209. Immune System, Vit. C, and Viruses (With References)

26 May

Please see my previous Blog 208, for additional information and references.

.                          BASIC PHYSIOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS 

Most of the following logic is accepted by medical scientists, but in practice, is often ignored. The immune system is a host defense that protects against disease. The immune system is enhanced by good nutrition, and other health factors. Vitamin C, other vitamins, and some other nutrients provide this good nutrition. Variations in response to virus attacks are likely due to variations in immune systems. Many MD’s believe that vitamin supplements are not needed because they assume everyone has a healthy diet. Clearly this is not true. Therefore taking Vit C and other supplements for covid-19 should be encouraged by physicians

Here are some reasons why use of vitamins may be ignored Early studies used small doses of vitamins and they were ineffective. As a consequence many leaders discouraged vitamin supplements and tended to ignore further work. Many physicians prefer  prescription drugs because they can be better controlled, and were developed using rigorous experiments and established safety methods.

Experiments using the most rigorous scientific methods are almost impossible to do, in the area of vitamin effectiveness. For example, Vit C is most effective when the first “cold symptoms” are noticed, and several grams are taken immediately. The timing is somewhat vague and the reliability of patient compliance and reporting is questionable. Further, drug companies would not support this work and most researchers would not be interested. Federal support is controlled by medical experts and most of them would not be interested.

Often argued is that higher doses of Vit C and other vitamins are not absorbed by the body and are eliminated. This is not a good argument because the vitamins could be serving as catalysts (not consumened in chemical reactions). Vit C could have a positive effect on pH. Large concentrations of vitamins might be required to get enough into certain narrow end organs.

Another thought is that vitamin supplements are not necessary because a healthy diet contains all the necessary vitamins a person needs. Just saying this does not make it so — it takes a lot of experimentation to actualy prove this. A healthy diet might prevent some major diseases like scurvy, but the world has evolved a great many other disorders. Even more important, many, perhaps most people do not have a really “healthy diet,” and eat a lot of doughnuts, candy bars, sausages, white bread, lots of cheeseburgers — and very few vegetables.

To summarize, every profession has certain preferences that appeal to its members for a variety of reasons, some of which are valid and some maybe not.

                                           MY PROPOSALS

1. The CDC, AMA, or NIH, etc could publish some dietary information and encourage people to greatly improve their nutrition.
2. There could be some simple experiments such as the following. Randomly assign (blind) patients admitted to a hospital to an experimental (Vit C) and control group (placebo). As soon as they are admitted give them 3.0 grams of Vit C with lots of water. Then, every moring and night, prescribe 2 to 3 grams of Vit C (placebo for the control group). Record date of release, use of equipment like ventilaters, temperature, etc. Do this for a total of 100 or more patients and compare the groups. This is not ideal, but if there are significant effects, this could encourage wider application.
3. Researchers could apply for gov grants for more extensive rigorous studies.
4. Encourage private physicians to prescribe Vit C and other health factors and
record informally procedures and results. These could be published.
5. Eventhough there are no rigorous studies, physicians could still advise the use of nutritional factors, including Vit C. Most of the things we do in life are not “proven.” We simply gather all of the “relevant” facts, study them, and make a final decision. In this case, there is little if any risk. Good food and vitamins are very well established and safe. The major side effect is better health. The cost is comparatively small.

                        REFERENCES (with some summaries)

Listings below are by professional journal, newspaper, or Internet address, followed by brief quotations and/or relevant facts. (PMC = PubMed Central).

ROLE OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND HEALTH

The immune system is a host defense system that protects against disease. It has amazing protective functions implemented by tiny particles: indentifying, killing, remembering, and creating new attackers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/opinion/coronavirus-sweden-herd-immunity.html
Dr. Bremmer, Mr. Kupchan and Mr. Rosenstein are international political risk analysts. Re the virus: “The American people are far less healthy than Swedes.”
In other words, health is very important, yet our medical profession ignores this.
“Diabetes and hypertension, are two of the most-risky underlying conditions.”
Every type of disorder & age is correlated with infection risk, but instead, a third factor, a persons health, may be the underlying cause.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.
Advised: eat a lot of vegs /fruits, don’t smoke, sleep well, lower stress, drink less alcohol.  As we age, our immune response capability becomes reduced, “people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases”

http://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/well/live/can-i-boost-my-immune-system.html
A healthful diet and exercise are important to maintaining a strong immune system.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/ 2019
Childs, Calder, and Miles:  “Diet and Immune Function”
Adequate and appropriate nutrition is required for all cells to function optimally and this includes the cells in the immune system. Vitamin A and zinc regulate cell division and so are essential for a successful proliferative response within the immune system. Undernutrition is well understood to impair immune function.

