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Archive for November, 2010

Healthy Weight

Ann reports to us how she was able to loose weight and deal with unhealthy food cravings:

Desperation and joining FAA (www.foodaddictsanonymous.org), one meeting a week. They give support for eliminating cravings for junk food through using a super healthy food plan with plenty of food to eat. This is different from the scary restrictive punishing group I was attending.

Food Safety


Q: I’m reading about additives, hormones, chemicals, and toxins in our food. How can I know what is healthy for my family?

A: Dr. Francesca Grifo (the Union of Concerned Scientists) recommends buying from small, local, organic food producers and doing research—i.e., I found http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org. I asked Jeanette McNelis to report on her research on food safety:

Consumers need to start reading the ingredients on their purchases. Genetically engineered seeds (corn, soy, canola, cotton, etc.), owned by large pesticide companies, have made their way, unlabeled (except for Europe), into the majority of our food supply. Check out the following sources:

*The author of Seeds of Deception, Jeffrey Smith is the world’s leading consumer advocate. He gives us four suggestions: Buy organic/local. Look for Non-GMO verified seals. Avoid risky ingredients (invisible GM ingredients such as fructose, dextrose, glucose, Nutra-sweet, Equal) http://www.responsibletechnology.org/ Check out the GMO shopping guide.

*John Robbins, award-winning author (Diet For a New America & Food Revolution), wrote an article worth reading: “Is Your Favorite Ice Cream Made With Artificial Hormones?” (http://www.johnrobbins.info/)

*Check Dr. Mercola’s web site for interesting articles on GMO food products and healthy living. (http://www.mercola.com/)

*www.organicconsumers.org also aims to educate the food consumer with many articles. Do your family a favor by knowing what you are eating and by making healthy choices.

Why Aid Doesn’t Work, according to Prof. William Easterly


William Easterly. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much ill and So Little Good. Penguin Books, 2006.

An Economics Professor, who formerly worked for the World Bank, William Easterly reports that the West has spent $2.3 trillion on foreign aid over the last five decades without much to show for it–in what he calls the Rest. For example, donors haven’t gotten the 12-cent medicine to children that could prevent half of the deaths from malaria. Free bed nets to prevent mosquito bites often end up in the black market or are used as fishing nets. Nets are more likely to be used if people want them and pay for them. Donors spent two billion dollars in Tanzania the last two decades building roads, without improving the roads. [i]About three billion people still live on less than two dollars a day.

The problem is the Planners think in terms of big bureaucratic plans, like the UN’s Millennium Development Goals for 2015 or Professor Jeffrey Sachs’ plan with 449 interventions. The UN, the World Bank, and IMF advocate a big plan explained in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. They generate utopian reports and conferences without knowing what the poor really can use on the local level. The lack feedback is one of the most critical flaws in aid programs. They consistently work top-down through governments even if they’re corrupt: The world’s 25 most corrupt countries received $9.4 billion in foreign aid in 2002. [ii] Many agencies overwhelm governments with paperwork. Simplistic big plans always fail because poverty is complex. For example, trying to impose a system like a free market from outside doesn’t work, as Russia shows, where per capita income is below the Soviet peak.

Myths around aid programs are that they pull nations out of poverty with a Big Push, but successful countries did it on their own like China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. Countries with below-average aid had the same growth rate as countries with above-average foreign aid, 1950-2001.[iii] Heavy World Bank and IMF involvement isn’t associated with national stability.[iv]

In contrast, Easterly calls the effective helpers the Searchers. They think local not global, and specific, not general or simplistic. Searchers get feedback and evaluations from those they serve and are accountable for their expenditures. They don’t try to change governments. Specific agencies should be heelpd responsible for a particular issue


[i] William Easterly. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much ill and So Little Good. Penguin Books, 2006, p. 165.

[ii] Ibid, P. 133

[iii] William Easterly. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much ill and So Little Good. Penguin Books, 2006, p. 39.


Indoor smoke from cooking kills around 1.8 million people a year. P. 109

Deworming medication decreased school absenteeism by one quarter in the Busia district, Kenya. P. 54

Food For Education programs pay families to keep kids in school and get health checkups in Bangladesh


In Bangladesh, a doctor set up the “People’s Health Center,” where teenage girls are trained to provide health care and refer emergenies to the hospital he built. The poor pay small fees for the services, which means they complain if they don’t get good care.

[iv] William Easterly. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much ill and So Little Good. Penguin Books, 2006, p. 67.

Global Status of Women & Youth Power Point

global status

2010 UN Human Development Report

The Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reviewed data from 135 countries with 92% of the world’s population. Instead of just looking at national income, the concept of a Human Development Index (HDI) was conceived by Pakistani Mahbu ul-Haq to measure life expectancy and literacy as well. It requires a radical rethinking of the belief that people care only about consumption. Part of human development is having a voice in planning; formal democracies have increased from less than a third of countries in 1970 to three-fifths in 2008.[i]

Researchers found uneven progress since the first HDI in 1990, with girls and women facing discrimination and of course extreme poverty in South Asia where half of the world’s poor live, and Sub-Saharan Africa, where 28% live. Foreign aid averages 44% of African government budgets.[ii] The former Soviet Union also lags behind in longevity of its people and inequality has increased. The financial crises of 2008 caused 64 million more people to fall below the $1.25 a day income poverty level, leading to rising income disparities.

On the bright side, the global life expectancy average climbed (1970 to 2010) from age 59 to 70 and school enrollment from 55% to 70%. The fastest progress was in East Asia–China, Indonesia, and South Korea, but the gap between developed and developing nations and men and women still exists. Rapid economic growth does not necessarily bring development of health care, education, employment, and recognition of human rights, although the top 10 countries on the HDI rankings are rich nations (Norway, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Ireland, Lichtenstein, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and Germany). These are also the most gender-equal countries, with the Netherlands at the top followed by Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.

The bottom HDI rankings are all African countries, but development can occur in low-income countries like Ethiopia, Cuba and Costa Rica because of low-cost innovations in health care and education. It depends on local cultures and progress is possible with resources most countries already have.[iii] The authors of the study were surprised by the “weak relationship between economic growth and improvements in health and education.”[iv] China, for example, ranks first in economic growth since reforms in the late 1970s, but public social services deteriorated or disappeared. Income inequalities increased and pollution is a widespread hazard. China is working to correct these problems in its current five-year plan. What counts is “putting equity and poverty at the forefront of policy” and adapting it to local conditions, as policies that work in one place may not fit in another.[v]

The greatest challenge to more progress in human development is environmental problems created by production and consumption patterns, by greenhouse gas emissions. Most developing countries struggle with the high costs and low availability of clean energy.[vi] Climate change may reduce grain yields, raising prices, leaving more people malnourished. They will have to cope with most of the world’s population growth, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

[i] Human Development Report 2010: The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development, United Nations Development Programme, p. 8.


[ii] Ibid, p. 111.

[iii] Ibid., p. 11.

[iv] Ibid, p. 2.

[v] Ibid., p. 11.

[vi] Ibid., p. 9.

Women Internationally Overview, 2007


Women Internationally


Gloria Steinem came to Chico years ago and said the status of women is lurching around between the Middle Ages and the 21st Century. That’s still true. The UN Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of women (INSTRAW) concluded that the greatest problem affecting women is invisibility.

When I attended the UN Status of Women conference in Copenhagen in 1980, I was surprised to see that men were most of the official delegates. Five years later in Nairobi, that changed. Policy makers used to think problems like female circumcision and early marriage were social customs, but now it’s understood they’re civil rights abuses.

Greater awareness of discrimination results in activism regarding equality in the household, work and government. More girls have access to school, women are entering the paid workforce, and more women are political leaders. . In 2006, 14 women were heads of government, unheard of less than 50 years ago. Goals were spelled out at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. The Internet spreads this information rapidly and globally

The two fundamental issues are the destruction of the planet and the huge divide between the developing and developing nations. Following are the facts I’ve cut and pasted from the Internet and also some model solutions. Perhaps the underlying principle is what Carl Jung pointed out, about the need for the resurgence of the feminine Eros principle in a lopsided patriarchy. Protestantism is the only religion I know of where there are no female symbols of divinity. The warrior god of vengeance and dominance needs to be replaced. Keep in mind the US spends almost as much on the military as all other nations combined and sells more weapons. Our per capita military expenses are exceeded only by Israel and Singapore, while millions of children are hungry.



Over 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day with nearly half the world’s population (2.8 billion) living on less than $2 a day. (UN HDR, 2003) Of the 1.2 billion people surviving on less than $1 a day, 70% are women. Poverty means having to walk more than one mile everyday simply to collect water and firewood; it means suffering diseases that were eradicated from rich countries decades ago. Every year eleven million children die–most under the age of five and more than six million from preventable causes like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.


800 million people go to bed hungry every day. (Source:FAO) 300 million are children. More than 90 percent are suffering long-term malnourishment. Every 3.6 seconds another person dies of starvation and the large majority are children under the age of 5.


The three richest men in the world control more wealth than all 600 million people living in the world’s poorest countries. (Source:ChristianAid)


Women are 70% of the world’s 1.3 billion poor people. Women hold only 14% of the world’s managerial and administrative jobs.


Women and children are 80% of refugee populations.


Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, and yet earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property. (Source :World Development Indicators, 1997, Womankind Worldwide) Women head one-third of families in the world.


Women work longer hours (an average of 12% more time) than men in all countries except Peru, when paid work and household work are combined. In both developed and developing nations, women work 35 hours more than men each week.


600 million children live in absolute poverty. (SCF, Beat Poverty 2003).

Half the world’s jobless are 15 to 24-years-old.


Kofi Aman, former UN Secretary General, said since CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) was adopted in 1979, we’ve fallen far short, although no tool for development is more effective than empowerment of women. 184 countries ratified it–with among the highest number of reservations on any UN treaty. The US has not signed on.



Demographic and Health Surveys of developing nations found only 10 or 30 countries did 50% or more women participate in all household decisions, including their own health care.


Every year six million children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday.


Around 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation and about 1.2 billion don’t have access to an improved source of water. 2 million children die every year from infections spread by dirty water or the lack of toilets. More than 50 percent of Africans suffer from water-related diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea.


Every day HIV/AIDS kills 6,000 people and another 8,200 people are infected with this deadly virus. The number of women with HIV increased by one-third between 2003 and 2005.  In 2005, about 1.2 million people were HIV-positive. AIDS is the leading cause of death for young African women and African American women. By the end of 2005, 12 million sub-Saharan African children had been orphaned by AIDS.


Every 30 seconds an African child dies of malaria-more than one million child deaths a year.


More than 2.6 billion people-over 40 per cent of the world’s population-do not have basic sanitation, and more than one billion people still use unsafe sources of drinking water. Four out of every ten people in the world don’t have access even to a simple latrine.


Five million people, mostly children, die each year from water-borne diseases.

Four times as many malnourished children are female and their mortality rate is 40% higher.


Every minute, a woman somewhere dies in pregnancy or childbirth. This adds up to 1,400 women dying each day–an estimated 529,000 each year-from pregnancy-related causes. Almost half of births in developing countries take place without the help of a skilled birth attendant.



Feticide and infanticide still exist, especially in China and India, leading to more single men than women.


Domestic violence is a problem everywhere. Up to 21% of kids are the victims of sexual violence (World Health Organization). Three to four million women are battered each year. About one-third of wives in developing countries are physically abused. . More than 1,000 women are burned in dowry related incidents in one state in India (Gujarat). At least 45 countries have legislation against domestic violence, although implementation can be problematic.


Estimates are that over 130 million girls suffered genital mutilation.

Thailand has 200,000–500,000 prostitutes. Forced sterilizations and abortions occur in China. An estimated 1.8 million children are involved in commercial sex work.


During armed conflict, rape and sexual assault used as weapons. Women and children are an estimated 80% of civilian casualties.



Two-thirds of children denied primary education are girls, and 75% of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women. (Source:  AskWoman) 45% of the world’s 771 million illiterate adults live in India and China (34% and 11% respectively).


46% of girls in the world’s poorest countries have no access to primary education. (Source:ActionAid) Out of an estimated 137 million illiterate youths, 61% are girls. UNICEF estimates only 43% of girls in the developing countries attend secondary school. Globally 36% of women aged 20-24 were married before age 18.


Universal primary education would cost $10 billion a year; half of what Americans spend on ice cream. (Source:ActionAid) School fees need to be eliminated: in 2005 UNICEF and the World Bank began the School Fee Abolition Initiative. School curriculum must include gender equality and discuss sexism.



The 7 female Presidents are in Chile, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Liberia, The Philippines and Switzerland. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s parents were tortured and imprisoned. “Violence entered my life, destroying what I loved. Because I was a victim of hate, I have dedicated my life to turn that hate into understanding, into tolerance, and why not say it, into love.”

The 6 woman Prime Ministers are in Germany, Jamaica, New Zealand, Mozambique, South Korea and The Netherlands Antilles.


Worldwide, fewer than 17% of parliamentarians were women in 2006. Ten countries have no women reps. Nordic countries have the highest, around 40% and the Arab States have the lowest. In 2005, women were only 14% of the ministers and 9% of mayors. 85% of the 20 countries with the most women in parliament use a quota system.


After the 2006 election only 17% of Congress is female, though having a woman as Speaker of the House is historic. Many Americans don’t vote; we’re 139th out of 172 nations that hold elections.


Activist Models

Women’s Groups

In Mozambique, women’s organizations are fighting the 1997 Land Law that denies them the right to own and sell land, and are working against child marriage.


Mother Centres began in Germany in the 1980s and spread (around 750) to other countries to help women organize, including services such as second-hand shops, meals, toy libraries, classes, and job retraining programs. UNICEF helps fund them in Africa for income-generating projects such as gardening, crafts, chickens, and milling machines. With the income, moms pay for school fees, uniforms and shoes for girls and provide interest-free loans to other women.


Over 200 women’s organizations met in 1996 met to create the first female dominated political party, the Northern Ireland women’s Coalition.



Women are 80% of the world’s 70 million micro-borrowers, as in BRAC an NGO in Bangladesh.


Men’s Awareness

In Brazil, an NGO, Instituto Promundo’s Program H uses radio announcements, billboards and dances to promote the idea that it’s cool to respect women, avoid violence, and take precautions to avoid HIV. The program spread to other countries, including India.



Supplement quality childcare so parents can work outside the home, as in poor areas of Rio de Janeiro, Russia, and Kenya. In the Netherlands, the Childcare Act puts the responsibility for funding childcare on parents, employers and the government. In Sweden, working families have a right to a year of paid parental leave.


Some countries have legislative quotas, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Ministries of Women’s Affairs.


Over 50 countries have gender-responsive budgets (and some have child budgets) which show how spending benefits women, as in South Africa, Morocco, Rwanda (which also has a Ministry of Gender), and Chile—where gender is one of the areas on which ministries must report.


Implement the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. www.millenniumcampaign.org. www.un.org/millenniumgoals


Support the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (1979, described as the international bill of rights for women, the only human rights treaty including gender roles). It requires national reports every four years. This was preceded by the establishment of the Commission on the status on Women in 1946 and the Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women adopted at the Nairobi Conference 1985. The first conference was held in Mexico City in 1975 as part of the International Women’s Year, then Copenhagen in 1980, and Beijing in 1995.

The United Nations platform for action was proposed for three decades in four UN Conferences on Women (Mexico City, Copenhagen, Nairobi, and Beijing). The proposal about girls aimed to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls, ensure their equal access to education and health care, protect them from violence and economic exploitation (such as prostitution), and ensure that they develop a positive self-image.


Circulate more research and data on the status of women and children.



Give money to UNICEF, Oxfam, etc.

Educate others, lobby government reps.






UN Millennium project- work on women


Oxfam gender work and statistics


UNESCO- statistics on women’s progress



Oxfam International, ActonAid International, Education International

www.oxfam.org www.socialwatch.org www.actionaid.org www.whiteband.org

International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW | Suite 302 | Washington, D.C. 20036

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation 101 Facts on the Status of

Working Women

Women’s Action Coalition. WAC Stats: The Facts About Women. NY:  New Press, 1995.

The World’s Women: Trends and Statistics. Bernan, 2000. http://www.bernan.com

From Nora in Africa: As for the status of women, I think it varies by country and region in Africa. When I was in West Africa, women have a very high status in society and within households, such as the Ashanti, who is perhaps the dominant tribe in Ghana and is matrilineal. I was quite taken aback with how strong women were within society there, and found it very refreshing to see women be outspoken leaders. I wouldn’t say that they had equal proportions in top management positions, but I would not say that they were undereducated or had a poor status is society, relative to other developing countries. I met many female doctors, women with master’s degrees, most women I knew had jobs.


Here in Tanzania, the culture is almost opposite. Tanzania is much poorer and less educated than Ghana, and culturally, women have a far lower status in society. In TZ, unemployment is 60%, and with many tribes, women are mere possessions to men. A Maasai man can go into another person’s household and have sex with the other man’s wife. Muslim men are allowed to have 4 wives. I think in general, the status of women is improving, but it is nowhere near that of West Africa. In terms of decorum, Tanzanians are very passive people, and women more so than men. There are more women becoming professionals, but at a population level, it is quite small because the populace is so undereducated. I think that because of globalization, and the fact that there are so many people from all over the world who have come here to work, the majority women, it is starting to spill over to the upper eschelons of TZ society. However, the majority of TZ still does not have running water, they do not have electricity, and are uneducated.

Share of female lawmakers hits new global high

Thu Mar 1, 2007 3:20 PM ET



By Michelle Nichols


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The share of female politicians around the world reached a record of high of almost 17 percent in 2006 — up nearly 6 percentage points during the past decade — a global parliamentary group said on Thursday.


The Inter-Parliamentary Union also found women presided over 35 of the world’s 262 parliaments — another record high — with females elected to the position for the first time in Gambia, Israel, Swaziland, Turkmenistan and the United States, where Nancy Pelosi is now House speaker.


But the rate of increase in female legislators has slowed, the group said.


“The bad news is that the increase in the number of women is slower than it was in the preceding year and if we are aiming for equality in parliament … then we will wait until the year 2077 to celebrate that event,” said Anders Johnsson, the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s secretary-general.


In the United States there was 16 percent female representation, in Canada there was 35 percent, and in Britain women held 18.9 percent of seats, while in Rwanda and Sweden women make nearly half of the parliament.


There was a 19.1 percent representation in Europe, 16.8 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, 16.1 percent in Asia, 14.5 percent in the Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) and 8.6 percent in the Arab states.


“The Pacific Islands states have registered absolutely zero progress in the past decade, and judging from the past we don’t see much hope for progress in the coming elections,” Johnsson told a news conference.


The Inter-Parliamentary Union found that less than 3 percent of lawmakers in the Pacific Island states were women and no females won seats at elections held in 2006 in the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.


Johnsson also said there had also been a reversal of the successful trends seen in post-conflict countries, with elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti seeing a fall in the number of female politicians.


“One of the reasons we are doing well in some areas is because of quotas,” he said.


The group found that 23 countries used gender quota systems to boost female representation and in those countries women had won nearly 22 percent of seats, while in countries without quotas females held about 12 percent.


“It is quite far from a satisfactory picture that we have and even further from the objective of parity that we would like to achieve,” said Margareth Mensah-Williams, vice-president of the union’s executive committee. “Women change the way politics are made.”




CNR Article About Pakistan Student Reveals a Secret

This article was printed from the Local Stories

section of the Chico News & Review, originally published February 18, 2010.

This article may be read online at:


Copyright ©2010 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.

Printed on 2010-02-18.

A dangerous secret

How a Chico writer stumbled on a clandestine black-ops program in Pakistan operated by the notorious private militia Blackwater

By Robert Speer

What Global Youth Think About Adults


In a 70-year study of Harvard University male graduates, Dr. George Vaillant reported, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” [i] Teens know this: When Elissa Moses asked global teens about the principles of highest importance, relationships are top of the list:

1. Relationship with family, 56%. About 44% enjoy spending time with their families. Most (79%) trust their parents more than anyone else, more than their friends, girl or boyfriend, teachers, and religious or political leaders.

2.    Accomplishing as much as I can, 46%

3.    Relationships with friends, 42%

4.    Having fun, 34%

5.    Having the power to get what I want in life, 29%

6.    Being accepted as an individual, 28%

7.    Making the world a better place, 26%

8.    Never being bored, 25%

9.    Fitting into society, 22%.  Most agreed with the statement “It’s up to me to get what I want our of life.”

10.  Upholding traditions, 12%[ii]

Change about Adults (their bad habits, lack of understanding and judgmentalness, bossy, disrespectful, and materialistic

Bad Habits

I want them to stop smoking in the house. Gamabunta, 8, m, Japan


I don’t them to drink so much beer. Laiziemon, 8, m, Japan

Most of them drink (alcohol), and I’d like to stop it. Joaquin, 9, m, Brazil

I would change their bad ways of drinking beer and smoking dagga [marijuana].

Mulenga, 10, m, Zambia

I wish they would not fight a lot and have less evil hearts. In Seong, 13, m, Korea

The fact that people in the world do things that they know are bad for themselves and the environment, like smoking and wars. Sam, 14, m, New Zealand

I would have them stop cheating on their wives or husbands.

DeeDee, 15, f, California

They have to stop drinking alcohol much because it isn’t going to benefit anything. Editha, 15, f, Tanzania

They always think that they know everything when us kids get in trouble or do drugs and get caught. They talk to us like they’ve never done drugs before.

Mac, 16, m, California


The things I’d like to change about adults are their loaning behavior, greed, lust for sex, and the behavior to make kids stupid (and themselves of course).

Nara, 15, m, Indonesia


Adults think that taking drugs, smoking, dancing in the clubs etc. is the most important thing that they need to live, even more than the breath they take. Usama, 16, f, Pakistan

Shehroz points out, “Alcohol and Clubs are illegal in Pakistan. Alcohol is prohibited in Islam. And so is clubbing,” but it still occurs.


If there was one thing I could change about adults, it would be their pessimism as it is a thing that will get them nowhere. Dessislava, 17, f, India

The bad habits of my parents because they are drunkards. Flari, 17, m, Nepal

How they use too much of a drug. Lillian, 18, f, California

Their bad habits: gamble, smoke, and so on. Jin, 18, m, China

I would try to stop bad behavior like rape, unnecessary drunks, and all illegal business like selling drug abuse. Sarrwatt, 19, m, Tanzania

To make adults do not smoke and they should keep studying until they pass away. He Ran, 19, m, China

Their bad habits like sleeping late in the morning. Sova, 19, f, Nepal

Listen, Be More Understanding and Less Judgmental

So they would understand first, then judge and punish. Sasha, 11, m, Russia


Adults cut us off before knowing the whole story and don’t see it from your shoes. Madlen, 11, f, British Columbia


I would like adults to allow us not to listen to them.  Sometimes we do not know why we always have to listen to adults.  Certainly their advice, suggestions, or ideas are good, but why don’t they listen to us or let us do what we think is also possible in their eyes?  Enoch, 11, m, Hong Kong


I would want them to listen us a lot. Bahar, 12, f, Turkey


I would want them not to watch TV. Feyzanur, 12, f, Turkey


I want them to listen to children’s opinion more because they don’t listen to me at all. Taro, 12, m, Japan


Many adults underestimate children completely, or they pretend to understand them when they sometimes don’t and they make “wise” statements about it. Enya, 12, f, Germany


Adults should break the rules more. They should be willing to stand up for what they believe in. Also, they shouldn’t judge anyone, especially teenagers.

Meg, 13, f, Quebec

I wish they’d have an off switch. Tom, 14, m, New Zealand

They have to understand that it is the present; it’s harder than the past when it was easier. Shay, 14, m, Lanai, Hawaii

They always have to make a comment about what you do, what you wear or how you act; they can never keep a negative comment to themselves.

Lindsey, 14, f, Belize

Sometimes they really underestimate the younger ones and sometimes do not understand what we try to say. I would like to change them by making them think they we can do much more than what they think and they should try to understand our viewpoint. Zamina, 14, f, Tanzania

Adults automatically assume that they know everything, and children still believe that they do. Adults should try and listen to what we, as teenagers, are saying. They shouldn’t jump in or cut us off. Teenagers like me tend to speak in metaphors, and adults should understand that. Didn’t they go through the same thing and vow never to be like adults when they were young?

Verena, 14, f, California

I’d like to change their outlook. I want them to understand me. I can’t tell them everything, I can’t relieve my feelings, and they won’t get me. Vera, 15, f, Ukraine

They are so close-minded. I just want everyone to be heard, and listened to, cause we all have something to say. Anabel, 15, f, California

Adults think that they have lived so many years and they know everything and we youngsters don’t know as much they know. But the real fact is the problems we face to in our day-to-day life and the way we manage differ a lot from those they have faced in their life. We are maturing and we have all potential to face our own problems. Alexander, 15, m, Romania

Listen to the problem first before yelling at someone. Mukta, 15, f, India

Be less anal and more open. Deanna, 15, f, Quebec

I would change their blithe attitudes. Sometimes I need some one to console me over something petty, and I don’t want to hear the “When I was your age” stuff. I just want to hear an, “I’m here for you, things will be okay.”  It’s nice to hear that every once and a while. Sara, 15, f, North Carolina

I feel like adults aren’t as empathetic as they could be. Yeah, we all know that you guys were kids once, you did the same things as us, but can you guys remember how you felt when your parents talked to you, and why you did the things you did? Shauna, 15, f, New York


I wish they’d understand and wouldn’t be so damn confused or shocked by us! Vienna, 15, f, New Zealand


I would change their attitude to the hobbies of modern teenagers, like listening to music that seems strange to them. Sometimes adults judge teenagers because they still live in the past. Alexander, 15, m, Romania


They should listen to you more and do things our way.

Yojta, 16, m, Czech Republic


They think just because I did, you will too. We’re not all alike, or they think if one kid made this mistake, we all will. Danit, 16, f, British Columbia


I would give them back all the insights they’ve forgotten since childhood–all those feelings that they no longer understand because they’ve grown up. This would be the best gift/change that I could give to the adult world, because it would lead to a better understanding of younger people, and better relations between people in general. Bethany, 16, f, Washington


I would make adults more understandable and would like them to be more attentive to their children. Gregori, 16, m, Ukraine


Sometimes adults seem to be really judgmental towards teenagers’ looks and I think if some adults were more open-minded, they’d learn that the teens are actually really nice people. Devon, 16, f, British Columbia


I would change their need to always know what’s going on in their children’s lives. Sometimes kids don’t want to talk to their parents; maybe they’d rather talk to their friends. Most parents don’t understand this and they need to let their kids be kids! Kristian, 16, f, Manitoba


I would like adults to understand young people’s taste in music.

