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Watching the World

Watching the World

 Watching the World

“The average six-year-old child in Britain will have spent a full year watching television and more than half of three-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom.”​—THE INDEPENDENT, BRITAIN.

In China, 31.4 percent of people above 16 years of age who were polled described themselves as religious. If that is representative of the whole nation, this finding would indicate that “about 300 million are religious . . . in sharp contrast to the official figure of 100 million.”​—CHINA DAILY, CHINA.

More Harm Than Good

A few years ago, Dutch politicians and environmentalists thought that they had found the key to sustainable energy​—running generators on biofuel, notably palm oil. Their hopes became “an environmental nightmare,” says The New York Times. “Rising demand for palm oil in Europe brought about the clearing of huge tracts of Southeast Asian rainforest and the overuse of chemical fertilizer there.” Plantations were created by draining and burning peatland, sending “huge amounts” of carbon gases into the atmosphere. As a result, says the Times, Indonesia fast became “the world’s third-leading producer of carbon emissions that scientists believe are responsible for global warming.”

“Doomsday Clock” Advances

The doomsday clock, conceived by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) to illustrate how close mankind is to nuclear disaster, has been advanced two minutes, to read five minutes before midnight​—the “figurative end of civilization.” The clock has only been reset 18 times in its 60-year history. The last change was in February 2002, after the World Trade Center attacks in New York. Continued development and presence of nuclear weapons as well as failure to make nuclear materials secure are “symptomatic of a failure to solve the problems posed by the most destructive technology on Earth,” said a BAS statement. Moreover, it continued, “the dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons.”

Stress During Pregnancy

Stress experienced by a pregnant woman as a result of arguments with or violence by a partner can adversely affect her unborn child’s mental development, according to recent research. Professor Vivette Glover, of Imperial College, London, says: “We found that if the woman had a partner who was being emotionally cruel to [her] while [she was] pregnant it had a really significant effect on [her] baby’s future development. The father has a big part to play.” The state of the parents’ relationship “affects the hormonal and chemical balance in the mother’s body, which in turn affects the development of the child’s brain,” she explained.

Commuters on Autopilot

Commuters who drive the same route each day often do so without using the part of their brain where conscious thinking takes place, says traffic scientist Michael Schreckenberg of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. On familiar routes, instead of concentrating on traffic, drivers become occupied with other things. As a result, it takes longer to recognize dangers. Schreckenberg encourages commuter drivers to keep reminding themselves to stay alert and not let themselves be distracted from the road.