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Does having children make us care more about the environment?

Does having children make us care more about the environment? 88

Psychologists have long been looking into the gap between our intentions and behaviour when it comes to the environment. Many of us say that we are concerned about climate change, for example, and yet few take any action beyond household recycling.

Researchers think that one of the main barriers to action may be psychological distance. The most severe impacts of climate change will not be felt by us, but by future generations, and it can be difficult for us to consider the long-term consequences of our day-to-day actions.

So what could make us care more about how our behaviour risks the future of the environment? Perhaps having someone whose future we are invested in reminds us that the world will continue long after we are gone? It is possible that having children can bridge the distance between ourselves and the future. And maybe, just maybe, children, as an extension of ourselves, can make us think more about the next generation and the world we are leaving for them.

It sounds like a promising theory – but our latest research has found that this is not necessarily the case.

Positive legacy

Wanting to leave a positive legacy for future generations is one of the key stages of psychologist Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. It may be that by having children we may not only consider the material or financial legacy we are leaving them, but also the quality of their environment. This is what we call the “legacy hypothesis”.

Does having children make us care more about the environment? 89
Green hands.

And parenthood, and the way we think about the future, can affect the way we feel about the environment. We know that focusing on the future makes us care more about environmental protection. In one study, researchers found that asking people explicitly about the legacy they would like to leave for future generations increased their concern about climate change and other environmental problems. In another, they found that asking participants to take a parental role perspective did the same.

There is however little direct evidence that becoming a parent changes our environmental attitudes and behaviour. Although some have found a “motherhood effect” – where mothers show greater concern about the environment than fathers – these differences are often explained by the perceived social role of women as nurturers and carers of children.

A false hypothesis?

In our study, we set out to test the idea that having children can make people care more about the environment. Using data from the Understanding Society survey – collected over the course of three years from 40,000 UK households – we looked at whether people who had new children changed their environmental attitudes and behaviour, compared to those who did not have new children in the same period.

We found that having a new child actually decreased people’s environmental attitudes and behaviour – although these changes were very small. Even among first-time parents and first-time mothers, we found a small number of negative changes. These groups were less likely to wear more clothes instead of more heating, use public transport, or share a car with others.

Only first-time parents who were already concerned about the environment had a small increase in their desire to have a greener lifestyle, but this did not lead to any actual changes in behaviour.

Although our results show that people may not naturally become more concerned about the environment after having a new child, it must be said that becoming a parent brings various changes that make it more difficult to act in an environmentally friendly way. Parenthood can change a person’s entire outlook, as the child’s immediate well-being becomes the central focus in one’s life. And any parent can tell you about the time crunch that comes with looking after a newborn. So it’s understandable that we may want to drive more, or turn up the heating, in order to look after our little ones.

What all of this means is that we cannot just assume being a parent will make people care more about the environment. Though they may be more receptive to climate change messages, parents need to be as conscious as everyone else about their actions. We already know that the transition to parenthood is a good time to form new and more sustainable habits but it will have to be an active effort on their part.

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Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 90

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 91

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 92

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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