How to Understand CBD Lingo

It wasn’t too long ago that if you asked somebody what CBD was, they would look at you with a puzzled expression on their face. Today, CBD is on everyone’s lips, dominating the conversation on medical cannabis and its therapeutic effects and being touted as a health supplement at nutrition stores. It can also be purchased online and found in department stores, drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations and, of course, dispensaries.

With CBD’s popularity comes a learning curve for the discerning consumer. In order to find the best product for their needs, consumers need to know the terminology around CBD products.

First, What Is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-euphoric cannabinoid found in both hemp and high-THC cannabis. Cannabinoids are a closely related group of chemical compounds, which work synergistically together and with the other chemical compounds that make up the cannabis plant. CBD can be used for symptom management for things such as anxiety, certain types of seizures, inflammation and pain. It also has been found to have value in cosmetic use.

It’s worth noting that much CBD on the market today is derived from hemp, rather than cannabis, because hemp is federally legal. Hemp and cannabis are the same species, cannabis sativa, but they’re separated by an arbitrary legal definition that defines hemp as having less than 0.3% THC when tested.

Understanding CBD

Many people like to say CBD is not psychoactive, but that would be incorrect. “Psychoactive” is a term used to describe a substance that changes a mental state by affecting the brain and nervous system. Though CBD will not cause euphoria or intoxication, it may change a person’s level of anxiety or depression, which in turn would affect their perception of the world around them.

With the great interest in CBD and its effects come a large number of products and companies to choose from. The hemp CBD market is currently unregulated, so buyer beware. Be an empowered consumer: Look for lab tests to show that the product was properly made and verifies cannabinoid content. If you don’t see one, ask for it. A good company will always have test results available.

Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum vs. Isolate

When you are exploring different high-CBD products, you’ll notice that their content is described in different ways: broad spectrum, full spectrum and isolate. The difference between these three is the extraction method and the content of the resulting product.

Full spectrum means that the product contains most of the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant, including THC, and most often it has been minimally refined. This means that the synergistic effects of the chemical compounds in the concentrate remain intact. These products will present themselves in ratios of CBD to THC and will vary in effects.

Broad spectrum is similar in that it contains most of the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant, but does not contain THC. This may be a good choice for those who are sensitive to THC, but wish to maintain the benefits of the other naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes.

Isolate contains only CBD, as the extraction process purposely isolates the desired cannabinoid from other cannabinoids and terpenes. It will have a much higher percentage of CBD than full or broad-spectrum extractions. This product is highly refined.

CBD Hemp Oil vs. Hempseed Oil

Some people may be confused about the difference between CBD oil derived from hemp and hempseed oil — and it’s worth knowing the difference, because only one of those oils contains beneficial cannabinoids.

CBD oil from hemp is extracted from the flowers and leaves of the plant and, though rich with CBD, it contains less than 0.3% THC. It is used as a health supplement and for symptom management.

Hempseed oil is extracted from the seeds themselves, which contain no cannabinoids. Hempseed oil is great for the skin and very nutritious, as it is rich in in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin E and omega fatty acids. Hemp seeds or hemp hearts from which the oil is extracted are also very nutritious, as they are rich in protein and fiber as well. You won’t have the same therapeutic effects as with CBD oil, but it is another tool for health.

TELL US, do you use CBD?

Originally published in Issue 40 of Cannabis NowLEARN MORE

The post How to Understand CBD Lingo appeared first on Cannabis Now.

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The Green Organic Dutchman Receives Health Canada License Amendment for Its Ancaster Processing Facility

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released a request for information, inviting comments from “the scientific community and other interested parties,” to help establish a standard dose for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive constituent in cannabis, to improve cannabis research, according to a report from Cannabis News Wire.

