Ray’s Random Thoughts 6-29-2022

group of people in standing on brown grass field

Be kind to everyone and don’t fall prey to the instinct of self-preservation, go beyond the tribal instinct we all seem to still have. Humans tend to group up into tribes / social circles, be it physically or just through our personal world views. It is self-preservation that brings us to want to be part of a group/tribe. There is safety in numbers and that has worked to keep humans alive up to this point.

The downside to the tribal way of life is we tend to find ourselves stuck in us versus them mentality. We thrive on having an enemy to focus on, something to rally against for some reason. This usually leads to wars of one sort or another. Maybe if we look at our tribe being the whole human race, maybe then we can focus on the real enemy/problems that we face as a species.

It really saddens me that we still have people in the world that look at human life or life in general as something cheap and disposable. So many deaths in the world due to the lack of respect for life and human beings in general. Really sad that any group of humans, be they grouped by race, nationality, political belief or even religion could think of themselves as superior and all others as inferior. All life is sacred, all human beings are equally important and there is no superior race.

person holding world globe facing mountain
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

I don’t think it is so much the form of governments we have but the fact that the governments become corrupt when the same people stay in office for too long. For instance, the Democratic Republic of the U.S.A. is a wonderful governing style but it is being weighed down by senators and representatives that have been in office/power for way too many terms. The longer a person has power the less they seem to put responsibility and the welfare of those they serve to the forefront of their priorities, they get caught up in partisan politics and self-serving agendas. Corruption happens when people have too much power for way too long. Term limits would be a good solution to the problem and maybe a pay cut, making it less profitable for them to keep in office. I find it unfair if they serve one term they get a full benefits package for retirement and the salaries they make only make them more distant from those they are supposed to be serving.

I also do believe there should be more oversight of the lobbyist and regulations to keep the rich corporate lobbyists from having the upper hand over the just as important but less funded lobbyists. Too much money is passed through to campaign funds and other ways to politicians from the lobbyist groups as well. Which in its own way gives the lobbyists that are funding the politician sway over policies and takes away from the real needs and wants of the taxpayers.

Enough of my political rantings for now, but there is so much going on in this world that needs change, and a whole bunch of things I am pretty sure we do not even know about that is going on as well. Either way, I wish everyone a blessed life and hope we all can stand up for positive change and be good to one another.

Blessings and Peace to all

Where are we going, where is the world heading?

close up photo of assorted color of push pins on map

Where are we going, where is the world heading? Watching the world knocking on the door of world war and my country going through political division and social upsets has got me a bit concerned. It is almost like someone has rolled back time to the 1950s in many ways. Cold wars, war, civil rights issues, abortion rights, and fearmongering.

Between the horror of mass shootings, inflation, and politicization of almost everything one can debate over, it is a very troublesome world to try and navigate and live in at this moment in time. We all need to take a step back or a time out to recollect ourselves and come back together to find a better path for us as a nation and as a species, so we can change the uncertain course the world is on at this moment in time.

I believe the majority of us are kinda feeling helpless and that we have no control over the world around us. Our Governments act like they hear our pleas but then do nothing to help those in need because they claim it’s too expensive as they spend our tax dollars on wars, pay raises for themselves, and to support the super-wealthy companies with bailouts when times are hard.

brown and silver round coins
Photo by Dmitry Demidov on Pexels.com

With a Congress here in the U.S. that seems to be set on bickering and arguing and blocking each party’s agendas more so than trying to find a compromise to pass legislation that could help the American taxpayers and those in need. They need to get over themselves and put aside party politics long enough to do what is needed to be done instead of doing what may get them re-elected or get them the most sound bytes on the news.

I have a feeling all of the nations out there that are not so friendly to the U.S. are all having a good laugh at how dysfunctional our congress is at this moment in time. The world is watching all of you Senators and Representatives and how you are showing the world how you all can not be adult enough to work together to get things done when the pressure is on.

Where are we going, where is the world heading and what will be the destination if we do not change course. Unless we start working together to change its course towards a more benificial one, it doe not look promising.

God Bless and Happiness to all

Dovestar’s Thought’s 6/5/2022

We go through life, wanting to be accepted, loved, and needed by those around us. We are taught what others think about us, how they see us etc. is important and we, unfortunately, come to believe it is more important than our own image of ourselves and that what others say about us is true even when it is not.

