Social media warning labels and school cell phone bans: Do they unlock better youth mental health? CC BY-ND  — Efforts to ban smart phones in classrooms are well intentioned and seek to support youth, but research supporting these practices is still unsettled. (Shutterstock)This week, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called for health warnings on social media for younger users. This recent call follows an earlier Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health, also published by the Surgeon General. Health warnings on social media would be analogous to the ones seen on cigarette packages, serving as reminders to parents and youth of the mental health risks of social media. The Surgeon General also called for schools to become phone-free environments. Although in his op-ed, Murthy acknowledged that research on these topics is not yet conclusive, he also noted that we “don’t have the luxury to wait for perfect information.” Concerns over smartphone use and social media’s impact on child and adolescent mental health are far from new. But they have been reignited because new warnings are being suggested and put into place to limit their use. Smartphone bans or restrictions have been enacted in countries around the world although how these restrictions work in practice varies. Several Canadian provinces are also implementing such restrictions. Although these efforts are well intentioned, and seek to support youth, research supporting these practices is still unsettled. As researchers in child development and psychology, we feel it is essential to review related research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of smartphone bans and social media health warnings. The impacts of smartphones and social media Our research shows that greater screen time is associated with negative physical, behavioural and cognitive outcomes. One reason why screen time may be problematic is it interferes with other activities that are associated with well-being, such as physical activity, interactions with family and friends, and academic pursuits. Some, but not all studies show that social media use is associated with more anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescents. The pressure for social validation and gaining likes and followers can increase stress and anxiety in youth. Moreover, social media can result in cyberbullying and negative social interactions, which are in turn associated with poor mental health. Social media use in adolescents has also been associated with body image issues, particularly in girls. Social media can present filtered and unrealistic beauty standards that lead to dissatisfaction with one’s own body. It is important to note that these studies are correlational, and do not imply causal evidence. In terms of the impact of smartphones on attention, usage can be distracting to youth. For example, research shows that students can take up to 20 minutes to refocus after being distracted by their smartphones. The benefits and drawbacks of cell phone bans Banning smartphones from classrooms will likely lead to fewer student distractions, particularly for youth who are experiencing more difficulties in school. Without the need to police smartphone usage, teachers can also focus the classroom more on academic learning. Cell phone bans in schools will not eliminate cyberbullying, which can occur in off school hours, so it remains critical to educate students, parents, and teachers about recognizing, preventing and addressing cyberbullying. (Shutterstock) Smartphone bans may also help protect youth against cyberbullying that can happen during class hours. However, smartphone bans in schools will not eliminate cyberbullying, which can occur in off school hours, so it remains critical to educate students, parents and teachers about recognizing, preventing, and addressing cyberbullying. Read more: Banning cellphones in classrooms is not a quick fix for student well-being In contrast, banning smart phones in school could have detrimental impacts for some youth. For example, LGBTQ+ youth use social media to form a community where they can get support, share information, and develop their identity. Limiting access to a space where they can feel safe and feel like they belong could exacerbate their mental health difficulties. Could social media health warnings be the solution? The efficacy of warning labels depends on the form they take. Research suggests that warning labels that promote safe use are more effective. In the case of social media, this means improving social media literacy. For example, warning labels could remind users that what they see on social media is not always representative of real life, and this reminder may help reduce the negative effects of online social comparisons. Research suggests social media warning labels promoting safe use are more effective than those aiming to limit use. (Shutterstock) Social media warning labels also hold the media platforms more accountable. Platforms create and design features to maximize usage, profiting from user engagement. Warning labels can help users be more aware of how these platforms profit from their usage, highlighting the potential risks of excessive use. Read more: School board social media lawsuits: For too long we've sought individual solutions to a collective problem Although social media labels might not directly dissuade young users from high consumption, they may do so indirectly, via greater parental oversight. Indeed, parents might be more likely to set limits knowing that there is evidence that the product their child or adolescent is using is associated with some risks. In contrast, warning labels focused on moderating or stopping social media use could be less efficient. They may foster a negative self concept in users, such as thinking “I know I shouldn’t be using social media, but I can’t stop because I lack self-control.” This does not represent a good starting point to motivate change. Other contributors to youth mental health and learning issues Given the lack of causal evidence on the effects of social media on mental health difficulties, it is important to remember that banning smartphones in classrooms is not a panacea. Importantly, it doesn’t address many root problems of mental health difficulties in youth, such as cyberbullying. Social media is one factor, among many, for why youth are currently experiencing high rates of mental health difficulties. Other factors include structural discrimination, economic hardship, and social isolation made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing exclusively on social media will not fix the mental health challenges currently faced by youth. Read more: School funding is needed for student well-being, not only coronavirus safety rules Therefore, comprehensive initiatives such as increasing school funding for mental and digital health literacy alongside bolstering availability of extracurricular activities may serve as effective ways of supporting youth. It is encouraging that policymakers are paying more attention to youth mental health and its causes, but it is important to act at multiple levels to support youth mental health and learning. Audrey-Ann Deneault receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Centre de recherche universitaire sur les jeunes et les familles.Sheri Madigan receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, an anonymous donor, and the Canada Research Chairs program.Tracy Vaillancourt receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. ... The Conversation 2 min
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Party leaders grilled by public in election Question Time – experts dissect the key issues CC BY-ND  — In one of the last in a string of special election broadcasts, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Keir Starmer, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey and Scotland’s first minister, the SNP leader John Swinney, have faced questions from a live audience on BBC Question Time. In a two-hour session, each of the men were asked probing questions on their policies and parties. Here, academic experts explain the reality behind the claims they made. What’s the Lib Dem bank tax? The first question of the night, asked of Davey, was whether his party’s spending plans, which are most costly than the others, would “bankrupt the country”. Davey insisted his manifesto is fully costed and that the money would, in part, be raised via a windfall tax on banks. An analysis of that policy by two professors of applied economics finds that “the Lib Dems may be on to something” and that: By increasing taxes and reducing interest rates to 1%, instead of boosting bank profits that are unlikely to be reinvested in UK plc, the tax revenue will boost government funds that can be used for the NHS, education, infrastructure and public sector debt. In fact, the analysis goes on to say it is “encouraging to see at least one party in this election campaign challenge conventional economic wisdom on government spending, deficits and the role of fiscal policy in managing the economy”. How can parties afford their spending plans? Labour leader Keir Starmer was asked how he could afford his plans for the NHS without raising taxes. This was not the only time during the programme that the audience expressed scepticism about the promises being made. The question “where’s the money coming from?” has come up again and again in this campaign. As Steve Schifferes of the City Political Economy Research Centre identifies, it’s common for politicians to claim that they can find extra cash through the magic of “efficiency savings” in the public sector and closing tax loopholes: These potential savings are attractive because they feed into popular cliches. That the government and the NHS are bloated bureaucracies. That there are lots of people getting benefits who could get a job. And that there are plenty of rich people who are avoiding taxes that the government could easily collect. In practice, Schifferes reveals, there’s no fat left to cut in the public sector and the tax loophole trick is not the PR hit it appears: HMRC says that the bulk of tax avoidance is by small businesses, not the rich. But it could be politically costly to target a sector that both parties want to show they support as part of their growth strategy. Why won’t Labour set migration targets? Starmer was asked if he though it acceptable for his party not to commit to specific migration targets. “I’m not going to put an aribtrary figure on it because every single politician who has put a number on it has missed that target,” replied Starmer. In an illuminating reflection on 14 years of Conservative migration policy, Rob McNeil, deputy director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, contextualises Starmer’s resistance to fixating on overall numbers. Writing of the coalition years, for example, McNeil notes: Theresa May as home secretary introduced policies to cap skilled non-EU labour migration and close “bogus colleges” and cut abuse of study migration visas. She also created a minimum income threshold for people bringing a spouse or other family member to live with them, and aimed to “break the link between immigration and settlement”. But the target was always unrealistic. Within a year, my colleagues and I had established that the government’s own impact assessments showed the net migration target could not be met based on the policies that had been introduced. What will Sunak do to rebuild trust? An early question for Sunak was from a mother who wanted to know how the prime minister intended to rebuild trust among the young in politicians. But this was not the first question on trust. Swinney was grilled on his party’s scandals and Ed Davey was questioned over both his party’s history of abandoning pledges on tuition fees and his own role in the Post Office scandal. It seemed, in fact, that lost trust was the overriding theme of the night. Striking figures released by John Curtice and the National Centre for Social Research at the beginning of the campaign showed that 45% of the British public think politicians almost never put the country’s needs over those of their party. Curtice warned that going into this election: The challenge facing the next government will not only be to repair the damage that the pandemic, inflation and war have all inflicted on the economy. It will also be to assuage the widespread concern that the public once again have about how they are being governed. Are you for leaving the ECHR or not? In one of the more heated exchanges of the night, some of the audience ended up shouting “Shame! Shame!” at Sunak over his position on leaving the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The situation is not clear cut here. Sunak has studiously avoided committing to leaving. He has, however, let a portion of the electorate believe he wants to. His mantra has long been that he does not want to be dictated to by a “foreign court” over his Rwanda policy. Want more election coverage from The Conversation’s academic experts? Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you informed analysis of developments in the campaign and we’ll fact check the claims being made.Sign up for our new, weekly election newsletter, delivered every Friday throughout the campaign and beyond. It may not even be worth Sunak angering the public like this over his Rwanda policy. As we learnt earlier this year from Joelle Grogan, an expert on the rule of law in the UK and EU, if Rwanda is safe like Sunak claims then the ECHR would not block him from sending people. If it is not safe, the UK is signed up to multiple other international agreements that would prevent deportations there: This includes the UN refugee convention, and the UN international covenant on civil and political rights. It’s also protected in domestic UK law. Leaving the ECHR, therefore, would not free the UK of the obligation not to send people to a place of harm. What’s the plan for the NHS? Understandably, the public have many questions about what these politicians are going to do about the NHS. Both Sunak and Starmer claim to have a plan, particularly on cutting waiting lists. And in-depth look at the proposals put forward by the main three parties shows the Tories largely promising more of the same “long-term plan”. Starmer was asked this evening about his proposal to pay NHS staff overtime to work nights and weekends in order to offer an extra 40,000 appointments to to tackle the backlog. In this assessment, we learn that this target is more realistic than it sounds but also not exactly revolutionary: An increase of 40,000 per week is roughly 2 million per year. This sounds like a lot, but there were 145 million outpatient appointments in the English NHS last year so Labour are proposing an increase of less than 2%. Hardly gamechanging. In fact, the increase in appointments from 2021-22 to 2022-23 was equal to almost exactly this amount. The Lib Dems, meanwhile, are promising to boost the number of GPs and fix dental care. All in all, though, our reviewer found all three manifestos to be lacking in ambition when it comes to the NHS. ... The Conversation 1 hr
