely good television.


Climate change is forcing a rift in the Murdoch family

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Going Green Shouldn’t Cost Green: 5 Business-Savvy Strategies

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No longer is climate change a fringe issue. These days, it’s a business one. Worldwide, eight in 10 consumers say it’s “extremely” or “very” important that companies implement programs to help the environment. Like it or not, today’s consumers expect businesses to lead the charge on environmental causes.

Fortunately, your company doesn’t have to choose between saving money and saving the Earth. In addition to the marketing boost that environmental action might net you, many of the best ways to protect the planet also benefit your user experience, your recruiting game, and your operations budget.

Simple Business-Savvy Sustainability

1. Digitize to make consumer data more accessible.

With respect to sustainability and your user experience, digital account access is the table stakes. Whether you’re a hospital, bank, or retail brand, there’s no reason you should prefer paper billing. Not only does online management minimize printing and disposal costs, it reduces waste and the CO2 impact of mail delivery.

What’s the step-up strategy? Strengthen your user experience by turning write-in information into online tools.

Until recently, for example, consumers who wanted to know their auto insurance score had to request mailed copies from researchers like Lexis Nexis. By letting consumers look up their score for free online auto insurance, companies are differentiating themselves while doing good for the environment.

2. Incentivize working from home.

If you’re looking for another way to differentiate yourself, this time with workers, turn to remote work. Not only is the benefit free to offer, but it’s in high demand: Eighty-five percent of millennials say they’d prefer to telecommute all the time. Given that reducing the number of miles driven is one of the best things an individual can do to reduce their carbon footprint, why not take the win-win?

What if your company requires physical work? Consider investing in a small fleet of loaner bikes that employees can use to commute, go out to lunch, or run a quick errand. If several employees have electric cars, it could also be worthwhile to invest in an electric vehicle charging station. Alternatively, some companies give workers a monetary incentive for leaving their cars at home. For example, Clif Bar offers a reward program that pays employees when they commute by walking, biking, taking public transit, and other eco-friendly alternatives to driving their car alone.

Swapping business trips for video conferences saves your business time and money — and reduces your environmental impact. Image: Adobe Stock


3. Think twice about business trips.

Commuting isn’t the only type of travel associated with work, and it certainly isn’t the one that company leaders have the most control over. Although some types of business travel, such as site surveys and investor meetings, are non-negotiable, most are optional. Not only is online conferencing more environmentally friendly, but it also saves companies hundreds to thousands of dollars per eliminated trip.

Always ask before you book travel: would a video conference work just as well?

If travel isn’t necessary, take a mitigation approach. Swap short flights for car trips. Greenhouse gas emissions from flying have increased more than 80 percent just since 1990. Better yet, take a bus or train.

To understand just how much your company’s transportation habits cost the environment, check out the University of California-Berkeley’s carbon emissions calculator.

4. Minimize disposable office products.

Whatever your workplace’s carbon footprint, it could almost certainly be less. Swap paper towels for washable fabric ones. Encourage employees to use reusable mugs and water bottles by eliminating disposable cups. Buy a set of cheap silverware in place of plastic cutlery. None of these changes will make or break your budget, but the environmental benefits increase as more employees participate.

Remember that your office can be the place employees, partners, and customers learn to think of the planet first. That’s a reputation win, too.

On average, Americans produce 4.4 pounds of trash every day. Much of that waste happens at home, but the office environment matters as well. Full-time team members spend half their waking hours at work, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have sustainable options to choose from when eating lunch, deciding to print or not, or using the restroom. Small changes add up to big differences in CO2 emissions.

5. Make utility money go further.

Every time someone turns up your office’s air conditioning or flips on a light, it costs money. You don’t have to sweat in the heat (or work in the dark), but you also don’t have to settle for steep utility bills.

