Mass Extinction Halted by Wine Industry


It might sound far fetched, but Dr Olga Barbosa of Austral University said in a seminar that viticulture – or the cultivation of grapes – “can be a partner to solve the problem of mass extension”. This is great news to wineries and the wine industry as they are instrumental in enhancing species’ richness through driving biodiversity through their farms or wine estates.

She noted that our planet is entering what seems like the sixth mass extinction, which is caused by development and human civilization’s crass and crude way of dealing with nature. If it’s in the way, we cut it down. Even if it’s merely sharing our planet and not affecting us in our lives, we are affecting theirs by polluting the planet with toxins and plastic, effectively killing marine life by the millions every day. But the most hurtful thing we do to our planet happens in our daily life: driving a car, open burning, the cultivation of cows. They release up to 120kg of methane per year which is a “potent greenhouse gas”, according to National Geographic. Researchers are trying their best to modify their gut in order to put a stopper to this problem which contributes to 14% of global warming.

The scientist says that wineries could help mitigate climate change, as wine estates are both environmentally-sensitive and a wonder to the ecosystem. Since nature functions on some form of pollination – meaning that the world is inextricably linked with one another – the wine industry is able to provide natural pest control while at the same time, completing nutrient cycles to benefit their vine growth. In layman terms, what they need to do to improve their growth and produce will in turn, fertilize the earth in a biodiversifying manner. She calls this “ecosystem services” and noted how rich the soil of vineyards are.

She stresses that it is important that wineries should be promoted for the sake of their biodiversity in viticulture and she goes on to say that viticulture “should be a goal for the wine industry”. Her organization is looking into how they can enhance biodiversity which not only will help keep the world running, but also by sequestering carbon dioxide.

Agriculture has always played a large part in being both the problem and the solution to the greenhouse effect. By cutting into the environment and developing it for human use such as farms and wineries, it spoils the delicate ecosystem that supports life on earth. There are better ways that doesn’t include wrecking the planet and is regenerative instead. The problem with employing this all over is that there is no one size fits all program.

One has to consider the biological and sociological factors when transforming it into sustainable farming. Since every farm in every country is unique to its own, scientists have to create systems which are flexible and are able to support every different sort of setting. For instance, what is sustainable for a farmer rearing livestock in America is a lot different from what a farmer is doing in another part of the world, such as working in a paddy field in Asia. They will need very specific and different sets of systems to make their livelihood sustainable.

In this way, wine benefits not only human health but the health of the planet. By diversifying what is in the soil, it also enriches the taste of the wine itself. But the best part of it is that the environment will be the one to benefit from the nutrient rich land. It is also interesting to note how intrinsically linked the taste of wine is to the environment. Studies show that climate change actually plays a part in how it tastes. The heatwave of 1540 was so gruesome that grapes withered into raisins on their vines and created a pungent and extra sweet wine. Today, the wine rivals that of the one made from the harvest from that summer in 1540, telling us just how much global warming is upon us now.

Winemakers have been recording details of their harvest since the middle ages as when one harvests the grapes is the key factor in how the wines will turn out. Historians discovered that these careful records are instrumental in helping us determine the rate of change in climate. Depending on how soon the harvests are done, it tells scientists today what the climate was like during their time as grapes are sensitive to their environment. Too hot and they ripen quickly, too cold and it will take longer for it to be ready for harvest.

Scientists have been able to determine that with all the spikes throughout the ages, climate change is only seriously taking hold in recent times. During the “Medieval Warm Period” which lasted from 900 to 1300, central Europe was a lot warmer and it cooled down from 1500 to 1900, during what is called the “Little Ice Age”, however, according to these records, the weather has been consistently warm since the 1980s and in the last 16 years, the temperature has shot up. With everything the wine industry can help the planet with, it cannot control climate change and people have to adopt a more sustainable way of living if they hope to continue enjoying wine and life as it is.

New Pew Study Reports Student Debt Repayments Needs to Be Easier


Eighty percent of Americans want the federal government to make it easier to repay student loans.  

This statistic is from a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It conducted a telephone poll this past August, interviewing more than 1,000 people about their opinions on student loans.

It’s important to note, the study only referred to federal student loans and not any additional personal loan or line of credit students may take out.

Many students searching out the answer to what is a personal line of credit know they may have to supplement student loans when their financing falls short. But Pew turns its spotlight away from these personal products to shine a light on the student debt crisis.

Now a record $1.6 trillion, the debt crises has gotten its fair share of ink at the nation’s biggest online news outlets — from the New York Times and the Washington Post to CBS News and CNN. It even hogs much of talking points in the 2020 Democratic debates unfolding this fall. 

And now, thanks to Pew, the average American can share their opinion, too. As it turns out, the country has a complicated relationship with student debt.

Repaying Loans is a Challenge

Although it’s possible to strike debt clean from your record, most people recognize it’s not the easiest thing to do. 

A whopping 89 percent of respondents said they agree borrowers have a hard time paying back their student loans. 

The average graduate owes roughly $30,000, which puts the average monthly payment of a standard repayment plan somewhere between $304 and $333

Picking away at debt in these sized installments means it will take you roughly 10 years to pay off what you owe. 

Of course, this $300 is on top of any personal line of credit payment, rent, and utilities you may have. 

A decade of balancing your books this way may be a hardship. And for some 7 million borrowers in default, it’s impossible. 

