Watching the World

“Cell phones can help prevent unwanted personal interactions​—13% of cell owners [have] pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid interacting with the people around them.”​—PEW RESEARCH CENTER, U.S.A.

The last five summers have seen the five lowest figures on record for the extent of sea ice in the Arctic.​—BBC NEWS, BRITAIN.

“About 47% of Africa’s arable land remains uncultivated.”​—THE WITNESS, SOUTH AFRICA.

“Over the last 10 years, 10 countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina) have legalized marriage for same-sex couples.”​—FAMILY RELATIONS, U.S.A.

“The Troubles” Leave Their Mark

A survey conducted in Northern Ireland shows that sectarian strife there has left its mark. The conflict, known locally as “the Troubles,” lasted for almost three decades and exposed two thirds of the population to traumatic incidents. The University of Ulster’s Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing found that at some stage nearly 1 in 10 people in Northern Ireland will have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder​—“one of the highest rates” anywhere, says The Irish Times. “Proportionally,” adds the newspaper, “the Troubles were among the worst conflicts in the world, accounting for the death of one person in 500 of the population.”

Weather Extremes Are the “New Normal”

The United States is experiencing more and more unusual weather. What used to be considered extreme​—massive floods, killer droughts, and monster snowstorms—​is the “new normal.” At an event organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Katharine Hayhoe, a climatologist at Texas Tech University, told colleagues: “We are used to certain conditions and there’s a lot going on these days that is not what we’re used to.” Hayhoe and other experts believe that human activity is fueling climate change and more volatile weather worldwide.