Terry Collins & Assoc. – Recent news releases http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com A trophy case Tue, 04 Jul 2017 18:38:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 The Peace Builders of Northern Kenya; Model Expands to Other African Nations http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/the-peace-builders-of-northern-kenya-model-expands-to-other-african-nations/ Sun, 02 Jul 2017 04:01:50 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3354 Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, Nairobi

Fr Padraic with a group of parents (1)Founded by Ireland’s Fr. Patrick Devine in aftermath of national post-election violence, Kenya’s Shalom Centre pioneers successful formula for preventing conflict between rival groups

An innovative research-led model for building peace has been pioneered by an Irish Catholic priest and his Shalom Centre colleagues working in areas of Northern Kenya where assault rifles are as common in households as cooking pots.

Lawlessness is prevalent in the isolated areas of Kenya bordering Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, and family possessions include, on average, 1.6 AK-47s, the weapon of choice also of organized cattle-rustling gangs.

Weak institutions, porous borders and climate change, meanwhile, combine to make conditions harsher, nurturing historic, sometimes violent competition over scarce resources between the 11 ethnic communities of Northern Kenya with which the Centre works.

More recently, conflicts over official positions and new administrative boundaries driven by politics have become commonplace. Of immediate concern to the peace makers: the Aug. 8 Kenya general elections. In 2007-08, post-election violence nationwide, fuelled by political in-fighting, retaliation and power struggles, left roughly 1,300 Kenyans dead, 60,000 maimed and 600,000 displaced.

The Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, founded by Fr. Patrick Devine in 2009, which works as well in the slums of Nairobi, has cultivated a unique approach to conflict resolution, its success recognized and celebrated with a host of international awards.

And the model is expanding into other parts of Africa, starting with Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania and the Central African Republic, with further plans to establish centres as well in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The model’s success is founded on extensive research into areas of complaint and issues that drive conflict then working with key community opinion-shapers — elders, women, youth and influential chiefs — to reach a common understanding of both the history and current definition of a conflict’s source, while building trust and co-operation to reach solutions.

Through workshops, Shalom is creating a legacy of conflict resolution, training to date more than 9,600 community leaders as peacemakers.

Strategies also include sustainable human development in conflicted communities through projects. Lasting results include the building of solar-powered inter-ethnic and inter-religious schools, medical centres and water projects.

The philosophy of Fr. Devine, a 29-year veteran of African ministry: Conflicts are created by unmet human needs and the inability of weak institutions to help people actualize their potential. Shalom’s peaceful coexistence goal is simple: “To help the people become the architects of their own future.”

Shalom’s grassroots-based methodology, he says, embraces prevention and transformation — “delving deep into the social, economic, historical, cultural and religious factors that contribute to extremist behaviours that cause significant destruction and trauma to individuals and communities. Conjecture and speculation are no basis for policy making.”

Conflict in the region can be linked to several primary causes: scarcity and mismanagement of core environmental resources, infrastructure insecurity, weak institutions and the political economy of governance, historic tribal land and cultural conflict, all contributing to an unhelpful proliferation of illegal small arms.

“Every conflict has a memory,” says Fr. Devine, honoured in 2013 with the International Caring Award, and recently nominated for Ireland’s prestigious Tipperary International Peace Prize. “When the causes of conflict are not only identified, but also agreed upon by those involved, peace-building techniques create a way to look forward to a constructive future.”

Nairobi-based Shalom Centre’s international research and field staff are expert in conflict management theory and practice. All have at least a masters’ level education. “And I have never met a group with the persistence, commitment and consistency of Shalom staff,” says Fr. Devine.

The goal is not what he calls “negative peace,” or just an end to fighting but rather “positive peace,” where both sides in a conflict see the benefits of protecting the others’ security and wellbeing.

“There’s more than enough in the environment for everyone’s need,” he says, “but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

Fr. Devine explains why he founded Shalom: “I didn’t want to spend another 25 years just dealing with the symptoms of conflict and poverty, nor just putting money through a sieve without substantial endurable results.”

“Our centre helps people in this region emerge from patterns of ongoing conflict, an environment in which people are persistently killed, maimed and displaced, preventing social and religious values, such as truth, justice, peace, mercy and reconciliation, from taking deep root. Nor can development be sustained if schools, hospitals, programs, and religious centres are regularly made inoperable due to conflict.”

Fr. Devine underlines the non-sectarian nature of the centre’s work. “Shalom should not be owned by any one religious tradition,” he says. “If we can bring about peace in the world, we can all find our path to God.”

Weak institutions, porous borders and climate change combine to make conditions harsher, nurturing sometimes violent competition over scarce resources between ethnic communities of Northern Kenya, and the proliferation of illegal small arms

Weak institutions, porous borders and climate change combine to make conditions harsher, nurturing sometimes violent competition over scarce resources between ethnic communities of Northern Kenya, and the proliferation of illegal small arms

At a May EU meeting in Brussels to address the humanitarian situation in Africa, Yemen and Syria, Joe McHugh, Ireland’s Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development, noted the impossibility of sustainable development without peace.

He singled out Shalom’s “great work” and lauded the centre for making inroads in “interethnic conflict reconciliation where, for the first time in a particular region even with drought and massive challenges, the peace is holding.”

“If there are examples working we should look to them and support them.”

Dr. Laura Basell, a professor at Queen’s University, Belfast, and an archaeologist in Africa for 20 years, praises Shalom’s diverse, highly qualified international team.

“What particularly impresses me is Shalom’s theoretical underpinning focused on education, empowerment, and transcending ethnic and religious boundaries in order to address the root causes of conflict,” she says.

“Rev. Dr. Devine has demonstrated that Shalom is an institution that speaks not only through the verbal articulation of its guiding principles but predominantly through its deeds. While much remains to be done, their work is clearly making a difference from individuals to entire communities – a wonderful achievement.”

Says Dr. Michael Comerford, a South Sudan-based board director of Shalom:

“From the beginning, I was struck by the Shalom Centre’s methodology to resolve conflict and promote peace, which avoided quick fixes to problems that had existed for years, if not generations. There was something about ‘taking time to work with people’ that struck me as new. The approach involved working directly with local communities and their leaders, taking time to build relationships between communities, taking time to build peace.”

* * * * *

The Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation is supported by partner organizations and a network of visionary donors, primarily from the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland.

With a budget of less than $1M US per year and low (7%) overhead costs, Shalom leverages the donations of its supporters to maximize its work on the ground in tribal areas, particularly in the semi-arid terrains, and in the largest slum settlements in urban centres of Eastern Africa.

The Center focuses on the root cause of violence in the tribal lands of eastern Africa. It was created in 2009 in the wake of persistent widespread violence and dislocation across Northern Kenya, and in the aftermath of the disputed Kenyan elections. Shalom has made a major impact on peace initiatives in this vital strategic area of Africa.

The Centre’s work is strictly non-sectarian and closely aligned with civil society organisations. Fr. Patrick Devine serves as the organization’s executive director, leading an international team of conflict resolution experts from various religious backgrounds and disciplines who are based in Kenya and neighboring countries.

Shalom’s approach to peace-building:

  • Deliver quality conflict management training consistently to local communities.
  • Conduct research among local communities into the causes of violence.
  • Work with local leaders and influential opinion shapers to ensure they are part of the long-term solution to preventing conflict; engaging them in problem-solving workshops.
  • Promote the construction and development of projects that benefit multiple groups in a community, including those on opposite sides of a conflict.
  • Conduct peace education in primary and secondary schools and with groups of influential opinion shapers in conflict environments, aimed at delegitimizing the use of force in solving conflicts.

Shalom benefits from Memoranda of Understanding with the governments of eastern Africa that comprise the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The Centre also partners with international and regional colleges and universities on peace-building courses, as well as religious association and councils in Africa.

Shalom makes its findings available to partners, relevant governments, ethnic representatives and United Nation and regional organizations.

High-profile speaking engagements help raise awareness of this successful peace-development model so it can be implemented in other conflict environments. Last year, Fr. Patrick lectured at Harvard Law School, and in January gave a presentation to a group of Washington D.C. diplomats, academics and peace practitioners on preventing radicalization and extremism.


Example coverage:

Xinhua news agency, China, “Kenyan charity promotes cohesion in volatile regions ahead of August polls,” click here 

BBC World Service, click here

The Standard, Kenya, “Centre pioneers formula for preventing conflict between rival groups in Africa,” click here

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, “Shalom Center leads in peace building initiative in Northern Kenya,” click here

Agencia EFE, Spain, “Religioso irlandés desarrolla programa para formar pacificadores en África,” click here

Voice of America, USA, click here

Coverage summary: click here

News release in full, click here


Ontario town’s 10-year, $2.7 million effort to save endangered turtles offers global lessons, template http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/ontario-towns-10-year-2-7-million-effort-to-save-endangered-turtles-offers-global-lessons-template/ Fri, 26 May 2017 19:26:42 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3343 Long Point Causeway Improvement Project, Long Point, Canada

89 percent fewer turtles venture onto Lake Erie’s Long Point Causeway

blanding-s-turtle-endangeredA newly completed project in a remote corner of southwestern Ontario is being hailed as a landmark achievement in the protection of at-risk species and a model for other communities around the world seeking to reduce the number of animals killed on roads that run through fragile ecosystems.

For decades, the causeway linking Lake Erie’s Long Point peninsula with mainland Ontario was among the deadliest for threatened and endangered reptiles. Researchers estimate that, since 1979, as many as 10,000 animals per year — representing more than 100 species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds — were killed by traffic on this 3.6 km stretch of two-lane road.

The causeway separates Long Point Bay and the marshy wetlands of Big Creek National Wildlife Area, all part of a large UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

While amphibians were by far the most common casualties, the biggest concern was the number of dead reptiles, particularly at-risk and endangered species such as Blanding’s turtles, snapping turtles, Eastern foxsnakes and others.

In 2003, the carnage earned the Long Point Causeway the notoriety of 4th place on a list of the world’s top turtle road mortality sites (after two sites in Florida and one in Montana).

The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project has changed all that, dramatically reducing the incidence of fatal interactions between vehicles and wildlife by installing special fencing and culverts, and through public awareness campaigns and signage.

Launched at a public meeting of concerned residents and community groups in 2006, the work has taken 10 years and cost CDN$ 2.7 million, funded by local groups, the Ontario government, the Canadian government and even a US environmental foundation.

“With most of the causeway now fully fenced, the average number of turtles venturing onto the road has dropped by 89 per cent and snake numbers are down 28 per cent,” said Chantel Markle, a McMaster University biologist who led a research project that analyzed historic and current road mortality data to evaluate the impact of the protection measures.

The study is published in the journal Wildlife Society Bulletin (wildlife.org/publications/wsb).

Markle and her co-investigators also studied wildlife activity in several aquatic and terrestrial culverts – special tunnels of different sizes and materials constructed under the causeway to allow the natural movement of turtles, snakes and other animals.

Success story “offers a model”

Rowan, Ontario -- June 14, 2008 -- Richard Levick, right and the organization "The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project," (LPCIP) have assumed the task of protecting the frogs, snakes and turtles, including species at risk such as the BlandingÕs who are killed on the narrow roadway at Big Creek Marsh (Lake Erie) each year. Here a Midland Painted turtle makes the trek across the causeway. Glenn Lowson photo for The Star

Glenn Lowson photo

“The success story documented in our study is very important because it offers a model that can be used and adapted in other areas where road mortality threatens important wetlands biodiversity,” said co-investigator Scott Gillingwater, a species at risk biologist with the Upper Thames Valley Conservation Authority.

By comparing historic and current data on road reptile counts, the team showed that while fully fenced sections of the causeway showed dramatic reductions in roadkill, stretches where only partial fencing was possible – to permit access to private property, for example – were the same as — and in some places worse than — unfenced sections.

Using motion-activated and time-lapse cameras as well as passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags with stationery aerials, the research team also confirmed that the various types of culverts, also called “eco-passages,” were being used by several turtle species – Blanding’s turtles, northern map turtles, snapping turtles and midland painted turtles. They also fitted 15 male and 15 female Blanding’s turtles with radio transmitters and learned that their home range overlapped with different sections of the causeway.

A century of roadkill in a UNESCO-recognized ecosystem

Built in the 1920s by the local community to create land access to the beaches on Long Point, the causeway has presented a near century-old hazard for turtles needing a place to lay eggs (in June, up to 30-40 eggs per female), to reach summer habitat, and to find winter hibernation sites. Often female turtles, which only reach reproductive age in their teens, use the gravel shoulders for nesting, making them and their hatchlings especially susceptible to cars.

Weighing up to 30 kg with a shell up to half a meter long, the snapping turtle is the most common species at Long Point and Canada’s largest freshwater turtle. Omnivores, they feed on aquatic plants and invertebrates, as well as fish, frogs, birds and small mammals. They also eat dead animals, helping to keep waterways clean.

Seldom seen, the turtles spend the day buried in mud. Over the winter, they burrow into the bottom of the pond and become dormant. Though they can live up to 90 years or more, few survive to adulthood.