In the notice published March 23, NIDA acknowledges the complexity of the plant and how effects vary between individuals, methods of consumption and phytochemical ratios, but emphasizes the critical necessity of establishing and implementing a “standard unit dose” for “rigorous cannabis research.” The notice cites published commentary by NIDA director Dr. Nora Valkow on the subject:

“These complexities hardly negate the value of having a standardized measure of THC, irrespective of product type. In fact, having and using such a standard is a prerequisite for comparing the effects of various cannabis products on THC bioavailability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacological effects, which is knowledge fundamental to studies pertaining to medical use of cannabis.”

NIDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), its parent organization, seek comments on any of the following topics:

  • 5 milligrams as a standard THC dose irrespective of route of consumption
  • Challenges and benefits to conducting research using a standard unit dose of THC including:
    • Comparability across studies, including accurate data collection and publication of methods and results
    • Comparability with legacy datasets and surveillance measures (e.g., MTF, NSDUH, YRBS)
    • Benefits and limitations of a standard unit dose that does not depend on route of administration and/or other cannabinoid constituents
    • Implementation in human laboratory and/or clinical studies
    • Implementation in observational and/or epidemiological studies
      • Labeling requirements for cannabis products
      • Education of users to acquire accurate data
  • Any other topic the respondent feels is relevant for NIDA to consider in establishing a standard unit dose of THC.

Submit a response:

Responses to this request for information must be submitted electronically via: and received by May 1, 2020.

Direct inquiries to:

Ruben Baler
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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The First Obituary of Steven Hager

Steven Hager

By Paul Krassner

It’s a sad irony. When Steven Hager was the editor of High Times magazine, he was contacted by the Waldos — a group of high school students who coined 4:20 as the time to toke at the intermission between their classes each day. He became the first journalist to interview them. However, he chose to commit suicide today, on Mount Tam, at 4:20 a.m. on the 20th of April, sort of like a contemporary marijuana boomerang.

He was a prolific author. His first publication, the Cap’n Crunch Courier, was a free Xerox zine. His books ranged from Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music, and Graffiti to Killing Kennedy: The Real Story. He was the first editor to publish and promote the work of hemp activist Jack Herer. He published an e-book, Cannabis Cures Cancer?

He founded Pot Illuminati, and learned from Art Kunkin, founder of the Los Angeles Free Press, who received a letter from the “Order of the Phoenix Angel” stating the jurors involved had all been members of the Illuminati, the evidence of which was that all had only had one nipple.

Mr. Hager claimed that “Robert Anton Wilson’s fan club hounds me for saying Wilson’s Illuminati research is bunk, although they admit it’s 99 percent fantasy. In my world, it’s a sin to mix fantasy with conspiracy research. That is called fake news today, and we have too much of it.” He created events from a garage-rock revival band, the Soul Assassins, to the annual Cannabis Cup, where ceremony awards were voted every Thanksgiving in Amsterdam, where he launched the Counterculture Hall of Fame.

But even though High Times became the magazine success story of the ‘90s and his founded Freedom Fighters spearheaded the return of the rallies, re-igniting the sleeping marijuana movement, success only seemed to bring problems for Steven Hager, as he was soon forced to disband the Freedom Fighters and there were constant pressures to shut down the Cannabis Cup as well, or at least remove his supervision.

He moved home to concentrate on events and how to document them for posterity as he felt there was something important in these 420 ceremonies he was manifesting. At the time, he was primarily interested in building up WHEE? As the premiere cannabis event in North America.

Mr. Hager wrote in a suicide note explaining that “I got kicked to the curb and lost access to all the wonderful things I created. The entire cannabis scene is a great turnoff, fueled by a lot of greedy carpetbaggers, but money changes everything. I was first on hip hop and fled that scene when the corporations moved in and kicked the first generation to the curb. My death to the world of cannabis is timely and will deter any of the carpetbaggers from trying to deploy me in any of the marketing schemes.”

His family consists of a divorced wife, and two teenage sons. A memorial will be announced.