Seems we all get caught up in the vicious cycle of being judged and judging others as well, we feel that we must fit into the current vision of what is normal and deny our true selves from growing. It matters more what we think of ourselves, how we view ourselves, and all the thoughts and emotions that go along with that.

Most of us go through life seeking out love, some of us go from partner to partner thinking we haven’t found the right person to love and to be loved by. Most of the time it is that what we are seeking is the excitement of chemical attraction and the fairytale version of what we think romantic love is supposed to be.

Photo by Jasmine Carter on Pexels.com

People tend to mistake the biological response to the opposite sex as love, that biological response is there to bring you together with a possible partner but it will fade eventually and then you must build a relationship with your partner if you haven’t already. Just remember your partner is there to share with you as you are there to share with them. it is a two-way street and neither side is property or a possession.

In order to be loved, or should I say to accept the love of another one must learn to love themselves. We usually tend to judge ourselves far more harshly than we do others, and we tend to have less compassion for ourselves than we do for others and that makes it hard for us to love ourselves. To love ourselves is not always easy, we have to discard all the opinions of others we subconsciously accepted as truth and learn to forgive ourselves for the things we did that we see as wrong. We have to accept our shortcomings as well as find and celebrate the good things in us.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Forgiveness of ourselves and others is a key to happiness and a path to loving others as well as being loved. Forgiving someone does not condone the wrongdoing, it just releases them and yourself from all the negative emotions and thoughts surrounding the situation. It frees up all that energy to be used for more positive and constructive things in your life. Holding on to a grudge is just living in a traumatic situation constantly, you get stuck in the past and get to where you can not move forward. Forgiveness breaks the chains and helps you to be able to heal and move forward into a brighter future.

Worry less about what your neighbor thinks about you and worry more about how your neighbor is doing. Love them even if they don’t seem to like or love you. Find compassion for them and find compassion for yourself. Do not be a mirror of those around you, be the image of what you want to see others reflect back at you.

May your path in life lead to happiness, wellness, and love, and may you find what you seek in life, my friends.

Ray’s Random Thoughts 6/4/2022

person sitting outdoors

In times like these, we either succumb to fear or rise up to the challenges ahead of us. Fear is something we all deal with, it is something we are supposed to have in dire and life-threatening situations. Sometimes we manufacture fear out of lack of control or lack of the knowledge to deal with a situation. Feeling fear is normal but one must learn to control it and move beyond it.

Right now I see a lot of fear in the world, I watch fear cause division within the world. Fear can transform into anger and hate as well. That is the reason why we all need to learn how to manage our fear. The problem is what may work for one person may not work for another, since fear can arise from different sources and situations. So I suggest seeking out help dealing with your fears if you are unable to cope with them yourself, try meditation to calm your mind and remind yourself it is okay to not always be in control of everything.

anonymous ethnic man strolling on ocean beach
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

There is so much more to life than fear, we as a species need to focus more on solving the issues before us than the possible outcomes if nothing is done. The future is not set in stone and if we all work together towards a better tomorrow it will become a reality. If Life becomes overwhelming, you can meditate or go find a calm and peaceful place and relax there till you can clear your mind.

Focus your mind on what you can change and do to help bring positive change in your life and the world around you. I know the pandemic and lockdowns have put a big mental, emotional and financial stress on people and It has both brought out the best of people and the worst. It is time to heal ourselves mentally and emotionally so that we can move forward.

Find solace in the way that works for you and be kind to yourself and others

Ray’s Random Thoughts 6/1/2022

world map on wall and laptop near cup and container

We are living in trying times, the world is on the brink of being at war, soaring energy and food prices along with politicization of almost every topic and the polarization of political views. With the war going on in Ukraine we watch the killing of civilians in the crossfire and the death of soldiers on both sides. Too many children suffered in this war and a sad percentage of the children died as a result of the conflict.