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Chiropractors have been banned again from manipulating babies’ spines. Here’s what the evidence actu... CC BY-ND  —  Dmitry Naumov/ShutterstockChiropractors in Australia will not be able to perform spinal manipulation on children under the age of two once more, following health concerns from doctors and politicians. But what is the spinal treatment at the centre of the controversy? Does it work? Is there evidence of harm? We’re a team of researchers who specialise in evidence-based musculoskeletal health. I (Matt) am a registered chiropractor, Joshua is a registered physiotherapist and Giovanni trained as a physiotherapist. Here’s what the evidence says. Remind me, how did this all come about? A Melbourne-based chiropractor posted a video on social media in 2018 using a spring-loaded device (known as the Activator) to manipulate the spine of a two-week-old baby suspended upside down by the ankles. The video sparked widespread concerns among the public, medical associations and politicians. It prompted a ban on the procedure in young children. The Victorian health minister commissioned Safer Care Victoria to conduct an independent review of spinal manipulation techniques on children. Recently, the Chiropractic Board of Australia reinstated chiropractors’ authorisation to perform spinal manipulation on babies under two years old. But this week, it backflipped, following heavy criticism from medical associations and politicians. What is spinal manipulation? Spinal manipulation is a treatment used by chiropractors and other health professionals such as doctors, osteopaths and physiotherapists. It is an umbrella term that includes popular “back cracking” techniques. It also includes more gentle forms of treatment, such as massage or joint mobilisations. These involve applying pressure to joints without generating a “cracking” sound. Does spinal manipulation in babies work? Several international guidelines for health-care professionals recommend spinal manipulation to treat adults with conditions such as back pain and headache as there is an abundance of evidence on the topic. For example, spinal manipulation for back pain is supported by data from nearly 10,000 adults. For children, it’s a different story. Safer Care Victoria’s 2019 review of spinal manipulation found very few studies testing whether this treatment was safe and effective in children. Studies were generally small and were of poor quality. Some of those small, poor-quality studies, suggest spinal manipulation provides a very small benefit for back pain, colic and potentially bedwetting – some common reasons for parents to take their child to see a chiropractor. But overall, the review found the overall body of evidence was very poor. Spinal manipulation doesn’t seem to help young children with an ear infection. MIA Studio/Shutterstock However, for most other children’s conditions chiropractors treat – such as headache, asthma, otitis media (a type of ear infection), cerebral palsy, hyperactivity and torticollis (“twisted neck”) – there did not appear to be a benefit. The number of studies investigating the effectiveness of spinal manipulation on babies under two years of age was even smaller. There was one high-quality study and two small, poor quality studies. These did not show an appreciable benefit of spinal manipulation on colic, otitis media with effusion (known as glue ear) or twisted neck in babies. Is spinal manipulation on babies safe? In terms of safety, most studies in the review found serious complications were extremely rare. The review noted one baby or child dying (a report from Germany in 2001 after spinal manipulation by a physiotherapist). The most common complications were mild in nature such as increased crying and soreness. However, because studies were very small, they cannot tell us anything about the safety of spinal manipulation in a reliable way. Studies that are designed to properly investigate if a treatment is safe typically include thousands of patients. And these studies have not yet been done. Why do people see chiropractors? Safer Care Victoria also conducted surveys with more than 20,000 people living in Australia who had taken their children under 12 years old to a chiropractor in the past ten years. Nearly three-quarters said that was for treatment of a child aged two years or younger. Nearly all people surveyed reported a positive experience when they took their child to a chiropractor and reported that their child’s condition improved with chiropractic care. Only a small number of people (0.3%) reported a negative experience, and this was mostly related to cost of treatment, lack of improvement in their child’s condition, excessive use of x-rays, and perceived pressure to avoid medications. Many of the respondents had also consulted their GP or maternity/child health nurse. What now for spinal manipulation in children? At the request of state and federal ministers, the Chiropractic Board of Australia confirmed that spinal manipulation on babies under two years old will continue to be banned until it discusses the issue further with health ministers. Many chiropractors believe this is unfair, especially considering the strong consumer support for chiropractic care outlined in the Safer Care Victoria report, and the rarity of serious reported harms in children. Others believe that in the absence of evidence of benefit and uncertainty around whether spinal manipulation is safe in children and babies, the precautionary principle should apply and children and babies should not receive spinal manipulation. Ultimately, high quality research is urgently needed to better understand whether spinal manipulation is beneficial for the range of conditions chiropractors provide it for, and whether the benefit outweighs the extremely small chance of a serious complication. This will help parents make an informed choice about health care for their child. Matt Fernandez is a registered chiropractor.Giovanni E. Ferreira receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). He trained as a physiotherapist.Joshua Zadro receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). He is a registered physiotherapist. ... The Conversation 3 hr
Australian coal mine and power station workers’ prospects look bleak – unless we start offering more... CC BY-ND  —  MarekVelechovsky/ShutterstockWorkers who were made redundant in coal-fired power plants between 2010 and 2020 saw their incomes plummet by 69% in the year after they lost their jobs. This was the staggering finding of research by Dan Andrews, Elyse Dwyer and Lachlan Vass at the e61 Institute reported by The Conversation in 2023. Andrews, Dwyer and Vass called for a national discussion about support for workers made redundant by Australia’s energy transition. On Wednesday, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton offered his own form of support, saying the Coalition’s plan to put nuclear power plants on the sites of former coal-fired stations would help retain jobs in regions that had provided Australia with energy for decades. But where replacement jobs can’t be easily found for former fossil fuel industry workers, an important question remains: which workers need specially targeted support? That’s what we set out to discover. Our jobs study, based on a real coal mine Some displaced coal miners and coal-fired power station workers will find new jobs easily. As an example, there’s plenty of demand for electricians, meaning targeting support towards them makes little sense. But others could be unemployed for years, or the rest of their lives. To find out which displaced workers are most at risk of long-term unemployment, Rojan Joshi and I applied ten years of national job advertisement data to the hypothetical case of an actual New England coal mine closing. The coal mine is real. It employs 766 people. The largest groups of employees are miners, truck drivers and fitters. Most live locally. We modelled what would have happened if the mine had closed seven years ago. The job advertisement data gave us an idea of how long it would take those workers to find new jobs, based on their occupations and whether they were willing to relocate within New South Wales or move interstate. What happened depended on who would move The results were mixed. Motor mechanics, metal fabricators, truck drivers and electricians would have had the easiest time finding new jobs, followed by shotfirers (they handle explosives), mechanical engineers and fitters. Those who would have struggled the most to find new jobs were drillers, production managers, coal miners themselves, mine deputies and mining engineers. But it all depended on whether they were willing to move. Of workers not prepared to relocate, 28% of those in the 12 biggest occupations would have found a new job within one year, 35% within two years, 39% within three years and 43% within four years. Put differently, most workers – 57% – wouldn’t have a new job without relocating, even after four years. Of workers willing to relocate within the state, 52% would have found a job in one year, 67% in two years, 85% in three years and 100% in four years. Of those willing to relocate anywhere in Australia, 99% would have found a new job in one year and 100% in two years. Different occupations were impacted in different ways. The results suggested the government should focus on helping people relocate and pay particular attention to drillers, production managers, miners, mine deputies and mining engineers. What we need to know to better support workers Providing broader support to those who might not need it risked diluting the support available to those who needed it the most. It also risked deadening the incentives for workers who are able to find new jobs to do so. But there are four limitations of our study to keep in mind. First, we looked at only one coal mine in New England. Different mines have different workforces, as do coal-fired power stations fed by those mines. Second, some mines have fly-in-fly-out workers. We picked a mine that did not. Third, we didn’t examine retraining and re-skilling. Some workers who struggle to find a job in their existing occupation might be able to retrain and get a job in another one. Fourth, we didn’t examine wages. People who would have found new jobs might not have been able to find them at the same pay. Read more: Here's what happens to workers when coal-fired power plants close. It isn't good Despite these limitations, our results make clear that supporting workers who lose their jobs as a result of Australia’s energy transition will be complex. Government forecasts predict a fall in Australia’s coal exports of 50% to 80% over the next two decades. By 2035, the two biggest remaining coal-fired power plants in NSW and the biggest in Victoria are scheduled to have closed. If we want the energy transition to benefit Australians, we need to pay closer attention to those it could leave behind. Adam Triggs does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. ... The Conversation 3 hr
