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The 50 Most Important Life-Saving Breakthroughs in History

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The 50 Most Important Life-Saving Breakthroughs in History

The 50 Most Important Life-Saving Breakthroughs in History

For most of civilized history, life expectancy fluctuated in the 30 to 40 year range.

Child mortality was all too common, and even for those that made it to adulthood, a long and healthy life was anything but guaranteed. Sanitation was poor, disease was rampant, and many medical practices were based primarily on superstition or guesswork.

By the 20th century, an explosion in new technologies, treatments, and other science-backed practices helped to increase global life expectancy at an unprecedented rate.

From 1900 to 2015, global life expectancy more than doubled, shooting well past the 70 year mark.

Important Breakthroughs

What were the major innovations that made the last century so very fruitful in saving lives?

Today’s infographic from AperionCare highlights the top 50 breakthroughs, ranging from pasteurization to the bifurcated needle, that have helped propel global life expectancy upwards.

Interestingly, while many of these innovations have some linkage to the medical realm, there are also breakthroughs in sectors like energy, sanitation, and agriculture that have helped us lead longer and healthier lives.

To see innovations on an individual basis, AperionCare breaks them down further as follows:

Timeline of innovations affecting life expectancy

The breakthroughs that are credited with saving the most lives?

Toilets, synthetic fertilizers, blood transfusions, the green revolution (also known as the “Third Agricultural Revolution”), and vaccines are each credited with saving 1 billion lives. Meanwhile, pasteurization, water chlorination, antibiotics, antimalarial drugs, and the bifurcated needle have saved hundreds of millions of lives each.

There are also some unusual entries to the list.

It turns out that satellites have actually saved 250,000 lives, thanks to the ability to better forecast natural disasters. Nuclear power also gets a shout out – and it may surprise some people that nuclear energy is the least deadly form of energy per kilowatt generated.

Progress in Life Expectancy

For a graphical look at how this all has impacted life expectancy, the following chart from Our World in Data makes a very clear case:

Life Expectancy graph

The impact from these new technologies was first experienced in Europe at the end of the 1800s – and other continents quickly saw the benefits thereafter.

Impressively, Africa has now passed the 60 year mark in life expectancy, with numbers still rising.

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Agriculture

Balancing the Environmental Costs of Cannabis

Legal cannabis cultivation emits as much CO2 as 92,660 cars annually. Growing cannabis sustainably can reduce this massive environmental footprint.

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Balancing the Environmental Costs of Cannabis

Economic development comes with a massive environmental cost.

Since 1980, heavy industrial activity has caused the doubling of CO2 emissions. As scientists warn of the lasting negative impacts this will have on the planet, nearly every industry is committing to sustainable practices to try to counteract this effect.

Today’s infographic comes from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it demonstrates that while the business of cannabis isn’t always eco-friendly, there are several tried-and-tested ways to reduce its massive footprint.

A HEFTY PRICE TO PAY

Energy is the second-highest cost driver in cannabis cultivation after labor.

There are two main culprits – lighting and HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Combined, they make up a whopping 89% of energy use in cannabis cultivation operations.

Last year, legal cannabis cultivation was responsible for consuming 1.1 million MWh of electricity, and producing 472,000 tons of CO2 emissions. That’s enough to power 92,500 homes, and produce the same emissions as 92,660 cars per year. As legal cannabis production scales, this will only escalate.

Much of this data can be attributed to how the plant is grown.

Growing methodPower consumption (kWh/g)Carbon intensity (lbs CO2e/g)
Indoor1.271.24
Greenhouse0.940.72
Outdoor0.070.05

Indoor cultivation is roughly 18 times more energy-intensive than outdoor cultivation, and produces 25 times the carbon emissions. On the other hand, outdoor production produces lower overall yield per square foot. Since it’s difficult to control the environment, impurities can also end up in the final product.

That’s why many companies opt for a hybrid approach instead – balancing the benefits of precise control, with the use of natural light to lower production costs.

