China to spend $30 billion on water conservation in 2011

The Chinese government is expected to spend about 200 billion yuan ($30.10 billion) on water conservation projects in 2011, a tenth more than in 2010, the state-run China Daily reported on Saturday. Priority will be given to improving irrigation to ensure grain security and projects to combat drought and floods, the newspaper said. It cited Water Resources Minister Chen Lei as telling a government meeting that some of the investment would come from a 10 percent levy on income earned from the leasing of land. The newspaper did not elaborate. Other funds would go toward renovating water supply infrastructure for main agriculture regions and ensuring safe drinking water for 60 million rural people, the newspaper added.

Tis the Season: Holiday health ideas

From overeating to exercise and alcohol, UC San Diego Health System nutritionists, trauma specialists and poison experts offer insights for a health holiday. Food for thought The holidays make it so easy to overeat. Hanukkah celebrations kick off with Auntie's latkes. Grandma’s sweet potatoes are a Christmas tradition. And then we wash it all down with one of Dad's annual eggnog creations. Sound familiar? UC San Diego Health System nutrition experts say, "Savor the seasonal offerings — just do it sensibly." "Being healthy doesn’t have to be boring," said Cheryl Rock, Ph.D., RD, professor of family and preventive medicine at UCSD School of Medicine. "Include seasonal veggies in your meals and holiday dishes. Items such as squash, pumpkin and apples add flavor and interest to salads and baked goods, and they're good for you." Dr. Santiago Horgan, director for the Center for the Treatment of Obesity, points out that using time off from work during the holidays to exercise is a great way to get a head start on New Year resolutions. "Gyms are usually not crowded this time of year." - Plan ahead before you go to a party. Eat a sensible snack, such as an apple, to curb your hunger so that you are not overly hungry when faced with fattening food. - Sip sparkling water — it's filling and hydrating. - Keep emotional eating in check. Are you really hungry, or did you grab that handful of cookies because shopping is stressful? - Think about and control your portions by using a salad-sized plate for your entree and side dishes. Eat a salad on an entree-sized plate before the main meal. - Recognize when you’re full. It takes a good 20 minutes before your stomach signals you brain that it's full, so eat slowly; the second you start feeling satisfied, stop eating. - Reduce the amount of fat in holiday meals. For example, use fat-free chicken broth or low-fat milk instead of butter when you prepare mashed potatoes. When sautéing celery and onions for the stuffing, use non-stick spray in the pan.

Obama administration reverses Bush wilderness policy

The Obama administration has restored U.S. land managers' powers to curb development on vast tracts of America's back country, undoing what conservation groups called a "no more wilderness" policy put in place under President George W. Bush. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Thursday that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will again have the authority to set aside large areas of federally owned territory in the West that it deems deserving of wilderness protection. It would still be up to Congress to decide whether to grant those areas formal wilderness status, putting them permanently off-limits to energy development and other commercial uses.

Drilling Project in the Dead Sea Aimed at Climate History and History of Humankind

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2010) — About 50 miles from Bethlehem, a drilling project is determining the climate and earthquake activity of the area. Scientists from eight nations are examining the ground below the Dead Sea, by placing a borehole in this deepest basin in the world.

Major Breakthrough in the Fight Against Melanoma

Melanoma is one of the less common types of skin cancer, but responsible for 75 percent of skin cancer related deaths. The World Health Organization reported that 48,000 people die from malignant melanoma every year. It is more frequently found in women and particularly common among Caucasians who live in sunny climates. A new study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine may have found a breakthrough in the fight against this deadly disease. Researchers have discovered that the gene responsible for cancer growth can be suppressed by a specific protein.

These Fake Pills May Help You Feel Better

Confronted with a patient suffering from pain or a chronic disease for which no drugs are effective, doctors sometimes prescribe a sugar pill or vitamin. Although these "medications" have no active ingredients, patients often feel better. It's called the "placebo effect," and most scientists would say that it works only if the patient doesn't know the pill is fake. But a new clinical trial shows that patients can get better on a placebo even if they know the truth.

African Forest Elephants, African Savanna Elephants

Instead of one species of elephant, Africa has two, researchers said on Tuesday, confirming suspicions about the two distinctly different looking pachyderms. Using gene sequencing tools, teams from Harvard, the University of Illinois and the University of York in Britain have shown that instead of being the same species -- as scientists have long believed -- the African savanna elephant and the smaller African forest elephant are distant cousins, having been largely separated for 2 million to 7 million years.

Permian Recovery

250 million years ago there was a world wide extinction event where 96% of all marine species were exterminated. Most of this event is unknown. Only one in every ten species survived, and these formed the basis for the recovery of life in the subsequent time period, called the Triassic. A new fossil site – at Luoping in Yunnan Province – provides a new window on that recovery, and indicates that it took about 10 million years for a fully-functioning new ecosystem to develop. During that time window, the new ecosystem evolved and changed until it stabilized.

The Rise of Digital Billboards: What a Waste!

On the typical American roadway, it is not uncommon to see large advertising billboards. Even looking out my office window, I see two of them: one for an insurance company, and the other with a scantily clad woman (not exactly sure what that ad is for). These types of billboards have been around for a long time, but are slowly being replaced with new flashy electronic billboards. According to a new report, digital billboards consume large amounts of energy and create a variety of electronic waste.

Air pollution linked to 200,000 premature deaths in UK

Campaigners urge health secretary Andrew Lansley to act to reduce air pollution, as government medical experts warn of its 'significant' health burden. Long-term exposure to particulate pollution, largely from road traffic, is shortening the lives of as many as 200,000 every year, according to a government advisory committee.