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How sustainable is your weekly grocery shop? These small changes can have big benefits

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michalis-hadjikakou-129930">Michalis Hadjikakou</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carla-archibald-283811">Carla Archibald</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ozge-geyik-1402545">Özge Geyik</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/pankti-shah-1547393">Pankti Shah</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>You might think eating more sustainably requires drastic changes, such as shifting to a <a href="https://theconversation.com/vegan-diet-has-just-30-of-the-environmental-impact-of-a-high-meat-diet-major-study-finds-210152">vegan diet</a>. While a plant-based diet is <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-023-00795-w">undeniably</a> good for the Earth, our <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352550924001945#f0025">new research</a> shows modest changes to your eating habits can also have significant environmental benefits.</p> <p>We assessed how food products on Australian supermarket shelves stack up against key environmental indicators, such as carbon emissions and water use.</p> <p>We found swapping the most environmentally harmful foods for more sustainable options within the same food group, such as switching from beef burgers to chicken burgers, can significantly reduce carbon emissions – by up to 96% in some instances.</p> <p>The last thing we want to do is take the pleasure away from eating. Instead, we want to help consumers make realistic dietary changes that also help ensure a sustainable future. So read on to find out which simple food swaps can best achieve this.</p> <h2>Informing sustainable diets</h2> <p>The environmental impact of foods can be estimated using an approach known as a <a href="https://www.cell.com/one-earth/fulltext/S2590-3322(19)30128-9#:%7E:text=In%20this%20Primer%2C%20we%20introduce,cycle%20of%20a%20product%20system.">life-cycle assessment</a>.</p> <p>This involves identifying the “inputs” required along the food supply chain, such as fertiliser, energy, water and land, and tracking them from farm to fork. From this we can calculate a product’s “footprint” – or environmental impact per kilogram of product – and compare it to other foods.</p> <p>Most studies of environmental footprints focus on the raw ingredients that make up food products (such as beef, wheat or rice) rather than the packaged products people see on shelves (such as beef sausages, pasta or rice crackers). Of the studies that do focus on packaged foods, most only consider a fraction of the products available to consumers.</p> <p>What’s more, a lot of research considers only the carbon emissions of food products, excluding other important measures such as water use. And some studies use global average environmental footprints, which <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aaq0216">vary significantly</a> between countries.</p> <p>Our research set out to overcome these limitations. We aligned environmental footprints with the products people find on supermarket shelves, and covered a huge range of food and beverage products available in Australia. We also included many environmental indicators, to allow a <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2120584119">more complete picture</a> of the sustainability of different foods.</p> <h2>What we did</h2> <p>Key to our research was the <a href="https://www.georgeinstitute.org.au/projects/foodswitch">FoodSwitch database</a>, which compiles food labelling and ingredient data from images of packaged food and beverages. It covers more than 90% of the Australian packaged food market.</p> <p>We combined the database with a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652623029748">mathematical method</a> that sums the environmental impact of ingredients, to quantify the footprint of the product as a whole.</p> <p>From this, we estimated the environmental footprint of 63,926 food products available in Australian supermarkets. We then simulated the potential benefits of making “realistic” switches between products – that is, switches within the same food category.</p> <h2>Our findings</h2> <p>The results show how making a small dietary change can have big environmental consequences.</p> <p>For a shopping basket composed of items from eight food groups, we simulate the benefits of swapping from high-impact towards medium- or low-impact food products.</p> <p>Our analysis assumes a starting point from the most environmentally harmful products in each food group – for example, sweet biscuits, cheese and beef burger patties.</p> <p>A shift to the medium-impact foods for all eight items – such as a muffin, yoghurt and sliced meat – can lead to at least a 62% reduction in environmental impact. Shifts towards the most sustainable choice for all items – bread, soy milk or raw poultry – can achieve a minimum 77% reduction.</p> <p>This analysis ends at the supermarket shelves and does not include additional food processing by the consumer. For example, raw meat will usually be cooked before human consumption, which will expand its environmental footprint to varying degrees, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-020-00200-w">depending on the method used</a>.</p> <p>See the below info-graphic for more detail. The full results are available in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352550924001945">our study</a>.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="sR5yB" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: 0;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/sR5yB/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>Many people are looking for ways to live more sustainably. Insufficient or complex information can fuel confusion and anxiety in consumers, <a href="https://theconversation.com/reducing-eco-anxiety-is-a-critical-step-in-achieving-any-climate-action-210327">leading to inaction or paralysis</a>. Consumers need more information and support to choose more sustainable foods.</p> <p>Supermarkets and retailers also have an important role to play – for example, by giving sustainable products <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/07439156211008898">prominent shelf placement</a>. Attractive pricing is also crucial – particularly in the midst of a <a href="https://theconversation.com/au/topics/cost-of-living-crisis-115238">cost-of-living crisis</a> when it can be difficult to prioritise sustainability over cost.</p> <p>Government interventions, such as information campaigns and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/07439156211008898">taxing high-impact products</a>, can also help.</p> <p>Food labelling is also important. The European Union <a href="https://environment.ec.europa.eu/topics/circular-economy/eu-ecolabel/product-groups-and-criteria_en">is leading the way</a> with measures such as the <a href="https://docs.score-environnemental.com/v/en">eco-score</a>, which integrates 14 environmental indicators into a single score from A to E.</p> <p>Apps such as <a href="https://www.georgeinstitute.org/projects/ecoswitch">ecoSwitch</a> can also <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020024000268?via%3Dihub">empower consumers</a>.</p> <p>The diets of people in developed nations such as Australia <a href="https://theconversation.com/sustainable-shopping-want-to-eat-healthy-try-an-eco-friendly-diet-89086">exert a high toll on our planet</a>. More sustainable food choices are vital to achieving a <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/commissions/EAT">sustainable future for humanity</a>. We hope our research helps kick-start positive change.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234367/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michalis-hadjikakou-129930">Michalis Hadjikakou</a>, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Sustainability, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Engineering &amp; Built Environment, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carla-archibald-283811">Carla Archibald</a>, Research Fellow, Conservation Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ozge-geyik-1402545">Özge Geyik</a>, Visitor, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/pankti-shah-1547393">Pankti Shah</a>, PhD student, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-sustainable-is-your-weekly-grocery-shop-these-small-changes-can-have-big-benefits-234367">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Calls to change "racist" beach name

<p>There are calls to rename Chinamans Beach in Sydney due to its "racist" connotations. </p> <p>The popular beach in Mosman has long been in the centre of debate around the use of the term Chinaman. </p> <p>Chinese Australian Osmond Chiu is determined to have the name of the beach changed, saying that the word is often used as a racist slur. </p> <p>“The term ‘Chinaman’ is derogatory and primarily used as a racist slur against people of Chinese or East Asian appearance,” Chiu told the <em>Mosman Collective</em>. </p> <p>“It is jarring to have a place named ‘Chinamans Beach’ in the city that I was born and grew up in as if there is nothing wrong with it.</p> <p>“We would never name a place or even refer to someone as a ‘Chinaman’ today, which speaks volumes about the term.”</p> <p>The beach's name is associated with nearby market gardens that was run by people from the Chinese community during the 1800s.</p> <p>According to SBS, a man named Cho Hi Tick leased the land and created the market gardens back in the day. </p> <p>And Chiu suggests that it should be named after Tick. </p> <p>“While it may be uncomfortable for some people, this is about having an open and frank discussion about the term [Chinaman] and its history,” he added.</p> <p>However, Sophie-Loy Wilson, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Sydney believes that the beach was previously called Rosherville Beach before it was renamed in 1977 to reflect the Chinese fishermen who liked to go fishing in the surrounding areas. </p> <p>“Before the advent of refrigeration, Chinese fishermen were very important in Australia because they understood how to cure, smoke and preserve fish,” she said.</p> <p>The push to change the beach's name has been an ongoing battle, and last year Western Australia Labor MP Pierre Yang called for a change for places with the word “Chinaman” in their names.</p> <p>There are around 300 spots around Australia with the word "Chinaman" in it. </p> <p>Yang told the Legislative Council in June 2023 that Chinaman is  a “racist term, derogatory and contemptuous in nature”.</p> <p>“In 21st century multicultural Australia and multicultural WA, this word is no longer acceptable, and that’s why we don’t hear this word often," Yang said. </p> <p>However, many are also defending the current name, including a few residents of Chinese descent. </p> <p>“Nothing racist about it in my opinion – no negative connotations. It’s a beautiful beach named after beautiful people – no dramas,” one person wrote on Instagram.</p> <p>“It’s becoming more ridiculous all the time! What else will we need to change and deny from the past? It’s a beautiful beach. why would that offend anyone?” another wrote.</p> <p>Another second-generation Chinese Australian said that the name is not offensive, “and in fact, I’m currently based in Singapore living on a street called Cantonment Road – which means the same bloody thing.</p> <p>"We need to own and accept our history, both the good and bad. And stop trying to rewrite it." </p> <p>“I am of Chinese descent and I don’t find anything derogatory about it,” another added. </p> <p>A Mosman Council spokesperson told <em>news.com.au </em>that renaming places and localities is a matter for the NSW Geographical Names Board (GNB).</p> <p>“Council is not aware of any future renaming plans,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>The GNB also said that they have not received a proposal to rename or dual name Chinamans Beach. </p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock</em></p>