Both the East and West are playing a part in this tragic situation in Ukraine, They need to pause and look at the pain, suffering, and instability that’s being caused by the conflict, not only in Ukraine but across the globe. I ask the leaders of all the world nations, be it they are an active part or just a spectator of this conflict to think of the long-term damage that will come from this war. It will affect all of the countries of the world in the end economically and if we do not find a peaceful resolution to the situation it could cause a third world war. Being that there are too many nations in this world that poses nuclear weapons it could be the end of life as we know it.

different flowers shaped in word peace
Photo by Disha Sheta on Pexels.com

So, I plead with all the leaders of the nations involved to seek out a diplomatic solution to this conflict, the cost of this conflict is too high for what may be gained. After all, we are brothers and sisters in this world, even if we sometimes think differently or allow political, religious, and national policies and agendas to separate us. Deep inside we all want the same thing I believe, a safe and happy world for the future generations to live in and the economic success of the nations we live in.

Being just a Citizen, I see all people from around the world as part of my extended family. I firmly believe the people of the world are in general good and caring in nature. I just hope and pray that goodness is in the leaders involved in this conflict and we can go from military conflict to diplomatic discussions before it is escalated to a full-blown world war.

I Also pray that China can get its outbreak of Covid-19 under control so no more people will suffer. China could take the lead in trying to get the diplomatic discussion going, being one of the superpowers in the modern world, it would be great to see them step up and play a peaceful part in this conflict. I also hope China can slow down the aggressiveness towards Taiwan and find some sort of diplomatic solution there as well. War may benefit some financially, but for the majority of the people involved it only brings suffering, death, and destruction.

world map made of nuts and dried fruits
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

The East and West need to stop Saber Rattling, Finger Pointing, and posturing. As my mom always told me, be a part of the solution not a part of the problem. I know it all isn’t as black and white as it seems, but we are capable as a species to find peaceful solutions to these issues. The world needs a change in direction away from this aggressive and divisive path towards a diplomatic and cooperative path if we as a species are to survive and thrive in the century to come.

I Pray for peace and prosperity for all of humanity, I hope there will be diplomatic solutions to all the problems we face geopolitically. I hope as well we come together as species to deal with all the problems we face as a whole. God bless and best wishes for all.

My Experience with Youtube and Copyright strikes

Recently I uploaded a Video that was Creative Commons Licenced and Done by the Blender Foundation, it was a short animation called Caminandes 3 LLamigos, It was removed and got a strike, Someone claimed it had music in it that was copyrighted, the music was from India from I could find and nothing in the video resembled what I found. The Animation short has been on youtube by many other YouTubers, even the Creator and Blender have it there.

Caminandes 3: Llamigos – YouTube is the link to the one by Blender if you wish to check it out.

The purpose of this post is to Complain about how Youtube does not Verify a Claim before putting a Strike against a user and then if you wish to Contest it, it all falls on you legally if there is a problem. Making it less likely for most YouTubers to contest due to the lack of desire to be sued over something be it legit or not.

My Suggestion is to Do not upload any content to youtube that you, yourself have not made yourself, and make sure to have permission from any music you use even if it’s creative commons. Since it seems anyone can claim a copyright infringement without verification that your video contains it. Been watching and using Youtube since it first came around decades ago, bad enough they advertise you to death on most videos, they don’t seem to support the content creators and suppliers as they should. Though I do understand the Legal issues they must face, they need to also take into consideration that some copyright claims are bogus and done in a trolling fashion as well.

From now on I will no longer upload videos to Youtube that I didn’t create if I upload any at all. Won’t stop me from viewing Youtube though. Just not happy with the situation, even though I can understand the legal issues running a Video sharing site.

Blessing to all and be Good to one another.

Raymond Barbier

What is monkeypox? A microbiologist explains what’s known about this smallpox cousin

Monkeypox causes lesions that resemble pus-filled blisters, which eventually scab over. CDC/Getty Images

Rodney E. Rohde, Texas State University

On May 18, 2022, Massachusetts health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a single case of monkeypox in a patient who had recently traveled to Canada. Cases have also been reported in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Monkeypox isn’t a new disease. The first confirmed human case was in 1970, when the virus was isolated from a child suspected of having smallpox in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Monkeypox is unlikely to cause another pandemic, but with COVID-19 top of mind, fear of another major outbreak is understandable. Though rare and usually mild, monkeypox can still potentially cause severe illness. Health officials are concerned that more cases will arise with increased travel.

I’m a researcher who has worked in public health and medical laboratories for over three decades, especially in the realm of diseases with animal origins. What exactly is happening in the current outbreak, and what does history tell us about monkeypox?