Drivers aimed at turtles

Scientists from the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), which manages the Big Creek National Wildlife Area, had been studying road mortality on the causeway since the 1970s.

Disturbingly, in one study researchers watching from a blind found that almost 3% of drivers swerved deliberately to hit a rubber turtle or snake placed on the centre line of the causeway.

Since the 1990s, Paul Ashley, of the Canadian Wildlife Service, and Scott Gillingwater, a herpetologist / wildlife biologist, had both been working in the Long Point region and monitoring the effects of the Causeway on reptiles.

They combined efforts to look at opportunities to limit the high rates of wildlife mortality and initiated a dialogue between stakeholders in 2005.

At a 2006 meeting of Long Point community groups, biologists, and representatives of the CWS and other federal, provincial and local government agencies, a plan to address the carnage began to take shape.

DSCN0709 (1)“We all agreed that it was time to put an end to the slaughter,” said Rick Levick, a veteran Long Point cottager who became the coordinator of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project. Local organizations provided start-up funding which the steering committee used to secure government funding for a feasibility study.

“There were two objectives – the specific goal of reducing the reptile road kill and the broader ecological goal of reconnecting Big Creek marsh to the bay,” said Levick. “Both are important to restoring the health of this world-renowned ecosystem.”

The construction of exclusion fencing began in 2008 and two years later, most of the causeway was fenced, despite daunting challenges presented by the marsh and lake shore conditions. Soon, overall reptile road kill numbers had fallen by half and by 60 per cent for important species-at-risk reptiles.

Not everyone in Long Point was impressed. A small group of opponents calling themselves The Friends of the Causeway fought the project from the outset and raised many objections during the environmental assessment process that preceded the start of the next phase – construction of the culverts or “eco-passages.”

“There was a lot of misinformation but their main argument was that the cost of the work would be added to the local tax bill, which was not the case,” said Levick. “Norfolk County’s actual cash contribution has only been about three per cent of the $2.7 million we have raised from many sources.”

In the end, the friends of the reptiles prevailed, the remainder of the project was approved, funding was secured and the first three turtle tunnels – two small terrestrial culverts and a large aquatic culvert – were installed in 2012.

Over the next four years, nine more were built with the 12th and last installed in January 2017. Reptile road mortality has decreased by nearly 90 per cent.

Think like a turtle

“At many stages during the project, we have found ourselves at the leading edge of the both the science and technology in this field,” said Levick. “For example, we have experimented with a number of different types of fencing materials and fence designs to come up with solutions that are effective in the different environments found along the causeway.”

The project has identified an ideal, affordable fencing material made of thick black recycled plastic, as well as a culvert design made of a polymer-concrete material that offers both the light and warmth (relative to regular concrete) needed for the turtles to enter.

Where possible the culverts were installed no more than 150 meters apart, based on studies that showed 75 meters to be the rough limit of a turtle’s perseverance.

Studies had also shown that cold-blooded turtles are sometimes reluctant to use certain types of culverts, so a number of designs were used — terrestrial, aquatic, large, medium and small. This diversity of culverts proved successful.

A trick introduced where fencing had to be interrupted (eg. where it met private property) involved bending the end of the fence into a U-shape to at least turn turtles around and point them in a safe direction.

“We had to think like a turtle,” said Levick.

“Now we get approaches from other conservation and environmental organizations and government agencies that want to know how we overcame the many challenges involved in a project like this. Basically, our work became one long running experiment to find solutions to the problems we encountered that we could share with others.”

Levick said that while installing the fencing and culverts really made a difference, it was also important to change drivers’ attitudes and behaviour towards wildlife crossing the road.

“We’ve learned that if you install a ‘Turtles Crossing’ sign and leave it there all year, people eventually stop noticing it – it just blends into the background,” he said. “Instead we install a large electronic message board at the beginning of spring warning drivers to watch for turtles on the road. We now leave the sign up from May until September and it has been much more effective.”

Levick said that motorists crossing the causeway are much more turtle conscious now. “It’s quite common now for people to stop and help a turtle across the road rather than run over it. That makes a big difference too, not just here on the causeway but on any road where wildlife wander onto the road.”

Children’s book promotes awareness, raises funds

Long Point residents Jan and John Everett have also supported public awareness by engaging kids. Originally created by Jan as a birthday gift for her husband – a veteran at helping turtles to safety, saving as many as 30 per year with a large shovel stowed in his car trunk – the cartoon-illustrated story became a local hit with children.

The retired couple have a long list of school visits lined up for readings and discussion of the book, “Never Give Up,” the sale of which (available for $10.50 at http://longpointcauseway.com/never-give-up/) now helps raise funds to maintain Long Point’s culverts and fencing.

Road kill problems soar worldwide

Insurance industry statistics show that in the US alone drivers report hitting one million to two million animals every year – figures that don’t include millions of unreported collisions with smaller animals like turtles, raccoons or squirrels (although there are documented cases of a turtle smashing through a windshield after being launched by a passing car’s tire).

According to recent figures reported by The Guardian, the last 16 months have seen 2,213 reported dead animals on English highways. Figures for last year included 10 polecats, 36 swans, three ferrets, a pig and a wallaby. Eighty-five animals were “deemed too squished to identify.”

Even if one were to remove all other threats faced by turtles across North America, in some areas road mortality alone would still result in turtle population declines and eventual losses.

Said Gillingwater: “Our perception of abundance in natural wildlife populations is biased by a shifting baseline, one that continues to change with each successive human generation. Because of this, we often lose sight of the true losses to our natural world.”

“As a result of extensive human impact on the landscape, freshwater turtle and snake abundances today represent only a fraction of former numbers. Reptiles face numerous threats in Ontario, with turtles being particularly susceptible to population declines.”

“Increases in adult mortality can lead to outright losses of populations,” he said. “Turtles have a very late age of maturity (up to 20 years before some species can lay their first clutch of eggs), very few eggs survive through incubation, and very few hatchlings ever reach maturity.”

“These biological limitations were not an issue before human settlement, but as people have spread out further across the landscape, the numbers of adult turtles has declined, fewer eggs hatch, and even fewer hatchlings reach maturity. Furthermore, the importance of older animals in a population cannot be over-stated, as turtles many decades old are often the most reproductively successful in the population.”

“Unfortunately,” he noted, “road mortality does not discriminate by age.”

* * * * *

The Canadian Press, Ontario community’s work to prevent turtles, snakes being killed on roads a model for others, click here
CBC, Canada These endangered turtles being saved by citizens of an Ontario hamlet, click here
BBC, UK, Turtle disaster avoided with roadkill rescue, click here
Motherboard, USA, This Small Town in Canada Spent 10 Years and $2.7 Million to Save Turtles, click here

Global TV (National), Canada, How an Ontario community set a global example for saving turtles on a deadly road, click here

Popular Science, USA, How one community rallied to save turtles from becoming roadkill, click here
Agencia EFE, Spain, Programa canadiense de conservación de tortugas pasa a ser modelo mundial, click here
IndoAsian News Service, India, ‘Eco-passages’ and other lessons on curbing roadkill, click here
Simcoe Reformer, Canada, Causeway insights shared with world, click here
Good News Network, USA, This Small Town in Canada Spent 10 Years and $2.7 Million to Save Turtles, click here
Vocativ, USA, Town Bands Together To Save Turtles From Deadly Road, click here
The Toronto Star
News release in full, click here

Full coverage summary, click here




Scientists track fish migration using DNA in water samples http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/scientists-track-fish-migration-using-dna-in-water-samples/ Wed, 12 Apr 2017 21:59:24 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3323 Rockefeller University, Program for the Human Environment, NY

Naked DNA in water tells if fish have arrived

Scientists demonstrate harmless, economical new way to log fish migration;

Environmental DNA researchers foresee a revolution in how we assess the movement, diversity, distribution and abundance of fish

AFP picFor the first time, scientists have recorded a spring fish migration simply by conducting DNA tests on water samples.

“Environmental DNA” (eDNA), strained from one-liter (quart) samples drawn weekly from New York’s East and Hudson Rivers over six months last year, revealed the presence or absence of several key fish species passing through the water on each test day.

The convenient weekly data snapshots created a moving picture that largely reinforced and correlated with knowledge hard won from migration studies conducted over many years with fishnet trawls.

The Rockefeller University study, published April 12 in PLOS ONE, pioneers a way to monitor fish migrations that involves a fraction of the effort and cost of trawling, all without harming the fish.

It demonstrates as well another in the growing list of eDNA uses, which experts expect to upend soon the way fish assessments are conducted worldwide.

Indeed, eDNA science is quickly granting humanity a very old wish: an easy way to estimate the abundance and distribution of diverse fish species and other forms of marine life in the dark waters of rivers, lakes, and seas.

Led by Senior Research Associate Mark Stoeckle and co-authored by student researcher Lyubov Soboleva and Rockefeller University scientist Zachary Charlop-Powers, the project originated in the university’s Program for the Human Environment under Director Jesse Ausubel, co-founder of the Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international collaboration that ended in 2010.

As they swim, fish leave traces of their DNA in the water, sloughed off their slimy, gelatinous outer coating or in excretions, for example.

Says Dr. Stoeckle: “Researchers in Europe first demonstrated that relatively small volumes of freshwater and seawater environments have enough invisible bits of DNA floating in them to detect dozens of fish species.”

Introducing the time element: an important and innovative twist

“By conducting a series of tests over time, collecting surface water from the same point on both the Hudson and East Rivers once a week for six months, we’ve successfully demonstrated a novel way to record fish migration.”

“Our work also offers clear new insight into the durability of DNA in the water, which persists despite currents and tides with a goldilocks quality just right for research. If the DNA disappeared too quickly, we couldn’t obtain an informative sample; if it persisted for too long, there would be too much DNA in the water to yield useful, timely insights.”

In all, Dr. Stoeckle and colleagues obtained the DNA of 42 fish species, including most (81%) of the species known to be locally abundant or common, and relatively few (23%) of the uncommon ones.

“We didn’t find anything shocking about the fish migration — the seasonal movements and the species we found are known already,” says Dr. Stoeckle. “That’s actually good news, adding to evidence that eDNA is a good proxy. It amazes me that we can get the same information from a small cup of water and a large net full of fish.”

Some species, he adds, couldn’t yet be distinguished, notably some in the herring family, which have identical sequences in the region of DNA used for testing. As well, some of the DNA obtained couldn’t be identified because the DNA reference library, while steadily growing, is incomplete.

“We knew that we had DNA from a fish, but couldn’t pinpoint the species,” says Dr. Stoeckle.

Pacific red snapper DNA in the Hudson River?

Notes Mr. Ausubel, the tests turned up the DNA from fish commonly eaten by New Yorkers but not known to inhabit the city’s waters — European sea bass and Nile tilapia, for example — leading the group to conclude that the DNA of those species entered via the wastewater system.

“We found the DNA of species that we think passed through humans and the wastewater treatment system — tilapia, salmon and red snapper, for example — species you shouldn’t find swimming in the Hudson River,” he says, adding that eDNA could therefore help identify endangered species being sold as food in local stores and restaurants.

One other surprise, says Dr. Stoeckle: the extraordinarily frequent occurrence in samples of Atlantic menhaden, a member of the herring family and a cornerstone species in the food chain.

“One could test the hypothesis that larger populations of menhaden associate with the recent wave of whales in New York Harbor, or the celebrated 2013 dolphin sighting in the East River,” he says.

Also intriguingly common: the oyster toadfish, which looks like it could eat a corned beef sandwich, and a strong candidate for the emblematic fish of New York City.

Says Dr. Stoeckle: “Identifying all local species with eDNA, including all the uncommon or rare ones, might be accomplished by collecting and analyzing more water, collecting at different locations, or using a different DNA analysis approach that targets each species individually.”

A new frontier: estimating fish abundance from eDNA

The research found that the number of “reads” of eDNA — how many copies of tiny DNA segments of a particular species turn up in a sample — roughly corresponds with data from net surveys.

And that, according to Mr. Ausubel, opens an intriguing new frontier: eDNA may provide a major advance on catch data from trawls, the traditional proxy for assessing the abundance of certain types of fish in a body of water.

Next steps involve fine tuning calibrations, comparing more eDNA “reads” and results with data from traditional surveys conducted with nets and sonar. It is unclear, for example, if 100 DNA “reads” indicate the presence of 1 fish or 10 fish.

Also to be determined: the rate at which different fish and other marine species shed DNA. How much DNA is shed by a particular fish species, or by a hard shelled turtle, for example?

“If future research confirms that an index of species’ abundance can be derived from the naked DNA extracted from water, it would address a challenge that has bedevilled scientists for ages. And it could easily improve the rationality with which fish quotas are set and the quality and reliability of their monitoring around the world,” says Mr. Ausubel.

“Blood tests,” he adds, “have now become so sensitive they can provide evidence of all kinds of conditions in a human body, so it is not really surprising that that we can now learn much more from tests for biological molecules circulating in water.”

Creative eDNA uses

Beyond low cost and wide applicability, advantages of eDNA surveying include the ability to collect samples without disturbing the fish — bow waves and engine noise cause many fish to move out of the way and avoid boats conducting net or sonar surveys.

