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Julian , California
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February 24, 2021     The Julian News
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February 24, 2021
 

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A handful of recent studies conclude that a warmer world with higher CO2 concentrations in the air we breathe is likely to make us less intelligent. If the other reasons to battle global warming that we’ve all heard for years aren’t enough to convince you, how would you like your great-grandchildren to know that they could’ve been so much smarter if you had only biked more and driven less? To wit, a recent study on “Heat and Learning” from the American Economic Association assessing test scores of some 12,000 school- age kids across the U.S. over a seven-year timespan found that in years with more hot days than normal, average test scores declined across the board, signaling a correlation between hot weather and the ability to concentrate and learn. Nowadays, we’re getting more hot days than ever before, so don’t be surprised if it gets more and more difficult to concentrate. Meanwhile, a 2018 study by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health found that air pollution itself has a hugely negative effect on human cognition. “Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year,” says Yale’s Xi Che. “But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education. If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education.” Yet another recent study found that humans exposed to high concentrations of atmospheric CO2 (1000 parts per million) exhibit a 21 percent reduction in overall cognitive abilities. Essentially, if the air we breathe contains less oxygen and more CO2, then our blood won’t be sufficiently oxygenated, leading to a decrease in cellular function, especially in our brains. At our current rate of output, atmosphere carbon levels will likely surpass 1000 ppm by the end of the century. The upshot of such atmospheric conditions, as reported by James Bridle in his book New Dark Age, could be a 25 percent reduction in human decision-making ability as well as a 50 percent drop in more complex human strategic thinking abilities by 2100. Could this decrease in cognitive abilities exacerbate the problem as we will be less mentally equipped to deal with it? Will reduced intelligence among children and adults alike lead to a less functional society, even an “idiocracy?” Rather than letting society fall into a downward spiral, we must step into our critical roles as deciders of both our environment’s and our civilization’s fate. Scientists have found clear connections between heat and political unrest, so turn these new warmths into an opportunity to get out and make a change. Whether through protesting or striking, we need to speak our voice and stand together for a brighter future—both metaphorically and literally. CONTACTS: “Heat and Learning,” aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1 257%2Fpol.20180612; “The impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance,” pnas.org/content/115/37/9193; New Dark Age, amzn.to/3biYWBZ. EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at https://emagazine.com. To donate, visit https//earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org. Could all the greenhouse gases we're pumping into the atmosphere be compromising our ability to think straight? Credit: Pexels.com. (StatePoint) Climate-related crises like rising sea levels, severe weather events and longer drought seasons are challenging the global economy. They’re also driving the launch of new clean technologies. Here are five examples of how these new technologies are changing and improving daily life: 1. Making clean energy easier to access: With the renewable energy sector experiencing tremendous growth, solar energy is becoming a more affordable solution for Americans who were previously left out of the solar revolution. Projects like the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund are putting solar on homes and tribal buildings in rural parts of Indian Country to reduce energy costs and advance Energy Sovereignty. 2. Creating new jobs when they’re needed most. In addition to cleaner air and reducing carbon, the renewable energy sector is creating thousands of clean energy jobs in communities across the U.S. 3. Improving buildings like hospitals, schools and offices. With commercial buildings accounting for about 40% of all electricity use in the U.S., and heightened concern around safety and indoor air quality, the founders of startup 75F are using internet-of-things-powered building management systems and cloud-based software to improve heating and cooling efficiencies, maintain occupant comfort and improve air quality in commercial buildings. 4. Helping farmers become more productive and resilient. Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of the world’s water usage and 14% of its energy usage. Startup Pluton Biosciences is using microbes to help identify and address soil imbalances and diseases before they become a larger problem on particular parcels of land. This is helping farmers remain productive and efficient in the face of unpredictable weather patterns, pollution and crop infestations. The company CoverCress is working on a new cash crop 5 Surprising Ways Clean Technology Is Improving Daily Life for the Midwest that farmers can plant during winter months in between corn and soybean seasons. The crop sequesters carbon and can be harvested as a low-carbon feed for livestock. 5. Boosting affordable housing inventory so more people can find homes. Construction technologies like Blokable’s pre-fabricated building system are addressing the housing affordability crisis by creating multi-family housing units that are highly efficient, drastically reducing the volume of construction waste. Programs like the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, which works with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, are investing in new clean energy startups, helping them bring game- changing climate solutions to market. Experts say that such investments will be critical in the years to come. “Continued investment in startups and entrepreneurs focused on low-carbon solutions will help build a stronger global economy and more resilient communities, and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” says Ramsay Huntley, sustainable finance strategist at Wells Fargo. * * * The plunder of black communities is not a bump along the road, but it is, in fact, the road itself that you can't have in America without enslavement, without Jim Crow, terrorism, everything that came after that. Ta-Nehisi Coates * * *