A cousin of smallpox

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to a subset of the Poxviridae family of viruses called Orthopoxvirus. This subset includes the smallpox, vaccinia and cowpox viruses. While an animal reservoir for monkeypox virus is unknown, African rodents are suspected to play a part in transmission. The monkeypox virus has only been isolated twice from an animal in nature. Diagnostic testing for monkeypox is currently only available at Laboratory Response Network labs in the U.S. and globally.

The name “monkeypox” comes from the first documented cases of the illness in animals in 1958, when two outbreaks occurred in monkeys kept for research. However, the virus did not jump from monkeys to humans, nor are monkeys major carriers of the disease.

Electron microscope view of monkeypox, showing oval-shaped, mature virus particles and spherical, immature virions
Monkeypox belongs to the Poxviridae family of viruses, which includes smallpox. CDC/ Cynthia S. Goldsmith

Epidemiology

Since the first reported human case, monkeypox has been found in several other central and western African countries, with the majority of infections in the DRC. Cases outside of Africa have been linked to international travel or imported animals, including in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The first reported cases of monkeypox in the U.S. was in 2003, from an outbreak in Texas linked to a shipment of animals from Ghana. There were also travel-associated cases in November and July 2021 in Maryland.

Because monkeypox is closely related to smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can provide protection against infection from both viruses. Since smallpox was officially eradicated, however, routine smallpox vaccinations for the U.S. general population were stopped in 1972. Because of this, monkeypox has been appearing increasingly in unvaccinated people.

Person getting temperature tested at airport
Indonesia began screening travelers after a monkeypox case was reported in Singapore in May 2019. Jepayona Delita/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Transmission

The virus can be transmitted through contact with an infected person or animal or contaminated surfaces. Typically, the virus enters the body through broken skin, inhalation or the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. Researchers believe that human-to-human transmission is mostly through inhalation of large respiratory droplets rather than direct contact with bodily fluids or indirect contact through clothes. Human-to-human transmission rates for monkeypox have been limited.

Health officials are worried the virus may currently be spreading undetected through community transmission, possibly through a new mechanism or route. Where and how infections are occurring are still under investigation.

Signs and symptoms

After the virus enters the body, it starts to replicate and spread through the body via the bloodstream. Symptoms usually don’t appear until one to two weeks after infection.

Monkeypox produces smallpox-like skin lesions, but symptoms are usually milder than those of smallpox. Flu-like symptoms are common initially, ranging from fever and headache to shortness of breath. One to 10 days later, a rash can appear on the extremities, head or torso that eventually turns into blisters filled with pus. Overall, symptoms usually last for two to four weeks, while skin lesions usually scab over in 14 to 21 days.

While monkeypox is rare and usually non-fatal, one version of the disease kills around 10% of infected people. The form of the virus currently circulating is thought to be milder, with a fatality rate of less than 1%.

Vaccines and treatments

Treatment for monkeypox is primarily focused on relieving symptoms. According to the CDC, no treatments are available to cure monkeypox infection. https://www.youtube.com/embed/yqUFy-t4MlQ?wmode=transparent&start=0 Because smallpox is closely related to monkeypox, the smallpox vaccine can protect against both diseases.

Evidence suggests that the smallpox vaccine can help prevent monkeypox infections and decrease the severity of the symptoms. One vaccine known as Imvamune or Imvanex is licensed in the U.S. to prevent monkeypox and smallpox.

Vaccination after exposure to the virus may also help decrease chances of severe illness. The CDC currently recommends smallpox vaccination only in people who have been or are likely to be exposed to monkeypox. Immunocompromised people are at high risk.

Rodney E. Rohde, Regents’ Professor of Clinical Laboratory Science, Texas State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Why the world has a lot to learn about conservation – and trust – from Indigenous societies

A family in northern Siberia watches – but decides not to hunt – a musk ox that wandered into the area where they live. John Ziker, Author provided

John Ziker, Boise State University

Twenty-five years ago, when I was a young anthropologist working in northern Siberia, the Indigenous hunters, fishers and trappers I lived with would often stop and solemnly offer something to the tundra. It was usually small, such as coins, buttons or unlit matches. But it was considered essential. Before departing on a hunting or fishing trip, I’d be asked if I had some change in my outer coat. If I didn’t, someone would get me some so it was handy. We left other gifts, too, such as fat from wild reindeer to be fed to the fire.

