Watching the World
The World’s Favorite Animal
“The dog might be man’s best friend, but the world’s favourite animal is the tiger,” reports The Independent of London. After a series of documentaries, each featuring one of ten animals, a poll of over 52,000 people from 73 countries put the tiger ahead of the dog by just 17 votes. In third place was the dolphin, followed by the horse, the lion, the snake, the elephant, the chimpanzee, the orangutan, and the whale. Animal behaviorist Dr. Candy d’Sa explained that humans “can relate to the tiger, as it is fierce and commanding on the outside, but noble and discerning on the inside. In contrast, the dog is a loyal and respectful creature and brings out the lighter, more communicative side of human nature.” Conservationists welcomed the tiger’s victory. Callum Rankine, of the World Wide Fund for Nature, said: “If people are voting for tigers as their favourite animal, it means they recognise their importance, and hopefully the need to ensure their survival.” It is estimated that only 5,000 tigers remain in the wild.
Oral Microbes and Health
“The mouth is a complex eco-system,” states Science magazine. “Over the past 40 years, oral biologists have been taking stock of the vast microbial communities thriving on and around teeth, gums, and the tongue.” For some time biologists have known that bacteria normally found in the mouth can migrate and cause problems in other parts of the body. Heart problems have already been linked to an oral bacteria, and studies indicate that another contributes to premature births. Of course, the bad bacteria do most of their harm directly. If they gang up and prevail over the good bacteria in the mouth, the result is cavities, bleeding gums, and bad breath. “Three out of 10 people over 65 have lost all their teeth,” the report says. “In the United States, half of all adults have either gum disease or tooth decay.” By studying these bacteria, the researchers hope to learn how to concoct “mouthwashes that inhibit just bad mouth microbes instead of good and bad alike.”
“People in Asia burn the midnight oil, sleeping later than most Americans and Europeans and waking up earlier, a global survey on sleep habits has found,” reports the news channel Aljazeera. More than 14,000 people in 28 countries were asked when they usually go to bed and when they get up. In Portugal, 3 out of 4 people go to bed after midnight. Asians are the earliest out of bed, led by Indonesia, “where 91% said they are out of bed by 7am.” The Japanese sleep the least. Over 40 percent get six hours of sleep or less each night. At the other end of the list are the Australians. Not only do they have the highest number of those who go to bed before 10:00 p.m. but almost a third of the respondents there said that, on average, they get more than nine hours of sleep each night.
Stop Smoking Now!
“About half to two thirds of all persistent cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their habit,” says a report in BMJ, a British medical journal. Not only did researchers find that cigarette smoking was substantially more hazardous than they had previously thought but they also found that it completely nullified any benefits smokers might have experienced “for increased longevity over the past half century.” While the study indicated an increase to 33 percent in the probability that lifetime non-smoking 70-year-olds would reach age 90, the likelihood of smokers reaching that age actually declined from 10 percent to 7 percent. “On average, cigarette smokers die about 10 years younger than non-smokers,” the article states, and quitting the habit could increase life expectancy. The sooner smokers stop, the better. Fifty-year-olds were found to halve the hazard by quitting, and those stopping at age 30 could avoid almost all of it.
A recent Internet poll in Britain by the polling company YouGov “found that more than a quarter of those it polled do not know that Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus Christ,” reveals London’s newspaper The Guardian. “And only three-quarters realised that Jesus was Jewish.” When quizzed about the Ten Commandments, about half of those surveyed felt the sixth commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” was the most relevant to today’s world. Deemed the least relevant was the first commandment, which in the New World Translation reads: “I am Jehovah your God . . . You must not have any other gods against my face.”—Exodus 20:2, 3.
Depleting Earth’s Resources
“Two-thirds of the planet’s resources, from energy sources to fresh water and clean air, have been heavily depleted or polluted,” reports the Daily News of New York. A study “prepared by 1,360 experts from 95 nations” pointed to the toll that humans have exacted on ecosystems during the past 50 years. “Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted,” the report concluded. Backed by the UN and the World Bank, the report warned that over time, collapses in nature could occur, resulting in deforestation, disease, or oceanic “dead zones.”
“Kangaroo Care” for Babies
“Babies who receive kangaroo care sleep longer, their breathing improves and they put on weight faster,” says Japan’s Daily Yomiuri. What is “kangaroo care”? It simply means that mothers or fathers lie back and cradle their baby against their bare chest for an hour or two each day. Toyoko Watanabe, chief of the newborn infant division at the Tokyo Metropolitan Bokuto Hospital, said: “Kangaroo care began in Colombia as a desperate measure against a shortage of incubators. UNICEF took note of the fact that the death rate of premature babies dropped, and the period of hospitalization was shortened.” Now, says the paper, “the idea is growing in popularity in developed countries for premature and full-term babies.” The skin-to-skin contact has many benefits, including helping parents to bond with their infants. Moreover, it costs nothing and requires no special equipment.