If you’re not ready to put solar panels on the roof, start small. As they burn out, switch your incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs. Use expanding foam sealant to fill cracks. Invest in a smart, programmable thermostat. Even asking employees to unplug their devices before they leave can put a dent in your utility expenses: Keeping electronics plugged in when they’re asleep costs consumers upwards of $19 billion per year.

Consumers have made it clear: Creating a healthier, cleaner world should be every company’s charge. Encourage your employees to reduce their emissions, but don’t use that as an excuse to avoid making company-level changes. We all live on the same planet; it’s up to all of us to protect it.

You Might Also Like…

8 Ways Your Business Can Help Save the Environment

The workforce is getting younger as millennials take over jobs …Drew HendricksJune 11, 2018

Are Family-Owned Businesses Kinder to the Earth?

Who doesn’t like the idea of a family-owned business? There’s …Larry AltonMay 22, 2018

Is Working from Home Really More Sustainable?

Working from home is more common than ever before, but …Larry AltonMarch 13, 2018


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Going Green Shouldn’t Cost Green: 5 Business-Savvy Strategies

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Trace Your Roots with DNA – Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak & Ann Turner


Trace Your Roots with DNA

Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak & Ann Turner

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 27, 2004

Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

Written by two of the country's top genealogists, this is the first book to explain how new and groundbreaking genetic testing can help you research your ancestry According to American Demographics, 113 million Americans have begun to trace their roots, making genealogy the second most popular hobby in the country (after gardening). Enthusiasts clamor for new information from dozens of subscription-based websites, email newsletters, and magazines devoted to the subject. For these eager roots-seekers looking to take their searches to the next level, DNA testing is the answer. After a brief introduction to genealogy and genetics fundamentals, the authors explain the types of available testing, what kind of information the tests can provide, how to interpret the results, and how the tests work (it doesn't involve digging up your dead relatives). It's in expensive, easy to do, and the results are accurate: It's as simple as swabbing the inside of your cheek and popping a sample in the mail. Family lore has it that a branch of our family emigrated to Argentina and now I've found some people there with our name. Can testing tell us whether we're from the same family? My mother was adopted and doesn't know her ethnicity. Are there any tests available to help her learn about her heritage? I just discovered someone else with my highly unusual surname. How can we find out if we have a common ancestor? These are just a few of the types of genealogical scenarios readers can pursue. The authors reveal exactly what is possible-and what is not possible-with genetic testing. They include case studies of both famous historial mysteries and examples of ordinary folks whose exploration of genetic genealogy has enabled them to trace their roots.


Trace Your Roots with DNA – Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak & Ann Turner

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Indoor Gardening For the Brown Thumb

Do you have a knack for killing your indoor houseplants? While all plants require some TLC, cultivating a green thumb doesn?t need to be hard. If you?ve been known to have a brown thumb, the trick to success is finding some greenery that only requires occasional attention.

Start by choosing a few easy-to-grow varieties and selecting plants that are right for your home. Before you settle on any specific type, pay attention to the natural light from your windows. All plants need some light, but some like it bright, while others do well in lower settings. Be sure to read the plant tags to find one that will do well with the light in your house.

6 easy-to-grow houseplants

Ready to take the plunge into indoor gardening? Start with one or two of these low-attention varieties:


This lush green houseplant is easy to keep vibrant all year. It won?t do well baking in the hot sun all day, but medium-to-bright light is okay. Let it grow long in a hanging basket, or put it in a cute pot and keep it short with an occasional haircut. Don?t worry?trimming won?t hurt it.


Also known as the mother-in-law?s tongue, the tall spikes on this plant are stunning. This variety can live for a long time and does best in low-to-medium light. It doesn?t like extra water, so always let it dry out before watering again, and pour out any excess water in the pot?s saucer.

Aloe vera

Aloe is a sun-loving succulent that does not like water?an especially good starter plant for a brown thumb. To care for it, place it in your brightest window, let the soil dry before watering, and remove any standing water from the pot.


