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Florida’s Environmental Concerns Prompt New Institute to Inform Public
The Thompson Institute for Earth Systems was started in 2018 to advance communication and public understanding of current research discoveries about Earth's natural systems in Florida and beyond. (Joakant/Pixabay)
October 22, 2018
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida's environment has been a topic that looms large for the state's residents and politicians this election cycle. Now, the Thompson Institute for Earth Systems at the University of Florida says it wants to make sure people are in the know about the latest environmental risks and developments in the state.
Bruce McFadden, distinguished professor and director of the institute, said the newly opened facility aims to protect the state by educating the public on issues such as storm recovery.
"Does it really make sense for us to rebuild in areas where the sea level is rising or where there is potential for tropical storms?” McFadden said. “And hopefully we can better understand how to act responsibly in the future."
He added he hopes his research also will find answers to issues such as tropical storm development, Florida's red tide outbreak and an algal bloom that's spread along both coasts, injuring Florida's wildlife and tourism industry. McFadden said the institute will be communicating the kinds of research that advances understanding of air, water, land and life in Florida and beyond.
"We will communicate the research and hopefully improve public understanding about scientific knowledge about our state in a broader context,” he said.
A $10 million gift to the university by Fort Myers couple Jon and Beverly Thompson provided the bulk of the funding for the institute. McFadden said the institute will share its research with Florida's future generations, including elementary and high school students, to help improve the state's future.
Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL
Health and Wellness Roundup
Most Burger Chains Fail on Antibiotics Policy, Look to Improve
Oregon fast-food chain Burgerville received a positive mention for its use of antibiotic-free beef in a recent report. (OSPIRG)
October 19, 2018
PORTLAND, Ore. – Most of the country's major burger chains still rely on beef from cattle raised with antibiotics. That's according to the fourth-annual "Chain Reaction" report, which focused on beef production in this year's edition.
The report gives 22 out of 25 companies failing grades for their antibiotics policies. Charlie Fisher, director of Oregon State Public Interest Research Group or OSPIRG, says overuse of antibiotics has become a major health concern.
At least 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, according to the CDC. Fisher says routine use of these drugs can breed drug-resistant superbugs.
"The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050, if we don't do something about this problem, more people could die from superbugs than from cancer today,” says Fisher. “That's what they call the 'post-antibiotic world,' which is a very scary one that we're trying to avoid."
In the report, only two national burger chains – BurgerFi and Shake Shack – received 'A' grades. Oregon's Burgerville chain received an honorable mention for its antibiotic-free meat.
The report was compiled jointly by consumer and environmental groups, including the Center for Food Safety and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
According to the report, nearly 60 percent of consumers say they'd be willing to pay more for meat raised without antibiotics.
Fisher says McDonald's and other companies have already transitioned to using non-antibiotic chicken. He says McDonald's is committed to moving away from antibiotics in its beef, but has yet to set out a clear timeline.
"We're optimistic that if they continue to hear from their consumers, they'll do the right thing and so, that's why we're highlighting this,” says Fisher. “Because we think that if we can make sure that people hear about the problem and about the need for big fast-food chains like McDonald's to change their practices, then they'll communicate that to those companies."
Fisher believes federal action will be needed to fully address this issue. While the Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged antibiotic resistance is a major health threat, Fisher says the rules they've proposed to fight this problem lack teeth.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR
Social Issues Roundup
Social Security, Medicare Top Issues for Older Voters
Ninety-five percent of older Pennsylvania voters say protecting Social Security and Medicare are important issues affecting their votes. (pxhere)
October 23, 2018
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Social Security, Medicare and health care are the most important issues determining how older Pennsylvanians will vote in this year's election, according to a new poll.
The poll, conducted by AARP and Politico, found protecting the future of Social Security, Medicare and health care will be top priorities for more than 90 percent of voters age 50 and older as they go to the polls in two weeks.
According to Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director of AARP Pennsylvania, older voters will be big factors in determining the outcome of many races.
"Fifty-plus is a large voting bloc and they do vote year after year," Johnston-Walsh said. "And they're hearing what the rhetoric is down in Washington; they're watching people talk about cuts to Social Security and Medicare."
Similar majorities said they want elected officials to take action to lower health care and prescription drug costs.
While voter turnout will be a big factor in the election, Johnston-Walsh emphasized that having educated voters is just as important. He urged Pennsylvanians to arm themselves with information by visiting aarp.org/vote.
"There, you'll learn policies that AARP is supporting,” he said, “policies that impact our members in their everyday lives, in their health care, in their pocketbooks, in their finances."
AARP also has launched a voter engagement campaign called "Be the Difference. Vote."
AARP doesn't endorse candidates or tell people who they should vote for, but does urge people to vote. And Johnston-Walsh said at events across the state, their members are saying the same thing.
"We're going to be holding elected officials accountable for policies that impact older Pennsylvanians as well as their children and their grandchildren,” he said.
The AARP-Politico poll is the fourth in a series of polls of voters age 50 and over, called "The Deciders." Other states polled include Arizona, Florida and Ohio.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA
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