Egypt Independent: Science-Main news http://www.egyptindependent.com//enhome_channel/Environment/rss.xml en Sleeping with smartphones, and other vices http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2454977 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/03/10/484151/iphone.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Consumers around the world admit it: they sleep with their smartphone, take it in the shower, and would rescue the device from a fire before saving the family cat.</p><p>Those are among the findings of a seven-country survey of more than 7,000 people about smartphone habits released yesterday by Motorola, the newly acquired division of Chinese electronics giant Lenovo.</p><p>60 percent of those surveyed said they slept holding their handsets &ndash; with the highest percentages in India (74 percent) and China (70 percent). And 57 percent said they took the device into the toilet, with the highest totals from China and Brazil.</p><p>One in six smartphone users said they used their phones while showering, and more than half &ndash; 54 percent &ndash; said they would reach for the smartphone before saving their cat in the event of a fire.</p><p>How close are people to their devices? 22 percent said they would give up sex for a weekend before parting with their smartphone. And 40 percent tell secrets to their phones they would not reveal even to their best friend.</p><p>But the relationship is not perfect. Only 39 percent said they were &quot;happy&quot; with their smartphone, and 79 percent felt bothered that their devices interrupted them at inopportune moments. &nbsp;The survey was conducted online by KRC Research with a total of 7,112 smartphone owners in the United States, Britain, Brazil, China, Spain, Mexico and India.</p><p>It was released as Motorola unveiled two upgraded versions of its flagship Moto X handset &ndash; one with a larger 5.7 inch display and another with a 5.5 inch screen.</p><p>The company said the devices would be priced hundreds of dollars lower than other flagship devices.</p><p>The company also unveiled a second-generation Moto G, priced at under US$200 and aimed at emerging markets.</p><p>Motorola will be selling most of the devices unlocked for use with almost any carrier.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:10:00 +0000 AFP 2454977 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/03/10/484151/iphone.jpg Can we save forests and produce palm oil? Scientists seek answer http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2454952 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/07/29/501184/palm_oil.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Despite promises by many big companies that produce, trade and use palm oil to clean up their supply chains, complaints are still pouring in over the conversion of forests into plantations from West Africa to Southeast Asia, experts say.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A fledgling effort to balance forest protection and oil palm production aims to ease those tensions by enabling companies to meet growing demand for the cheap, edible oil, while ensuring villagers can feed their families and curbing climate-changing emissions from deforestation at the same time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Led by an independent team of 50 scientists, a draft version of the &quot;High Carbon Stock Study&quot; - commissioned by a group of Asian oil palm growers, agribusiness giant Cargill and consumer goods firm Unilever - was released last month for consultation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It proposes a new method for evaluating which land could be used for oil palm plantations, taking into account pressure to limit global warming and developing nations&#39; desire to prosper.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;You don&#39;t protect the world&#39;s forests by coming out with big picture commitments for their own sake. You can only (do it) by giving people who live in and depend on those forests a proper economic stake in that set of decisions,&quot; said Jonathon Porritt, chair of the steering committee overseeing the study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dozens of companies that supply and purchase palm oil as a commodity - used in household products from shampoo to ice cream, as well as for fuel - have pledged not to source it from plantations on freshly cleared peat soils and forest land, or where the rights of workers and local people are abused.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But it&#39;s still unclear what those promises mean in practice.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Everyone is making commitments to no deforestation or to protect the forest. But when you start delving a little deeper, the strange part of it is that there isn&#39;t really one agreed definition of what is a forest,&quot; said Biswaranjan Sen, who leads Unilever&#39;s global chemicals procurement team and co-chairs the board of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Red, amber, green</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The High Carbon Stock Study is the latest attempt to classify land into different types of forest, and proposes thresholds to determine whether oil palm cultivation should be permitted based on the amount of vegetation and carbon stored above and below ground.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Under this system, land estimated to have 75 tonnes or more of carbon per hectare above ground - equivalent to 100 tonnes of biomass - and 75 tonnes or over in the soil could not be cleared.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This &quot;red zone&quot; would cover peat land, old-growth forests, selectively logged forests and native forests that have grown back for at least 20 years after being cut down, the study says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the &quot;green zone&quot;, where an oil palm plantation would store more carbon over 25 years than the vegetation now on the land, clearing would be allowed. That is likely to apply to grassland and scrubland.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The more controversial &quot;amber&quot; area lies in between. It is here that tough decisions would have to be made in balancing projected carbon emissions from cutting down forest and the potential boost to local livelihoods from the palm oil industry.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The type of land expected to fall into this band would be young regenerating forest and other types of degraded forest.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A rising number of major firms now realize that to keep on producing palm oil in a world with limited resources, they have little choice but to change how they go about it, experts say.