Legal

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Can you change your mind after you buy a house?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosemary-gibson-1544081">Rosemary Gibson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>In the Bluey episode “<a href="https://iview.abc.net.au/show/bluey-the-sign">The Sign</a>”, the Heeler family enters a contract to sell their family home to a pair of English Sheepdogs, or as Bluey calls them, “the dogs with no eyes”.</p> <p>But towards the end of the episode, the Sheepdogs spy another house that they prefer. Unlike Bluey’s house, the new place has a pool.</p> <p>They telephone Bandit and tell him that they have changed their mind. Happily for Bluey’s family – and let’s face it, most of Australia – Bandit decides not to press ahead with the sale and the Heelers end up staying put in their family home.</p> <p>But aside from the fact that the contracting parties are all cartoon dogs – how realistic is this scenario? Is it possible to end a contract to purchase or sell a house simply because you’ve changed your mind?</p> <p>The reality is that once a contract of sale is signed, there are only limited circumstances in which buyers and sellers can bring the contract to an end.</p> <h2>What do you sign when buying or selling a house?</h2> <p>In Australia, each state and territory has its own standard form contract for the sale of land that buyers and sellers must sign.</p> <p>The terms of these contracts mirror relevant state or territory laws, meaning they differ throughout Australia. It is important for parties to obtain advice from a property lawyer with experience in a particular jurisdiction’s contract.</p> <h2>Can you change your mind after signing?</h2> <p>Once a contract has been signed, a buyer may only end it for a “change of mind” during the “cooling off period”. The cooling off period is a short period of time – usually between two and five business days – after the contract is signed.</p> <p>During this time, the buyer can end the contract, “no questions asked”. But there are usually financial consequences for terminating during the cooling off period.</p> <p>For example, in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT, a buyer who ends the contract during the cooling off period must pay the seller 0.25% of the purchase price. For a house purchase of A$1 million, this termination penalty would be $2,500.</p> <p>But not all states and territories guarantee a cooling off period for buyers. And in such a hot property market, an individual seller may be unlikely to agree to include such a term in a contract.</p> <h2>What if something goes wrong down the track?</h2> <p>When negotiating the contract terms, the parties may agree that the sale is subject to certain conditions. Typically, these conditions are in the purchaser’s favour. If one of the conditions is not satisfied in time, then the contract can be brought to an end.</p> <p>It is up to the parties to negotiate which conditions (if any) are included in the contract, and the time by which the conditions must be satisfied. The most common conditions of sale are:</p> <ul> <li>the buyer obtains finance by a certain date (a finance clause)</li> <li>the buyer obtains satisfactory building and pest inspection reports by a certain date (a building and pest clause).</li> </ul> <p>The buyer may also want the sale to be subject to the buyer first selling an existing property.</p> <p>Once all of the conditions of sale are satisfied, the contract is said to be “unconditional”. From this time, there are no express circumstances in which either party may bring the contract to an end.</p> <p>When the Sheepdogs telephoned Bandit, the Heelers had already moved all their furniture out of the house. Clearly, the sale had already gone unconditional. There was no express basis on which the Sheepdogs could have terminated the contract.</p> <h2>Could the Heelers have sued for breach of contact?</h2> <p>A party who ends a contract without justification is liable to pay compensation to the other party.</p> <p>A house purchaser who wrongly terminates a contract would almost certainly lose their deposit. They may also be liable for additional losses the seller suffers as a result of the breach, including any deficiency in price on a resale of the property.</p> <p>But a buyer and seller may bring a contract to an end by “mutual agreement”, which seems to be what happened in Bluey. The Sheepdogs sought to end the contract and – to the relief of all Australians – the Heelers agreed.</p> <p>This is, however, unlikely to occur “in real life”, especially in today’s highly competitive property market.</p> <p>At the very least, the seller would be entitled to retain the purchaser’s deposit. There would also be the issue of who bears the costs incurred in advertising and agency fees.</p> <p>It seems Bandit followed his heart rather than the strict terms of the contract — and Australia is the better for it.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234659/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosemary-gibson-1544081">Rosemary Gibson</a>, Lecturer in Contract Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-you-change-your-mind-after-you-buy-a-house-234659">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Southern Australia is freezing. How can it be so cold in a warming climate?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-king-103126">Andrew King</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>People living in southern Australia won’t have failed to notice how cold it is. Frosty nights and chilly days have been the weather for many of us since the start of July.</p> <p>As winter continues, we are left wondering how unusual the cold is and whether we can expect several more months of this. Warmer conditions are in the forecast but winter has a long way to go. Further cold snaps could occur.</p> <p>Cold conditions have been in place across southern Australia for the past few days. Temperatures have fallen below zero overnight in many places.</p> <p>It’s not just the nights that have been cold. Maximum temperatures have also been below or well below average across most of the country.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=412&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=412&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=412&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=518&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=518&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604809/original/file-20240704-20-l50kpt.gif?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=518&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Maximum temperatures have been below average across most of the continent since the last day of June.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/awap/temp/index.jsp">Bureau of Meteorology</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What’s causing the cold?</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/synoptic_col.shtml">persistent and strong high-pressure system</a> has been hanging around over southeast Australia. The atmospheric pressure was so high it approached the Australian record of 1,044.3 hPa set on June 7 1967. An <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-07-04/australias-highest-air-pressure-recorded-weather/104055462">initial observation</a> of a new record has since been disregarded, but nonetheless this is an exceptional, near-record high-pressure pattern.</p> <p>This high-pressure system has kept the weather dry but clear nights have allowed strong cooling of the land surface. The long nights and short days of early July mean that temperatures struggle to rise during the day and can fall quickly in the evenings.</p> <p>In winter we expect cold weather across most of Australia and occasional cold snaps that bring widespread frosty and icy conditions. However, this current cold weather is pretty unusual and we are seeing some records fall.</p> <p>Notably, Tasmania has had its <a href="https://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/tasmanias-2ndcoldest-night-on-record/1889603">lowest July temperature on record</a> and the second-lowest minimum temperature for any time of year with –13.5°C at Liawenee in central Tasmania early on Thursday morning.</p> <p>While Tasmania has produced the most remarkable records, the cold conditions have been unusual elsewhere too. Adelaide recorded its lowest temperature in 18 years on Wednesday morning. And many suburbs of Melbourne experienced a sub-zero night and consecutive nights of <a href="https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/learn-about/weather/types-of-weather/frost-and-ice/frost">ground frost</a>.</p> <h2>Winters are warming but cold spells still occur</h2> <p>As the world is warming, it might seem surprising we can still break cold records. Indeed, across Australia <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/timeseries.cgi?graph=tmean&amp;area=aus&amp;season=0608&amp;ave_yr=0&amp;ave_period=6190">winters have been warming</a>. The <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/extremes/trendmaps.cgi?map=CN05&amp;period=1950">frequency</a> and <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/extremes/trendmaps.cgi?map=TNmn&amp;period=1950">intensity</a> of very low temperatures have been decreasing over the past few decades.</p> <p>We also see many more hot records than cold records being set in Australia and around the globe. This is <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-hot-weather-records-continue-to-tumble-worldwide-86158">due to human-caused climate change</a>. However, when we have the right weather conditions, cold records are still occasionally broken locally.</p> <p>As we continue to warm the planet, it’s getting harder for us to find cold records, particularly over larger regions or longer time periods. While we still see record cold temperatures at individual weather stations, we won’t see another cold record in the global average temperature and probably not even in the Australian average temperature.</p> <p>As this week shows, we still occasionally get daily cold records in the current climate. But it’s much harder to get record cold months, and record cold years at a given location are almost impossible.</p> <p>As we average weather conditions across locations or over time, the climate change signal becomes clearer over background weather variability. It makes new cold records much less likely to occur.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=426&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=426&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=426&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=536&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=536&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/605048/original/file-20240704-21-7ep1rt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=536&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A graphic showing the increase in annual average temperature for Australia from 1910 to 2023" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The climate change signal is becoming clearer as Australia’s annual average temperature continues to increase with each decade, widening the difference from the long-term mean.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/aus/#tabs=Temperature">Bureau of Meteorology</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>How much longer will this cold snap last?</h2> <p>Southern Australia is experiencing a cold snap at close to the coldest time of year. It’s not long after the winter solstice, when we experience the longest night of the year. We still have a few more cold days and nights ahead in parts of southeastern Australia.</p> <p>By early next week, the forecast suggests <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/viewer/index.shtml">warmer conditions</a> will return as the high-pressure system moves east and winds turn northerly.</p> <p>The outlook for the rest of winter points firmly to <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/overview/summary">above-average daytime and night-time temperatures</a>. This is partly because a historical average (1981–2018) is used and warming since then means above-average temperatures are going to happen most of the time.</p> <p>In any winter, Australia has cold outbreaks. So, even if the next few months are likely to be warmer than normal, we should expect a few cold days and nights at some point. Learning to live with the cold and improving the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/ng-interactive/2024/jul/03/why-so-many-australian-homes-are-either-too-hot-or-too-cold">quality of insulation in Australian homes</a> would help make our winter cold snaps seem a lot less harsh.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233977/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-king-103126"><em>Andrew King</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/southern-australia-is-freezing-how-can-it-be-so-cold-in-a-warming-climate-233977">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Breast cancer screening in Australia may change. Here’s what we know so far

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brooke-nickel-200747">Brooke Nickel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katy-bell-134554">Katy Bell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>The way women are screened for breast cancer in Australia may <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/about-us/policy-and-advocacy/early-detection/breast-cancer/rosa/key-findings">change</a>.</p> <p>There’s international debate on the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj.q1353">age</a> women should be invited for screening. But an even larger change being considered worldwide is whether to screen women at <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">high and low risk</a> of breast cancer differently.</p> <p>But what such a “risk-based” approach to screening might look like in Australia is not yet clear.</p> <p>Here’s why researchers and public health officials are floating a change to breast cancer screening in Australia, and what any changes might mean.</p> <h2>Why breast cancer screening may need to change</h2> <p>Mass screening (known as population-based screening) for breast cancer was introduced in Australia and many other developed countries in the 1980s and 90s.</p> <p>This was based on <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26756588/">robust research</a> that found early detection and treatment of cancers before there were symptoms prevented some women from dying from breast cancer.</p> <p>These programs offer regular breast cancer screening to women within a specific age group. For example, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer-screening/national-cancer-screening-programs-participation/contents/breastscreen-australia">in Australia</a>, women aged 40-74 years can have free mammograms (x-rays of the breasts) every two years. The BreastScreen program sends invitations for screening to those aged 50-74.</p> <p>However, evidence has been mounting that mammography screening could be inadvertently causing <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61611-0/abstract">harm</a> for some women.</p> <p>For some, screening causes a false alarm that may cause anxiety, and unnecessary tests and procedures. Even though these tests rule out cancer, these women may remain anxious and perceive something is wrong <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/13/4/e072188">for many years</a>.</p> <p>A more insidious harm is <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-warning-signs-of-overdiagnosis-110895">overdiagnosis</a>, where screening detects a non-growing or slow-growing lesion that looks like “cancer” under the microscope, but would not have progressed or caused harm if it had been left alone. This means some women are having unnecessary surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy that will not benefit them, but may harm.</p> <p>Although trials have shown screening reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer, questions are being raised about how much it <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.h6080.abstract">saves lives overall</a>. That is, it’s uncertain how much the reduced risk of dying from breast cancer translates into improvements in a woman’s overall survival.</p> <h2>How about better targeting women?</h2> <p>One idea is to target screening to those most likely to benefit. Under such a “<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">risk-based</a>” approach, a women’s personal risk of breast cancer is estimated. This may be based on her age and many other factors that may include breast density, family history of breast cancer, body-mass index, genetics, age she started and stopped her periods, and the number of children she’s had.</p> <p>Women who are at higher risk would be recommended to start screening at a younger age and to screen more frequently or to use different, more sensitive, imaging tests. Women at lower risk would be recommended to start later and to screen less often.</p> <p>The idea of this more “precise” approach to screening is to direct efforts and resources towards the smaller number of women most likely to benefit from screening via the early detection of cancer.</p> <p>At the same time, this approach would reduce the risk of harm from false positives (detection of an anomaly but no cancer is present) and overdiagnosis (detection of a non-growing or slow-growing cancer) for the larger number of women who are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230256/">unlikely to benefit</a>.</p> <p>On face value this sounds like a good idea, and could be a favourable change for breast cancer screening.</p> <h2>But there’s much we don’t know</h2> <p>However, it’s uncertain how this would play out in practice. For one thing, someone’s future risk of a cancer diagnosis includes the risk of detecting both <a href="https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/m17-2792">overdiagnosed cancers</a> as well as potentially lethal ones. This is proving to be a problem in risk-based screening for <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41698-022-00266-8">prostate cancer</a>, another cancer prone to overdiagnosis.</p> <p>Ideally, we’d want to predict someone’s risk of <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landig/article/PIIS2589-7500(23)00113-9/fulltext">potentially lethal cancers</a> as these are the ones we want to catch early.</p> <p>It is also still uncertain how many women found to be at <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31701797/">low risk</a> will accept a recommendation for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23092125/">less screening</a>.</p> <p>These uncertainties mean we need robust evidence the benefits outweigh the harms for Australian women before we make changes to the breast cancer screening program.</p> <p>There are several international <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">randomised controlled trials</a> (the gold standard for research) under way to evaluate the effectiveness of risk-based screening compared to current practice. So it may be prudent to wait for their findings before making changes to policy or practice.</p> <p>Even if such trials did give us robust evidence, there are still a number of issues to address before implementing a risk-based approach.</p> <p>One key issue is having enough staff to run the program, including people with the skills and time to discuss with women any concerns they have about their calculated risk.</p> <h2>How about breast density?</h2> <p>Women with dense breasts are at <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960977622001618#:%7E:text=Mammographic%20density%20is%20a%20well,increased%20risk%20of%20breast%20cancer.">higher risk of breast cancer</a>. So notifying women about their breast density has been proposed as a “first step” on the pathway to risk-based screening. However, this ignores the many other factors that determine a woman’s risk of breast cancer.</p> <p>Legislation in the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/mammography-quality-standards-act-and-program">United States</a> and changes in some <a href="https://australianbreastcancer.org.au/news-stories/latest-news/breast-density-reporting-at-all-sa-clinics/">Australian states</a> mean some women are already being notified about their breast density. The idea is to enhance their knowledge about their breast cancer risk so they can make informed decisions about future screening.</p> <p>But this has happened before we know what the best options are for such women. An <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2023/219/9/psychosocial-outcomes-and-health-service-use-after-notifying-women-participating">ongoing Australian trial</a> is investigating the effects that breast density notification has on individual women and the health system.</p> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>Robust evidence and careful planning are needed before risk-based screening or other changes are made to Australia’s breast cancer screening program.</p> <p>Where changes are made, there needs to be early evaluation of both the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h1566.abstract">benefits and harms</a>. Programs also need <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n2049.long">independent, regular re-evaluation</a> in the longer term.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231917/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brooke-nickel-200747">Brooke Nickel</a>, NHMRC Emerging Leader Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katy-bell-134554">Katy Bell</a>, Professor in Clinical Epidemiology, Sydney School of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/breast-cancer-screening-in-australia-may-change-heres-what-we-know-so-far-231917">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Life after the kids leave: Navigating changes and embracing empty nest syndrome

