New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns


The lush green lawns surrounding many American homes and businesses and that fill beautiful parks and other outdoor spaces might not be the greatest idea, according to Australian scientist Maria Ignatieva and Swedish scientist Marcus Hedblom. In a new Perspective piece published in the Science journal, the urban ecologists suggest that it might be time to rethink the modern lawn.

Ignatieva and Hedblom say that the negative environmental consequences of green lawns far outweigh the natural benefits,… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Valuable wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests, new study warns

Wetlands around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate. New research shows these valuable ecosystems are vanishing at a rate three times that of forests. Unless significant changes are made, the disappearance of wetlands could cause severe damage around the globe.

The study, which was complete by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, found that over a third of the wetlands on Earth disappeared over a 45-year period. The pace that wetlands are vanishing jumped significantly after the year… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

New study finds glyphosate in kids’ cereals and snack bars

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested 45 conventional oat products such as popular kid’s cereals, oatmeals and granola bars. Of the products tested, popular brands such as Quaker, Cheerios, Giant and Back to Nature all made it to the table. The results were alarming, to say the least, as 43 of the products – rounded out to 95.5% – contained glyphosate weedkiller in them. Of the 43 products that indicated traces of glyphosate 31 were above the EWG’s Health Benchmark of safe… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

A new study reveals that urban green spaces may be an antidote to depression

A new study published in JAMA Open Network on July 20th by a group of researchers in Philadelphia suggests that symptoms of depression could be reduced by access to green spaces for those living near them. While previous research has cross-studied the beneficial effects of green spaces on mental well-being, experts such as Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch from the University of California, Berkley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management are regarding this experimentation as “innovative.”… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

86% of teens in study have traces of BPA in their bodies

A vast majority of teenagers in a recent study had traces of Bisphenol A (BPA) inside of their bodies, according to the University of Exeter. They tested 94 17 to 19-year-olds and found BPA in 86 percent. The researchers are calling for better packaging labeling to allow people to pick BPA-free products.

Related: View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Stanford study says fossil-fueled cars will vanish in 8 years as big oil collapses

It might seem as if the world is resisting “going green,” but a new study published by Stanford University suggests that within eight years, citizens will have no choice but to invest in electric vehicles or similar technologies. This is because the cost of electric vehicles – including cars, buses, and trucks – will ultimately decrease, resulting in the collapse of the petroleum industry.


Led by Stanford University economist Tony Seba, the report has caused in spasms of anxiety… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Tenth of world’s wilderness destroyed in last 20 years, study finds

A tenth of the world’s wilderness has been lost since the early 1990s and if trends continue there could be no wilderness left on the planet by 2100, according to new study published in the journal Current Biology. The researchers found that an area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon – 3.3 million square kilometres — has been destroyed by human activities such as industrial activity and infrastructure View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

New Study: More Hospice and More Heroic Measures

New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association raises more questions about patterns in end-of-life care than it answers. Nine researchers teamed up to explore data from Medicare beneficiaries in an attempt to describe changes occurring between 2000 and 2009 in three important areas for those who are terminally ill: site of death, place of care during the last months of life, and number of transitions between healthcare facilities at the end of life.

Acknowledging prior studies had demonstrated an increase in the number of people dying at home and an increase in hospice usage, the researchers asked the (somewhat) rhetorical question, “Is this evidence of the success of hospice- and hospital-based palliative care teams?” Their findings suggest the answer might be “maybe” or “maybe not”—a not-so-resoundingly affirmative response to an important question.

The researchers explored information contained in a complex Medicare database, looking at records from more than 800,000 Medicare beneficiaries who died in 2000, 2005 or 2009. Data represent a random sample of those 66 or older who had a diagnosis of cancer, COPD or dementia in the last six months of their lives.

So, what were their findings?

  • Between 2000 and 2009, the number of Medicare beneficiaries dying at home increased;
  • The number of deaths in acute care hospitals decreased; and
  • Hospice use at time of death increased.

And, yet:

  • The number of individuals placed on mechanical ventilation increased;
  • The number of individuals experiencing a transition between healthcare facilities in the last three days of life increased;
  • Intensive care usage during the last month of life increased; and
  • The number of short stays in hospice increased between 2000 and 2009, suggesting the referral to hospice comes later in the terminal illness, rather than sooner.

In short, a greater percentage of individuals are dying at home and using hospice, while at the same time, more terminally ill individuals are experiencing extraordinary and heroic measures at the end of life. The hospice movement hasn’t necessarily led to a reduction in the use of treatment-focused healthcare services at end of life.

This publication made national healthcare news last week, and there was widespread discussion about these findings. I spent some time examining the numbers over the weekend, because I was curious about the story behind them. Two themes stood out.

The researchers suggest an interesting phenomenon: hospice might be becoming one component of healthcare usage at end of life, an “add-on” service to the current treatment-focused model. If so, this pattern may prove troubling, as hospice services more appropriately offer patients a different model of care—palliation and comfort. Patients potentially miss out on the full benefits of hospice care if it’s envisioned as an add-on to curative treatment, rather than a self-standing medical paradigm.

In addition to this idea of shoehorning hospice into a treatment model, I sense there’s missing information in the research: what did the patients want? Did they want to die at home? Did they want to be on a ventilator? Did they want to be in intensive care and moved to a different facility in the last few days of their lives? In hindsight, it might seem obvious that the answer would be no, they didn’t want to be moved hours before they died; but, these are complex questions. It might not have been obvious to the patients that death was imminent; they may have made different choices had they known.

I’d love to see two or three or more studies about this topic, so we can have a better understanding of trends in end-of-life care. Like many others, I know personally about the impact and importance of quality hospice care, and I don’t believe it should become any sort of add-on to an aggressive treatment modality. Furthermore, with broad nationwide efforts in place to ensure patients have a say in the care they receive, I’d like to see more studies describing the way in which patients direct their own care at the end of life, especially in their final days.

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