Australia needs large-scale energy production – here are 3 reasons why offshore wind is a good fit CC BY-ND  —  ShutterDesigner, ShutterstockOn the weekend, an area 20km off the Illawarra coast south of Sydney became Australia’s fourth offshore wind energy zone. It’s the most controversial zone to date, with consultation attracting a record 14,211 submissions – of which 65% were opposed. The zone’s declaration has inflamed fierce debate over the pathway to decarbonisation, particularly in industrial regions. The Illawarra hosts heavy industries such as Australia’s largest steel manufacturer, BlueScope Steel. In response to the announcement, National Party Leader David Littleproud declared Australia doesn’t need “large-scale industrial windfarms”. He argues the focus should instead be on household solar and battery storage. So what is the role of offshore wind in our future energy mix? Here we argue offshore wind energy has three main advantages: scale, availability and proximity. It’s just what Australia needs. 1. Scale Offshore wind has substantial energy-production potential. A single 100-turbine project is capable of generating up to 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of energy and the Illawarra zone could contain two projects (2.9GW). To put this in perspective, Eraring, Australia’s largest coal-fired power station near Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, also produces 2.9GW. Because offshore wind is more consistent than either onshore wind or rooftop solar, it is the most practical way to provide time-sensitive renewable energy grid security for large energy users. This high-capacity, consistent energy source is particularly crucial for Australia’s industrial decarbonisation efforts. BlueScope Steel, for example, estimates it will need approximately 15 times its current energy consumption to transition to green steel-making operations in the Illawarra region. 2. Availability Offshore wind blows more consistently than onshore wind. We can quantify this by comparing so-called “capacity factors”. The capacity factor is the actual output of a power station over a given period of time, divided by the theoretical power that could be generated if the plant operated at full output for the same period of time. Onshore wind has a capacity factor of 30%, meaning 1GW of onshore wind farms can be relied upon to deliver 0.3GW of output at any time. Offshore wind has a capacity factor of at least 50%. For reference, coal plants in Australia, due to their age and condition, have a capacity factor of 60% and this falls further every year. It is a common myth that coal is reliable. The reliability of Australian coal fired generators is currently at an all time low and falling. The Coalition’s plan for nuclear power plants announced on Wednesday might look like an alternative answer to the energy availability challenge. But the plan relies on coal in the meantime and coal-fired power plants have a limited lifespan. It’s highly unlikely those nuclear power stations could be built in time to take over from coal. The International Atomic Energy Agency publishes a step-by-step guide to going nuclear. This internationally recognised manual says it takes 10–15 years for a country to go from initial consideration of the nuclear power option to operation of its first nuclear power plant. So the first big problem with nuclear in Australia is, how do we ensure we have reliable power for the five to ten year gap between when most of the coal exits and the first nuclear power plant could possibly be commissioned? 3. Proximity Most of Australia’s population and industry is near the east coast. Placing electricity generation near to where it is needed is more efficient. It also avoids having to construct many kilometres of new overhead electricity transmission lines to connect onshore wind farms far inland. Australia is leading the world in the uptake of home solar panels and batteries. This is definitely worthwhile. But contrary to Littleproud’s suggestion, it’s not the whole solution to Australia’s decarbonisation effort. For example, it won’t solve the problem of the need to electrify heavy industry. BlueScope has stated that to decarbonise its current steel-making operations, it will need 15 times more electricity. This is the equivalent of the solar exported by a staggering 3.6 million homes – more than one-third of the total number of homes connected to the National Electricity Market. Putting this into perspective, the Illawarra region has 130,000 homes. By our calculations, the BlueScope steelworks currently uses the same amount of electricity each day as the total solar exported by 240,000 homes – assuming generous export of 10kWh per home and Bluescope’s daily use of 240,000 kWh of energy. Even if the Illawarra had enough homes exporting solar power to electrify BlueScope’s operations, getting this electricity to where it’s needed is technically impossible. Home solar systems are connected to the lowest capacity part of the energy grid – the wires in the street. We simply don’t have the capacity to move gigawatts of power from rooftop solar to large energy users such as steel and aluminium plants. Australia needs large-scale energy, including wind Australia needs large-scale electricity generation. The Coalition has recognised this, and is now promoting large nuclear power plants as well as small modular reactors. The clean energy transition requires multiple renewable energy sources to meet different needs. There is no “one size fits all” solution – and there is clearly an important role for offshore wind in this mix. We can expect to see Australia’s first offshore wind farms operating in Victoria’s Gippsland by the end of the decade. The Coalition remains committed to the Gippsland project. But it has signalled its intention to scrap proposed offshore wind zones in the Illawarra and Hunter, if elected. This decision would have flow-on effects. An industry is emerging around the pipeline of potential wind energy projects. The latest announcement will almost certainly heighten tensions surrounding the already bitter debates raging in our communities. Navigating the contested waters of offshore wind It is common for the media and politicians to frame energy debates as a blunt binary of support versus opposition for different options, such as offshore wind. Yet genuine progress requires respectful dialogue and a commitment to finding common ground. For the Illawarra, we argue much greater attention must be paid to the methods, models and outcomes of community engagement. We need to involve the community in constructive conversations about the nature, scale and scope of our future energy mix, which may include offshore wind. Independent scientific research can provide the evidence base for such crucial decisions about the future of our communities and industries. Ty Christopher is currently leading a project which has received funding from the Commonwealth government to establish an Energy Futures Skills Centre at the University of Wollongong in partnership with NSW TAFE. He also provides strategic advice to government departments and private sector companies on clean energy matters as a private consultant.Michelle Voyer has led a number of projects that have received funding from the Commonwealth government and the NSW state government, including the Australian Research Council and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, as well as the United Nations Environment Program and the Nippon Foundation. Michelle also receives philanthropic funding support through the Keira Endowed Chair in Energy Futures at the University of Wollongong. The Keira Endowed Chair funding is otherwise unencumbered with respect to the nature and/or direction of the research pursued and as such does not constitute an actual conflict of interest with any current or future projects. ... The Conversation 3 hr
Foreign aid can help strengthen the economies of donor countries by boosting business CC BY-ND  — Support for foreign aid is dwindling in many developed countries, including Canada. Reflecting this trend, a recent survey found 59 per cent of Canadians want to reduce foreign aid to developing countries. This is striking, given that Canada’s foreign aid, amounting to 0.38 per cent of its gross national product, is already below the OECD’s target of 0.7 per cent, placing Canada in the middle of the spectrum of donor countries. Cutting foreign aid from developed countries doesn’t just hinder international development; it also jeopardizes the international competitiveness of a donor country’s domestic businesses. While foreign aid should always focus on tackling global disparities, alleviating poverty and enhancing the well-being of people in recipient countries, it’s also important to highlight the positive side effects aid can have on donor countries. This can help legitimize and maintain support for foreign aid at a time when countries and their populations are becoming more inward-looking. Not just an act of generosity Despite the apparent foreign aid fatigue in the general population, the Canadian government pledged to increase it in the 2024 budget, following a 15 per cent cut the previous year that drew significant criticism from the aid sector. It’s crucial to remember that foreign aid isn’t just an act of generosity; it can also benefit donor countries that provide aid. Many governments are now communicating the importance of foreign aid to their citizens. For instance, the Australian government introduced a new development policy in 2023 emphasizing the need to lift people out of poverty in developing countries to bring peace, stability and prosperity to Australia. In the same vein, the Canadian government stressed the importance of Canada taking a more proactive role on the global stage in its 2024 budget announcement. Protecting national interests and promoting Canadian values require active participation and involvement in international affairs. Foreign direct investment decisions As researchers and experts in strategy, we were interested in whether foreign aid creates positive spillover effects for firms of donor countries. If such positive effects exist, then reducing foreign aid could not just harm aid-recipient countries, but also harm the economic welfare of donor countries. Reducing foreign aid, for example, could result in Canadian businesses becoming less competitive abroad, which could lead to fewer job opportunities and reduced prosperity in Canada. Our research examined the role of Japanese foreign aid in the foreign direct investment decisions of 1,451 Japanese firms in 76 developing countries from 1991 to 2002. Foreign direct investment refers to investments made by a company or entity from one country into another country. We excluded infrastructure and construction firms, as their investment decisions could have been driven by the implementation of aid projects and not linked to aid spillovers. Development aid was an important foreign policy tool for Japan, especially during the 1990s. In 1991, Japan was the world’s largest aid donor, but its aid budget was significantly cut in 2003. Japan’s first Official Development Assistance Charter, enacted in 1992, favoured low tied aid — Japan largely ceased tying aid implementation to Japanese companies or products. When the charter was revised in 2003, it allowed for easier access to aid-related contracts for Japanese firms. New insights from research Our findings revealed that all forms of foreign aid can positively impact the foreign direct investment of donor nations in recipient countries. This includes economic and social infrastructure aid (for roads, telecommunications, education or health) and non-infrastructure aid (such as budget support or emergency assistance). Both types of aid can reduce the costs and risks associated with foreign direct investment, which opens up new opportunities for donor country businesses in aid-recipient countries. Infrastructure aid improves access to information and networks in recipient countries, making the market environment better. Meanwhile, non-infrastructure aid can reduce market and political uncertainties, making it easier for businesses to operate. For example, in Northern Vietnam, Japan supported the construction of highway and port facilities in the 1990s. Interviews by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation suggest that, without the improved transportation infrastructure, most investments by Japanese firms would not have been made in the region. The use of these facilities was important to these firms because they relied on imported parts and material, making quick, affordable transportation to and from ports, as well as port handling, essential. Our research also found that not all companies benefited equally from foreign aid. Some companies, like those with less experience in an aid-recipient country, were more dependent on foreign aid to overcome local challenges they could not handle on their own. Jeopardizing national interests Our research findings highlight that cutting foreign aid from developed countries doesn’t just hinder international development; it might also indirectly jeopardize national interests. While the primary purpose of foreign aid should always be to increase the prosperity of those in developing countries, it’s important to remember the positive side effects aid can have on donor countries as well. A more nuanced understanding of foreign aid is essential for Canadians as they assess how aid policies impact both Canada’s national economic welfare and its global influence. Maintaining a robust foreign aid program is not only a moral imperative, but also a strategic necessity for countries like Canada. By continuing to support international development efforts, Canada can safeguard its economic interests while reinforcing its commitment to global equity and stability. The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. ... The Conversation 3 hr