Also, nets often cannot reach bottom and are difficult to deploy in some environments. For example, it’s hard to sample fish in the East River, a notoriously difficult channel for ships of all kinds with its strong currents and rocky sides.

“eDNA sampling can be done using standard biology laboratory equipment and techniques” says Rockefeller co-author Zachary Charlop-Powers. “It uses the same methods that medical researchers employ to analyze human “microbiomes,” for instance. With current technology, the marginal cost not including labor is about $50/sample when samples are analyzed in batches of 20 or more. Future DNA sequencing developments may lower the cost.”

After water is drawn, it is filtered to concentrate the DNA for extraction. The target segment of the DNA is amplified and then sent to a lab for “next-generation” sequencing, the result of which–a record of all the DNA sequences in the sample–is fed into computer software that counts the number of copies of each sequence and searches for matches in an online public reference library.

“Concerned officials and citizen scientists could monitor, for example, the impact of a new oyster farm on local fish populations,” added Lyubov Soboleva, a student at New York City’s John Bowne High School and in Rockefeller’s Learning At The Bench After School Program (LAB-ASP) and Summer Science Research Program (SSRP).

Other examples of eDNA’s practical uses include:

  • The NY Port Authority, prohibited from dredging when winter flounder are in the water, could time the task more easily, and inexpensively
  • Tourism boards could identify which lakes contain pickerel, pike, perch and other species popular with anglers
  • Given that certain species inhabit only waters of a certain quality, their absence could become an early sentinel of pollution problems.
  • eDNA could help check for invasive or exotic species transported in a ship’s ballast, or inform the study of genetic diversity among fish stocks.

“Though this field of research is still in its early days, it’s easy to foresee many applications for eDNA sampling,” says Tony MacDonald, Director of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University, and a collaborator on scientific projects at Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment. “It represents a potentially important advance in our capability to detect, understand and more effectively and efficiently manage fisheries and marine biodiversity.” “If you are a fishery scientist, there is a very good chance that you are going to be using eDNA as part of your work in the next 10 years.”

Central Park

The research follows an earlier study The Rockefeller University group conducted in Central Park with the help of high school students, in which over a dozen species were identified in a half-cup of pond water drawn from “The Loch.”

The species found:

  • 7 fish (black crappie, golden shiner, brown bullhead, largemouth bass, banded killifish, bluegill, and pumpkinseed)
  • 6 mammals and birds (racoon, songbird, mallard, norway rat, dog, and human)

Surveys done in the same pond using electrofishing methods turned up two fish species not found using eDNA. On the other hand, the electrofishing survey missed two species found by eDNA.

Other tests of eDNA’s reliability were conducted successfully using water from the tanks of the New York City Aquarium.


About The Rockefeller University


About the Program for the Human Environment

The work on aquatic DNA was carried out as part of the Marine Science and Policy Initiative of the Program for the Human Environment (The Rockefeller University) and the Urban Coast Institute (Monmouth University).

About Program for the Human Environment eDNA studies


Images (available for download at http://bit.ly/2oHSWd4)

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Example coverage:

Agence France Presse, France, US scientists track fish migration using DNA in water samples, click here

Reuters, UK, Fish tracked from DNA ‘finprints’ left in waters off New York, click here

BBC World Service Radio (Science in Action, starts at the 47 sec. mark, 5 1/2 minutes), click here

Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA / APA), Germany / Austria, DNA-Spuren im Wasser entlarven Fische, click here

Nautisme – Météo Consult, France, Le mouvement des espèces de poissons traqué par l’ADN laissé dans l’eau, click here

NY1, USA, High School Student, University Researchers Team Up for Breakthrough on Documenting Fish in NY Waters, click here

IndoAsian News Service, India, DNA test on river waters reveals fish diversity, click here

Agencia EFE, Spain, El ADN residual puede revolucionar el conocimiento de las especies marinas, click here

Focus, Italy, Dna ambientale per lo studio della fauna acquatica, click here

The Conversation, USA, Fishing for DNA: Free-floating eDNA identifies presence and abundance of ocean life, click here

United Press International, USA, Migrating fish leave behind a trail of DNA, click here

Nature World News, USA, ‘Environmental DNA’ Helps Scientists in Monitoring Fish Migration, click here

Asbury Park Press, USA, DNA used to track fish in Hudson and East rivers, click here

RAI Vista News, Russia, Миграцию рыбы отследили через образцы ДНК Источник, click here

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Full coverage summary, click here

News release in full, click here


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UN-backed report: Record new renewable power capacity added worldwide at lower cost http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/un-backed-report-record-new-renewable-power-capacity-added-worldwide-at-lower-cost/ Thu, 06 Apr 2017 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3320 UN Environment, Paris / Nairobi

Global investment of $241.6 billion (excluding large hydro), 23 percent less than 2015, brought 138.5GW of new renewable power capacity in 2016, up 8 percent from 2015; proportion of global electricity from renewables rose to 11.3 percent in 2016

photo_126339As the cost of clean technology continues to fall, the world added record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, at an investment level 23 per cent lower than the previous year, according to new research published today by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School — UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017 finds that wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, small hydro and marine sources added 138.5 gigawatts to global power capacity in 2016, up almost 9 per cent from the 127.5 gigawatts added the year before. The added generating capacity roughly equals that of the world’s 16 largest existing power producing facilities combined.

Investment in renewables capacity was roughly double that in fossil fuel generation; the corresponding new capacity from renewables was equivalent to 55 per cent of all new power, the highest to date. The proportion of electricity coming from renewables excluding large hydro rose from 10.3 per cent to 11.3 per cent. This prevented the emission of an estimated 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

The total investment was $241.6 billion (excluding large hydro), the lowest since 2013. This was in large part a result of falling costs: the average dollar capital expenditure per megawatt for solar photovoltaics and wind dropped by over 10 per cent.

“Ever-cheaper clean tech provides a real opportunity for investors to get more for less,” said Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment. “This is exactly the kind of situation, where the needs of profit and people meet, that will drive the shift to a better world for all.”

New investment in solar totalled $113.7 billion, down 34 per cent from the record high in 2015. Solar capacity additions, however, rose to an all-time high of 75 gigawatts. Wind made up $112.5 billion of investment globally, down 9 per cent; wind capacity additions fell to 54 gigawatts from the previous year’s high of 63 gigawatts.

“The investor hunger for existing wind and solar farms is a strong signal for the world to move to renewables,” said Prof. Dr. Udo Steffens, President of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, commenting on record acquisition activity in the clean power sector, which rose 17 per cent to $110.3 billion.

While much of the drop in financing was due to reduced technology costs, the report documented a slowdown in China, Japan and some emerging markets, for a variety of reasons.

Renewable energy investment in developing countries fell 30 per cent to $117 billion, while that in developed economies dropped 14 per cent to $125 billion. China saw investment drop 32 per cent to $78.3 billion, breaking an 11-year rising trend.

Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa and Morocco all saw falls of 60 per cent or more, due to slower than expected growth in electricity demand, and delays to auctions and financings. Jordan was one of the few new markets to buck the trend, investment there rising 148 per cent to $1.2 billion.

The US saw commitments slip 10 per cent to $46.4 billion, as developers took their time to build out projects to benefit from the five-year extension of the tax credit system. Japan slumped 56 per cent to $14.4 billion.

“The question always used to be ‘will renewables ever be grid competitive?’,” said Michael Liebreich, Chairman of the Advisory Board at BNEF. “Well, after the dramatic cost reductions of the past few years, unsubsidised wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power in an increasing number of countries, even in the developing world — sometimes by a factor of two.”

“It’s a whole new world: even though investment is down, annual installations are still up; instead of having to subsidise renewables, now authorities may have to subsidise natural gas plants to help them provide grid reliability,” Liebreich said.

Recent figures from the International Energy Agency cited the switch to renewables as one of the main reasons for greenhouse gas emissions staying flat in 2016, for the third year running, even though output in the global economy rose by 3.1 per cent.

Investment in renewables did not drop across the board. Europe enjoyed a 3 per cent increase to $59.8 billion, led by the UK ($24 billion) and Germany ($13.2 billion). Offshore wind ($25.9 billion) dominated Europe’s investment, up 53 per cent thanks to mega-arrays such as the 1.2 gigawatt Hornsea project in the North Sea, estimated to cost $5.7 billion. China also invested $4.1 billion in offshore wind, its highest figure to date.

Another positive sign came in winning bids for solar and wind in auctions around the world, at tariffs that would have seemed inconceivably low a few years ago. The records set last year were $29.10 per megawatt hour for solar in Chile and $30 per megawatt hour for onshore wind in Morocco.



Purchases of assets such as wind farms and solar parks reached a new high, $72.7 billion.

Corporate takeovers reached $27.6 billion, 58 per cent more than 2015.

The smaller sectors had mixed fortunes in terms of new investment. Biofuels fell 37 per cent to $2.2 billion, the lowest for at least 13 years; biomass and waste held steady at $6.8 billion and small hydro at $3.5 billion. Geothermal rallied 17 per cent to $2.7 billion. Marine edged down 7 per cent to $194 million.

Siting two different technologies in the same location — to make use of shared land, grid connections and maintenance, and to reduce intermittency — is growing. Some 5.6 gigawatts of these ‘hybrid’ projects have been built or are under development worldwide.

The Ramanathapuram solar complex in India, billed as the world’s largest ever solar photovoltaic project (648 megawatts), was constructed.

The report in full can be downloaded post-embargo at fs-unep-centre.org

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Example coverage:

The Associated Press, USA, Investment in renewable energy dips globally as prices fall, click here; Spanish, 

Spanish, Baja inversión global en energía renovable al caer precios, click here

Reuters, UKWorld investment in green power down, money went further in 2016, click here

Thomson Reuters Foundation, UK, World investment in green power down, money went further in 2016 -report, click here
BBC, UK, UN report: Clean power is up, costs are down, click here

Bloomberg News, USA, With More Bang for the Buck, Renewables Providing Most New Power, click here; Spanish, Poder de grandes eléctricas amenaza mercados de energías renovables y a generadores más pequeños, click here

Agence France Presse, France, Toujours plus d’énergies renouvelables pour moins cher en 2016, click here

Record amount of renewables capacity added in 2016: UN, click herePortuguese, Capacidade recorde de geração energias renováveis adicionada em 2016, click here
Deutsche Presse Agentur, Germany, Studie: Mehr erneuerbare Energien für weniger Geld, click here
Deutsche Finanz Presse Agentur, Germany, Erneuerbare Energien: Rekord-Kapazitätszuwachs trotz sinkender Investitionen, click here
Europa Press, Spain, Las renovables marcan un récord en 2016 en capacidad de energía añadida a todo el mundo a menor costo, click here
Belga, Belgium, Wereldwijde Toename Van Hernieuwbare Energie, Ondanks Dalende Investeringen, click here
New Scientist, UK, Record amounts of renewable energy added to the mix in 2016, click here
Voice of America, USA, Renewable Energy Breaks Records in 2016, click here
InterPress News Service, Italy, Green Power: Wave of the Future, click here
IndoAsian News Service, India
World sees record investments in renewables, says report, click here
Christian Science Monitor, USA, ‘More for less’: Renewable power surges into mainstream as costs fall, click here
Deutsche Welle, Germany, UN: Record amount of renewable energy capacity added in 2016, click here
O Globo, Brazil, Sustentabilidade, click here
Dnesky, Slovakia, Investície do obnoviteľných zdrojov energií vlani klesli, click here
UN News Centre, USA, Nouveau record en 2016 pour les nouvelles capacités électriques issues des énergies renouvelables, selon l’ONU, click here
Seeker, USA, For Renewable Energy, Less Was More in 2016, click here
PV Magazine, Germany, Rekordzubau der Erneuerbaren bei deutlich niedrigeren Investitionskosten, click here
IDW, Germany, Investitionen in Erneuerbare Energien 2016: Rekord-Kapazitätszuwachs bei niedrigeren Kosten, click here
Rinnovabili, Italy, Rapporto ONU: le rinnovabili crescono, i costi calano, click here
Mashable, USA, Clean energy projects soared in 2016 as solar and wind got cheaper, click here
Business Green, UK, UN research: World adds record new renewables capacity at lower cost, click here
Carbon Brief, UK, Renewables growth breaks records again despite fall in investment, click here
Power Magazine, USA, Report: Global Renewable Investment Down, Capacity Grows, click here
Le Scienze, Italy, Il balzo in avanti delle fonti rinnovabili, click here
Coverage summary, including hyperlinks to media coverage, click here:

News release in full, click here

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Catalog of 208 human-caused minerals bolsters argument to declare ‘Anthropocene Epoch’ http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/catalog-of-208-human-caused-minerals-bolsters-argument-to-declare-anthropocene-epoch/ Wed, 01 Mar 2017 14:05:18 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3303 Carnegie Science – Deep Carbon Observatory, Washington DC

Humans: The greatest contributor to diversity of minerals since oxygen; Officially recognized minerals, formed by nature: More than 5,000; Formed due to human activity: 208

SimonkolleiteHuman industry and ingenuity has done more to diversify and distribute minerals on Earth than any development since the rise of oxygen over 2.2 billion years ago, experts say in a paper published today.