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We all agree that you cannot do what we did 100 years ago in terms of agriculture, which is find the land, lay your claim, clear it and start planting,&quot; said Leela Barrock, head of corporate affairs for Malaysian-headquartered Sime Darby, the main instigator of the study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Porritt said big companies are now searching for a new business model - but talk about &quot;zero deforestation&quot; could be unhelpful because few believe it really means that not a single tree will be cut down.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Governments of tropical forest countries, from West and Central Africa to Southeast Asia, face a trade-off, he noted.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Some forest will be available for development ... but the suggestion is this has to be shared much more equitably with the people whose lives still depend completely on those forests,&quot; the British environmentalist explained.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Community incentives</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Marcus Colchester, a policy advisor with the Forest Peoples Programme, said the proposed new traffic light system, dubbed high carbon stock plus (HCS+), would be useful in dissuading companies from cutting down environmentally valuable forests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the battle would not end there, because from land concessions offered by governments, companies tend to select land without high carbon stock forests to plant palm oil, handing the rest back to villagers, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That means &quot;we have to deal with the communities, not the companies&quot; to fully protect higher-value forests, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If local people are not offered incentives to leave quality forests standing, they could be turned to other uses, such as slash-and-burn agriculture, even if they are not sacrificed for oil palm cultivation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The key to preventing this is to take land-use planning to a higher level, Colchester said. That involves bringing provincial or district authorities together with communities to decide which areas should be set aside and which can be used for growing oil palm, other commodities and food crops, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Support is growing for such a &quot;jurisdictional&quot; approach, with the government of Indonesia&#39;s Central Kalimantan province announcing in June it would develop a system covering the whole region&#39;s landscape.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Unilever&#39;s Sen said governments should be involved in decision-making on land use at an earlier stage, removing the need to rely on the &quot;generosity of individual corporations to do the right thing&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While the companies that signed up to the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto and initiated the carbon stock study are expected to adopt its findings after they are finalised late this year, the next step will be to encourage governments to start using the system too, said Simon Lord, head of sustainability for Sime Darby.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Porritt conceded that to be effective, the methodology would have to be applied across the board, and embedded in national legislation, regulations and planning processes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;That&#39;s the level of protection the world&#39;s forests now need,&quot; he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Competing methods</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One potential obstacle is that the HCS+ study is not the only game in town. Since 2011, environmental groups, including Greenpeace and The Forest Trust, have been working with palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources on a separate approach, focused more tightly on forest carbon stocks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This has suggested tougher guidance of roughly 35 tonnes of carbon per hectare beyond which oil palm development should be prohibited.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Richard Donovan, a forestry expert with the Rainforest Alliance, said conservation groups would likely consider the draft HCS+ system too lax.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If it means more forest is lost because of a higher threshold, then that&#39;s going to be a problem,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Unilever&#39;s Sen said ideally the two HCS methods would converge. If not, one or the other should be used on the ground.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;What&#39;s important for the planet is to drive implementation of a standard rather than an argument about which is better,&quot; he said. &quot;Either of them implemented would raise the bar from where we are today.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:43:00 +0000 Reuters 2454952 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/29/501184/palm_oil.jpg Boy who lost hands to infection gets double-hand transplant http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2454945 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/07/29/501184/1f4d360da6dc84217d0f6a706700dcf3.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div><div>An 8-year-old boy who lost his hands and feet to a serious infection has become the youngest patient to receive a double-hand transplant, surgeons said Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Zion Harvey&#39;s forearms were heavily bandaged but his hands were visible as he flashed some big smiles Tuesday at a hospital news conference. He demonstrated his still-delicate grip and described waking up with new hands as &quot;weird at first, but then good.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The boy, from the Baltimore suburb of Owings Mills, Maryland, received the transplant earlier this month at The Children&#39;s Hospital of Philadelphia, though doctors did not publicly disclose the nearly 11-hour operation until this week.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A 40-person medical team used steel plates and screws to attach the old and new bones. Surgeons then painstakingly reconnected Zion&#39;s arteries, veins, muscles, tendons and nerves.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;He woke up smiling,&quot; said Dr. L. Scott Levin, who heads the hand transplant program. &quot;There hasn&#39;t been one whimper, one tear, one complaint.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Zion, a bright and precocious child Levin described as having &quot;a maturity that is way beyond his 8 years,&quot; contracted sepsis as a toddler. The resulting multiple organ failure forced the amputation of his hands and feet; by age 4, he needed a kidney transplant, receiving the organ from his mother.