Emotions may matter more than facts in shaping individual support for renewable energy, new study sh... CC BY-ND  — It seems like energy policies are constantly making headlines these days. Should Canada “axe the tax?” Is it time to end the tax breaks to Canadian fossil fuel companies and invest in renewable energy? Are electric vehicles a good investment? Should governments put the brakes on solar panels and wind turbines? These are big questions that matter for the economy, the environment and our futures. In answering these questions, people will likely consider the costs and benefits of each approach. Yet, people are not robots. People have thoughts, feelings and emotions. And they especially have strong feelings about climate change and energy sources. In our recent study published in Energy Policy, we brought together four psychologists, two sociologists and a lawyer to explore the role of emotions in making these decisions. We found that people’s concerns or worries about climate change shape how they view energy sources. In short, worries and concerns about climate change can spark enthusiasm for hydro, solar and wind and spur opposition to coal, oil and gas. These results have important implications for shaping our collective and individual decisions about energy sources. Emotions matter One possible factor that may shape personal decision-making regarding energy sources is what researchers call “climate concern” and “climate worry.” These refer to whether an individual is concerned or worried about climate change and its potential impacts on themselves, those close to them and the world around them. These emotions play an important role in shaping how the public perceives and acts on a wide range of issues related to climate change. For example, climate concerns and worries can motivate people to take personal climate action and support a range of progressive climate policies. But what about energy preferences? Our study conducted a meta-analysis that synthesized data from 36 countries and more than 85,000 participants to examine how worries or concerns about climate change can affect how people express support for particular energy sources. We found that people who are more concerned or worried about climate change are more supportive of hydroelectricity, solar and wind energy. This makes sense because these energy sources produce vastly less greenhouse gas emissions than others. Perhaps surprisingly, we did not find equally strong opposition to fossil fuels among people who are concerned or worried about climate change. We also found that factors of political ideology, gender and education had only limited impact upon support either way. The bottom line, however, is that people who were worried or concerned about climate change were far more supportive of renewables than they were opposed to fossil fuels. The emotional side of policy These results provide a new way to look at the ongoing energy debate. Even those among us who are most concerned about climate change want energy policy to add rather than subtract existing energy sources. Likewise, we found that most will more readily support an “energy addition” strategy as opposed to an “energy transition.” As a result, climate-related emotions can serve as a lever to promote renewable energies, either in terms of government policy or purchasing decisions. On the other hand, emotional appeals may be less effective in building opposition to oil, gas and coal. This may be due to people’s preference for the status quo or concerns about the costs of a transition away from fossil fuels. Let us be clear, though. This is not a hopeless message. Instead, we think it should serve as a motivation for climate organizers, energy policy entities and anyone involved in shaping our climate and energy futures. Policy reports, media articles and climate scholarship tend to emphasize what we must give up in preventing a future conditioned by climate catastrophe. Read more: Why the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is a bad deal for Canadians — and the world But, as our results show, we also need work on building a more positive vision for the low-carbon future. The energy transition does not just mean giving up your gas stove or flying less. It also means breathing cleaner air, better public transportation, lower energy costs and making access to energy just and equitable. These are the positive and optimistic parts of a low carbon future that we must do a better job communicating if we want to build support not just for more renewables, but for less fossil fuels. Parker Muzzerall receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Audrey-Ann Deneault receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Centre de recherche universitaire sur les jeunes et les familles.Steve Lorteau receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. ... The Conversation 3 hr
Summer reading: 4 books on well-being that you can rely on CC BY-ND  — Not all self-help books are supported by research, and sifting through so many books can be challenging. (Shutterstock)In a survey examining views on health and well-being, almost all Canadians responding reported wanting to improve their personal well-being. Perhaps there is no better time for a personal wellness reboot than during the summer months. Picking up a book with information aimed at improving your well-being may be the boost you need to kickstart your wellness journey. Books have the ability to educate and improve the lives of their readers. Approximately half of Canadians read or listen to a book once a week, while over 30 per cent report reading daily. This is good news, as reading has been associated with several health benefits including stress reduction, slowing cognitive decline, aiding well-being and improving sleep quality. Self-help reading as part of a group Being part of a community supports well-being, decreases social isolation and increases connectedness. Many may find reading is a solitary activity, but it is also possible to read as part of a community. Book clubs may facilitate the benefits of reading and community. A variety of formats exist for book clubs including in-person meetings, electronic discussion platforms or a combination of the two. In the “self-help” category, over 15,000 books are published yearly. Not all self-help books are supported by research, and sifting through so many books can be challenging. So what should you read? Evidence-based books on well-being For anyone wanting a curated list of evidence-based books on different dimensions of well-being, I created the Reading for Well-being Community Book Club, housed at the Mental Health and Well-Being Research and Training Hub at Carleton University. The book club, open to readers in or beyond the Carleton University community, uses a digital platform to post book selections and reviews, where members can communicate. Book club members receive a monthly newsletter alerting them to the new book selection, review, and some questions about the book for the electronic discussion board. Read more: Online wellness content: 3 ways to tell evidence-based health information from pseudoscience Each month, I select and review a book grounded in science that is directed at improving well-being, selected as Professor Pozzulo’s Picks. Here are four evidence-based books to help with your personal well-being summer reboot: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker (2017, published by Simon & Schuster). ‘Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.’ (Simon & Schuster) If you want to better understand the patterns in sleeping, their function and their role for well-being, Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, provides a description of the work in this area. If you are looking for a list of strategies for improved sleep, Walker provides those too in the book’s appendix. Walker made me care about sleep and more importantly, the need to sleep for improved well-being. The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz (2023, published by Simon & Schuster). ‘The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness.’ (Simon & Schuster) For over 80 years (and counting) participants and their families were given comprehensive assessments across the duration of their lives. Waldinger, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Schulz, professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College, conclude relationships are fundamental to well-being and improving your relationships is possible at any stage in life. Not only do the authors allow you to examine the lives some of their participants have lived, they also provide practical exercises to help you improve the quantity and quality of your relationships. Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross (2023, published by Penguin Random House). ‘Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us.’ (Penguin Random House) The authors explore the field of neuroaesthetics, the scientific investigation of how the arts can alter the brain, body and behaviour. They note that doctors are now writing social prescriptions for things like a trip to the museum or a walk in the park. This book offered a fascinating examination of how the arts can be used to positively influence well-being, improve overall health and allow communities to thrive. Authors offer several suggestions on how you can incorporate the arts into your daily life for improved well-being. Magsamen is the founder and executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Ivy Ross is vice-president of hardware design at Google and earlier worked as a jewelry designer. The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness by Jonathan Haidt (2024, published by Penguin Random House). This is an important book examining the connection between the rise of social media use and status of mental health. This book is not only for parents but is for anyone wanting to understand the development of the interplay of these issues. Haidt offers several suggestions that can be implemented almost immediately to reduce the negative impact of social media on the developing brain. Haidt is a social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. To sign up for the book club, you can visit here. Happy reading! Joanna Pozzulo receives funding from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. ... The Conversation 3 hr
A Call for Anthropological Poems of Resistance, Refusal, and Wayfinding CC BY-ND  — SAPIENS is seeking poetry submissions for a curated collection that will publish next year. Deadline: September 1, 2024. ✽ SAPIENS… The post A Call for Anthropological Poems of Resistance, Refusal, and Wayfinding appeared first on SAPIENS. ... Sapiens 3 hr
Владимир Путин сдает Россию Китаю CC BY-ND  — Партнеры РФ не проявили «союзнического духа» в тяжелый для Москвы момент, не считая страны-изгоя КНДР, с которой Кремль вывел отношения на стратегический уровень. ... Eurasianet 3 hr
Muçum, Rio Grande do Sul: la ciudad destruida tres veces por las inundaciones CC BY-ND  — Los vecinos de Muçum están pensando en abandonar el municipio y podrían sumarse a los refugiados climáticos del país ... Agência Pública 3 hr