<p>As your children grow up and go to college, you dread the day they will leave your nest. When they finally leave, it is natural to feel empty and miss the familiar echoes of laughter around the dinner table. While feeling a sense of loss is natural for every parent, it shouldn’t linger. When the feeling lingers, it becomes the empty nest syndrome.</p> <h2>What Is Empty Nest Syndrome?</h2> <p>Empty nest syndrome is an emotional phase and a sense of loss that parents experience when children leave home. Your children becoming adults and leaving your nest symbolises the end of active parenting responsibilities. Since you are uncertain about what to do with the free time on your hands, you may experience a loss of identity and purpose. You have fewer chores and miss your children.</p> <p>When you have empty nest syndrome, you experience a mix of emotions. You may feel lonely and sad in an empty house. The feeling lasts a few days or weeks, but for others, it is intense and may stir up anxiety. If you have empty nest syndrome, you may feel a sense of redundancy and persistent sadness. With no more school runs and daily involvement in your kids’ lives, it’s easy to feel redundant in their lives, leaving you with a lingering sadness and restlessness.</p> <h2>How to Deal with Empty Nest Syndrome</h2> <p>If you are experiencing empty nest syndrome, you can take the following steps to live a fulfilling life:</p> <p><strong>Set New Goals</strong></p> <p>The sudden quietness that comes with children leaving the house can be jarring. However, in the silence awaits a new chapter of your life that starts with you setting new goals. Think about what you want to learn or try out, and write down the steps you need to get there. Whether it is travelling the world or picking up a new hobby, you can achieve self-fulfilment.</p> <p><strong>Identify New Ways to Strengthen Family Bonds</strong></p> <p>You need to redefine your relationships with your children and partner. Your parenting role takes centre stage in your life. As the nest empties, you have a chance to nurture the bond with your partner. Discover each other's aspirations and dreams. You can travel the world together or find new hobbies as a couple. You also need to redefine your bond with your children. Understand that the relationship with your adult children is evolving. Stay connected to your kids, but ensure they have their independence.</p> <p><strong>Adapt Your Cooking Style for Two</strong></p> <p>When you have children at home, you cook for a large family, and you are always excited to prepare the next meal. As your children move out, you have to transition to cooking in a smaller household. Downsizing meals can be challenging when you are used to preparing a large pot of food. Portioning meals to avoid cooking excess food will be challenging at first. However, you can find meal kits from meal delivery services, such as <a href="https://www.hellofresh.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener">HelloFresh</a>, that offer meal kits for two. Most meal delivery services send pre-portioned ingredients to prevent food waste.</p> <h2>Discovering New Hobbies to Bring Joy and Fulfilment</h2> <p>Reduce your empty nest symptoms by finding new, exciting activities. Having new hobbies gives you a sense of fulfilment and takes up your time. Consider learning new hobbies like gardening, writing or volunteering. Join a club in the community or volunteer programs. It’s a great way to meet new people and fill up your free time with rewarding experiences.</p> <p>Empty nest syndrome is a period of transformation, and it’s important to maintain a positive attitude during this period. You can rediscover yourself and redefine your priorities. If there is a dream you had put on hold, you can pick it up.</p> <p><em>Image: Becca Tapert / Unsplash</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with HelloFresh.</em></p>

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Is nuclear the answer to Australia’s climate crisis?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/reuben-finighan-157147">Reuben Finighan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>In Australia’s race to net zero emissions, nuclear power has surged back into the news. Opposition leader Peter Dutton <a href="https://ipa.org.au/research/climate-change-and-energy/peter-dutton-address-to-ipa-members-sydney-7-july-2023">argues</a> nuclear is “the only feasible and proven technology” for cutting emissions. Energy Minister Chris Bowen insists Mr Dutton is promoting “<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-18/energy-minister-says-nuclear-power-too-expensive/102868218">the most expensive form of energy</a>”.</p> <p>Is nuclear a pragmatic and wise choice blocked by ideologues? Or is Mr Bowen right that promoting nuclear power is about as sensible as <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/radionational-breakfast/-unicorn-and-a-fantasy-energy-minister-slams-nuclear-energy/102866944">chasing “unicorns”</a>?</p> <p>For someone who has not kept up with developments in nuclear energy, its prospects may seem to hinge on safety. Yet by any hard-nosed accounting, the risks from modern nuclear plants are orders of magnitude lower than those of fossil fuels.</p> <p>Deep failures in design and operational incompetence caused the Chernobyl disaster. Nobody died at Three Mile Island or from Fukushima. Meanwhile, a Harvard-led study found <a href="https://seas.harvard.edu/news/2021/02/deaths-fossil-fuel-emissions-higher-previously-thought">more than one in six deaths globally</a> – around 9 million a year – are attributable to polluted air from fossil combustion.</p> <p>Two more mundane factors help to explain why nuclear power has halved as a share of global electricity production since the 1990s. They are time and money.</p> <h2>The might of Wright’s law</h2> <p>There are four arguments against investment in nuclear power: <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olkiluoto_Nuclear_Power_Plant">Olkiluoto 3</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamanville_Nuclear_Power_Plant#Unit_3">Flamanville 3</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_Point_C_nuclear_power_station">Hinkley Point C</a>, and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtle_Electric_Generating_Plant">Vogtle</a>. These are the four major latest-generation plants completed or near completion in Finland, the United States, the United Kingdom and France respectively.</p> <p>Cost overruns at these recent plants average over 300%, with more increases to come. The cost of Vogtle, for example, soared from US$14 billion to $34 billion (A$22-53 billion), Flamanville from €3.3 billion to €19 billion (A$5-31 billion), and <a href="https://illuminem.com/illuminemvoices/nuclear-economics-lessons-from-lazard-to-hinkley-point-c">Hinkley Point C</a> from £16 billion to as much as £70 billion (A$30-132 billion), including subsidies. Completion of Vogtle <a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/vogtles-troubles-bring-us-nuclear-challenge-into-focus-2023-08-24/">has been delayed</a> by seven years, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/after-18-years-europes-largest-nuclear-reactor-start-regular-output-sunday-2023-04-15/">Olkiluoto</a> by 14 years, and <a href="https://www.nucnet.org/news/decree-sets-startup-deadline-of-2024-4-3-2020">Flamanville</a> by at least 12 years.</p> <p>A fifth case is <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgil_C._Summer_Nuclear_Generating_Station">Virgil C</a>, also in the US, for which US$9 billion (A$14 billion) was spent before cost overruns led the project to be abandoned. All three firms building these five plants – Westinghouse, EDF, and AREVA – went bankrupt or were nationalised. Consumers, companies and taxpayers <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/07/18/hinkley-points-cost-consumers-surges-50bn/">will bear the costs</a> for decades.</p> <p>By contrast, average cost overruns for wind and solar are <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/we.2069">around zero</a>, the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2214629614000942">lowest</a> of all energy infrastructure.</p> <p><a href="https://ark-invest.com/wrights-law/">Wright’s law</a> states the more a technology is produced, the more its costs decline. Wind and especially solar power and <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/battery-price-decline">lithium-ion batteries</a> have all experienced <a href="https://www.irena.org/News/pressreleases/2023/Aug/Renewables-Competitiveness-Accelerates-Despite-Cost-Inflation">astonishing cost declines</a> over the last two decades.</p> <p>For nuclear power, though, Wright’s law has been inverted. The more capacity installed, the more costs have increased. Why? This <a href="https://www.cell.com/joule/pdf/S2542-4351(20)30458-X.pdf">2020 MIT study</a> found that safety improvements accounted for around 30% of nuclear cost increases, but the lion’s share was due to persistent flaws in management, design, and supply chains.</p> <p>In Australia, such costs and delays would ensure that we miss our emissions reduction targets. They would also mean spiralling electricity costs, as the grid waited for generation capacity that did not come. For fossil fuel firms and their political friends, this is the real attraction of nuclear – another decade or two of sales at inflated prices.</p> <h2>Comparing the cost of nuclear and renewables</h2> <p>Nevertheless, nuclear advocates tell us we have no choice: wind and solar power are intermittent power sources, and the cost of making them reliable is too high.</p> <p>But let’s compare the cost of reliably delivering a megawatt hour of electricity to the grid from nuclear versus wind and solar. According to both <a href="https://publications.csiro.au/rpr/download?pid=csiro:EP2022-5511&amp;dsid=DS1">the CSIRO</a> and respected energy market analyst <a href="https://www.lazard.com/media/typdgxmm/lazards-lcoeplus-april-2023.pdf">Lazard Ltd</a>, nuclear power has a cost of A$220 to $350 per megawatt hour produced.</p> <p>Without subsidies or state finance, the four plants cited above generally hit or exceed the high end of this range. By contrast, Australia is already building wind and solar plants at under <a href="https://reneweconomy.com.au/act-starts-to-bank-its-cheapest-wind-power-yet-in-next-stage-to-kick-out-fossil-fuels/">$45</a> and <a href="https://reneweconomy.com.au/nsw-gets-stunning-low-price-for-wind-and-solar-in-biggest-renewables-auction/">$35 per megawatt hour</a> respectively. That’s a tenth of the cost of nuclear.</p> <p>The CSIRO has <a href="https://www.csiro.au/-/media/EF/Files/GenCost/GenCost2022-23Final_27-06-2023.pdf">modelled the cost</a> of renewable energy that is firmed – meaning made reliable, mainly via batteries and other storage technologies. It found the necessary transmission lines and storage would add only $25 to $34 per megawatt hour.</p> <p>In short, a reliable megawatt hour from renewables costs around a fifth of one from a nuclear plant. We could build a renewables grid large enough to meet demand twice over, and still pay less than half the cost of nuclear.</p> <h2>The future of nuclear: small modular reactors?</h2> <p>Proponents of nuclear power pin their hopes on <a href="https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/what-are-small-modular-reactors-smrs#:%7E:text=Small%20modular%20reactors%20(SMRs)%20are,of%20traditional%20nuclear%20power%20reactors.">small modular reactors</a> (SMRs), which replace huge gigawatt-scale units with small units that offer the possibility of being produced at scale. This might allow nuclear to finally harness Wright’s law.</p> <p>Yet commercial SMRs are years from deployment. The US firm <a href="https://www.nuscalepower.com/en">NuScale</a>, scheduled to build two plants in Idaho by 2030, has not yet broken ground, and on-paper costs have already <a href="https://ieefa.org/resources/eye-popping-new-cost-estimates-released-nuscale-small-modular-reactor">ballooned</a> to around A$189 per megawatt hour.</p> <p>And SMRs are decades away from broad deployment. If early examples work well, in the 2030s there will be a round of early SMRs in the US and European countries that have existing nuclear skills and supply chains. If that goes well, we may see a serious rollout from the 2040s onwards.</p> <p>In these same decades, solar, wind, and storage will still be descending the Wright’s law cost curve. Last year the Morrison government was spruiking the goal of getting solar below <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/ultra-low-cost-solar-power-a-priority-for-australia-20220108-p59msj.html">$15 per megawatt hour by 2030</a>. SMRs must achieve improbable cost reductions to compete.</p> <p>Finally, SMRs may be necessary and competitive in countries with poor renewable energy resources. But Australia has the richest combined solar and wind resources in the world.</p> <h2>Should we lift the ban?</h2> <p>Given these realities, should Australia lift its ban on nuclear power? A repeal would have no practical effect on what happens in electricity markets, but it might have political effects.</p> <p>A future leader might seek short-term advantage by offering enormous subsidies for nuclear plants. The true costs would arrive years after such a leader had left office. That would be tragic for Australia. With our unmatched solar and wind resources, we have the chance to deliver among the cheapest electricity in the developed world.</p> <p>Mr Dutton may be right that the ban on nuclear is unnecessary. But in terms of getting to net zero as quickly and cheaply as possible, Mr Bowen has the relevant argument. To echo one assessment from the UK, nuclear for Australia would be “<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-10-30/u-k-risks-looking-economically-insane-with-edf-nuclear-deal">economically insane</a>”.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216891/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/reuben-finighan-157147"><em>Reuben Finighan</em></a><em>, PhD candidate at the LSE and Research Fellow at the Superpower Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-nuclear-the-answer-to-australias-climate-crisis-216891">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Domestic Travel

