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Bans on Offshore Drilling: Will It Affect The Oil And Gas Industry?

Environmentalists and conservation groups are hailing the decisions made by the United States and Canada the bans on offshore drilling for oil and gas off the coasts of the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean.

However, critics claim the move is damaging for the oil and gas industry, and the United States’ national security depends on its ability to produce reserves on home ground.

Here, looks at the bold impact this change will have on the energy industry and what it means for the environment.

President Obama used the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas and underwater canyons in the Atlantic, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made similar steps to shield large areas of Arctic waters from drilling.

Although existing drilling sites are unaffected by the ban, oil companies will be unable to tap into new sources of natural resources in the areas.

The White House has justified the controversial step by stating that “the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”

The Beaufort and Chukchi seas are “habitat for several species listed as endangered” and are widely recognized as “major biodiversity hotspots that are critical to fisheries.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has publicly denounced the decision, stating that it “ignores congressional intent, our national security, and vital, good-paying job opportunities for our shipyards, unions, and businesses of all types across the country.”

The API says that this proposal would take America in the wrong direction just as it has become “world leader in production and refining of oil and natural gas and in reduction of carbon emissions.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Investments in refining other types of energy solutions are rapidly increasing as companies move away from the costly mining of oil and gas reserves.

The United States is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30 percent of the nuclear generation of electricity globally, and is set to expand over the coming years.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) production has surged in the United States, and with the increased need for LNG around the globe exports are set to rise.

As the world moves closer to adopting a low-carbon economy, more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly technologies are being developed to increase the clean energy market.

What’s more, the resurrection of the coal sector is thanks to new technologies that reduce carbon emissions and decrease carbon footprint, making this a viable new (but old) energy source.

According to the Washington Post, oil produced in the Arctic represents a “tenth of one percent of America’s oil production” and the area is so sensitive and remote that the “economics of exploration is costly” – therefore, will it really be missed?

As the development of other forms of energy supplies increase and advanced technologies are being designed to source, mine and produce reserves, it would appear the United States of America is in a good position to lead the global energy industry in 2017 and beyond.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Eyecare

We often take our sight for granted, but for those unfortunate enough to suffer with impaired vision or even blindness the desire to see is a far greater struggle than we could ever imagine.

Developed nations like the United States are contributing their technological knowhow to helping third world countries improve their healthcare but most importantly to enable people to see again.

To aid those with damaged eyesight, Microsoft is now exploring ways to use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to develop predictive analytics for eyecare providers.

Here, looks at whether AI and machine learning can in fact help those with blindness and improve optical health around the world.

The Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE) combines the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in India as well as universities from the United States, Australia and Brazil to study and develop new technologies to tackle eyesight problems.

The LVPEI is a non-profit treatment and research center that uses machine learning tools to improve patient outcomes, and experts help to develop practical and provable eyecare solutions.

The MINE team have built a model that predicts regression rates for eye operations which will allow doctors to identify the exact procedures needed to prevent and treat visual impairments.

According to, this international collaboration of experts aims to “reduce the incidence of preventable blindness and help providers better understand the development of visual impairments by leveraging Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite.’

Global experts will lead projects focused on “better predicting the rate of change of myopia in children, formulating more accurate predictions for the outcomes of refractive surgery, and establishing methodologies to personalize surgical procedures and raise the likelihood of success.”

Although these tests and technological advancements are being developed for global use, the main target market is developing countries that suffer a great deal with inadequate healthcare systems and eye diseases.

The United States plays an important part in improving eye health right around the world. Developing countries like India are seeing a vast improvement in the services they provide to their patients and healthcare organizations are extremely grateful for the knowledge and contributions they receive.

Continued research and development not only makes a bold impact on the healthcare industry but will help millions around the world struggling with eyesight problems.

The Sugar Dilemma Part Two: Addiction And The Sugar Industry

Sugar highjacks the brain in a similar manner to that of cocaine or nicotine.

The dopamine released when we eat sugar-laced foods stimulates our brain via dopamine receptors. When sugar-rich foods are often eaten or in large quantities, these receptors become desensitized. To get the same pleasurable experience, we have to ingest even more sugar.

Additionally, a recent study in mice shows that the calories in sugar stimulate a different area of the brain’s reward center. When this location in the brain is stimulated, the animals want to eat more and more. Sugar provides a double whammy, and our altered brain chemistry can ultimately lead to full-blown sugar addiction with the associated ill-effects of binge eating, sugar-craving, withdrawal symptoms, and other-addictive-substance susceptibility.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a leading voice sounding the sugar alarm says “No one can exert cognitive inhibition, will power, over a biochemical drive that goes on every minute, of every day, of every year.”

What the sugar industry knew and when they knew it

The addictive nature of sugar is not the only problem. The public is under a total frontal assault from a consortium of players—the sugar industry, established nutrition scientists, the food industry, and the very institution supposedly watching out for us—the federal government.

Recently uncovered internal documents disclose a systematic campaign by the sugar industry to convince the public that sugar is an essential nutrient for a healthy diet.

In the 1950’s, the sugar industry launched a major campaign to promote the use of sugar. The campaign focused on three targets—research, information, and legislative programs. The sugar industry funded a Harvard research study to “prove” fat (rather than sugar or tobacco) as the major contributing factor to heart disease. This research was used to draft the USDA’s first nutritional guidelines recommending a low-fat diet.

Since that time, in spite of evidence to the contrary, this belief has become entrenched as settled science. Data correlating heart disease to sugar consumption has been overlooked or ignored, or worse—researchers coming to contrary conclusions have been punished by both the research establishment and the sugar industry.