VITAMIN C AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/    Carr and Maggini
Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.”

Mayo Clinic site: “Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a vitamin your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to your body’s healing process.” Large doses of vitamin C are “unlikely to be harmful.”

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7172861/ Boretti and Banik, Title: “Intravenous Vit C for reduction of cytokines storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome” Vit C was reported to have clinical activity against numerous other viruses including poliovirus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, human lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and rabies virus in addition to demonstrating activity against influenza and herpes virus. (Refs listed.)

health.clevelandclinic.org/strengthen-your-immune-system-with-simple-strategies/
There are immune boosting foods: whole unprocessed foods are best.
“Vitamin C is known to boost immunity”
In one study, subjects increased ingestion of foods rich in vit. C “every day for a month.” They “had significant decrease in the severity and duration of upper respiratory infection symptoms”  Best diet: colorful fruits and vegetables. Also, lower stress, sleep well, and exercise.

WebMD: Vitamin C is required for the proper development and function of many parts of the body. It also plays an important role in maintaining proper immune function.

health.clevelandclinic.org/3-vitamins-best-boosting-immunity/
Three vitamins best; C, B6, E. Also hydrate (drink water)
“Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all.”

Nutrients. 2019 Apr; 11(4): 708  Harri Hemila.  Vitamin C Can Shorten the Length of Stay in the ICU: A Meta-Analysis.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 72, Issue 1, Jul 2000, pg 139
“These data suggest that men with low serum ascorbate concentrations may have an increased risk of mortality, probably because of an increased risk of dying from cancer.” The way Vit C may function in improving health, is discussed in detail.
(For non-scientists: “serum ascorbate” is Vit C in the blood.)

VITAMIN C AND VIRUSES (Summary, please see my Blog 208 for more details)

Book: Linus Pauling “Vitamin C and the Common Cold” 1970. Pauling won two Nobel prizes. References to scientific studies are listed and a method for viruses is presented.

Nutrients. 2017 Apr; 9(4): 339 H.Hemila “Vitamin C and Infections” (a review)
Vit C halved the number of colds in physically active people. Vit C shortened the duration of colds, in several studies (most used higher doses, such as 6 to 8 grams). Vit C prevented pneumonia in three controlled studies

Nutrients. 2017 Nov; 9(11): 1211. Carr and Maggini, “Vit C and Immune Function” Vit C appears able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections.

Med Sci Monit. 2014; 20: 725–732. Mikirova and Hunninghake.
Title: “Effect of high dose vitamin C on Epstein-Barr viral infection”
“High dose intravenous vitamin C therapy has a positive effect on disease duration”

WebMD   Vit C “is one of the safest and most effective nutrients.”
Quoting Mark Moyad, MD of University of Michigan:
“There is good evidence for taking vitamin C for colds and flu.” “It can reduce the risk of developing further complications such as pneumonia and lung infections.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7172861/ Boretti and Banik (see above)

SAFETY OF VITAMIN C

Drugs.Com has a long list of severe side-effects for Aspirin, which are much worse than those for Vit C.
Almost any substance will lead to reported side-effects, some of which are not actually valid. Vit C is natural, necessary for life, and safe for almost everyone.  Note: Take Vit C with plenty of water, and divide and space out large doses.

Example from WebMd
“In some people, vitamin C might cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach cramps, headache, and other side effects.”
“In people who have had a kidney stone, amounts greater than 1000 mg daily greatly increase the risk of kidney stone recurrence.” A reference for this was not given, and there are few if any such cases reported.

My conclusion:  Everything you ingest has a danger at some level and for some people. For example, in a hazing incident, someone was forced to drink a lot of water, and died from it. For 50 years, I have been taking large (several gram) doses of Vit C on occassions when I detected cold symptoms, and have never had any significant side-effects. The danger of covid-19 is ultimately lethal, while the danger of Vit C is in almost all cases, trivial. I have also studied the literature on Vit C for 50 years and have never seen an objective report of a serious side-effect, only unsupported dogma.