I was intrigued. Why do these things? Their answers were usually along the lines of, “We are the children of the tundra,” or “we make these sacrifices so that tundra will give us more animals to hunt next year.”

These practices are part of what I and other anthropologists call “traditional ecological knowledge.” Beliefs and traditions about the natural world are central in many Indigenous cultures around the world, bringing together what industrialized cultures think of as science, medicine, philosophy and religion.

Many academic studies have debated whether Indigenous economies and societies are more oriented than others toward conservation or ecology. Certainly the idealized stereotypes many people hold about Indigenous groups’ being “one with nature” are simplistic and potentially damaging to the groups themselves.

However, recent studies have underscored that conservationists can learn a lot from TEK about successful resource management. Some experts argue that traditional knowledge needs a role in global climate planning, because it fosters strategies that are “cost-effective, participatory and sustainable.”

Part of TEK’s success stems from how it fosters trust. This comes in many different forms: trust between community members, between people and nature, and between generations.

Defining TEK

Looking more closely at the components of TEK, the first, “tradition,” is something learned from ancestors. It’s handed down.

“Ecological” refers to relationships between living organisms and their environment. It comes from the ancient Greek word for “house,” or “dwelling.”

Finally, the earliest uses of the term “knowledge” in English refer to acknowledging or owning something, confessing something and sometimes recognizing a person’s position or title. These now-obsolete meanings emphasize relationships – an important aspect of knowledge that modern usage often overlooks but that is especially important in the context of tradition and ecology.

Combining these three definitions helps to generate a framework to understand Indigenous TEK: a strategy that encourages deference for ancestral ways of dwelling. It is not necessarily strict “laws” or “doctrine,” or simply observation of the environment.

TEK is a way of looking at the world that can help people connect the land they live on, their behavior and the behavior of the people they are connected to. Indigenous land practices are based on generations of careful and insightful observations about the environment and help define and promote “virtuous” behavior in it.

As an American suburbanite living in a remote community in Siberia, I was always learning about what was “proper” or “improper.” Numerous times people would tell me that what I or someone else had just done was a “sin” in respect to TEK. When someone’s aunt died one year, for example, community members said it happened because their nephew had killed too many wolves the previous winter.

A man in a hat kneels in front of a tent as he chops up small pieces of wood.
The author learning to cut up dwarf willow in the proper way for use in a summer chum, or tent, to smoke caribou meat. John Ziker, CC BY-NC-ND

Similarly, after stopping to assess the freshness of some reindeer tracks on the tundra, one hunter told me, “We let these local wild reindeer roam in midwinter so they will return next year and for future generations.” Here, TEK spells out the potential environmental impacts of greed – which, in this case, would mean overhunting.

Concepts like these are not isolated to Siberia. Much work has been done examining the parallels among ancestral systems of deference in Siberia, Amazonia, North America and other regions.

Trust and tradition

These examples illustrate how TEK is a set of systems that promote trust through encouraging deference for ancestral ways of dwelling in the world.

Moderation of self-interested behaviors requires such trust. And confidence that the environment will provide – caribou to hunt, say, or ptarmigan birds to trap – depends on the idea that people will treat the environment in a respectful manner.

Previously, I’ve studied prosociality – behavior that benefits others – in northern Siberian practices of food-sharing, child care and use of hunting lands.

These aspects of life depend on the idea that the “real” owners of the natural resources are ancestors and that they punish and reward the behaviors of the living. Such ideas are encouraged by elders and leaders, who commend virtuous and prosocial behavior while connecting negative outcomes with selfishness.

Trust is an essential component of reciprocity – exchange for mutual benefit – and prosociality. Without trust, it does not make sense to take risks in our dealings with other people. Without trust we cannot cooperate or behave in nonexploitative ways, such as protecting the environment. This is why it is advantageous for societies to monitor and punish noncooperators.