Tatiana, 16, f, Ukraine

They decide something important without saying to us. Tomomi, 16, f, Japan

The sole quality about adults that really irks me is an arrogant nature. The haughty claim that they are always in control, always correct, when in fact most are so insecure that they will never admit to a mistake. Austin, 17, m, California

How do you keep an open mind and the magic of the world as you grow older? Sarah Louise, 17, f, British Columbia


Adults don’t treat children the way they should be treated. There is no equality and everyone ignores them. Small children are not given much freedom to decide what they want to do. Thus adults become a hurdle between success and individuality of youngsters. Raza, 17, m, Pakistan


Adults think that they have lived so many years and they know everything and we youngsters don’t know as much they know. But the real fact is the problems we face to in our day-to-day life and the way we manage differ a lot from those they have faced in their life. We are maturing and we have all potential to face our own problems. Edith, 17, f, India


Take time in a day, to put you in the mind of us (kids/teenager). Imagine what will you feel when things that happened to us happened to you. Things that happened to you back then are different than what happened to us now. Seriously, when something happens to us, please don’t judge us. Even though you are dying wanting to say, ” I told you so,” just don’t. Those bad experiences are the one that will teach us the most about life.   Melinda, 17, f, Indonesia


They think they know anything. Ariel, 17, m, Israel


I wish they would stop talking to us like we don’t know what we’re doing, or we don’t know what is in store for us in the future. They think that just because they went through the same thing that they are an expert on the issues of the “real world.” Yes, they have gone through it, but they should leave those experiences and difficulties that may come with it for us to see and discover for ourselves and stop trying to tell us what will happen and what we should do. Everyone has to live with the consequences of actions, including the next generation of America. Jess, 17, f, Georgia


To change their attitude towards traditional Chinese culture–they don’t pay attention to it. Luefeng, 17, m, rural China


To make them believe science, not superstition, and change their education model. Jixuehai, 18, m, rural China


Every adult should have more understanding of kids’ behavior and humor.

Carea, 18, f, Germany.


I would like more adults to be able to remember what it was like being a teenager—identity crisis, etc., so they can understand better.

Willo, 18, f, British Columbia

Communication is the secret to success in any relationship. I’d ask the adults in your life about their experiences as teenagers so you demonstrate and teach understanding for them. Part of communication is asking for a specific solution to something that bothers you, putting it on the table for negotiation, and letting the other person know you understand what he or she is feeling and why. You don’t have to agree; just understanding each other goes a long way. So does humor.

To get adults to listen, use active listening skills where you let the person know what you understand her to be saying and feeling. Also, set aside regular time to talk as a family. The meeting rules are to really listen, repeat what you think you heard, and stay positive, letting family members know what you appreciate about each other. End the meeting with a fun activity so people want to continue having them. Useful books are listed in the endnote.[iii]


Less Bossy and Rigid, More Fun

I would make it so that they have a child inside them, so they would be more interesting. Alexa, 10, Sudan

They control our time. Eartha, 11, f, British Columbia

I want my mom to be gentle. ?, 11, f, Japan

Adults are too serious and never have any fun. Kylee, 12, f, New Mexico


I would want them to do whatever I want. Deniz, 12, f, Turkey


We should enjoy our childhood as much as we can because when we become adults we can’t have as much fun. Augusto, 13, m, Brazil


They should not be so uptight and just slow down to see the beautiful things in life. Corey, 13, m, Australia


[I think that] you can decide when you want to get a piercing done or when you want to smoke; it is your own life. Roos, 13, f, Netherlands


All adults want to control us all the time and everywhere! Our grandparents and parents, teachers and neighbors want to make our lives like they have planned! They push us to work the same way like THEY do, to achieve what THEY want for us! This thing bothers me very much! I want to make my own mistakes, to build my dreams and make my life myself!!! Yaroslav, 13, m, Uzbekistan

We started out as dependent, helpless babies. Parents get used to taking care of little kids. It’s not easy to get used to your children growing up. It helps if you talk things over with them and gradually ask for more freedom as you prove your good sense.


I would make them more pure, as in make them more of who they are, not who they are forced to be. Also, I would make them more imaginative and creative.  Sally, 14, f, New Zealand


I don’t like the way most stop dreaming when they get older, losing sight of their own personal goals. Not everyone stops, but those who do, well, most feel lost somehow. Namine, 14, f, Australia


When they get old, they become stubborn like a mule. Simone, 14, f, Switzerland


They need to look at the little things more, the flowers growing in sidewalk cracks, dew on spider webs in the morning, saying good morning to strangers, and walking barefoot in the grass. To stop worrying about money, materials, jobs, and themselves. I wish adults weren’t so afraid to be children. People always say teenagers are bad, or create trouble; this is what people have created. We are told we have no wisdom and that we have nothing to say. If people would just let us speak, they would find the optimism and love we all carry. We want to be heard. Let us. Chauncey, 15, f, Oregon


They should retain some wonder and respect for the world and for life.

Caroline, 15, f, United Kingdom


I want adults not to ask everything carefully before I am going to do something. I want them give me more freedom. Annabel, 15, f, China

Discuss this with them, suggesting some areas you’d like to have control over so you can learn responsibility and decision-making.


They should stop being so serious and telling us to grow up. Why should we when you’re grumpy for being old! I don’t want to grow up; I want my childhood forever. Brooke, 16, f, United Kingdom


If there were one thing I could change about the adults it would be their psychology. It drives me crazy when they always worry about such things like the mess in the flat or grades in school. Diana, 16, f, Ukraine


Intolerance, and a lot of adults can’t see the elephant in the room.

Casper, 16, m, California


They always say they’re adults, they always let me do this, but not do this.

Weik, 16, f, China


I would like to stay up as long as I want at night, sleep as long as I want in the mornings, play my computer games as long as I want and eat whatever I want :). (I have to have a diet because I was sick.) Fateyev, teen, m, Turkmenistan


Just because they pay for us they tend to get too bossy at time. I would really want them to stop ordering kids about what to do all the time.

Samana, 16, f, Pakistan


Adults should realize what teenagers go through and should not impose their decisions on them. Instead they should let the teenagers make their point and look for a solution that is the most desirable one. Sadif, 17, f, Pakistan


They always want to have the last word; they always want to be right.

Charles, 17, m, France


They are too serious, should get weird sometimes. Staebel, 17, m, France


If I could change adults, it would be their constant quest of projecting their insecurities into their children and having them suffer because of it.

Arias, 18, m, California


Their feeling of being superior and dominant due to wanting their juniors to do what, when and how they want. ?, 19, f, Nepal

I wish that after 30 they don’t die inside. Bill, 18, m, British Columbia

I’d like it if adults could get out from marriage and enjoy life as they did before marrying. Wen Zhen, m, 19, Chin


I wish that they didn’t lose their passion and individuality and willingness for change and difference. Kara, 18, f, Northern Ireland


Hypocrisy levels–if an adult does something in their past they always forbid their kid to do it. You should let them experience things for themselves. Like I got a piercing this weekend and I love it, while my dad got one when he was a kid and he hated it. It doesn’t mean it will be the same for me and he should let me do what I want and learn for myself. Amanda, 18, f, South Dakota


When I am an adult, I want to keep a child heart, so I will feel happy everyday. I like childhood. I like playing with my friends. That is wonderful.

Zheng, 20, m, China


More Respectful

I would ask my father, and if he was busy, I would ask my mother, “I would like to know why bigger kids or adults sometimes mistreat kids by being rude, ignoring them etc. Also, why are kids sometimes disrespectful to adults, for example if an adult says “hello” they do not reply. Mohammad, 9, m, Saudi Arabia


I know the saying “respect your elders,” but what about “respect your youngsters?” Vilma, 9, f, Belize


I’d change that they see me just as a kid and thought of me as just the same as them, only they’re a little farther down the road. Bunny, 12, f, California


I don’t like to be called a kid. I’m 14. You can call me a young person. Don’t call me a kid. I, personally, find it degrading.  Maybe that’s just me, though.

Cherry, 14, f, North Carolina


Society barely gives teens a voice. They doubt our ability to actually understand something and constantly use our age as a reason to keep stuff from us. What they don’t realize is that if they just gave us the opportunity we could actually accomplish a lot. Kirby, 15, f, Rhode Island


Sometimes I ask an adult if I can do something with them, and more than half the time, the answer is “No, you’re too young.” I think adults use that as an excuse and think we’re stupid enough to believe it. I don’t know why but they think it’s okay to lie, but it hurts. Does it mean we can lie too? Aren’t they supposed to be the role models? Maybe it’s time for the youth to be heard for a change.

Anabel, 15, f, California


I wish they would think more about what they did when they were young and don’t lie, saying they never did things we do now. Lea, 15, f, Germany


They always think of teenagers as rotten kids. We aren’t all disrespectful and we aren’t here to cause trouble. It’d be nice if they could treat us like normal human beings instead of as if we were always below them. Michelle, 15, f, Washington


For them to take you seriously instead of just anything you say they think it’s a joke, cause you’re a kid. Talia, 15, f, Australia.


Their idea of being always right and never bothering or concentrating a lot on what the young have to say. Also I don’t like it when they interfere with kids’ businesses. Bright gal, 16, f, Tanzania


The way they lie to kids because they think they won’t understand.                                    Ami, 16, f, United Kingdom


All adults think that we teenagers, 16-years-old, are very small children. I want they change their opinion. Evgeniy, 16, m, Uzbekistan


Just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean you’re better than I am. Although you’ve seen more and have experienced more, I am the same as you and I deserve to be treated like a human, not some freak in a circus.

Rachel-Claire, 17, f, Scotland


I actually like the majority of adults.  But, there are always the few adults who tend to treat kids like children without giving them a chance to show their worth.  I hate adults who talk to me as if I were still eight-years-old. I believe all people should be treated the way they act, and it’s wrong to just assume every teen acts like… a teen. Jessica, 17, f, New Mexico


I think our generation gets a bad rap for being “wild.” The excessive partying that is supposedly a new and horrifying trend has been around since (at least) the 60s. It’s completely unfair and illogical for some adults to act like the youth of America’s morals are disintegrating. Laurel, 17, f, California


I’d make all adults more laid back, act like kids again, not all stuck up, and not to look down on us.  Scott, 17, m, British Columbia


Don’t be too up to themselves just because they are older than us!!
Chi, 18, f, New Zealand


Adults cannot believe youthful persons enough. So I would make them believe us enough so that can find our first jobs easily. Xiaotang, 19, m, China


The constant arrogance that if you aren’t old, then you do not know anything about life. Experience can come at any age, and adults often forget that. Some kids are quite mature, and even if not, everyone has powerful personal experience. Usually adults forget about this until they run into someone who can surprise them enough. Marine, 20, f, France


Stop Meanness

I want them to be kind to me. Tomo, 9, m, Japan


I’m happy during the Spring Festival, because adults won’t lose their temper easily at that time and they try to be very nice. Manqi, 9, f, China


I hope that adults should stop giving exams to us and stop shouting us so that we (children) could be happy all the time.  We do not want to have too many exams because exams are great pressure to us.  We are also unhappy about adults shouting at us. We would like to be happy all the time and live happily.

Winnie, 11, f, Hong Kong

Don’t shout back. Be a good example by speaking in a normal voice and ask if the adult will sit down and talk with you about what is bothering him or her. You can’t do anything about the exams but change how you think of them, like scoring on a video game. Read the section on how to do well in school in the school chapter.


I would change all the terrible adults into babies. Some adults are good but some adults are bad. In order to stop bad adults doing bad things, it would be nice to change them into babies.  Then no more bad things happen any more.

Kieran, 11, m, Hong Kong

That they wouldn’t get annoyed when kids do some things and that they would be interested (like, really interested) in lots of things kids do (not 3-year-olds of course). Elisa, 11, f, Canadian in Belize

Adults cut us off before knowing the whole story and don’t see it from your shoes. Madlen, 11, f, British Columbia

I would tell adults not to shout at their kids because shouting at their kids is not a good way of teaching them to be good and also it scares them and even affects their personality and emotional development. Jonathan, 11, m, Hong Kong

I would change the adults to be more gentle.  They are rude in my eyes and they don’t listen to children’s words attentively and closely. Henry, 11, m, Hong Kong

The bad moods and the vulgar vocabulary some adults have.

Christian, 12, m, Columbia


That they would not fight a lot and have lesser evil hearts. Shen, 13, m, Korea


I want them to like us. Ebru, 13, f, Turkey

Don’t be mean to children oralways think they are wrong. Ko-Yun, 15, f, Taiwan

[I wish they would care more about the children than money, sex, and drinking. Dan, 15, m, Florida


I feel the only time I can make them happy is if I am ranked the best in class, then both parents definitely are happy. It is not the only time my parents take pity on me, but I felt in the heart that is the only time that I can feel [their love].

Febri, 17, f, Indonesia


Adults have anger issues I think. They get angry and rule the kids just because they ARE ADULTS and they think by talking to them in a loud voice and don’t giving them a chance to speak will earn them respect in the kid’s hearts, as well as some fear which will make them the real TYPICAL ADULTS. This is wrong. They should have a healthy and strong relationship with kids. I know the kids are in their learning stages and they need to study and learn the social standards of life, but by bursting your anger at them so they lose all their confidence and boldness, is definitely wrong and unfair.

I believe one of the issue adults get angry about is their life. Sometimes they don’t have enough money to pay the tuition fees for their kids. And they feel their kids as a burden. So they yell at their kids for none of a reason. Thus, the kids grow in such kind of circumstances and have the same attitude as their parents did and the same amount of anger. I am not blaming parents or anyone. Anger is a part of nature. We should control on it because the person who can control his anger is brave in true sense. Hassan, 17, m, Pakistan


I would like adults to take more care of the old. Yuan, 20, m, China

Most religions teach the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We all would like to be taken care of if we’re old and weak, but some elders are neglected and abused. It’s difficult to care for an infirm elder who needs their diapers changed, because unlike babies they don’t usually get better, and may complain rather than being thankful. This problem is going to get more common as people live longer, and fewer babies are being born to grow up to be workers who pay into social programs to help the elderly. The elderly will outnumber children for the first time in 2045 (22%), increasing the burden on working people, according to A United Nations report in 2010. Governments need to provide programs to care for impoverished elderly.

Shehroz tells us: I think the Older/Younger relationship is a more of a cultural factor. Through my observations, I have seen that Kids in USA respect elders a lot less than kids in Pakistan on a general basis. For example, we would never call anyone older than us by their name. We would always use words like ‘mister’ or ‘uncle’ (even though he is not out real uncle) or some words in our language which show a sign of respect. For example, in schools and colleges, the student would always call his teacher by SIR or MADAM and never by name. In Pakistan, a kid would get up and leave his chair when an elder enters the room. We are taught to do that. Pakistani lifestyle is all about raising the kids in such a way that when the parents get older, the kids would take care of them financially as well as practically. Most people in Pakistan will never let their parents live alone in their old age.

[ii] [ii] Elissa Moses New World Teen Study. John Wiley & Sons, 2000. A survey of 34,000 teens in 44 countries. The respondents were mainly middle class high school students in urban and suburban areas.

[iii] A useful book by a teen is The Teen Code: How to Talk to Us About Sex, Drugs, and Everything Else—Teenagers Reveal what Works Best by teen author Rhett Godfrey. How to Talk So Children Will Listen and Listen So Children Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish and How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk.

Global Youth Health Issues


Gen Y may be the first generation not to live longer than their parents, because of too much sitting in front of screens and eating junk food. An estimated 22 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide, yet the obesity epidemic is coupled with lack of food for the poor and about 25% of kids under age 5 are underweight.[i] Bill Gates reports 9 million kids die each year.[ii]


For fun, I scream, read, kiss, write, laugh, eat, walk around, and smoke cigarettes. Rachel, 17, f, Scotland


The increase of young people taking drugs [bothers me]. Trust, 18, m, Zambia


In Chapter 5 we’ll discuss: Addiction, Brain Health, Disease, Drugs, Energy, Food, Longevity, Obesity, Sexuality, Sleep, Sports Performance, and Violence. Students realize they can be addicted to behaviors, such as video gaming, as well as substances like drugs.




I am the average American teenager, wasting away in front of my computer. I hate being a statistic, but I just can’t help myself. If I’m not at the computer, I’m probably reading. I love books, especially the classics and science fiction. Verena, 14, f, California

Up to 90% of American kids play video games and as many as 15% of them—more than 5 million kids—may be addicted.2 Of China’s 18.3 million teen Internet users, more than 2 million are addicts. “Good kids who impress their parents and teachers” are the most vulnerable to the affliction, the China Daily said, citing a study by the Communist Youth League.[iii] Addiction to the internet and video games is recognized as a public health problem in China, especially for teenagers. In the US the first center to treat the addiction opened in 2009 in Fall City, Washington. Therapists are concerned that the Net gets in the way of real relationships and can reduce attention span and the ability to be quiet and centered. Resources are available online.[iv]



[It bothers me] when I’m sober. Mike, 15, m, California

Fewer than 15% of European young people report being drunk on two or more occasions, but in the Netherlands the figure rises to over a quarter and almost one third in the UK.[v]


For fun I go to parties, drink, smoke, dance, and Internet: msn messenger, myspace, sitdairy. Taryn, 15, f, Australia


I am really bothered by the addictions people have to their gadgets, including cell phones, ipods, and computers. Of course I am one of these people, but I always wonder if people would have more meaningful interactions with each other if they weren’t constantly “tuning out.” I also feel like because of people’s strong ties to technology, more people are desensitized to horrors on the news, objectification of women in advertisements, and things like that.

Becky, 17, f, California

I agree with Becky because as more and more people interact through cell phones and internet, the weaker they get in their social life. Now kids cannot read the signs of facial expressions and body language compared to older people, since the new generation interacts mostly through media and less through direct and face-to-face means. Moreover, so much violence is shown on television that people are less sensitive to blood and killing and are more prone to be violent themselves. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan


My little sister looks very very thin and her bones are revealing more than ever. My friends have been telling me this for a while and I sometimes thought she was doing drugs but now I have seen her eat and I think she has an eating disorder. She is obsessed with portion control and won’t eat anything she used to.

How can I help her without worrying about her? I have noticed I worry when I’m around her, so I take deep breaths and try to kindly offer healthy food and role modeling. Anyway, it’s one of my new guilt issues and fears.

Jacqueline, 20, f, California

She does sound anorexic. Your mom should insist on getting her to a counselor who specializes in eating disorders. She may have to go to a treatment center. Eating disorders have long-term health consequences, including death. Your sister must get professional help now. You can’t solve her problem except to encourage your mother to take action. Guilt doesn’t do anyone any good; focus on the intention of a healthy outcome.

For someone who is bulimic, as for any addictive bad habit, identify the trigger that sends you to the bathroom to purge. Change all the behaviors around the trigger and the associated habits; when you feel the desire to vomit, go for a walk outside the house or put on music and dance. Put a calming picture on your bathroom door that reminds you to take care of your body and walk away. Reward yourself with something fun everyday you treat your body well. Acupressure tapping (www.emofree.com) can help to relieve the underlying tension and frustration. Counseling will help get at the underlying reasons for the desire to purge and figure out healthier ways to be in control of your life.


I’m a compulsive thief, I think because I was raised in foster care and group homes, then was on my own when I turned 18. Any hope for breaking this habit that gets me into trouble? I’m writing from a prison cell and don’t want to come back to this cage. Mark, 19, m, California

People are addicted, not just to drugs and alcohol, but to gambling, sex, food, shopping, stealing, work, or computer games. If you’re addicted you lose control, are preoccupied with getting more, obsessed, compulsive, and dependent. Robert Sarmiento, Ph.D. says it’s what you do with an urge that counts, rather than the urge itself. He has these suggestions: Separate yourself from the compulsion by thinking of the habit as “it” or give it a name, analyze its strength on a 1-10 scale, or think of the urge as a thought going in one ear and out the other. Focus on something else by doing something active or imaging a relaxing beautiful place in nature. Visualize feeling good about not giving in to “it,” and think about how you’ve resisted other urges like when you wanted to yell at someone and didn’t.[vi]

To change any habit, be aware of your reaction, just observe when it surfaces. Praise yourself for noticing, thinking about it, taking time for deep breaths before acting in your habitual way. Keep a journal where you document the triggers that evoke the old habit, so that you’ll be especially mindful when a trigger occurs. If I tell you, “Do not eat candy,” you’ll want to do it, so avoid telling yourself “don’t.” Focus on what to DO. Also avoid judging yourself. Stick to positive programming such as “I honor my body by eating healthy food when I’m hungry.” Think about ways you can positively fulfill the need which generated the habit; for example, coping with stress by taking a walk, and using positive self-talk (the conversation you have internally about how you’re doing), instead of ingesting something unhealthy.

Identify the triggers for the craving, such as after dinner or when bored, and substitute new rituals, such as a walk or calling a friend. I’d dialogue with the inner child and ask her what she really wants when she thinks she wants to smoke, for example. If the craving wins for a while, really focus on your addiction, not doing or thinking about anything else than the cigarette or eating, etc. Notice when it stops being gratifying and stop there. Use positive reinforcement and praise yourself when you stick to good behaviors. Most addicts need a support group to stay on task, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, or the local Lung Association to find out about their groups for smokers.

The child sub-personality is the addict, who is running the show from the unconscious mind. When the child demands unhealthy action, call on your wise self to treat it as you would any child. Distract it with a fun activity or exercise. Gratify it with something enjoyable and healthy to keep the mouth busy. Tell it firmly and simply, “NO, that’s bad for me and I’m not going to do it anymore. What would you like to do instead?” It doesn’t work to simply say no because then the child really gets determined to get its way, so give the inner child a substitute like a parent gives a child a toy and takes away a dangerous tool. Use positive reinforcement and praise your inner child when it sticks to good behaviors.

To change habits with Neuro Linguist Programming techniques—interrupt or scramble your patterns. See the problem as a movie, watch it, then turn it into a cartoon, run it backwards, and change it into black and white. Create new habits with deep breathing, exercise, etc. Imagine healthy behaviors, rehearsing them in your mind. Rehearse a future trigger and imagine using new ways of coping using your visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses as you visualize the healthy behavior. Plan something enjoyable every day to reward yourself.

Pick one or two important goals at the most. Find a buddy to remind you, praise you, reinforce good behavior and you do the same for your partner. Post reminder notes with positive present time statement like “I exercise every day.” Schedule your goal on your calendar such as regular time to jog or for meditation/prayer.

Shehroz adds, “To do all this, a person needs strong will power and determination. Most people fail because they don’t have a strong will. Positive reinforcement and ‘token economy’ is a good way.” Token economy involves rewarding desired actions with chips, points, or other markers that can be exchanged for a treat such as a fun outing.


Brain Development and Health

Why can’t you see the mind or heart? ?, 8, m, Japan

You can see the brain and heart (including instruments that measure their waves that radiate around ten feet from the body in the case of the heart) on scans or during an operation, but you wisely imply there is more than the physical, which is true. The Institute of HeartMath has done many interesting experiments on the heart, which you can read about at their website (heartmath.org).


What bugs me the most is having to put up with everything changing, I mean I get settled into something I like, a comfortable relationship or just a good mood and then it all changes. Christina, 15, f, California


Why our brains can hold so many knowledge? “George,” 16, m, China


My crazy, ass-backward emotions–I want to somehow rein them in without taking the passion out of my life. Julie, 18, f, Texas

Most of the brain (95%) is formed by age five, but the prefrontal cortex behind the forehead grows again before puberty. Its function is to be the CEO of the brain, planning, organizing, reasoning, and controlling impulses. Some teens tend to be risk takers because their CEO isn’t fully formed, starting smoking, drinking and other addictions. Around age 11, the brain starts reorganizing in the prefrontal cortex, the area behind the forehead associated  with problem-solving, planning, and regulation of emotion, and governs impulse control and social behavior. Not many other animals have a cortex, but dolphins do. Pruning of nerve cells happens after puberty to make the network more efficient. Throughout the teen years the brain prunes out neuronal connections it’s not using, so it’s not wise to spend this time mainly watching TV and playing videogames.

The adolescent brain has a greater ability to do abstract thinking in terms of understanding patterns and categories and concepts like fairness, but teens may tend to think in terms of black or white, right or wrong. Their needs come first, so they may not think of other people’s needs at the same time. In early- and mid-adolescence, the brain undergoes growth and pruning. The prefrontal cortex develops better connections with other parts of the brain, including areas associated with emotion and impulses. “The brain regions linked to attention, emotional intelligence, impulse control, and goal-directed behavior change between age 12 and 24, so teens may appear to be disorganized, have poor impulse control, and have difficulty making long-term plans.”[vii] P. 100

Intense emotions triggered by hormones at puberty makes teens easily aroused, seeking emotional intensity from risk-taking and excitement. The hormonal changes also bring increased sensitivity to alcohol and other drugs and changes in mood hormones. The human brain doesn’t reach full maturity until at least the mid-20s with continued adding and pruning of neurons.[viii] Adolescence is associated with increased rates of accidents, depression, alcohol and substance use, violence, reckless behaviors and erratic behavior. In a computer simulation of risky driving—running yellow lights, when tested in a group of friends adolescents increased risky decisions. Steinberg et. al. Animal studies show similar increase in looking for new activities among adolescences. Spear, 2000 Adolescent rats show more interest in strange objects than adults and start spending more time with peers, exploring their surroundings.[ix] The adolescent rats’ brains are also more susceptible to brain damage from alcohol and nicotine.

Joel Rothfeld, MD, Ph.D., explained in a lecture that the brain contracts muscles or activates glands to drip. Early childhood is critical as a major burst of new synaptic connections occur in the prefrontal cortex during second half of the first year, corresponding to peak of bonding to the child’s family. Children develop their brains through creative play, not as “efficient machines” as corporate culture would like.

The brain is the most complex matter Dr. Rothfeld knows of, made of billions of neurons that can be four feet long. It weighs about three pounds and is 78% water, 10% fat, 8% protein, and 4% other. It communicates with electrical charges (created by sodium and potassium) to other neurons like a battery, to about 10,000 other neurons at one time and up to 900 times a second, and then to bundled nerve cells and motor cells along the spinal cord. Einstein had more connections and gial cells than most people. Messages from the sensory cells travel up to the cortex, transformed into electrical signals the brain can read. For example, cells in the eye absorb light and start an electrical signal to the brain, where visual areas of the brain interpret them. The brain is very plastic, changing, and is kept healthy with aerobic exercise and learning new information. Mental stimulation increases synaptic connections. In Alzheimer’s disease, placs and tangles kill nerve cells due to inflammation caused by waste proteins. Medications can slow the rate of decline.

Professor Penelope Khun, Ph.D., is a brain researcher. At another lecture I heard, she made these suggestions for keeping your brain active. It’s a sensation and novelty-seeking organ, scanning for information and change. It prunes unused connections, so use your brain by learning something challenging and rewarding, or changing your routine, such as going home by a different route, or using your non-dominant hand for a while. Kids who aren’t stimulated with new and rich environments will always lag behind. When the brain is active, it stimulates the release of BDMF growth factor that develops new growth in the neurons. Omega 3 oils help increase BDMF, as does exercise, fasting every other day, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and reducing stress. For short-term memory problems, practice memorizing things. After age 50, the brain loses spines along the dendrites, up to 40% of them.