</div><div><div>Leg prosthetics have allowed Zion to be very active, including walking, running and jumping. He learned to use his forearms to write, eat and play video games and has been attending school. Physicians hope he&#39;ll now be able to achieve more milestones, including his goals of throwing a football and playing on the monkey bars.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It was no more of a risk than a kidney transplant,&quot; his mother, Pattie Ray, said. &quot;So I felt like I was willing to take that risk for him, if he wanted it &mdash; to be able to play monkey bars and football.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Several adults in the U.S. have received double-hand or double-arm transplants in the past few years. Hospital officials in Philadelphia believe Zion is the youngest person to have the surgery, which requires a lifetime of immune-suppressing drugs to ensure the body doesn&#39;t reject the new hands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Zion already had been taking anti-rejection drugs because of his donated kidney, which made him a good candidate for the hand transplant, doctors said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Doctors say Zion will spend several weeks in physical rehab at the hospital before returning home. Two rows of relatives attended the news conference, and they stood to be recognized at Zion&#39;s request.</div><div><div>&quot;I want to say to you guys, thank you for helping me through this bumpy road,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The donor&#39;s family chose to remain anonymous.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Children&#39;s Hospital said it would not hold Zion&#39;s family liable for any costs beyond that which may be covered by medical insurance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Double-hand transplant recipient eight-year-old Zion Harvey smiles during a news conference Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at The Children’s Hospital of..." src="http://l1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/H_mzQpg3WsK.D9hNdCijOw--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTYzOTtpbD1wbGFuZTtweW9mZj0wO3E9NzU7dz05NjA-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ap_webfeeds/6d63ccbea6db84217d0f6a7067003cd3.jpg" style="height: 357px; width: 536px;" /></div></div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Double-hand transplant recipient eight-year-old Zion Harvey smiles during a news conference Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at The Children&rsquo;s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in Philadelphia. Surgeons said Harvey of Baltimore who lost his limbs to a serious infection, has become the youngest patient to receive a double-hand transplant. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:36:00 +0000 AP 2454945 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/29/501184/1f4d360da6dc84217d0f6a706700dcf3.jpg Instead of curbing drinking, college kids try to curb consequences http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2454936 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/07/29/501184/alcholo_drinks.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A new study of college students finds that some of their &ldquo;protective strategies&rdquo; when they plan on drinking are actually tied to greater alcohol use.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This study, and other studies of protective drinking strategies, &ldquo;seem to be finding similar results, whether looking at 21st birthday drinking, spring break drinking, or college student drinking more generally,&rdquo; said lead author Melissa A. Lewis of the University of Washington in Seattle.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The surprising result is that some types of protective strategies are associated with greater alcohol use and an increased number of consequences,&rdquo; she added in an email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lewis and her colleagues studied 694 undergraduate college students, and 131 of their friends, who intended to go on a spring break trip and to drink heavily on at least one day of the trip.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The students completed online surveys before and one week after spring break, with questions about drinking activities each day of the break, &ldquo;protective&rdquo; strategies, and negative consequences of drinking (for example, getting into fights, passing out, taking foolish risks, or neglecting obligations).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The students reported having an average of five and a half alcoholic drinks per day.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their protective strategies fell into three categories: &ldquo;serious harm reduction&rdquo; methods, like making sure that you go home with a friend; &ldquo;limiting/stopping&rdquo; strategies, like having a friend let you know when you&#39;ve had enough, and &ldquo;manner of drinking&rdquo; strategies, like avoiding drinking games or drinking water between alcoholic drinks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The more harm reduction and limiting/stopping strategies a student employed, the more he or she tended to drink on that day, and the greater the consequences, the researchers found.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On the other hand, manner of drinking strategies were tied to less drinking and fewer consequences, according to a report in the journal Addictive Behaviors.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Just because harm reduction strategies were tied to more consumption does not mean they are bad strategies, Lewis said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Take for example, using a designated driver, which is a type of serious harm reduction strategy,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Using a designated driver may be associated with increased drinking or consequences.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;A student may have drank more heavily and done embarrassing things,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;However, they didn&rsquo;t drive drunk,&rdquo; so using a designated driver is still a good strategy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ideally, students should focus on both reducing the amount of drinking and the consequences of drinking, she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;When working with college students, we need to focus on why specific strategies are being used,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;For example, it is important for (doctors) to know if someone indicates they are using a designated driver to reduce specific consequences (driving under the influence) but also in order to drink heavily.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:28:00 +0000 Reuters 2454936 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/29/501184/alcholo_drinks.jpg