A number of small objects are scattered around the top of a sleigh sitting in a field.
An abandoned reindeer sleigh, likely a grave, with several personal items. One is not allowed to disturb it, which would disrespect the dead, who are considered the true owners of the land. John Ziker, CC BY-NC-ND

Put another way, minimizing one’s resource use today to make tomorrow better requires trust and mechanisms to enforce it. This is also true in larger social formations, even between nations. Groups must trust that others will not use the resources they themselves have protected or overuse their own resources.

Lessons from TEK

Today, many environmental experts are interested in incorporating learnings from Indigenous societies into climate policies. In part, this is because recent studies have shown that environmental outcomes, such as forest cover, for example, are better in Indigenous protected areas.

It also stems from growing awareness of the need to protect Indigenous peoples’ rights and sovereignty. TEK cannot be “extracted.” Outsiders need to show deference to knowledge-holders and respectfully request their perspective.

One idea societies can adopt as they combat climate change is the importance of trust – which can feel hard to come by these days. Young activist Greta Thunberg’s “Fridays for Future” initiative, for example, highlights the ethical issues of trust and responsibility between generations.

Many outdoor enthusiasts and sustainability organizations emphasize “leaving no trace.” In fact, people always leave traces, no matter how small – a fact recognized in Siberian TEK. Even footsteps compact the soil and affect plant and animal life, no matter how careful we are.

A more TEK-like – and accurate – maxim might say, “Be accountable to your descendants for the traces you leave behind.”

John Ziker, Professor of Anthropology, Boise State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Corals and sea anemones turn sunscreen into toxins – understanding how could help save coral reefs

aerial photography of island
Many places have banned sunscreens with certain chemicals in an attempt to help protect coral reefs. Westend61 via Getty Images

Djordje Vuckovic, Stanford University and Bill Mitch, Stanford University

Sunscreen bottles are frequently labeled as “reef-friendly” and “coral-safe.” These claims generally mean that the lotions replaced oxybenzone – a chemical that can harm corals – with something else. But are these other chemicals really safer for reefs than oxybenzone?

This question led us, two environmental chemists, to team up with biologists who study sea anemones as a model for corals. Our goal was to uncover how sunscreen harms reefs so that we could better understand which components in sunscreens are really “coral-safe.”

In our new study, published in Science, we found that when corals and sea anemones absorb oxybenzone, their cells turn it into phototoxins, molecules that are harmless in the dark but become toxic under sunlight.

A dead coral reef.
Reefs around the world – like the Great Barrier Reef seen here – are bleaching and dying because of stressors like increased water temperatures, and sunscreens may be exacerbating the issues. Amanda Tinoco, CC BY-ND

Protecting people, harming reefs

Sunlight is made of many different wavelengths of light. Longer wavelengths – like visible light – are typically harmless. But light at shorter wavelengths – like ultraviolet light – can pass through the surface of skin and damage DNA and cells. Sunscreens, including oxybenzone, work by absorbing most of the UV light and converting it into heat.

Coral reefs around the world have suffered in recent decades from warming oceans and other stressors. Some scientists thought that sunscreens coming off of swimmers or from wastewater discharges could also be harming corals. They conducted lab experiments that showed that oxybenzone concentrations as low as 0.14 mg per liter of seawater can kill 50% of coral larvae in less than 24 hours. While most field samples typically have lower sunscreen concentrations, one popular snorkeling reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands had up to 1.4 mg oxybenzone per liter of seawater – more than 10 times the lethal dose for coral larvae.

A chemical diagram of oxybenzone.
Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in many sunscreens. Fvasconcellos via WikimediaCommons

Likely inspired by this research and a number of other studies showing damage to marine life, Hawaii’s legislators voted in 2018 to ban oxybenzone and another ingredient in sunscreens. Soon after, lawmakers in other places with coral reefs, like the Virgin Islands, Palau and Aruba, implemented their own bans.

There is still an open debate whether the concentrations of oxybenzone in the environment are high enough to damage reefs. But everyone agrees that these chemicals can cause harm under certain conditions, so understanding their mechanism is important.

A number of small test tubes with little sea anemones growing inside of them.
By putting sea anemones into test tubes with oxybenzone and controlling what kinds of light they were exposed to, we could see whether the sunscreen was reacting to light. Djordje Vuckovic, CC BY-ND

Sunscreen or toxin

While laboratory evidence had shown that sunscreen can harm corals, very little research had been done to understand how. Some studies suggested that oxybenzone mimics hormones, disrupting reproduction and development. But another theory that our team found particularly intriguing was the possibility that the sunscreen behaved as a light-activated toxin in corals.

