Newsworthy – February 21st, 2020

Fossil fuels release more methane than previously thought, western diets impair cognitive functions, single payer healthcare could save lives and money.

These, and more, are the newsworthy stories from this past week.

Science and Environment

  • Using fossil fuels releases much more of the potent greenhouse gas methane than previously thought — possibly 25 to 40 percent more, new research suggests.

    – Science News Magazine
  • As part of a new study, Greenpeace looked at 367 recycling facilities across the US and found that only a small percentage of processed plates, cups, bags, and trays. Less than 15% received plastic clamshells and none accepted receiving coffee pods.

    The recycling facilities only take in water and soda bottles, along with other thicker plastic for packaging. Most of the rest ends up in the trash. Other types of plastics can actually be recycled but that there’s currently no market for it in the US.

    Recycling in the U.S. has remained at 9% since 2012.

    – ZME Science

Health and Society

  • Switching from a healthy diet to a western diet (high fat, high added sugar) for as little as one week can significantly impair cognitive function and encourage people to eat more even when they’re full.

    Disruption in the hippocampus, a region that is known to have a major role in learning and memory, seems to be the likely cause.

    – ZME Science
  • Hot-air hand dryers have been shown to be suck up bacteria from the air and dump them on newly washed hands. Use hand towels if they are available.

    – ZME Science
  • A recent study says that a shift towards universal single-payer healthcare for all Americans would help save an estimated 68,000 lives and $450 billion a year.

    – ZME Science
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he is committing $10 billion to start a new fund to fight climate change.

    – The Wall Street Journal

Business and Economics

  • Banks have been quietly rolling out biometrics to identify customers — verifying them by their fingerprint, voice or eye scan — and retailers like Amazon are getting into the game.

    These companies are amassing giant databases of our most personal information — including our gait, how we hold our cellphones and our typing patterns.

    – Axios

Government and Politics

  • The Trump administration completed the fewest cleanups of toxic Superfund sites last year than any administration since the program’s first years in the 1980s.

    – AP

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