Dr. Khun said it’s a myth that we only use 10% of the brain, as it’s on or off. We’re born with three times as many brain cells as we need because some don’t receive BDMF and die. The 100 billion neurons look like trees with many types and sizes; some axons can be three feet long. They are electrochemical and structural, with most mental illnesses being chemical problems. In schizophrenia the neurons can’t maintain appropriate connections. Anti-depression drugs increase the growth factors. Low levels of serotonin do not cause depression. Autism involves errors in pruning too much of the long axons, with too much connectivity on the short ones. Addictions are difficult to treat because the connections are hard-wired. The drug ecstasy is especially bad for pruning too many connections. The concluding message is use your brain or loose it.



Around 25,000 children die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea and measles due to lack of health care in their countries, according to Caryl Stern of UNICEF.  Malaria is the biggest cause of death for the world’s children: Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria, over one million children each year. Death could be prevented with a $10 mosquito net. Global health leaders created a Global Malaria Action Plan in 2008 with the goal of getting rid of the disease in seven years. The World Bank, the Gates foundation, and the United Nations Foundation, and others pledged more than a billion dollars to the plan.[x]


Where has AIDS come from? Angela, 12, f, Zambia

What bothers me is the issue of HIV/AIDS. I abstain from sex and am honest in my dealings. ?, f, teen, Kenya

HIV/AIDS is killing many of us. Amos, teen, m, Sudan

Can you advise us anything about AIDS? Elly, 16, m, Tanzania

Young people (ages 15-24) comprise half of the new HIV infections, 2.5 million a year, with females especially at risk. In most of the world, young people are reaching puberty at earlier ages and marrying later than in the past, so premarital sexual relations are increasing.[xi] Sub-Saharan Africa is worst hit by HIV/AIDS infection and deaths. Almost two-thirds of the victims are women. Globally, over 25 million have died due to AIDS and about 40 million people are living with the virus—nearly half are women. Teens and young adults make up about half of the new HIV infections. India has one of the largest HIV-positive populations in the world. 30,000 babies are born HIV positive every year in India and nearly two million are AIDS orphans. Globally, In developing countries, only about 7% of people with HIV/AIDS receive treatment receive antiretroviral medication.[xii] Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, estimates it will cost $13 billion a year for AIDS medication.[xiii] He pledged $500 million to assist in providing them.

More than 2 million children are infected with HIV/AIDS. One new case of AIDS occurs every 15 seconds. An estimated 40.3 million people have HIV/AIDS around the globe, twice the number from a decade ago. In South Africa, the country with the highest rate of the disease, every day 1,000 people die of AIDS. UNAIDS estimated that 1.4 million South African children were orphaned by AIDS in 2007. It doesn’t help that the president, Jacob Zuma, said in court in 2009 that after having sex with an HIV positive woman, he took a shower because this “would minimize the risk of contracting the disease [HIV].”[xiv] A shower does not prevent contacting HIV or any other STD.

Global spending on AIDS was $8.3 billion in 2006, but only one in seven receive antiretroviral medication.[xv] Over 15 million orphans had parents who died of AIDS. Two-thirds of the kids with AIDS get medication funded by Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative Foundation, which also provides training for youth and encourages community activism.

UNFPA gives us a prevention model: Senegal has a national sexual education curriculum, developed by the Senegalese government and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The courses in sexual and reproductive health, or Education in Family Life as they are officially called, have become as integrated into the typical school year as mathematics. Every Senegalese public school student must take them, beginning in primary school and continuing through to the final levels of high school.

“This is a Muslim country, and Islam forbids sex before marriage,” explains Dr. Cheikh Ba, the head of UNFPA’s office in Kolda. “So we focus on abstinence, but with the understanding that people are also human, that some make mistakes, and that we need to look after the health of those that do.”

The Government’s actions to prevent the spread of helped maintain Senegal’s very low infection rate: less than 1% of the population is HIV-positive. Extracurricular Education in Family Life clubs are student-run and voluntary. Members meet after school or during free periods to discuss issues ranging from female genital mutilation/cutting to HIV to early pregnancy. The informational movies are popular with students.[xvi]


My diabetes, the responsibility, the food [bothers me]. Max, 11, m, UK living in Belize


My father got a terrible disease, but we have no money to afford his medical fee. If I don’t find a job, I cannot support my family. Chengwei, 16, m, rural China


When will the medicine for cancer be found? Tatiana, 16, f, Ukraine

We all have cancer cells in our body, so it’s best to focus on prevention, starting now. Cancer is caused by changes in cell DNA. As we age, the cell replication can make mistakes or a genetic problem can cause the mutation–not the cause of most cancers. Chronic inflammation and free radicals is associated with cancer as it interferes with cancer-protective genes. Mostly the malfunction is caused by toxins in our environment including electromagnetic and radioactive contamination like cell phones and computers, food (high sugar and fat, omega-6s, processed, irradiated, MSG, pesticides, antibiotics), smoking, household products, plastic bottles and other phthalates), etc. Toxins deplete respiratory enzymes so cells can’t utilize oxygen, says Dr. Stephen Sinatra. Viruses are also problems, as in Hepatitis B nd C and its association with liver cancer or HPV and cervical cancer. These toxins silence protective genes. To prevent cancer we need to reduce pollutants and strengthen the immune system. Also, cancer cells feed on simple sugars so it makes sense we shouldn’t eat sweets—read labels to see how many products contain corn syrup. Certain foods, herbs, and enzymes kill cancer cells.

Suzanne Somers interviewed doctors who are having success in beating cancer and gives specifics in her book Knockout.[xvii] What’s clear from reading the book is that pharmaceutical companies control research, the US Federal Drug Administration, and medical school curriculum. They’re interested in medicine that can be patented and sold at a high price. Chemo and radiation make the medical establishment rich ($200 billion a year) so there’s not just apathy but organized opposition to treating with vitamins, herbs, etc.

Doctors mainly use radiation and chemotherapy to attack the out-of-control cancer cells. Researchers are working on ways to target the cancer without attacking the whole immune system and on ways to cut off the blood supply to a tumor. Tanya Harter Pierce discusses alternative remedies in How to Outsmart Your Cancer. To avoid cancer don’t eat white sugar and flour as they fuel cancer growth and inflammation,[xviii] avoid alcohol, and eat omega-3 as in fish and walnuts, berries, green tea, and pomegranate juice. The goal is to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, and reduce the growth of cancer blood vessels. Herbs and spices that fight free radicals include clove, oregano, cinnamon, sage, peppermint, thyme, rosemary, coriander, basil, ginger, garlic, and pepper. (Free radicals are “electronically unstable atoms or molecules capable of stripping electrons from any other molecules they meet in an effort to achieve stability. In their wake they create even more unstable molecules that then attack their neighbors in domino-like chain reactions.”[xix] They may be involved in cancer and the aging process). See the Longevity section below.

Eating junk food and being obese contribute to the increased rates of cancer. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007 indicated that cancer would become the leading cause of death worldwide by 2010, beating out heart disease. Dr. Andrew Weil researches alternative remedies (The National Institutes of Health created an Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992, later called National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.[xx]) Weil  reports, “Research suggests that about one-third of cancer deaths in the U.S. are related to poor diet–another third are due to cigarette smoking.”[xxi] He recommends eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Don’t cook veggies in a microwave and eat them soon after purchase or grow them yourself—they can be grown in pots.

A note about cell phones: an Israeli study (researcher Rony Seger, et. al) exposed human cell cultures to much less radiation than given off by cell phones, which resulted in the formation of free radicals, which activated an enzyme linked to cancer. Get a hands-free headset, keep the phone away from your body when not in use, and limit talk time.[xxii]


I have chronic pain in my lower back/wrist/knee. How much of illness has to do with your attitude? Marta, 29, f, California

When a patient believes a placebo will relieve pain, the body releases endorphins that do reduce pain.[xxiii] Parkinson’s patients given fake surgery or fake drug treatments produced dopamine they might have received in a real intervention. Pain can be blocked by doing something else to involve the placebo effect (doctors often see similar effects with patients using sugar pills called a placebo or prescription drugs when neither knows which of the two they’re taking). We automatically apply the principle of distraction when we rub a bump on the head. Other possibilities for pain reduction are acupuncture, acupressure tapping (emofree.com), deep tissue massage, and understanding the psychological influences. You might want to check out acupuncturist Michael Turk’s book Pain’s Healing Secret showing acupressure points.

From what I’ve observed, every physical problem has both a physical and an emotional component (see Candace Pert, The Molecules of Emotion for the physiology of how emotions effect the body through the cell receptors on the outside of cells.) Stress, like an argument, lowers the immune system and slows wound healing. A study tracked nearly 100,000 women over eight years and found optimists had a 16% lower risk of having heart attacks.[xxiv] A Mayo Clinic study that looked at more than 800 patients over 30 years found that pessimists had a 19% higher risk of early death than optimists. An optimist will take action to correct a health problem while a pessimist might helplessly view it as unchangeable.

Here’s Sheheroz’ story about an illness solely based on belief: Some of my father’s patients [in Pakistran] are convinced they are really sick and will die but in reality nothing is wrong with them. For example, my father received a patient who said he has an insect flying in his stomach and it is annoying him. He said that while riding his bike, a flying insect flew in his mouth and down his throat and he can feel it in his stomach. My father tried to explain him that the insect would have died but he was stubborn and wanted my father to do an endoscopy. My father asked his assistant to bring an insect from outside in a small paper bag. My father performed the endoscopy and while taking out the pipe from the patient’s throat, he pretended as if he also took out the insect and threw it in the paper bag. When all was done, the patient was completely relaxed and his words were: “Doctor, see I told you there was a live insect in my stomach and you did not believe me and now I feel perfectly fine. Now I can’t feel anything in my stomach and am fine.”

To use the power of your brain, try positive visualizations. Imagine a grounding pipe in the middle of the pain and see it sucking pain out and down into the earth to recycle. Use a Neuro Linguistic Programming technique: Ask yourself what’s the shape, size, color, odor, and sound of the pain. Then change each of those senses, so that a yellow green screechy square becomes a blue circle with classical music and the fragrance of your favorite flower.

Every illness has a physical and emotional component. When you feel afraid, angry, or tense, act on it by exercising, taking a walk, speaking up about injustice, or some other corrective action. Don’t stuff your feelings. Osteopath and author Dr. John Upledger dialogues with problematic body parts and also instructs them on healthy processes with visualization. It’s helpful to touch your thymus and praise the immune system, telling it to attack foreign invaders and not healthy organs and joints. John Diamond, MD, recommends tapping the thymus near the heart each day and praising the immune system Studies show love and gratitude are especially powerful emotions, so evoke them when you talk to your immune system.

Andrew Weil, MD, in a Sounds True CD, suggests that sound is an under-utilized healing aid since everything vibrates and is singing in its own way. The earth has its own pulse frequency, called the Shulman resonance. He reports that sound therapy has aided autistic kids to be more connected and stroke patients to have better recovery, and it can reduce chronic pain. The body is 70% water, which is receptive to sound waves. He mentioned Dr. Emoto’s photographs of frozen water crystals comparing the effect of classical and heavy metal music, and positive and negative emotions shown in the crystal formations. Ancient peoples have used Tibetan copper bowls, flutes, and didgeridoos in their rituals, which has an effect on slowing brain waves to produce more relaxation. Dr. Andrew Weil likes to combine music, relaxing sounds of nature, and chanting with deep breathing.

Imagine a small gold sun or bubble in your hand. Keep your own energy out of the bubble and send it to the person you’d like to give a blessing to, including yourself. You can put your hand over the sore place, and pat it and talk to it like you would a puppy or kitten, “Good tummy, calm tummy.” Imagine a time-release Band-Aid over a sore place, with the instruction to release healing energy for a day. Also try drawing 8s with your fingers over a sore spot to help make it feel better.



Illegal Drugs

I would ask the wise person if it is possible to solve the problem of drugs among young people and how to do that. Yaroslav, 13, m, Uzbekistan


Why does everyone like to smoke marijuana? Gilbert, 14, m, Lanai, Hawaii


I do drugs because it’s fun. You shouldn’t judge someone for doing drugs; we have one life to live, so you should live it up. It’s your life. Dan, 15, m, Minnesota


People who abuse drugs and alcohol bother me. There are so many such people in my community. Perman, 16, m, Turkmenistan


I would change adults’ style of thinking that life is about enjoyment only, to do whatever you want rather its good or bad. They think that taking drugs, smoking, dancing in the clubs, etc., is more important than the breath they take.

Azba, 16, f, Pakistan


If your friends ask you to take drugs or bad things what will be your response? Dhankula, 17, f, Nepal


Some steps taken by our government  in Bhutan for the betterment of youth are:

*Created awareness about substance abuse and its effects like gang fight etc,

*Organized many coaching camps during the breaks so that the youths will not misuse their time.

*Launched Youth Police Partnership to improve relationship and cooperation between the police and the youth to solve youth problems. Goma, 17, f, Bhutan


Today more children take drugs and smoke. Some don’t know the meaning of family and home. But there are still things that haven’t changed for years: We three [sisters] are not indifferent to people’s tears. Like them, I know what’s moral, love and hope, Like them, I don’t exactly know where next to go. Anastasia, 17, f, Russia http://www.iearn.org.au/kindred/highkb/sdb/indexfla.htm


Nowadays many adults fall into drug abuse. Wishg, 19, f, Nepal

Nepali Indira Ghale explains, “Most of the youth in the Nepal are addicts of the drug nowadays because of the frustration of the situation, lots of unemployment and misunderstanding in the family, which is huge problem. They afford it because most of the parents have been to England for the British army. They send money to the children.  There is local hysis, which they can find very cheap. Also the young people use very local drug, which is found very easily with in the village.


The increase of young people taking drugs [bothers me]. Trust, 18, m, Zambia


I would like to stop doing drugs and start focusing on the things I love to do.

Ed, 18, m, Lanai, Hawaii


We’re a small school and on educational basis, we’re well prepared; however, the students aren’t all that great. A lot of the younger students are involved with drugs and alcohol and it’s very very disturbing.

Ser, 18, f, Pennsylvania


Mumbai is a city that’ s very cosmopolitan, almost everything is accepted here so long as you are part of the crowd that accepts it. Let’s face it, Indian culture is not exactly the way it used to be, there are so many more variations. if you are amongst people who share the same views as you, girls smoking is accepted. Popular teen hangouts have the aura of ‘anything goes’ because it’s more of an urban area and you will find girls and women smoking and not being self- conscious. But in other areas, if a woman lights a cig, than they are followed up by horrified and disgusted glances by other people. Sad, but women in this continent are still held back, though barriers are breaking. I think today we youths are so globalized that we can bring change to any level and to any extent in however rigid system we are. Cecza, ?, f, India http://clubjam.ning.com/forum/topics/what-is-the-image-of-


I’ve made very poor choices recently that involve substances and sex, that I regret, and I’m so overwhelmed with all the emotions that are coming up that I feel disabled. I feel like a terrible person for the things I done. I feel like I’m so much better and smarter and wiser than this. I’m so ashamed. Then I have moments of thoughts that this all happens for whatever reason and the lessons may not come right at the moment but they will. I want to work through this one quickly and gently, and become stronger, rather than what I have done in the past with painful experiences–I’ve shoved them deep down from being so afraid of them. Jane, 20, f, Hawaii

This is a time to become more aware of the unconscious attitudes and beliefs that lead to self-sabotage. Please really pay attention to and write about the feelings that led you to make unwise decisions. Think of the most shameful one, and write about the circumstances, the feelings and thoughts. What do the sub-personalities say; such as, “I deserve to be humiliated and punished because___?” Write down your first thoughts and feelings, without censoring. Let’s counter confusion with simplicity with two firm rules of conduct: no drugs and no sex without the foundation of mutual love and respect.


Drugs rewire the brain, so drug addiction is a disease of the brain. Drugs alter neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain. Abuse of prescription drugs is a teen problem, for 2.3 million teens. In 2007 fewer US teens reported illegal drug use and more are turning to prescription drugs such as OxyContin, a powerful narcotic drug, or to over-the-counter cough and cold medications used to get high. Among 10th-graders, 28% reported illegal drug use, down from 39% in 1997.[xxv]. About 2.3 million US teens abuse prescription drugs, according to with the rate of abuse increasing 212%.[xxvi]

Over two million teens are abusing prescription drugs in “pharming” or “pill parties” where they exchange drugs they’ve taken from home, bought on the streets or from the Internet. They use pain relievers, antidepressants, stimulants and steroids and risk getting addicted and side effects. Adderall, Ritalin, OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax are the fourth most abused substance in the US, behind alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. The stimulants like Adderall and Concerta can cause risks for heart attacks and stroke.[xxvii] (Listen to the Bee Gees’ classic song “Stayin’ Alive” because has a beat that’s almost exactly 100 beats per minute needed if you need to do CPR (push hard on the chest and let the chest recoil in between beats).

Part of the problem is the increased number of television ads for legal drugs; a study found that one-third of medical procedures are unnecessary, often fueled by patients asking doctors for drugs they see advertised on TV.[xxviii] For example, Dr. Aldebra Schroll told me she’s concerned about young women with normal weight who ask her for weight loss pills. She continues, “The Michael Jackson fiasco [a healthy man, he died of a drug overdose given by his doctor to help him sleep] is a good example of why saying no is an important part of medical care. I think medicine has become too customer oriented where patients want to order drugs as if they are another commodity. As I tell my staff, “We’re not selling ice cream here.”

Nearly 5% of US teen boys and 2% of girls have tried steroids to increase muscle strength.[xxix] In a 2004 survey, 29% of 10th-graders and 42% of seniors reported that steroids were easy to obtain. Steroid abuse can lead to major mood swings, lack of energy, loss of appetite, acne, halt growth, and eventually cause liver problems and heart disease, as well as rapid gains in muscle size and strength. Withdrawal can cause depression and suicide.[xxx]

Building Blocks for Kids is a Richmond, California initiative that helps combat alcohol and drug use among teens, including parent-student training and after-school activities. Agencies work together including the YMCA, Youth Service Bureau, and Opportunity West.[xxxi]


Legal Drugs

Aaron White, a neuroscientist at Duke University, reports, “The adolescent brain is in a state of constant flux, and we know that when the brain is developing like that, alcohol does nasty things to it,” as does smoking.[xxxii] The earlier the teen started smoking, the worse their memory performance since nicotine is a neurotoxin. It kills cells in brain areas critical for learning and memory. Binge drinking by teens of four to five drinks reduces by about 10% the ability of boys to concentrate and girls’ spatial ability (as needed in math).[xxxiii] Dings in the white matter of the brain indicate poorer quality of cell communication in binge drinkers (photos available on npr.org). They also have abnormal functioning in the hippocampus, important for memory. Teen drinkers did more poorly on learning verbal material.

More than 40% of the US population is taking at least one prescription drug, plus one person in six takes three or more. The drug companies have great influence on health care. (PloS Medicine is a journal that doesn’t accept drug company advertising). Almost 11 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written for children ages 1 to 17 in the US in 2002 (2.7 million for those for children between 1 and 11). Over 4 million children diagnosed with ADHD were treated with stimulants like Ritalin (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in kids; they have trouble sitting still, paying attention, and controlling their impulses). By 2004, one in nine 11-year-old boys were taking the drug Ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Syed notes, “Drugs are not used for purposes like hyperactivity or depression for kids in Pakistan.”

In the US, anti-psychotic prescriptions for children ages 2 to 18 increased five times from 1995 to 2002 to about 2.5 million, without enough research on the side effects in children. (The mental illness of psychosis interferes with reality and can include seeing things that are not there and unreasonable fear or fantasies). Marketing by drug companies is probably a cause of the increase in legal drug use.

The drugs are given in the US to treat: hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder (29%), depression and bipolar (23.5%), non-psychiatric (13.8%), schizophrenia and psychosis (13.5%), anxiety and other psychiatric conditions (7.7%), autism, mental retardation, and developmental disorder (7.5%), and Tourette Syndrome (5%).[xxxiv] Generation Rx is a documentary on psychiatric drugs by Kevin Miller. It reports on children who committed suicide while on Prozac.

Cuba is a model for health care in developing nations. It has over 40,000 doctors who serve their neighborhoods, on call 24-hours-a-day. They only earn $25 a month. They teach preventative health and use “green medicine,” alternatives to drugs, stimulated by the US blockade of Cuba, which makes some prescription drugs hard to get.



Cigarettes poison the environment of children, and so does pollution. Marie-Pierre, 11, Quebec.


For fun, I drink, smoke, make fun of people and run amuck.

Rockstar, 14, m, Nevada


The smoke from cigarettes isn’t only bad for smoker but also for the people who are near him. Diana, 14, f, Uzbekistan


I’d do away with the smoking ban in cafes, because now you only smell sweat and that is disgusting. I want less ground rules (laws). Larissa, 15, f, Netherlands


Thing that bothers me in my daily life is smoke. I don’t like smoke. If I am at my house and someone is smoking, I will go away from her/him but right now EVERYWHERE we can find smoke, including in crowded place that we can’t go away to avoid smoke. Findy, 16, f, Indonesia


I want adults not to compare their children with other children who are better than us and stop the smoking thing. Mila, 16, f, Indonesia


A study of 14,000 US high school students in 2007 reported that 20% had recently smoked a cigarette and used marijuana. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, and poor diet and physical inactivity is not far behind in America.[xxxv] In China, every day 40-50,000 teens light up a cigarette for the first time; 63% of adult men smoke. One-third of all the cigarettes in the world are smoked by Chinese people and each year 800,000 of them dies from tobacco-related illnesses. WHO said in 2005 of all the children in China, around 50 million will die early because of tobacco-use. Tobacco use is up 13% in developing nations, fueled by gifts of free cigarettes and branded clothes to youth, and sponsorship of youth festivals, billboards equating smoking with success. In Africa, tobacco companies like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco sponsor concerts and give away free cigarettes. Very young children are smoking. Many are unaware that tobacco causes diseases and that nearly 10,000 deaths occur per day due to tobacco. A program to quit smoking uses Emotional Freedom Technique acupressure tapping and other tips are available.[xxxvi]

Author David Wolfe suggests that, “Cigarettes become addicting because, due to stress (psychological) and poor nutrition (lack of vitamins and amino acids) vitamin B3 becomes deficient. Vitamin B3 or niacin is very closely related to niacinamide, nicotinamide, and nicotine. Nicotine from tobacco has the ability to “substitute” for Vitamin B3 in our metabolism. When we get Vitamin B3 back into our diet, this helps alleviate the desire for tobacco. (Eatingforbeauty.com)

Ask yourself if there is any “secondary gain” from the bad habit that needs to be changed, such as using smoking to take a break or be with friends. Also use behavior modification, rewarding good behavior (doing something enjoyable and healthy) and discouraging bad habits (as by wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it when you feel the urge to smoke).

Instead of saying to yourself, “don’t smoke,” give yourself a substitute, such as sucking on a piece of a straw to gratify the oral need to suck and feel air going down your throat or eating celery and carrot sticks. Syed notes, “I have seen people chew on things like cardamom to avoid cigarettes, but more people smoke in Pakistan than in the US.”  Instead of turning to your addiction as a pacifier when you’re anxious, replace it with a new coping technique. Instead of smoking after dinner, take a walk. When you feel the addictive craving, take a deep breath from the diaphragm. While changing to a new healthy habit, avoid tempting situations such as friends who smoke. To quit smoking, write about why you want to be smoke free, set a quit day, identify your triggers such as stress or friends who smoke, and reward yourself.

Success rate is higher for those who join a support group. Support groups usually pair you up with a partner you can call when you feel yourself slipping back into the addiction and are worth checking out to learn their tools for getting healthy. It helps to have a buddy to report to about your progress.



I know I am a potential alcoholic, sometimes I do abuse when it’s convenient for me, and I had a chance, I would probably be having sex every single day. I know that might sound horrible coming form the mouth of a 15-year-old girl, but it’s the truth, and it hurts me to even think about it. Snoogie, 15, f, Arizona hbofamily.com/about_hbofamily/ Middle School Confessions


I really dislike how much pressure there is from people and the media to “get cranked” on the weekends to have fun. Just be yourself and have fun.

Devon, 16, f, British Columbia


I want to seek therapy because I don’t let myself be happy. I’ve hurt people that way; that hurts me too. This country (and maybe the rest of the world, I’m not sure) has become so selfish and they don’t take the time to sit down and see what they have in front of them. I fell off the wagon and I hate myself for it. I’ve also learned that you can’t please anyone unless you please yourself. Unfortunately, some people take that to extreme and become self-centered. I don’t like that. Felicia, 16, f, Wisconsin

The point is two steps forward, one backward, and to think one day at a time. Sometimes sensitive people drink to protect themselves from the pain around them. Try this visualization: imagine a beautiful bubble around you, surrounded by roses that catch other people’s energy. When they get filled up, imagine blowing them up and creating new ones. Try it and see what happens.

Fun to me consists of clubbing, art, shows (bands), alcohol consumption, Hollywood, driving, going to the beach and creating laughs for everyone else. Piggytron, 18, f, California


For fun: drinking, trying to find a girlfriend,, and watching the moon. Basheer, 19, m, Saudi Arabia

“Partying,” meaning getting drunk, seems to be considered a sign of adulthood, but it’s irrational. It’s toxic for the body, leads to hazardous driving, risky sexual inhibitions, and acting foolish. You can walk around at a party with a cup of water if you want to look like the others. For those hooked on alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups is effective treatment. Join a support group for teens to learn how to stay sober and find healthy ways of having fun.

Shehroz tells us, “Alcoholic consumption is really low in middle-eastern countries because of Islam. In my time as an exchange student in USA I saw many underage teenagers getting alcohol by one means or the other. Even in existing laws, they could easily break it. Alcohol advertisement makes it more TEMPTING for teenagers to try it and get addicted. For example, beer advertisements make it look like so refreshing and cooling that one feels like trying it. Some take it as a sign of entering ADULTHOOD.”


More Energy

I wish that adults could be faster running and walking. I wish I had more energy. Nathan, 9, m, California


I have too many extracurricular lessons and get tired.  Kazuto, 10, m, Japan


I’m always loosing stuff, being clumsy, and I sometimes can’t talk straight. My family acts like I’m stupid because of it. Allie, 14, f, California

Stress can get us unbalanced, so we become clumsy and can’t think clearly. It’s called    becoming homolateral, when the body is connected up and down rather than crossing. A healthy body is bilateral, where the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. Author Donna Eden (author of Energy Medicine) writes, “to change homolateral patterning, a simple and pleasurable technique, is to turn on music you like and move your hips rhythmically. You will find that they sway quite naturally in a figure 8, which helps the crossover pattern.” Just moving your eyes in figure 8s can help get balanced.