Why have Australia’s espionage authors been renditioned to a literary black site? CC BY-ND  —  Oleksii Synelnykov/ShutterstockInternationally, spy novels are surfing a 40-year wave of commercial success that has transformed the genre into a multi-billion-dollar behemoth spanning books, television and movies. Different styles of espionage fiction tend to reflect the characters and attitudes of different nations. Among the most famous British examples are the urbane spy novels of Ian Fleming and John Le Carré. By contrast, the evolution of Tom Clancy, from bestselling author to content creator to brand, demonstrates the very different approach to the genre taken in the United States. Clancy’s debut novel, The Hunt For Red October (1984), which introduced the character of Jack Ryan, was at the vanguard of a new wave of American espionage fiction, deftly blending traditional spy stories with gritty military fiction. It was reputedly the only book President Ronald Reagan read while in office. Clancy transformed his fiction into a successful literary franchise. Along the way, he was criticised for his preference for monologues over dialogue, his unabashed praise of American militarism and geopolitical hegemony, and his passion for things that go “bang” and “boom”. During his life, he wrote or co-wrote 19 novels and 11 non-fiction works, complemented by a raft of video games, comic books and tie-ins. When he died in 2013, he had 100 million books in print and left an estate worth US$83 million. Since his death, Clancy’s estate has commissioned a further 22 posthumous works and created a self-sustaining “Ryanverse”, comprising two further movies and four television series. Worldwide box-office takings of the five Jack Ryan movies stand at more than US$920 million. In May 2024, the Ryanverse celebrated the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Hunt For Red October with the release of Tom Clancy Act of Defiance, written by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson – the 19th novel in the Jack Ryan series. Where is the Australian espionage fiction? In Australia, aspiring espionage authors appear to have been renditioned to a literary black site. Espionage fiction is the nation’s unloved genre, maligned as the unwanted love child of psychological thrillers and historical fiction. A recently created database of espionage fiction (currently offline, as it is being updated), records 2,323 works written by 462 novelists across the English-speaking world. It includes works published from 2001 to 2024 and novels scheduled for release in 2025. The database reveals Australia’s anaemic contribution to the genre. It includes only 78 novels by 29 Australian writers. Only 16 of Australia’s 47 publishing houses launched novels in the espionage genre from 2001 to the present. From 2003 to 2005, during the early years of Australia’s high-tempo Special Forces operations in Afghanistan, our collective publishers could only find five spy manuscripts deserving of publication. Our high water mark in 2018 saw only nine espionage novels appear in print. By contrast, according to Australian Crime Fiction HQ, 97 crime novels were published in Australia in 2022 alone. There were six Australian espionage novels that year, four of them self-published. Yet Australia’s historical entanglement with espionage dates to early European cartographers’ speculation about the existence of a southern landmass. Captain James Cook, ostensibly sent by the British Admiralty to observe the transit of Venus, was under secret instructions to find and lay claim to a “land of great extent” – the Great South Land, thought to exist in southern latitudes. Espionage has played a covert role in Australia’s history ever since. The first Australian spy novel, A.G. Hales’ Little Blue Pigeon: A Story of Japan, was published in 1905 , 84 years after the world’s first example, James Fenimore Cooper’s The Spy (1821). A growing, if neglected, stream of local fiction has continued to bear witness to Australia’s involvement in espionage, though it has received little critical attention, despite the genre’s global popularity. Nor is there much understanding of how Australian espionage fiction draws on other genres, how the genre has evolved, and how it compares to international forms. One of the under-explored characteristics of espionage fiction is its degree of fluidity with other genres. Analysis of the database suggests it shares its DNA with other popular genres, crossing over with crime fiction, action-adventure thrillers, historical fiction, romance and military fiction. There is even a “spy-fi” sub-genre that incorporates science-fiction elements. John le Carré in 2017. German Embassy London, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY Literary agents-of-influence Does it matter whether Australia publishes one, two, four or 20 espionage novels a year? Or none? Yes, it does. Stories help us understand our culture and our history. The allure of espionage fiction is its insights into complex areas of human motivation, behaviour and thought processes. Quite how these motivations, behaviours and ways of thinking have influenced Australia’s collective social sense-making remains elusive. There is commercial potential here too. Australia’s creative industries sector contributes more than A$90 billion to the national economy, exports $3.2 billion annually and employs more than 600,000 Australians. Locally produced genre fiction does well overseas – the rise of outback noir and Tasmanian gothic are notable examples. Matthew Reilly’s thrillers, some of which are clearly influenced by Clancy, continue to deliver solid sales, even as he bends genre conventions. John Birmingham’s edgy alternative history novels, which adapt Clancy’s militarism in a more playful spirit, have also carved out a place commercially. One sub-genre of espionage fiction proving successful for Australian writers is historical fiction. Kelly Rimmer and Rebecca Starford have set novels against a backdrop of espionage in war-torn Europe, while Julia Levinta’s debut The Girl from Moscow tells a story of Cold War intrigue. Nicholas Jose, an established literary author, recently published The Idealist, an espionage novel that examines Australia’s murky dealings around the time of East Timorese independence in 1999. So why the comparative dearth of espionage literature in Australia? It may be because Australians are reluctant to publicly admit the country actively engages in espionage. Historically and culturally, the United States and Great Britain appear unabashedly proud of their spies and their spying activity. A glamorous facade is frequently associated with the interface between real and fictional espionage. Australia seemingly prefers to see itself as the sparky little brother, who comes in as an honest Joe with our analysts and guns to help out in real-world conflicts. This sentiment, a reflection of our status as a middle power, stands in stark contrast to Australia’s active role as a member of the Five Eyes Alliance and our six declared intelligence gathering organisations. Australian stories form part of the bedrock of our culture. Australian books reflect who we are as a nation, where we have been, where we are going and how we view ourselves. Our stories, like our culture, reflect our shifting ideological assumptions. These are questions that link directly to our sense of national identity. In this context, spying represents an uncomfortable national truth. Australia may revere its military servicemen and women, but the reverence rarely extends to the nation’s defence bureaucracy. Espionage fiction is informed as much by political and historical events as authors’ imaginations. It offers a window into clandestine conflicts, allowing us to better imagine and interpret the social implications of the covert struggle for power and influence. Themes of secrecy and unseen bureaucratic machinations are common in Clancy’s novels, and the genre more broadly. So is an awareness that there is always a risk that the drive for security will be accompanied by abuses of human rights, privacy and other safeguards. The old question of who watches the watchers remains as relevant today as it did in Le Carré’s time. How we speak, write and think about Australia’s intelligence gathering and espionage activities matters. While Tom Clancy’s Act of Defiance awaits us, Australia’s espionage fiction output remains obdurately underdeveloped. We can only hope the next great Australian espionage novel is just around the corner. David Rymer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. ... The Conversation 3 hr
Resource management is always political – the Fast-track Approvals Bill is just honest about it CC BY-ND  —  Getty ImagesThe government’s Fast-track Approvals Bill has been widely criticised for potentially handing too much power to three cabinet ministers, and raising the risk of conflicts of interest and political interference in environmental management. Ironically, the bill also helps demonstrate why the original Resource Management Act (RMA) was always doomed to fail – and what its replacement will have to get right. The RMA has long been blamed for high compliance costs and red tape that delay mining, infrastructure and housing developments, and which make farming harder and less viable. Much of which is true. But five major reviews of the RMA over the past 33 years have found the legislation itself was fundamentally sound – it has been its implementation that was flawed. The previous Labour government sought to address these problems by replacing the RMA with the Natural and Built Environments Act. But the current government repealed this, and has reinstated the RMA while it conducts its own resource management reform. But if the RMA’s main flaw was in its implementation, rather than its substance, what are the prospects for any replacement law? Prime Minister Christopher Luxon with the three ministers responsible for fast-track approvals: Chris Bishop, Shane Jones and Simeon Brown. Getty Images Frog or coal? The Fast-track Approvals Bill would give a troika of pro-development cabinet ministers the ability to decide what projects are put on the fast-track path. The environmental impacts of approved projects may then be considered by technical advisory panels. The panels can recommend projects be declined, but the ministers can override those findings. Many select committee submissions object to this politicisation of environmental resource management. But such objections also expose the intrinsic problem of the Resource Management Act in the first place: its failure to account for the reality that natural resource management is always political. This should not be surprising – after all, politics is about who gets what, when and how. In short, and to paraphrase Resource Minister Shane Jones, does Freddy Frog get to keep his pond or does the mining company get to drain it for the coal underneath? More widely, is economic growth supported more by an appeal to nature-based tourism (supported by the existence of Freddy’s pond) or from mining the coal? The answer is political: frog or coal? Depoliticising resource management The designers of the RMA sought to depoliticise such decisions. District and regional planning was required to follow a textbook policy analysis procedure sought by Treasury. This technocratic requirement was specifically intended to prevent political interference. Decision makers also had to consider the environmental effects of proposed resource-use activities, underlining the importance of scientific knowledge. Plans and resource consent decisions can all be appealed to the Environment Court, adding another technocratic layer. Also, local governments sought to avoid legal appeals and associated costs by appointing independent commissioners, rather than councillors, to decide resource consent applications. Effectively, the RMA removes politicians from resource management decision making – but not politics. Instead, it privileges other types of knowledge and decision makers. As a result, the resource management industry is now dominated by planners, scientists and lawyers. Together, they define what information and whose values are valid when making resource-use decisions. And for the main part, their decisions are unaccountable, except to the courts. No avoiding politics The Fast-track Approvals Bill upends this “post-political” consensus of the past 33 years by placing politicians once again at the forefront of environmental management decision making. It reminds us that resource-use decisions affect people, prioritise some uses over others, and are always contentious. It also reminds us why the notion of depoliticising these processes was so attractive when the RMA was drafted in the late 1980s. Back then, memories were fresh of large-scale state energy projects and environmental protest, including the damming of Lake Manapouri to generate energy for the aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point. West Coast beech forests and central North Island rimu and tawa stands were being clear-felled by the government Forest Service. The 1975-1984 National government of Robert Muldoon saw the Taranaki synthetic fuels plant and Clyde Dam completed. Muldoon was using his own fast-track legislation, the National Development Act 1979, to force construction of another aluminium smelter at Aramoana (powered by the Clyde Dam) when he lost the 1984 election. Critics are now comparing the Fast-track Approvals Bill to the old National Development Act. But the questions this raises go beyond whether history is repeating. If we accept that politicians in democratic systems represent the interests of their constituents, how do we justify laws – such as the RMA – that are designed to disempower political decision makers? The challenge for this and any government is how to reintroduce representational politics into New Zealand’s natural and physical resource management, while at the same time providing the necessary safeguards to avoid abuse of that political power. Jeffrey McNeill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. ... The Conversation 3 hr