Also known as a Schefflera, this easy-to-grow plant likes medium light. Let it dry out between watering?start by watering it once a week and see how it does.

Asparagus fern

Lacy and trailing, the asparagus fern is perfect for a tall stand or hanging basket. This plant likes humidity, making it a great choice for a kitchen or bathroom. It does well in medium-to-bright light with frequent watering. One thing to note: Although it has soft foliage, there are thorns on the stem.


With long, variegated leaves, this plant will add the perfect green hue to your d?cor. This variety prefers moist soil and low-to-medium light. To keep it from drying out too quickly, don?t place it near a heat vent.

Three steps to indoor gardening success

These three simple steps can help you grow an indoor garden you?ll want to show off:

Put your plant in a bigger pot

When you pick up a small, full plant at the garden center, you?ll find the most success by repotting it as soon as you get home. A small pot can only hold a small amount of nutrients and water. To keep it looking as good as the day you bought it, switch it to a bigger pot, so it has plenty of room to grow. Plus, this gives you a chance to move it from the plastic nursery container to a pot that matches your furnishings.

These steps will help you properly repot your plant:

Choose a pot slightly bigger than the current container. It should have a drain hole and a saucer to catch any extra water that escapes.
Place a rock over each of the pot?s drain holes to keep dirt from clogging them.
Place a small amount of potting soil in the bottom of the pot.
Gently remove your new plant from its old container and place it in the bigger one.
Fill the pot with dirt by lightly spooning it around the plant. Leave about an inch of space at the top, so it doesn?t overflow when you water it.

Feed with love

If you don?t have a natural green thumb, you probably don?t use fertilizer very often. Never fear?you have a few easy options. You can choose to sprinkle time-release fertilizer on top or use fertilizer spikes that are pushed into the soil. Both last for months. Note on your calendar when it will be time to fertilize again.

Remember to water

A once-a-week watering schedule is all you need with these suggested houseplants. A few, like the aloe and the snake plant, can skip a week if the soil still seems moist. The trick to remembering to water is to pick a day and stick to it. A reminder alarm on your phone is a great way to get into a watering routine.

Your plant will tell you if it becomes unhappy. You might see it wilt, turn yellow, or get spots on the leaves. If this happens, go back to the basics. By making sure it has the right amount of light and giving it the proper amounts of water, you?ll soon be able to show off your green thumb with a beautiful indoor garden.

A home and gardening expert,?Lea Schneider?has published?advice?in?publications like?The Washington Post, Woman?s Day, Family Circle, Consumer Reports?ShopSmart, and Better Homes and Gardens.?She?covers home-improvement and gardening tips for?Groupon.?You can find savings on gardening supplies and more?on Groupon?s Home Depot page here.

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Indoor Gardening For the Brown Thumb

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5 Sustainable Swaps for a Green School Year

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5 Sustainable Swaps for a Green School Year

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6 Green Parenting Tips for Summer

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6 Green Parenting Tips for Summer

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7 of The Germiest Places in Your Home – And What to Do About Them

You may already approach public toilets or street food vendors with caution, but harmful bacteria can be much closer to home. Hotspots throughout your home can act as unintentional breeding grounds for dangerous pathogens.

Read on to discover some of the most high-risk areas and how to keep germs out of your home for good.

1. Kitchen Sponges

An NSF International study found that kitchen sponges topped the list of the dirtiest places in your home. The warm, wet conditions in an ordinary kitchen sponge create a haven for harmful microorganisms to multiply. To make matters worse, these pathogens get spread throughout your kitchen as you wipe counters, sinks and cutting boards with your sponge. Kitchen sponges are a serious enough health threat that the FDA banned their use in commercial kitchens.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

If you?d like to keep your kitchen sponge, check out these ways to keep your sponge clean. But, overall, the best way to prevent sponge contamination is to stop using them. Dish cloths or rags make good replacements because they dry faster, which makes them less likely to grow bacteria. Hang them out flat after each use and let them dry thoroughly before using again. Have a few cloths in rotation so you always have a dry cloth handy.