The work bolsters the scientific argument to officially designate a new geological time interval distinguished by the pervasive impact of human activities: the Anthropocene Epoch.

In the paper, published by American Mineralogist, a team led by Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution for Science identifies for the first time a group of 208 mineral species that originated either principally or exclusively due to human activities. That’s almost 4% of the roughly 5,200 minerals officially recognized by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA).

Most of the recognized minerals attributed to human activities originated through mining — in ore dumps, through the weathering of slag, formed in tunnel walls, mine water or timbers, or through mine fires.

Six were found on the walls of smelters; three formed in a geothermal piping system.

Some minerals formed due to human actions can also occur naturally. Three in that category were discovered on corroded lead artifacts aboard a Tunisian shipwreck, two on bronze artifacts in Egypt, and two on tin artifacts in Canada. Four were discovered at prehistoric sacrificial burning sites in the Austrian mountains.

Unparalleled pace of diversification

According to the paper, the first great ‘punctuation event’ in the history of Earth’s mineral diversity occurred more than 2 billion years ago when the increase of oxygen in the atmosphere — ‘the Great Oxidation’ — gave rise to as many as two-thirds of the more than 5,200 mineral species officially recognized today.

Says Dr. Hazen, who co-wrote the paper with Edward Grew of the University of Maine, and Marcus Origlieri and Robert Downs of the University of Arizona: “Mineral evolution has continued throughout Earth’s history. It has taken 4.5 billion years for combinations of elements to meet naturally on Earth at a specific location, depth and temperature, and to form into the more than 5,200 minerals officially recognized today. The majority of these have arisen since the Great Oxidation event 2 billion years ago. ”

“Within that collection of 5,200 are 208 minerals produced directly or indirectly by human activities, mostly since the mid-1700s, and we believe that others continue to be formed at that same relatively blazing pace. To imagine 250 years relative to 2 billion years, that’s the difference between the blink of an eye (one third of a second) and one month.”

“Simply put, we live in an era of unparalleled inorganic compound diversification,” says Dr. Hazen. “Indeed, if the Great Oxidation eons ago was a ‘punctuation event’ in Earth’s history, the rapid and extensive geological impact of the Anthropocene is an exclamation mark.”

Anthropogenic minerals

A mineral species is defined as a naturally occurring crystalline compound that has a unique combination chemical composition and crystal structure. As of February, 2017, the IMA had approved 5,208 species (see rruff.info/ima for a complete list).

The authors of the recent paper argue that with so many minerals and mineral-like compounds owing their origin to human activities, “a more comprehensive understanding and analysis of the mineralogical nature of the Anthropocene Epoch is warranted.”

Humanity has had a major impact on diversity and distribution in the mineral world in three principal ways, according to the paper:

1 a) Manufacturing synthetic “mineral-like” compounds, and b) causing minerals to form as an unintentional byproduct of human activity

a) Directly creating synthetic mineral-like compounds such as YAG (yttrium aluminum garnet) crystals used in lasers, silicon “chips” for semi-conductors, carbide grits for abrasives, and various specialty metals and alloys for magnets, machine parts, and tools. Other examples include bricks, earthenware, porcelain, glass and limestone-based Portland cement — the world’s most common form of cement, used in concrete, mortar, stucco and grout — a combination of calcium silicates, calcium sulfates, and other compounds

b) Indirectly contributing to the formation of new minerals through mining, with new compounds appearing on mine walls or in mine dumps, for example. Of special interest are minerals found associated with ancient lead-zinc mining localities, including some possibly dating from the Bronze Age, and others from as far back as 300 AD.?

2) Large scale movement of rocks, sediments, and minerals

In addition to creating new compounds, human activities such as mining and the transport of stone blocks, rocks, sediments, and minerals from their original location to help build roads, bridges, waterways, monuments, kitchen counters, and other human infrastructure, rivals in scale nature’s redistribution such as via glaciers.

Mining operations, meanwhile, have stripped the near-surface environment of ores and fossil fuels, leaving large open pits, tunnel complexes, and, in the case of strip mining, sheared off mountaintops.

Road cuts, tunnels, and embankments represent further distinctively human planetary modifications.

3) Global redistribution of highly valued natural minerals

Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and a host of semi-precious stones, accompanied by concentrations of gold, silver, and platinum, are found in shops and households in every corner of the globe.

Collections of fine mineral specimens juxtapose mineral species that would not occur naturally in combination. From modest beginner collector sets of more common minerals to the world’s greatest museums, these collections, if buried in the stratigraphic record and subsequently unearthed in the distant future, “would reveal unambiguously the passion of humans for the beauty and wonder of the mineral kingdom,” the paper says.

New compounds forming

Says Dr. Downs: “Given humanity’s pervasive influences on the environment, there must be hundreds of as yet unrecognized ‘minerals’ in old mines, smelters, abandoned buildings, and other sites. Meanwhile, new suites of compounds may now be forming in, for example, solid waste dumps where old batteries, electronics, appliances, and other high-tech discards are exposed to weathering and alteration.”

Adds Dr. Origlieri: “In the sediment layers left behind from our age, future mineralogists will find plentiful building materials such as bricks, cinder blocks, and cement, metal alloys such as steel, titanium, and aluminum, along with many lethal radioactive byproducts of the nuclear age. They might also marvel at some beautiful manufactured gemstones, like cubic zirconia, moissanite, synthetic rubies, and many others.”

Says Dr. Grew: “These minerals and mineral-like compounds will be preserved in the geological record as a distinctive, globally-distributed horizon of crystalline novelty–a persistent marker that marks our age as different from all that came before.”

Some anthropogenic minerals wouldn’t be officially recognized today

Calclacite, described by a Belgium-based scientist in 1959, and which originated in an old oak storage cabinet for mineral specimens at the Royal Museum of Natural History, Brussels, is an officially recognized mineral that wouldn’t qualify today; in 1998 the IMA decided to disallow any substance “made by Man.”

Other recognized anthropogenic minerals in this category include several slag-related minerals as well as a pair from Russia, niobocarbide and tantalcarbide, which some experts believe may have been a hoax — “a laboratory product … deliberately passed off as a natural material” in the early 1900s.

Though unlikely to pass scrutiny today, says Dr. Grew, previously recognized minerals such as these, rather than being invalidated, have been allowed to remain in the IMA catalog.

The IMA did agree to recognize a mineral in cases “in which human intervention in the creation of a substance is less direct.”

The origin of up to 29 forms of carbon: humanity

Of the 208 human-mediated minerals identified by the Deep Carbon Observatory researchers, 29 contain carbon.

Origins and forms, along with movements and quantities, are four themes of the DCO (deepcarbon.net). Dr. Hazen is the DCO’s Executive Director.

Now we know that as many as 29 carbon minerals originated with human activities, of which 14 have no recorded natural occurrences. It is fair, therefore, to consider the 14 as the youngest carbon mineral species. Among the 14, candidates for the very youngest include a dozen minerals related to uranium mines.

The mineral andersonite, for example, is found in the tunnels of certain abandoned uranium mines in the American Southwest. At places along the tunnel walls, sandstone becomes saturated with water that contains elements that form a beautiful crust of yellow, orange and green crystals. Prized for its bright green fluorescent glow under a black light, a good sample of andersonite will fetch up to $500 from a collector.

Another notable carbon-bearing mineral is tinnunculite, determined to be a product of hot gases reacting with the excrement of the Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) at a burning coal mine in Kopeisk, Chelyabinsk, Russia. It was subsequently discovered also on Russia’s Mt. Rasvumchorr — an entirely natural occurrence.

Tinnunculite is one of eight new minerals identified as part of the Deep Carbon Observatory’s Carbon Mineral Challenge, launched in 2015 to track down an estimated 145 carbon-bearing minerals yet to be formally recognized. The IMA recognized tinnunculite as a mineral in 2015.


29 anthropogenic carbon-related minerals

Map: http://bit.ly/2m9UsTY

Human-mediated phases with no confirmed natural occurrences
Recovered from ore dumps: wheatleyite, widgiemoolthalite
Associated with mine tunnel walls: albrechtschraufite, canavesite, je�ekite, línekite
Associated with mine dump fires, including coal mine dumps: acetamide, hoelite, kladnoite
Interaction with mine timbers or leaf litter: paceite, hoganite
Formed in storage cabinets in museums: calclacite
Allegedly from placers, possibly a hoax: niobocarbide, tantalcarbide

Inadvertently produced or human-mediated minerals, occurring or suspected to occur in nature
Recovered from dumps, including ore and serpentinite: hydromagnesite, lansfordite, nesquehonite
Alteration of mine tunnel walls: andersonite, bayleyite, swartzite, znucalite
Associated with mine fires (not coal mines): shannonite
Associated with coal mine and dump fires; Sublimation from gas escape from coal fires: dypingite, ravatite, tinnunculite
Other “post-mine” minerals or context undefined: rabbittite barstowite, phosgenite
Alteration of lead artifacts: barstowite, phosgenite
Alteration of bronze artifacts: chalconatronite


Although yet to be confirmed by the International Union of Geological Sciences, there is growing advocacy for formal recognition of the “Anthropocene Epoch,” the successor of the Holocene Epoch, which began some 11,500 years ago when the most recent ice age glaciers began to retreat. Epochs are normally separated by significant changes in the rock layers to which they correspond. A 35-member Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA) recommended formal designation of the epoch Anthropocene to the International Geological Congress on 29 August 2016. It may be several years before a final decision is reached.?

About the authors:

  • Robert Hazen is Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, DC, and Executive Director of the Deep Carbon Observatory
  • Edward Grew is a Research Professor, Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine
  • Marcus Origlieri is a Research Associate, University of Arizona
  • Robert Downs is a Professor of Geosciences specializing in mineralogy and crystallography, University of Arizona

Carnegie Science seeks to encourage discovery and the application of knowledge to the improvement of humankind. carnegiescience.edu

The Deep Carbon Observatory is an international network of nearly 1000 multi-disciplinary scientists committed to investigating the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon in deep Earth. deepcarbon.net

Anthropogenic minerals, photos:

Metamunirite (NaV O3), Big GypsumValley, San Miguel County, Colorado, USA. Credit RRUFF. Download: http://bit.ly/2lcLOGA

Abhurite [Sn21O6(OH)14Cl16] from the wreck of the SS Cheerful, 14 miles NNW of St. Ives, Cornwall, England. Credit RRUFF. Download: http://bit.ly/2l4j3JJ

Simonkolleite [Zn5(OH)8Cl2·H2O] found on a copper mining artifact, Rowley mine, Maricopa County, Arizona. Credit RRUFF. Download: http://bit.ly/2l4pLiH

Fiedlerite [Pb3Cl4F(OH)·H2O] from a slag site, Greece. Credit RRUFF. Download: http://bit.ly/2kGpa5Y

Nealite [Pb4Fe(AsO3)2Cl4·2H2O] from slag site, Greece. Credit RRUFF. Download: http://bit.ly/2lg0RPd

Chalconatronite [Na2Cu(CO3)2·3H2O], Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada. Credit RRUFF. Download: http://bit.ly/2l4qMaL

Andersonite: Hillside Mine, Arizona. Credit: Trevor Boyd/Causeway Minerals. Download:http://bit.ly/2mfJtaC

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Example coverage:

Washington Post, USA
Humans have caused an explosion of never-before-seen minerals all over the Earth, (click here)

Los Angeles Times, USA
You are living in a unique time on planet Earth — mineralogically speaking, (click here)

Discover Magazine, USA
Human-Caused Minerals: Another Sure Sign of the Anthropocene?, (click here)

Forbes, USA
Human Activity On Earth Triggered A New Age Of Minerals Formation, (click here)

Scientific American, USA
Found: Thousands of Man-Made Minerals—Another Argument for the Anthropocene, (click here)

Popular Science, USA
Is the Anthropocene really a thing? Minerals we’ve helped create rekindle the debate, (click here)

Popular Mechanics, USA
Humanity Has Created Thousands of Artificial Minerals, (click here)

Newsy, USA (90 second report)
Humans Drastically Change The Environment — And We Always Have, (click here)

Nature World News, United States
Human Activity Ushers in the Planet’s Next Epoch Starting From a Spike in New Minerals, (click here)

Reuters, UK
New minerals back idea of man-made epoch for Earth – study, (click here)

Humans help cook up mineral bounty, (click here)

BBC Mundo, UK
Vertederos, minas abandonadas y cajones de museos, los lugares donde los humanos hemos provocado que se creen nuevos minerales, (click here)

Daily Mail, UK
Human impact on the planet’s chemistry has created a catalogue of new minerals in ‘the blink of an eye’, say scientists, (click here)

The Guardian, UK
Rock of ages: impact of manmade crystals defining new geological epoch – study, (click here)

New Scientist, UK
Rock solid evidence of Anthropocene seen in 208 minerals we made, (click here)