                              OTHER INFORMATION

For virus information from CDC:
http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-antibody-testing-can-help-us-fight-covid-19
It can take several days for the body to produce antibodies to a virus.

For more articles, search: “Vitamin C and viruses” or “Vitamin C and flu”

The Global Health Security and Biodefense Unit was established by
President Obama in 2015 to deal effectively with viruses, such as covid-19.
A future president abolished this unit. Some members just left, and some were transfered to other organizations

 

 

 

 

 

208. Vitamin C may help with Covid-19, Revised

6 Apr

Most of the decisions we make in life are not based on hard scientific evidence. Examples are new employment, marriage, buying a house, and making investments. A wise person gathers relevant facts, studies them and moves forward. Vitamin C (VC) has not been scientifically proven effective for Covid-19, but it is worth trying for the reasons below. Like many other medical questions, a rigorous study of VC and the virus would be very difficult and very expensive. Drug companies and many MD’s would not be interested. 

Scientific studies show that it does have a positive effect on the cold and other viruses. VC is found in many foods and is safe in large quantities (spaced out and with plenty of water). It is worth trying, because even if it does not cure Covid-19, it can improve your general health. A win, win. Nothing to lose and so much to gain. VC is known to have a variety of important health functions, including healing. Most negative studies were done with low VC doses, under two grams per day. The medical  profession says that good general health is valuable in the fight against coronavirus,  and VC improves health. For best results, in addition to VC, one should take other supplements and have a very healthy diet with a variety of vegetables. It is best to have VC from 1000mg (1 gram) pills and not citrus fruits as it is only present is small amounts. The best plant source is kale.

Below are eight sources of information: scientific studies from PubMed, reliable web sites, such as the Mayo clinic, and Paulings book. I have pulled out the most relevant positive information (and ignored some negatives).

I also want to include my own experience with VC, over a period of 52 years. Briefly, before taking VC I got many colds; but after taking regular daily doses of several grams per day, I almost never got sick. I followed Paulings rules for colds. A general rule for most medicines is to spread large doses out over the day and always take with large  amounts of water. I take a total of about 5 grams every day, spaced out. At the very first sign of a cold I take an additional 3-4 grams every hour or two, as needed. After an initial virus suppression, a complete “cure” may take three or four more days of larger VC doses.  The dose could be adjusted for body weight.  (This is not medical advice and physicians should be consulted if symptoms are serious or prolonged.)

Mayo Clinic:   “Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a vitamin your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to your body’s healing process.” Large doses of vitamin C are “unlikely to be harmful.”

Linus PaulingVitamin C and the Common Cold” 1970. Pauling won two Nobel prizes. The book contains many scientific references and specific cold fighting procedures. There are older studies cited that show some evidence for a relationship between VC and colds. Most early studies were done with low doses, which could account for some negative findings.

Nutrients. 2017 Apr; 9(4): 339 H.HemilaVitamin C and Infections”
There are positive and negative findings. I present the most encouraging results.
VC “halved the number of colds in physically active people.” “Regularly administered vitamin C has shortened the duration of colds.” “Three controlled trials found that vitamin C prevented pneumonia.” Two studies using up to 6 to 8 grams of VC showed decreased cold duration. 148 animal studies “indicated that vitamin C may alleviate or prevent infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.” “Negative findings of some therapeutic common-cold studies might be explained by low VC doses.

Nutrients. 2019 Apr; 11(4): 708 Hemila and Chalker        Title:
Vitamin C Can Shorten the Length of Stay in the ICU”
Used 1 to 3 grams per day and VC “shortened the duration of mechanical ventilation by 18.2%

Nutrients. 2017 Nov; 9(11): 1211. Carr and Maggini,       Title:                                “Vitamin C and Immune Function”
“Supplementation with VC appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections.” “Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans.” “It is a potent antioxidant and a cofactor” for many enzymes.

Med Sci Monit. 2014; 20: 725–732. Mikirova and Hunninghake    Title:  “Effect of high dose vitamin C on Epstein-Barr viral infection”  “Our data provide evidence that high dose intravenous vitamin C therapy has a positive effect on disease duration and reduction of viral antibody levels.”

Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Aug; 8(8): 247. Macan et. al.
Title:   “Therapeutic Perspective of Vitamin C and Its Derivatives”
VC “could be beneficial for medicinal chemists … in the search for more potent candidates imparted with potent … antiviral activities”

WebMD:   Selected phrases.
VC “is one of the safest and most effective nutrients.” It may “help prevent more serious complications” of the common cold. “VC may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.”
“Vitamin C has received a great deal of attention, and with good reason. Higher blood levels of vitamin C may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health,” says study researcher Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, of the University of Michigan. “The more we study Vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health. “There is good evidence for taking vitamin C for colds and flu” “It can reduce the risk of developing further complications such as pneumonia and lung infections.”

207. We Don’t Need a King Trump

25 Mar

0KingTrumpTrump has actually expressed his admiration for dictators, such as those controlling Russia, N. Korea, and Turkey. In an exchange with Joe Scarborough, when told that Putin “kills journalists that don’t agree with him”, he replied that “our country does plenty of killing, too.”

I am seriously concerned that Trump supporters really do not understand why he is a great danger to the US and must not continue as President. Here is a partial list of his worst abuses.

In January of 2020 he disregarded intelligence agencies and highly regarded epidemiologists and ignored the clear dangers of Covid19. This delayed our understanding and actions regarding the disease and probably caused thousands of unnecessary deaths. Testing for the virus was definitely delayed by Trump and his administration. He downplayed the virus so that it would not affect his precious stock market, which helps with his future election. He could have begun working on associated supplies, like protective masks and gloves and equipment like ventilators. He terminated a special White-House group dealing with epidemics. He blamed Obama for having ineffective procedures, when he had three years to correct them.

He left the Paris Climate Accord and ignored the dangers of climate change. He should have worked on our own climate efforts and on supporting valuable research programs. Ultimately, millions of people will die from the resulting hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, and possible wars.

He withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal, which included several major nations, and was preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The deal was working, according those most familiar with it. Now we have no deal, worse relations with Iran, and more potential dangers.

He failed in his dealing with North Korea. He boosted world respect for them and they continue to develop dangerous nuclear missiles. Expressing his “love” for Kim made him look foolish.

He has lost world respect for the US Presidency because of his childish and rude behavior. By breaking several existing international deals, other nations do not trust him. There is also less trust because what he says is often different from staff statements.

Knowledgeable people throughout the world cannot believe what he says because he makes obvious mistakes and lies. Fact-checkers have counted over 16000 “false or misleading claims” during his three years in office. To show that this count is plausible, one can simply read his speeches and note how the “truth” varies from time to time. For example, he made up a story about why he fired FBI Comey, and then three days later gave an entirely different reason. Another lie is the “do-nothing” Democrat congressmen, that, in fact, created hundreds of bills, which were not acted on by the real “do-nothing” Republicans.

He supported Russia in several ways. In one situation he believed what Putin said, instead of what his intelligence agencies stated. He significantly delayed the imposition of Russian sanctions approved by US Congress. His impeachment was based on an action that favored Russia.

He undermined the FBI, intelligence agencies, and other governmental offices, like the Attorney General. He promoted actions that benefited him instead of our country. His A.G. Barr, a yes-man lied in his description of the Mueller Report.

He appointed many Federal Judges that are radically conservative and in many cases, without appropriate qualifications.

He supported tax changes that primarily support already rich people and corporations, while ordinary people got very little and nothing permanent. His financial policies have greatly increased our national debt.

He made a deal with Turkey, which resulted in the deaths and loss of homes for thousands of Kurds. Kurdish soldiers helped the US fight and destroy the Islamic State. This action has led to further distrust of the US in international matters.

Trump was impeached because he pressured Ukraine to help him with his 2020 election. This was harmful to our ally Ukraine in their fight against Russia, and the delay of needed military support was a major setback for them. This increased global distrust of the US.

He hollowed out many US government agencies, such as the State Department. We lost many valuable experts that helped with vital decision making. Trump said he could make the best decisions on his own (with Tweets, of course). Most of his staff and cabinet were chosen on the basis of loyalty and subservience, rather than competence and experience. Many had to resign and many were fired for calling him “moron” or simply disagreeing.

Many immigrants at our Southern US border suffered because of poorly thought-out policies. Disorganization caused children to be separated from parents in a way making reuniting them very difficult, and still is incomplete. In many cases, Trump has rushed to implement policies without considering the negative effects.

Some of his trade policies were OK, but trade deals with China were a disaster for many farmers and others in the US. Some of our farmers were paid by our government for their losses. The total is more than $20-billion per year. Many losses to others are not compensated at all. In January of 2020 he signed an initial trade agreement with China, that includes many uncertainties. As usual, many people have to suffer to satisfy Trumps ego.