A huge shark terrorises people in new French hit Under Paris. When will we stop villainising these a... CC BY-ND  —  NetflixAnother year, another movie with a shark in the leading role. The new French thriller film Under Paris is currently ranked second in Australia’s Top 10 list and has broken records as one of Netflix’s most watched non-English films. It follows a giant shark that appears in Paris’s Seine river, seemingly out for blood. For decades, filmmakers have placed sharks alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Blake Lively, Jason Statham and Roy Schneider. Shark movies can make hefty profits, too. The Meg (2018) made more than US$157 million globally (about A$235 million). But the shark “characters” in these films are far from something to be admired or appreciated. Indeed, the film industry has helped galvanise a kind of collective villainisation of these creatures. As was neatly summarised in a paper published in the journal Marine Policy: contemporary narratives widely presented in popular mainstream media have attached an utterly negative connotation to sharks, propagating an unsubstantiated and fabricated image of them as voracious predators. The effects of these narratives can linger long after viewers have left the cinema. Jaws, the start of it all While it’s often thought Steven Spielberg’s 1975 hit movies Jaws started the shark movie trend, there were a handful of similar prior examples, including She Gods of Shark Reef (1958) and Shark! (1969). That said, Jaws was certainly the first of these to become a blockbuster, with a gross worldwide earning of more than US$470 million (about A$704 million). For the few who haven’t seen it, the film is based on a white shark shown to be intentionally hunting and eating people at a seaside American tourist town. In 2014, social scientist Christopher Pepin-Neff proposed a phenomenon called the “Jaws effect” which suggests people’s beliefs about sharks today – and even Australian policies concerning shark bite mitigation – can be linked back to this storyline. These beliefs, Pepin-Neff says, include the idea that sharks intentionally bite and hunt humans, that human-shark interactions always lead to fatal outcomes and that once a shark gets a taste for humans it needs to be culled so it won’t continue to seek out human prey. Jaws may have not been the first shark movie, but it is arguably the biggest and likely influenced movies that followed. Many shark films now include even larger sharks than the six-metre one depicted in Jaws. Under Paris, for instance, portrays a seven-metre mako, while the shark in The Meg is supposed to be some 23 metres (larger than what real megalodons were thought to be). These films don’t seem to be letting up, either. There’s currently an “untitled shark thriller” being filmed in Australia, along with potential discussions of a sequel to Under Paris. Fact or fiction? Some elements of shark films are true to fact. For instance, the size of the shark in Jaws was factually accurate, as was the portrayal of an incident in which surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a tiger shark in Hawaii in the film Soul Surfer (2011). Even so, creative licence is used liberally in the “sharksploitation” subgenre. Statistically, shark bites are very rare and have even been described by experts as “statistical anomalies”. In 2023, the Florida Museum of Natural History counted a total 120 shark bites globally, of which 69 were “unprovoked”. These bites tend to occur in the United States and Australia, which makes them even rarer in other countries where sharks reside, such as New Caledonia, Brazil and Egypt. Unsurprisingly, no shark bites have occurred in the Seine. And only five unprovoked bites have been reported in France since 1580. Nonetheless, research shows people are generally afraid of sharks and perceive the risk of shark bites as being higher than it is (in part due to media portrayals). Sharks are apex predators in their ecosystems and their presence is essential for healthy oceans, so exaggerated portrayals in media are far from trivial. It is important the public views sharks as more than human-eating machines. Are there any friendly fish films? In 2021, I conducted an analysis of 109 shark movies and found only one which did not include any potentially threatening interactions with shark characters. This was the Disney film Finding Dory (2016), which has a whale shark character named Destiny. Whale sharks are filter-feeding fish that pose little-to-no threat to humans. This may be why Destiny got a positive edit. Despite this, the official trailer for the 2012 Norwegian film Kon-Tiki implies a whale shark is at one point attacking a boat. The full movie scene is less dramatic and emphasises the shark’s curious side, in a more true-to-life depiction. But it still shows the shark swimming quickly towards the raft, which is inaccurate since we know whale sharks swim very slowly. Even in Finding Nemo (2003) and Shark Tale (2004), the “friendly”, “vegetarian” shark characters of Bruce and Lenny are covertly portrayed as potentially threatening. In my recent analysis of 638 “creature features” films – a subgenre of horror movies featuring non-human creatures – I found sharks to be the most commonly depicted non-human species (with snakes and spiders not far behind). Is it all bad news? The saying “all publicity is good publicity” probably isn’t true in the case of sharks. The trophy hunting of white sharks increased following the release of Jaws in 1975 – something Director Steven Spielberg himself says he “regrets”. And while it’s hard to say how much such portrayals have impacted the species’ image and conservation, we can expect they have. Read more: 'Jaws' portrayed sharks as monsters 50 years ago, but it also inspired a generation of shark scientists We might find a silver lining in the fact Jaws also turned many people into shark fans and inspired a new wave of shark scientists. We’re also seeing the legacy of Peter Benchley, the author of the original 1974 Jaws novel, live on through the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards aimed at celebrating figures in ocean conservation. Overall, however, negative portrayals continue to largely outweigh any positive or educational content. If only sharks had a really good PR team. Brianna Le Busque does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. ... The Conversation 3 hr
The hidden power of nature in cities CC BY-ND  — We’ve long known that trees, parks and other green spaces can sequester carbon dioxide. But it turns out that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as their ability to make the world a better place. When urban planners consider and work to maximize all effects on greenhouse gas emissions, the potential of these and other nature-based solutions (NBS) to contribute to climate goals multiplies many times over. In fact, if done right, NBS could help seven European cities achieve near if not total carbon-neutrality by 2030 — while also providing bountiful benefits related to resilience, biodiversity and human well-being. In a paper published in Nature Climate Change in July, researchers from China, Sweden and the U.S. took a deep dive into how NBS can best contribute to the zero-carbon goals of 54 European cities. They found that green spaces and other nature-based greenhouse gas–mitigating infrastructure can do far more for climate than simply soak up carbon dioxide. By encouraging behavior changes such as walking, biking and gardening, as well as saving money and other resources, they also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “When all benefits are considered, NBS can contribute much more to urban climate neutrality goals than mere carbon sequestration effects,” the authors write. To reach their conclusions, the researchers considered five types of NBS — green infrastructure, street trees and green pavement, green spaces and agriculture in cities, habitat remediation and preservation, and green buildings. They then assessed the potential emissions-reduction payoffs for 54 European cities by saving resources and money, reducing urban sprawl, encouraging environment-friendly behavior, improving microclimate, and storing carbon. They found the indirect climate benefits to be even greater than direct ones, with NBS able to reduce transport, residential and industrial emissions up to 25%. Importantly, the research showed the significance of customizing the application of NBS to and within each city. For example, in Paris — where more than half of emissions come from residential areas — the best NBS approaches to apply are green infrastructure and green buildings, while in Stockholm, where the bulk of emissions are from transportation, maximum emissions reductions… Read More The post The hidden power of nature in cities appeared first on Ensia. ... Ensia 3 hr
Surviving a metro Detroit summer in the climate change era CC BY-ND  — A recording of our live webinar on summer in Southeast Michigan-- extended heat waves, high-intensity rainstorms and worsening air quality/ ... Planet Detroit 4 hr
বিএসএফের কাঁধে বহন করা মরদেহটি বাংলাদেশি নাগরিকের নয় CC BY-ND  — বুম বাংলাদেশ দেখেছে, ভারতের ছত্তিশগড় প্রদেশে বিএসএফের অভিযানে নিহত এক মাওবাদী বিদ্রোহীর লাশ বহনের ছবি এটি। ... BOOM Live 4 hr
Reportagem da Pública sobre Arthur Lira segue censurada CC BY-ND  — Moraes reverteu decisão de tirar do ar notícias sobre acusações contra Lira de outros veículos; Pública segue censurada ... Agência Pública 4 hr
Ley de Bases en Argentina: “Básicamente es generar un territorio de sacrificio argentino a disposici... CC BY-ND  — Eran las 10 de la mañana del 12 de junio en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires y una neblina espesa anticipaba lo que —para algunos— sería una jornada gris. Mientras organizaciones sociales se congregaban en la Plaza del Congreso, dentro del edificio legislativo los senadores daban quórum para discutir la Ley de Bases y Puntos […] ... Mongabay 4 hr
Why Friends of the Detroit River’s volunteers are key to its success CC BY-ND  — Volunteers with Friends of the Detroit River have a long history with the organization and a love of the river. ... Planet Detroit 4 hr
TRE do Amapá cassa deputada bolsonarista Sílvia Waiãpi por uso ilícito de direito de campanha CC BY-ND  — MP Eleitoral acusa parlamentar de utilizar R$ 9 mil da verba destinada ao pleito de 2022 para fazer harmonização facial ... Brasil de Fato 4 hr
Ex-comandante da Rota: quem é Mello Araújo, nome para vice de Nunes em SP que militarizou Ceagesp CC BY-ND  — O ex-policial militar teve autorização de Jair Bolsonaro para montar um clube de tiro dentro do entreposto ... Brasil de Fato 4 hr
Transporte público coletivo de qualidade na metrópole do Recife: delírio ou realidade? CC BY-ND  — por Yara Baiardi* É delírio pensar que pode existir um transporte público coletivo nas nossas cidades com qualidade, eficiência, conforto e segurança? Ou uma realidade possível? A mobilidade urbana é a base da sustentabilidade das cidades. Nela estão inclusos o andar a pé, de bicicleta e das mais diversas maneiras atreladas ao uso dos veículos […] O post Transporte público coletivo de qualidade na metrópole do Recife: delírio ou realidade? apareceu primeiro em Marco Zero Conteúdo. ... Marco Zero Conteúdo 5 hr
Woodbridge textile artist launches new community space: Secret Garden Art Cafe CC BY-ND  — Raffa Reuther transformed their historical home into a pop-up community space offering adults low-stakes creative experiences. ... Planet Detroit 5 hr
রাশিয়ার সবচেয়ে শক্তিশালী মিত্র হবে ইয়েমেন এমন মন্তব্য করেননি পুতিন CC BY-ND  — বুম বাংলাদেশ দেখেছে, পুতিনের এমন ঘোষণার ব্যাপারে কোনো তথ্য বা সংবাদ নির্ভরযোগ্য কোনো গণমাধ্যমে পাওয়া যায়নি। ... BOOM Live 5 hr
The Pantanal suffers from a rise in wildfires and obliges governments to take emergency measures CC BY-ND  — There are concerns that the biome will repeat what was seen in 2020, a record year for fires ... Brasil de Fato 5 hr
Sick chimps seek out medicinal plants to heal themselves, study finds CC BY-ND  — Wild chimpanzees actively seek out plants with medicinal properties to treat themselves for specific ailments,a new study has found. While most animals consume foods with medicinal properties as part of their routine diet, few species have been shown to engage in self-medication in a way that suggests they have basic awareness of the healing properties […] ... Mongabay 5 hr
Климатските промени не се мантра на трансхуманисти, фашисти и сатанисти, туку реалност CC BY-ND  — Во објавата се прави обид предупредувањата и констатациите дека климатските промени се реалност, да се претстават како наводна „глупост“ мотивирана од „потплатување со пари“ која ја шират „трансхуманисти, фашисти и сатанисти“. Климатските промени се најгорливиот проблем на нашето време, светот… ... Вистиномер 6 hr
Фабрикувана реклама повторно ги мами корисниците на социјалните мрежи да купат чај CC BY-ND  — Нема студентка од Скопје, Дијана Мартиновска што открила изум за слабеење 15 килограми месечно, а препаратот кој се рекламира е билна мешавина. Злоупотребена во рекламирањето е и фотографијата на телевизиската презентерка Татјана Стојановска, како и логото на Канал 5 телевизија… ... Вистиномер 6 hr
Litigi nella barriera corallina: uno studio afferma che sono aumentati i combattimenti tra i pesci d... CC BY-ND  — Ora che gli eventi di sbiancamento dei coralli di massa crescono in frequenza e intensità, gli scienziati scoprono come i coralli, che costituiscono il fondamento fisico delle barriere coralline, rispondono durante i periodi di stress da calore. Quello che è meno noto è come gli eventi di sbiancamento di massa influenzino altri componenti degli ecosistemi […] The post Litigi nella barriera corallina: uno studio afferma che sono aumentati i combattimenti tra i pesci dopo lo sbiancamento di massa dei coralli appeared first on Notizie ambientale. ... Mongabay 6 hr