Business Insider, UK
Earth entered a new epoch on July 16, 1945 — and humans have left behind more than 200 new minerals to prove it, (click here)

International Business Times, UK
Anthropocene: The 208 crystals that don’t exist anywhere else in the universe, (click here)

Chemistry World, UK
Human-made minerals add to evidence for Anthopocene epoch, (click here)

Press Trust of India
208 new human-caused minerals point to ‘Anthropocene Epoch’, (click here)

东方网 (Oriental Network), China
人类活动“一夜间”致200多种新矿物产生,  (Human activities “one night” produced more than 200 kinds of new minerals)(click here)

RAI Novosti newswire, Russia
Люди меняют геологию Земли: 208 новых минералов имеют антропогенное происхождение (People change the geology of the Earth: 208 new minerals are of anthropogenic origin), (click here)

Spiegel, Germany
Geologie: Menschheit ließ 200 Mineralien neu entstehen (Humanity has newly created 200 minerals), (click here)

Berliner Morgenpost, Germany
Sind neue Mineralien ein Beweis für ein neues Erdzeitalter? (Are new minerals a proof of a new era?), (click here); 2nd story: 
Der Mensch lässt neue Mineralien entstehen  (Human beings create new minerals), (click here)

Die Presse, Austria
Mineralien des Menschenzeitalters (Minerals of the Human Age), (click here)

Science.ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation), Austria
Ein Argument mehr für das „Anthropozän“ (A further argument for the “Anthropocene”), (click here)

El País, Spain
Los humanos han creado ya 208 nuevos minerales (Humans have already created 208 new minerals), (click here)

Agencia EFE, Spain
Científicos catalogan 208 minerales creados por la actividad humana (Scientists catalog 208 minerals created by human activity), (click here)

Europa Press, Spain
Un catálogo de 208 minerales generados por el hombre refuerza el argumento para declarar la ‘Época Antropocénica (A catalog of 208 man-made minerals reinforces the argument for declaring the ‘Anthropocenic Age’), (click here)

ABC, Spain
Confirmación del Antropoceno: El hombre ya es la segunda fuerza que ha creado más minerales (Confirmation of the Anthropocene: Man is already the second force that has created more minerals), (click here)

La Vanguardia, Spain
Los humanos hemos creado 208 minerales que no existían en la Tierra, (click here)

Corriere Della Sera, Italy
Uomo ha segnato nuova era geologica, (click here)

La Scienze, Italy
I minerali prodotti dall’uomo raccontano l’Antropocene (The minerals produced by man tell the Anthropocene), (click here)

Huffington Post, Italy
Antropocene, gli scienziati trovano una nuova prova a sostegno della tesi: “Scoperti minerali che non esisterebbero senza l’uomo” (Anthropocene, scientists found new evidence in support of the thesis: “Uncovered minerals that would not exist without the man”), (click here)

Reporterre, France
Nous sommes entrés dans l’anthropocène, affirment des minéralogistes (We have entered the anthropocene, say mineralogists), (click here)

Hirado.hu, Hungary
Több száz új ásványt hoztunk létre, (click here)

Tekniikka&Talous, Finland
Ihmiskunta synnyttänyt 208 aivan uutta mineraalia – vauhti hämmästyttävää (Mankind created 208 completely new minerals – an astonishing pace), (click here)

Energia, Greece
Το 4% των Ορυκτών της Γης Έχει Δημιουργηθεί Χάρη στους Ανθρώπους (4% of the Earth’s Minerals were created thanks to Humans), (click here)

Nederlands Dagblad, Netherlands
Mens zorgde voor nieuwe mineralen (Man brought new minerals), (click here)

Volkskrant, Netherlands
Versteende vogelpoep is gepromoveerd tot mineraal (Fossilized bird droppings promoted to mineral), (click here)

CBC, Canada
We’ve created 208 new minerals: Time for a new, human-influenced Anthropocene epoch?, (click here)

Mining.com, Canada
Human activity creates 208 new mineral species, (click here)

ABC Radio, Australia
Human activity helps create hundreds of new minerals, (click here)

Cosmos Magazine, Australia
Humans have created at least 208 new types of mineral, (click here)

O Globo, Brazil
Atividade humana criou 208 novos minerais no planeta, (click here)

O Globo TV, Brazil (two minute report)
Ação do homem pode dar início a nova era geológica, revelam cientistas (Man’s action may usher in new geological era, scientists reveal), (click here)

El Mercurio, Chile
Al menos 208 minerales no fueron creados por la naturaleza, sino que por los humanos (At least 208 minerals were not created by nature, but by humans), (click here)

Al Maghrib Today, Morocco
أبحاثجديدةتكشفأنالإنسانأثرعلى  (New research reveals that the human impact on the chemistry of the planet), (click here)

Báo Mới, Viet Nam
Con người khiến Trái Đất bùng nổ đa dạng khoáng sản (Humans create boom of Earth’s mineral variety), (click here)

Fins.az, Azerbaijan
208 mineralı insanlar yaradıb – TƏDQİQAT (People have created 208 minerals – RESEARCH), (click here)

Full coverage summary, click here

News release in full, click here

Gene tests may help maximize early child development: Study http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/gene-testing-may-help-maximize-early-development-study/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:11:51 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3308 Grand Challenges Canada / Saving Brains Program, Toronto

In study, children with a particular genetic variation were 4 times more likely to develop strong attachment to mother after intervention

GCCA child’s genetic make-up can play a large, hidden role in the success of efforts to maximize his or her development, South African research suggests.

The study, published February 28 in PLoS Medicine and supported by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada’s Saving Brains program, sheds new light on why some children benefit more than others from interventions and raises complex questions about psychosocial intervention programs in future.

In a study led by Professor Mark Tomlinson of Stellenbosch University, the study followed-up an intervention implemented between 1999 and 2003, in which expectant mothers underwent mentoring to improve attachment with their children — attachment being a measure of a child’s psychological security, and predictive of future wellbeing. In the original study, a control group of roughly equal size was composed of expectant mothers who did not receive mentoring.

The original study concluded that the intervention had a small-to-moderate effect on mother-child attachment, evaluated once the children reached 18 months of age.

The follow-up study, conducted thirteen years after the intervention, re-examined the original attachment results and revealed something surprising: the intervention had in fact worked well for toddlers who had a particular genetic characteristic.

Conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Reading, University College London, and Western University, the study re-enrolled and conducted genetic tests on 279 of the original 449 children.

220 children had both genetic and attachment data, enabling the investigators to test whether the original attachment outcomes were influenced by their genes.

The researchers factored in whether the child had the short or long form of gene SLC6A4 — the serotonin transporter gene, which is involved in nerve signalling, and which other studies have linked to anxiety, depression and other conditions. Serotonin is popularly thought to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness.

The attachment of children with the short form of the gene, and whose pregnant mothers were mentored, were almost four times more likely to be securely attached to their mothers at 18 months old (84 percent were secure) than children carrying the short form whose mothers did not receive mentoring (58 percent were secure).

Meanwhile, children with the long gene were apparently unaffected by their mother’s training or lack thereof: in both cases, the rate of secure attachment was almost identical (70 and 71 percent).

Subject to further validation, says Professor Tomlinson, the insight has “important implications for scientists designing and evaluating interventions to benefit as many people as possible in South Africa and worldwide.”

“Without taking genetics into account, it is possible that other studies have under-estimated the impact of their interventions, as we originally did.”

Says lead author Dr. Barak Morgan of the University of Cape Town: “The immediate significance of this research is the revelation that in principle, and probably in many cases in practice too, the effectiveness of interventions has been mis-measured — under-estimated for genetically susceptible individuals and over-estimated for those who are genetically less susceptible. But even more worrying is the implication that the negative consequences of not receiving an intervention also differ by genotype.”

“This is an enormously important insight because, in this case, the subgroup with the short form of the SLC6A4 gene is also the one with the most to lose if not helped.”

“Individuals with the long form of the gene, on the other hand, appear less sensitive and derived little benefit from the same intervention, and little detriment from not getting it.”

Adds Professor Tomlinson: “In the original study, we did not see such a big impact from this intervention because only those with the short gene improved, and this improvement was ‘diluted’ by the large number of children with the long gene who did not improve.”

The researchers caution that, among other limitations, this study involved a relatively small sample and only measured one gene and one outcome (attachment).

Dr. Morgan stressed: “We are certainly not saying that only some people should receive the intervention — those who are ‘susceptible’ to improving from it. There is little scientific justification for this. For example, many children with the non-susceptible long genotype of the SLC6A4 gene may carry the susceptible form of another gene which renders them much more likely to benefit from the same intervention but for a different but equally important outcome.

“Going forward, the implications are therefore two-fold. Firstly, measuring genetic differences allows for proper assessment of the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of an intervention for a particular outcome in different individuals. Secondly, this information can then be used to find out how to intervene effectively for all — to guide what might be done to improve outcomes for a non-responsive gene-intervention interaction while continuing to optimise outcomes for the responsive one.”

Says Dr. Karlee Silver, Vice President Programs of Grand Challenges Canada: “This work is fundamentally about better understanding the impact of interventions which is an important step forward to creating a world where every child can survive and thrive.”

Says Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada: “This is a startling finding that changes the way I think about child development. Why is it important? Because child development is the ladder of social mobility used to climb out of the hole of inequity by millions of children around the world.”


For more information, visit grandchallenges.ca and look for us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

About Grand Challenges Canada

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact® in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada and we support innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas we support integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – we call this Integrated Innovation®. Grand Challenges Canada focuses on innovator-defined challenges through its Stars in Global Health program and on targeted challenges in its Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains and Global Mental Health programs. Grand Challenges Canada works closely with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Global Affairs Canada to catalyze scale, sustainability and impact. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives. http://www.grandchallenges.ca

About Saving Brains

Saving Brains is a partnership of Grand Challenges Canada, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The ELMA Foundation, Grand Challenges Ethiopia, the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, the Palix Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation and World Vision Canada. It seeks and supports bold ideas for products, services and implementation models that protect and nurture early brain development relevant to poor, marginalized populations in low- or middle-income countries.http://www.savingbrainsinnovation.net

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Example coverage:

The Times, South Africa
SA study sheds new light on how babies respond to developmental interventions, (click here)

Africa Science News, Kenya
To maximize a child’s development, genetics provide important insight, study shows, (click here)

Independent Online, South Africa
The long and short of child genetics revealed, (click here)

Herald Live, South Africa
SA study sheds new light on how babies respond to developmental interventions, (click here)

SciDev, UK, (click here)

Agencia EFE, via El Confidencial, Spain, Genética puede explicar reacción en niños de tratamientos psicosociológicos (click here)

Coverage summary, click here

News release in full, click here

Micronutrient supplements during pregnancy linked to smarter kids http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/smarter-kids-canadian-funded-research-shows-mothers-micronutrient-supplements-can-add-equivalent-of-a-years-schooling-by-age-9-12/ Mon, 16 Jan 2017 23:35:27 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3279 Grand Challenges Canada, Toronto

Maternal Micronutrients, Nurturing Environment Boost Child Development

SUMMIT GCCMothers who take multi-micronutrient supplements during pregnancy can add the equivalent of up to one full year of schooling to a child’s cognitive abilities at age 9-12, says a new study published today.
Other essential ingredients in the recipe for smarter kids include early life nurturing, happy moms, and educated parents, according to the research conducted in Indonesia.
As well, the study finds that a child’s nurturing environment is more strongly correlated than biological factors to brain development and general intellectual ability, declarative memory, procedural memory, executive function, academic achievement, fine motor dexterity, and socio-emotional health.
Funded by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada’s Saving Brains program, the study appears today, January 16, 2017 in the prestigious journal, Lancet Global Health.
The research was conducted by international group of researchers from Indonesia (Summit Institute of Development, the study leader, and the Center for Research on Language and Culture, University of Mataram), the United States (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the University of California, Davis, and Georgetown University) the United Kingdom (University of Lancaster) and Australia (Deakin University).
Between 2012 and 2014, the researchers tested extensively almost 3,000 Indonesian school children, then 9 to 12 years old, whose mothers had participated in an earlier study into the effects of consuming either multiple micronutrient (MMN) supplements or standard iron-folic acid (IFA) supplements during pregnancy.
In the earlier “Supplementation with Multiple Micronutrients Intervention Trial” (SUMMIT), conducted between 2001 and 2004, half of the 31,290 participating Indonesian mothers consumed MMN supplements; the other half received IFA supplements. The MMN supplements were similar to the pre-natal multivitamin supplements consumed by many women in Canada, the United States, and other countries during pregnancy.
The latest follow-up study revealed impressive long-term benefits to children whose mothers took MMN supplements, including better “procedural memory” equivalent to the increase in score typical after an additional half-year of schooling.
The procedural memory is tied to the learning of new skills and the processing of established perceptual, motor, and cognitive skills. Procedural memory is important for a child’s academic performance and daily life, and is tied to activities such as driving, typing, reading, arithmetic, reading, speaking and understanding language, and learning sequences, rules, and categories.
Children of anemic mothers in the MMN group scored substantially higher in general intellectual ability, a difference comparable to the increase associated with an additional full year of schooling.
What further impressed and surprised the researchers: The strength of the relationship between cognitive abilities and early life social and environmental conditions.
Biological factors such as maternal nutritional status during pregnancy, low infant birth weight, premature birth, poor infant physical growth and nutritional status at follow-up were not as strongly linked to cognitive ability as the socio-environmental factors assessed during the study: home environment, maternal depression, parental education and socio-economic status.
This suggests that current public health programs focused only on biological factors may not sufficiently enhance child cognition, and that programs addressing socio-environmental factors are essential to achieve thriving populations, according to the study.
In Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province, where the study was carried out, officials are already taking action in light of the research results.
Photos for media use bit.ly/2j81cTJ
Credit: SUMMIT

Says Provincial Secretary General Dr. Rosiady Sayuti: “The findings led us to create, with the Summit Institute of Development and colleagues, the inter-sectoral Golden Generation Program to enhance social interventions to foster early childhood development.”