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Nonprofits and Companies That Are Helping to Fight the Pandemic

It’s been a tough few weeks for everyone. At times, it can feel like the world is unraveling. Whether you’re dealing with sickness, social distancing, working from home for the first time, and/or trying to homeschool kids, it isn’t easy. We all want to get back to normal.

We don’t know when that will be, and what normal will look like, but we wanted to point out a few of the organizations, companies, and brands (big and small) that are chipping in to help. While the government has been struggling to administer tests and get enough supplies for health care workers, these organizations have directly helped on the front lines, donated proceeds and supplies, or helped prioritize especially vulnerable customers.

Updated on March 30: We’ve added a few more companies to the list.

Nonprofits on the Frontlines

If you’d like to donate directly to the charities helping Covid-19 relief, here are a few you might consider.

  • Feeding America has a Covid-19 Response Fund that is helping to ensure food banks across the country can feed those in need right now, including the children who rely on school meals to eat.

  • Doctors Without Borders is sending aid to the countries hit hardest by Covid-19 and strengthening the infection controls in its already established programs, as well as maintaining existing help in the 70-plus countries it regularly assists.

  • The World Health Organization is coordinating efforts across the world to respond to existing cases and prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.

  • Oxfam America is organizing efforts to increase the delivery of clean water and sanitary supplies to refugees and those living in higher-risk environments.

  • The Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations if you’re in a position to do so.

  • World Central Kitchen is delivering chef-prepared meals to those in need.

  • Team Rubicon, a veteran-based company that provides services during natural disasters and emergencies, has assembled teams across the country to help with logistics, packaging and distributing food, and even supplementing hotline staffing.

  • Half-Table Man Disaster Relief has been working to feed those in need, including the Coast Guard in Staten Island and the elderly.

Also, be sure to look at local food banks as well as neighborhood Facebook pages that are organizing mask-making and care package efforts.

Grocery Stores That Are Helping Seniors

Photograph: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

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Where might this all lead? Unexpected options and outcomes… and some solace.

I’ve been asked by so many in the press and media etc. to speculate on “what might be longer term effects of the COVID-19 crisis?” And so, for this weekend posting, let’s ponder some of those answers.

Of course there are deeply sobering possibilities. Authors like Mary Shelley, Alice Sheldon, Margaret Atwood, Joanna Russ, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, John Christopher, Cormac McCarthy and even yours truly have cast their eyes to plagues far worse than this one.* Indeed, some of my own past sci fi has proved more pertinent than I’d want! My Hugo-nominated story “The Giving Plague” explores our complex relationships with viruses and such, including several paths a parasite can go down, in “negotiating” with us hosts. 

We’ll return to that topic. But for a moment, let’s take a pragmatically optimistic turn. 

== Things we could do now, if we had leadership ==

Earlier I made a modest suggestion for what cities across America and the world might do, to maintain some employment and solve real problems, while our streets are mostly empty. The “Pothole Gambit” proposed that we send out scores of 2-person teams to fill potholes, repair empty schools, etc. Risk to the crews would be minimal, if they take basic precautions, and paychecks would flow. This could be done even before testing is widely available.

This kind of selective-contingent thinking leads further to an almost sci fi extension. Once the U.S. has rapid, effective and plentiful COVID-19 tests (as we should and could have had, two months ago) then why not let companies re-open some factories etc., putting back to work employees who have already gone through their exposure to the virus and the following latency period, whether symptomatic or not? 

Picture a scenario. Elon Musk rents the Pebble Beach Golf Club in order to test and ease-in staff for his Tesla factory… If that works, expand the experiment. Eventually, some restaurants might even bring in Covid-positive staff to serve an only-Covid-positive clientele. 

Sure, one should always look ahead to secondary consequences; would healthy folks in their 20s then deliberately hold COVID Parties, in order to get it over with? I don’t recommend this, as it’s dangerous for the rest of us… and for an unknown few of those youths(!)… that is unless resort hotels rented themselves out to let this happen while young “invulnerables” stay away from their older relatives? (Envision those 1980s “herpes dating clubs.”)