To test this, we used the sea anemones our colleagues breed as a model for corals. Sea anemones and corals are closely related and share a lot of biological processes, including a symbiotic relationship with algae that live within them. It is extremely difficult to perform experiments with corals under lab conditions, so anemones are typically much better for lab-based studies like ours.

We put 21 anemones in test tubes full of seawater under a lightbulb that emits the full spectrum of sunlight. We covered five of the anemones with a box made of acrylic that blocks the exact wavelengths of UV light that oxybenzone normally absorbs and interacts with. Then we exposed all the anemones to 2 mg of oxybenzone per liter of seawater.

The anemones under the acrylic box were our “dark” samples and the ones outside of it our control “light” samples. Anemones, like corals, have a translucent surface, so if oxybenzone were acting as a phototoxin, the UV rays hitting the light group would trigger a chemical reaction and kill the animals – while the dark group would survive.

We ran the experiment for 21 days. On Day Six, the first anemone in the light group died. By Day 17, all of them had died. By comparison, none of the five anemones in the dark group died during the entire three weeks.

A close-up of a blue coral.
Corals – like the mushroom coral seen here – and sea anemones absorb oxybenzone and metabolize it, but in doing so, they turn it into a toxin. Christian Renicke, CC BY-ND

Metabolism converts oxybenzone to phototoxins

We were surprised that a sunscreen was behaving as a phototoxin inside the anemones. We ran a chemical experiment on oxybenzone and confirmed that, on its own, it behaves as a sunscreen and not as a phototoxin. It’s only when the chemical was absorbed by anemones that it became dangerous under light.

Any time an organism absorbs a foreign substance, its cells try to get rid of the substance using various metabolic processes. Our experiments suggested that one of these processes was turning oxybenzone into a phototoxin.

To test this, we analyzed the chemicals that formed inside anemones after we exposed them to oxybenzone. We learned that our anemones had replaced part of oxybenzone’s chemical structure – a specific hydrogen atom on an alcohol group – with a sugar. Replacing hydrogen atoms on alcohol groups with sugars is something that plants and animals commonly do to make chemicals less toxic and more water soluble so they are easier to excrete.

A chemical chart showing two different molecular structures.
When cells try to process oxybenzone, they replace part of an alcohol group (highlighted in red on the left) with a sugar (in red on the right) and in doing so turn the sunscreen into a phototoxin. Djordje Vuckovic, CC BY-ND

But when you remove this alcohol group from oxybenzone, oxybenzone ceases to function as a sunscreen. Instead, it holds on to the energy it absorbs from UV light and kicks off a series of rapid chemical reactions that damage cells. Rather than turning the sunscreen into a harmless, easy-to-excrete molecule, the anemones convert oxybenzone into a potent, sunlight-activated toxin.

When we ran similar experiments with mushroom corals, we found something surprising. Even though corals are much more vulnerable to stressors than sea anemones, they did not die from oxybenzone and light exposure during our entire eight-day experiment. The coral made the same phototoxins from oxybenzone, but all of the toxins were stored in the symbiotic algae living in the coral. The algae seemed to absorb the phototoxic byproducts and, in doing so, likely protected their coral hosts.

Two rows of photos of sea anemones, with the top row showing a slower death.
This photo series shows how darker-colored anemones on top with algae in them lived longer than the lighter-colored anemones on the bottom that did not have algae living in them. Djordje Vuckovic and Christian Renicke, CC BY-ND

We suspect that the corals would have died from the phototoxins if they did not have their algae. It is not possible to keep corals without algae alive in the lab, so we did some experiments on anemones without algae instead. These anemones died about two times faster and had almost three times as many phototoxins in their cells compared than the same anemones with algae.

Coral bleaching, ‘reef-safe’ sunscreens and human safety

We believe there are a few important takeaways from our effort to better understand how oxybenzone harms corals.

First, coral bleaching events – in which the corals expel their algal symbionts because of high seawater temperatures or other stressors – likely leave corals particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of sunscreens.