Trump has damaged ObamaCare and tried to abolish it without the promised Republican replacement plan. US citizens were saved by one vote, that of Republican John McCain. Trump has falsely claimed that he was preserving the “pre-existing conditions” feature. It seems that McCain is the last Repub with the guts and patriotism to stand up to Trump.

A vote for Trump is support for a government in which all of the above will continue and likely get worse. The tyranny of Trump must be terminated.

206. Coping with Virus Fears

17 Mar

The rapid spread of Covid-19 virus has triggered fears in many people, and fear can be dibilitating.  I watch a lot of news programs, and I am disappointed to see the promotion of ineffective stress-reduction programs. In my earlier days I was a licensed PhD clinical psychologist, and I am going to briefly present ideas here (not medical advice), which may be of help. There is a general value to learning the control emotions and limiting fears. Here are some important ideas, which are just an introduction to this topic.

Stress, anxiety, and fears have a basic physiological factor, which evolved for survival. The main organ controlling this is a branch of the autonomic nervous system. It is also known as the “fight-or-flight” system, which prepares us for a vigorous defense. This system involves higher heart rate, muscle tension, blood flow changes, sweating, etc.

Fight-or-flight changes are activated by real danger, or simply by fears. Many will notice this activation and identify it as anxiety or stress. It leads to “worry.” Once triggered, the activation (anxiety) can last for hours or days beyond the original stimulus. The activation itself can be stressful and can lead to even more of these changes. (Technically, this is a positive feedback loop, i.e. feedback causes something to increase.) The end result of increased activation can be a panic attack.

Stress and anxiety must first be treated by normalizing this defensive system. Relaxing the body will cause the brain to relax. Starting therapy by working with fearful  thoughts is not effective, because they will always occur when the fight-or-flight system is activated. The procedures involve relaxing many muscles and breathing peacefully.

A “relaxation tape” or therapist can provide instructions for this process. Once a method is learned, it can be implemented in just a few seconds. Also important is awareness (feedback) of muscle tension and blood flow changes. Many people live much of their adult life, unaware of excessive, energy draining, activation. If a therapist is used, very effective “cognitive” discussions can be added later. Also a part of the process is learning to breathe peacefully: generally, regularly, slowly, and deeply.

If a person is presented with relevant measurements (scientific facts) he/she can learn more quickly. When scientific, medical instruments are used, the therapy method is called “biofeedback.” The feedback could be heart rate, hand temperature, a measure of sweating, or blood pressure, usually presented with a changing sound. For example, hand temperature will rise as one relaxes. A transducer and some electronics can convert this temperature into a sound. As temperature rises, the pitch can rise and the patient gets helpful information.

Having taped instructions for the relaxation process is a good way to start. You can go to the Internet and do this search: “muscle relaxation tapes.” Here is a good one:
.                 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86HUcX8ZtAk
After using the tape a number of times, the relaxation procedure can be shortened. Eventually, a “brief relaxation response” can be developed, which takes only 10 to 15 seconds and can be done almost anywhere. Note that these behavioral methods provide an actual, direct cure, while many other methods provide something temporary, which must be used indefinitely. As you learn the relaxation methods, much of the process becomes automatic and less attention is needed. Take whatever actions are required for the virus, and deal with any associated fears in this enjoyable way. Entering a state of peacefulness is a remarkable experience.

 

205. How Candidates Really Get Elected

28 Feb

Commentators and reporters often make demands of candidates that only serve purposes such as dramatizing and attracting attention. At the same time, I am generally pleased by the way our traditional press and reporters operate. Some self interest is always present, so it is mostly up to the candidates themselves, to stay out of trouble. There are two types of potentially troublesome demands: urging attacks on fellow candidates, and the other is to provide detailed plans. 

Attacks and competition can lower the likely success of all candidates in a party. Providing a lot of details, sometimes is OK, but every detail can cause rejection by a certain segment of the population. For example, I would suggest that those in favor of Medicare-for-all should say something like this: “our general goals are to provide complete low cost and even zero cost, to all citizens. I (the candidate) will work hard towards this goal. And any such legislation brought to me that has the support of Congress and the people, I will sign into law. Healthcare is so complicated and with so many opposing interests, no one person can make final decisions. I will encourage the appropriate Congressional and citizen committees. And of course,  every plan developed will require OMB estimates of cost. A good immediate plan could simply be improvements to ObamaCare, while more comprehensive new plans are gradually implemented.

