In today’s On the News segment: Last week, 15,000 people took to the streets of Lima, Peru, to demand climate justice; food companies spend millions of dollars on marketing every year, and it’s not always in the form of advertising; punishing young children for lying may not teach them to tell the truth; and more.
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You need to know this. Last week, 15,000 people took to the streets of Lima, Peru, to demand climate justice. As world leaders were wrapping up their final days at the UN Climate Summit, activists took part in the massive “March in Defense of Mother Earth.” That march was modeled after the People’s Climate March, which took place in New York City earlier this year, and it shared the same goal. Organizers and activists want to pressure world leaders to act on climate change, and want to mobilize more people around the world to get involved in this fight. In an interview last week with Democracy Now!, Pablo Solon, Boliva’s former chief negotiator on climate change, explained the next steps in the climate movement. He said, “what we need to do is not only have a march like in New York, the People’s Climate March, that says take action, but we have to be more concrete: What kind of action do we want?” Rather than just calling for climate action, these protesters are demanding an end to fossil fuel extraction, an expansion of renewable energy, and environmental protections that put people ahead of corporate greed. The coordinator for Climate Justice and Energy at Friends of the Earth said, “The demand of this march is not a deal at the UN, but a deal at the UN that actually included the rights and needs of impacted people. If there is no justice, there is no deal.” Just like the historic People’s Climate March in New York, the “March in Defense of Mother Earth” was an amazing display of grassroots power. World leaders can’t ignore these massive marches forever, so let’s keep the pressure building until climate justice becomes a reality.
For the first time ever, astronomers captured a burst of radio waves from beyond our galaxy within 10 seconds of its arrival. For years, researchers have reported strange radio bursts from space, but they were discovered months or years after their arrival. These latest signals were detected in seconds, and astronomers had a dozen large telescopes scanning space within hours. The observatories that helped investigate the signal say that it could not have come from a stellar explosion, as they did not detect any wavelength of light, which would be present after a supernova or long-lasting gamma ray burst. Astrophysicist Emily Petroff and her colleagues at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia calculated that these radio bursts originated somewhere in the constellation Aquarius, which is six billion light-years away. Although astronomers can’t say for sure what caused the radio signals and where exactly they originated from, detecting them in real time may make it possible to answer those questions in the future. For now, we’ll have to come up with our own theories on who or what may be sending us signals from deep space.
Food companies spend millions of dollars on marketing every year, and it’s not always in the form of advertising. According to new research from The Center for Science in the Public Interest, companies know that they can trick us into buying their products just by putting food in front of us in the check-out lane. While we have seen candy and drinks at the supermarket check-out for years, more and more, these high-sugar, high-fat snacks are showing up in other retail establishments. Now, waiting to make your purchases at Old Navy, Best Buy, or Ace Hardware means you’re being tempted by junk food as well. Of course, many will argue that we’re not forced to buy any sweets from the check out lane, but science says that turning down goodies at the end of a shopping trip is harder than simply saying “no.” Researchers found that the quality of our decisions actually diminishes after having to make a series of many other decisions. So, after having to choose what to buy throughout a store, we’re not as equipped to turn down the sweets at check out. Retailers could help their customers by taking the junk food out of their check out lanes, but that’s unlikely to happen. So, in the meantime, just remember that it’s corporate manipulation – not hunger – that’s tempting you to pick up that check out-lane junk food.
Punishing young children for lying may not teach them to tell the truth. According to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, kids are more like to tell the truth when they believe that it will make their parents happy. Researchers studied more than 370 kids between the ages of 4 and 8, who were left in a room with a toy that was tucked behind a table. The kids were told not to peak at the toy, and they were filmed by a hidden camera to see which ones looked despite that instruction. The researchers found that younger children were more likely to take a peak at the toy, and that 66 percent of those who looked lied about it. By using different reactions to that lie, researchers discovered that kids lied more if they were afraid of being punished for it, and told the truth more if they thought doing so would make someone happy. While it’s important to teach our kids to be honest, science shows that punishing them for a white lie may not be the best way to shape their behavior.
And finally… New Zealanders want their government to do something useful on climate change. Last week, hundreds of people in that nation had a unique way of protesting their nation’s inaction. They lined up at 12 different locations around the country and buried their heads in the sand – just like their government is doing when it comes to saving our planet. The creative actions were organized by numerous environmental groups, and they mimicked protests that took place in Australia earlier this year. As the need for climate action becomes more and more crucial, organizations and activists are working to mobilize more and more people, in ways that are difficult to ignore. Hundreds of people burying their heads in the sand may make for a silly picture, but they are dead serious when it comes to climate change.
And that’s the way it is for the week of December 15, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.