2. Kitchen Sink

Your kitchen sink can breed germs almost as well as your kitchen sponge. It?s where you wash harmful bacteria and other pathogens off your fresh food, but they don?t all go down the drain. Some collect and multiply in your sink?s damp and inviting environment. One study found coliform bacteria in almost half of the kitchen sinks they sampled. Coliform bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, are bacteria that originate in feces.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Wash your sink thoroughly at least twice a week. Scrub it with a brush to get off any encrusted bacteria first, then spray your sink, taps, faucet and brush with a disinfectant. Let the disinfectant sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing off.

3. Coffee Makers

The reservoir in your coffee maker is another surprizing source of bacteria. Its moist and dark conditions make it ideal for germs. Yeast and mold have been found in 50 percent of household coffee maker reservoirs. Also, coliform bacteria are present in about one in ten coffee makers.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Follow the cleaning instructions on your coffee maker, which typically recommend to add equal parts white vinegar and water to your reservoir, let it sit for half an hour, then brew the solution. Do this about every month to keep mold and bacteria to a minimum. The carafe, lid and filter basket should be cleaned daily.

4. Kitchen Countertops

Your kitchen countertops are exposed to a host of nasty germs carried on the bottoms of grocery bags, purses, backpacks, electronics and even pets. This is also where you prepare the majority of your food, so it?s vital to avoid any cross-contamination.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Keep non-food items off your kitchen counter and disinfect it after preparing any fresh food. Follow the manufacturer?s recommendations on how to clean your countertop properly, depending on the type of material it?s made from.

5. Toothbrushes and Toothbrush Holders

Toothbrushes pick up bacteria from your mouth and provide a safe, damp environment for them to multiply. If that?s not icky enough, they can also pick up airborne germs that are released when you flush your toilet. A 2012 study found that the bacterium Clostridium difficile can be sprayed 25 centimeters (nearly 10 inches) above the toilet if you flush without closing the lid.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Make sure your toothbrush and holder are in a well-ventilated area so they can dry out as quickly as possible. It?s recommended to run your toothbrush and holder through the dishwasher once a week, as well as get a new toothbrush at least every three months. And, of course, always close the lid before flushing your toilet.

6. Washing Machine

You may not think of your laundry as a potential source of bacteria, but research has found that the average person?s underwear contains about a tenth of a gram of fecal matter. Another disturbing fact is that germs are not killed in a washing machine. If one item of clothing contains bacteria, viruses or other contaminants, these will spread to 90 percent of the other clothing during the wash cycle. Washing in hot water won?t really help either, as most germs can survive in hot water.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

The only way to get your clothes hot enough to kill bacteria and other pathogens is to put them in a dryer for at least half an hour on high heat. You can also dry them in the sun because ultraviolet light will destroy bacteria. Wipe the inside and outside of your washing machine with a disinfectant after each use, especially if anyone in your household is sick. And run your empty washing machine with water and bleach, or other disinfectant, at least once a month.

7. Reusable Shopping Bags

A University of Arizona study found that 97 percent of people surveyed never washed their reusable bags. And this is a problem. The study also randomly tested 84 reusable bags collected from shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over half the bags contained many strains of harmful bacteria, including coliform bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. Researchers pointed out that these bacteria are especially dangerous for young children, as their immune systems are still developing.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Designate certain bags to use only for fresh food, then label separate bags for fresh produce, raw meat and other fresh foods. Wash these bags after every use, dry them in your dryer and never use them for packaged foods or purposes such as carrying books or clothing.