The same sort of thing could happen for Covid-negatives (though only with much better quick-testing.) Companies might wind up having pairs of offices or twin plants engaged in friendly rivalry, like those in that commercial, that produce the left vs. right halves of Twix bars.  

Or else trade-off and pick-a-side? Envision Disneyland open for positives and Universal for negatives? 

Extrapole some more! “Sectors” of cities divide-up just like in some sci fi flick! (“You’re from ZONE TWO? Get away from me!”)  Heck let’s go beyond the obvious Romeo & Juliet riff. Maybe we’ll speciate… !

…no no, forget that last part. Sorry. Professional habit. But the first part seems quite do-able in a gradual and incremental way. 

Note that these two factors are mutually dependent. The Separation Workforce gambit cannot possibly work without cheap, rapid and massively available and accurate testing. And massive testing can only happen if we augment our public services by puttin the immune or semi-immune to work.

Indeed, had Donald Trump pushed to deploy massive testing, instead of sabotaging it at every turn, we’d by now not only have the data we need to fight the pandemic better. We’d also possibly be positioned to implement this positive-negative plan and rescue “his economy.” 

== Okay, Earth to Brin. Come back down now… ==

Let’s get practical, then. I’m sure you’ve seen reports that an early harbinger of COVID illness is loss of the sense of smell

This suggests a mass experiment that would produce useful data while having zero possible deleterious side effects. If everyone simply scratches and sniffs a lemon, three times daily, the minimum outcome will be cheering up the nation a bit! (Try it now! Go on. I’ll wait… And now, aren’t your spirits lifted just a little?)

 And if thousands note the time span between not smelling anything and other symptoms, that could be significant data! Is a mass experiment with zero conceivable negative outcomes worth encouraging? (And  doubly necessary, since some doubt has been cast on this “smell test.” after all. Can it hurt to check it out?)

== Longer term effects? ==

Technological changes: Assuming the grip of lunacy is pried off of federal government… or even if we have to rely on real leadership from California and New York… there will be a Manhattan Project level push to reduce the ramp-up time for testing kits and vaccines. (Side-bet: this may involve human-animal chimeras to shorten the pathway to antibody discovery and deployment.)

Business meetingware and work-from-home software has been predicted for decades and languished due to managerial reluctance. These will advance rapidly. But I predict also a real estate boomlet in small scale satellite offices, where employees will spend at least part of each day being personally supervised, so their work-at-home hours can be kept effective. This “sweet spot” might reduce rush hour traffic, but also strain middle management.

Expect a revival of Obama-era push for nationwide broadband, as has proved so useful in South Korea and Taiwan. There’s a constituency now, for sure. 

Infrastructure. It goes far beyond potholes and school repairs. Democrats have demanded major programs to rebuild bridges etc while improving the quality (vs. quantity) of jobs and increasing money velocity. Republicans – while speaking the “I-Word” have blocked all such endeavors. All of this changes in a major recession, of course. Expect partisan gridlock to break in this one area.

Transportation. The shift to Uber/Lyft style ride services will boom, short term. But also mid-scale van/jitney services in big cities… followed by a big push for self-driving taxis. But underground metros may not be finished. Today’s filthy subway trains could be supplanted by smaller, more efficient cars that shunt between lines and report in regularly for disinfecting.

Social effects: It wall take more than COVID to end the personal handshake, but those pretentious European three-cheek air-kisses may be finished. Elbow greetings won’t last! But the fist-bump is likely the big winner, over time, as a compromise that’s about 75% sanitary/safe and good enough for the new — post-COVID — normal. (My preference? I like the Roman style fore-arm clasp.)

Of course, many are already commenting and speculating on possible effects upon birth rates, divorce rates, domestic violence and so on. I guess we’ll find out.

