15 Liters of water – Om Malik

Om at Taj Mahal

When California was amidst a drought, I decided to implement a three minute shower limit so as to minimize my water usage. A typical shower is about eight minutes long and takes up about 17 gallons or 65 liters of water. So a three minute shower consumes about six gallons Of water. I embraced other water saving changes, but the short shower was the one which I thought made the most sense on an individual level. It has become a habit since, only to realize that I could do more.

When I came to Delhi to visit my parents, I had to use a bucket of water to take a bath. Water is a real luxury around the world. You remember that when you open the taps and there isn’t a drop in sight. And that is why you figure out how to bathe with a bucket of water. This is what you learn as a child and it remains for you forever. It didn’t take me long to remind myself – a good bath needs about 15 liters of water. That’s about 3.96 gallons of water. I will remember that next time I open the shower tap!

March 30, 2016, New Delhi

Worth remembering no matter where we are in the world.

Thank you, Om.

Fewer ear infections for US babies – and why?

Can't you see I'm busy

Increases in breastfeeding, decreases in parental smoking, and vaccination against pneumonia and influenza were linked to the reduced incidence of ear infections among U.S. babies in their first year of life…

Rates of acute otitis media have dropped significantly since the 1980s and 1990s, reported Tasnee Chonmaitree, MD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and colleagues.

Nearly half – 46% – of the 367 babies followed between 2008 and 2014 had an ear infection in their first year of life, compared with around three out of five babies in studies conducted 2 and 3 decades ago, they wrote in Pediatrics.

Breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months or more was associated with a significantly lower risk for upper respiratory infection, while day care attendance and having multiple siblings were both associated with an increased risk for the infections in the study.

Ear infections remain the leading cause of physician visits, antibiotic use, and surgery among babies and young children. The findings suggest that factors such as the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines for infants, increased breastfeeding, and declines in infant secondhand smoke exposure have all contributed to lower ear infection incidence…

“These findings are reassuring,” she said. “Breastfeeding specifically was shown to be associated with a lower risk for common cold, which leads to ear infections.”…

Chonmaitree said the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine almost 2 decades ago, and the recent recommendation that babies receive the influenza vaccine starting at the age of 6 months, may have had the biggest impact on AOM incidence.

Reduced exposure to secondhand smoke from parents is also a likely contributor to lower AOM rates, although the study was too small to show this, she added.

All good science and healthful findings. Now, if we could convince the political hacks of America that helping folks to raise healthy children is good for the nation, our economy, our future, they’d back off from the stupidity of [their side of] class warfare and lose budgets and regulations that confine healthy pediatrics only to those who can afford it.

Frost maps back to 1916 illustrate the history of climate change

LgLastKillingFrost1916
Click through to the article – interactive maps at the bottom of the article
[Interactive goodies may not work on mobile devices]

Published in a 1936 Atlas of American Agriculture, put together by the United States Department of Agriculture, these 1916 maps of the average dates of first killing frosts in fall and last killing frosts in spring were initially intended to help farmers plan their planting schedules. Now, the maps offer a rough gauge showing how much these dates have shifted over a century.

The preparers of these maps, William Gardner Reed, Charles Franklin Brooks, and F.J. Marschner, compiled data from a then-relatively-new network of Weather Bureau stations and agricultural colleges. The trio notes that of 4,000 such stations, 700 were able to offer data that covered every year between 1895 and 1914. Insets show dates of the first and last killing frosts in the year of 1914.

On a website charting indicators of climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency offers a few graphs showing how the growing season in the continental United States has lengthened between 1895 and 2015, with most of the upswing taking place in the past 30 years. While stipulating that a lengthening growing season could have positive effects on yield for some farmers, the EPA notes that “overall, warming is expected to have negative effects on yields of major crops.” A long season “could limit the types of crops grown, encourage invasive species or weed growth, or increase demand for irrigation.”

Of course, a shift in frost dates affects the life cycles of nonagricultural flora and fauna, as well. Longer summers, writes the EPA, could change “the function and structure” of a region’s ecosystems, encouraging some species to reproduce more vigorously, and inhibiting the success of others.

Certainly a major shift in my neck of the prairie. The maps recommend safety from the last killing frost a month later than anything I’ve experienced in the decades I’ve lived in Santa Fe county.