Adds Dr. Nurhandini Eka Dewi, Head of the Provincial Health Office of West Nusa Tenggara: “We are procuring multiple micronutrients and scaling-up the Golden Generation Program for family nurturing. These will inform efforts to scale the work nationally.”
“Previous studies had hinted at the importance of social determinants, but it was the extent of our detailed cognitive assessments and the number of children tested, together with data from the pregnancy onward, that enabled us to clearly quantify the effects, and the results were surprising.”
Dr. Elizabeth Prado, University of California, Davis, the study’s lead author
“With the new emphasis in public health going beyond saving lives toward fostering thriving children, these findings indicate the need to restructure front line health and development work to focus on family welfare and support for nurturing and stimulation, and helping future parents stay in school.”
Dr. Anuraj Shankar, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, senior author and co-Principal Investigator
“No one on the team had anticipated the extent to which social and environmental factors would exceed biological factors as the determinants of cognitive function – 2- to 3-fold by some measurements. This work has global implications as countries are currently planning how to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals with targets for improved childhood development.”
Dr. Husni Muadz, University of Mataram, co-Principal Investigator
“This unprecedented work indicates how local community-driven research approaches exemplified by SUMMIT and the Summit Institute of Development provide high value for local and global health and development. We have now created a real-time information platform with the government that coordinates multiple front line workers to enhance early childhood development, this enables rapid scaling in Indonesia and beyond.”
Mandri Apriatni, CEO, Summit Institute of Development
“This study shows that maternal micronutrients and a nurturing environment in early life save brains and help children thrive and succeed.  A more prosperous and peaceful world starts with our children’s early brain development.”
Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO, Grand Challenges Canada
“This study shows that mothers who take multiple micronutrient supplements during pregnancy can give their child an advantage in life. But healthy development needs public health investments to go beyond bio-medical strategies aimed at mothers-to-be, expectant mothers, babies and children. Beefed-up efforts to improve the nurturing environment in which kids spend their first 1,000 days are also essential.”
Dr. Karlee Silver, VP Programs, Grand Challenges Canada
“This study is the latest example of Canada’s seminal contributions to the field of early childhood development on a global scale. Through Grand Challenges Canada’s Saving Brains program, important progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals is being made as we seek to build a world where every child has the opportunity not only to survive, but to thrive.”
Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
“This study underscores the importance of providing micronutrients to pregnant women to help their children not only survive at birth but thrive later in life. The Micronutrient Initiative is proud to be an ally of Grand Challenges Canada and the innovations it supports.”
Joel Spicer, President and CEO, Micronutrient Initiative
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Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada and we support innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas we support integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – we call this Integrated Innovation. Grand Challenges Canada focuses on innovator-defined challenges through its Stars in Global Health program and on targeted challenges in its Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains and Global Mental Health programs. Grand Challenges Canada works closely with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Global Affairs Canada to catalyze scale, sustainability and impact. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives. www.grandchallenges.ca
Saving Brains is a partnership of Grand Challenges Canada, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The ELMA Foundation, Grand Challenges Ethiopia, the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, the Palix Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation and World Vision Canada. It seeks and supports bold ideas for products, services and implementation models that protect and nurture early brain development relevant to poor, marginalized populations in low- or middle-income countries. www.savingbrainsinnovation.net
Summit Institute of Development (SID) is a non-profit NGO in Indonesia conducting research and development in the fields of health, education and human capital development. SID focuses on creating evidence-based programs and a path to scale through policy and direct engagement with government and private sectors. Through integrated innovation and implementation SID aims for scalable solutions to improve the quality of life at the community level via open participation and free exchange of information and ideas. Current priorities include: [1] improving maternal and child health, [2] catalyzing human development and agents-of-change and empowerment at the community level, [3] establishing grass roots communication and information systems enabling communities to generate and access evidence for decision-making.

Example coverage


Agence France Presse, France, Researchers investigate the factors that boost kids’ brains, click here

Agencia EFE, Spain (at 25 news sites / 12 countries), via Yahoo! News, Suministro de micronutrientes a embarazadas mejora la función cerebral de los niños, click here

Press Trust of India, Happy, educated moms key to smarter kids!, click here

IndoAsian News Service, India, Want your child to be smart? Taking proper vitamin supplements during pregnancy might help, click here

Europa Press, newswire, Spain, El ambiente de crianza estimula el desarrollo del niño, click here

ANSA, newswire, Italy, Vitamine in gravidanza ‘nutrono’ l’intelligenza del bebè, click here

News sites

Today’s Parent, Canada, Prenatal vitamins will make your kid smarter, says new study, click here

The Telegraph, UK, Failing to take multivitamins during pregnancy could set child back a year in school, study suggests, click here

The Sun, UK, BABY BRAIN Mums-to-be who take 2p-a-day pregnancy vitamins ‘boost their kids’ IQ by the same as one school year’, click here

The Mirror, UK, Pregnant women can boost their child’s IQ by up to a year’s schooling by taking supplements, click here

Daily Mail, UK, Want to have smart children? Taking vitamins during pregnancy can help to boost their IQ by as much of a year of schooling, click here

Hindustan Times, India, Want kids with high IQ? Take vitamin supplements during pregnancy, click here

Science Daily, USA, Maternal micronutrients, nurturing environment boost child development, click here 

Medical Express, USA, Maternal micronutrients, nurturing environment boost child development, click here

Medical News, Australia, Maternal multi-micronutrients, nurturing environment in early life foster childhood development, click here

Nutraceuticals World, United States, Supplementation & Nurturing Environment Boost Child Development, click here

Elaph Journal, United Arab Emirates, عدم تناول الفيتامينات أثناء الحمل يؤخر الطفل في المدرسة (Not taking vitamins during pregnancy retards the child at school), click here

Albeu, Albania, Fëmijë të zgjuar? Konsumoni këto vitamina gjatë shtatzanisë! (Smart kids? Consume these vitamins during pregnancy!), click here

Republika, Indonesia, Suplemen dan Lingkungan Jadi Pendorong Perkembangan Anak (Supplements and Environment Boost Child Development), click here

Punjab Tribune, Indonesia, Proper Maternal Vitamins, Good Nurturing, May Boost Kids’ IQ, click here

* * * * *

News release in full, click here

Coverage summary, click here

Here is a collection of places you can buy bitcoin online right now.

E-waste in East and Southeast Asia jumps 63 percent in 5 years http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2017/e-waste-in-east-and-southeast-asia-jumps-63-percent-in-5-years/ Sun, 15 Jan 2017 17:01:29 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3258 UN University, Sustainable Cycles Programme — Bonn, Germany

Per capita consumption of gadgets, appliances, other products with a cord or battery, rising quickly with incomes; Report urges clampdown on improper recycling, disposal to conserve resources, avoid serious health and environment threats

A small Chinese child sitting among cables and e-waste, Guiyu, China. Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, USA and Japan to countries in Asia as it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards. This practise exposes the workers and communities involved in dismantling e-waste to serious, environmental problems, danger and health hazards. Greenpeace is strongly urging major manufactures to exclude toxic materials from their products.

A small Chinese child sitting among cables and e-waste, Guiyu, China. Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, USA and Japan to countries in Asia as it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards. This practise exposes the workers and communities involved in dismantling e-waste to serious, environmental problems, danger and health hazards. Greenpeace is strongly urging major manufactures to exclude toxic materials from their products.

The volume of discarded electronics in East and Southeast Asia jumped almost two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation is growing fast in both total volume and per capita measures, new UN research shows.

Driven by rising incomes and high demand for new gadgets and appliances, the average increase in e-waste across all 12 countries and areas analyzed — Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam — was 63% in the five years ending in 2015 and totalled 12.3 million tonnes, a weight 2.4 times that of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

China alone more than doubled its generation of e-waste between 2010 and 2015 to 6.7 million tonnes, up 107%.

The first Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia, (in full, from January 15: http://bit.ly/2i8Q9X2) was compiled by the UN’s think tank, the United Nations University, through its Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme and funded by the Japanese Ministry of Environment.

Using UN University’s estimation methodology, the research shows rising e-waste quantities outpacing population growth.

The average e-waste generation per capita in the region was approximately 10 kg in 2015, with the highest generation found in Hong Kong (21.7 kg), followed by Singapore (19.95 kg) and Taiwan, Province of China (19.13 kg).

There were large differences between nations on the per capita scales, with Cambodia (1.10 kg), Vietnam (1.34 kg) and the Philippines (1.35 kg) the lowest e-waste generators per capita in 2015.

The report uniquely presents a summary of the regional e-waste statuses, and it is arranged to allow direct comparisons where possible that can help further the development of e-waste management systems and policies based on other countries’ experiences.

“For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern,” says co-author Ruediger Kuehr of UN University. “Increasing the burden on existing waste collection and treatment systems results in flows towards environmentally unsound recycling and disposal.”

The report cites four main trends responsible for increasing volumes:

  • More gadgets: Innovation in technology is driving the introduction of new products, particularly in the portable electronics category, such as tablets and wearables like smart watches.
  • More consumers: In the East & Southeast Asian region, there are industrializing countries with growing populations, but also rapidly expanding middle classes able to afford more gadgets.
  • Decreasing usage time: The usage time of gadgets has decreased; this is not only due to rapidly advancing technology that make older products obsolete due to hardware incompatibility (e.g., flash drives replacing floppy disks) and software requirements (e.g., minimum requirements for PCs to run operating software and various other applications) but also soft factors such as product fashion. As more devices are replaced more rapidly, e-waste arising grows.
  • Imports: Import of EEE provides greater availability of products, both new and second- hand, which also increases e-waste arising as they reach their end of life.

The report warns of improper and illegal e-waste dumping prevalent in most countries in the study, irrespective of national e-waste legislation.

Consumers, dismantlers and recyclers are often guilty of illegal dumping, particularly of “open dumping”, where non- functional parts and residues from dismantling and treatment operations are released into the environment.

Studies in the region show that the main reasons are:

  • Lack of awareness: End users do not know that they should dispose of their obsolete EEE separately or how or where to dispose of their e-waste. Additionally, informal e-waste recyclers often lack the knowledge about the hazards of unsound practices;
  • Lack of incentives: Users choose to ignore collection and/or recycling systems if they need to pay for them;
  • Lack of convenience: Even if disposal through existing systems does not incur a fee, users may choose not to dispose of their e-waste in the proper channels if it is inconvenient or requires their time and effort;
  • Absence of suitable sites: There may be a lack of proper locations for hazardous waste disposal where residues from e-waste recycling can be sent; and
  • Weak governance and lax enforcement: A country with inadequate management or enforcement of e-waste legislation may result in rampant non-compliance.

The report also points to common practices such as open burning, which can cause acute and chronic ill-effects on public health and the environment.

Open burning of e-waste is practiced mainly by informal recyclers when segregating organic and inorganic compounds (e.g. burning cables to recover copper).

Though less common, spontaneous combustion sometimes occurs at open dumping sites when components such as batteries trigger fires due to short circuits.

Informal recycling, also called “backyard recycling,” is a challenge for most developing countries in the region, with a large and burgeoning business of conducting unlicensed and often illegal recycling practices from the backyard.

These processes are not only hazardous for the recyclers, their communities and the environment, but they are also inefficient, as they are unable to extract the full value of the processed products.

Mostly, these recyclers recover gold, silver, palladium and copper, largely from printed circuit boards (PCBs) and wires using hazardous wet chemical leaching processes commonly also known as acid baths.

Typically, informal recyclers use solvents such as sulphuric acid (for copper) or aqua regia (for gold). The leachate solutions go through separation and purification processes to concentrate the valuable metals and separate impurities. This often results in the release of toxic fumes.

“Open burning and acid bath recycling in the informal sector have serious negative impacts on processers’ occupational health,” Shunichi Honda co-author of this study warns. “In the absence of protective materials such as gloves, glasses, masks, etc., inhalation of and exposure to hazardous chemicals and substances directly affect workers’ health.”

“Associations have been reported between exposure from improper treatment of e-waste and altered thyroid function, reduced lung function, negative birth outcomes, reduced childhood growth, negative mental health outcomes, impaired cognitive development, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity.”