Public policy has also played a role in shaping the American diet. Annually, the US government provides millions of dollars in subsidies to both sugar and corn producers. These subsidies create an artificial market. The federal government establishes production controls to manage market prices. However, when the market price falls below a set minimum price, the government buys processed sugar stocks at that minimum price. As a result, American families end up paying higher sugar prices.

Farm subsidies to the corn industry are paid directly to the farmer in the form of a guaranteed price. Consequently, the farmer is incentivized to overproduce.  Global corn prices are driven down. An ancillary effect of lower corn prices has been an increased use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the food industry.

Sugar Addiction - 10% of farms receive 75% of federal subsidiesSince 1995, 10 percent of the farms growing these crops have received 75 percent of the federal subsidies. This relatively small group of crop growers appears to have a disproportionate share of political influence.

Overall, these subsidies contribute to lower costs in sugar-laden processed foods vs. natural, healthy, fresh fruits and vegetable alternatives. Food processors add sugar, fat, and salt to make processed foods more palatable. Taste combined with lower cost and convenience makes processed food almost irresistible. Currently,  Americans spend 90% of their food budget on processed food.

Whether collusion or not, the result of the sugar onslaught has been a steady increase in the consumption of added sugars among adults (30% between 1977-2010) and children (20% in the same timeframe). The rise in obesity and diabetes has increased steadily during the same period. The CDC estimates obesity and diabetes cost the U.S. healthcare system $1 billion per day.

What we do know is that for over 60 years, the sugar industry has suppressed the relationship between sugar and tooth decay, obesity, and chronic diseases and has paid for research and publicity to divert attention to other “causes.”

Is this a big tobacco moment for the sugar industry?  Bold Business encourages you to be the judge.

The Sugar Dilemma Part One: The Good And The Bad

Is sugar killing us?  So asks Gary Taubes in a Wall Street Journal article, December 9, 2016. Global production of sugar for 2016/17 is an estimated 171 million metric tons with a projected value of $97 Billion dollars.  Consequently, the answer to Mr. Taubes’ question could have significant economic repercussions.

In a series of articles, Bold Business considers both sides of the sugar argument.

Firstly, the positive.

Our bodies need sugar. Sugars are natural components of a variety of foods essential to a healthy diet, including fruit, dairy products, and vegetables. These foods contain the sugars glucose, lactose, or fructose.

Metabolic processes throughout the body break down digestible carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables and the lactose in dairy products into glucose. All cells in the body use this glucose. The brain and other organs use the glucose as fuel to provide energy. Because glucose is an essential nutrient for cellular function, most glucose is consumed within hours of ingestion.

In addition to the glucose used to power our cells, the body stores glucose in the liver to be used to regulate our blood sugar levels. Because glucose is metabolized throughout the body, the liver only has to break down about 20 percent of the body’s glucose requirements.

A healthy weight adult needs about 200 grams of glucose per day. About two-thirds (130 grams) is needed by the brain. The brain requires a continuous supply of glucose to maintain normal brain functions—among these are movement, breathing, speaking, heartbeat, digestion, memory, and thinking. Without sufficient glucose to the brain, a person can become confused, forgetful, or lapse into a coma.

Besides providing energy to keep us going, sugar is desirable for another excellent reason—it makes many foods and beverages taste better. When food tastes better, the brain releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Who doesn’t like to feel good?

So if sugar is essential to body and brain function and makes us feel good, why ask the question, is sugar killing us?

Secondly, the negative.

Yes, our bodies need sugar, but not all sugar is created equal.

Our body needs glucose in regulated doses. Over 50 years of research, including the most recent studies tell us what our bodies don’t need—sucrose and refined fructose (high-fructose corn syrup). Besides the obvious link to tooth decay, recent studies link these refined sugars to type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dementia, macular degeneration, and cancer.

Refined sugar, referred to as sucrose, is composed of 50% fructose. Even moderate consumption of fructose is believed to cause hepatic insulin resistance in humans and has been shown to increase circulating free fatty acids. After ingesting fructose, the liver then has 100% of the metabolic burden. The fructose is converted into bad cholesterol and triglycerides and stored as fat. Over time, the body develops insulin resistance.

When the body is working as it should, blood glucose levels are tightly regulated. Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen. When blood sugar levels drop the glycogen is converted back to glucose and released into the bloodstream. Blood sugar levels are balanced by the pancreas.  The pancreas releases glucagon, a hormone that causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose which is released into the bloodstream. Elevated levels of blood glucose in turn cause the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin suppresses the liver’s release of glucose and helps glucose enter the cells.

The Dangers Of Sugar ConsumptionHowever, an insulin resistant liver doesn’t recognize the signal that enough glucose has been released. The liver continues to release glucose. This glucose is stored in the liver and body as fat. Other tissues can become insulin resistant and fail to absorb the extra insulin, exacerbating the problem. Added sugars promote overeating (food tastes too good to stop), and both overeating and fructose overfeeding can induce metabolic syndrome which contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

estimates that “excess weight contributes to as many as 1 out of 5 of all cancer-related deaths.” A recent study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center links diets high in sugar to particular types of cancers, especially breast cancer. Researchers identified fructose in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup as the facilitators for cancer. When fructose is burned as fuel (versus fat), free radicals are generated. These free radicals cause mitochondrial and DNA and other cellular damage. This cellular damage is believed to be a key mechanism for producing cancer.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, is a bold voice sounding the alarm about the hazards of sugar. “We need to wean ourselves off. We need to de-sweeten our lives. We need to make sugar a treat, not a diet staple.”

So, is sugar killing us? It appears that certain sugars may well be.