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World’s major rivers ‘drying up’

April 23, 2009

The researchers analysed water flows in more than 900 rivers over a 50-year period to 2004.

They found that there was an overall decline in the amount of water flowing into the world’s oceans.

Much of the reduction has been caused by human activities such as the building of dams and the diversion of water for agriculture.

But the researchers highlighted the contribution of climate change, saying that rising temperatures were altering rainfall patterns and increasing rates of evaporation.

The authors say they are concerned that the decline in freshwater sources will continue with serious repercussions for a growing global population.

via BBC NEWS | Americas | World’s major rivers ‘drying up’.

trash kills and maims

April 23, 2009

deformed by plastic

Photo courtesy of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation

A turtle nicknamed “Mae West” shows the danger of throw-away plastics. Environmentalists with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation say the turtle crawled inside the plastic ring when it was young; it was deformed by the plastic constriction as it grew.

Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, of the California-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, reinforce their campaign with grim images of wildlife maimed by plastics and samples of plastic-laden water from a swirling plastic “soup” called the North Pacific Gyre in the Pacific Ocean.

While there’s no way to clean up the North Pacific Gyre — a confluence of ocean currents twice the size of the United States and laden with plastic refuse — it’s not too late to stop further dumping, the couple say.

via Couple cycling the West Coast to fight “plastic soup” in Pacific Ocean – OregonLive.com.

good looks matter even in high school

April 23, 2009

“…physical attractiveness was not the most important non-cognitive predictor of grades,” French said. “Instead grooming and personality were stronger predictors of academic success in high school for boys and girls, respectively.”

Looking at GPA as a function of a long list of individual, familial, school, and environmental characteristics that are likely to affect academic performance, the researchers were able to make several significant observations, including:

  • Physical attractiveness has a positive effect on GPA for both genders, but only when considered alone.
  • When physical attractiveness is considered along with grooming and personality, the positive effect of physical attractiveness on high school GPA turns negative for both genders.
  • For male students, grooming delivers the biggest overall effect on GPA.
  • For female students, personality is positively related to GPA.
  • Physical appearance can be a way for adolescents to either rebel or accept adult’s standards. However, whether the student is a “rebel” or a “conformist” does not have a significant independent effect on GPA.
  • The findings suggest that some degree of teacher bias is present in favor of, or against certain types of students.
  • All else equal, Hispanics and African Americans have lower GPAs than whites and girls have higher GPAs than males.
  • Students living with a mother who attended college, those that live in a two-parent household and those attending a small school have higher GPAs than those in different circumstances.
  • Receiving public assistance is negatively associated with GPA.

via Do Good Looks Get High School Students Good Grades?.

TV – the opiate of the masses

April 23, 2009

A Warm TV Can Drive Away Feelings Of Loneliness And Rejection

ScienceDaily (Apr. 22, 2009) — Not all technology meets human needs, and some technologies provide only the illusion of having met your needs.

But new research by psychologists at the University at Buffalo and Miami University, Ohio, indicates that illusionary relationships with the characters and personalities on favorite TV shows can provide people with feelings of belonging, even in the face of low self esteem or after being rejected by friends or family members.

via A Warm TV Can Drive Away Feelings Of Loneliness And Rejection.

Mad Scientist, Jr.: Developmental Effects of Ambient Air Pollution

April 22, 2009

moving animal models of exposure to clean air did not completely reverse the exposure-related pathologies, which means that the lung damage will be a life-long legacy of any children that grew up in it.

Mad Scientist, Jr.: Developmental Effects of Ambient Air Pollution.

how stupid people kill…

April 22, 2009

Another little boy has killed himself after classmates teased and bullied him and called him gay. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera hung himself inside his home on Thursday afternoon. His little sister, Yerralis, found his body.”They called him gay and a snitch,” his stepfather said. “All the time they’d call him this.”Kate Harding wrote about the impact of homophobic bullying last week, on what would have been the 12th birthday of Carl Walker-Hoover, who committed suicide in April after months of being tormented with anti-gay slurs.

via Another victim of homophobic bullying – Broadsheet – Salon.com.

why self-esteem is bad…

April 22, 2009

So this study suggests that our perceived level of self-worth effects our moral decisions.  More specifically, it suggests that feelings of negative self-worth can predispose us to acting morally in an effort to fill up the self-worth bank account.  If the account is already full, we might be predisposed to choosing not to act morally, or just not act at all.

via N e u r o n a r r a t i v e