Second, it’s possible that oxybenzone could also be dangerous to other species. In our study, we found that human cells can also turn oxybenzone into a potential phototoxin. If this happens inside the body, where no light can reach, it’s not an issue. But if this occurs in the skin, where light can create toxins, it could be a problem. Previous studies have suggested that oxybenzone could pose health risks to people, and some researchers have recently called for more research into its safety.

Finally, the chemicals used in many alternative “reef-safe” sunscreens contain the same alcohol group as oxybenzone – so could potentially also be converted to phototoxins.

We hope that, taken together, our results will lead to safer sunscreens and help inform efforts to protect reefs.

[Understand new developments in science, health and technology, each week. Subscribe to The Conversation’s science newsletter.]

Djordje Vuckovic, PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University and Bill Mitch, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Self Esteem and Self Image

fashionable young ethnic female millennial standing on street and looking at camera
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

People wonder why there is so much low self-esteem in the world, if you take a good look at television shows, commercials, social media, movies, and even the news on cable news stations you just may see some of the reasons for low self-esteem, but then there is also how one’s family treats them, their peers and the educational system.

When you are constantly bombarded with images of thin, fit, and muscular actors, advertisements aimed to push miracle vitamins and supplements to fix all your shortcomings, it is very hard to hold on to a good self-image and even harder to build it up. Constantly being told that having a perfect body weight, toned muscles, the right clothes, and accessories makes one beautiful and successful is making it hard for most people to maintain healthy self-esteem.

Photo by Karol D on Pexels.com

Unfortunately, fashion, the newest electronics, and possessions play a big part in teenage self-image, which makes it hard for those who don’t have the money to compete with their peers. Combining that with parents that have to work 2 jobs or inconvenient hours to maintain the quality of life they have only makes it harder on teenagers and kids.

The ones that seem to suffer the worst during school years are those that don’t quite fit the norm, the overweight, the below-average to average looking, and the sensitive passive individuals. Bullying from those who think they are cool, tougher, and better than others does not help the situation at all. The consequences of bullying are usually mild and it seems it’s hard to catch kids bullying or maybe some just overlook it.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Parents and siblings also play a large part in the development of a child’s self-esteem, they can be either a positive or negative force when it comes to a child’s self-image. Siblings usually are competing for the parent’s attention, love and favor so they tend to be very mean to one another. Parents on the other hand usually are trying to do what’s best for the child but don’t realize what works for one child does not always work for the other. Each child is a unique individual, they have different needs and need help in different ways. Some parents, unfortunately, don’t know how to deal with their children at all so they try to treat them as if they are adults way before the child or teen is emotionally and mentally ready to do so. This usually results in conflict and the child/teen becomes rebellious and has a poor self-image.

If the low self-esteem is not addressed and corrected during the child/teen years then it is carried into the adult years. That makes it very hard for the Adult to achieve a healthy relationship with a significant other and even harder for them to become successful in the work world.

Raising kids is not an easy task, being a parent means you have to be a caregiver, advisor, instructor, friend, leader, cook, counselor, and of course an ATM for the children lol. Helping a child navigate the battlefields of youth and preparing them for the many challenges they will have to face in the future is not an easy thing to accomplish. All you can do is give it your best shot and always be there for them when they need you.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Pexels.com

I myself have had self-esteem issues throughout my life, I have been battling low self-esteem for many decades. I could go down a list of all the things that caused my low self-esteem but what is the use of that now that it now falls squarely on me to repair the damage and improve myself. Plus the first step in moving on and building up your self-esteem/self-image is to forgive those who helped in destroying it and letting go of your own contributions to the whole mess as well.

Just know this, there is no one better than you, but then there is no one lesser than you. We all are unique, we all have our own gifts to embrace and shortcomings that we need to deal with. There is no one on this planet that does not have some emotional or psychological baggage to deal with. How much money you have, and how many toys you have has nothing to do with who you are or how good you are. What defines you is how you live life, and how you treat others and yourself.

Being successful sure feels good, being financially well off does make life easier in many ways, but money, possessions, and success are fleeting, they can be gone in an instant. Family and friends to me are far more important along with how I treat others, and how I live my life. Those things will be with me throughout my life.

Well, I wish you happiness, remember it does not matter what others think or say about you, it is what you know about yourself that matters the most.

Ray Barbier

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