You can muscle test (MT) to see if you are homolateral. (For how to MT see http://www.holistichealthtools.com/muscle.html.) Look at a picture of an “X”-MT should be strong. Then look at a picture of two parallel lines-MT should be weak. If the results are opposite, they are homolateral. Ms. Eden suggests doing 12 repetitions of lateral crawl, where you touch right elbow to right knee and left elbow to left knee, then switch to about 24 cross-crawls where your right elbow touches your left knee, and your left elbow touches your right knee. You can see her website or Energy Medicine book to learn how to do other balancing exercises.[xxxvii]


It bugs me that I have no energy. Rose, 17, f, California

I get very sleepy during major examinations and tests or during the days when I have a lot of homework. And a friend of mine told me: “Whenever I try to stay on task and finish all my work, I get sleepy within five minutes of doing that work. What is wrong with me? In other words: I AM LAZY and I KEEP GETTING MORE AND MORE LAZY. At night I get sufficient sleep but still I am sleepy the whole day.” Why? Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan

When we need to do something mentally challenging, we think of distractions like “I need to clean my room,” or call someone. Sleep is another way out. It helps to know the inner child is going to try these distracting tricks so we don’t fall in the trap, but also give the inner child a reward by taking a break every hour and taking a walk or stretching. But if your friend feels this way daily, he should see his doctor and read about chronic fatigue syndrome.


Sometime I feel so tired, maybe it just because there are so many works to complete. Zheng, 20, m, China

Fatigue can be a symptom of a physical problem. Low blood sugar or low thyroid function can decrease energy. Check thyroid hormone levels, as hypothyroidism causes fatigue, as well as intolerance to the cold. Anemia and eye strain can also contribute to tiredness. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) may have multiple causes including viruses, herpes, candida albicans yeast, and parasites. Its symptoms include severe fatigue for six months or longer, tender lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint pain without swelling, sore throat, and headaches. Fibromyalgia has similar symptoms of fatigue and pain, plus stomach discomfort.

Fatigue is a common problem and people turn to caffeine and sugar to get going, but these drugs drain energy over the long run. Exercise daily to keep your endorphins happy and oxygenate your body. We know daily exercise, adequate sleep, healthy natural foods, meditation or prayer or other quiet time, positive thinking and social support maintain health and vitality.  Eat unprocessed fresh food that your great-grandparents would recognize. Avoid white foods like white flour, sugar and rice, and other refined foods you might crave, as remember we often want what we’re allergic to. Use spelt flour instead of wheat and stevia or rice syrup instead of sugar in baking and you’ll have more energy. Eat apples, bananas, cabbage, citrus, and okra as they contain pectin to remove toxins and metals. Gary Null’s book Power Foods lists these as top on his list (Dr. Weil would add wild salmon): Almonds, oranges, bananas, blueberries, onions, garlic, ginger, legumes like black beans, carrots, peppers, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, leafy greens, soy, and whole grains.

The main causes of fatigue I see are procrastination, self-criticism, trying to do too much, eating junk food, and not enough fun and exercise. When we put something off, we feel overwhelmed and powerless. If we do a little bit each day, we feel empowered, which strengthens the immune system, while fear drains it into defense. Make a commitment to praise yourself and others, at least as much as you criticize or judge. If you didn’t do something well, make a point to learn from that effort rather than blaming.

Procrastination robs us of lots of energy, so make a list of your responsibilities and prioritize them. Do a little each day on a big task, say a half hour of work, then reward yourself with a break, such as a walk or stretching. For items low on your list, give up expectation that you should do it, delegate it to someone else, or trade someone to do it for you. Schedule in time for fun and nurturance on your calendar so it doesn’t get pushed aside by more pressing demands. You must recharge your batteries or you won’t have zest to do your schoolwork and nurture others.

Prioritize, thinking about what’s really important. Keep your values to the forefront, such as the belief that people are more important than things or a neat desk. Time for a bubble bath, reading for pleasure, exercise, and other activities that make you happy need to be scheduled on the calendar. Look at yourself as a well and fill it with what renews your vitality. If the well runs dry, it can’t offer water to thirsty people. Ask yourself what you’ll remember at the end of your life, what you value.

The main energy robbers include trauma, grievances, physical pain, living with a low-energy person, critical self-talk, negative beliefs, repressed feelings, and criticism, according to Tucson therapists Masci, Barker, and Beck.[xxxviii] Draw what’s depleting your energy to contact your unconscious mind; don’t think, just ask what’s making you tired and then draw the colors and patterns. Draw arrows pointing to a particular body part, person or situation. Draw in a healing color.


Physical Ways To Increase Your Energy

*Get enough sleep and try to rise and shine at about the same hours (www.circadian.com).

*Spend sometime in the sun and use full-spectrum light bulbs.

*Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty by Dr. Batmanghelidj explains how this leads to chronic diseases.

*Eat protein such as spirulina algae, fish, or poultry. When digested, protein releases tyrosine, an amino acid that increased alertness, while complex carbohydrates (whole grains, root vegetable, squash, etc.) are calming and stimulate serotonin. Eat protein earlier in the day rather than before bedtime for restful sleep.

*Get a physical checkup including your thyroid hormones.

*Be positive, as optimists have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

*Relax and avoid chronic stress, which damages the adrenal glands. Ask if a current upset will matter in three months.

*Rest when you’re tired instead of being a martyr and pushing yourself to do too much for the sake of others.

*Regularly do deep breathing exercises; breathe in on the count of six, hold six, and blow out six. Tai chi exercises help generate and move qi/energy. Blow out any fatigue, as if blowing out a candle, and breathe in an energizing color. Disease doesn’t thrive in oxygenated areas, so breathe from your diaphragm to increase oxygen intake, not your upper chest.

*Traditional Chinese medicine suggests ginseng and Angelica (also called Dong Quai) to strengthen adrenal glands.

*Avoid stimulants such as coffee, soft drinks, and chocolate.

*Eat healthy food such as the Mediterranean or Japanese diets.

*Supplement with the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10. It acts as a natural energy “spark,” explains Dr. Susan Lark, who adds that pregnant and lactating mothers should not use it. She also recommends the herb Rhodiola Rosea to support energy level, mood, and concentration. Dr. Lark also supplements with calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc, and vitamins B, E and C.

*Avoid toxins in mercury, aluminum, lead, and drinking and shower water. *Remove dental fillings with mercury and make sure vaccinations don’t contain mercury called Thimerosal.

*Exercise daily.



I will make food prices to go down and I will give free education to children who are willing to go to school. I will build clinics, and I will help the poor.

Mercy, 14, f, Liberia


Why isn’t everyone in this world eating? Evan, 14, m, Quebec

One-third of the children under five–nearly 200 million children–in developing countries are stunted.[xxxix] This means they don’t get enough nutrients to develop their intelligence and grow properly; they are shorter and less intelligent than kids with a good diet. Half of the children in Afghanistan and Pakistan children are stunted, 62% of the kids in North Korea, and 2% in the US. The only agency working on this terrible problem globally is the United Nations’ World Food Program and of course it can only feed a small percent of the hungry children. We’ll need 70% more food as the world’s population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, states the Food and Agriculture Organization.[xl] In 2009, almost 200 countries agreed to increase aid to farmers in poor countries but rejected a UN request to commit $44 billion a year to develop agriculture. “Our job is not just to feed the hungry, but to empower the hungry to feed themselves,” said UN head Ban Ki-Moon. Even in wealthy USA, about 49 million people struggled to have enough food in 2008, according to the US Department of Agriculture.


Americans are mostly used to eating fast food. But in Pakistan we eat full meals and eat it together with all the family members mostly every time, while Americans are so busy that sometime they forget to eat or they stop by a drive-through and grab a sandwich. I believe this was my biggest shock [as an exchange student in the US]. Besides that, I was also shocked to see how teenagers behave with their parents. Most of them are not respectful and I was not happy about it. Hassan, 17, m, Pakistan

Shehroz adds, “Hassan is telling the complete truth. Maybe that is the reason why Pakistani exchange students gain a lot of weight while in USA. Plus, American food contains a lot of cheese and fat, while in Pakistan, the meals are pretty high in fiber which is really good.


The junk food industry tries to brainwash kids through media ads to eat high fat, high corn syrup, and salty foods. One out of every 5 calories in the US diet is soda. The main sweetener is fructose corn syrup. An average American child eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar (88 grams) a day, often from fast foods and sodas high in sucrose and corn syrup. In The Packard Pediatric Weight Control Program kids sign contracts to reduce the number of unhealthy red-light foods they eat. Kids learn to tell the difference between red light foods like hamburgers that are not OK, yellow light foods like meat which can be eaten a little bit, and green light for vegetables and water that should be eaten a lot. Kids scoop out spoons of Crisco fat to see that hamburgers have about six to eight spoons of fat or measure a 12-ounch tube of sugar to see how much sugar is in one can of soda.

Use foods as tonics. Gary Null’s book Power Foods lists these as top on his list (Dr. Weil would add wild salmon): Almonds, oranges, bananas, blueberries, onions, garlic, ginger, legume like black beans, carrots, peppers, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, leafy greens, soy, and whole grains. He uses spelt flour in his recipes. The super foods identified by nutritionist Phyllis Balch in Prescription for Dietary Wellness, are garlic, mushrooms, yogurt, sprouts (you can grow them yourself in a jar), and soy foods. I also recommend her husband’s book Prescription for Natural Cures, by James Balch, MD, and Mark Stengler, ND. It includes information on healing food, herbs, homeopathy, acupressure, flower remedies, etc.

I start out each day with a quick and nutrient-packed blender drink: I use multi-grain drink as a base with banana, apple, and carrot, adding chlorophyll, acidophilus, aloe vera, lecithin, nutritional yeast, Hawthorne herb, bee pollen, kelp, cayenne pepper, cardamom, green vegetable powder (barley grass is the most complete, according to James Balch, MD), and ground flaxseed. Avoid wheat, sugar, and other refined foods you crave, as we often want what we’re allergic to. = Eat apples, bananas, cabbage, citrus, and okra that contain pectin to remove toxins and metals. Food can also be used for beauty aids.[xli]

Food can be used to deal with pimples. Pure water is necessary to make ice to put on clean inflamed skin. Honey and yogurt are good for skin, also a paste of almond meal as a cleansing mask. Avoid scrubbing the skin too hard and overdrying it. [xlii] Hot showers tend to activate the glands so watch out for that too.

Students complain about the quality of school food. I’ve heard two main excuses: Kids won’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables and high fat processed spaghetti, pizza and hamburgers are less expensive, but there is no excuse for jeopardizing the health of future adults. If you want to become an activist for organic fresh food at school, check out the Berkeley School Lunch Initiative inspired by chef Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard program. Here are some websites to start you out.[xliii]

Progressive programs for school health are being developed by NBA basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Challenge and film director Steven Spielberg’s Starbright Foundation that makes instructional videos on teen health. In Philadelphia and Los Angeles elementary schools are developing healthy food programs, encouraging exercise at recess, and are teaching parents and kids about good nutrition. Texas passed laws requiring more physical education, less junk food in schools, and parent education about nutrition.

Our food system causes as much as one-third of the world’s human-made greenhouse gas emissions, including one-fifth of emissions from livestock production. A UN panel says we need to cut emissions by 50 to 85% by 2050. What can we do? Eat fresh whole foods without packaging and processing, cut back on meat from feedlots, and buy locally at farmers’ markets.[xliv]

It’s sad that both malnutrition and obesity are problems for the world’s children. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that in 2008, 40 million more people were added to the rolls of the world’s hungry.[xlv] Every minute we lose 10 children due to hunger and malnutrition; that’s six million preschool kids who die every year because they don’t have the basics. Malnutrition contributes to more than half of the nearly 10 million deaths each year among children under age five, according to UNICEF. When you’re weakened by hunger it’s easy to die from diseases that industrialized nations consider minor such as diarrhea. (Earth Institute Columbia University)

Infant diarrhea is the worst child killer of all time–10, 000 children die from it daily. It can be cured with pennies worth of salt, sugar, and clean water. In 2006, close to 9.7 million children died before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes such as malnutrition, unclean water, malaria, and childhood diseases like measles that could be prevented with vaccines. Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of lack of clean water and sanitation.[xlvi] Each year 2.2 million children die because they are not immunized and 270 million don’t have access to health care.

I recommend the DVD The Future of Food, about such a basic part of life.[xlvii] It begins with the so-called Green Revolution, based on the use of pesticides, fertilizer and herbicide, that evolved into the GMO (genetically modified organism) biotech Revolution in the 1990s. Toxins such as PCBs, dioxin, and DDT were said to be safe, as in ads stating,” DDT is good for me.” Monsanto company created “Roundup (RU) ready plants” that don’t die when sprayed with weed killer chemicals. Corn was genetically engineered to be a bacterial poison. To insert the altered genes, scientists used ecoli bacteria that were RU resistant and also inserted viruses to enter the plant’s DNA.

Monsanto’s goal is to patent its seeds that can’t be saved from the plant for reuse the next growing season, so farmers will have to buy new GMO seeds every year. The US Patent Office said live things couldn’t be patented, but the Supreme Court overturned this decision. Monsanto is buying up seed companies and owns about 11,000 patents. It even sues farmers who have Monsanto corn plants blown on their fields by the wind, etc. A Canadian farmer took his case all the way to the Supreme Court and lost. Monsanto also created GMO Roundup Ready cotton and soybeans, used in infant formula. The DVD ends by telling us that six large companies will control the world’s food production in the future. In 2009, Monsanto tried to get the US. House of Representatives to pass bill HR 875 to prevent organic farming “make sure there is no danger to the public food supply,” so farmers would have to buy their chemicals.



Why do humans age? Setchan, 9, m, Japan


How long can a human being live? Gabriela, 10, f, Columbia


What’s the oldest age a human can live? Yukarin, 10, f, Japan


What would we have to do to keep human life go on much longer?

KJ, 11, m, Belgium


When is the hardest time in life? Sung Mo, 12, m, Korea

When you’re aware that you’ve lost control of your life, like when someone gets really sick or injured or old and dependent on someone to care for him or her. I asked a group of adults to identify the most powerful transformational experiences in their lives. They replied, the birth of a child, death of a loved one, divorce, and hearing the Dhalai Lama speak (www.dalailama.com). So, hard times can make us grow.


Worldwide, women live for an average of 65 years and men live for 61 years. Your life span depends where you live, if you’re male or female, rich or poor. If you’re Japanese, you can expect to live to be 81. If you live in the US, to 78. But, if you live in Africa, your life expectancy is only to your 30s, such as 38 in Sierra Leone. AIDS has reduced life expectancy in 34 countries, most in Africa. Youth may be the first generation not to live longer than their parents because of obesity and lack of exercise. About 8.8. million children die every year before their fifth birthday; 40% of them live in India, Nigeria and Congo, according to UNICEF data in 2009.

A 2008 University of Cambridge study found four keys to living longer (14 years on average than people who didn’t follow these keys): don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and exercise regularly (researcher Kay-Tee Khaw, etc.). Half the deaths in the US are caused by behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and lack of exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control. “How To Be 16 Years Healthier” cited in Dr. Weil’s free newsletter (drweil.com) reports the “secret” is vigorous exercise. A study of Americans age 100 plus found that our genes were influential, as was avoiding smoking, obesity, inactivity, diabetes and high blood pressure. The 2008 study by Boston University researchers was based on 500 women and 200 men who reached age 100. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) evaluates the leading causes of death and found about half of US deaths are due to smoking, lack of exercise, and alcohol abuse.

Some scientists believe that our human genetic system is designed to let us live to be about 120 years old. Dr. Mark Liponis advises to eat a Mediterranean diet which is low in meat and processed foods, keep learning, drink tea, stay slim, be happily married, and have a spiritual belief. Dr. Joseph Mercola believes the key to longevity is to keep insulin levels and blood sugar low by avoiding sugars. Excess insulin stores calories from the carbohydrates in the form of fat (which is why so many are overweight), and the excess insulin also suppresses essential hormones and your immune system, leading to premature aging.[xlviii]

Aging is linked with bad free radical byproducts of oxidation, glycation that alters proteins (sugars kind of caramelize in the body), and chronic inflammation that is linked to many diseases.[xlix]

Antioxidant foods to fight free radicals include: blueberries, cranberries (also prevent cavities) sesame seeds, green tea, red grapes, uma plums, olive oil, tomatoes, broccoli (fights cancer tumors along with shitake and rishi mushrooms), chlorophyll, turmeric and sea vegetables; avoid sugar. Also, resveratrol—an antioxidant–slows down the aging process in mice.

Blood sugar regulation: fiber foods, cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, green tea, and chromium.

Lessen inflammation: Fish: wild salmon, sablefish, mackerel, herring, sardines. Vegetables: onions, garlic, chives, leeks, greens (spinach, chard, collards, broccoli, kale), tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, beans, nuts, and seeds.  Fruit: berries (especially blueberries, raspberries and Hawthorne). Spices: ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, clove. Herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, fennel, mint, dill, tarragon, and turmeric.



For fun: eat all the chocolate I can see. Maximilian, 8, m, Singapore


Zero body, zero size figure is the new craze among girls. They think it’s sexy to be thin. They may be right but it is highly harmful for health. A normal body of normal size and weight is enough to look good and sexy. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan


People commented on my Internet diary and asked me how to get an eating disorder, as if it were the new diet craze. If I could change something about myself, I would be a beautiful person instead of the fat monstrosity that I am today.

Kitty, 18, f, North Carolina.


I try to heat healthy, organic food, but no matter how hard I try, I still gain weight. OK, actually I realize as I write this, its really about self-control. I need more self-discipline. Llisa, 18, f, British Columbia


I would be as skinny as could be. Iveey, 18, f, California

With “globesity” the world is getting fatter. Fat is one of the causes of metabolic syndrome associate with a large waist, high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats called triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol and insulin resistance, that leads to many diseases. It’s as big a threat as global warming says Australian professor Paul Zimmet, who reports there are more overweight people than undernourished.[l] He believes obesity will overwhelm every medical system in the world.

The obesity epidemic in developed countries happened fast, in one generation. Now China worries about its chubby kids. One in five four-year-olds are overweight in the US. More than 9 million US children over five are overweight, leading to an increase in diabetes and low self-esteem. The average child sees up to 40,000 ads a year selling junk food. Their health problems will cost their country an estimated $11 billion in the future.[li] Over 17% or nine million children over age six in the US are obese, as are around one-third of American adults which leads to heart disease, cancers, and joint diseases. This rate has increased four times since the 1960s. At least one in five US teens has abnormal cholesterol levels—much more true of obese kids, increasing the risk of heart disease.[lii]

About 30% of school children are overweight (a broader category than obesity), as kids get less exercise and restaurants are serving bigger sizes. Shehroz tells us, “One of my shocks in USA were the serving sizes and free refills as well as free French fries at many places.” Most young children get exercise, but by age 15 fewer than 3% get over two hours of exercise most days. Boys are more active than girls at every age, according to a 2008 study headed by Dr. Philip Nader. Some schools have large exercise balls to sit on instead of chairs and substitute healthy food for junk food.

Kids are spending more time watching TV, playing video games, and using the Internet. About one-third of high school students watch more than three hours a day, including about 63% of black students, 43% of Latino students, and 27% of whites.[liii] A lot of TV viewing is associated with more aggressive behavior and weight gain. The average child sees up to 40,000 hits of advertising every year, and the ads are not selling health. Every one-hour TV program you sit through increases the chances of premature death caused from Disuse Syndrome, raising your odds for dying from heart attack or stroke by 18%, from cancer by 9%, and from other health problems by 11%.[liv]

Many US schools have cut physical education programs: Illinois is the only state that requires PE for grades K-12. As many as 40% of elementary schools don’t set aside time for play and exercise.[lv] A study of California teens reported that 25% don’t exercise enough.[lvi] A junior at Berkeley High explained, “Teenagers don’t have time to exercise. It’s like the last thing on your mind.” “I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electric outlets are,“ said a fifth-grader. Exercise and healthy natural foods keep us at a healthy weight, but many city kids don’t exercise. We need more programs The Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings program brings inner-city youth to the wilderness.[lvii]

Shehroz adds, Parents should take the responsibility of controlling their kid’s diet and making sure they get enough exercise. In my childhood, I was really fat and I remember my grandfather not letting me eat fatty foods. He would make me run to a nearby shop to get him something from there and when I would return he would say that I brought the wrong thing and would make me run again. Later in life I realized that he wanted me to just run and get some outdoor exercise. Furthermore, he would get me involved in activities that required physical exertion. Now I am slim and no one can believe that I was once so fat and chubby. Parents play a very vital role in all this. They are responsible if their child gets obese.

Treating overweight kids in hospitals costs over $127 million a year. Ross Brownson estimates that today’s obese kids will cost the US around $11 billion in the future.[lviii] Being overweight can also be depressing and lower self-esteem. Obesity can lead to later health problems: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and breast cancer. These illnesses cost a lot to treat, $147 billion in 2008 in the US.[lix] Doctors say you’re as old as your arteries. Fat children as young as 10 have the rigid arteries of 45-year-olds, with cholesterol deposits and an enlarged chamber of the heart—the left atrium.[lx]

Overweight children are much more likely to develop heart disease, even if there were just a little chubby as kids. Four million have above-normal blood pressure, 27 million have high cholesterol and more than a third don’t exercise. . As the childhood obesity rate doubled in the last ten years, it caused a 10 times increase in childhood diabetes. We’ve also seen an increase in Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes. Even in the 1970s type 2 diabetes was rare, but now it’s so common that one-third of the children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime and it’s now one of the most common childhood diseases.

Dr. Ludwig’s Ending the Food Fight: Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World (2007) reports on what he learned from the 5,000 children who have participated in his Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program.[lxi] When Dr. Ludwig taught the children visiting him at his clinic to eat low-glycemic foods, they experienced weight loss even without limiting the number of calories they ate. Food that increase blood sugar and weight include bread, pasta, candy, soda, and other refined foods with white flour and sugar. Dr. Ludwig teaches children to choose “real foods” instead of “fake foods.” A simple way to explain this is by pointing out the nutritional differences between an apple and something that comes from a vending machine.

Diets don’t work, as most people regain their weight. I asked a Dietetic Professor how to lose weight.[lxii]

In a nut-shell, people need to learn how to take the focus off of weight and put the focus on improving fitness and start eating a variety of enjoyable foods and accept their body however it turns out. An individual can be healthy regardless of their size. The media tells us how we’re supposed to look. We have to tell the media that beauty can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Dieters, obsessed with their weight, often label food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ which sends them into a vicious guilt-repent cycle. This leads to yo-yo dieting which causes both physiologic and psychologic damage. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not the bad guy! I encourage people to read Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.

If you’re overweight, avoid judging yourself. Stick to positive programming such as “I honor my body by eating healthy food when I’m hungry.” Think about ways you can positively fulfill the need which generated the habit; for example, coping with stress by taking a walk, using positive self-talk, and asking “Will this be important two months from now?”

Ask yourself what need overeating satisfies-feeling protected, feeling gratified, coping with anxiety, etc. Think about a healthy way to satisfy the need and reassure your unconscious mind it’s safe to change. Set a goal such as loosing a few pounds a month and reward yourself when you achieve your goal. Imagine that you have a hungry hole in your heart that can’t be filled with food, no matter how much you eat. You can do a visualization like wearing a beautiful heart necklace that radiates beams of love into your heart. The unconscious mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and belief, as evidenced in the very different health issues for multiple personalities in Disassociate Identity Disorder.

Don’t have fattening unhealthy foods in your house. Fill your stomach with vegetables and fruits. Don’t eat out of a container. Put small portions on your plate and stop eating when you’re full or it doesn’t taste good anymore. Shehroz reports, “A fat friend told me that he has started dieting–when it is fifteen to twenty minutes left to lunch time, he would eat a carrot at that time. So when the lunch is served, he doesn’t feel so hungry and eats very little.” Eat your big meal early, not close to bedtime. Most addictive behaviors need a support group with a buddy to strengthen your resolve to be healthy. For more resources, see this endnote.[lxiii]

As the gap between the rich and poor increases, there are more obese people in the world than hungry people, reports author Raj Patel. Developed countries struggle with obesity and developing nations with food shortages. World poverty is worse than any time in history, as for every well-fed baby in the north, five die of malnutrition in the south. Since the early 1970s, the numbers of malnourished children have risen by more than 75% to 33 million today. “Nothing is more degrading than hunger, especially when man-made,” stated UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2008.

In developing countries poor people spend over half of their money on food. For the 160 million people who survive on less than 50 cents a day, increases in food costs is a disaster. Food prices jumped 39% from 2007 to 2008, reported the International Monetary Fund. At least 100 million people in 22 countries are threatened by the global food crisis. Food prices are rising because of increasing fuel costs, more demand for fuel from India and China, biofeul production using corn for cars rather than for food, droughts, and–especially in Africa—scarcity of fertilizers, irrigation, and transportation to get food to markets. In Pakistan, Sheroz tells us, “Last year there was a shortage of wheat in my country and due to that, prices of flour rose sky high. Later, a lot of factories were found hiding the flour so that they could sell it on high prices. Wheat is the staple diet of the people. The same thing happened this year with sugar.”



I know of girls aged nine and ten who have gotten pregnant. It’s very common. It’s very hard to take care of a child at that age. I think they don’t know about the facts of life. They don’t want to get married, just to have sex. In Buzios, most kids wait until 17 or 18, but in Rio it’s often younger. I haven’t heard of rape in Buzios. Some kids do get abortions. Eva, 11, f, Brazil


I would educate them on family planning to avoid unemployment, overcrowding and scarcity of resources. ?, f, teen, Kenya


Why are sexy girls so sexy? D-Dogg, 14, m, Hawaii

Different historical periods and different countries are conditioned to have different views of what’s attractive—thin or full-figured. Media shapes what you think is sexy now, as well as your personal history and preference, and what the girl feels about you.


Why do females have to hold a baby for 9 months, have our period, and give birth and go through a lot of changes? Courtney, 14, f, Lanai

Girls start to menstruate at age 12—the median age in developed countries. Factors that lead to earlier menstruation are being overweight, chemical exposure, and living in a family without the father present. Having a period and female hormones is one of the reasons women live longer than men in developed nations, as they protect against heart diseases. Giving birth is the most exciting thing I’ve done in my life and I’ve traveled from Tibet to Tahiti and talked to million of people on national television shows. A German psychoanalyst named Karen Horney believed that men have “womb envy” because they can’t give birth.

About half of women in developing countries give birth without access to appropriate care and a skilled attendant. Every year, more than half a million women die and many more suffer complications from childbirth. When complications arise, as they do in approximately 15% of all births, there is no one available to treat the woman, leading to disabling injuries like fistula (the woman leaks urine or feces leading to much discrimination),[lxiv] and even death. Most of these young women are in developing countries, about 2-3 million worldwide. An estimated 30,000 to 130,000 new cases of fistula occur every year in Africa.[lxv] P. 97 You can give money to help fund operations to repair the damage so young women can return to normal life at fistualafoundation.org. See the film “A Walk to Beautiful” about five Ethiopian young women with fistula.

