PowerChina-constructed Mali Gouina hydropower station completed

Alleviating electricity shortages in West Africa

BEIJING, Feb. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A news report by haiwainet.cn:

On December 3, 2022, the inauguration of the Gouina Hydropower Station, which is owned and managed by the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS), financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, and constructed by PowerChina, was held in the Diamou area of the Kayes region.

The inauguration was co-chaired by Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Mali. He warmly congratulated the successful completion of the Gouina hydropower station, thanks to the Chinese government and the Chinese Embassy in Mali for their strong support for the power construction in Mali and even West Africa. He also thanked PowerChina for its contribution to the project implementation.

The Gouina Hydropower Station falls along the Senegal River in Mali. The dam is 19 meters high, with a total length of 1317 meters and a storage capacity of 136 million cubic meters. It took 6 years to complete the construction. According to PowerChina, the Gouina Hydropower Station is one of the largest construction projects invested by Chinese companies in Mali.

As a large-scale infrastructure project in the area involved in the “Belt and Road” initiative, once operational, the station is expected to generate about 621 million kilowatt-hours of power. It will form a cascade reservoir and stations with Manantali and Felou hydropower stations, contributing to a continuous and stable power grid covering a large region. The grid will overcome power shortages in Mali and boost local industrial and social and economic development. Besides Mali, the grid will send power to Senegal and Mauritania in West Africa, which will improve local people’s quality of life.

In 2003, the Mali office of PowerChina was officially established, and PowerChina’s first bridge project entered the Mali market. In 2009, PowerChina acquired the Felou Hydropower Station under the framework of OMVS through IOB. Up to now, PowerChina has set up six regional headquarters, 453 branches in more than 120 countries around the world.

Celebs Tout Ice Baths, But Science on Benefits Is Lukewarm

The coolest thing on social media these days may be celebrities and regular folks plunging into frigid water or taking ice baths.

The touted benefits include improved mood, more energy, weight loss and reduced inflammation, but the science supporting some of those claims is lukewarm.

Kim Kardashian posted her foray on Instagram. Harry Styles has tweeted about his dips. Kristen Bell says her plunges are “brutal” but mentally uplifting. And Lizzo claims ice plunges reduce inflammation and make her body feel better.

Here’s what medical evidence, experts and fans say about the practice, which dates back centuries.

The mind

You might call Dan O’Conor an amateur authority on cold water immersion. Since June 2020, the 55-year-old Chicago man has plunged into Lake Michigan almost daily, including on frigid winter mornings when he has to shovel through the ice.

“The endorphin rush … is an incredible way to wake up and just kind of shock the body and get the engine going,” O’Conor said on a recent morning when the air temperature was a frosty 23 degrees (minus-5 Celsius). Endorphins are “feel good” hormones released in response to pain, stress, exercise and other activities.

With the lake temperature 34 degrees (1 Celsius), the bare-chested O’Conor did a running jump from the snow-covered shore to launch a forward flip into the icy gray water.

His first plunge came early in the pandemic, when he went on a bourbon bender and his annoyed wife told him to “go jump in the lake.” The water felt good that June day. The world was in a coronavirus funk, O’Conor says, and that made him want to continue. As the water grew colder with the seasons, the psychological effect was even greater, he said.

“My mental health is a lot stronger, a lot brighter. I found some Zen down here coming down and jumping into the lake and shocking that body,” O’Conor said.

Dr. Will Cronenwett, chief of psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, tried cold-water immersion once, years ago while visiting Scandinavian friends on a Baltic island. After a sauna, he jumped into the ice-cold water for a few minutes and had what he called an intense and invigorating experience.

“It felt like I was being stabbed with hundreds of millions of really small electrical needles,” he said. “I felt like I was strong and powerful and could do anything.”

But Cronenwett says studying cold water immersion with a gold-standard randomized controlled trial is challenging because devising a placebo for cold plunges could be difficult.

There are a few theories on how it affects the psyche.

Cronenwett says cold water immersion stimulates the part of the nervous system that controls the resting or relaxation state. That may enhance feelings of well-being.

It also stimulates the part of the nervous system that regulates fight-or-flight stress response. Doing it on a regular basis may dampen that response, which could in turn help people feel better able to handle other stresses in their lives, although that is not proven, he said.

“You have to conquer your own trepidation. You have to muster the courage to do it,” he said. “And when you finally do it, you feel like you’ve accomplished something meaningful. You’ve achieved a goal.”

Czech researchers found that cold water plunging can increase blood concentrations of dopamine — another so-called happy hormone made in the brain — by 250%. High amounts have been linked with paranoia and aggression, noted physiologist James Mercer, a professor emeritus at the Arctic University of Norway who co-authored a recent scientific review of cold water immersion studies.

The heart

Cold water immersion raises blood pressure and increases stress on the heart. Studies have shown this is safe for healthy people and the effects are only temporary.