Les forêts mono-dominantes au secours des écosystèmes dans le bassin du Congo face aux aléas climati... CC BY-ND  — Une équipe de chercheurs vient de démontrer, que les forêts naturelles à Gilbertiodendron dewevrei, une espèce d’arbres fréquemment rencontrée dans le bassin du Congo, contient une communauté unique de plantes et peut stocker plus de carbone que d’autres forêts d’espèces mélangées en Afrique centrale. Le Centre pour la recherche forestière internationale (CIFOR) estime le stock de carbone […] The post Les forêts mono-dominantes au secours des écosystèmes dans le bassin du Congo face aux aléas climatiques appeared first on Nouvelles de l'environnement. ... Mongabay 6 hr
Ex practicante de la “cura gay”, pastor dice: “la iglesia es una institución homófoba” CC BY-ND  — Para Bob Luiz Botelho, los líderes religiosos explotan la violencia en templos y hogares cristianos ... Agência Pública 6 hr
Your One-Stop Guide to the 2024 New York State Budget CC BY-ND  — A version of good cause eviction and new hate crimes are in; new taxes on the wealthy and education cuts are out. Here's where things landed in this year's budget. ... New York Focus 6 hr
Novo fóssil de réptil que viveu antes dos dinossauros pertence a um grupo registrado pela primeira v... CC BY-ND  — A Era Mesozoica – 251 a 66 milhões de anos atrás – é conhecida como a era dos dinossauros. Dividida em três Períodos – Triássico, Jurássico e Cretáceo –, os dinossauros não reinaram absolutos durante todos eles. Na verdade, antes do surgimento dos primeiros dinossauros, os ecossistemas terrestres foram dominados por outros tipos de criaturas, incluindo os precursores dos mamíferos e uma grande diversidade de répteis. Durante boa parte do Período Triássico, os répteis mais abundantes e diversos pertenceram à linhagem que deu origem aos jacarés e crocodilos atuais. De fato, durante esse momento, essa linhagem foi muito mais diversa do que é hoje, com representantes desempenhando diferentes papéis nos ecossistemas em que estiveram inseridos. No Brasil, muitos desses organismos são registrados em camadas fossilíferas que afloram na região central do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul. Contudo, alguns grupos que ocorrem em outras regiões do mundo ainda não haviam sido descobertos no Brasil. Isso mudou com a nova descoberta publicada no periódico Scientific Reports. Um gracilissuquideo brasileiro com parentes na China e Argentina Revisando fósseis recebidos pela Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM), através de uma doação, selecionei exemplares para iniciar o trabalho de preparação, que tem como objetivo remover o material fóssil da rocha circundante. Após horas de preparação com o uso de soluções ácidas e marteletes pneumáticos, foi possível “libertar” o fóssil da rocha. Já era possível notar que aquele era um espécime importante. O fóssil preservava o crânio completo, parte da coluna, cintura e membros. Características únicas do crânio e da cintura revelaram que se tratava de uma espécie desconhecida para o Brasil. Por outro lado, alguns traços lembravam fósseis escavados na Argentina e na China, que pertenciam a pequenos répteis predadores de um grupo chamado de Gracilisuchidae. Membros desse grupo existiram durante o Período Triássico, entre 247 e 237 milhões de anos atrás, ainda antes do surgimento dos dinossauros. Os únicos parentes próximos que ainda vivem são os jacarés e crocodilos. Porém, diferente dos jacarés atuais, os gracilissuquideos foram animais completamente terrestres, com os membros situados diretamente abaixo do corpo. Predador de pequeno porte encontrado por um apaixonado pela paleontologia O novo réptil recebeu o nome de Parvosuchus aurelioi: o primeiro nome significa “crocodilo pequeno”, já que o fóssil pertenceu a um animal que teria atingido apenas 1 metro de comprimento; já “aurelioi” presta homenagem ao senhor Pedro Lucas Porcela Aurélio, pela sua paixão pela paleontologia e prospecção, que levou à descoberta do fóssil em questão. Foi o senhor Aurélio quem realizou a doação dos materiais fósseis para a Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, que continham os restos do Parvosuchus aurelioi, que ele encontrou no município de Paraíso do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul. Análises da localidade onde o fóssil foi encontrado sugerem que as rochas do sítio fossilífero têm por volta de 237 milhões de anos, uma idade que representa a transição entre o Triássico Médio e o Triássico Superior. Para estimar o tipo de alimentação do Parvosuchus aurelioi, foram realizadas análises da forma dos dentes, que revelam um padrão típico de animais carnívoros. Essa questão, somada ao esqueleto de constituição leve, sugerem que o réptil foi um predador veloz. Essa descoberta é particularmente interessante porque, até o momento, não havia fósseis tão pequenos de membros da linhagem que deu origem aos crocodilos em camadas com essa idade no Brasil. Para se ter uma ideia, há registros de um animal carnívoro que atingia mais de 7 metros de comprimento nas mesmas camadas em que o Parvosuchus aurelioi foi descoberto. Isso revela como os ecossistemas que antecederam a origem dos dinossauros eram diversos, suportando diferentes tipos de predadores. O registro fóssil de Gracilisuchidae O primeiro gracilissuquideo foi descrito em 1972, a partir de fósseis descobertos na Argentina. Um ano mais tarde, uma nova espécie, com características similares, foi descrita com base em um fóssil escavado na China. Após um longo intervalo, em 2021, mais um fóssil similar foi descoberto na China. Em 2014, um estudo finalmente uniu a espécie argentina e as duas espécies chinesas em um único grupo, o qual recebeu o nome de Gracilisuchidae. Com a última descoberta para o grupo tendo ocorrido em 2001, o Parvosuchus aurelioi volta a chamar a atenção para esses répteis peculiares. Embora se saiba pouco sobre a biologia dos gracilissuquideos, um dos aspectos interessantes sobre eles é que nenhum chegou a ultrapassar 1 metro de comprimento. Além disso, os fósseis inequívocos mais recentes do grupo têm cerca de 237 milhões de anos. Para se ter ideia, os fósseis mais antigos de dinossauros foram descobertos em rochas com aproximadamente 230 milhões de anos. Mas a descoberta do Parvosuchus aurelioi também ajuda a esclarecer questões relacionadas a outro fóssil brasileiro. Em 2022, foi descrito o Maehary bonapartei, um réptil com cerca de 30 centímetros de comprimento, oriundo do município de Faxinal do Soturno, Rio Grande do Sul. Na época, acreditou-se que o Maehary bonapartei fosse um membro do grupo que deu origem aos pterossauros (répteis voadores da Era Mesozoica). Entretanto, um estudo subsequente sugeriu que esse réptil pudesse ter relações de parentesco com os gracilissuquideos. No novo estudo apresentando o Parvosuchus aurelioi, essa hipótese recebe mais apoio. Além de aumentar para dois os registros de gracilissuquideos no Brasil, um dos pontos interessantes dessa hipótese envolve a idade do sítio fossilífero em que o Maehary bonapartei foi descoberto. Datações indicam que o sítio preserva fósseis com cerca de 225 milhões de anos. Assim, o Maehary bonapartei seria o gracilissuquideo mais jovem do registro fóssil. Essa é uma informação interessante, já que, se novos achados vierem a confirmar que Maehary bonapartei foi mesmo um gracilissuquideo, o grupo pode ter existido na região que hoje é o Brasil por um longo intervalo temporal, algo que ainda não foi observado para esses répteis em outros lugares do mundo. A pesquisa que deu origem ao artigo recebeu apoio financeiro do Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). ... The Conversation 6 hr
Novo estudo mostra que rompimentos amorosos podem provocar traumas graves em jovens CC BY-ND  — O que devo estudar? Que carreira seguir? Como pagarei por meus estudos? Com quem quero passar o resto de minha vida? Essas são questões que atormentam a vida de muitos jovens. A idade adulta de um jovem (entre 18 e 25 anos de idade) é um estágio crítico no curso da vida, especialmente para o desenvolvimento da identidade. Os jovens adultos não são nem adolescentes dependentes nem adultos independentes. É um período de exploração e mudanças frequentes. E tudo isso está acontecendo enquanto seus cérebros ainda estão se desenvolvendo, especialmente nas áreas associadas ao funcionamento cognitivo e emocional superior. Esse funcionamento ajuda o indivíduo a planejar, monitorar e executar suas metas com sucesso. Em meio a todas essas importantes escolhas de vida, o rompimento de um relacionamento amoroso pode ser devastador. Depois de um rompimento, as pessoas podem apresentar pior desempenho acadêmico, pensamentos intrusivos sobre o ex-parceiro e luto intenso, e podem até tentar suicídio. No entanto, os rompimentos entre jovens adultos são frequentemente descartados ou banalizados como um rito de passagem. Uma resposta traumática é considerada exagerada. Além disso, a literatura psiquiátrica não vê os rompimentos como eventos potencialmente traumáticos. Como pesquisadora de saúde mental com experiência em apego romântico e pesquisa de trauma, fui coautora de um artigo explora rompimentos de relacionamentos românticos como eventos potencialmente traumáticos entre estudantes universitários. O objetivo da pesquisa era investigar se as experiências deles se encaixavam no diagnóstico psiquiátrico oficial de estresse pós-traumático. A identificação de possíveis traumas após um rompimento pode ajudar os jovens adultos a obter tratamento e apoio adequados. Quando a figura de apego romântico não está mais presente Em vários estudos, testamos a ideia de que as separações podem ser consideradas um evento potencialmente traumático com base na definição do Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition (DSM-5). Os profissionais de saúde mental usam o Manual Diagnóstico e Estatístico como um guia para diagnosticar pacientes com, por exemplo, transtorno de estresse pós-traumático. O diagnóstico de transtorno de estresse pós-traumático baseia-se em vários critérios, incluindo o Critério A: exposição a morte real ou ameaça de morte, lesão grave ou violência sexual. O Critério A atua como o “gatekeeper” para esse diagnóstico. Fazendo as perguntas Com base em suas respostas autorrelatadas no Post-traumatic Stress Checklist for DSM-5, nossos participantes foram divididos em três grupos: Grupo um (grupo de separação): 886 participantes que endossaram sintomas de estresse pós-traumático com base em sua separação mais traumática. Grupo dois (grupo de trauma): 592 participantes que endossaram sintomas de estresse pós-traumático com base em um evento traumático definido pelo DSM-5 (por exemplo, agressão física e sexual). Grupo três (grupo de controle): 544 participantes que apresentaram sintomas de estresse pós-traumático com base em sua experiência mais estressante (por exemplo, mudança de residência ou divórcio dos pais). Descobrimos que os participantes do Grupo Um, de separação, relataram significativamente mais sintomas de estresse pós-traumático, como flashbacks, lembranças recorrentes e pesadelos sobre seu ex-parceiro, do que os outros dois grupos. Observando o cérebro Após o questionário, um subconjunto de alunos de cada um dos três grupos realizou exames cerebrais para que pudéssemos ver quais áreas do cérebro foram ativadas em resposta a estímulos específicos. Durante as varreduras, eles classificaram as imagens como positivas, negativas ou neutras. 36 participantes do Grupo Um (grupo de separação) classificaram fotos de seus ex-parceiros; 15 participantes do Grupo Dois (grupo de trauma), que indicaram especificamente agressão física ou sexual como seu evento mais traumático, classificaram fotos de agressão física ou sexual; 28 participantes do Grupo Três (grupo de controle) avaliaram imagens negativas gerais (como crianças brincando em água poluída). Essas fotografias faziam parte do International Affective Picture system, amplamente utilizado em estudos sobre a emoção humana. Analisamos a ativação cerebral (aumento do fluxo sanguíneo) da amígdala e do hipocampo dentro do lobo temporal. Essas regiões do cérebro estão associadas ao transtorno de estresse pós-traumático e fazem parte do [sistema límbico] baseado no medo (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541120/), que faz parte do nosso sistema de “luta ou fuga”. Elas também foram associadas à rejeição de apego romântico real e imaginário (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33392890/). Encontramos níveis de ativação semelhantes na amígdala e no hipocampo quando os participantes do grupo de separação avaliaram imagens de seus ex-parceiros e quando os participantes do grupo de trauma avaliaram imagens de agressão física e sexual. Sexo, religião e outros fatores Em terceiro lugar, nos concentramos apenas nos participantes do grupo de separação. Descobrimos que a resposta emocional deles ao rompimento foi influenciada por: características demográficas, como sexo, orientação sexual e religião. Especificamente, os participantes com orientação sexual minoritária e que relataram não ser religiosos relataram níveis mais altos de angústia na separação. Características do rompimento, como a percepção da proximidade do relacionamento e os motivos do rompimento. Seguindo em frente Os resultados combinados apoiam nossa hipótese de que rompimentos amorosos podem ser eventos potencialmente traumáticos para jovens adultos e podem ser vivenciados como uma ameaça à vida. Validar experiências de rompimentos como potencialmente traumáticas pode amortecer seus impactos negativos, incentivar jovens adultos a buscar ajuda e promover a saúde mental. Os prestadores de serviços de saúde mental e os serviços de aconselhamento a estudantes devem reconhecer a possível intensidade dos rompimentos e considerar a triagem de sintomas de estresse pós-traumático após um rompimento. O tratamento focado no trauma, como a terapia de exposição prolongada, pode ajudar os alunos, especialmente aqueles que não conseguem evitar sinais relacionados à separação, como ver seus ex-parceiros em sala de aula ou nas mídias sociais. Como os rompimentos amorosos não são considerados eventos traumáticos na literatura psiquiátrica, nossas descobertas são controversas e não afirmamos que todos os rompimentos sejam necessariamente traumáticos. É necessário fazer mais pesquisas, especialmente com um conjunto mais diversificado de alunos e um tamanho maior de amostra para as varreduras cerebrais. Reconheço as contribuições do Prof. S Seedat, Prof. E Lesch, Dr. A Roos, Prof. Kidd e Prof. S du Plessis para minha pesquisa. A pesquisa de Alberta SJ van der Watt foi apoiada pela Cátedra Sul-Africana de Pesquisa em TEPT, financiada pelo Departamento de Ciência e Inovação e administrada pela Fundação Nacional de Pesquisa (NRF). A autora recebeu o subsídio Thuthuka da NRF; financiamento do Programa Nacional de Bolsas de Saúde Bongani Mayosi do Conselho de Pesquisa Médica da África do Sul e financiamento da Faculdade de Medicina e Ciências da Saúde da Fundação Harry Crossley. ... The Conversation 6 hr