. Around 122 million women want birth control but can’t get it.[lxvi] P. 134 The best population control is educating women and reducing child mortality. About one in five pregnancies end in abortion. About 42 million abortions were performed in 2005, with 35 million in the developing world. About half of all abortions are unsafe, and most of them take place in poor countries. Nicaragua is one of 35 countries that ban all abortions, even to save the life of the mother. Little progress has been made in helping women survive pregnancy and birth.[lxvii]

An extensive report is available online about global adolescent girls’ health.[lxviii]


I believe that if woman do not want to become pregnant, they should take the necessary steps to prevent a pregnancy (birth control, used properly). Besides, if the woman finds herself unwillingly pregnant by an accident or even rape, she can always choose to give her child a chance at life with a family who would love to have her, by choosing to have her child adopted. In short, I believe that a fetus is a human, not an unwanted growth like a tumor, as some would say. The fetus is meant to develop into a human, capable of great and horrible things, but a tumor will always remain a tumor. Kristen, 14, f, Florida


[What bothers me is:] School. Emotions. Boys. When you care about a certain boy who only wants to get in your pants. And [how there’s] not enough time in a day. Taryn, 15, f, Australia


When is the proper age to have sex? Patrick, 15, m, Quebec

A study of sexual behavior in 59 nations found multiple sexual partners were more commonly reported in industrialized nations. Despite stereotypes, singles in Africa were less sexually active. The pattern globally is people first have sex in their late teens—from 15 to 19 years old, a little younger for girls. In regards to numbers of sexual partners, there is greater equality between women and men in industrial counties.[lxix]

Having sex because of peer pressure and everyone else says they are makes for a shallow and unsatisfying sexual experience. Casual “hook-ups” are dangerous in terms of sexually transmitted diseases. Western media and marketing use sexy young models to sell goods. Take a look at girls’ and women’s magazines: The message is to be sexually attractive at a very young age. Don’t be hurried by the media into being sexually active. The right time is when you have a well-established loving relationship based on friendship and mutual respect as well as sexual attraction, and when it fits with your moral values. Some religions believe that sex should occur only in the committed and socially recognized bond of marriage. However, the average age for marriage in industrial nations is mid-20s or older, so that’s a long time to wait.[lxx] Some sex educators like Dr. Ruth suggest the partners help each other achieve orgasms without penis penetration of the vagina and the resulting risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.[lxxi]


I would like to thank HBO for airing MIDDLE SCHOOL CONFESSIONS. It was an eye opening experience for me. I am now very comfortable with my sexual orientation. I am bisexual and I know that I am not alone. CeeCee B. 15, f, Pennsylvania http://www.hbofamily.com/about_hbofamily/ Middle School Confessions


Why is it that girls are insisted to be virgin unlike the boys? ?, f, 16, Kenya

It’s unfair, but it’s because boys don’t get pregnant.


[For fun I enjoy] Having sex, drinking, smoking, and smoking marijuana. I had sex in school and didn’t get caught. Why is my special someone a meany and a dummy? Zempan, 17, m, Lanai, Hawaii


What really happens in puberty? How can teens prevent pimples? If I lift weights, will it keep me from growing tall? Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan

How tall we grow depends on our genes and the nutrition we get as children. Acne is also partly genetic and is triggered by hormonal changes, which cause the skin to make more sebum oil, which can clog pores and get infected with P. bacteria.[lxxii] For healthy skin: eat a healthy diet with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, drink lots of water (if your urine is dark yellow you need to drink more water), and get plenty of sleep. Avoid sugary food, which stimulate hormones, as well as trans fat and milk (because of the hormones in cow’s milk or check on the package to see if the mild is hormone-free), and sodas and diet drinks. Exercise increases the blood flow to help clear skin and helps cope with stress that increases sebum secretion. For skin care, my doctor recommends, “A gentle daily cleanser. Avoid scrubbing the skin too hard and over drying it. Hot showers tend to activate the glands so watch out for that too. I asked a demotologist and he recommended exfoliating the skin (removing dead skin) with a cleanser that includes salicylic acid and an antibacterial. Here’s a website for boys about puberty.[lxxiii]


Why isn’t there a cure for certain for certain STDS? Monique, 17, f, California

There are 12 million sexually active teens in the US. Each year a quarter of them get a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In the US, the Centers for Disease Control estimated in 2008 that 25% of teenage girls have an STD. Half of the new HIV/AIDS cases occur in teens. The most common infections are in this order: human papilloma virus (HPV), Chlamydia, trichomoniasis and herpes. Other STDS are gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis B. Herpes, AIDS, and genital warts, all caused by viruses, have no cure. Some teens think that oral sex is safe—not “real sex,” but most of the STDs can be transmitted orally, including AIDS, herpes, syphilis, and gonorrhea. Doctors in the US are told to watch out cancers in the throat and rectal area because of oral sex and HPV. Sometimes warning signs indicate something is wrong, but many don’t show up early on. Symptoms include discharge, itching or irritation, sores, blisters, rashes, warts or lumps, and pain on urinating or with intercourse. See the endnote for the best websites about sexual health for teens.[lxxiv]


I feel that our generation is quite open about sex and virginity comparatively. I know my male classmates don’t care about virginity. Girls I know, if think they find the right person, they wouldn’t care that much. But some insist to keep their virginity until they find the one, which includes me. About premarital sex, I read an article “Love, Caution” in China Daily, which talks about premarital sex among young Chinese people. Here is some data:

Percentage of people who had premarital sex, by age group.

18~21            15%

21~24           39%

24~27         58.7%

Although people are trending to be more open, there are still people who hold a traditional view of premarital sex. They somehow regard sex as an item after marriage.  Some think virginity is holy, should save it for the people that they love. I am one of those people. But not necessarily after marriage, for me sex has nothing to do with marriage, if I find the person. Yuan, 19, m, China


As a Muslim, Shehroz’s view is, “Sex should be linked as an important component and final level of a serious relationship and life-long commitment and not some fun activity because then it destroys the morals of a human.”



I can’t sleep when I need to. Like if something’s going to happen the next day, so I need sleep. Especially on Sunday night. So I often go to school on Mondays with 2 or 3 hours of sleep.

I am a huge band geek. I mean beyond huge. It’s all I ever do really. But most people would be bored with a book about a band geek…so I guess it’s OK to tone that down a bit. I am pretty much a loner by nature. I have friends, but I’m not really comfortable around people. I’m happiest by myself minus people. I like fire. And my parents and I get along pretty well. I get all As without ever studying. I’m actually really smart. I just took the SATs in 8th grade and got 1790/2400. I used to cut myself. But I don’t anymore. I’m a goody-goody. I never do anything wrong (besides try to date a senior, but that was totally harmless and I got caught) I never go anywhere. I love to read. I write in my sit diary obsessively because I have a strange need to write down my thought and other brain vomit. My dad’s really funny. And likes good music. And that’s all I can think of. I’m pretty borin! Rachel, 14, f, Pennsylvania


When you start to worry, write down your to-do list. Before you go to sleep, imagine a chalkboard. Write down what’s on your mind and erase them one by one until the board stays clear of worries. (You can also use this technique with a negative belief, like “I can’t pass this test.”) If you’re buzzing with anxiety or thoughts, arch them off to the corners of the room as if releasing electricity down lightning rods.

Think about the most relaxing place you can imagine, perhaps a warm tropical paradise. Imagine taking the worry tape out of your tape recorder and substitute a wonderful fantasy tape, like being in lovely, green Ireland. To go to sleep, use the old trick of counting sheep or your in and out breaths, repeating a word like peace or serenity. It may help to listen to soothing classical music before bedtime and the herb Valerian helps some people sleep. A sesame oil foot rub also help us to relax. When you get in bed, keep your awareness behind your eyes and count your inhalations and exhalations from your belly to do deep slow breathing and you’ll nod right off. Shehroz reads a boring book and goes right off to dreamland.

Also check to make sure your bed is in the proper position in terms of Feng Shui (not in line with the door) and the earth’s energy lines. (Feng Shui is the “Chinese art of arranging buildings, objects, and space in the environment in order to achieve energy, harmony, and balance.” It uses concepts of balancing yin and yang and proper energy flow.) It also helps to have a regular sleep schedule, avoid bright lights or stimulating TV about two hours before bedtime

Some view sleep as dead time, but in fact it’s very productive time when the body and mind are renewed, although about 70 million Americans generally don’t get enough sleep. Many scientists, like Thomas Edison, tell stories of waking up with the solution to a puzzling problem. A German study at the University of Luebeck discovered that problem solving and new ideas occur during deep sleep that usually takes place in the first four hours of sleep. The unconscious mind works out solutions to emotional issues as well. It’s wise to clean out any irritations of the day before bedtime in order to be able to use sleep time to generate new ideas. Shehroz adds, “I often write small stories in my diary and many times I am inspired by a dream I had.”


Sports Performance

What’s the easiest way to get fit? Keenan, 13, m, Australia

Exercise daily, make it a routine like brushing your teeth. Take a physical education class at school. If you watch TV, also lift weights, use an exercise/resistance band available on the Internet, do situps, and other exercises.[lxxv] If possible, ride your bike for transportation.


I’m on a track team for my school. I’ve never won a meet although I’ve beaten every one of the other guys in other events. Suggestions? Tom, 17, m, California


I think someone who stands out as an athlete is someone who commits every aspect of his or her life to that specific sport. For example, when I run cross-country, I adjust my eating habits (big, healthy breakfast is KEY, healthy snacks throughout the day to maintain energy), liquid consumption (no carbonated drinks and 2+ gallons of water per day), amount of sleep I get (8 hours+), and focus on winning.  This year, I adjusted these things in addition to practicing hard and ended up making it to the state meet.

One thing that I see truly dedicated athletes do is focus on winning; practice should be taken seriously, like a race or game would be. If I want to beat a certain teammate, I practice beating them by keeping up with them and beating them at every practice. Too many young athletes screw around at practice and just “complete the workout” rather than going above and beyond by pushing themselves.  The truly talented athletes are the ones who are dedicated to practice and winning.

Perhaps a good piece of advice for people who are not the most naturally gifted athletes is to focus on self-improvement. For example, if a person running cross-country is running 20:00 5ks, work on getting down to 19:30. Setting unrealistic goals of 14:45 would be ridiculous. If a person sets an achievable goal, they will reach it, but also learn what it takes to improve. These skills will help them improve even further. It’s much like weight loss; if a person says they are going to lose 100 pounds, then having a candy bar here or there would seem alright because they know it will take a long time to get to their goal, but if a person says they want to lose 5 pounds, they will adjust their lifestyle to lose the weight.  Once that person has lost it, they know how to lose weight and can lose more if they wish. Cory, 17, m, California


Instead of thinking of winning as putting yourself above the others and being conceited, think of it as being an example to others of how to be successful. You can complement the other runners on their performance. Also, visualizations help focus your bodymind. Imagine a pulley connecting you to the finish line, pulling you faster, effortlessly. Athletes like golf champion Tiger Woods spend a lot of time mentally rehearsing their movements. Think about where you plateau in terms of your fastest time, and then use energy psychology to raise the limit (for Emotional Freedom Technique, see emofree.com).

Instead of watching and judging yourself, put all your attention on the ball. Think of owning it as yours, loving it as if it were your child. Connect invisible lines from the ball to where you want it to go and command it to go there. You can also increase concentration by imagining zooming in a camera, focusing on the ball. Martin reports, “I felt a greater concentration for the soccer game and the ball since I made an effort to use roses to encapsulate me and the ball during games.” You can imagine beautiful flowers surrounding you, protecting and energizing you.

Ashley, a softball player, came to me because she was anxious about batting after a wrist injury. She recovered, but her anxiety remained. We used acupressure tapping to dispel the anxiety. She focused on owning the ball, and was delighted about her batting the next day. Imagine the goal for your sports performance, moving it a step up, and observe if any tension or doubt occurs; if so, tap on acupressure points while focusing on that tension.

Tyrone, a basketball player, was anxious about being guarded while dribbling the ball. He told me his older brother used to slap him on the face when he was a boy. We used EFT tapping on that experience to clear it out and decided on visualization techniques. He now imagines flames around him as he moves down the court to keep guards away from his face, as well as the lines connecting the ball to where he wants it to go.

Before a performance, use kinesiology exercises, explained in the Increase Energy section above, to balance the right and left brain and the different sides of the body. Breathe deeply, rub your ears, tap and thump acupressure points and your thymus, and cross-crawl, touching opposite elbow to opposite knee. Make an amusement scrapbook with your favorite cartoons, photos, and jokes; view funny videos to use humor to relax. “My friend always watches funny videos on youtube before every sports meet or any major examination,” Shehroz adds.

Drew wanted to improve his running performance. Before a run, he does the bilateral polarity balancing exercises and then stretches, picturing the muscle he is stretching. He reports, “I listen to my body to find the areas that need more attention. As I run, I concentrate on taking breaths from deep in my abdomen and exhaling completely. The difference in my performance is amazing, as I can run for a longer time at a constant, steady pace.”



The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Something that bothers me just about every day: violence. It’s in wars, streets, and everyday regular places, where people live in fear regularly.

Ryan, 12, m, Belize


I have to deal with people fighting and stealing around me.

Quenny, 12, m, Columbia


I like to read, go to the market downtown, shop at health food stores, and exercise. I would probably do more things, but my mother doesn’t like to drive me many places. I don’t feel safe walking/biking/skating anywhere by myself.

Kristen, 15, f, Florida

People feel that a girl is meant to be used—either as a doormat, a maid, a birth-giving machine or as a source of physical pleasure. Something CONCRETE seriously needs to be done to change the current scenario because now a girl does not feel safe even in her own house, let alone the streets. ?, 16, f, India

www.unicef.org/voy Voices of Youth, March 5, 2006


I like hanging out with my friends and walking around uptown, doing insane things. I’ve gotten rides home from complete male strangers; I’ve streaked across a park in broad daylight. I love doing out-of-the-normal stuff. I write poetry to express my feelings, and have had a few professionally published. I love to sleep and dream about the future, about things that will never happen, wondering what if? Amy Marie, 16, f, Illinois

Read the section about the brain and teen risk taking! There are better ways to find excitement.


Adults should not beat their juniors. Azharul, 17, m, Bangladesh


We’ve created a culture of violence since commercial TV became available in 1946, maintains Professor Michael Nagler.[lxxvi] Kids are bombarded with violent images from television, video games, and rap music. Violence results from wars, crime, racism and sexism. Children experience violence in too many ways, in wars, as child soldiers and youth-headed militia groups (as in Nigeria’s Niger delta region where the foreign oil companies operate), as immigrants to foreign countries, in school bullying and exclusion, as the victims of murder, suicide from untreated depression, AIDS and rape (some believe that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS), street children who commonly use drugs like glue sniffing and crack, and I would include kids who die from lack of food and medical care.[lxxvii]

Each year an estimated 2 million girls undergo some form of genital mutilation where parts of their labia or clitoris are removed. (The clitoris is the female organ with similar nerve endings to the penis.) Female genital cutting is practiced in 28 African countries and parts of the Middle East and Asia. An estimated 135 girls and women have suffered from cutting, according to CARE.[lxxviii] In China and India millions of baby girls are killed or abandoned. “Honor killings” by other family members murder thousands of women in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries who are judged to have violated sexual norms. Middle Eastern girls who engage in premarital sex and can afford it may have an operation to replace the hymen, a membrane in the vagina. In the Middle East sexual honor leads to violence–including rape as a way to punish a girl’s family by dishonoring them and honor killings–over 5,000 a year, estimates the UN Population Fund.[lxxix] Honor killings happen in the US too. An Iraqi immigrant in Arizona ran over his daughter with his car because he felt she’d become too Westernized (October 20, 2009)

Domestic violence is too common. In the US, at least 5 million children are either victims of or see physical abuse, domestic violence by their parents, or violence in their neighborhoods. They also frequently see violence on TV. Violence against women by their husbands or partners ranges from a low of 15% in Japan, to up to a quarter in the European Union and the US, to a high of 71% in rural Ethiopia, according to interviews with nearly 25,000 women in 10 countries by the World Health Organization in 2006. An estimated two to four million American women are abused by their partners, as are about five percent of men. These injuries are more frequent than those caused by auto accidents, rapes and muggings combined. Almost one-third of female murder victims were killed by their lovers or husbands. In the US a victim of domestic violence can call a national hotline (1-800-799-SAFE). The victim should leave the perpetrator, as it’s unrealistic to expect him or her to change.

For self-defense, women shouldn’t wear high heels so they can run. Keep keys in your hand with the keys sticking out of your fist. If attacked, hit your knee into his groin, use your head to butt the attacker, stomp on his foot, hit under the nose or chin, use your knees and elbows, and your voice–YELL. Don’t accept drinks without seeing them poured to avoid drugs that make you unconscious.[lxxx]

Model programs to reduce violence are found globally. The Guy-to-Guy Project by Instituto Promundo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, organizes young men who live in poor areas to do outreach to other guys with a play about reducing violence against women, provide educational materials, etc. A similar group in Mumbai, India, called Men Against Violence and Abuse teaches young men through street plays, essay and poster competitions, wall newspapers, radio plays, and discussion groups.

Scientists know the interconnection of mind and body, as with the power of the placebo effect. When a patient gets a sugar pill, but believes it’s medicine, it’s effective around 40% of the time. In the next chapter we’ll delve into mental health issues.


http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_31921.html ch, 2006, Ambulatory Pediatrics journal)

2TheAmerican Psychiatric Association council 2007 report

[iv] Virtual-Addiction.com; NeAddiction.com; netaddictionrecovery.com.

[v] Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries.” February 14, 2007. http://www.unicef-irc.org/datasets/data_sets_int.html http://www.unicef-irc.org/datasets/data_sets_int.html

[vii] Don Tapscott. Grown Up Digital. McGrawHill, 2009, p. 100

[viii] MIT Young Adult Development Project  http://hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/youngadult/index.html

[ix] Matt Crenson, “Brain Changes, Not Hormones, Explain Many Adolescent Behaviors,” December 31, 2000  http://www.s-t.com/daily/12-00/12-31-00/e05li27.htm

[xi] www.unfpa.org/swp/2004/english/ch9/page8.htm

[xiii] Editorial, “A new Target in the AIDS War,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 20, 2006, p. E6.

[xvi] http://youth.developmentgateway.org/Content-item-view.10976+M5a79bd4590d.0.html

Youthaidscoaltion.org Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS

Dance4Life uses dance to educate youth about HIV/AIDS in secondary schools in over 10 countries.

[xvii] Suzanne Somers. Knockout: Interviews with Doctors who are Curing Cancer and How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place. Crown, 2009.  www.suzannesomers.com www.lef.org The Life Extension Magazine is available online. This is Somers’ favorite source of info.

[xviii] Dr. Andrew Weil explains, Normally, inflammation occurs in response to injury and attack by germs. It is marked by local heat, redness, swelling, and pain, and is the body’s way of getting more nourishment and more immune activity to an area that needs them. But inflammation isn’t always helpful. It also has destructive potential. We see this when the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues in such autoimmune diseases as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. And we now know that inflammation also plays a causative role in heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as other age-related disorders, including cancer.

The anti-inflammatory diet gives you a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Most people consume an excess of omega-6 fatty acids from which the body synthesizes hormones that promote inflammation. These fats are found in oil-rich seeds and the oils extracted from them, which are used in almost all snack foods and fast foods. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and are found in oily fish, walnuts, flax, hemp, and to a smaller degree in soy and canola oils and sea vegetables. In addition to correcting the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, the anti-inflammatory diet eliminates consumption of margarine, vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils–all of which promote inflammation.

Carbohydrate foods also influence the inflammatory process. In the body, chemical reactions between the sugars and protein produce pro-inflammatory compounds called AGEs (advanced glycation end products). You can moderate this process by keeping blood sugar low and stable. That means eating less bread, white potatoes, crackers, chips and other snack foods, pastries, and sweetened drinks, less refined and processed foods, and by avoiding fast foods and products made with high fructose corn syrup. Instead, eat more whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, winter squashes and other vegetables and temperate fruits such as berries, cherries, apples, and pears instead of tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple, mango and papaya. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA359518

[xx] Nccam.nih.gov

[xxi] /www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART00667  For more about food: http://www.foodincmovie.com/hungry-for-change-cafeteria.php

[xxiii] Robert Moss, “Thoughts Can Heal Your Body, Parade, March 9, 2008, p. 6. Center for spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, Integrative Medicine program at the M.S. Anderson Cancer Center

[xxiv] Lead researcher Dr. Hilary Tindle, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The Mayo Clinic study report was in 2000.

[xxv] monitoringthefuture.org

[xxvi] A report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

[xxvii] Resource: Should I Medicate My Child, Lawrence Diller, MD, 2002.

[xxx] taylorhooton.org steroid education. Steroidabuse.org

Who.int/child-adolescent-health:  The World Health Organization provides information on health issues faced by youth

Sadd.org: Students Against Destructive Decisions information about drinking and drugs.

[xxxiii] Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122765890

[xxxiv] March, 2006, Ambulatory Pediatrics Journal

[xxxv] Mokdad AH, et al. Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000. JAMA Mar 10; 291:1238-45

[xxxix] Joel Brinkley, “Stunted Outlook on Neglect of Kids,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 2009, P. E8. /www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

[xli] Eating for Beauty. David Wolfe.    Eatingforbeauty.com

Read about Ayurvedic Beauty Care using foods like oil and yogurt, as in Beauty Secrets of India by Monisha Bharadwaj.

[xliii] Rethinking school lunch: ecoliteracy.org/programs/rsl.html

Growing food at school: ediblesschoolyard.org/howto.html

Farm to school program: farmtoschool.org (as in Marin County, California)

Healthy Vending Machines: stonyfield.com/menuforchange

“Two Angry Moms” is a film about improving school food. Their website has many resources. http://www.angrymoms.org/inner/resources.html

[xlvi] water.org is working on providing clean water (co-founded by actor Matt Damon)

[xlix] Andrew Weil, MD, www. drweil.com and Healthy Aging

Norman Shealy, MD, Ph.D. Life Beyond 100, Penguin. and http://www.normshealy.net.

[li] Ross Brownson, St. Louis University School of Public Health, 1 of 19 authors of a report “Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance,” 2005. www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309091969

[lii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in 2010, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report based on 3, 125 teens.

[liii] 2007 survey of about 14,000 students by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[liv] A mortality follow-up (over 6.6 years) on the original 11,000 study participants by Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, 2010. www.technewsworld.com/story/69108.html

[lv] Actionforhealthykids.org offers resources to increase PE in schools.

[lvi] 2003 California Health Interview Survey

[lvii] Sierraclub.org/youth

[lviii] sciencenewsforkids.org/articles/20041027/Feature1.asp

[lix] “Obesity Crushing Weight on Health Care,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 16, 2009, p. A10.

[lx] Dr. Geetha Raghuveer, Children’s Hospital in Kansas City, 2008 study

[lxii] Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD, Assistant Professor and Dietetic Program Director

Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, California State University, January 27, 2010 email.

[lxiii] Americanheart.org/healthierkids or clintonfoundation.org


Live It! A program to help sixth-graders to exercise and heat healthy foods.  Kids are encouraged to take at least 10,000 steps a day. Liveitprogram.com




[lxiv] www.fistulafoundation.org. See the film “A Walk to Beautiful,” (2007) about village women in Ethiopia who receive an operation so they can return to normal life. It shows the young women in their villages and in the hospital, a glimpse into village life.

[lxv] Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred a. Knopf, 2009

[lxvi] Ibid

[lxvii] Study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, published in the Lancet medical journal in 2007. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/topics/Pages/maternal-newborn-child-health.aspx#

[lxviii] “Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health” recommends eliminating marriage for girls under age 18, HIV prevention for girls, and completion of high school, etc. http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1422899/

[lxix] Study by Professor Kaye Wellings and other professors. “Sexual behaviour in context: a global perspective.“ Lancet, 2006; 368(9548):1706-28

[lxx] /www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childrenandteenagers.html

[lxxi] Dr. Ruth Talks to Kids: Where You Came From, How Your Body Changes, and What Sex Is All About by Ruth K. Westheimer. Toni Weschler. Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body, 2006.

[lxxii] Myra Eby. Clear Skin. Active Interest Media, 2009.

[lxxiv] Go Ask Alice, a question-and-answer service maintained by Columbia University; the Center for Young Women’s Health; TeensHealth, a part of KidsHealth.org; and Teen Wire, an educational site for teens maintained by Planned Parenthood. Sophia Yen, MD also recommends the book Our Bodies, Ourselves (by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective) to her teen patients. Myths about birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and Pap exams are not dispelled even on several sites reviewed by doctors, the research from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine study found.

[lxxvi] “A Conversation with Michael Nagler” by Russell Schoch. http://www.quaker.org/chestnuthill/nagler.htm

[lxxvii] Ed. C. Daiute, Z. Beykont, C. Higson-Smith, and L Nucci. International Perspectives on Youth Conflict and Development. Oxford University Press, 2006.

[lxxix] Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, op.cit, p. 182.

What Kids Ask About Science

Younger kids are more likely to ask science questions, while teens are more likely to ask about the meaning of life and other abstract ideas. The science questions center around origins and beginnings of the universe and life on earth. Topics are listed alphabetically: Animals, Environment, Human Body, Human Origins, Math, Physics, Planet Earth, Technology, and The Universe.