As usual, those suffering most are the poor and working stiffs. Even if they keep a job and can manage the financial strain, families are stressed out in cramped quarters with many ensuing problems. While supporting actions to help, somehow we must encourage such folks to do one thing to make a difference. Vote.

Epidemiology extends beyond just raging viruses. Will we discover that other chains of cause and effect were broken by cities and states and nations semi-shut down? Certainly not the “viral” effects of rumors and faux-news, which have electronic vectors. But the precipitate drop in traffic accidents may have side effects. Are there contagions of wide variety that we never noticed before, because they were part of the background noise of urban life?

And yes, some foresee all this accelerating the exodus of the uber-rich, abandoning us to simmer in festering cities and suburbs. Certainly there is a “prepper” wing of oligarchy that’s bought up whole mountain ranges in Patagonia, Siberia and under the sea. I portrayed that sick mind set in The Postman and in Earth and in Existence. And of course the smarter half of the zillionaire caste wants no part of such insanity. Nor will all their preparations avail the selfishness fetishists an iota, even if the fit truly hits the shan. There are five reasons why this masturbatory survivalist fantasy is utter proof of mental defectiveness.

Reason number six: we could sure use all hands on deck, right now. And we’ll remember which ones helped, or wallowed in apocalypse fantasies. Oh, however things go down, we will remember each and every one of you.

== Artistic Solace ==

Was that lemon sniff helpful? 

Well maybe I can add a little wry comfort. 

I last posted about this during the “bird flu” mini-crisis in May 2006. 

But it’s never seemed more apropos.

In December 1979, NPR ran an evening show called “Unpacking the Eighties” which had some very clever riffs, including a song about the terrible flu we’d all get, around the far-future date of 1986… Alas, in this age when nothing is supposedly ever lost or un-findable, I can’t sniff out any trace of this masterpiece!** Still, I’ll manage to share something, with a nod to an unknown genius.

Here’s a riff I remember by heart… except for parts I made up, in order to fill in gaps:

Back in the Pleistocene,
When we were still marine,
a virus launched a quest
to be the perfect guest
And re-arranged our genes.

So to this very day,
Whether you grok or pray,
all your inheritors
count on those visitors
And what they make you pay.


It’s a virus,
It inspired us,
to rise above the mud.
It’s a virus,
It’s desirous,
of your very flesh and blood.

Now I know your body’s burning,
But don’t give up the ghost.
Tiny viruses are turning you
Into the perfect host.


Though you may curse microbes
who make you blow your nose,
evolution bends
to what a virus sends,
making us recompose.

Though when you least expect
You may be struck down next,
thank the virus, he
put us in misery,
But then he gave us sex!


It’s a virus,
Its inspired us,
to rise above the mud.
It’s a virus,
It’s desirous,
of your very flesh and blood.

Now I know your body’s burning,
But don’t give up the ghost.
Tiny viruses are turning you
Into the perfect… 


Persevere. Endure…


*The Last Man, The Screwfly Solution, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Female Man, The Stand, The White Plague, No Blade of Grass, The Road, The Postman…. and so many others.

** I think the artist was named “Jesse” something, but can’t be sure.

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a & e | film • Data Center: the hidden face of the web « Kurzweil


— film —

group: Goethe Institute
venue: Science Film Festival
film title: Data Center: the hidden face of the web
artist: by Camicas Productions
year: 2015
watch | film

— summary —

How does the internet work? What energy does it use? The internet is not as magic — or as clean — as we thought. This documentary film explores the hidden face of the web — huge data centers that rely on cheap + reliable energy: coal.