Student Loans Are a Drain on the Economy.

Pew reports 69 percent of respondents agree that borrowers who struggle to repay their debt have a greater impact on the economy. 

And they have good reason to believe this. 

More than 45 million people shoulder a collective $1.6 trillion debt load. This means nearly a little over 13 percent of the population share a significant financial burden. 

If they aren’t in default, they’re funneling a lot of each paycheck into their monthly repayments, along with other bills that keep their household running. 

Basic things like covering rent, a line of credit balance, and utilities become the priority

Less dire spending, like unnecessary yet fun services and products that help boost the economy, are put on the backburner. 

They’re also postponing major milestones that may have a greater impact on the economy later on. Unlike generations before them, millennials are waiting to start a family, putting off homeownership, and failing to save up for retirement. 

Federal Government Needs to Step Up

It may come as no surprise then that many of the those surveyed — or 58 percent — strongly agree the federal government needs to take action. They believe the government should make it easier to pay off student debt.

What Does Federal Action Look Like?

What the poll fails to make clear is how these survey participants expect the government to address this problem. 

Is it something like Bernie Sander’s plan to cancel all $1.6 trillion of debt by taxing the top 0.1 percent of Americans? 

Or is it something closer to Elizabeth Warren’s sliding scale of relief, which promises to forgive up to $50,000 of debt for those households earning less than $100,000?

Or perhaps, it involves much less progressive proposals, like Joe Biden’s bid for income-driven repayment plans or Julio Castro’s time-based forgiveness.

The answer to this question may have to wait until July 2020, when the Democratic Presidential Nominee takes the stage at the National Convention. 

And of course, let’s not forget the results of the November election, when the country chooses between another Trump government and a fresh start. 

While the Democrats debate canceling the debt, the GOP has moved in the other direction. During Trump’s presidency, his administration has loosened restrictions on loans, put sharp limits on repayment options, and ended loan subsidies and forgiveness programs. 

Next year proves a momentous year for the future of student loans and the economy. Time will tell how and if American concerns over the debt crisis will impact how they mark their ballots. 

However they vote, Pew proves that student loan debt and the repayment system weighs heavily on the minds of most Americans. If it does the same to yours, vote carefully. Find where the nearest polling station is to campus, and make sure you’re registered.

How Weddings Became The Ultimate Event


As far as special life events go, weddings are about as special as it gets. In fact, for so many people, their wedding day is the day that they dream about for years and years. This is, after all, the day that you ultimately come together with your favourite person in the world and bring your lives together in one big party that lasts the rest of your lives. The lead up to the big day comes and goes like a flash, and before you know it you are married and you are enjoying the party of a lifetime, with all the glittering bells and whistles to match. And then, before you know it again, the day has come to an end, and suddenly you are living the next big chapter of your life. When all is said and done, your wedding day is without a doubt, one of the most special – if not the most special – days of your life.

Celebrating the love and respect between you and your favourite person, with all the people and animals that mean the most to you in the world, is just about the most magical event you can ever hope for. There are many moving pieces that go into planning and then even enjoying a wedding. First and foremost, weddings demand months and months of planning, and there are hundreds – if not thousands – of decisions that must be made within that time frame, ahead of the wedding day itself. Quite often (if not always) these are the tangible ticks off the list that make the whole special day come together as seamlessly as possible. You can get a lot of elements organised in the lead up to the big day, but it is also important to enjoy the process and this will not happen if you are stressed beyond belief the entire time.

So, get through the planning process but take the time to genuinely enjoy yourself too. After all, this is the biggest party of your life. People are often so focused on making every element of this most special event perfect, that they do not stop to smell the roses nearly enough along the journey to the day. Then, there are the little personal moments and touches that play out on the wedding day that ultimately make the wedding day truly unique. From the speeches, to the first dances, to the playlists and the special moments between the bride, the groom, and their family members or other guests, these are all personal little moments and touches that make the wedding day so memorable. Some couples even go the extra mile, even planning ahead of time to organise to have the flowers from their wedding reception organised into bunches of thank you flowers that are keepsakes for the individuals who helped bring the day together from start to finish.

These are all the little personal touches that make this special event such an incredible time all around, for everyone involved. There is more of a focus on these personal gems than ever with modern couples, and this is the ultimate testament to the importance of enjoying the whole process and the day itself. At the end of the day, your wedding is the ultimate special event that celebrates you and the person you love. That’s it. It really, honestly is that simple. So often, people overcomplicate the entire process and sadly do not end up enjoying it in the moment. So, when it comes your time to plan your wedding, take a deep breath, take a step back, and enjoy the process. Even amid all the chaos, it all comes back to that one simple thing: your relationship. Special events happen all the time in people’s lives, but there is no special event quite like your wedding day. For millions of people, their wedding day is the event that they have been thinking about for years and years.

So, when that day finally arrives, it can be easy to go into overdrive and not allow yourself to truly be in the moment throughout the day. This is one of the saddest yet most common realities of a wedding day, and it happens all too often. When all is said and done, all that should really matter at the end of the day is that you and your partner had a magical day surrounded by the people and animals that matter the most to you. Everything else can be falling apart around you, but if you have the right company on this special event, nothing else really matters. And when you look back on your wedding day, what you will remember the most is the atmosphere and the individuals who made that atmosphere come to vibrant, exhilarating life. Everything else is relative.