Useful science resources http://jsd.k12.ca.us/bf/bflibrary/TResources.htm


Some young people expressed concern about cruelty to animals and want to save disappearing species (see the documentary DVD “Earth,” co-directed by Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill, which shows migration of animals on many continents). “I would make strict rules to save the jungle and animals,” said Prashant, 17, m, India. Jan Goodall, who observed chimps in Africa for 30 years, started the Roots and Shoots organization for young people. It has groups in over 110 countries.[i]

How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Graham, 7, m, North Carolina

As “advanced insects,” butterflies and moths have four separate stages, each of which looks completely different and has a different purpose. The female attaches the egg to leaves, stems, or other objects, near the caterpillar food. The caterpillar (or larva) is the long worm-like stage of the butterfly or moth. It is the feeding and growth stage. As it grows, it sheds its skin four or more times so as to enclose its rapidly growing body. The chrysalis (or pupa) is the transformation stage in which the caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult insect’s structures are formed. The adult (or imago) is the colorful butterfly or moth, the reproductive stage. The adults engage in courtship, mating, and egg laying. [ii]

What do big animals eat? Maya, 7, f, North Carolina

The same kinds of food as small animals, only more. Some big animals are vegetarians, like elephants. Some are omnivores like whales.[iii]

When did dogs come into being? Achan, 9, f, Japan

Dogs were domesticated between 13,000 to 17,000 years ago in Siberia, or in the Middle East[iv]. It may have been that wolves hung around campsites for food scraps and became semi-tame. Dogs spread rapidly through human settlements because they were used in hunting, they were good bed warmers, and primarily because they are watchdogs. Their wolf ancestors almost never bark, but this trait was selected for in the evolution of dogs to warn humans of danger. They may have helped make it possible to settle down safely as settlement and domestication of dogs occurred at the same time. Dogs may also have taught people the idea of private property. Dogs also have a unique ability to read human body language. In an experiment where a human pointed to the container with hidden food with body language, chimps and wolves didn’t pay attention, but even puppies picked up the hint immediately. (Cats were domesticated at least 9,500 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, probably to protect grain from rodents. Cat lovers see sciencemag.org)

How many creatures exist on the earth? ?, 10, m, Japan

“The estimated number of animals on our planet falls somewhere in the vast range of 3-30 million species. If we were to divide all animals into two groups, invertebrates and vertebrates, an estimated 97% of all species would be invertebrates. Invertebrates include animals that lack backbones such as sponges and insects. Of all invertebrates, the insects are by far the most numerous. The vertebrates represent the remaining 3% of all species and include species that are the most familiar to us: amphibians, reptiles, birds, fishes, mammals.” [v] “If present trend continue, one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, and climate change.” [vi]

I want to know dogs’ language because I have six dogs in my house. I love dogs. Why sometimes they speak to me but I’ve no idea about what they said? If I know how to say dog’s language, I can chat with my dogs. It’s too exciting and then dogs can also understand what I thought. Zhu Win, 16, f, China

Dogs communicate with each other with sounds and smells and by observing changes in ear or tail positions, as explained by Patricia McConnell in The Other End of the Leash. Stacy Braslau-Schneck explains how they communicate with body language.

*Signs of confidence: standing tall, tail up, tail wagging slowly, ears up or relaxed, direct look, and relaxed smaller eye pupils.

*Wanting to play: bow, with tail and rear in the air and front legs lowered, ears up and forward, mouth open in a grin, and eyes relaxed.

*Signs of fear: tail down or tucked under, quick tail wagging, looking away so the whites of the eyes show, dilated pupils, barking, and hair standing on end,

*Signs of stress: shaking, whining, submissive urination, ears back, pupils dilated, rapid panting, tail down, body lowered, sweating paw pads, yawning, blinking eyes, looking away, and shaking body.

*Signs of aggression: stiff legs and body, growling, lowered head, ears back close to the head, eyes narrow, lips drawn back in a snarl, hair up along the back, tail straight out, and intense staring.

*To calm down: look away, yawn, turn sideways, lip-licking, circling, sniffing the ground, sitting or lying down.[vii]

How does the evolution of the animals work and do they have language and intelligence?

Joey, 16, m, Netherlands.

All the creatures on the earth are evolving and adapting to changes, although some are going extinct because of problems created by humans. Scientists at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa are working with two bonobo chimpanzees. Kanzi, age 26, and his younger sister Panbanisa. They understand thousands of words by pointing to symbols on a keyboard and use sentences, talk on the phone using sounds that mean yes or no, and like to gossip. The symbols refer to objects like bow, activities like chase, and abstract ideas like “now” or “bad.” The head scientist, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, was teaching symbols to Kanzi’s mother, Matata, while Kanzi played in the room. Matata was taken away to get pregnant when Kanzi was 2-years-old; very upset he used the keyboard more than 300 times the first day without his mom. He asked for help finding his mom, asked for food and affection. His little sister Pabnanisha does even better. When a visitor to the center misbehaved, she used the symbol for “monster.”

They use symbols to express concern for others, as when Kanzi was grooming a researcher’s hand. Bill Fields is missing a finger. Kanzi asked on the keyboard, “Hurt?” Savage-Rumbaugh says Kanzi knows the meaning of 3,000 spoken English words.  A word is spoken in his headphones and he points to the symbol on his keyboard. They like to watch movies, especially ones with apes like “Planet of the Apes” and “Tarzan.”  They can select the DVDs they want by pressing buttons on a computer screen. Savage-Rumbaugh said, “The mythology of human uniqueness is coming under challenge. If apes can learn language, which we once thought unique to humans, then it suggests that ability is not innate in just us.”

Alex was an African Gray parrot who understood the concepts of color, shapes and quantities. Scientist Irene Pepperberg published The Alex Studies in 2000. Wikepedia reports that when he was tired of being tested, he said, “Wanna go back—“ to his cage. If the researcher was annoyed, Alex said, “I’m sorry.” If he said, “Wanna banana,” but was offered a nut instead, he stared in silence, asked for the banana again, or took the nut and threw it at the researcher. We tend to think of intelligence as associated with big brains, but Alex with a walnut-size brain, was capable of abstract thought, such as whether two yellow pencils are the same or different. He performed on thinking tests as well as dolphins and chimps.

In Intelligence in Nature, Swiss anthropologist Jeremy Narby gives many examples of plants and animals that are able to adapt to meet their needs. Narby describes how single-cell slime mold can solve a maze, moving through it the shortest way to reach its favorite food, oatmeal. Bees have brains the size of pinheads, with less than a million neurons, (compared to our 100-billion nerve cells, more connections than stars in our galaxy) but they can think abstractly. They figured out that a food source would be at a branched pathway labeled with the same symbol as the entrance, whether the symbol was a color or vertical or horizontal lines. Octopuses have the largest brains among invertebrates. They can run mazes as well as rats, escape from locked tanks, use tools like coconut shells and get angry and turn red.

All creatures with brains learn and remember by changing the connections between neurons—brain cells which communicate with chemicals (neurotransmitters) through a small gap between them called synapses. Each neuron in the jelly-like human brain can have up to 10,000 synapses. Human memory seems to be stored in the entire cerebral cortex, the front part of the brain that makes us human. When we learn something, the neurons activate their DNA to make fresh proteins, so that information is stored onto neuronal circuits.  All human cells communicate with each other using about 11,000 protein signals. Nematodes (roundworms) only have 959 cells, but their neurons send each other chemical signals, including serotonin, just as our brains do.

Plants communicate with large proteins and RNA that swim around the plant. Do plants talk? Not with sound, but with chemical messages. When they’re under attack by insects or viruses, they release a gas or send chemical information through their roots that tells other plants to increase their defenses.[viii] In The Secret Life of Plants, Clive Baxter describes using lie detector equipment on plants; the devices show that plants react when their owner is going to return home from a trip, recoil when something around them is going to be harmed, and so on, a very interesting book.

Why dinosaurs died? Zuleyha, 12, f, Turmenistan

Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for at least 120 million years in the Cretaceous geologic period, then disappeared in just a few thousand years along with half of the other species. Dinosaurs thrived 250 million years ago to 65 million years ago when the planet was green and full of life. The dramatic cause of their extinction was a huge meteor (over six miles wide) whose impact created a crater 100 miles wide in what today is Yucatan, Mexico. Around the same time, huge volcanic eruptions in India also added to the dust that filled the air around the planet, blocking the sunlight. The dust storm created a long-term winter. The Age of Dinosaurs was replaced by the Age of Mammals 4.4 million years ago. Although dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years before the first people,.[ix] you could say they still exist because birds evolved from dinosaurs about 150 million years ago. They both have hollow bones, while most animals have solid bones. They also have similar skulls and teeth sockets.


You are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation–but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, but all that is changing. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side.

Paul Hawken, environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist—graduation speech.

Will the rivers be dry? Harun, 12, m, Turkey

It makes a tremendous difference where you are born. If all the money spent on war was spent on the environment and poverty, what a wonderful world it would be. Why do you do the things you taught us not to do in kindergarten? Are we [children] on your list of priorities? What you do makes me cry at night. Severn Suzuki, f, 12, Canada, spoke to a UN conference on the environment.[x]

I’m only 13, and I really want to help save the environment. Alex, 13, m, Colorado

Sierra Club magazine, July, 2006.

Adam Werbach became president of the Sierra Club at age 23, after beginning environmental activism at age eight. He founded the Sierra Student Coalition where students like you are taught how to start campus groups.[xi]

The thing that bugs me the most here in Santiago, Chile, is that the environment is very dirty/smogy. Forrest, 13, m, American in Chile

Air pollution bothers me. Yasemin, 13, f, Turkey

We have many ecological problems in our city and region. For example, the geographical location of our valley (like an upside-down bowl) and pollution of the air, water and our lands brings many problems with health – diseases, cancer, problems with lungs. We don’t have garbage refinery plants; we move city garbage to the suburbs. Because of that there are a lot of diseases and harmful insects. Chemical industry has very bad influence on people too. The main problem of our region is a problem of Aral Sea and lack of water resources. [Since the 1960s this large Central Asian salt lake has shrunk rapidly, drained to grow crops in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and other Central Asian nations.] Yaroslav, 13, m, Uzbekistan

I would try to build some bridges across some lands so that the transport will be easier through the country and try to reduce the amount of carbon emissions. More recycling bins around the country would be good. Sally, 14, f, New Zealand

The Earth is beautiful and precious; Mother Nature has a perfect, delicate balance. Humans screw it up. We have to live on this earth; we can’t trash it up now. Everywhere nature is being destroyed because humans aren’t satisfied with what we already have. Granted I am no better than anybody else, I’m just as wasteful. The deteriorating environment affects all the creatures on this planet. Habitat loss has driven some animals to extinction and endangerment. [One in four mammals is in danger of extinction, along with one in three amphibians, and one in eight birds.[xii]] At some point the damage done will be irretrievable, maybe THEN something will be done. Why do we always wait? Why can’t we think about the future now? I guess it’s human nature. We, as people, NEED trees, animals, clean air and water. Brodie, 14, f, Alabama

If I was President of China, I would change our waste of resources, deforestation, environmental destruction because of our environmental awareness is very poor, full of garbage. The economy of China is relatively backward. I want the motherland to become a good environment and economic power. In the future, I hope for the whole world there is no war, no famine, that peace-loving people of all countries live in harmony and create a beautiful and peaceful planet. Yunsheng, 14, m, rural China

I blame the woodcutters and the animal hunters and advocate all the people to plant trees, so that the water on the earth will not be swallowed by the dessert. “Kevin,” 14, m, rural China

“When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover we can’t eat money.” Greenpeace quote. Aleksandra, 15, f, Quebec

The earth we are living today is not the one as before. Now she has too many scars. If we don’t remind the adults of the importance of environment protection, we will destroy the earth one day. Wangshupeng, 15, m, rural China

Plant more trees. “Carol,” 15, f, China

Thirty million trees have been planted in Kenya in a greenbelt movement led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, described in her autobiography Unbowed. [xiii]

I think every day something bugs us–our marks, the weather, TV programs–but it’s nothing compared to attitudes of people to each other, to environment. I want to change these two factors in the life of the whole humanity.

Galya, 15, f, Ukraine

I am bothered about the air I breathe. It is awful. Everywhere I go I see rubbish, I am bothered about pollution that is always around me. Helen, 16, f, Ukraine

I wish the adults would not only care about themselves, money, sex and glory. Think about our country; it’s our home so let’s take care of it. And so with our earth, don’t hurt her with global warming. Avina, 16, f, Indonesia

Why does no one believe in Global Warming? Laura, 16, f, Northern Ireland

I am here on earth to enjoy my life, to be a part of this beautiful nature, and try to make it more beautiful. I would make strict rules to save the jungle and animals. My purpose is to make people happy. Prashant, 17, m, India

The bad air pollution bothers me and noise bothers me. The buses in Xiangtan are all very decrepit and the Xiangtan is a little dirty. ?, 19, m, China

Environment Protection is being discussed everywhere in China. I remember from primary school we have been learning texts and asked to write essays about environmental protection. I hate the air quality here. Even in the suburb area you cannot get rid of the annoying air problem. There is dust everywhere. What disappoints most is the trees are even covered with dust.

[China is a country with coal as its main energy source–over two-thirds of China’s energy supply. The country is developing solar, wind and biomass projects, but by 2020 they’ll still be a small percent of the energy. As a result, air pollution is serious in cities where industrial activities and population concentrate. Acid rain is another headache and the situation is worsening in some regions and cities. The Chinese have adopted measures to encourage the development of clean coal technology and clean-combustion technology to control it. China is the fastest growing market for renewable technology, building wind-power bases.]

Yuan, 19, m, China

I just hope people all around the world could cherish the simplest things in life. I wonder how people who are Ph.D, can talk about economic, politic, and all that jazz, but still throw garbage everywhere. If they are seriously that smart, can’t they count how long it will take until the earth vanished because we are all got sick because of the trash that we put everywhere? Let’s get back to the bottom. Cherish love, cherish differences, cherish appreciation, and cherish respect. Melinda, 20, f, Indonesia


The environmental movement is the fastest growing movement, as explained in 11thhouraction.org. The 11th Hour, a film produced by actor Leonardo Dicaprio, makes the point that our big mistake is thinking we have dominion over nature. Corporate greed is huge. We work to consume instead of enjoying life. There are more people on planet Earth than every before since the dawn of time. We live off of sun light, including ancient fossil fuels, coal and oil. Carbon dioxide and methane trap heat in the atmosphere. We’re at the tipping point where we’ll lose control. So much greenhouse gas was generated in 2008 that temperatures will raise more than 2% by the end of the century, enough to cause major changes. See the DVD called “Home” (2009) filmed in 54 countries to see earth changes.

Major causes of greenhouse gases that create global warming are deforestation and burning fossil fuels, mainly coal (which produces electricity for our appliances) and oil. Large animals release methane gas when they pass gas or eliminate. Production of cattle produces gases: One person eating meat contributes more to global warming than one person driving a car.

Environmental problems include deforestation–including the rainforests, soil erosion (30% of the soil is degraded), destruction of the corrals and fisheries, dead zones in polluted oceans, and global warming. Because of humans, almost half of the coral reef species, a third of amphibians and a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction, according to a 2009 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. We are loosing one-third to one-half of the earth’s species.

UNICEF reports that the risk of hunger increased for 50 million people by 2010 because of climate change, mostly hurting women and children. With the potential rise of up to 160,000 child deaths a year in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia directly resulting from climate change, the most vulnerable children will suffer.[xiv] “As climate keeps on changing to arid, I would encourage Kenyans not to rely on rainfall but practice irrigation farming to fight food shortage,” advises a girl in Kenya.

Harvard biologist Wilson wrote The Creation as an appeal to Christian pastors to help save the planet. He explained that Earth has experienced five great disturbances, the last being a giant meteorite that landed in Yucatan, Mexico, triggering volcanic eruptions, dust, and tsunamis. This caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The sixth spasm is occurring now caused, in order of destructiveness, by: climate change, invasive species, pollution, human overpopulation, and overharvesting.

Water shortages are caused by using up groundwater supplies and climate change, a problem in parts of India, China, the US, Mexico, Spain, and North Africa. Don Tapscott reports, “Lack of access to fresh water is a catastrophe for humanity. Some 2.8 billion (or 44%) of the world’s population already lives in high water-stress areas and the number will increase to 3.9 billion by 2030.[xv] More than a billion people use water from polluted sources. About 6,000 people die from water-related problems every day, most of them children, according to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. By 2025, 40% of the worlds’ population could be living in countries with chronic water shortages, as fresh water comprises only 2.5% of the water on earth. In Africa 390 million people live on less than $1.25 a day. Many are small farmers who depend on the rain and land. Global warming is increasing droughts and hunger there.

The polar ice sheets are melting faster than predicted; if we don’t save them, the sea level will rise 39 feet, creating over 600 million rising-sea refugees who will have to leave their homes. If the sea rises only a meter, more than 65 million people in Bangladesh will be flooded out, plus people in Micronesia and parts of Europe and the US. The Artic seas could be ice-free by 2040 or earlier. The ice in the Artic Ocean shrank 1 million more square miles in 2008 than the average melt over 25 years, according to NASA satellite data. The Artic is disappearing, warmer than its been in 2,000 years with shrinking snow cover and sea ice harming the animals who depend on it—like polar bears. The melting ice leads to a bloom of plankton sooner than usual, so when migratory animals like whales and seabirds arrive at their usual time, there is no plankton left to eat.

The maximum safe level of carbon dioxide is 350 (see www.350.org to figure out your carbon footprint) and we’re over 385.[xvi] The US and China are the worst contributors. The average person living in a developed country produces from six to 23 tons of carbon dioxide per year. The average American generates about 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year from transportation, home energy, and the energy used to produce the products and services we consume, according to http://www.ClimateCrisis.net. Americans are 5% of the global population but consume about one-quarter of the energy and one-third of global consumption–more than $9 trillion in 2004.[xvii] A typical American uses almost 24 acres worth of natural resources during a lifetime. In contrast, the average Italian uses seven acres. Much of the trash we create ends up in the ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest trash pile, about 3.5 million tons of trash harming sea life. It floats between Hawaii and California and scientists estimate it’s two times bigger than Texas.[xviii]

A toxic brew of synthetic chemical compounds is destroying the planet. Industry processes four million pounds of material to provide an average American family what it uses in a year. The Environmental Working Group, which does research and lobbying, found 287 industrial chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of babies born in US hospitals.[xix] An unhealthy brown cloud of soot, smog, and toxic chemicals is found over Asia, according to a 2008 United Nation report. Wood burning, coal power plants, and diesel trucks cause the smog. It ranges from Lagos to Seoul, with 13 cities as hot spots, including Bangkok, Cairo, New Delhi, Seoul and Tehran. As well as harming lungs, the brown clouds change climate and rainfall, and harm crops.

In China with its 1.3 billion people, one-third of the rivers are polluted, one-third of the land suffers from soil erosion and drought, more than three-fourths of its forests are gone, city air is polluted, ye a new coal-fired power plant is built every week. The sulfur dioxide in burning coal contributes to global warming and acid rain that leads to about 700,000 early deaths each year, according to the World Bank. Every 30 seconds a Chinese baby is born with pollution-related birth defects. These health problems inspired China to become a leader in clean energy technology, such as wind energy. The government fines industries that don’t reduce emissions. In 2009, Beijing announced it would spend nearly $31 billion on the environment. It also spent $3 billion to buy hybrid, electric and fuel-car vehicles to use in cities.[xx] In California, a new way to harness solar energy is being tested at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National [fusion] Ignition Facility.[xxi] The goal is to use hydrogen from ocean water to create an endless supply of clean fuel. Scientists fired laser beams at a small helium-filled target to trigger thermonuclear reactions and instantly heated it to 6 million degrees Fahrenheit. What will the fossil fuel business interests do?

“Across the world and across species, the male gender is in danger.[xxii]“ The report, based on 250 studies from around the world, states that male fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals–including human beings–are being feminized by environmental pollution with several common chemicals. These include phthalates, which are used in plastic food wraps, cosmetics; flame-retardants and many pesticides. Women in communities heavily polluted with such chemicals in Canada, Russia and Italy have given birth to twice as many girls than boys. Men’s sperm counts are dropping quickly.[xxiii]

Every year 70 million babies are added to the world’s population mostly in countries where water tables are falling and wells are going dry, forests are shrinking, soils are eroding, and the grasslands are turning into desert. Half the Earth’s forests have been destroyed. People wrongly think that if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the climate would go back to normal in a few hundred years but the changes will last at least until the year 3000, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As developing countries like China and India follow the US model of increasing consumption, we’ll run out of oil and metals. We need to simplify, save, and slow down to savor life (see In Praise of Slowness[xxiv]) in a new model of harmony with mother earth. Or think of a return to the balance practiced by indigenous peoples like the Australian aboriginals.

The head of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, reminds us, “We know that those most vulnerable to climate change are poorest of the world’s poor…. A solution to poverty is also a solution for climate change: green growth. For the world’s poor, it is a key to sustainable development. For the wealthy, it is the way of the future.[xxv]


The new science that began with Einstein and quantum physics teaches us that we live in a “cosmos full of living interconnections.” We need to move from the belief that we should dominant the earth to understanding that we must protect it. The old worldview or paradigm viewed life as a hierarchical pyramid, with humans at the top and the brain at the top of the human. Even in a human cell, the nucleus was viewed as the brain, while cell biologist Bruce Lipton points out the cell receptors on the membrane are the most critical for cell life. Scientists even used to believe that animals were like machines that didn’t feel pain in lab experiments and thought that only humans used tools. Jane Goodall was one of the first to recognize that chimps used tools to get into ant holes. The new paradigm or model is a spider web, like the Internet, permeated by conscious intelligence without a head. Scientists used to think there were specific centers for language, for example, in the brain, but now they know language is handled in different regions working as a system. The new model is cooperation rather than domination in a hierarchical pyramid of authority like an army with generals at the top and privates at the bottom.

Social: Chicago is working to become “the greenest city in America.” The city has planted over 500,000 trees and added more than two million square feet of rooftop gardens. It collects food wastes to turn into compost for city gardens. Plastic bags were banned by the city of San Francisco, requiring that people shop with paper bags of biodegradable materials. It takes 1,000 years for plastic to biodegrade. It also banned the use of city funds to buy bottled water because of the huge waste in plastic bottles—around the world 2.5 million water bottles are tossed each hour. See the DVD Tapped.[xxvi] When I was in Tanzania, they burned the plastic and other trash, polluting the air.

The Cool Cities program encourages the hottest cities to paint roofs and paved surfaces white. Hashem Akbari, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explains that white reflects the sun’s rays rather than attracting and absorbing heat.

The city of Berkeley, across the Bay from San Francisco, passed a law in 2007 committing the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. In 2000 the city generated 696,498 tons of greenhouse gases. Some of the solutions will be to have shared vehicles and free bus passes; to require high-efficiency home appliances, solar-powered water heaters, and insulation in the walls; and to require new building to be green, as by using recycled and green materials.

Models of green buildings include the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the California Environmental Protection Agency’s 25-story Joe Serna Jr. Building. It used recycled ceiling tiles and has worm-composting bins, leading to savings of around $1 million a year. Ford Motor Company’s old River Rouge Complex was restored with a roof garden that collects rainwater on over 10 acres. The 30 St. Mary Axe building in London has gardens on every sixth floor for air purification.[xxvii] The UK plans to build “eco-towns powered by wind or solar energy, not dependent on cars, and minimizing water use. As of 2016, all new homes must be carbon neutral.

Germany leads Europe in developing green technology: Its parliament building runs on green energy. The country developed 250,000 new jobs in renewable energy by mid-2009, including windpower jobs. The green-jobs creation program costs the average family $38 a year on its utility bill. The government gives people incentives to retrofit their homes, police ticket polluting cars that drive in emission-reduction zones, and competitions were held to see who could save the most power..[xxviii]

Spain is second in the world in wind-energy production and is a leader in solar and biofuel technologies. Sweden’s Natural Step established environmentally responsible industrial practices. As well as cities, states, and countries, progressive businesses are going green. As an example, Sun Microsystems plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by using energy-saving technology and allowing thousand of employees to telecommute—to work at home.

In 2006 Toyota was the world’s first automaker to offer a mass-produced hybrid car, the Prius. India’s Tata Company featured the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, in 2008, with a total cost of only $3,250. Indians worry about what it will do to already crowded roads and to auto emission, although it gets 47 miles to the gallon. Dried miscanthus, a plant related to sugar cane, could be the fuel of the future. Researchers say it’s possible to convert the cellulose in this and other plants into a fuel that could replace diesel and gasoline. Researchers at the new Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California-Berkeley are working on a recipe for this biofuel. Syed from Pakistan adds, “Brazil is considered to have the world’s first sustainable biofuels economy and be the biofuel industry leader, a policy model for other countries. Its sugarcane ethanol is “the most successful alternative fuel to date.” (Wikipedia) When I was in Brazil, gas stations had both gas and sugar cane ethanol, and they can be mixed.

Local schools can become green schools by growing a vegetable garden, using ecological cleaning products, serving local organic food, and educating children about the ecosystem. They can compost food wastes, use recycled paper, and LED lights. [xxix] In China, Yunan Jin dreaded the sandstorms when they blew in during the spring in Beijing, “a veritable hell on earth,” so when he was age 14, he got together people to plant 365 trees in Mongolia where the storms start. Schools can encourage tree planting in their neighborhoods.

High schools students in Malawi had these suggestions:[xxx]

Recycle paper, plant trees, and use alternative sources of energy apart from charcoal. They promise not to be littering and reuse plastics, treating sewage and making organic manure as Malawi is agriculture based.” Individuals added:

Joseph: “Mobilizing the community to take action.” Edward: “To tell people to plant more trees.” Nellie: “Sensitization of the community through groups and clubs.” and “recycling of paper.”

The Kyoto Accord of 1997 was the first attempt by the nations of the world to slow down global warming. Only the US and Australia didn’t sign it, but among European countries, only the United Kingdom and Sweden have achieved real reductions in greenhouse gases. Another conference was held in Copenhagen in 2009, although without producing binding commitments to action. Americans began to understand the need for action to stop global warming after the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005 and Vice-president’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” came out in 2006[xxxi] Gore’s book Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis explained solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear energy and other renewable energies in 2009. He pointed out we send 90 million tons of pollution into the atmosphere every day and the world’s forests are disappearing by an acre every second. He says Sweden is the best model of how to preserve the environment. College students organized stepitup07.org to participate in demonstrations in all the states and created http://www.rsky.org to lobby on the national level.

Plan B 3.O by Lester Brown, in his book by that title, explains how to save our planet. His goal is to stop global warming, slow population growth, erase poverty, and restore ecosystems. His plan includes how to create better energy efficiency as with incandescent light bulbs and a plant-based diet, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, expanding forests, and doing away with coal power plants, and overpopulation. He proposes a carbon tax of $240 per ton to discourage fossil fuel use. Examples of renewable energy in action are 60 million Europeans get their home electricity from wind farms, nearly 40 million Chinese homes get their hot water from rooftop solar-water heaters and in Iceland they use geothermal energy.[xxxii] These alternatives need to become the norm.

Individual Solutions:

To read about individuals who’ve protected the environment in their countries, read about Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots activism winners.[xxxiii]

*Recycle cans, glass, plastic, cardboard, etc. Buy recycled clothes in second hand stores. Swap books, DVDs and CDs, as on www.swaptree.com and Freecycle.org.

*Install energy efficient windows, one of the most important solustions.

*Don’t buy plastic water bottles. Use your own stainless steel container and fill up at home, and bring your own thermos hot drinks.

*To save tees, instead of paper towels and tissue, use cloth kitchen towels and handkerchiefs. Buy toilet paper made from cotton instead of trees. Use recycled paper and the back of printed paper. Use your own cloth bags when you shop.

*Get off bulk mailing lists that consume about 100 million trees every year.[xxxiv]

*Plant trees, as the Mexican government is doing in its Pro A’rbol (pro tree) campaign.