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Australian superannuation changes and your retirement savings

<p>Superannuation has been a working retirement model plan for years, and the government makes constant changes to ensure these approaches remain feasible in today’s society. The Australian government announced changes to superannuation in February 2023, and since then, there have been new considerations for employers to deliberate over regarding super account plans for employees. Here is a look at the most recent alterations and what they mean for your super account and retirement plans. </p> <h2>Understanding Superannuation</h2> <p>Superannuation, or “super,” is money put aside in an account throughout an employee’s work experience. The sole purpose is for these individuals to have something to live on when they retire. </p> <p>For most people, it involves their employers taking from their salary and putting aside the dictated sum in a super account. These contributions are paid outside your wages or salary and are based on existing laws on how much recruiters must pay. There are also age and earning limits involved. For instance, you may not be eligible for a super account if you’re under 18 and work less than 30 hours weekly. Eligible individuals have to work over 30 hours weekly and have an earning cap of $450 or more (before tax) to be paid super. </p> <p>These funds are typically invested in assets like stocks, bonds, real estate, and others that can help yield interest over time. You can also manage your investments through the forex market using an advanced <a href="https://www.oanda.com/au-en/trading/platforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Australian trading platform</a>. </p> <h2>Recent Superannuation Changes in Australia</h2> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/06/Australian-superannuation-changes-and-your-retirement-savings01.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p> </p> <p>Following the introduction of the Superannuation Bill in 2016, a series of changes have been made to the annotation laws. </p> <p>On November 9, 2016, the Australian government introduced the bill, which was meant to help preserve the objectives of superannuation in the legislation. From the onset, this model aimed to provide income in retirement to replace or supplement the age-pending laws. The objective of this scheme has remained the same, and changes made over the years have been towards improving efficacy rather than impeding its relevance. </p> <p>The most recent of these reforms took place in 2013, and below is a summary of what these changes entail and how they affect retirees.</p> <h2>Superannuation on Paid Parental Leave</h2> <p>One of the first alterations was the announcement that superannuation would be payable to the Commonwealth’s Parental Leave Scheme to close the gender super gap. This means that superannuation will be paid on Government-funded Paid Parental Leave (PPL) for parents who give birth or adopt children on or after July 1, 2025. </p> <p>It’s easy to understand why this measure was introduced. When implemented, it is expected to benefit over 18,000 parents annually. Also, it will bring more balance to the ratio of payables between women and men. </p> <h2>Increase in Super Guarantee</h2> <p>The May 2024 Federal Budget also revealed the legislated increase of the Sper Guarantee to 12% will remain the same. From July 1, 2024, the fee will increase to 11.5%, after which an additional 0.5% will be added on July 1, 2025. </p> <p>Employees can look forward to this increase as some extra long-term payment to their retirement funds. Although it might seem like a slight increase, the addition over the long-term working period accumulates too much and could make a significant difference, especially with compound interest. </p> <h2>Super Payment at the Time of Salary and Wages</h2> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/06/Australian-superannuation-changes-and-your-retirement-savings02.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>This particular change was proposed but is yet to be legislated. It states that from July 1, 2026, employers will be required to pay their workers suer at the same time they pay salary and other wages. </p> <p>This change aims to better track these payments and mitigate issues, such as non-payments or discrepancies. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) also revealed that monitoring compliance from employers to their employees will be easy. </p> <p>Furthermore, there are reasons to believe this will bring better yields on the end of the receivers since fees paid faster will compound better ad yields and higher interests. </p> <h2>Additional Changes to Be Legislated</h2> <p>From July 1, 2025, a 30% concessional tax rate will be implemented for future earnings for balances over $3 million rather than the usual 15%. </p> <p>This alteration will impact over 80,000 people between 2025 and 2026. Lastly, the existing 2-year freeze on deeming rates at 2.25% has been shifted forward until June 30, 2025. </p> <p>This translates to retirees <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2024/mar/26/little-planning-for-looming-retirement-crisis-blackrock-chief-warns" target="_blank" rel="noopener">continuing to benefit</a> from the present rate of 0.25% until the new allocated time. This measure can help alleviate the cost of living and is currently benefiting over 876,000 income support recipients and 450,000 aged pensioners. </p> <h2>Maximising Your Retirement Savings With Super</h2> <p>Super savings were introduced to allow employees to save a percentage of their earnings towards retirement so they have something to live on in their non-working years. The recent changes will surely improve things, and all you have to do is be sure that your employee is paying your super and doing so at the expected time. You can use the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/calculators-and-tools/super-estimate-my-super" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“estimate my super”</a> tool offered by the government to estimate how much your employee should pay. </p> <p><em>All images: Supplied.</em></p> <p><em>In collaboration with OANDA.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Racist street name set to change

<p>The name of a street in northern NSW is set to be changed after an Uber driver stumbled across it and alerted locals to its racist background. </p> <p>Byron Shire Council announced that Hottentot Crescent in Mullumbimby, will soon be renamed Moonlight Close, after the council deemed Hottentot - a racist term for Indigenous South Africans - no longer appropriate for use. </p> <p>Jonny Simons, a local man who moved to Australia from South Africa in the 1980s, was the first person to petition for the name change back in November, after the Uber driver tipped him off. </p> <p>He garnered 383 signatures in the petition, but not all residents and community members supported the change. </p> <p>Last year, there were 12 submissions from past and present residents objecting to the council's name change proposal. </p> <p>One resident insisted on keeping the name saying: “My understanding is that our street name was chosen decades ago, after a tree, the Hottentot Bean Tree (Schotia Brachypetala). Never in my time as a resident here, have I heard another person ever relate the street name in regards to a racial slur." </p> <p>“While I appreciate the concerns raised, it is essential to acknowledge that names can change in meaning and connotation over the years.</p> <p>“Altering the street name would greatly impact residents and the council long term with endless administrative changes and potential financial costs.”</p> <p>However, five other submissions were in favour of the change, with one writing: “a racial slur is a racial slur even if a tree is named after it. As much as I loved the sound of the name, it has to go.” </p> <p>A few other names were put forward, including Drunken Parrot Place - named after a nearby tree full of lorikeets getting drunk in spring and summer - but the council ultimately decided on Moonlight Close. </p> <p>In November, following community consultation, the council’s director of infrastructure services Phillip Holloway, recommended the name change “on the basis that there is more lasting value in trying to minimise the type of hurt this particular name could cause some people over the long term", over avoiding costs to the residents in the short term.</p> <p>He added that many of the residents were unaware of the racist connotation of the name "beyond naming the relevant tree", and that "the tree name itself is racially loaded" because it is linked to the slur used towards the Khoisan people "who used the tree for food during South Africa’s colonisation.”</p> <p>Simons, who petitioned for the change, said he doesn't hold anything against the residents who were against the name change as "they didn't know what it meant". </p> <p>"They thought it was the name of a tree, but that tree was named as such because the Khoisan people of South Africa ate the fruit of that tree," he said. </p> <p><em>Image: Google Maps</em></p>