But it can be dangerous for people with heart trouble, sometimes leading to life-threatening irregular heartbeats, Cronenwett said. People with heart conditions or a family history of early heart disease should consult a physician before plunging, he said.

Metabolism

Repeated cold-water immersions during winter months have been shown to improve how the body responds to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, Mercer noted. This might help reduce risks for diabetes or keep the disease under better control in people already affected, although more studies are needed to prove that.

Cold water immersion also activates brown fat — tissue that helps keep the body warm and helps it control blood sugar and insulin levels. It also helps the body burn calories, which has prompted research into whether cold water immersion is an effective way to lose weight. The evidence so far is inconclusive.

Immune system

Anecdotal research suggests that people who routinely swim in chilly water get fewer colds, and there’s evidence that it can increase levels of certain white blood cells and other infection-fighting substances. Whether an occasional dunk in ice water can produce the same effect is unclear.

Among the biggest unanswered questions: How cold does water have to be to achieve any health benefits? And will a quick dunk have the same effect as a long swim?

“There is no answer to ‘the colder the better,'” Mercer said. “Also, it depends on the type of response you are looking at. For example, some occur very quickly, like changes in blood pressure. … Others, such as the formation of brown fat, take much longer.”

O’Conor plunges year-round, but he says winter dunks are the best for “mental clarity,” even if they sometimes last only 30 seconds.

On those icy mornings, he is “blocking everything else out and knowing that I got to get in the water, and then more importantly, get out of the water.”

Source: Voice Of America

Don’t Feed the Bears! But Birds OK, US Research Shows

Don’t feed the bears!

Wildlife biologists and forest rangers have preached the mantra for nearly a century at national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, and for decades in areas where urban development increasingly invaded native wildlife habitat.

But don’t feed the birds? That may be a different story — at least for one bird species at Lake Tahoe.

Snowshoe and cross-country ski enthusiasts routinely feed the tiny mountain chickadees high above the north shore of the alpine lake on the California-Nevada border. The black-capped birds of Chickadee Ridge will even perch on extended hands to snatch offered seeds.

New research from University of Nevada scientists found that supplementing the chickadees’ natural food sources with food provided in feeders or by hand did not negatively impact them, as long as proper food is offered and certain rules are followed.

“It’s a wonderful experience when the birds fly around and land on your hand to grab food. We call it ‘becoming a Disney princess,'” said Benjamin Sonnenberg, a biologist/behavioral ecologist who co-authored the six-year study.

But he also recognized “there’s always the question of when it is appropriate or not appropriate to feed birds in the wild.”

State wildlife officials said this week that they generally frown on feeding wildlife. But Nevada Department of Wildlife spokeswoman Ashley Sanchez acknowledged concerns about potential harm are based on speculation, not scientific data.

The latest research project under the wings of professor Vladimir Pravosudov’s Chickadee Cognition Lab established feeders in the Forest Service’s Mount Rose Wilderness and tracked populations of mountain chickadees at two elevations — both those that did and didn’t visit feeders.

‘No effect’

“If we saw increases in the population size or decreases in the population size, that could mean we were hurting the animals by feeding them,” co-author Joseph Welklin said. “Our study shows that feeding these mountain chickadees in the wild during the winter has no effect on their population dynamics.”

Sonnenberg said he understood concerns about supplementing food for wild creatures at Tahoe, where bears attracted to garbage get into trouble that sometimes turns fatal. The bears may ultimately be killed because they no longer fear people.

“Should you feed the bears? Of course not,” Sonnenberg said. “But given the millions of people that are feeding birds around the world, understanding the impact of this food on wild populations is important, especially in a changing world.”

Mountain chickadees are of particular interest because they’re among the few avian species that hunker down for the cold Sierra winters instead of migrating to a warmer climate. They stash away tens of thousands of food items every fall, then return to the hidden treasure throughout the winter to survive.

“When they come to your hand and grab a food item,” Sonnenberg said, “if they fly away into the woods and you can’t see them anymore, they are likely storing that food for later.”

Sanchez said the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s concerns include observations that the chickadees are exhibiting a level of tameness around potential predators — humans — which could make them more susceptible to other predators in nature.

She also said in an email the number of people hand-feeding the birds at Chickadee Ridge has increased significantly in recent years, “which means the odds that somebody will feed them inappropriate food items or handle them inappropriately has also increased.”

Only food that’s suitable

Sonnenberg added in an email that the researchers are “not directly advocating for or against the feeding of chickadees at Chickadee Ridge.”

But “what our results do show is that this extra food does not cause chickadee populations in the Sierra Nevada to boom (increase to densities that could be harmful) or bust (decrease dramatically due to harmful effects),” he wrote.

Anyone feeding the birds should only provide food similar to what is found in their natural environment such as unsalted pine nuts or black-oil sunflower seeds, never bread or other human food, he said.

“And always be respectful of the animal,” Sonnenberg said. “Behave like you’re in their house and you’re visiting them.”

Source: Voice Of America