*Use full spectrum fluorescent light bulbs, but make sure you safely dispose of the mercury in the bulbs.

*Use organic household cleaners like vinegar and baking soda.

*Don’t use lead paint and soft plastics that contain phthalates. Use glass or metal containers instead of plastic.

*Buy green products–especially mattresses and carpets. [xxxv]

*Eat organic locally grown foods to cut down on transportation. Buy local organic unprocessed foods, as transporting food, fertilizers and pesticides use a lot of energy. Plant vegetables and herbs and native plants instead of large lawns. Grow urban gardens.[xxxvi]You can find recipes for what to do with food you grow in Animal, Vegetable, and Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2007) and Local Flavors by Deborah Madison (2002). Cut down on eating meat. Producing one hamburger uses enough fuel to drive a small car 20 miles. Cattle produce a lot of methane and trees are cut down to create grazing land.

*Lose weight so as to use less auto fuel; American use about 1 billion more gallons of gas per year to power cars than they did in 1960 because of national weight gain.

*Use less air conditioning by wearing casual T-shirts to work instead of suits, as the Chinese government is urging office workers to do. Wear more layers in the winter and turn down the thermostat on your heater.

*Unplug appliances when not in use, because between 10 and 40% of energy is used when plugged in. Recycle old electronics and buy new ones with the Energy Star label.

*Travel responsibly (responsibletravel.com) and minimize flying as planes contribute to global warming in a big way. Carpool, use public transportation, and ride your bike, which also helps with the obesity epidemic.

*At home: turn down the thermostat, use fans instead of air-conditioning, insulate your water heater, seal air leaks, and dry clothes on a clothesline. Take shorter showers. See endnote for more resources.[xxxvii]

Human Body

My body is changing and I am changing in physical as well as mental and emotional ways. Why is this happening to me? Did I eat something wrong? Did I do something wrong? I feel attracted to opposite gender now while before I thought they were disgusting and weird. Seineen, 13, m, Pakistan

Shehroz (17) answers him: Puberty is a stage every human being must go through. This is the stage that truly divides the male and female genders. And this is the stage that makes a kid into a grown up. During puberty, a lot of hormones kick into action to bring about some physical changes like growing of pubic hair and changing of voice in boys and smoother skin and menstruation in girls. Wierd voice and pimples is a part of this stage and it will soon pass away. Attraction to the opposite gender is also a part of these hormonal effects.

How many cells has the average adult in the person’s body?

Felix, 14, m, Sweden

Another 100 trillion cells in our bodies; most are not unique to humans. We’re a composite of evolution, as with single cell animals incorporated into cell mitochondria. Every 15 minutes over a septillion (24 zeros) cellular processes are taking place in our bodies. Our skin is home to around 1,000 species of bacteria and we have three pounds of 500 species in our intestines.

Were we all able to change genders like flowers, back before man evolved? James, 14, m, Belize

No, primates can’t change genders, but some plants and animals can.

My friend is 5 feet and 2 inches tall and 18-years-old. He takes adequate diet and both parents are not as short as him. All his cousins are really tall and some are above 6 inches. So he was worried and I told him I would ask you if anything could be done. He feels really weak and small in his social life and has fallen into inferiority complex. Because of his short height, he has lost his confidence and his morale is always down. I told him some of your other techniques and he has just started them to get more confident in life.

Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan

Diet is the only thing we can control in terms of our height. Malnourished children have stunted growth. Boys can keep growing after 18. I would suggest he work out with weights so he’s strong and gets bigger with bigger muscles. Also, he can hold himself straight, thinking it’s not quantity but quality that matters. Keep the focus on learning about other people rather than on himself, and he’ll be popular. Napoleon was only 5′ 2″ and he was a very powerful man. Tom Cruise is 5’ 7” and he radiates vitality and masculine charisma because of his personality and confidence.

How sperms are formed because I am very behind about this?

Bwalya, 18, m, Zambia

“The testicle lies inside the scrotum and produces as many as 12 trillion sperm in a male’s lifetime, about 400 million of which are ejaculated in one average intercourse. Each sperm takes about 72 days to mature overseen by a complex interaction of hormones. The scrotum has a built-in thermostat, which keeps the sperm at the correct temperature. It may be surprising that the testicles should lie in such a vulnerable place, outside the body, but it is too hot inside. The sperm production needs a temperature that is three to five degrees below body temperature. If it becomes too cool on the outside, the scrotum will contract to bring the testes closer the body for warmth.”[xxxviii] Sperm production can be reduced by heat, marijuana and estrogenic pollutants.

How smart are babies? It’s hard to tell because they don’t talk.

Leslie, 8, f, South Carolina

They can be taught sign language adapted from signs for deaf people, as explained in Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk by Dr. Linda Acredolo. She got the idea from her baby and tells us about babies who sign. They’re really smart, like a 10-month-old girl who went to the aquarium and asked with her fingers if penguins are birds (yes) even though they swim like fish. Two babies who told each other where to find crackers in a mom’s bag—using signs rather than words.

Why is chocolate so good? I like to eat all the chocolate I can see.

Maximilian, 8, m, Singapore

Tastes reflect hundreds of different small molecules that create flavor. It’s complicated as there are more than 300 compounds in chocolate and the changes from beans to a candy bar is also complicated. The cocoa beans go through fermentation, drying, roasting, grinding, and separating the beans into cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Proteins are broken down into their building blocks, the amino acids. Various chemical reactions form the chocolate flavor: oils, sugars, polysaccharides, and minerals, as well as stimulants caffeine and theobromine. The processing must maintain flavanols that give chocolate its flavor. It stimulates production of pleasure chemicals in the brain: chocolate contains caffeine and tyramine and tryptophan, that the brain converts into dopamine and serotonin.

Human Origins

Are we really descended from monkeys? Jared, 9, m, British Columbia

No, but we had a common ancestor who lived between four and seven million years ago. Think of a tree with branches. Our ancestor was at the base of the human branch and the ape branch. Before that was a common ancestor to primates, including monkeys, lemurs, and gorillas. Chimps are our closest relatives—our DNA is 98.5% the same. (To store the entire DNA information in a human being would take 100 quintillion of the best computer hard drives and about 13 billion years to access this amount of data, according to physicist Eric Davis, Institute for Advanced Studies.) Primates, including humans and apes, share hands that can grasp with a thumb opposite fingers, can move mainly on the rear limbs, have more dependence on vision and less on smell, have larger brains, and longer lives.

Humans have about 25,000 genes. Human genes are around 99% the same as other humans.

Each gene has about 500,000 molecules that form DNA that regulates how proteins, cells and organs will function. (Scientists have only known about DNA for 60 years.) DNA is found in every cell of the body, made up of three billion units, formed from units called A, C, G, and T. We have two versions of each of the 23 chromosomes, one from each parent. Three billion DNA letters can fit on one chromosome. Traits like introversion or extroversion are inherited. The study of identical twins separated at birth illustrates this point. Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were twins separated at birth.[xxxix] They didn’t know they had a twin until their 30s. In their book they write about their discoveries of both absentmindedly typing their thoughts on an invisible keyboard. They both collected Alice in Wonderland dolls and kept them in the original boxes. Both edited their high school newspapers and studied film in college. Paula wrote film criticism; Elyse became a filmmaker. Genes provide predispositions but the environment limits or provides us with opportunities.

After humans settled down to be farmers around 8,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia (part of present day Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Jordan which was then greener), their genetic mutations rapidly increased—by more than 100 times. By examining current DNA, researchers have found about 1,800 genes widely adopted in recent times. Some created genetic resistance to diseases like malaria in Africa, or a mutation that allowed adults to digest milk after cattle and goats were domesticated in Europe and yaks and mares herded in Asia. Domesticating animals and plants began in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East about 11,000 years ago.

Around 5 million years ago ape-like creatures split from the chimpanzee line of descent. Our common primate ancestor probably lived in small bands of family members who defended their home territory. The oldest hominid lived 4.4 million years ago in what’s now Ethiopia. “Ardi’s” bones were found by scientists in 2009. Specialized hominid characteristics include small front teeth, walking on two legs, lengthening of the thumb, increase in brain size, and smaller skull bones.[xl] Ardi had teeth more like ours than the long sharp canines of chimps, and probably pair-bonded with her mate. Like chimps today, hominoids had separate male and female hierarchies and the dominant male or his allies fathered most infants.

The human line was also territorial but developed a new social structure based on pair bonding between a male and one or more females. They evolved into walking upright, dark skin instead of body hair (perhaps so they could sweat to cool the body and its larger brain), an external nose to adapt to hot, dry climates and an increase in brain size. Many animals need body hair to keep warm, although whales and walruses shed their hair to swim faster, and humans lost most of their body hair. Some say it’s because it kept us cooler in the African savannah where we began and skin darkened to protect against sunlight. Or maybe we lost it to prevent parasites like lice, fleas and ticks. Then hair became sexually attractive, like a peacock’s tail, showing that the person is healthy. Pubic hair stayed with us in areas with a lot of sweat glands to send out hormone smells to attract the other sex. Starting around 200,000 years ago, hair on the head grew without stopping, unlike chimps, perhaps because it provides social information and status and is considered sexually attractive.

The difference in the size of males and females decreased as they cooperated more in their roles. Stanford University’s Human Genome Diversity Project analyzes the genes/blood and languages in isolated regions in Africa, Europe, and the US. They concluded that the first true human emerged nearly 200,000 years ago in southern Africa, near present day Namibia.

How did the first person come alive? Dexter, 9, m, British Columbia

How human beings are made? Jestine, 14, m, Liberia

How did the very first person get to earth? Nikita, 14, f, Netherlands

Life formed after four billion years of earth’s existence, combining four of the most common elements in the universe. Hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, bond with carbon to create carbon chains of amino acids that build protein. Everything evolved from a single ancestral single cell that lived about 1.8 billion years ago. The common ancestor of mice and humans lived only 75 million years ago. We have three billion chemical letters of DNA, as do mice in each of their cells. Water is the home for the bio-chemical reactions and life also requires an energy source like we have from the sun. The bacteria helped create more life by releasing oxygen to create the ozone layer that screens out harmful radiation. The building blocks of life may exist on some of the moons in our solar system. For example, one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, has water and the four important elements.[xli] One of Jupiter’s moons has an ocean of water below the ice.

About 3.7 million years ago our ancestors started walking upright.[xlii] The first humans appeared 1.9 million years ago. The first Homo Erectus was about our size, compared to their ancestors the Australopithecus who looked like chimps walking on their hind feet. Homo Erectus didn’t have as big a brain as we do and their bones were thicker, but they probably cooked their meat. This allowed them to eat less and absorb more nutrients.

Two million years ago ancestors of modern humans migrated from Africa, at the same time as the beginning of a new Ice Age, lasting for thousands for years. The last glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, leaving behind huge boulders and lakes.

The last common ancestor of humans and Neanderthals (they are either classified as a subspecies of humans or as a separate species) lived about 700,000 years ago, according to DNA analysis. The ancestors of humans and Neanderthals split into different species about 370,000 years ago. Homo sapiens appeared 130,000 years ago in East Africa, where the Neanderthals lived as well. Humans have more delicate skeletons and rounded skulls and are taller than Neanderthals. Modern humans were in Asia and Europe by at least 40,000 years ago.

100,000: Ancestors had skeletons like ours, but not advanced behavior. They may not have used language.

72,000: People started wearing clothes (as determined by the time body louse evolved from the head louse) and around this time, or a few thousand years later, they perfected language and migrated from Africa. They probably crossed over the Red Sea into Arabia. As population grew too large, groups split off, reaching India, and then Australia by around 46,000 years ago. They struggled with earlier migrants from Africa who left about 1.8 million years ago, developing into Homo erectus in Asia and Homo Neanderthalenis in Europe and parts of the Near East. The two groups of migrants didn’t mate, as evidenced by comparison of genes. Other groups went northwest from India, reaching Europe and moving out the Neanderthals. Moving into the cold north in Eurasia required technical inventions, including more complex Upper Paleolithic stone tools, with materials traded from a distance, ornaments, and flutes. They buried their dead with rituals.

The return of the glaciers with the last ice age moved the people south out of Europe and Siberia. Descendents moved back north several thousand years later as the Pleistocene ice age ended. Migration to new environments put our ancestors under great evolutionary pressure to adapt with increasing intelligence. People in northern latitudes developed lighter skin because they didn’t need as much protection from ultraviolet radiation that destroys folic acid needed for fertility, and they needed more exposure to sunlight to get vitamin D. They reverted back to the original pale skin, which the chimps have, except for their sun-tanned faces, until they lost body hair in every population. Women’s skin color is 3 to 4% lighter than men’s, maybe because mothers need more vitamin D.

50,000: Our human ancestors (probably only 50 to 5,000 people) lived in northeast Africa (perhaps Ethiopia) and showed the first signs of modern behavior, including language, religion, warfare, fishing, trade, and wearing clothes. Like chimps, they probably fought frequently, defending their own territory or raiding that of neighbors. They didn’t live in groups bigger than 150 or so, partly because they were so aggressive and lacked government to resolve disputes.

All humans are descended from them and all languages probably developed from a single original language that included click sounds, as spoken by current Africans such as the San Bushmen. You can hear it on youtube.[xliii] Southern India seems to be the first major stopping point for the African migrants, because here we find the first changes of the male Y chromosome and female mitochondrial DNA “chromosome trees.” These are mutations passed on to descendents. Groups branched out to Australia and New Guinea where the aboriginals may be closer to the first emigrants than most other living people.

There are no physical remains of our early ancestors, but scientists know about them by studying our genetics, especially the Y chromosome that men carry and the mitochondrial DNA passed on by women. These two are not shuffled during conception, when segments of 2.85 billion units of DNA are exchanged except for on these two chromosomes. We inherit one set of 23 chromosomes from each parent, so each cell in the body holds 46 chromosomes. About half of a parent’s genes get passed on to the baby and half are discarded.

All men carry the same Y chromosome inherited from a single man who lived around 59,000 years ago who could be called “Scientific Adam,” and both men and women carry the mitochondria DNA inherited from “Eve” along the female line dating back to up to 200,000 years ago. Mutations on these two genes over time tell a lot. She wasn’t the first human, but the first to have her genes passed on to us. The first Y “Adam” lived around 70,000 years ago. You can continue the tale in your lineage by giving a swab of your DNA from your cheek to the National Geographic Society or other lab.[xliv] You’ll learn your mother’s haplogroup if you’re female, your father’s if you’re male.

A group is created when a mutation occurs and forms a new group on the genetic tree. There are 7 major groups for those with European ancestors. I’m J*– not the most common group, the youngest in Europe—only 10,000 years old, whose ancestors began around 50,000 years ago in the Middle East where traders spread their genes traveling from Europe to India. This group is associated with longevity: My maternal grandfather lived to be 102 and was active till the end.

All men outside Africa carry a Y chromosome mutation known as M168, as well as few men in Africa, meaning that modern humans left Africa a little after the M168 mutation began. The Y chromosome branched into markers called letters like M170, M242, and M173 found in specific areas as humans traveled all the way to India and Australia or up into Central Asia and into Europe or the Americas. But three-fourths of human history was spent in Africa before migrations began, motivated by weather changes like droughts and cold brought by ice ages. Around 130,000 years ago the lack of rain turned lush savannahs into deserts, reducing human population to a few as 2,000 people—on the verge of extinction. These challenges encouraged the development of new skills like tools and language to survive climate changes.

The original ancestors maintained nomadic tribes, moving from place to place in search of food. They raided into neighboring bands, an aggressive behavior unique to chimps and humans. Most primates are matrilocal where females don’t leave their mothers, but humans tend to be patrilocal where the new couple goes to live with the husband’s family. As well as frequent aggression, humans and chimps also developed genes favoring helpful behavior towards relatives who share genes.

The tribal people today who are probably most like the first people are the Australian and New Guinea aborigines, the Brazilian Yanomamo, Eskimos, and !Kung San, an egalitarian hunting and gathering tribe in southern Africa. They use the click language probably used by our first ancestors and are the oldest population. The Yanomamo live in forests on the border of Brazil and Venezuela. They live in settled villages and grow plantains and hunt for animals and grubs, not needing to work more than three hours a day. They engage in frequent fighting with their neighbors; about 30% of deaths among adult men are due to violence. But different from chimps, the tribal people build male and female family bonds in the nuclear family, rather than separate male and female hierarchies. Then, 1.7 million years ago long lasting bonds between women and men emerged. They also have property rights, ceremony and religion, and trade systems based on fairness.[xlv]

Around 70,000 years ago, the rains came and the population started growing again. Some probably waded across the southern tip of the Arabian Sea 60,000 years ago. By about 50,000 years ago, modern humans had spread from Africa, across Asia and Europe. They moved slowly looking for fish and other food. Their descendants migrated across the Bering Sea land bridge to North America about 13,500 years ago. As they moved, the homo sapiens fought the Neanderthals around 45,000 years ago. Modern humans probably arrived in Neanderthal lands from northern India through Iran and Turkey, reaching the Near East about 45,000 years ago and moving across Europe (my ancestors), according to archaeological evidence. Some may have traveled by boat.

The Upper Paleolithic age was 45,000 to 10,000 years ago, and included stone tools and cave art in southern France (radiocarbon dates show that it was occupied first from 32,000 to 30,000 years ago and then again from 27,000 to 25,000). Artists pained animals that were rarely hunted, including lions and mammoths, as well as horses, reindeer, and owls. One of the oldest known sculptures is a tiny ivory figurine of a naked woman with large breasts and vulva, perhaps used in fertility rituals. It’s at least 35,000 years old and was found in Germany.[xlvi]

Most Europeans are descended from the first settlers who arrived during the Upper Paleolithic. Perhaps moving from India, other groups went north to Siberia, where Upper Paleolithic sites similar to those in Europe were found, dating from 40,000 to 25,000 years ago. These people also settled North and South America, perhaps in three waves of migration with three different language groups, beginning 14,000 to 11,000 years ago.

15,000: The first human settlements in the Near East led to a new social structure with elites, specialization of roles, and ownership of property that led to trade. Note that it took 35,000 years to evolve into settled life. Previously they were nomads who hunted and gathered and fought each other, too aggressive to live in settled communities. Also, settlement made people more vulnerable to raiders and disease. Agriculture followed settlement as people cultivated wild cereals and herded sheep and goats (probably between 10,000 and 9,500 years ago). As warfare decreased, human bones became more delicate. We are still evolving and changing, with variations on the different continents. An example of a recent change (5,000 years ago) is lactose tolerance in adults who relied on animal milk, defenses against diseases, changes in brainpower, and losing olfactory genes so that our sense of smell decreased. We are still trying to balance basic instincts for aggression and helpfulness and altruism.

The first evidence of settlement is in what is now Israel, Jordan and Syria where a people called the Natufians gathered wild wheat and barley with stone sickles. About 10% of their early burials include jewelry made of animal teeth, suggesting the existence of a richer elite. The skulls of the dead were covered with plaster and kept in houses to keep a bond with the ancestors.

It took 45,000-years to develop the first great urban civilizations in Babylon, Egypt, India, and China. It took time to evolve into being less aggressive, developing language, religion, and the nuclear family to control aggression and deceit, so people could settle down. Two hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, help us make social bonds. They are generated in the pituitary gland and increase level of trust in others. Religion served to keep people in line and to do their fair share rather than freeloading for fear of punishment in the afterlife. It also was a deterrent to using language to deceive others; religion and language evolved at the same time, probably shortly before the exodus–migration from Africa 50,000 years ago.

The nuclear family with the mother, father and children also encouraged communal activities because most males have a chance to reproduce and thus a reason to support the community in hunting and defense. The pair bond also reduces male fighting over females and sex became private rather than done in public where it could stir up problems. It should be noted many societies are polygamous with many wives and one husband, and a few practice polyandry where brothers marry one wife so they can afford to support her and the children.

The first cities developed in southern Mesopotamia around 6,000 years ago, and then in Egypt, India and China.

5,000 years ago our ancestors developed written records and writing was invented around 3,400 BC.

How did they invent words? E.F., 9, f, British Columbia

Many animals communicate with sounds that represent a threat or a food source, etc. Domesticated bonobos, chimps, and gorillas have been trained to communicate with symbols on a computer or with sign language with their hands. They don’t have the physical ability to speak words. Walking upright on two limbs enabled human vocal system to develop speech in the throat area. We don’t know if Neanderthal could speak or if Cro-Magnons were the first, about 125,000 years ago. Many theories guess as to how language started, but researchers agree that only humans have a language with syntax and grammar. It may have started with mothers communicating with babies..[xlvii]

Wikipedia reports, “The Sumerian archaic cuneiform script and the Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems (symbols that could be impressed or inscribed in clay to represent a record of land, grain or cattle) from 3400–3200 BC, with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC. The Chinese and Mesopotamian phonetic systems have especially been influential in the development of the systems of writing in use in the world today.”[xlviii]


What’s the biggest number in the whole world? How many zeroes do you need for a googol? Kana, 7, f, North Carolina

The biggest number has an infinite number of numbers, so there is no answer. 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) can’t be the largest number because 1 billion + 1 is bigger. But that is true for any number you pick. Infinity isn’t a number, it is

just a name for the thing bigger than all numbers.

“Googol” is a unit of quantity equal to 10^100 (1 followed by 100 zeroes). The googol was invented by the American mathematician Edward Kasner in 1938. According to the story, Kasner asked his nephew, who was then 8-years- old, what name he would give to a really large number, and “googol” was his response.

Who made up math? Guenivese, 14, f, California

The most ancient mathematical texts we know about are from Babylonia and Egypt, around 1900 BC. They explored the Pythagorean theorem (the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides), the most ancient math after basic arithmetic and geometry.


Is breaking the line between the time and space continuum is possible?

Vilma, 9, f, Belize

In the old classical physics developed by Isaac Newton (died 1727), time and space were thought to be separate. But Albert Einstein and H. Minkowski showed that they are connected. Penn State Professor Abhay Ashtekar’s theory is space-time is not a continuum but “it is made up of individual building blocks. It’s like a piece of fabric which though it appears to be continuous, is made up of individual threads.”[xlix] So maybe it’s not a line after all.

Quantum Mechanics began in 1900, the physics of the microscopic world. German physicist Max Planck told his son he had made a discovery as important as Isaac Newton’s. Planck discovered light behaves as if it had separate packets, called quanta. Even in seemingly empty space vast amounts of energy bubble in and out of existence. John Bell suggested that all the particles in the universe are connected by instantaneous communication. The findings are counterintuitive, seeming to violate what our senses tell us. The quanta travel through space in the form of waves that are in many places at the same time.  Photons–particles of light, potentially spin many ways, such as up or down, at the same time. It fixes into a particular spin only when observed and measured.

Two quantum particles can influence each from a distance—Albert Einstein called this phenomenon “spooky” and didn’t believe it was possible. Once two particles are “entangled,” as by moving around the same nucleus in an atom, they act as if they were connected, even if separated miles apart. When the spin of one particle is changed, the spin of the other instantly changes. This is called quantum nonlocality. Scientists are using it to improve data encryption by sending information using the properties of photons like spin and will build faster computers in the future.[l] It also explains how prayer or intention have an effect from a distance.

How everything stays in one big circle without falling out the other end of the world or how if sailed a ship around the world, you don’t notice your boat downward in a circle? Maxwell, 12, m, Belize

Gravity keeps us grounded to the earth. You don’t notice the curve of the earth because it’s so huge. “Gravity or gravitational forces are forces of attraction. It’s like the Earth pulling on you and keeping you on the ground. That pull is gravity at work. Every object in the universe that has mass exerts a gravitational pull, or force, on every other mass. The size of the pull depends on the masses of the objects. You exert a gravitational force on the people around you, but that force isn’t very strong, since people aren’t very massive. When you look at really large masses, like the Earth and Moon, the gravitational pull becomes very impressive. The gravitational force between the Earth and the molecules of gas in the atmosphere is strong enough to hold the atmosphere close to our surface. Smaller planets, that have less mass, may not be able to hold an atmosphere.”[li]

What is time and why does time pass? David, 13, m, Switzerland

Time is a way of measuring and counting the spacing between events and thinking about how long they last. It’s also used in measuring motion of objects. The universal unit of time is the second. Some believe time is a real part of the universe, a dimension, and others think that it is a made-up way to count.

Planet Earth

How is rain made? Raichan, 8, f, Japan

Rain is the condensation of water vapor in clouds that falls to the earth.

How wide is the sea? Hayden, 9, m, California

Oceans cover approximately 70.8% or 361 million square kilometers (139 million square miles) of Earth’s surface. The average depth is about 3.8 kilometers (2.4 miles). The oceans contain 97% of our planet’s available water.[lii]

How long ago was the world created? Alejandro, 10, m, Columbia

How was our planet created? How did our and other planets appear?

Yulia, 16, f, Ukraine

The Earth and the Solar System are about 4.5 billion years old. The age of the Universe, 14 to 17 billion years, is estimated from the distance and speed of the galaxies moving as the universe expands. Our galaxy probably formed within a billion years of the beginning of the Universe. Most of the galaxies have supermassive black holes at their core with such a strong gravitational pull that not even light can escape them. The black hole at the center of our Milky Way is small and dormant, although it has the mass of almost 4 million suns.[liii] The oldest rocks on Earth, found in Greenland, are about 3.8 billion years old. The oldest moon rocks and most of the 70 useable meteorites we have are about 4.5 billion years old. Rocks are dated by measuring the decay of atomic nuclei—“radioactive decay.”[liv] Fossils of simple life forms date back to about 3.5 billion years.

After the Big Bang which started the expansion of our universe from tiny, hot and dense matter, the universe began to grow at an unimaginable speed. Although it has slowed down, it’s still expanding. Hydrogen fires created the stars that became factories for new elements heavier than hydrogen, the lightest, simplest and most common building block. The first stars formed 400 million years ago. Our star—the sun–started life much bigger than it is now (almost 900,000 miles wide), a spinning cloud of star-stuff that eventually collapsed into its current size and shape, leaving behind leftovers.

Most of the comets, loose rocks and asteroids crashed into each other or the sun. The nine biggest scraps orbit the sun in a single plane, like planetary marbles circling on a plate. We’re made of stuff born inside the star furnace. The planets formed almost 5 billion years ago from a large cloud: A planet is defined as a large round world that’s the dominant object in its orbit around a star (not a moon). Pluto doesn’t qualify as a planet now because there are many other objects near it. The International Astronomical Union decides if a world is a planet.

The planets are all named after Greek gods. Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury are rocky worlds (earth is semi-liquid flowing rock, the continents floating like rafts or like bumper cars at an amusement park). We travel 583 million miles each year on our planetary spaceship. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are made mostly of gas. The planets of the Kuiper Belt, such as Pluto, are mostly ice; there may be more planets there than Pluto, such as one not yet named a planet, called 2003 UB313. Its year is more than 500 earth years, twice as long as Pluto’s. The solar system extends as much as a light-year, or 9 quintillion miles. Our Milky Way galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars, including our sun.