Adds co-author Deepali Sinha Khetriwal, Associate Programme Officer, UN University: “Indirect exposure to these hazardous substances is also a cause of many health issues, particularly for families of informal recyclers who often live and work in the same location, as well as for communities living in and around the area of informal recycling sites.”

Top marks to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan

According to the report, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have a head-start in the region in establishing e-waste collection and recycling systems, having begun in the late nineties to adopt and enforce e-waste specific legislations. This was built in large part on experience in solid waste management. Among the most advanced economies and areas in Asia, the three are also characterised by high per capita e-waste generation, formal collection and recycling infrastructure and relatively strong enforcement.

Hong Kong and Singapore, meanwhile, do not have specific e-waste legislation. Instead, the governments collaborate with producers to manage e-waste through a public-private partnership. As small island nations with large shipping and trade networks, both countries have significant transboundary movements of e-waste generated domestically, as well as in transit from other countries.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam all have recent e-waste legislation. The four countries are therefore in a transitionary phase, with a mix of formal and informal elements in an evolving eco-system in terms of collection and recycling infrastructure. The countries face similar challenges in enforcing regulations with limited resources and capacity and low public awareness regarding the hazards of improper disposal of e-waste.

Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand have yet to establish legal frameworks for e-waste management. However, there is an active informal sector in these countries with an established network for collection and import of end-of-life products and their recycling, particularly repair, refurbishment and parts harvesting.

Additional background

The total amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE — anything with a battery or a cord) put on the market worldwide increased from 51.33 million tonnes in 2007 to 56.56 million tonnes in 2012.

Asia, including the 12 nations and areas in this new study, is the largest consumer of EEE, buying nearly half of EEE put on the market (20.62 million tonnes in 2005; 26.69 million tonnes in 2012).

The increase is particularly striking given the drop in EEE sales in Europe and the Americas in 2012 following the global financial crisis.

Asia as a whole accounts for the majority of EEE sales and generates the highest volume of e-waste, estimated at 16 million tonnes in 2014. However, on a per-capita basis, this amounts to only to 3.7 kg per inhabitant, as compared to Europe and the Americas, which generate nearly four times as much per capita — 15.6 kg per inhabitant.

With growing incomes, consumers in Asia now replace their gadgets more frequently. In addition, many products are designed for low-cost production, but not necessarily repair, refurbishment or easy recycling.

Cambodia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have not ratified the Ban Amendment and, of these countries, only Cambodia prohibits the import of e-waste and only Vietnam prohibits the import of second-hand electronics.

Taiwan (which does not apply to the Basel Convention) controls the import of e-waste through its national legal framework, which is the equivalent of the Basel Convention.

All the countries in the region control e-waste either via the Basel Convention or their national legal frameworks. However, measures to control the import of second-hand electronics are different among the countries and regions. There are two types of control measures to import of e-waste and second-hand electronics: 1) do control the import of e-waste but do not restrict of second-hand electronics (Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Vietnam); and 2) prohibit the import of e-waste and prohibit or restrict the import of second-hand electronics (Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam).

Despite these formal steps, enforcement of these measures remains a significant challenge in these countries and many others around the globe.


United Nations University

UNU is an autonomous organ of the UN General Assembly dedicated to generating and transferring knowledge and strengthening capacities relevant to global issues of human security, development, and welfare. The University operates through a worldwide network of research and training centres and programmes, coordinated by UNU Centre in Tokyo.

* * * * *



The Associated Press, Gadget mountain rising in Asia threatens health, environment, click here (ranked #1, business category, Google News USA)

Spanish: Aumento de basura electrónica en Asia amenaza salud, medio, click here

The Canadian Press, Gadget mountain rising in Asia threatens health, environment, click here

Agence France Presse, France, E-waste rising dangerously in Asia: UN study, click here

Europa Press, Spain, Los desechos electrónicos en Asia oriental se disparan en cinco años, click here

SDA, Switzerland, UNU-Bericht: Hongkong weltweit Spitze bei Elektronikmüll , click here

Belga, Belgium, Forte hausse des déchets électroniques produits par l’Asie, selon un rapport de l’ONU, click here

Interface News, China, 买买买”让亚洲电子垃圾迅猛增长 中国五年翻一番 “Buy buy buy”: the rapid growth of e-waste in Asia, in China it doubled in five years, click here

Central News Agency, Taiwan, 亞洲電子垃圾量激增 星港台人均量引憂 Asia, the amount of electronic waste surge Hong Kong and Taiwan per capita volume of concern, click here

United News of India, E-waste in East & Southeast Asia jumps 63 percent in 5 years, click here

Namibia Press Agency: Asia-environment-technology-lifestyle, click here

News sites

New Scientist, UK, Gadget boom sees e-waste in Asia spike 63 per cent in 5 years, click here

Sixth Tone, China, UN Says China’s E-Waste Has Doubled Since 2010, click here

Liputan, Indonesia, Limbah Gawai di Asia Tenggara Mengkhawatirkan, Indonesia? (Waste Concern Gawai in Southeast Asia, Indonesia?), click here

La Capital, Belgium, Forte hausse des déchets électroniques produits par l’Asie, selon un rapport de l’ONU, click here

Full coverage summary, click here

Metrics (to 9 am US ET Jan 15)

Articles appear in

Languages: 6 (English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Indonesian, German) 

Countries: 33

Different online news sites: 618

Total online hits: 664 (note, 45 news sites ran more than one story)

Total circulation / potential reach (online): 621 million

Advertising value equivalency: $5.2 million

per https://support.meltwater.com/hc/en-us/articles/234959628-Advertising-Value-Equivalency-AVE-

(assumes 2.5% of visitors to a news site will view a particular article x $0.37 per viewer)

‘Friendship Bench’: A Blueprint for Tackling Developing World’s Mental Health Crisis http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2016/zimbabwes-friendship-bench-blueprint-for-tackling-developing-worlds-mental-health-crisis/ Tue, 27 Dec 2016 19:19:49 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3274
Grand Challenges Canada, Toronto

In Zimbabwe, Friendship Bench therapy reduces prevalence of depression to less than 14 percent, compared to 50 percent in control group; First at-scale model of community mental health care in Africa has diagnosed and treated over 27,500 people for common mental health disorders

FBToronto / Harare — Their offices are simple wooden seats, called Friendship Benches, located in the grounds of health clinics around Harare and other major cities in Zimbabwe.

The practitioners are lay health workers known as community “Grandmothers,” trained to listen to and support patients living with anxiety, depression and other common mental disorders.

But the impact, measured in a ground-breaking study, shows that this innovative approach holds the potential to significantly improve the lives of millions of people with moderate and severe mental health problems in countries where access to treatment is limited or nonexistent.

Six months after undergoing six weekly “problem solving therapy” sessions on the Friendship Benches, participants showed significant differences in severity of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts based on locally-validated questionnaires: the Shona Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) and the Generalised Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD).

Funded by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada, the randomised controlled trial was conducted by the University of Zimbabwe, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and King’s College London.

The study is published Dec. 27 in JAMA, the world’s most widely-circulated medical journal.

Striking results

* Patients with depression or anxiety who received problem-solving therapy through the Friendship Bench were more than three times less likely to have symptoms of depression after six months, compared to patients who received standard care.

* They were also four times less likely to have anxiety symptoms and five times less likely to have suicidal thoughts than the control group after follow-up.

* 50 percent of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of depression compared to 14 percent who received Friendship Bench (based on PHQ).

* 48 percent of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of anxiety compared to 12 percent who received Friendship Bench (based on the GAD),

* 12 percent of patients who received standard care still had suicidal thoughts compared to 2 percent who received Friendship Bench (based on SSQ).

The Friendship Bench intervention was also shown to be well suited to improve health outcomes among highly vulnerable individuals. 86 percent of the study’s participants were women, over 40 percent were HIV positive, and 70 percent had experienced domestic violence or physical illness.

Lead author of the study Dr. Dixon Chibanda, a consultant psychiatrist in Harare, co-founded the Friendship Bench network in response to the appalling shortage of evidence-based treatment for people with mental disorders in Zimbabwe, a problem common throughout Africa.

While about 25 percent of the country’s primary care patients suffer from depression, anxiety and other common mental disorders, Zimbabwe (population 15 million) has only 10 psychiatrists and 15 clinical psychologists.

“Common mental disorders impose a huge burden on all countries of sub-Saharan Africa,” says Dr. Chibanda. “Developed over 20 years of community research, the Friendship Bench empowers people to achieve a greater sense of coping and control over their lives by teaching them a structured way to identify problems and find workable solutions.”

With CDN $1 million in funding from Grand Challenges Canada earlier this year, the Friendship Bench has since been scaled to 72 clinics in the cities of Harare, Gweru and Chitungwiza (total population 1.8 million). Through collaborating with a Médecins Sans Frontières psychiatric program in Zimbabwe, the Friendship Bench is working to create the largest comprehensive mental health program in sub-Saharan Africa.

To date, over 27,500 people have accessed treatment.

“In developing countries, nearly 90 percent of people with mental disorders are unable to access any treatment,” says Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. “We need innovations like the Friendship Bench to flip the gap and go from 10 percent of people receiving treatment, to 90 percent of people receiving treatment.”

“In many parts of Africa, if you are poor and mentally ill, your chances of getting adequate treatment are close to zero,” says Dr. Karlee Silver, Vice President Programs at Grand Challenges Canada.

“In Zimbabwe, that’s changing thanks to the Friendship Bench, the first project with the potential to make mental health care accessible to an entire African nation.”

In 2017, the team will focus on expanding the model to reach other vulnerable populations, including youth and refugees. In partnership with the Swedish NGO SolidarMed, the team intends to expand implementation of this model in Masvingo province and subsequently in the refugee centres of the eastern highlands on the border with Mozambique.

“The Friendship Bench team, working with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health, has been able to substantially scale up services for some of the most deprived people in the community,” says Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization.

“By supporting the uptake of mental health innovations like the Friendship Bench, Canada is helping to turn the tide in the global mental health challenge.”

The study was conducted from September 2014 to June 2015, and involved:

* Identifying participants at 24 primary care clinics in Harare, divided into an intervention group (287 participants) and a control group (286). Total participants: 573

* Participants were all at least 18 years old (median age 33)
* All had been assessed at 9 or higher on a 14-level “Shona Symptoms Questionnaire” (SSQ-14), an indigenous measure of common mental disorders in Zimbabwe’s Shona language (http://bit.ly/2h2SQch). Changes in depression were measured using the PHQ-9 scale
* Excluded were patients with suicidal intent (those who were clinically depressed with suicidal thoughts and a plan for suicide), end-stage AIDS, were currently in psychiatric care, were pregnant or up to 3 months post-partum, presented with current psychosis, intoxication, and/or dementia (such patients were referred to a higher level clinic in Harare)
* The control group received standard care (nurse assessment, brief support counselling, medication, referral to see a clinical psychologist and/or a psychiatrist, and Fluoxetine if warranted) plus education on common mental disorders
* Intervention group participants met on a wooden bench on the grounds of municipal clinics with trained, supervised lay health workers, popularly known as “grandmothers,” (median age 53) who provided problem solving therapy with three components – “opening up the mind, uplifting the individual, and further strengthening”
* The 45-minute sessions took place weekly for six weeks, with an optional 6-session group support program available
* The “grandmothers” used mobile phones and tablets to link to specialist support. They also used a cloud-based platform that integrated the Friendship Bench project’s training, screening, patient referral and follow-up components
After three individual sessions, participants were invited to join a peer-led group called Circle Kubatana Tose, or “holding hands together,” which provided support from men and women who had benefitted from the Friendship Bench earlier.
At these weekly meetings, people shared personal experiences while crocheting purses made from recycled plastic materials, the latter being an income-generating skill for participants.

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Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada and we support innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas we support integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – we call this Integrated Innovation. Grand Challenges Canada focuses on innovator-defined challenges through its Stars in Global Health program and on targeted challenges in its Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains and Global Mental Health programs. Grand Challenges Canada works closely with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Global Affairs Canada to catalyze scale, sustainability and impact. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives.

Example coverage
Voice of America (Television), USA, Zimbabwe’s ‘Friendship Bench’ a Possible Model for Mental Health Treatment, click here (distributed to affiliate stations in 75 countries,  eg. PTV, Philippines, click here).  VOA Online, Zimbabwe Tackles Mental Health With ‘Friendship Benches’, click here

National Public Radio, USA, The Friendship Bench Can Help Chase The Blues Away, click here

SciDev, UK, Bench talk boosts mental health in Zimbabwe, click hereFrench: Des méthodes innovantes pour stimuler la santé mentale au Zimbabwe, click here

Press Trust of India, ‘Friendship Bench’ may help fight mental illness, click here

BBC World Service English to Africa, Focus on Africa, starts at the 15:30 mark, click here

BBC Swahili, UK, Gumzo la benchi, tiba ya magonjwa ya kiakili, click here

Newser, USA via Fox News, ‘Friendship Bench’ chats ease symptoms of depression, says study, click here

Medical Daily, USA, Are ‘Friendship Benches’ The Cure For Depression, Anxiety In Poor Countries?, click here

IndoAsian News Service, India, Community-based Therapy May Alleviate Depression, Anxiety: Study, click here

Newser, USA, 5 most incredible discoveries of the week, click here

Upworthy, USA, This country has only 10 psychiatrists. That’s where ‘professional grandmothers’ come in, click here

Agencia EFE, Spain Charlas Semanales Con Abuelas Reducen Dramaticamente Enfermedades Mentales (Weekly talks with grandmothers dramatically reduce mental illness), via Yahoo News, USA, click here

South Africa Broadcasting Corp.

