Discovered: Mercury in our food, the ecological effects of climate change, people who don't think about the future make bad drunks, a reason for lower marriage rates, and parental gender preferences.
- More pollution in our lakes. Last week it was nitrogen, this week it's mercury. Burning fossil fuels releases mercury vapor into the atmosphere, which then falls back into the earth and gets redistributed in the food chain, found research in the journal Nature Geoscience. The worst part: The mercury can come from any fuel burning, anywhere in the world. Meaning that Asian production could contaminate American water and soil, making this another climate related tragedy of the commons. [Eureka, The Guardian]
- Another point for climate change. Speaking of man-made environmental problems, recent NASA modeling has found that by the year 2100 over most of the Earth's land will undergo at least a 30 percent change in its current ecosystem. Rather than predict the climate related effects of global warming, the researchers looked at the ecological ramifications, which the researchers argue are a bigger threat than melting glaciers. [Science Daily]
- The trait that makes drunk people aggressive. In unsurprising research of the day, those who consider future consequences of current actions are less belligerent drunks, found research in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. "People who focus on the here and now, without thinking about the impact on the future, are more aggressive than others when they are sober, but the effect is magnified greatly when they’re drunk," writes Brad Bushman, lead author. Looking at 495 social drinkers in their early 20s, the researchers got participants drunk and put them in situations with an adversary. "The less people thought about the future, the more likely they were to retaliate, but especially when they were drunk," continues Bushman. "People who were present-focused and drunk shocked their opponents longer and harder than anyone else in the study." Of course someone not concerned with the future has no problem acting like a total asshole. [Ohio State]
- Whymarriage is at a record low. A recent Pew survey found that only 51 percent of people age 18 and over are married. A big drop from the 2000 figure of 57 percent. New research out of Cornell University now explains at least one reason couples aren't heading to the alter: fear of divorce. 67 percent of those surveyed, shared their worries about the possibility of a separation. Low income couples were especially wary of marriage, seeing it as a "trap" with no way out once, as the stuck party became increasingly reliant on their spouse for income. [The Telegraph]
- Dads want boys, moms want girls. One might think that inside knowledge of a gender's crazy would lead men to want girls and women to want boys. But a Queen's University study has found the opposite true. Women prefer girls and men boys. Researchers attribute this to our desire to leave a legacy via our children. "Our results show that men today envision this through sons while women visualize it through daughters," explained Lonnie Aarssen, co-author of the study. [Eureka, Queen's News Centre]