Traits for a successful candidate. 

The candidate must be likable. Sounds superficial, but very important for votes. This trait answers my title question: “How candidates really get elected.” This factor probably is most important, but some other traits below could be significant.

The candidate must emphasize key issues for voters, like wages, health care, and jobs.

The candidate must have a substantial history of worthy causes and patriotism.

The candidate should be free of scandals and dishonesty. Sometimes this does not matter much. If folks really like you, then these are less important.

The candidate must look and act “presidential.” This means reasonably good looks, and a mostly serious demeanor with only a few humorous exceptions. Sad to say,  superficial features are very important, particularly to less well educated people.

The candidate must answer questions well and have a pleasant voice.

The candidate must demonstrate that he/she has good judgement. This can be demonstrated by how he/she organizes and runs his/her campaign. All his interactions with people should be appropriate.

            A Good Candidate is Not Necessarily a Good President

The characteristics of a good “candidate” are not necessarily the same as a good president. A really good president would have very good analytic abilities. He would be able to understand and deal with very complicated issues. He should have working experience with this type of thinking.  A candidate could do well, even without this ability.

My assessment of the candidates.

When I study the current list of Democrat candidates for president, it appears to me that every major candidate has a significant flaw. First, I want to say that most are very decent people and all would be a great improvement over Trump. Here are the details.

Age is significant. Three contenders if elected, will reach age 80 in their first term in office. Bernie Sanders is the oldest and also the most radical. He has to lose some votes for these two reasons. In his first primary, I voted for him and I respect him a lot, but he is not as sharp as he was previously. Like POTUS, he has a very dedicated following. Billionaire Mike Bloomberg has some serious political problems, but could be a good president. He should be welcomed and respected because he promises a lot of financial support to whoever emerges. He has a lot of relevant experience and can deal with tough problems. Joe Biden (former vice-president) has a lot of support from black people and unequaled amounts of experience. He is likable in many ways and would make a good president. But he has always made “gaffs” and he tends to be even more inconsistent at his current age. I have personal experience with old age and realize the memory, mental capacity, and strength limitations. Ten years ago, all three could have done well in debating Trump.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is very capable and was my favorite for many years. But I and others were disappointed by her nasty attacks of other Democrat candidates. These attacks could be overlooked, but lately she has not pleased the voters enough. She also developed a health care plan that was very expensive — definitely a victim of too much detail in her plans. Also, she is losing some votes to Sanders.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is highly intelligent, strong, speaks well, and is very young. I think he has the ability to be a great president and could defeat Trump in debates. In my eyes, he has no flaws, but he will lose the redneck votes because of his love preferences. This is a shame because he is a great person.

The other candidates are good people, but so far, at least, have not gotten enough votes. Senator Amy Klobuchar is really outstanding and has the ability to be a great president. Also, she has a good record of electability. Billionaire Tom Steyer has a good recent record of the right values, but so far, not enough votes. I don’t know of any “flaws,” but for one thing, there is a lack of name recognition. There is a small possibility that he could emerge because others have serious flaws. Governor Jay Inslee dropped out, but I viewed him very favorably.

For me, the best choice is not so clear. One problem is that a candidate could do well with Democrat voters, but not so well with the general population (an example is Bernie Sanders). For people like me, it is best to wait and see who is most supported by the voters, before my actual decision.

 

 

204. GMO’s Evoke Unwarranted Fears

25 Feb

GMO-Picture-CornI write blogs, tweets, and other comments on a variety of subjects. Studying the critics of these pieces suggests to me, that many people don’t understand and/or distrust science in general. My position is that the work of scientists provides numerous benefits for all citizens, including better foods, electronics, transportation, health care, pet care, climate-change info, etc. Scientific information and discovery for many is also exciting and interesting and helps us to understand the world around us.

My current scientific topic is Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) foods. Genetic modifications involve the manipulation of DNA molecules in the laboratory. The  manipulations lead to relatively permanent changes, including: enhanced plant growth, plants that better survive insect and disease attacks, plants that require less water, and will grow in unhealthy soil, and other improvements.