Ontario Farmer, Canada helps Zimbabwe with bench strength

Forskning, Norway, Mindre depresjon med bestemor på en benk, click here

Psychology Today, USA, What if You’re Depressed or Anxious and Can’t Find Help? Friendship Benches offer a new tool in the fight against depression and anxiety, click here

FJ China (+ several other news sites), China, 这群大妈每天找人闲聊,却做着救人的大事被称为“黄金夫人, click here

Good News Network, USA, ‘Friendship Benches’ Alleviate Mental Illness Symptoms For Thousands, click here

Health Canal, USA, Friendship Bench therapy reduces anxiety and depression in Zimbabwe, click here

Psych Central, USA, Friendship Bench Therapy Proves Effective in Treating Mental Illness, click here

MedIndia, India, Friendship benches help reduce mental illness in developing countries, click here

MedScape, USA, Novel Strategy May Boost Access to Mental Health Care, click here

Quo, Spain, En este puedes confiar: nace el banco de la amistad (Psychology — In this you can trust: the Friendship Bench is born; It is a resource that has proven extremely useful for treating depression), click here

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News release in full, click here

Coverage summary, click here

Kangaroo mother care helps premature babies thrive 20 years later — study http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/2016/kangaroo-mother-care-helps-premature-babies-thrive-20-years-later-study/ Mon, 12 Dec 2016 18:17:10 +0000 http://www.terrycollinsassociates.com/?p=3242 Grand Challenges Canada, Toronto

Study funded by Saving Brains shows Kangaroo Mother Care kids 20 years later are better behaved, have larger brains, higher paycheques, more protective and nurturing families

128538_webTwo decades after a group of Colombian parents were shown how to keep their perilously tiny babies warm and nourished through breastfeeding and continuous skin-to-skin contact, a new groundbreaking study finds that as young adults their children continue to benefit from having undergone the technique known as Kangaroo Mother Care.

In young adulthood, they are less prone to aggressive, impulsive and hyperactive behaviour compared to a control group of premature and low birth weight contemporaries who received “traditional” inpatient incubator care. They are more likely to have survived into their 20s. Their families are more cohesive. They have bigger brains.

Supported by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada’s “Saving Brains” program, as well as Colombia’s Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (COLCIENCIAS), the study is published today in the journal Pediatrics.

“This study indicates that Kangaroo Mother Care has significant, long-lasting social and behavioural protective effects 20 years after the intervention,” says lead researcher Dr. Nathalie Charpak, of the Kangaroo Foundation in Bogotá.

The technique’s early impact was still present 20 years later for those who started life as the most fragile individuals, she says. Families trained in Kangaroo Mother Care were more likely to remain together and to be more protective and nurturing, reflected in their children’s lower school absenteeism, ability to express feelings, and reduced hyperactivity, aggressiveness and antisocial conduct as young adults.

“A premature infant is born somewhere in the world every two seconds,” says Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. “This study shows that Kangaroo Mother Care gives premature and low birth weight babies a better chance of thriving. Kangaroo Mother Care saves brains and makes premature and low birth weight babies healthier and wealthier.”

What is Kangaroo Mother Care?

About 15 million premature infants are born each year, according to the World Health Organization. Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5, responsible for nearly 1 million deaths in 2015; many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.

Premature and low birth weight infants generally require extra care to avoid illness and death from secondary, preventable complications such as hypothermia and infection. This is a particular problem in developing countries, where incubators and similar technologies are often scarce, over-crowded or unreliable, as well as costly.

A trained Kangaroo Mother Care parent or caregiver becomes a child’s incubator and its main source of food and stimulation. The technique involves continuous skin-to-skin contact between caregiver and infant, with the baby nested in a “kangaroo” position on the caregiver’s chest as soon as possible after birth. The technique is accompanied by exclusive breastfeeding.

Kangaroo Mother Care also requires and prepares the mother and child to go home as soon as possible from the hospital, after which there is rigorous monitoring of baby and mother until the infant reaches one year of corrected age (the baby’s age based on due date rather than date of birth). Family solidarity around the frail child is a key element in the success of the Kangaroo Mother Care technique.

Revisiting Kangaroo Mother Care babies 20 years later

The Kangaroo Foundation research compared 18 to 20 year olds who, as premature and low birth weight infants, had been randomized at birth to receive either Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) or traditional incubator care until they could maintain their own body temperature.

During that initial randomized control trial in 1993-96, researchers documented the short and mid-term benefits of KMC training on the infants’ survival, brain development, breastfeeding and the quality of mother-infant bonding.

In 2012-2014, 264 of the original participants who weighed less than 1800 grams at birth were re-enrolled (61% of infants that qualified).

Looking at mortality, the research found that KMC offered significant protection against early death. The mortality rate in the control group (7.7 percent) was more than double that of the KMC group (3.5 percent).

Among other results of the study:

  • School: The KMC group spent about 23 percent more time in preschool and had less than half the rate of school absenteeism compared to the control group.
  • Work: As young workers, their average hourly wages were almost 53 percent higher.
  • Family: A higher percentage of KMC children (almost 22 percent) grew up living with both parents. The families of KMC children were found to be more stimulating, protective, and dedicated to their children compared to the families in the control group.
  • Behaviour: Scores for aggressiveness and hyperactivity were 16 percent lower in the KMC group, particularly among less-educated mothers. Scores for externalization (the ability to express feelings, especially negative feelings), a trait associated with risk of juvenile delinquency, academic failure, and inadequate social adjustment, were 20 percent lower in the KMC group on average. The parents of KMC children also reported that their children exhibited less antisocial behaviour compared to the reports of the parents of the counterparts in the control group.
  • Cerebral development: Compared with those in the control group, KMC participants had larger brains – significantly larger volumes of total grey matter, cerebral cortex, and left caudate nucleus, which plays a vital role in how the brain learns, specifically related to the storing and processing of memories.
  • Overall IQ: Tests after 20 years show a small but significant (3.6 percent) advantage in overall intelligence (IQ) for the most fragile KMC babies (those with an abnormal or transient neurological exam at 6 months) compared to similar infants in the control group.

The world needs Kangaroo Mother Care

Dr. Charpak notes that as neonatal technology becomes more accessible throughout the world, more premature and low birth weight infants are saved with fewer serious consequences in later years.

“That is why the detection of ‘minor’ consequences becomes important,” she says. “Minor effects like mild cognitive deficits, lack of fine coordination, poor hearing or eyesight and attention deficit can often go undetected but have a profound effect on the lives of families.

“The findings of our 20-year KMC study should inform the modalities of medical, psychological and social postnatal interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care so that we can continue to reduce the disorders caused by prematurity and low birth weight.”

Dr. Charpak says that this new knowledge must be used to extend KMC coverage to the 18 million premature and low birth weight infants born each year who are candidates for the technique.

“We firmly believe that this is a powerful, efficient, scientifically based health care intervention that can be used in all settings, from those with very restricted to unrestricted access to health care,” she says.

“This study demonstrates that Kangaroo Mother Care can make all the difference in the world for premature and low birth weight infants,” says Dr. Karlee Silver, Vice President Programs at Grand Challenges Canada. “Kangaroo Mother Care is a cost-effective, modern method of care that can and should be applied in every country.”


About Grand Challenges Canada

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada and we support innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas we support integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – we call this Integrated Innovation. Grand Challenges Canada focuses on innovator-defined challenges through its Stars in Global Health program and on targeted challenges in its Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains and Global Mental Health programs. Grand Challenges Canada works closely with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Global Affairs Canada to catalyze scale, sustainability and impact. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives.

About Saving Brains

Saving Brains is a partnership of Grand Challenges Canada, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The ELMA Foundation, Grand Challenges Ethiopia, the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, the Palix Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation and World Vision Canada. It seeks and supports bold ideas for products, services and implementation models that protect and nurture early brain development relevant to poor, marginalized populations in low- or middle-income countries.

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Example coverage:

Newswires / syndicates:

Reuters, UK, Skin-to-skin ‘kangaroo’ baby care tied to better health years later, click here

Agencia EFE, Spain, Los beneficios de método canguro para bebé prematuros duran décadas, dice un estudio, click here

HealthDay, USA, ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ May Improve Preemies Lives into Adulthood (via US News and World Report), click here

Deutsch Presse Agentur, Germany, Känguru-Methode kann Frühchen lebenslang nützen (Kangaroo method can improve premature life), click here; in Spanish: Los bebés prematuros se benefician del contacto constante con la piel de la madre, según estudio, click here

Anadolu Agency, Turkey, “Kanguru bakımı” çocukların sağlığını ve zekasını olumlu etkiliyor, click here

IndoAsian News Service, India, Kangaroo mother care helps premature babies thrive, click here

Press Trust of India, Kangaroo cuddles can help premature babies thrive: study, click here

ANSA newswire, Italy, Pelle a pelle con mamma e papà, benefici ‘canguro-terapia’ durano decenni, click here

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CBC, Canada, Kangaroo care for preemies shows profound power of touch, click here

BBC World Service (Health Check) 9 minutes long, starts ~16 min mark, click here

The Guardian, UK: ‘Kangaroo care’ makes premature babies healthier and wealthier, study finds, click here

Daily Mail, UK (page 23), How ‘kangaroo cuddles’ can help premature babies: Infants given skin-to-skin contact with mothers develop better than those placed in incubators, click here

The Telegraph, UK, ‘Kangaroo mothering’ helps boost a child’s health and intelligence, study finds, click here

Huffington Post, USA: Incredible Study Shows Cuddling Preemies Helps Them For Decades click here

Forbes, USA, Kangaroo Care Still Benefits Preemies 20 Years Later, click here

NBC News, USA, Cuddling Preemies Kangaroo Style Helps Into Adulthood, click here

LiveScience, USA, Benefits of ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’: Do They Last?, click here

O Globo, BrazilMétodo canguru faz prematuros serem adultos mais saudáveis e promissores (Kangaroo method makes premature babies are healthier and more promising adults), click here

Deutsche Welle, Germany, Portuguese: Método canguru beneficia prematuros no longo prazo, click here

Psychology Today, USA, What We Can Learn from Kangaroos, click here

Topsante (via Yahoo News, France), Le peau à peau pour accompagner les bébés prématurés, click here

Die Welt, Germany, Känguru-Methode nützt Frühchen noch Jahre später, click here

Parents .com, USA, Babies Given Kangaroo Care Show Benefits Decades Later, click here

WebMD, USA, Kangaroo mothering ‘helps premature babies’, click here

Spektrum, Germany, Känguru-Methode hilft Frühchen über Jahrzehnte (Kangaroo care helps preemies decades later), click here

Medpage Today, USA, Kangaroo Care Linked to Long-Term Benefits, click here

Epoch Times, China, “袋鼠育儿法”有助于提升早产儿的健康和智力 “Kangaroo Parenting Act” to help improve the health and intelligence of premature children, click here

International Business Times, UK: How ‘kangaroo mothers’ help tiny, premature babies survive and thrive, click here

International Business Times, India: ‘Kangaroo mother care’ turns out to be vital for pre-term babies, click here

Sunday World, UK, ‘Kangaroo mothering’ helps premature babies thrive, click here

ORF Science, Germany, Känguru-Methode schützt Frühchen, click here

Helsingin Sanomat, Finland, Kenguruhoidetuilla keskosilla on aikuisena isommat aivot – ja palkkapussi, click here

Sveriges Radio, Sweden, För tidigt födda verkar gynnas av känguruvård, click here

HealthMag, Greece, Η αγκαλιά “καγκουρό” κάνει πιο υγιή και πιο έξυπνα τα παιδιά (The “kangaroo” hug makes healthier and smarter children), click here

HKN, Korea: 캥거루 케어’ 받은 아이, 똑똑하고 튼튼하다 (‘Kangaroo Care’ receiving child is smart and durable), click here

Klix, Bosnia and HerzegovinaKlokan metoda čini nedonoščad zdravijom i bogatijom (Kangaroo method seems premature babies healthier and richer), click here

Videnskab, Denmark‘Kængurupleje’ gavner for tidligt fødte bedre end kuvøse (‘Kangaroo Care’ benefit premature better than incubator), click here

Ethnos, Greece: Τα πρόωρα βρέφη γίνονται πιο υγιή και… πλούσια με τη φροντίδα «καγκουρό» (Premature babies are healthier and … rich with care “kangaroo”), click here

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Full coverage summary, click here

News release in full, click here