Seeing the Bright Side May Help Your Heart
Nivek Neslo / Stone / Getty Images Plus
Seeing the glass as half-full may reduce the risk of heart disease and early death, according to a new meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA.
The team of researchers looked at 15 previous studies, which added up to nearly 300,000 study participants who measured optimism and pessimism through various statements. For example, participants in one study rated seven statements, including, "I often feel that life is full of promises," "I still have positive expectations concerning my future," "There are many moments of happiness in my life," "I do not make any more future plans," amongst other statements, as Forbes' contributor Alice Walton reported.
Ten of the studies looked at heart disease. When the data from more than 209,000 people was pooled together, the difference in cardiovascular events between the optimists and the pessimists was striking, as The New York Times reported.
"We observed that an optimist had about a 35 percent lower risk of major heart complications, such as a cardiac death, stroke or a heart attack, compared to the pessimists in each of these studies," said cardiologist Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who is lead author of the study, as CNN reported.
Nine of the studies included an analysis of all cause mortality. It looked at nearly 190,00 people and found that optimists had a 14 percent lower risk of premature death than the most pessimistic people, according to The New York Times.
The studies had a wide variation in follow-up times to track health outcomes. Some followed study participants for two years, while others lasted as long as 40 years. The average of all 15 studies was a 14-year follow up and it controlled for a wide range of risk factors that might impact health outcomes.
The exact mechanism that makes an optimist's heart healthier is not clear, but research has noted that optimists often have healthier diets, exercise routinely and handle stress and setbacks more skillfully than pessimists.
"Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and are better problem-solvers," he said to CNN. "They are better at what we call proactive coping, or anticipating problems and then proactively taking steps to fix them."
Optimists frequently have stronger immune systems and better lung function, too, but those may be indicative of the behaviors that complement health benefits, as CNN reported.
"It seems optimists have better health behaviors," said Rozanski, as The New York Times reported. "They're more likely to exercise and to have better diet. And there is evidence of direct biological effects — they have less inflammation and fewer metabolic abnormalities."
While it seems simple to say that you should be more optimistic so you are happier and healthier, that does not seem to be a successful strategy for helping people. After all, it is easy to find pessimistic news if you are rooted in that mindset. Rozanski believes that attending to pessimism should play a part in cardiac rehabilitation treatment, as ABC News reported.
"Thinking of this as a medical issue is new," he said to ABC News. "Just like we can treat depression, we can treat [pessimism] at an earlier stage."
The Miraculous Hope of Climate Realists https://t.co/NrxG1s1Qfe— The YEARS Project (@YEARSofLIVING) January 6, 2019
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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