Our planet had violent origins with hot lava from volcanoes. The Earth is always changing, parts of the crust being created and others destroyed. It’s 25,000 miles around and its highest mountain is the Big Island of Hawaii. If the 4.5 billion years of earth history were squeezed into 24 hours, at midnight the earth was a fiery ball of rock covered with lava. The heaviest elements sank to the center of the earth. The volcanoes pumped steam into the air that condensed into rain as it cooled. At 4 AM, a single cell developed (over 33.2 billion years ago). At 9:05 AM multi-celled organisms developed; sponges were the first animal with specialized cells around 600 million years ago, the only animal for around 2 billion years until many varieties developed about 540 million years ago. Dinosaurs appeared at 11 PM and ruled for 150 million years until an asteroid hit the earth and wiped out over half of all species. Little mammals survived. Humans arrived just 30 seconds before the end of the 24 hours. The planet is so old and we are so new that all of recorded human history occupies only the last 13 seconds or so of a condensed 24 hours of all time.

A theory about how the moon was formed is that 4.5 billion years ago, an asteroid or huge meteorite as big as Mars crashed into Earth and blew out parts of the crust into space. Gravity caused the rubble to come together to form the moon. Moon rocks are over 4.4 billion years. It has gradually gotten farther away from the earth. The impact caused earth to tilt, which created the seasons. Comets and asteroids continued to hit the earth. Ancient rocks over 3.5 billion years have been found on all the continents, measured by the decay of elements.

When does the world collapse? Rio, 11, f, Japan

How much longer will people be alive on the earth? Raffaela, 12, f, Switzerland

How long will earth stand? Qin Yi, 12, m, Singapore

Will the world end? Jasmine, 14, f, Switzerland

The sun has been burning for about 4.5 billion years. It has about five billion years of fuel left. Then the sun will burn up its hydrogen and will expand into a red giant star engulfing the whole inner solar system. How long people are around depends on if we take action to stop global warming and pollution.

When will the next ice age happen?  Ben, 11, m, California

Scientists predict it will peak 80,000 years from now. Warm periods like the one we’re in now—it’s lasted for 10,000 years, are less common than ice ages in the history of the planet. Changes in the earth’s orbit cause the temperature changes.[lv] When glaciers increase in size, they will move back down and grind cities like New York into the ocean. A new super continent might appear as first the Mediterranean and then the Atlantic Ocean disappear. Oxygen levels and temperatures could fluctuate widely.

What’s the circumference of the earth? Rina, 11, f, Japan

How large is the world? “Dotty,” 16, f, China

The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 kilometers).[lvi] The Greeks figured out the Earth was round: Eratosthenes (3rd century BC) estimated the distance around the Earth, using logic and basic geometry.  Columbus believed it was half the accurate distance, so he thought he’s sailed to Asia rather than the Americas.

Will we ever run out of gas and oil before life on earth ends?

Tucker, 12, m, New Mexico

Yes. Experts agree that easy sources of oil are being used up but disagree about the exact date when oil will run out. “Post Carbon Institute’s analysis of projections made by oil industry experts sees permanent decline possibly under way by 2010. We know that the easy “conventional oil” (such as we’ve been pumping out of Texas and Saudi Arabia for decades) is about to decline because global discoveries peaked in the 1960s and, over the last 20 years, oil consumption has far outpaced its discovery. The global energy industry has invested heavily in the difficult “unconventional oil” (such as tar sands and deepwater oil) to help make up the difference. However, producing this oil is expensive and extremely complex, and there simply is not enough available to replace declining conventional oil supplies, plus meet increasing global demand as quickly and as cheaply as we need it. We can’t just turn to wind, solar, biofuels, or nuclear, either. With oil accounting for over 95 percent of our energy use in both agriculture and transportation, there are no substitute resources ready to replace oil.”[lvii]

What are the odds of this world getting drastically better, rather than worse? Mouse, 16, f, California

Global warming, pollution, and destruction of forests, oceans, soil and plant and animal species continue at a rapid pace. Violence of humans against humans continues in wars, rape, and allowing poverty. “From 1955 to 2002, data indicated an estimated 5.4 million violent war deaths in 13 countries with 36,000 war deaths annually.” We have the technology but not the wisdom to solve many of these problems.[lviii] Your generation has a big job on your hands to move towards peace and protection of the environment.

Why is the sky blue? Yachan, 9, m, Japan and Jean, 17, m, France

“As light moves through the atmosphere, most of the longer wavelengths pass straight through. Not much of the red, orange and yellow light is affected by the air. But, much of the shorter wavelength light is absorbed by the gas molecules. The absorbed blue light is then radiated in different directions and gets scattered around the sky. Since you see the blue light from everywhere overhead, the sky looks blue.”[lix]

How did the world come to be? Science or by God? Richard, 14, m, Lanai

Who created the world? Give a brief history. Belita, 17, f, Zambia

How did it all start? How will it end? Arno, 18, m, France

Life begins and ends with the sun. Life requires radiation from the sun for energy to start chemical reactions, elements, water as a solvent, and fairly stable temperatures—provided by the earth’s stable orbit around the sun.[lx] Life began on earth around 4 billion years ago when it was all oceans, no continents. Around 1.8 billion years ago bacteria learned to “eat sunlight” in photosynthesis and send oxygen into the atmosphere that we can breathe. Most of our oxygen (70%) is produced by ocean algae. Carbon atoms make life possible and most life feeds off the sun. Life began with organic biological molecules. They began in the water sparked by sun radiation, which provided the energy to begin chemical reactions. This process has been duplicated in laboratories. The molecules joined into chains that became the building blocks of life—proteins, sugars, lipids (fats), and nucleic acids. These chains are called polymers that developed into single-cell organisms like bacteria that still exist. Then cells joined together, like slime molds.[lxi] The chances of life emerging are small; some believe that God or intelligent design was necessary to create these rare preconditions. Others think it happened on its own and some Christians and Muslims believe the Biblical Old Testament account that the world was created in six days.

The Earth has had more than 4.5 billion years of physical abuse, having been scratched, buried, drained, stretched, flooded, filled and drained again. Huge mountain ranges have come and gone. Continents of ice have gouged and bulldozed the earth repeatedly. The earth’s layers begin at the center with a solid metal core 1,000 miles wide, about as hot as the surface of the sun, called “the inner core.” It spins at its own rate, faster than the Earth above it, and is surrounded by the “outer core,” a deep layer of liquid iron. The ocean of iron creates the Earth’s magnetic field. The north and south poles swap places at unpredictable intervals, averaging about 300,000 years. The last one was 780,000 years ago.

Next is liquid metal, then the mantle and crust. If you think of the earth as an egg, the egg white represents the mantle, and the yolk, the partly fluid, partly solid metal core. The shell represents the crust of moving plates. The continents move around. The North American plate of rock, tens of miles thick, floats on the molten center of the Earth. It is moving away from Europe at the rate of an inch or so a year, about the rate as your fingernails grow. As the plates grind into each other, they create jerks or earthquakes. The island of Surtsey, near Ireland, is one of the newest pieces of land and another is rising in the Hawaiian island chain.

In the US, the mountain ranges of the East and West are caused by continental plates riding into or over one another. Continental plates moving against each other created the Swiss Alps. The top of the Swiss Matterhorn Mountain is part of the African plate, like a car collision where one pushes over the other car. Other mountains are volcanic. Uplift of mountains is followed by erosion by water, as the Colorado River does in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The plate tectonic cycle will wear out billions of years from now [lxii].


How is electricity made? Jahi, 6, m, North Carolina

From many ways, such as rubbing a cat’s fur with a piece of plastic (static electricity); a motor driven by wind, water, steam, etc (electricity); and lightning.

You know electricity flows through wires to light your lamps and power your appliance, but where does it come from? Electricity is created when mechanical energy or moving energy is turned into electrical energy, depending on what source is available, such as the moving water in hydroelectricity dams or windmills producing electricity in windy areas. In places where there is lots of coal, natural gas or oil in the ground, power companies burn the fuel to make steam, which rotates a turbine.

What is the fastest car in the world? Tomas, 8, m, Czech Republic

The SSC Ultimate Aero travels 257 miles per hour, it can accelerate from 0-60 in 2.7 seconds. It has a Twin-Turbo V8 Engine with 1183 horsepower, costing $654,400. It was tested in 2007 by Guinness world records, taking the lead as the fastest car in the world by beating Bugatti Veyron.[lxiii]

I want to have wings and fly to the sky to watch the planets.

Thomas, 11, m, Hong Kong

Can a person learn to fly without gadgets? Aivan, 15, m, Russia

Can someone is this class fly, and will he or she hide her or his secret and will people consider they are aliens? Ksenia, 16, f, Ukraine

Wings are needed to fly. An airplane flies because engines provide thrust and the wings provide lift. The upper part of the wing is fixed and curved. The air flowing over the top of the wing has to travel faster and a greater distance in the same amount of time as air flowing under the wing. Faster-flowing air has lower pressure. This causes the upper wings’ air pressure to drop, so the higher pressure beneath the wing forces the wing upwards and the plane with it.

In insects, the shape of wing isn’t important; it’s how the insect moves it. They’re more like propellers than fixed aircraft wings. The beating of the wing forms a swirling funnel of air, like a tiny tornado, above the upper part of the wing. Air pressure inside the tornado is lower than surrounding air so higher-pressure air behind the wing pushed it upward. But just flapping isn’t enough. Insect wings also flap backward and curl. The rotation creates more uplift. The insect, such as a fly, adjusts when it feels itself rising or falling, rolling, etc. all with a brain the size of a poppy seed. So if you want to fly, you need to use something like a glider, hot air balloon, or para sail to give you wings. You can create the feeling of flying by snowboarding, surfing, windsurfing, dancing, and other sports—or in your dreams for no cost.

When, why and how was Internet started? Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan

“Digital Natives,” or Generation Y, use the Internet for social interaction, research, news, and sharing music and art. According to the authors of Born Digital, the main problem is sharing too much personal information that can be used against them in their future careers, etc.[lxiv] For some, it enables them not to have face-to-face interactions with friends or to exercise. It also increases the gap between the rich and the poor, as three-quarters of the world’s population do not have Internet access—only 6% in Africa, compared to 74% in North America.[lxv]

Some say the Internet was started by the US Air Force in 1962 to enable communication during a nuclear attack. Others say the Internet developed from computers, such as the Colossus used by the British during World War II to decode German messages. It was inspired by the British father of the computer, Charles Babbage in the 19th century. The first full-service electronic computer was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. It filled a room and weighed 60,000 pounds. The first commercial use was by the US Census Bureau in 1951.

When the Russians surprised the world with the 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite, it generated more investment in technological research. In 1962, Paul Baran at the Rand Corporation developed a language to communicate between computers and a rerouting system if a computer on the network became unavailable. The semiconductor chip replaced the vacuum tube as information processor, making possible a smaller computer. IBM produced it for industrial and business use, and later kicked itself for not marketing it for personal use. Apple’s Bill Gates innovated the personal computer operating system.

Email was developed in the 1970s (Ray Tomlinson developed the first email program in 1972) and in the mid-1980s hypertext HTTP protocols made it possible to transport files linking web pages to each other, the basis of the Internet. In 1992 the Internet was released with over one million host computers, many at universities. Today there are over 40 million hosts and over 300 million users. Search engines started in the late 90s and social networks and blogs in 2000.

In 1995 Amazon.com was an innovator in online sales of books and by 2000 used  “cookies” to keep track of our Internet usage. Over 6,000 companies provide Internet access. There are more than 3 billion web pages, with over 7 million new ones being added each day. The most popular websites are MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, eBay, and Wikipedia (begun in 2001 in English, now around 250 languages). A 2007 Pew survey reported that 70% of US teen girls and 57% of boys ages 15 to 17 have profiles on social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Xanga.  MMORPGs are popular—Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, such as World of Warcraft, Second Life, and EverQuest. We have blogs, gripe sites, chat rooms, and college courses, but also problems with hate groups, bomb making information, porn, Internet addiction disorder, time spent at work surfing the Net, and privacy issues.[lxvi] Another problem is the technical gap; the richest nations of the world with 20% of the population, are 91% of Internet users and have 86% of the income. In the US, 60% of schools have Internet, but only 39% in poor school districts.

How does a TV work?

[My brother Greg is an electronics engineer, so I asked him to answer. Radio and TV rely on waves to receive your favorite station. Waves are invisible energy like sound waves but at higher vibration. TV receives the waves with an antenna or cable and converts them into pictures and sound using electronics and magnetism.

Behind the glass screen on your TV is a special material that glows when it is hit with a beam of energy, sort of like a search light beam, and the beam scans from top-left corner of your screen then across the screen then down a small bit, then across again and again until it finally reaches the bottom-right corner of the screen. This all happens so fast, you do not see the beam scanning back and forth and down. The thick glass screen also protects the things inside the screen. Inside is a beam gun and beam scanning controls, and all contents are in a glass-sealed vacuum chamber.

The Universe

Was there a big bang? Eli, 8, m, North Carolina

How was the galaxy before everything exists? How was everything created before, when there was nothing? Joaquin, 9, m, Brazil

The universe is 10 to 15 billion years old based on the expansion of distant galaxies, our Milky Way Galaxy is 11 to 13 billion years, and our solar system and Earth is 11 to 13 billion years old.[lxvii] The universe has expanded from the tiny speck to about 46 billion light years in size. According to the Big Bang theory, the universe began with a huge explosion about 13.7 billion years ago, which created low-level background radiation noise still present throughout the universe. This discovery in 1965 has been called the most important scientific discovery of the 20th century. Two scientists (Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias) were working on a communications antenna in the 1960s when they discovered faint cosmic light or radiation from the sky. They heard the noise on a radio telescope, the radiation left over from the Big Bang.

During the Big Bang, for every 10 billion antimatter particles created there  were also created 10 billion plus one matter particles. This slight imbalance (called broken symmetry) allows the universe to exist and may be due to a particle called the Higgs boson. It’s being tested in Geneva, Switzerland, at the $8 billion Large Hadron Collider. Most of us know matter is made of elements, which are made of atoms, which are made of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Twelve major subatomic particles are the six uncharged particles called leptons and six charged particles called quarks: two charmed quarks, top and bottom quarks, and two strange quarks.[lxviii] In addition, five particles carry force, called bosons. Physicists believe that the Higgs boson, that has never been observed because it decays so quickly, may contain the key to matter. Thus, it’s called the “God particle.” Scientists smash particles to try to find the Higgs boson at Fermilab in the US and the large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

The universe is made of 4% ordinary matter or atoms—like our bodies; 22% invisible dark matter (which is mainly responsible for gravity), and 74% mysterious dark energy that makes the universe expand faster and faster.[lxix] It’s amazing that all our knowledge is about 4% of what exists. The theory is that after the Big Bang very hot visible matter in the form of tiny quarks condensed on long, thin, filaments of unseen cold dark matter, like water droplets condensing on the threads of a spider’s web. The droplets grew into galaxies—almost 1 trillion in the universe that scientists can observe. What’s between galaxies? Superheated gas only visible in X-rays.[lxx] Two-thirds of ordinary matter is in between the galaxies in the form of dilute gas.

However, there’s no proof that cold dark matter exists. Scientists still do not know why the universe is expanding, picking up speed as it moves out, one of the biggest mysteries. In the 1990s the force that pushes the universe was called “dark energy.” It’s the biggest mystery in all of science, says Michael Turner from the University of Chicago.

Why does the sun move? Kushamiou, 9, m, Japan

Our galaxy, like all other spiral galaxies, rotates. The stars move on orbits around the center of the galaxy. The sun moves at an orbital speed of about 220 km/s (1 km/s is equivalent to 103 meters per second) and takes about 230 million years to make one revolution around the center of the galaxy.[lxxi]

How many stars are in the sky at night? Nida, 16, f, Pakistan

There are probably about 400 billion stars in the Milky Way, although a 50% error either way is possible.[lxxii]

I would like to know if there is life on other planets? Carlos, 11, m, Columbia

Are we, the human race, the only intelligent life form in this infinitely large and growing universe? Ryan, 12, m, Belize

Is there a life in space? Burak, 13, m, Turkey

Are there people in other places? If so, did they evolve to be like us? How big is space? Why is it so big? Where are we? Why are we here? Allie, 14, f, California

Are we really alone in this huge universe? I find it practically impossible, though. I mean it’s so big. That would be kind of dumb if we were. Namine, 14, f, Tennant Creek, Australia

Why are there human beings on the earth? Why the human beings didn’t appear and couldn’t live in the other planets? Dotty, 16, f, China

Is there the same person as you living on another star? Wen Zhen, m, 19, China

There are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe and about 100 billion stars in the Milky Wax galaxy. The number of stars in the universe is more than the number of grains of sand on all the beaches of the entire Earth! All the stars you see in the night sky are in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Hubble telescope discovered that there are probably as many planets in other parts of our Milky Way galaxy as in our solar system. Scientists have so far found 285 stars with planets, more than 400 planets around stars other than the Sun, and are continuing the search for exoplanets in zones where life could exist.[lxxiii] The Kepler spacecraft started the search in 2009, planning to observe at least 100,000 stars in its first three years (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars), hoping to find planets in habitable zones around the stars. The search will take 23 years to find earth-size planets. Liquid water is the key to finding life.[lxxiv]

Life on earth requires the element carbon as the building block, liquid water as the home for chemical reactions, and the sunlight as energy source. However, it’s possible that other building blocks, such as silicon, and another solvent such as ammonia, and geothermal energy from a planet’s interior, are sources for life on other planets. Red dwarf stars are the most probable home for life.[lxxv]

Astronomers don’t have the technology for radio detection or telescopes for planets beyond our solar system. A radio telescope can reach about 1,000 light years from Earth, only a small part of our galaxy. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute was partly funded by a huge grant from Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft.[lxxvi] It hasn’t found intelligent radio signals after over four decades of scanning thousands of stars. SETI, in partnership with the University of California at Berkeley, built a network of radio telescopes in Northern California. When completed in 2010, 350 telescopes scaned the stars for radio signals

One of the SETI astronomers predicts they’ll find signs of life by 2025. Some believe the numerous accounts of UFOS, unidentified flying objects, and crop circle patterns are products of extraterrestrial beings. Many photos, videos, radar tracking, and pilot reports suggest UFOs exist.[lxxvii] Psychiatrist John Mack reports working with over 100 people–including children–who believe UFOs abducted them. They generally report being paralyzed, then carried up on a beam of light into a craft where they are medically probed.[lxxviii] In 2009, the Catholic Church held a five-day conference on astrobiology and the possibility of extraterrestrial life and the British government released their files on UFO reports..[lxxix]

Why doesn’t UFOs want us to see them? Andrey, 16, m, Ukraine

Many UFOs are actually Venus, the northern lights or an artificial satellite, but some may be the real thing. Many people believe they have seen UFOs or even been taken onboard the space ships. If you go online you can see photos people have taken: dome shaped, triangular, pyramids, or donut or cigar shaped. One of the best photos was over Mexico City in 2004 and another shows orbs over Phoenix, Arizona, in 1997. See photos on an interesting DVD featuring Dan Aykroyd Unplugged on UFOs (2005). He lists other sightings reported by governments of Belgium, France, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Canada, but scientists don’t believe he’s scientific.

I would ask him ‘How big is space?’ because I have thought that for a long time.  If space is infinite big, but it is unreasonable, how can space be infinite big?  If space is not infinite, it also is unreasonable, outside the space, what it is?

Alvin, Hong Kong, m, 11

I would like to know what the end of the universe looks like, what it feels like to be perfect, and why people act the way they do. Katie, 14, f, Pennsylvania

Is there an end of the universe? Annabel, 15, f, Chengdu, China

How is it with the universe, where does it end? Marketa, 16, f, Czech Republic

Where is the end of the universe? Andrey K., 16, m, Ukraine

The universe has no edge or end; as it expands it creates no space. There is no center either, so it stretches uniformly. The universe is mostly space, vacuum, with the stars like grains of sand several miles apart. Galaxies are moving away from each other, like dough expanding in raisin bread. The raisins/galaxies aren’t moving; the bread/space is expanding faster on a flat plane.

As far as astronomers can see to the edge of the visible universe, its about 13.7 light years away. (Light travels at 3000,000,000 meters per second.)  The center of our galaxy, The Milky Way, is about 25,000 light-years away. “The entire universe, or just the visible portion of the universe if it’s infinite, is roughly 27 billion light-years across. That’s 159,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles. Our solar system, from the Sun to Pluto, is .00063 light-years across or 3,720,000,000 miles. If the entire Earth’s surface represents the whole universe, the solar system on that scale would be the size of a single, small bacteria.”[lxxx]

I want to be a genius. And I also want to go to other planets to travel around. It is very interesting to me. I can know more about knowledge. I would be friendly to the new human beings as a dog. Ding Hao, 16, m, China

Humans have walked on the moon and sent robots to explore the surface of Mars. Who knows what travel will be available when you’re older? For science videos and science sites for young people here’s a start:  www.kidsites.com/sites-edu/science.htm, www.sciencefriday.com/topics/ and http://www.kidsnet.org/.

We turn next from the universe to the big problems of the people on little planet earth.


[vii] wagntrain.com/BodyLanguage2.htm

[viii] Scientist Alex Guenther of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

[ix] sciencenewsforkids.org/articles/20031126?Feature1.asp

[xi] Ssc.org/sprog training programs for high school and college students.

Ssc.org/resources, earth911.org, epa.gov/kids, ddisface.org, nrdc.org/greensquad

http://pbskids.org/eekoworld/ information for young kids

[xiv] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8374965.stm

UICEF UK – Climate Change, Child’s Rights and Intergenerational Justice –

[xv] “Viewpoint February 2, 2010, Top 10 Themes from 2010 Davos World Economic Forum.” http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/feb2010/ca2010022_162429.htm

[xvi] MyFootprint.org, or SafeClimatenet/calculator, or www.terrapass.com or http://www.footprintnetwork.org

[xx] Michael Standaert, “China Turns to Clean Tech to Stimulate Its Economy, San Francisco Chronicle. May 10, 2009, Section A.

[xxii] A report released December 7, 2008, by CHEMTrust, a British organization.

[xxiv] Carl Honoré. In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. HarperCollins, 2004.

[xxv] Ban Ki Moon, “What the World Needs is a Green Deal,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 26, 2008.

[xxvii] sierraclubgreenhome.com

[xxviii] . “Intelligence Report,” Parade Magazine, May 24, 2009.

[xxix] greenschools.net, http://www.childrenoftheearth.org/ environmental education for youth, http://www.teensturninggreen.org/

[xxx] INTERNET DISCUSSION BETWEEN VOICES OF YOUTH, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND UNICEF MALAWI” 22t May 2009 http://www.unicef.org/voy/speakout/speakout_567.html

[xxxi] Other green films are: FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992, animated) Wall-E (2008, animated), Silent Running (1971), Gorillas in the Mist (1988), Erin Brockovich (2000), Who Killed the Electric Car (2006, documentary), March of the Penguins (2005), and Avatar, 2009. Wall_E and Avatar are animated science fiction taking place in the future when there is no greenery left on earth due to human greed. Avatar is the best selling film of all time.

[xxxiv] See www.worldprivacyforum.org “Top 10 Opt Outs” and www.dmachoice.org, newdream.org/junkmail/index.php

[xxxvii] Elizabeth Rogers. The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time. Three Rivers Press.

Josh Dorfman. The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish, Green Living. Stewart, Tabori and Chang

Down-to-Earth Guide To Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon.

I,001 Ways to Save the Earth by Joanna Yarrow .

Michael Stone and Zenobia Barlow, eds. Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World. Sierra Club Books, 2005. They have other books on the topic, as does New Society Press.

Jenn Savedge. The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet. New Society Publishers, 2009.

Anne Jankelowitch. 50 Ways to Save the Earth.

Claire Nivola. Planting the Trees of Kenya.

Julie Hall. A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids.

www.thegreen guide.com from National Geographic.

http://www.Grist.org To find a green power program in your state, call your local utility or visit U.S. Department of Energy’s Green Power Markets ecomomalliance.org

end junk mail 41pounds.org

Information about pollution’s effect on children’s health: http://healthychild.org/about/who_we_are/sandra_steingraber/


www.6footsix.com Colleen Smith, pro beach volleyball player. Colleen’s Green Team—to join you have to make one change to green your life

www.climatecrisis.net An Inconvenient Truth book and movie by Al Gore.


dominantanimal.org/ biologist and author Paul Erhlich’s site


climatecrisis.net. http://lifestyle.msn.com/mindbodyandsoul/personalgrowth/articlegh.aspx?cp-documentid=656438&gt19310



school program: http://www.cooltheearth.org, www.farmtoschool.org, http://www.kidsgardening.com


“The Story of Stuff” about consumption


Stepgreen.org helps track and reduce your carbon footprint.

[xxxix] Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited. Random House, 2007.

[xlii] The rest of this information comes from Nicholas Wade. Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors, 2006. Note the dates mentioned are approximate.

[xliv] nationalgeographiccom/genoraphic/faq/html. There is a fee.

[l] Gautam Naik, “Science, Spirituality and Some Mismatched Socks, Wall St. Journal, May 5, 2009. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124147752556985009.html

[lx] www.americanscientist.org/articles/

[lxi] hhmi.org/chi-bin/askascientist/highlight.pl?kw=&file=a

[lxii] The Plate Tectonics Cycle: The Earth is restless inside, as it tries to cool its interior. Material inside the Earth become viscous and flow in certain areas. Movement within the Earth’s interior is reflected on the outside crust. Convection currents inside the mantle (area between the crust and the outer core) create two types of crustal movements. When convections currents come together, convergent plate boundaries (earthquakes) are formed on the Earth’s crust. When the convection currents pull the crust apart in two different directions, divergent plate boundaries (volcanoes and earthquakes) are formed. A consequence of the Earth’s surface moving faster along the equator than at the poles creates tension, which in part transform boundaries. http://www.msnucleus.org/membership/html/k-6/pt/index.html

[lxiv] John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. Born Digital, Basic Books, 2008.

[lxv] www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm The percent of the population with Internet access is:  North America, 74%; Europe, 49%, Latin America/Carribean, 30%; Middle East, 23%, Asia, 17%, and Africa, 6%.

[lxvi] Teenangels.org Informs others about Internet dangers

[lxviii] A quark is one of the fundamental particles in physics. They join together to form hadrons, such as protons and neutrons. Quarks and antiquarks are the only two fundamental particles that interact through all four fundamental forces of physics. There are 6 flavors of quarks: up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. http://physics.about.com/od/glossary/g/quark.htm

[lxix] Science News This Week, March 18, 2006, Vol. 169, p. 163.

[lxxvii] Seti.org, www.pbs.org/liffebeyondearth/index.html and www.auforn.com/, the Australian UFO Research Network

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