Given all the potential and existing benefits, GMO foods should be carefully studied and regulated. Certified products will provide extensive nourishment for an ever increasing Earth population. Also, global warming can reduce crop yields due to fires, droughts and other weather anomalies. It is extremely important to have the best plants available as demand increases. It will be of particular benefit to farmers in developing countries that are struggling to survive. Crop plants modified to do well in unusual soil conditions, in somewhat salty water, and in partial droughts, will be of great benefit.

Here are a few facts: Even now, GMO crops are widely used as livestock feed without any adverse reports. If they were poison, surely they would have made our hamburgers toxic, but this has not happened. Note also, that modifying plant DNA by “breeding,” is common and has occurred for ages.  In my previous blog, I discussed seaweed as a potential major food source, and also for its absorption of the greenhouse gas CO2. Genetic improvements of seaweed could be of great benefit.

An advantage of GMO as a way to modify, is that the modifications are known and can be evaluated for safety. Many natural modifications are unknown. Nature, in some cases, does produce toxic plants. There is always a tendency to want natural products, and I am the same way. Yet for many years we have modified plants through breeding, developed medicines that are not natural, and we all eat food that undergoes many “processes.” We need to move forward, in a safe way, with valuable innovations.

Here is a good, easy-to-read source of GMO facts by Kurzgesagt:                                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TmcXYp8xu4

203. Ocean Science Can Save the World

8 Feb

The oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the Earth’s water. Ocean researchers say that we know more about our moon than the deep ocean. Recently, there is more concern about oceans as a source of food supply and because of their role in climate-change. As I will describe below, better usage of the oceans can both feed the world and save us from the dangers of global warming.

Johnson and Davis (TED-ED June 2019) and a World Bank Group Report have suggested improvements to ocean farming techniques. Currently, there is an aquaculture, in which many large pens, offshore, are used to hold and grow fish for human consumption. The fish are crowded and stressed. Large concentrated piles of waste result and can lead to disease. Often, breaks in the nets can cause a dangerous release of the penned fish.

It is better to  farm seaweedSeaweed-imageand shellfish. These species have a very low maintenance. The seaweed feed off of sunlight and operators do not need to supply food. The seaweed can be prepared in various ways so as to be more appetizing, can be ground-up and mixed with animal feed, and can also be used as a bio-fuel. Growing seaweed can help with the depletion of fish and can counteract ocean acidification by absorbing CO2.

“Seaweed” is a group of algae that are only found in marine waters (salty sea waters). In terms of  human consumption, it produces algae protein and algae oil similar to soy. It also is a source of valuable omega-3 fatty acids similar to fish oils. There are three different types: red, brown and green.

Growing massive amounts of seaweed can help with global warming.  Seaweed captures CO2, removing it from the atmosphere. A good reference for this  feature is: Tim Flannery, TEDSummit 2019 Can seaweed help curb global warming.”  One problem with this system is that seaweed eventually rots and the carbon is released back into the environment. A solution is to lower the seaweed in the water to a depth where it will best retain the CO2. Scientists are working on various solutions to the release. As research continues, it may be possible to develop seaweed species that are more efficient in using CO2 and in keeping it stored.

There are many publications regarding the depletion of fish in our oceans.  A really good discussion of this is: Jackie Savitz, TEDxMidAtlantic 2013, Save the oceans, feed the worldShe describes how good international regulations can restore depleted species and greatly increase the fish available for increasing populations. 

Angelicque White (TED@NAS, Nov. 2019) writes about microbes in the oceans, that indicate and affect ocean health. When there are major changes such as ocean warming, the microbes are the first affected. 

Ocean microbes are tiny plants and animals that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are at the bottom of the food chain. All animals in the ocean depend ultimately on this basic food source. Microbes absorb CO2 and produce oxygen, so they improve the composition of the atmosphere. 

Climate-change results in warming water, which tends to increase harmful algal blooms. The extra CO2 in the air also leads to ocean acidification, which has many adverse effects on ocean life.  The ecosystem health is generally affected. The changes impact economically important fisheries, like crab and salmon; and also affected are marine mammals like whales, dolphins, seals, and otters. Also important is that warmer waters increase the intensity of hurricanes.

Here are all the climate-change and other ocean problems listed by Angelicque White: harmful algal blooms, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, eutrophication, melting of the polar ice caps, expansion of oxygen minimum zones, pollution, loss of biodiversity,  and overfishing.

My conclusion and main point here, is that ocean science has the potential to help with many world problems. A responsible government will support research in this area.