Our e-mails, tweets, and messages could be responsible for the destruction of the mountains. Unless the big players of the internet decide to change their mind-set.

on the web | pages

Goethe Institute | home
Goethe Institute | YouTube channel
Goethe Institute | Science Film Festival

tag line: Knowledge through entertainment.
tag line: discover • experiment • explore

— notes —

* no notes

[ post file ]

post title: a & e | film • Data Center: the hidden face of the web
deck: from: Goethe Institute
folder: daily blog

[ end of file ]

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Sadly COVID-19 Will Be Worse Than Flu and as Bad as WW2 in Some Countries –

Dr. Anthony Fauci, medical leading the US Coronavirus task force, says based on what he’s seeing, the U.S. could experience between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from Covid-19.

Europe appears to be on track for two to six times more COVID-19 deaths than the USA.

The US usually has 30,000 to 60,000 deaths annually from the flu. The world has 350,000 to 650,000 deaths annually from the flu.

The US had 416,000 military casualities in World War 2.

There is an expectation that there will be multiple waves of COVID-19. It could subside in the summer and then return in the fall (August to December) and early in 2021.

The hope is that India, middle east, South America and Africa can avoid massive cases.

Written By Brian Wang,

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What Would Life on Mars Be Like? Millions of Us Are Getting a Taste

I live in California’s Bay Area, so for the last week and a half I’ve joined around seven million people in a shelter-in-place mandate. While my family is adjusting to this new normal, I’ve been reminded of a previous time I made a massive adjustment: when I lived on Mars.

Thanks to the Mars Society, I took part in two Mars simulations in the southeastern Utah desert and one simulation in the Canadian high Arctic, only a few hundred miles from the North Pole. For each simulation I joined five men and women from around the world. We had to quickly get to know each other and relentlessly work together in an extreme and remote environment. Plus, we had to maintain the simulation—which meant that except for emergencies, no one could go outside without donning a mock spacesuit and passing through a dummy airlock.

Mars simulation in the Utah desert.

Today I’m “sheltering” at home with my husband, son, and father. We can go outside for a very small number of reasons, such as exercising and grocery shopping. That’s it! Although we’ve known each other for years, we’re facing entirely new pressures in how we live, work, and learn together. Here’s what I learned from living on Mars, and how I think we can transform lessons from today’s Covid-19 crisis into a solid foundation for humanity’s future on Earth and off planet.

Privacy Matters

My immediate concern about sheltering in place? The mental-health effects of a loss of privacy. My home now has people in it all day, every day. Thanks to years spent working from home, I know that I need physical and mental space in regular doses.

During my Mars simulations, “home” was “The Hab,” a two-story metal can that rocked and groaned in a high wind. Downstairs were the “airlocks”, the toilet, and the engineering and laboratory spaces; upstairs were the kitchen, the common area, a storage loft—plus six individual bedrooms. In my windowless bedroom, which was so narrow I couldn’t stretch my arms out, I could close the door on my exhaustion, my homesickness, and the strain of interacting with a very, very small social group for a long and challenging period of time.

Privacy isn’t just about shutting other people out. It’s about dedicating space to being with yourself. Virginia Woolf famously said that to write (which to me means “to think”), you need money and a door with a lock on it. Today, my home office lacks a door or even a fourth wall. Even though my husband bought me some fancy noise-canceling headphones for Christmas, as a family we’re establishing norms to foster privacy, like wearing headphones by default and trading off child supervision so that at least one adult has some headspace.

The forging of new customs, rituals, and social norms around privacy will be crucial to future Mars colonists. Spaceships and early settlements may lack everyday sensory inputs, such as textures and scents, that support mental health; composting toilets and unwashed socks constantly remind you that you’re never really alone (although you’d be shocked by what you can get used to).

Could we use haptic tech and emerging digital olfactory technologies to build rich, private spaces? Would virtual reality have eased my yearning to feel the wind on my face when I was in sim? Today, those of us sheltering in place can still take a walk outside, but privacy at home remains a challenge—and no doubt, like our family, people are getting creative. The Covid-19 crisis may turn out to be the forcing function we need to answer these questions, and others.

