Wednesday, September 27, 2023

EV sales growth points to oil demand peaking by 2030 − so why is the oil industry doubling down on production?

  Electric vehicle sales are growing faster than expected around the world, and, sales of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles have been falling. Yet, the U.S. government still forecasts an increasing demand for oil, and the oil industry is doubling down on production plans.

  Why is that, and what happens if the U.S. projections for growing oil demand are wrong?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The most dangerous idea in a library? Empathy

  My 9-year-old daughter recently asked me if reading really makes you smarter.

  Put on the spot, I garbled my answer. I was driving, and we had to get to a softball practice on time.

  But here’s what I wanted to say: Reading teaches you new things. But more importantly, it makes you a more empathetic person. So, yeah.

Monday, September 25, 2023

As extreme downpours trigger flooding around the world, scientists take a closer look at global warming’s role

  Torrential downpours sent muddy water racing through streets in Libya, Greece, Spain, and Hong Kong in early September 2023, with thousands of deaths in the city of Derna, Libya. Zagora, Greece saw a record 30 inches of rain, the equivalent of a year and a half of rain falling in 24 hours.

  A few weeks earlier, monsoon rains triggered deadly landslides and flooding in the Himalayas that killed dozens of people in India.

  After severe flooding on almost every continent this year, including mudslides and flooding in California in early 2023 and devastating floods in New York and Vermont in July, it can seem like extreme rainfall is becoming more common.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Moms for Liberty: ‘Joyful warriors’ or anti-government conspiracists? The 2-year-old group could have a serious impact on the presidential race

  Motherhood language and symbolism have been part of every U.S. social movement, from the American Revolution to Prohibition and the fight against drunk drivers. Half of Americans are women, most become mothers, and many are conservative.

  The U.S. is also a nation of organizing, so conservative moms – like all moms – often band together.

  Lately, the mothers group dominating media attention is Moms for Liberty, self-described “joyful warriors … stok[ing] the fires of liberty” with the slogan “We Don’t Co-Parent with the Government.”

  Others see them as well-organized, publicity-savvy anti-government conspiracists.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Alzheimer’s disease is partly genetic − studying the genes that delay decline in some may lead to treatments for all

  Diseases that run in families usually have genetic causes. Some are genetic mutations that directly cause the disease if inherited. Others are risk genes that affect the body in a way that increases the chance someone will develop the disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, genetic mutations in any of three specific genes can cause the disease, and other risk genes either increase or decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The high price of Alabama’s low taxes

  Say this about Alabama’s attitude toward guns: It reveals lawmakers’ priorities.

  For instance: when faced last year with a choice between gun access and funding law enforcement, Republican legislators chose gun access. 

  This came from a bill that made concealed carry permits optional. There was no mass demand for this. But the National Rifle Association threw a ball, and GOP lawmakers chased it. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Americans do talk about peace − just not the same way people do in other countries

  Americans don’t talk much about peace. But it turns out they care about it a lot – they just don’t talk about it the way people who have experienced war or civil conflict do.

  When public opinion polls in the U.S. ask people about peace, it’s either in the context of religion or world peace.

  Instead of using the word peace, Americans are more likely to say that they care deeply about safety and security and issues like terrorism, crime, illegal drugs, and immigration.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Workers like it when their employers talk about diversity and inclusion

  Many companies have made commitments toward diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in recent years, particularly since the murder of George Floyd sparked weeks of racial justice riots in 2020.

  But some of those efforts, such as hiring diversity leaders and creating policies to address racial inequality, have stalled or reversed at the same time as a growing conservative backlash is threatening to further undermine such initiatives.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

White men have controlled women’s reproductive rights throughout American history – the post-Dobbs era is no different

  More than a year after the Supreme Court ended federal protection for abortion rights in the United States, disagreements over abortion bans continue to reverberate around the country. Candidates sparred over the idea of a federal abortion ban during the Aug. 23, 2023 Republican presidential debate. And abortion is likely to figure prominently in the November 2023 contest for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

  When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, removing women’s federal constitutional right to get abortions and giving states the power to pass laws about the legality of the procedure, the 6-3 vote was by a four white men, one Black man, and a white woman majority.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Not religious, not voting? The ‘nones’ are a powerful force in politics – but not yet a coalition

  Nearly 30% of Americans say they have no religious affiliation. Today the so-called “nones” represent about 30% of Democrats and 12% of Republicans – and they are making their voices heard. Organizations lobby on behalf of atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and other nonreligious people.

  As more people leave religious institutions, or never join them in the first place, it’s easy to assume this demographic will command more influence. But as a sociologist who studies politics and religion, I wanted to know whether there was evidence that this religious change could actually make a strong political impact.