Legal

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Are some routes more prone to air turbulence? Will climate change make it worse? Your questions answered

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/doug-drury-1277871">Doug Drury</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>A little bit of turbulence is a common experience for air travellers. Severe incidents are rare – but when they occur they can be deadly.</p> <p>The recent Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London to Singapore shows the danger. An <a href="https://apnews.com/article/singapore-airlines-flight-turbulence-5a9a268e1a6a6fb9ece7e58b5ea9231b">encounter with extreme turbulence</a> during normal flight left one person dead from a presumed heart attack and several others badly injured. The flight diverted to land in Bangkok so the severely injured passengers could receive hospital treatment.</p> <p>Air turbulence can happen anywhere, but is far more common on some routes than on others.</p> <p>Climate change is expected to boost the chances of air turbulence, and make it more intense. In fact, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1465-z">some research</a> indicates turbulence <a href="https://theconversation.com/aviation-turbulence-soared-by-up-to-55-as-the-world-warmed-new-research-207574">has already worsened</a> over the past few decades.</p> <h2>Where does turbulence happen?</h2> <p>Nearly every flight experiences turbulence in one form or another.</p> <p>If an aircraft is taking off or landing behind another aircraft, the wind generated by the engine and <a href="https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim_html/chap7_section_4.html">wingtips</a> of the lead aircraft can cause “wake turbulence” for the one behind.</p> <p>Close to ground level, there may be turbulence due to strong winds associated with weather patterns moving through the area near an airport. At higher altitudes, there may be wake turbulence again (if flying close to another aircraft), or turbulence due to updraughts or downdraughts from a thunderstorm.</p> <p>Another kind of turbulence that occurs at higher altitudes is harder to predict or avoid. So-called “<a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2023gl103814">clear-air turbulence</a>” is invisible, as the name suggests. It is often caused by warmer air rising into cooler air, and is generally expected to get worse due to climate change.</p> <p>At the most basic level turbulence is the result of two or more wind events colliding and creating eddies, or swirls of <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/what-is-turbulence-explained">disrupted airflow</a>.</p> <p>It often occurs near mountain ranges, as wind flowing over the terrain accelerates upward.</p> <p>Turbulence also often occurs at the edges of the <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/what-is-turbulence-explained">jet streams</a>. These are narrow bands of strong, high-altitude winds circling the globe. Aircraft often travel in the jet streams to get a speed boost – but when entering or leaving the jet stream, there may be some turbulence as it crosses the boundary with the slower winds outside.</p> <h2>What are the most turbulent routes?</h2> <p>It is possible to <a href="https://turbli.com/maps/world-turbulence-map/">map turbulence patterns</a> over the whole world. Airlines use these maps to plan in advance for alternate airports or other essential contingencies.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=1000&fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=430&fit=crop&dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=600&h=430&fit=crop&dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=600&h=430&fit=crop&dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&h=541&fit=crop&dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=754&h=541&fit=crop&dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595676/original/file-20240522-21-ippmyt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=754&h=541&fit=crop&dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map showing air turbulence." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">A map of estimated clear-air turbulence around the world, current as of 3:00PM AEST (0500 UTC) on May 22 2024.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://turbli.com/maps/world-turbulence-map/">Turbli</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>While turbulence changes with weather conditions, some regions and routes are more prone to it than others. As you can see from the list below, the majority of the most turbulent routes travel close to mountains.</p> <p><iframe id="EktuH" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/EktuH/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>In Australia, the <a href="https://turbli.com/historical-data/most-turbulent-flight-routes-of-2023/">highest average turbulence in 2023</a> occurred on the Brisbane to Sydney route, followed by Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane to Melbourne.</p> <h2>Climate change may increase turbulence</h2> <p>How will climate change affect the future of aviation?</p> <p>A <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2023GL103814">study published last year</a> found evidence of large increases in clear-air turbulence between 1979 and 2020. In some locations severe turbulence increased by as much as 55%.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=1000&fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=253&fit=crop&dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=600&h=253&fit=crop&dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=600&h=253&fit=crop&dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&h=318&fit=crop&dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=754&h=318&fit=crop&dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595683/original/file-20240522-17-p2zdrt.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=754&h=318&fit=crop&dpr=3 2262w" alt="A map of the world with different areas shaded in red." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">A map showing changes in the chance of clear-air turbulence across the globe between 1979 and 2020. Darker red indicates a higher chance of turbulence.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2023GL103814">Prosser et al. (2023), Geophysical Research Letters</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>In 2017, a <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GL074618">different study used climate modelling</a> to project that clear-air turbulence may be four times as common as it used to be by 2050, under some climate change scenarios.</p> <h2>What can be done about turbulence?</h2> <p>What can be done to mitigate turbulence? <a href="https://safetyfirst.airbus.com/optimum-use-of-weather-radar/">Technology to detect turbulence</a> is still in the research and development phase, so pilots use the knowledge they have from weather radar to determine the best plan to avoid weather patterns with high levels of moisture directly ahead of their flight path.</p> <p>Weather radar imagery shows the pilots where the most intense turbulence can be expected, and they work with air traffic control to avoid those areas. When turbulence is encountered unexpectedly, the pilots immediately turn on the “fasten seatbelt” sign and reduce engine thrust to slow down the plane. They will also be in touch with air traffic control to find better conditions either by climbing or descending to smoother air.</p> <p>Ground-based meteorological centres can see weather patterns developing with the assistance of satellites. They provide this information to flight crews in real time, so the crew knows the weather to expect throughout their flight. This can also include areas of expected turbulence if storms develop along the intended flight route.</p> <p>It seems we are heading into more turbulent times. Airlines will do all they can to reduce the impact on planes and passengers. But for the average traveller, the message is simple: when they tell you to fasten your seatbelt, you should listen.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230666/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/doug-drury-1277871"><em>Doug Drury</em></a><em>, Professor/Head of Aviation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-some-routes-more-prone-to-air-turbulence-will-climate-change-make-it-worse-your-questions-answered-230666">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

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How one widow has changed how women solo travel

<p>After Yvonne Vickers' husband passed away in 2014, she thought her opportunities to travel and see the world had slipped away. </p> <p>Yvonne had always been a keen traveller and went on trips with her married friends after becoming a widow, but she "got over being the third wheel", she admitted to <a href="https://travel.nine.com.au/latest/cruising-solo-female-older-passengers/9553953c-84e8-418a-9c2b-8c9b847b9ba4" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>9Travel</em></a>. </p> <p>Still wanting to see the world on her own terms, Yvonne took to Facebook where she created a group seeking like-minded women who share her passion for adventure. </p> <p>Now, the Find A Female Cruise or Travel Buddy is an ever-growing group that has connected thousands of women looking for travel companions. </p> <p>Whether they're single, widowed, or just married to someone who doesn't want to travel, the group is open to women across the globe to join.</p> <p>Thanks to her newfound community, Yvonne has taken 41 cruises and dozens of land trips since her husband's death, all while making friends for life, and the rest of the group's members are in the same boat.</p> <p>"It's wonderful to get feedback from ladies saying that it's helped to change their life," Yvonne said. "That's the rewarding part of it for me."</p> <p>Members can make a post in the group, detailing a cruise sailing or trip that they have their eye on booking, to see if anyone else would like to join them.</p> <p>"We have a lot of widows in our group who are cashed up and want to travel but don't have anyone to travel with or share their experiences with," Yvonne said. "The group gives them the opportunity to be able to do that."</p> <p>"There are also a lot of ladies who are married but their husbands don't want to travel. It gives them the opportunity to be able to travel."</p> <p>Yvonne says that cruising is a perfect way for older females to travel, especially if they're on their own.</p> <p>"It's a really safe way to travel as a solo female," she says, also noting that it's an easy way to get around and see places. Recently, she did a 35-day trip around Hawaii with a group of women from the group.</p> <p>For the Find A Female Cruise or Travel Buddy group, there's even more fun trips on the horizon.</p> <p>Yvonne just came back from a trip to Japan with 14 group members, and is heading to Bali in August with a friend she made through the group.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News \ Facebook</em></p>

Cruising

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Rough seas or smooth sailing? The cruise industry is booming despite environmental concerns