Related on Care2

How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
10 Spring Cleaning Tasks That Will Make Your Home Healthier
The Art of Kaizen: How to Trick Your Brain Into Being Motivated

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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7 of The Germiest Places in Your Home – And What to Do About Them

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Lucy’s Legacy – Dr. Donald Johanson & Kate Wong


Lucy’s Legacy

The Quest for Human Origins

Dr. Donald Johanson & Kate Wong

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: March 3, 2009

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

“Lucy is a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton who has become the spokeswoman for human evolution. She is perhaps the best known and most studied fossil hominid of the twentieth century, the benchmark by which other discoveries of human ancestors are judged.” – From Lucy’s Legacy In his New York Times bestseller, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, renowned paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson told the incredible story of his discovery of a partial female skeleton that revolutionized the study of human origins. Lucy literally changed our understanding of our world and who we come from. Since that dramatic find in 1974, there has been heated debate and–most important–more groundbreaking discoveries that have further transformed our understanding of when and how humans evolved. In Lucy’s Legacy , Johanson takes readers on a fascinating tour of the last three decades of study–the most exciting period of paleoanthropologic investigation thus far. In that time, Johanson and his colleagues have uncovered a total of 363 specimens of Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy’s species, a transitional creature between apes and humans), spanning 400,000 years. As a result, we now have a unique fossil record of one branch of our family tree–that family being humanity–a tree that is believed to date back a staggering 7 million years. Focusing on dramatic new fossil finds and breakthrough advances in DNA research, Johanson provides the latest answers that post-Lucy paleoanthropologists are finding to questions such as: How did Homo sapiens evolve? When and where did our species originate? What separates hominids from the apes? What was the nature of Neandertal and modern human encounters? What mysteries about human evolution remain to be solved? Donald Johanson is a passionate guide on an extraordinary journey from the ancient landscape of Hadar, Ethiopia–where Lucy was unearthed and where many other exciting fossil discoveries have since been made–to a seaside cave in South Africa that once sheltered early members of our own species, and many other significant sites. Thirty-five years after Lucy, Johanson continues to enthusiastically probe the origins of our species and what it means to be human. From the Hardcover edition.

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Lucy’s Legacy – Dr. Donald Johanson & Kate Wong

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How to Limit Eye Fatigue from Working at a Computer All Day

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that after staring at my computer for 6 hours, my vision can feel horribly blurred and sluggish. As someone who doesn?t need corrective eyewear, I sometimes get the feeling that my daily computer work is shortening my lens-free years one day at a time.

But we live in a technological world and many of us?have to work with technology day after day.?How can we keep our eyes healthy in such an unnatural environment??If you?re concerned about the damage, stress and eye fatigue you experience from working on a computer all day, try these 5 tips to help keep your eyesight healthy…

Incorporate eye exercises.

Looking at a screen encourages us not to blink?while?aggressively holding one focus for long periods of time. To an eye, that is exhausting. To prevent eyestrain, look at something that is at least 20 feet away (not a screen) for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Yes, every 20 minutes. Set a timer on your phone and use that time to take a few deep breaths and recenter yourself. Once an hour, take a bonus break. Get up, stretch your legs and walk around for a few minutes. Not only will you feel better and more peppy, but you’ll be saving your eyes in the long run.

Limit unnecessary technology time.

Computers emit blue light.?Blue light is the shortest visible wavelength and is more challenging on the eyes than long hues like red. If you have to do all of your work, day in and out, on a screen, you need to?consider ditching the screens when you get off work. I know, Netflix is calling your name, but try to make Netflix nights a treat more than a habit. Instead, listen to music/podcasts, read a book or magazine, play a game with your family or do some journaling. Nighttime screentime is damaging to sleep cycles anyways, so you are better off ridding yourself of the habit in the name of healthier eyes and deeper sleep.

Adjust your display.

You don’t need your display on full brightness. Dim it down to a level where you can feel your eyes relax. Try using plugins like f.lux or the “night shift” function on macs to reduce the amount of blue light that is pummeling your pupils at all hours of the day. Also make sure you’ve customized your text size preferences so that you aren’t squinting and struggling to read important documents on your screen.