Food Matters

We’ve all seen images of store shelves ransacked by panic-buying citizens. Interestingly, in my local stores, while toilet paper and hand sanitizer are in short supply, fruits and vegetables are easily available. With the lockdown my family is no longer eating out (although we can still order takeout)—and with three full meals at home every day, we’re doing a lot of dishes. But overall, our eating habits haven’t changed that much, since we already focus on whole, fresh foods.

For each Mars simulation, if we didn’t have it, we didn’t get it; there was no popping down to the store. Our Utah station eventually included a greenhouse, but when I was there, we had no fresh greens. We had no produce in the Arctic. When a visiting reporter tried to eat a banana that he had brought with him, he was assaulted by six piercing gazes. He silently handed over the fruit, and we meticulously divided it into six pieces. That was the best bite of banana I’ve ever tasted. I never understood Ernest Shackleton’s fixation on food until that day.

“Freshies,” as they call fresh produce today in Antarctica, clearly boost both physical and mental health in extreme environments. Freshies come with sounds, textures, and smells that can be intimately tied to normative, social memories. I remember that single bite of banana with fondness, but my stomach lurches as I recall my desperate attempts to eat canned meat (eventually I gave up, which is not a nutrition-forward choice). Food is central to our personal and social identities, as well as to our bodies.

When a reporter asked what would prevent me from joining a real Mars mission, I quickly responded, “If they don’t have cheese, I’m not going.” I wasn’t joking. Fortunately, a host of technologies, from 3D printing to indoor farming to cellular agriculture, may support the health and happiness of future space travelers and colonists. Until then, revolutions in the future of agriculture and sustainable living will be crucial for supporting humans on Earth, including in the face of climate change and during times of crisis. While you’re under lockdown, be sure to treat your body right: eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but skip the processed foods. Your immune system (and your microbiome!) will thank you.

People Matter

The phrase “social distancing” has exploded into our collective consciousness, but as the WHO has pointed out, our response to coronavirus needs to focus on “physical distancing.” Humans are social animals, including—perhaps especially—in times of crisis.

Our six-person simulation crews were international and slanted toward scientists and engineers; we first met at each simulation’s jumping-off point. We were supported by a team in Colorado, who we contacted via email with a 30-minute delay (in Utah) or once per day (in the Arctic). Our relationships with our crewmates and support team evolved as we connected around projects and interests. And yes, there was conflict, particularly as each simulation progressively impacted our health and made us more emotionally distant from our everyday lives.

Author de-suiting in the airlock.

To counteract those forces, we developed rituals, catchphrases, warning signals. When I had something important to say, I’d tap my left shoulder with my right hand—because that is how I activated my radio when I wore my spacesuit outside. When one of us was close to melting down, we’d head up to the storage loft, with its commanding view of a strange horizon. Coming down from the loft always meant hot chocolate (our cozy drink of choice for our daily haiku slams).

Technologies like video conferencing and virtual reality have the potential to establish new and meaningful rituals and interactions. For these touchpoints, we shouldn’t just be thinking about translating physical interactions into digital forms, but also about crafting new, human-centered meanings that are nonetheless designed to exploit the affordances of digital existence. If haiku and hot chocolate isn’t your thing, consider using a digital platform like Zoom to host board games, dance parties, happy hours—with the beverages of your choice, of course.

I think that supporting technologies will be important for closing not just gaps in space, but also gaps in time: a message from Earth takes as long as 22 minutes to reach Mars (hence our email delay in sim), and the reply needs the same time to come back. And that delay is just for the next planet over! Clever tech will be needed to bring us together across space and time.