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/frederic-dimanche-836528">Frédéric Dimanche</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/toronto-metropolitan-university-1607">Toronto Metropolitan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kelley-a-mcclinchey-1287281">Kelley A. McClinchey</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/wilfrid-laurier-university-1817">Wilfrid Laurier University</a></em></p> <p>Cruise ship season is officially underway in British Columbia. The season kicked off with the arrival of Norwegian Bliss on April 3 — the <a href="https://www.cheknews.ca/first-cruise-ship-of-the-season-to-arrive-in-victoria-in-less-than-2-weeks-1196426/">first of 318 ships</a> that are scheduled to dock in Victoria this year. Victoria saw a record 970,000 passengers arrive in 2023, with more expected in 2024.</p> <p>The cruise industry <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trip.2021.100391">was badly hit</a> by the <a href="https://financialpost.com/financial-times/the-2020s-were-meant-to-be-a-boom-decade-for-cruises-then-covid-19-hit-them-like-a-tidal-wave">suspension of cruise operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic</a> in 2020. Fuelled by heavy consumer demand and industry innovation, cruising has made a comeback. It is now one of the fastest-growing sectors, rebounding even faster than international tourism.</p> <p>While many predicted <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/05/carnivals-struggle-to-survive-the-coronavirus-as-outbreak-wipes-out-the-cruise-industry.html">a difficult recovery</a>, a <a href="https://cruising.org/en">recent industry report shows a remarkable post-pandemic rebound</a>. Two million more people went on cruises in 2023 versus 2019, with demand predicted to top 35 million in 2024.</p> <p>But environmental issues plague the sector’s revival. Are they an indication of rough seas ahead? Or will a responsive industry mean smooth sailing?</p> <p>Cruising has long been criticized <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/their-purpose-is-to-be-fun-but-theres-a-dark-side-to-cruising-the-seas/dzxivdoos">for being Janus-faced</a>: on the surface, cruises are convenient, exciting holidays with reputed economic benefits. But lurking underneath are its <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2017.11.002">negative environmental and social impacts</a>.</p> <h2>Unprecedented growth</h2> <p>Newly constructed mega-ships are part of the industry’s unprecedented growth. Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is the <a href="https://www.cruisehive.com/top-10-biggest-cruise-ships-in-the-world/66448">largest cruise ship in the world</a>, with 18 decks, 5,600 passengers and 2,350 crew.</p> <p>MSC World Europa with 6,700 passengers and 2,100 crew, P&amp;O Arvia with 5,200 passengers and 1,800 crew, and Costa Smeralda with 6,600 passengers and 1,500 crew also claim mega-ship status.</p> <p>Those sailing to and from Alaska via Victoria will be some of the <a href="https://hakaimagazine.com/features/cruise-ship-invasion/">estimated 700,000 passengers departing Seattle</a> on massive ships three sport fields in length.</p> <p>Baby boomers represent less than 25 per cent of cruise clientele. Gen X, <a href="https://www.thenewdaily.com.au/life/2024/01/15/cruise-millennials-gen-z">Millennials and Gen Z</a> have more interest than ever in cruising, with these younger markets being targeted as the future of cruise passengers.</p> <p>The Cruise Lines International Association asserts that <a href="https://cruising.org/-/media/clia-media/research/2024/2024-state-of-the-cruise-industry-report_041424_web.ashx">82 per cent of those who have cruised will cruise again</a>. To entice first-timers and meet the needs of repeat cruisers, companies are offering new itineraries and onboard activities, from <a href="https://www.timescolonist.com/business/royal-caribbean-quantum-cruise-ship-1st-at-sea-bumper-cars-skydiving-observation-capsule-4585987">simulated skydiving and bumper cars</a> to <a href="https://nationalpost.com/travel/cruise-ship-offers-pickleball-on-the-high-seas">pickleball</a> and lawn bowling.</p> <p>Solo cruise travel is also on the rise, and <a href="https://www.cruisetradenews.com/demand-for-multi-generational-cruise-holidays-on-the-up-data-finds/">multi-generational family cruise travel</a> is flourishing, explaining the extensive variety of cabin classes, activities and restaurants available on newly constructed and retrofitted ships.</p> <p>However, only a few cruise ports are large enough to dock mega ships. Cruise lines are responding by offering off-beat experiences and catering more to the distinct desires of travellers.</p> <p>In doing so, there is a <a href="https://www.positivelyosceola.com/2024s-top-cruise-trends-embracing-smaller-ships-solo-adventures-and-luxury-suites/">move towards smaller vessels and luxury liners</a>, river cruises and <a href="https://www.travelweek.ca/news/cruise/expedition-cruising-what-is-it-and-how-do-you-sell-it/">expedition cruising</a>. Leveraging lesser-known ports that can only be accessed via compact luxury ships <a href="https://www.cntraveler.com/story/small-cruise-ships-are-more-sustainble-and-on-the-rise">offers more mission-driven, catered experiences</a> for the eco-minded traveller.</p> <h2>Cruising and environmental costs</h2> <p>Cruise ship visitors are known to negatively impact Marine World Heritage sites. While most sites regulate ballast water and wastewater discharge, there are <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020611">concerns about ship air emissions and wildlife interactions</a>.</p> <p>Cruise ship journeys along Canada’s west coast, for example, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/09/us-cruise-ships-using-canada-as-toilet-bowl-for-polluted-waste-alaska-british-columbia">are leaving behind a trail of toxic waste</a>. <a href="https://foe.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Comparison_of_CO2_Emissions_v2.pdf">A study by environmental organization Friends of the Earth</a> concluded that a cruise tourist generates eight times more carbon emissions per day than a land tourist in Seattle.</p> <p>Also, a rise in expedition cruising means more negative impacts (long-haul flights to farther ports, less destination management in fragile ecosystems, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/03/briefing/last-chance-tourism.html">last chance tourism</a>) and a rise in carbon dioxide emissions.</p> <p>Toxic air pollutants from cruise ships around ports are higher than pre-pandemic levels, <a href="https://www.transportenvironment.org/discover/europes-luxury-cruise-ships-emit-as-much-toxic-sulphur-as-1bn-cars-study/">leaving Europe’s port cities “choking on air pollution</a>.” Last year, Europe’s 218 cruise ships emitted as much sulphur oxides as one billion cars — a high number, considering the introduction of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(20)30002-4">International Maritime Organization’s sulphur cap in 2020</a>.</p> <h2>Rough seas ahead or smooth sailing?</h2> <p>Royal Caribbean said its Icon of the Seas is designed to <a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/worlds-largest-cruise-ship-sets-sail-bringing-concerns-about-methane-emissions-2024-01-27/">operate 24 per cent more efficiently than the international standard</a> for new ships. International Maritime Organization regulations <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-01-22/royal-caribbean-s-icon-of-the-seas-highlights-climate-impact-of-cruises">must be 30 per cent more energy-efficient</a> than those built in 2014.</p> <p>But despite the industry using liquefied natural gas instead of heavy fuel oil and electric shore power to turn off diesel engines when docking, industry critics still claim <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/jan/26/icon-of-the-seas-largest-cruise-ship-human-lasagne-climate-fuel-lng-greenwashing">the cruise sector is greenwashing</a>. As a result, some cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona and Venice are <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryroeloffs/2023/07/21/war-on-cruise-ships-amsterdam-latest-port-to-limit-or-ban-cruise-liners">limiting or banning cruise ships</a>.</p> <p>Environmental critiques remain strong, especially for <a href="https://dergipark.org.tr/en/pub/ijegeo/issue/65449/957262">polar expeditions</a>. The industry must respond and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-01949-4_131">increase sustainability efforts</a>, but their measures remain reactive (i.e., merely meeting international regulations) rather than proactive. In addition, by sailing their ships under <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/13/real-problem-with-cruise-industry/">flags of convenience</a>, cruise companies evade taxes and demonstrate an unwillingness to abide by a nation’s environmental, health and labour regulations.</p> <p>In any case, environmental concerns are escalating along with the industry. <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/cruising-green-eco-operators-make-waves">Travel agents and industry figures are aware of these impacts</a> and should help promote cruise lines that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices.</p> <p>Local residents need to expect more from port authorities and local governments in order <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2024.103732">to cope with cruise tourism</a>. Cruise consumers should recognize the environmental costs of cruising, and demand accountability and transparency from cruise lines.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228181/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/frederic-dimanche-836528"><em>Frédéric Dimanche</em></a><em>, Professor and Director, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/toronto-metropolitan-university-1607">Toronto Metropolitan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kelley-a-mcclinchey-1287281">Kelley A. McClinchey</a>, Teaching Faculty, Geography and Environmental Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/wilfrid-laurier-university-1817">Wilfrid Laurier University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/rough-seas-or-smooth-sailing-the-cruise-industry-is-booming-despite-environmental-concerns-228181">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Cruising

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How music is changing the way dementia patients think

<p dir="ltr">New research has proven that music truly is the universal language, with experts discovering how the power of music is helping those suffering with dementia. </p> <p dir="ltr">Music therapists have shown that music brings dementia patients back to the present, with some even finding their voice thanks to the nostalgic memories of the past. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Registered Music Therapist and Managing Director of music therapy company Music Beat, Dr Vicky Abad, the power of music is not to be overlooked when it comes to degenerative diseases.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Music is a window into people’s pasts,” she said. “It builds on strengths and abilities against a disease that can strip a person of their dignity, abilities and quality of life.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The team at <a href="https://www.tricare.com.au/">TriCare Aged Care and Retirement</a>, who see the devastating impact of dementia each and every day,  also experience first-hand the impact music has on residents, with many noticing “unrecognisable” changes in personality when a nostalgic tune is played.</p> <p dir="ltr">Louis Rose, an 80-year-old dementia patient and TriCare resident, was diagnosed with dementia six years ago, and requires assistance with many aspects of day to day life. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, listening to music is one thing he can enjoy on his own.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I grew up in Mauritius and while we didn’t have a lot, we certainly had music. Listening to music has always been an escape for me and a way to relax,” Mr Rose said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When your brain starts to slow down and you find yourself forgetting things, it can be quite frustrating and confusing. Listening to music has been a way to distract myself from what’s going on in my head, it has helped me so much.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Tamsin Sutherland is a regular live music performer at TriCare facilities across Queensland, and has been able to witness incredible moments with the residents as they come alive as soon as she starts to play. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Watching residents who are often non-verbal sing along to the words is incredible,” she said “It really is like they are coming back to life and reconnecting with who they once were. To be part of that is quite emotional for me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Dr Abad, music can help prevent the restless behaviour that often leads to pacing and wandering, especially in the evenings, which are often difficult times for those battling the disease. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Sundowning usually occurs in the late afternoon as dusk approaches, a time that is also associated with what used to be a busy time period in people’s lives,” she noted. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Personalised music is a simple and effective tool to help residents feel validated in their emotions during this time and provides them an opportunity to experience a calmer state of mind”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Mind

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King Charles makes historic change to Balmoral

<p>King Charles has made a historic change to Balmoral for the first time ever, allowing the public for an exclusive look inside the royal residence. </p> <p>Later this year, the King will allow public tours of the Scottish castle, with small group tours available to be led by expert royal guides. </p> <p>Those being shown around the royal residence will get a unique glimpse in several rooms used by the King and Queen.</p> <p>A source close to the royal family said the initiative was in line with the King's wish to make royal residences more accessible to the public.</p> <p>It also reflects Charles' comments made after Queen Elizabeth's death, that the house had been earmarked as a place for the public to remember her.</p> <p>While Balmoral holds a lot of historical importance, the Scottish residence is not set up to handle a large influx of tourists. </p> <p>As a result, a month-long tour programme to begin in July will serve as a trial period to see how the castle and staff copes with increased footfall.</p> <p>Until now, the interior of the vast castle has largely remained out of bounds to members of the public, with tours limited to just the ballroom, the grounds and the gardens.</p> <p>The Balmoral estate announced the tours on Tuesday on its <a href="https://www.balmoralcastle.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>, stating, "For the first time since the castle was completed in 1855, we have been granted permission to take you on a private tour with our experienced guides."</p> <p>"They will take you on a historical journey through several of the beautiful rooms within Balmoral Castle. You will learn about the origins of the Castle and how it has been loved by generations of the Royal family."</p> <p>"You will see why Balmoral is such a special place - the much loved and celebrated Highland home of the Royal family."</p> <p>Only forty tickets each day will be sold for the "castle interior tour" for £100 ($193 AUD), or £150 ($289 AUD) if afternoon tea is included.</p> <p>The tours will take place from July 1st until August 4th, before the King and Queen arrive for their annual break.</p> <p>The season begins later this year due to the refurbishment of the restaurant but if successful, the opening hours will likely be extended in the future.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

International Travel

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On a climate rollercoaster: how Australia’s environment fared in the world’s hottest year