Go outside often.

When you are zombie-ing in front of a screen, it is hugely important to make sure you get outside into some daylight at least once throughout the day. Maybe take your lunch break on a park bench outside. Maybe take a walking meeting. Whatever it is, find more ways to expose your eyes to the natural, wide spectrum of light outside.

If you work under?fluorescent lights, try switching your area to full-spectrum?fluorescents to better mimic outside light. However, when using a computer for long stretches, turn overhead lights down or off and close the shades to minimize computer glare. You want to keep the surrounding area soft and about half as bright as your screen.?

Eat your veggies.

You know how your mom told you to eat your carrots so you would have strong eyes? The antioxidants in certain vegetables may have the power to counteract the negative effects of technological eye fatigue. Lutein and zeaxanthin specifically are potent antioxidants generally found in the retina. In fact, lutein has been shown to reduce macular degeneration.

Not only do these yellow-hued antioxidants prevent damage, but they absorb the blue light before it enters the retina, reducing overall stress. You can find these antioxidants in?egg yolks, yellow corn, orange peppers, squash and in smaller quantities in leafy greens. What about carrots, you ask? Carrots are high in vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient for healthy vision, but it seems like the carrot claim may be more fiction than fact.

What do you do to reduce eyestrain when you are on a computer all day? Do you find that you just try to charge through it? Or do you thrive with regular breaks? Share your habits and advice with the community below!??

Related on Care2:

How to Actually Stick with Your Goals
5 Ways Your Diet Affects Your Mood
Are You Sleeping at the Right Temperature?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Limit Eye Fatigue from Working at a Computer All Day

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What Is Nanotechnology and How Can It Change Our Lives For the Better?

Nanotechnology is the study of extremely small particles, or nanoparticles, and how these can be manipulated and controlled in useful ways. Nanotechnology is currently being used in hundreds of common products, including batteries, sunscreens, antibacterial products, scratch-resistant coatings, electronics, plastics, and even food and cosmetics.

But this technology is so new, many of us know very little about it. There are also many concerns about its safety for human and ecological health. Let?s shed some light on this important topic and its potential impact on our lives.


Nanoparticles are any particles of matter small enough to be measured on the nanoscale. This is the same scale used to measure atoms and molecules. In fact, many biological and natural systems occur at the nanoscale. The protein hemoglobin that carries oxygen in our blood is only 5 nanometers, or 5 billionths of a meter, in diameter.

Other natural nanoparticles are being investigated for possible use in nanotechnology. For instance, scientists are currently researching the strength and flexibility of spider silk, which is reinforced by natural nanoscale crystals. And they have already copied the nanostructure of lotus leaves to create water repellent surfaces in fabrics and other materials.


What?s wrong with regular-sized particles, you may ask? The difference lies in what scientists call the ?quantum effect.? Larger particles of matter, such as gases, liquids and solids, have very predictable qualities. Whereas, matter can have unexpected behaviors at the nanoscale. These quantum effects can include properties such as greater strength, lighter weight or increased chemical reactivity.

For example, gold nanoparticles react differently to light than their larger-sized counterparts. Gold can appear red or purple on the nanoscale. Also, it?s been found that gold nanoparticles selectively accumulate in tumors. It?s not known why they do this, but scientists have been able to use gold nanoparticles to create more precise imaging and laser destruction techniques that can target tumor cells and avoid harming healthy cells.

Another important quality of nanoparticles is their significantly larger surface area compared to regular particles. The surface area of a particle is what allows for reactions with surrounding materials. A large particle of matter will have a limited amount of surface area. Whereas, there can be trillions or more nanoparticles in the same amount of space as a larger-sized particle. That means they can have trillions of times more surface area for reactions.

This is important for many different technologies. Scientists are researching nanoengineered batteries and fuel cells, where enhanced chemical reactivity could potentially produce cleaner, safer and cheaper ways to produce and store energy. Nanoparticles? larger surface area also holds great potential for products such as water filtration systems, pharmaceuticals and clothing insulation.