Learning From Today to Design Tomorrow

Covid-19 is bringing us face-to-face with a host of uncertainties, pressures, and yes, catastrophes. But if we have the patience and courage to learn from this experience, we empower ourselves to build stronger, inclusive, and resilient futures on Earth and elsewhere.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned from my Mars simulations is the benefit of slowing down and disconnecting. On Mars, we each struggled to adapt to our new normal—and my simulations happened more than a decade ago, when people were far less dependent on connection. During each simulation, I pushed through that detox stage to a smaller, quieter world. A world where I had time to watch a flower bloom on my lab bench. Where I would sit every day with the only five people in my orbit, sip hot chocolate, and laugh at our bad haikus.

Sheltering in my home in California, I’m looking for positive touchpoints every day. While I’m anxious that my business is down, I’m finding gratitude for and ways to use the time that I’ve gained from my new commute-free, travel-free life. I see my neighbors more often now, although from a safe six feet away. My son helps to cook dinner most nights, since we’re not dashing in the door frantic with hunger. We’re developing new rituals and evolving old ones.

Am I nervous about the future? Yes. I’m also changing, and just like I came home from Mars a different person each time, I expect to be a different person when this immediate crisis passes.

I refuse to be consumed by Covid-19 and its fallout. Instead, I’m seeking ways to catalyze a better future. Hard-earned insights from today’s crisis have the potential to transform life here on Earth, as well as humanity’s next chapter. No matter where we go from here, we have this moment to define what matters to us, as individuals and as a species. As futurist Anne Lise Kjaer recently wrote, Covid-19 is forcing us to “build windmills and harness the winds of change.” Are you ready to build a windmill to power your future?

Image Credit: Tiffany Vora

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Third mass coral bleaching event in five years



29th March 2020

Third mass coral bleaching event in five years

A third mass coral bleaching event in five years has been recorded at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.


third mass coral bleaching event in five years


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) – Australia’s lead management agency for the Great Barrier Reef – this week confirmed that mass bleaching has occurred on the Great Barrier Reef, with very widespread bleaching detected.

The agency’s latest information is based on both aerial and in-water observations. Further analysis will continue over the coming weeks, providing a full picture of the extent and severity.

This event follows the hottest year on record in Australia, at 1.52°C above the 1961–1990 average, surpassing the previous record of 1.33°C in 2013. Observations from the aerial surveys over the vast area of the Reef, some 344,000 square kilometres, confirm the worst bleaching is on reefs that suffered the highest heat stress this summer, which extended across large areas. Some southern areas of the Reef that had little or no bleaching in 2016 and 2017 have now experienced moderate or severe bleaching.

The findings are backed up by separate observations from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch. This map shows abnormally hot ocean temperatures that began in late January and stretched into mid-March – by which time, almost the entire reef was under a bleaching alert.


third mass coral bleaching event in five years


“If we do not deal with climate change quickly … we are going to continue to see more severe and more frequent bleaching, and we are going to see the loss of coral reefs around much of the world,” said Dr. C. Mark Eakin, coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch. “The upper ocean has absorbed a tremendous amount of heat in recent years, and it has really put coral reefs around the globe much closer to their upper thermal limits.”

Coral reefs are some of the most important marine ecosystems on the planet – despite covering less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean floor, between a quarter and one-third of all marine species rely on them at some point in their life cycle. Worldwide, the livelihoods of 500 million people are dependent on coral reefs.

Mass bleaching events last occurred in 2016 and 2017. Scientists fear that if ocean heating continues on present trends, these devastating impacts could be an annual occurrence by the 2030s. Without action, the entire Reef could be essentially dead by 2050.

The Australian Government has allocated $1.9 billion to protect the Great Barrier Reef through world-leading science and practical environmental outcomes to support the Reef 2050 Plan, in conjunction with the Queensland Government. Additional investments are being made to protect coral cover and these include crown-of-thorns starfish control, water quality programs, marine science, state-of-the-art monitoring of reef environments and reef adaptation.

One possible solution is 3D-printed coral. A recent study by the University of Delaware showed that 3D-printed coral can provide a “structural starter kit” for recovering reefs, without negatively affecting vulnerable fish and other marine species.



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