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/albert-van-dijk-25318">Albert Van Dijk</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shoshana-rapley-711675">Shoshana Rapley</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tayla-lawrie-1517759">Tayla Lawrie</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Global climate <a href="https://wmo.int/media/news/wmo-confirms-2023-smashes-global-temperature-record">records were shattered</a> in 2023, from air and sea temperatures to sea-level rise and sea-ice extent. Scores of countries recorded their hottest year and numerous weather disasters occurred as climate change reared its head.</p> <p>How did Australia’s environment fare against this onslaught? In short, 2023 was a year of opposites.</p> <p>For the past nine years, we have trawled through huge volumes of data collected by satellites, measurement stations and surveys by individuals and agencies. We include data on global change, oceans, people, weather, water, soils, vegetation, fire and biodiversity.</p> <p>Each year, we analyse those data, summarising them in an <a href="https://bit.ly/ausenv2023">annual report</a> that includes an overall Environmental Condition Score and <a href="https://ausenv.online/aer/scorecards/">regional scorecards</a>. These scores provide a relative measure of conditions for agriculture and ecosystems. Scores declined across the country, except in the Northern Territory, but were still relatively good.</p> <p>However, the updated <a href="https://tsx.org.au/">Threatened Species Index</a> shows the abundance of listed bird, mammal and plant species has continued to decline at a rate of about 3% a year since the turn of the century.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=357&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581821/original/file-20240314-22-p8uskx.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=448&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Environmental condition indicators for 2023, showing the changes from 2000–2022 average values. Such differences can be part of a long-term trend or within normal variability.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.wenfo.org/aer/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/2023_Australias_Environment_Report-1.pdf">Australia's Environment 2023 Report.</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Riding a climate rollercoaster in 2023</h2> <p>Worldwide, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-2023s-record-heat-worsened-droughts-floods-and-bushfires-around-the-world-220836">77 countries broke temperature records</a>. Australia was not one of them. Our annual average temperature was 0.53°C below the horror year 2019. Temperatures in the seas around us were below the records of 2022.</p> <p>Even so, 2023 was among Australia’s eight warmest years in both cases. All eight came after 2005.</p> <p>However, those numbers are averaged over the year. Dig a bit deeper and it becomes clear 2023 was a climate rollercoaster.</p> <p>The year started as wet as the previous year ended, but dry and unseasonably warm weather set in from May to October. Soils and wetlands across much of the country started drying rapidly. In the eastern states, the fire season started as early as August.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there was generally still enough water to support good vegetation growth throughout the unusually warm and sunny winter months.</p> <p>Fears of a severe fire season were not realised as El Niño’s influence waned in November and rainfall returned, in part due to the warm oceans. Combined with relatively high temperatures, it made for a hot and humid summer. A tropical cyclone and several severe storms caused flooding in Queensland and Victoria in December.</p> <p>As always, there were regional differences. Northern Australia experienced the best rainfall and growth conditions in several years. This contributed to more grass fires than average during the dry season. On the other hand, the rain did not return to Western Australia and Tasmania, which ended the year dry.</p> <h2>So how did scores change?</h2> <p>Every year we calculate an Environmental Condition Score that combines weather, water and vegetation data.</p> <p>The national score was 7.5 (out of 10). That was 1.2 points lower than for 2022, but still the second-highest score since 2011.</p> <p>Scores declined across the country except for the Northern Territory, which chalked up a score of 8.8 thanks to a strong monsoon season. With signs of drought developing in parts of Western Australia, it had the lowest score of 5.5.</p> <p>The Environmental Condition Score reflects environmental conditions, but does not measure the long-term health of natural ecosystems and biodiversity.</p> <p>Firstly, it relates only to the land and not our oceans. Marine heatwaves damaged ecosystems along the eastern coast. Surveys in the first half of 2023 suggested the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef plateaued.</p> <p>However, a cyclone and rising ocean temperatures occurred later in the year. In early 2024, <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-great-barrier-reefs-latest-bout-of-bleaching-is-the-fifth-in-eight-summers-the-corals-now-have-almost-no-reprieve-225348">another mass coral bleaching event</a> developed.</p> <p>Secondly, the score does not capture important processes affecting our many threatened species. Among the greatest dangers are invasive pests and diseases, habitat destruction and damage from severe weather events such as heatwaves and megafires.</p> <h2>Threatened species’ declines continued</h2> <p>The <a href="https://tsx.org.au/">Threatened Species Index</a> captures data from long-term threatened species monitoring. The index is updated annually with a three-year lag, largely due to delays in data processing and sharing. This means the 2023 index includes data up to 2020.</p> <p>The index showed an unrelenting decline of about 3% in the abundance of Australia’s threatened bird, mammal and plant species each year. This amounts to an overall decline of 61% from 2000 to 2020.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/581823/original/file-20240314-16-yi6tr0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=440&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Line graph of Threatened Species Index" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Threatened Species Index showing the abundance of different categories of species listed under the EPBC Act relative to 2000.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.wenfo.org/aer/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/2023_Australias_Environment_Report-1.pdf">Australia's Environment 2023 Report</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The index for birds in 2023 revealed declines were most severe for terrestrial birds (62%), followed by migratory shorebirds (47%) and marine birds (24%).</p> <p>A record 130 species were added to Australia’s <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/biodiversity/threatened/nominations">threatened species lists</a> in 2023. That’s many more than the annual average of 29 species over previous years. The 2019–2020 <a href="https://theconversation.com/200-experts-dissected-the-black-summer-bushfires-in-unprecedented-detail-here-are-6-lessons-to-heed-198989">Black Summer bushfires</a> had direct impacts on half the newly listed species.</p> <h2>Population boom adds to pressures</h2> <p>Australia’s population passed <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/population-clock-pyramid">27 million</a> in 2023, a stunning increase of 8 million, or 41%, since 2000. Those extra people all needed living space, food, electricity and transport.</p> <p>Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/climate-change/publications/australias-emissions-projections-2023">have risen by 18% since 2000</a>. Despite small declines in the previous four years, emissions increased again in 2023, mostly due to air travel rebounding after COVID-19.</p> <p>Our emissions per person are the <a href="https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/report_2023">tenth-highest in the world</a> and more than three times those of the average global citizen. The main reasons are our coal-fired power stations, <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-passenger-vehicle-emission-rates-are-50-higher-than-the-rest-of-the-world-and-its-getting-worse-222398">inefficient road vehicles</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/mar/11/how-many-cattle-are-there-in-australia-we-may-be-out-by-10-million">large cattle herd</a>.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there are reasons to be optimistic. Many other countries have dramatically <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/co2-gdp-decoupling">reduced emissions without compromising economic growth</a> or quality of life. All we have to do is to finally follow their lead.</p> <p>Our governments have an obvious role to play, but we can do a lot as individuals. We can even save money, by switching to renewable energy and electric vehicles and by eating less beef.</p> <p>Changing our behaviour will not stop climate change in its tracks, but will slow it down over the next decades and ultimately reverse it. We cannot reverse or even stop all damage to our environment, but we can certainly do much better.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225268/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/albert-van-dijk-25318">Albert Van Dijk</a>, Professor, Water and Landscape Dynamics, Fenner School of Environment &amp; Society, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shoshana-rapley-711675">Shoshana Rapley</a>, Research Assistant, Fenner School of Environment &amp; Society, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tayla-lawrie-1517759">Tayla Lawrie</a>, Project Manager, Threatened Species Index, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/on-a-climate-rollercoaster-how-australias-environment-fared-in-the-worlds-hottest-year-225268">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Dean Ingwerson | NSW.gov.au</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why our voices change as we get older

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p>Sir Elton John set a record at this year’s Glastonbury, becoming the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/elton-john-glastonbury-viewing-record-b2364260.html">most-watched headliner</a> in the festival’s history, with more than 7 million people tuning in live to the BBC to watch his last ever UK performance.</p> <p>The 76-year-old singer certainly delivered all his characteristic showmanship. But many who have followed his music over the decades will have noticed how much his voice has changed during his career – and not only because of the <a href="https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/a-qa-with-elton-john-65620/">surgery he had</a> in the 1980s to <a href="https://ultimateclassicrock.com/elton-john-throat-surgery/">remove polyps</a> from his vocal cords.</p> <p>Equally, it’s not all down to the process of ageing. While it’s no mystery that this affects every part of our body, it isn’t the only reason that a person’s voice – even a professional singer like Sir Elton – can sound quite different over the years.</p> <h2>The sound of your voice</h2> <p>The vocal cords are what produce the sound of your voice. They are located in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538202/">larynx</a>, a part of the respiratory system that allows air to pass from your throat to your lungs. When air passes out of the lungs and through the larynx, it causes the vocal cords to vibrate – <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412481/">producing sound</a>.</p> <p>The vocal cords are composed of <a href="https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/vocal-cords">three main parts</a>: the vocalis muscle, vocal ligament, and a mucous membrane (containing glands) to cover them. This keeps the surface moist and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810851/">protects them from damage</a>.</p> <p>There are also approximately <a href="https://radiopaedia.org/articles/intrinsic-muscles-of-the-larynx?lang=gb">17 other muscles</a> in the larynx that can alter vocal cord position and tension – thus changing the sound produced.</p> <p>Pre-puberty, there’s very little difference in the sound the vocal cords produce. But during puberty, hormones begin exerting their effects. This changes the structure of the larynx – making the “Adam’s apple” more prominent in men – and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0018506X16301271?via%3Dihub">length of the vocal cords</a>. After puberty, they’re around 16mm in length in men, and 10mm in women.</p> <p>Women’s vocal cords are also <a href="https://pubs.aip.org/asa/jasa/article/82/S1/S90/719336/Physiology-of-the-female-larynx">20-30%</a> thinner after puberty. These shorter, thinner vocal cords are the reason why women typically have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3306615">higher voices</a> than men.</p> <p>Even after puberty, hormones can affect the voice. For instance, a woman’s voice may sound different depending on the stage of her menstrual cycle – with the <a href="https://www.jvoice.org/article/S0892-1997(08)00169-0/fulltext">best voice quality</a> being in the ovulatory phase. This is because the glands produce most mucous during this phase, giving the vocal cords their best functional ability.</p> <p>Research also shows that women taking the contraceptive pill show <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0892199717304940">less variation in voice quality</a> because the pill halts ovulation.</p> <p>On the other hand, hormonal changes during the premenstrual phase impede the vocal cords, making them stiffer. This may explain why opera singers would be offered “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0892199717301133">grace days</a>” in the 1960s to ensure they didn’t damage their vocal cords. And, because <a href="https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/voice-disorders/#collapse_1">women’s vocal cords</a> are thinner, they may also be more likely to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15157130/">suffer damage</a> from overuse.</p> <h2>Everything ages</h2> <p>As with almost every other part of the body, vocal cords age. But these changes might not be as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0892199721000011">noticeable for everyone</a>.</p> <p>As we get older, the larynx begins increasing its <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1752928X21001840">mineral content</a>, making it stiffer and more like bone than cartilage. This change can begin happening as early as <a href="https://meridian.allenpress.com/angle-orthodontist/article/75/2/196/57743/Ossification-of-Laryngeal-Cartilages-on-Lateral">your thirties</a> – especially in men. This makes the vocal cords less flexible.</p> <p>The muscles that allow the vocal cords to move also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6166195/">begin wasting</a> (as do our other muscles) as we age. The ligaments and tissues that support the vocal cords also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11800365/">lose elasticity</a>, becoming <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25645525/">less flexible</a>.</p> <p>There’s also a decrease in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695176/">pulmonary muscle function</a>, reducing the power of the air expelled from the lungs to create the sound. The number of glands that produce the protective mucus also decrease, alongside a reduction in the ability to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10156980/">control the larynx</a>.</p> <h2>Lifestyle is a factor</h2> <p>While vocal cords age at largely the same rate in most people, many lifestyle factors can increase the risk of damage to them – and so can change the way your voice sounds.</p> <p>Smoking, for example, causes <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3918293/">localised inflammation</a>, increased <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4824943/">mucous production</a>, but can also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557797/">dry out</a> the mucosal surfaces. Alcohol has a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6166195/">similar effect</a>. Over time, these factors can damage the vocal cords and alter the voice’s sound.</p> <p>Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also alter the voice – such as <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/482932">steroid inhalers used for laryngitis</a>. Blood thinners may also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10875579/">damage the vocal cords</a> and can cause polyps to form, making the voice sound raspy or hoarse. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7395839/">Muscle relaxants</a>, too, can lead to irritation and vocal cord damage due to the drug allowing stomach acid to wash back into the larynx. Thankfully, the irritation and changes caused by these medications typically disappears after stopping use.</p> <p>One other lifestyle factor can be overuse, which is typically seen in singers and other people who use their voice a lot <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15157130/">during work</a>, such as teachers and fitness instructors. This can lead to an uncommon condition called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9392404/">Reinke’s oedema</a>, which can also be caused by smoking. Reinke’s oedema causes fluid to swell in the vocal cords, changing the pitch of the voice – often <a href="https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/patient-information/reinkes-oedema/">making it deeper</a>.</p> <p>In extreme cases of Reinke’s oedema, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00405-022-07377-9">surgery is needed</a> to drain the fluid. But in most cases, rest and avoiding irritants (smoking and alcohol) is beneficial, while speech and language therapy can also address the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1460-6984.1995.tb01660.x">change in sound</a>.</p> <h2>Maintaining our vocal quality</h2> <p>While we can’t help some of the age-related changes that happen to our vocal cords, we can maintain some of our vocal quality and ability through continued use. This may explain why, in many cases, singers show <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27049451/">significantly less vocal change</a> with age than their non-singing counterparts.</p> <p>Singing or <a href="https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2014/improve-aging-voice.html">reading out</a> loud daily can give the vocal cords sufficient exercise to slow their decline.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-voice">Looking after</a> your vocal cords is also important. Staying hydrated and limiting intake of <a href="https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/patient-information/presbyphonia/">alcohol</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7069957/">tobacco</a> can help prevent high rates of decline and damage.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208640/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950"><em>Adam Taylor</em></a><em>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-our-voices-change-as-we-get-older-208640">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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“I’ve got to change this”: The one big fix Robert Irwin is bringing to the jungle