A GAME PLAN FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Many licensed producers are adopting a suite of strategies to relieve this environmental footprint.

  • Renewable energy
    Diversifying the energy sources for cannabis cultivation can reduce carbon emissions. Solar and wind are top choices among cultivators.
  • LED lighting
    LED light bulbs are more than 60% more efficient than other types. They also produce barely any heat, lowering ventilation requirements.
  • Water efficiency
    A single cannabis plant can use up to 23 liters of water per day. Water can be recycled and re-used through innovative techniques such as reverse osmosis.
  • Packaging
    The plastic packaging often associated with cannabis products is a considerable contributor of waste. There are several alternatives, such as paper, glass, and tin. Each of these have their own benefits and drawbacks, depending on what they are used for.

Maximizing energy-efficiency has a domino effect not only on the planet, but on reduced operating costs. These savings can then be passed on to the buyer, which could prove to be a strong competitive advantage as the cannabis industry matures.

Stay tuned for part 6 of this series, where we’ll delve into the scientific evidence for medical cannabis compounds.

The Story of Cannabis: What Investors Need to KnowAnatomy of a Cannabis PlantA Quality Cannabis ProductThe Rise of OrganicA Sustainable Cannabis ProductComing soonComing soonComing soon

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Agriculture

The Rise of Organic Cannabis in North America

Consumer spending on cannabis is projected to hit $10 billion in 2018. As the industry matures, a trend towards organic cannabis will ensue.

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The Rise of Organic Cannabis in North America

Canna-business is booming on the heels of Canada’s momentous decision to legalize cannabis nationwide, and the industry is now projected to bring in close to $95 billion by 2026.

Much like the way organic products have risen to prominence in supermarkets, consumers will start to demand high-quality products as the cannabis industry matures, as well.

Today’s infographic comes from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it elaborates on why investors and consumers alike are anticipating a growing trend towards organic cannabis.

Roots of the Movement

In a nutshell, organic refers to products grown without fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic modifications. By that definition, organic practices also help to minimize the impact of farming on an environmental level.

The organic trend originates in the post-WWII era, as technological advances transformed the efficiency of large-scale agriculture. As practices changed, farmers and scholars worried about the long-term effects that the use of synthetic chemicals could have.

Thus, the organic movement was born:

1940
The phrase “organic farming” is first coined by English agriculturalist Lord Northbourne.

1962
The book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson raises public awareness of the harms posed by pesticides, launching the contemporary environmental movement.

1972
The International Federation of Organic Movements (IFOM), a worldwide organization for the organic agriculture movement, is founded.

1990
The U.S. passes the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA), defining standard organic production practices.

More recently, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion demonstrates the influence of consumers in catapulting organic products into the mainstream.

The Allure of Organic Cannabis

Consumers are expecting the same quality standards from other products they consume, such as cannabis.

Growing cannabis organically ensures that it is:

1. Safe for consumption

Natural cultivation methods mean that organic cannabis is often a safer end-product.

2. A premium experience

Organic cannabis offers consumers improved flavor and quality, with enhanced potency.

3. Environmentally sustainable

With organic practices, the surrounding water, soil, and biodiversity are unharmed.

Fine Print?

One caveat to choosing organic is the price differential. One gram of organic cannabis can cost 26% more than regular grade cannabis – but that’s because organic cultivation requires more attention to detail.

Nevertheless, increasing consumer demand for less chemically-laden products can outweigh this price differential in many cases. The growing market for cannabis is now on track to bring in $10 billion this year – outpacing all previous estimates.

Stay tuned for part 5 of this series, which will look at the way growing organic cannabis can be complemented by sustainable practices.

The Story of Cannabis: What Investors Need to KnowAnatomy of a Cannabis PlantA Quality Cannabis ProductThe Rise of OrganicBalancing the Environmental Costs of CannabisThe Science Behind the $13 Billion Medical Cannabis IndustryComing soonComing soon

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