O que Tédio, de “Divertida Mente 2”, tem a nos ensinar CC BY-ND  — Os filmes infantis de animação há muito tempo se esforçam para ensinar os jovens espectadores a gerenciar suas emoções. O filme “Divertida Mente” (2015), da Disney Pixar, tornou literal essa tarefa de regulação emocional. Alegria, tristeza, raiva, medo e nojo, as cinco emoções básicas da protagonista Riley, tornaram-se personagens em sua “sala de controle” interna. Juntas, elas guiaram suas ações à medida que ela se desenvolvia, passando de bebê a pré-adolescente. Agora, na próxima edição, “Divertida Mente 2”, Riley faz 13 anos. Isso significa o surgimento de emoções mais “sofisticadas”, incluindo ansiedade, vergonha, inveja e tédio. Sou uma pesquisadora que estudou como o tédio molda o conteúdo e o uso da mídia. Por isso, fiquei particularmente intrigada com a personagem Tédio (Adèle Exarchopoulos), que incorpora este estado de apatia desmotivada que chamamos de tédio. No início do filme, Ansiedade (Maya Hawke) explica às emoções mais velhas que “todos nós temos um trabalho a fazer”, acrescentando que o dela é “planejar o futuro”. Então, qual é a função de Tédio no filme, e como isso se relaciona com o papel do tédio em nossa vida cotidiana? Desde sua criação no início do século XIX, o conceito de “tédio” tem sido um tópico de debate e discordância. Filósofos e psicólogos observaram que o tédio pode ter um impacto tanto positivo quanto negativo, sugerindo que ele desempenha um papel particularmente importante no desenvolvimento da infância e da adolescência. Em sua influente discussão sobre o tédio, o psicanalista Adam Phillips descreve o tédio como: Aquele estado de animação suspensa em que as coisas começam e nada começa, o clima de inquietação difusa que contém o desejo mais absurdo e paradoxal, o desejo de um desejo. Ou, como dizem os psicólogos James Danckert e John Eastwood em seu estudo recente, o estado de inércia do tédio é, acima de tudo, “um chamado à ação, um sinal para se tornar mais engajado” - ou para tentar algo diferente. Embora esteja associado ao desinteresse e à apatia e possa ser um sinal de que precisamos mudar de marcha, minha pesquisa mostra como o tédio tem sido cada vez mais visado pelas grandes empresas de tecnologia e mídia. Elas trabalharam arduamente para consolidar o vínculo entre sentir-se entediado e pegar nossos dispositivos digitais. Nossos telefones são frequentemente promovidos como ferramentas para combater o tédio, quando e onde quer que ele se instale. O tédio, e o medo dele, nos motiva a rolar a tela sem pensar. Mas pesquisas demonstraram que quanto mais usamos os smartphones para nos distrair do tédio, mais entediados corremos o risco de ficar. Esse é um problema específico para os adolescentes. Nas últimas décadas, a pesquisa mostrou uma correlação entre o aumento do tédio e as dificuldades de saúde mental. Tédio tem sotaque francês em “Divertida Mente 2”. “Divertida Mente 2” não lida exatamente com esses aspectos potencialmente negativos do tédio. Em vez disso, ele se concentra na função positiva de desenvolvimento que o tédio desempenha para ajudar Riley a administrar a intensidade da vida adolescente. Durante todo o filme, a personagem Tédio, com sotaque francês, fica deitada em um sofá, vestindo um moletom azul escuro, olhando desapaixonadamente para a tela do smartphone. Enquanto os primeiros esboços do projeto conceitual mostravam Tédio em vermelho-rosado, a versão final a reimaginou em tons de azul escuro e roxo profundo. Como explica o [designer de produção] do filme (https://www.newsweek.com/ennui-inside-out-pixar-emotions-1913199 “”): “No final das contas, optamos por essa tonalidade azul-acinzentada escura e dessaturada - se eu tivesse que dar um nome a ela, seria ‘blá’.” A aparência, os movimentos e os tiques verbais de Tédio exalam o cansaço mental, o torpor físico e a falta de interesse do sentimento de tédio. Durante a maior parte do filme, ela fica em segundo plano em relação à Ansiedade, a principal antagonista do filme. Enquanto a Ansiedade incendeia a tela com sua energia nervosa frenética, Tédio é uma espreitadora que exala o que os franceses chamam de je m'en foutisme, a arte nitidamente adolescente de não dar a mínima. É importante ressaltar que o smartphone de Tédio funciona como um controle remoto para o console de controle, permitindo que ela module as emoções de Riley sem nunca se levantar do sofá. Essa facilidade é um aspecto central do papel de Tédio no filme. Em grande parte, ela fica em segundo plano em relação às outras emoções, respondendo apenas minimamente ao drama com suspiros dramáticos, bocejos, revirando os olhos ou por meio de piadas sarcásticas e críticas. Essa sensação de frieza desinteressada é como o filme dá sentido ao papel do tédio na vida emocional de Riley, à medida que ela passa de criança a adolescente. O tédio é introduzido em “Divertida Mente 2”. Em momentos importantes do filme, no entanto, Tédio assume o controle do console, influenciando a experiência emocional de Riley ao diminuir sua intensidade - por exemplo, quando Riley tenta impressionar os amigos mais velhos que fez no acampamento de verão. Quando eles dizem o nome da banda que ela foi ver no verão passado, fazendo com que a Ansiedade e o Embaraço apareçam, Tédio se levanta do sofá e anuncia: “Eu estava esperando por este momento”. Tédio contrabalança o medo de Riley de como os outros a veem com uma grande dose de sarcasmo, que age como um escudo protetor. Em outros momentos importantes, a função de Tédio é manter as outras emoções sob controle, ajudando a suavizar as intensidades emocionais da vida adolescente. A maneira como isso ajuda a moderar a experiência emocional de Riley remete à noção do sociólogo Georg Simmel de uma “atitude blasé”. Em seu ensaio The Metropolis and Mental Life (1903), Simmel descreveu a atitude blasé como uma consequência das “estimulações dos nervos que mudam rapidamente e que são reunidas em todos os seus contrastes” na metrópole moderna. Definida por um senso de indiferença apática, Simmel argumentou que a atitude blasé proporcionava uma forma de proteção contra a intensidade sensorial e a superestimulação nervosa que surgiam com a vida na cidade. Sem dúvida, é essa versão de tédio que predomina no personagem de Tédio. Ao suavizar os altos e baixos emocionais de Riley, Tédio oferece sua própria forma inimitável de proteção contra a superestimulação que vem com a adolescência. Tina Kendall não presta consultoria, trabalha, possui ações ou recebe financiamento de qualquer empresa ou organização que poderia se beneficiar com a publicação deste artigo e não revelou nenhum vínculo relevante além de seu cargo acadêmico. ... The Conversation 6 hr
More people are taking a mortgage over 40 years – what this means for young people’s finances CC BY-ND  — First-time buyers moving in. Shutterstock/PeopleImagesMy generation of baby boomers in the UK generally grew up with reasonable expectations of buying a home in our mid-20s with a 25-year mortgage, happily being able to afford a family, and maybe retiring in our early 60s with a comfortable pension. How different today. Largely because of an increase in mortgage costs, the percentage of first-time buyers taking out a home loan of between 36 and 40 years has doubled in the last two years, and is more than 400 percentage points higher than in 2008. Across the board, the 36- to 40-year mortgage has risen from roughly 16 in every 100 mortgages to 33 in every 100 over the same period. Until now, long-term fixed-rate mortgages have never caught on in the UK, mainly due to a lack of enthusiasm by banks and building societies. But there has been an increase in 40-year mortgage loans to make purchases of ever more expensive houses affordable. As far back as 2004, a report commissioned by the then-chancellor, Gordon Brown, urged lenders “to provide long-term fixed-rate loans” of more than five years. This report noted the popularity of these loans in the US and much of Europe. Today, a US property buyer can get a 30-year fixed deal at an annual rate of around 6.8%, while a French citizen can access a 25-year loan at about 4.5%. The increasing price of property, both in real terms and in multiples of price-to-average salary, is a major factor. Average house prices are now eight times higher than average earnings, having grown two-and-a-half times faster than salaries (see graph below). Office for National Statistics Where will this trend end? Basic economics says that prices are driven by supply and demand. It is almost impossible to miss the news that housebuilding targets in the UK are not being met, and that supply of new homes is a problem. Also, the demand from buyers shows no signs of easing. So, the millennial children of baby boomers, and the Gen Z-ers that followed them, all have issues that my generation didn’t face. In 2022-23, of the nearly 900,000 “recent” first-time buyers (meaning they had bought within the last three years), 79.6% were between the ages of 25 and 44. Their average mortgage was over £201,000. But the most striking statistic was that 42% of these mortgages have an end date well beyond age 66. With the increased cost of buying a house coupled with the rising cost of living, it is little surprise that many buyers (not just first-time) are looking to cut costs wherever possible to get on the housing ladder. And for a generation with an enforced 40-year student debt, why would a mortgage of the same length be unpalatable? But cost is only half the story – the other issue is cash flow. Can the borrower afford an extra £200-300 per month (on a £250,000 house with a deposit of £50,000) to take on a 25-year mortgage? Or does the saving with a longer-term loan seem irresistible, despite the mortgage being 25-35% more expensive over the full term. I bought my first home in 1983 for £18,000 with a £3,000 deposit. At that time, an individual on the average UK salary of £16,000 and a 25-year mortgage had mortgage costs at 34% of monthly income. Graph showing first-time buyers by age group. Uswitch The 30-39 age group have an average salary of £37,544. The take-home salary obviously depends on tax code, student debt and pension contributions. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume our first-time buyer has a student loan. Without paying into a pension, the take-home pay is £2,469 per month, going down to £2,365 with a pension contribution of 5%, and then £2,261 if 10% goes towards a pension. These figures rise by £76 per month if there is no student loan. So, for a first-time buyer with the minimum 5% invested in their automatically enrolled pension, a 95% mortgage over 25 years is 59% of take-home pay. That’s eye-watering, and that’s when people start thinking about cost savings. Extending the mortgage to 40 years saves £300 per month which will be very appealing to many cash-strapped buyers. Opting out of the pension might be attractive as well – another saving in the region of £120 per month. These two simple changes improve the first-time buyer’s monthly available cash flow by about £500. We still appear to be a society in which many people want to own their own castle, but that’s getting harder, and in lots of cases something has to give. This could be a decision about having mortgages into your 70s, or having less children, investing in savings and pensions. Or it could be a combination of all the above. Chris Parry does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. ... The Conversation 6 hr