The use of nanotechnology has exploded over the past few decades. More and more manufacturers are including nanomaterials in a vast array of products. In fact, over 1,600 products are known to contain nanoparticles today. And research is ongoing, so you can expect to see a lot more in the near future.

These are some examples of current products and technologies that incorporate nanomaterials.


Nanotechnology is used in many areas of health care, including wound dressings with nanoscale silver as an anti-bacterial agent, and synthetic bone based on nanoparticles that can be inserted into areas where natural bone is missing or broken.


The field of nanoelectronics has created many advances, including faster, smaller and more portable electronics with increasingly large amounts of data storage. Ultra-high definition screens use nanotechnology to produce more vibrant colors and improve energy efficiency. Nanoscience is also behind bendable and flexible electronics that are being introduced in medical and other applications.


Nanoscale additives and surface treatments have created fabrics that resist wrinkling, staining and bacterial growth. Some fabrics can even provide lightweight ballistic energy deflection in personal body armor.


The Shenhua Group, one of the world?s largest coal companies, is using nanotechnology to liquify coal and turn it into gas. This could bring a major change to global energy production as countries with large natural reserves of coal, such as China and the U.S., now have the potential to manufacture gasoline.


Certain sunscreens contain molecularly-engineered nanomaterials that absorb more light than normal brands and spread more evenly on your skin compared to the thick, sticky sunscreens you might be used to.


Encapsulating or suspending ingredients in what?s called nanospheres or nanoemulsions can increase their penetration into your skin. Many different products use this in some form. For example, in 1998, L?Oreal introduced Plentitude Revitalift, an anti-wrinkle cream that used polymer nanocapsules to deliver active ingredients into deeper layers of skin.


Nanoparticles made from clay are being used in lightweight bottles, cartons and packaging films to create an impermeable barrier to gasses such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. In addition, storage containers are being made with silver nanoparticles embedded in the plastic that will kill any bacteria present.


Nanotechnology has the potential to transform our lives for the better. Cheap, lightweight solar plastics are being developed that could make solar energy more widely available. Nanoparticles have been discovered that can easily clean up toxic chemical spills and air-borne pollutants. Lightweight nanomaterials may even hold the key to expanding space exploration.

Despite these potential gains, nanotechnology has a shadow side. It?s a very new science, and therefore, we have no way of knowing the long-term effects of releasing nanoparticles into our environment.

Studies funded by agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency are looking at potential safety concerns associated with nanoscale materials. But, it?s difficult to keep up with this rapidly expanding technology.

And perhaps more concerningly, the nanotechnology industry is largely unregulated. Companies aren?t required to label products containing nanoparticles, and there are no recognized standards on production and handling of nanomaterials. The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety recommends that precautions be in place to avoid worker exposure to nanomaterials, but this is still primarily left in the hands of the employers.

In addition to human health concerns related to nanoparticles, we also do not know the potential affects on our planet and ecosystems. Studies have shown that some nanomaterials are toxic to species such as algae, invertebrates and fish. Disturbing evidence has also found that nanomaterials can be transferred across generations in both animals and plants.

One of the best ways to keep yourself and our planet safe is to stay informed about this new technology. Check if any of your commonly-used products contain known nanoparticles on The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies website. Speak to your local politicians about what they?re doing to ensure the products of nanotechnology are safe.

And don?t hesitate to share what you know with others. The more everyone knows about nanotechnology, the more likely it is that manufacturers will be held accountable to effective health and safety standards.

Related at Care2

Will Nanotechnology Help or Hurt Our Environment?
What Is Rising CO2 in Our Atmosphere Doing to Our Food?
5 Household Items You Should Be Buying Organic

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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What Is Nanotechnology and How Can It Change Our Lives For the Better?

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