<p>Robert Irwin has shared the one big change he insisted on after he joined the cast of <em>I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!</em></p> <p>The wildlife warrior spoke to Kyle and Jackie O about how he demanded for the show to ditch the eating of native animals for challenges. </p> <p>In past seasons, the show has used body parts of native African animals in challenges for contestants to eat in exchange for prizes and advantages. </p> <p>After agreeing to host the show alongside Julia Morris, the 20-year-old insisted the rule was changed. </p> <p>“The one thing that I was like, ‘Mmm, I’ve got to change this’, was eating the African wildlife…I’m a conservationist at heart,” he said on Tuesday morning when dropping by <em>The Kyle &amp; Jackie O Show</em>.</p> <p>“They have changed it so we’re just doing the cow, and the chicken, and the fish, and the cockroach,” he revealed of the change of challenge menu.</p> <p>Morris said she supported her new co-host’s efforts to stop any consumption of African wildlife on the show.</p> <p>“I think what Robert’s been doing is making people think, ‘Do you need it or not?’ Like if you need it, tell me why you need the wildlife in a place like that?” Morris explained.</p> <p>“And if it doesn’t matter and it was just something that was nice in Africa from Series 1, then we don’t need it – just get a cow!”</p> <p>Irwin added, “Africa’s got such amazing wildlife, and it’s about celebrating it”.</p> <p>Elsewhere in the interview, the young conservationist reflected on the time he first visited the South African set of <em>I’m A Celeb</em> when he was just 10 years old alongside his mum Terri and sister Bindi. </p> <p>“I just kind of got dropped in there with my family and spent the day in there and it was awesome. Since then, it’s been on my radar, I’ve been a fan of the show and I just thought it’s such an amazing thing I was awe-struck, I just loved it. Coming back as a host, is the craziest thing,” he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: KIISFM</em></p>

TV

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Hundreds of mourners seek change after Vyleen White funeral

<p>The tragic death of Vyleen White, a beloved grandmother from Queensland, has not only left a family grieving but has also ignited a fervent call for justice and societal change.</p> <p>As her loved ones gather to mourn her passing, they are steadfast in their determination to ensure that her memory is defined not by the senseless violence that took her life but by the love and compassion she embodied.</p> <p>Vyleen White's daughter, Cindy Micallef, eloquently captured the essence of her mother's life during an emotional eulogy at the funeral service on Thursday, saying that that her legacy will endure through the love she shared and the lives she touched.</p> <p>White, a vibrant 70-year-old known for her unwavering kindness, <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/grandmother-fatally-stabbed-in-front-of-granddaughter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was tragically stabbed</a> outside a shopping centre in Redbank Plains, sparking outrage and prompting a community-wide outcry against youth crime.</p> <p>Despite the profound grief felt by those who knew her, Micallef expressed a firm resolve to seek justice for her mother. With a steely determination, she declared that her family would not rest until those responsible were held accountable. “We want to move forward and mum’s legacy will live on and we’re not going to let that go,” Micallef said. “We’re going to make sure we get justice for mum and nothing will stop us until that happens.”</p> <p>The impact of White's death reverberated beyond her immediate circle, prompting widespread calls for reform in the Queensland community. Proposals for tougher youth justice measures, including "Vyleen's Law", seek to address the root causes of youth offending and ensure that perpetrators face appropriate consequences for their actions. Additionally, legislative changes aimed at improving transparency in court proceedings and restricting access to weapons underscore a commitment to preventing further violence.</p> <p>Amid the grief and outrage, White's family and friends fondly recalled her vibrant spirit and unwavering love. Whether it was her devotion to her beloved cat, her infectious laughter, or her boundless capacity for compassion, White's presence left an indelible mark on all who knew her. </p> <p><em>Image: Supplied.</em></p>

Caring

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Climate change is forcing Australians to weigh up relocating. How do they make that difficult decision?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justine-dandy-121273">Justine Dandy</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/zoe-leviston-823">Zoe Leviston</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/climate-whiplash-wild-swings-between-weather-extremes/">Big environmental changes</a> mean ever more Australians will confront the tough choice of whether to move home or risk staying put.</p> <p>Communities in the tropical north are <a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/three-aussie-towns-set-to-become-unliveable-due-to-extreme-heat/news-story/a96b36d1be5054d9fe3282ebf18c3431">losing residents</a> as these regions <a href="https://theconversation.com/study-finds-2-billion-people-will-struggle-to-survive-in-a-warming-world-and-these-parts-of-australia-are-most-vulnerable-205927">become hotter and more humid</a>. <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/weather-is-growing-more-extreme-the-pressure-is-on-the-bureau-of-meteorology-to-keep-up-20240111-p5ewms.html">Repeated floods</a> have communities along the east coast questioning their future. Others face <a href="https://theconversation.com/yes-climate-change-is-bringing-bushfires-more-often-but-some-ecosystems-in-australia-are-suffering-the-most-211683">rising bushfire risks</a> that force them to weigh up the <a href="http://www.ohscareer.com.au/archived-news/bushfire-risk-for-those-who-move">difficult decision</a> to move home.</p> <p>However, the decision-making process and relocation opportunities are not the same for everyone. Factors such as socio-economic disadvantage and how we are attached to a place influence decisions to move or stay, where people go and how they experience their new location.</p> <p>Our research, working with other researchers at Edith Cowan University’s <a href="https://www.ecu.edu.au/schools/science/research/strategic-centres/centre-for-people-place-and-planet/overview">Centre for People, Place &amp; Planet</a> and Curtin University, seeks to document when and why people stay or go, and what this means for places and communities. In particular, our research suggests <em>who</em> is more likely to go may leave those who remain even more vulnerable.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oCeYJPwUaTg?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Darwin is already losing residents because of rising heat and humidity.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>We’ve been slow to adapt to increasing impacts</h2> <p>Climate change is global in scale and <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/">has compounding effects</a>. It is increasing the frequency and intensity of disasters and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, fires, storms and floods. It is also accelerating environmental changes such as soil erosion, salinisation of waterways, loss of biodiversity, and land and water degradation.</p> <p>Both sudden disruptions and gradual pervasive decline <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-019-01463-1">have impacts</a> on the places where we live, work and play. So far, there has been <a href="https://thefifthestate.com.au/urbanism/climate-change-news/ahuri-rips-into-federal-government-inaction-on-helping-cities-adapt-to-climate-change/">little effective government action</a> to improve <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/411">climate change adaptation in Australia</a>.</p> <p>As we have seen in recent times in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/apr/09/land-swaps-relocations-or-rebuilds-lismore-community-grapples-with-its-future">Lismore</a>, New South Wales, and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-17/mooroopna-shepparton-flood-residents-consider-staying-or-leaving/103324882">northern Victoria</a>, for example, living in some flood-prone locations will become <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-23/flood-insurance-costing-30000-dollars-where-not-to-build/13268966">unaffordable due to insurance costs</a> or simply uninsurable.</p> <p>In other locations, different reasons will force residents to leave. It might be because environmental change threatens their livelihoods, or they can’t tolerate new conditions such as more long heatwaves or less reliable freshwater supplies. Others might not be able to endure the threat of another disaster.</p> <p>In sum, living in the place they called home will not be sustainable.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eqafq5UV5Iw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Repeated floods are forcing people in towns like Rochester in Victoria to contemplate whether they can afford to stay.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What factors affect the decision to stay or go?</h2> <p>Not everyone can relocate to cooler or safer places. Systemic inequalities mean some people are more at risk from environmental change and have <a href="https://wires.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/wcc.565">less capacity</a> to respond than others. These vulnerable people include children (both <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2024-01-25/climate-change-threatens-health-of-babies-in-utero/103362510">before and after birth</a>), women, older people, people on low incomes and/or with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other cultural and/or linguistic minorities.</p> <p>In addition, housing is more affordable in areas that are hotter or flood-prone. This makes it more likely to be owned or rented by people with fewer financial resources, compounding their disadvantage.</p> <p>For First Nations peoples and communities, connections to and responsibilities for places (Country) are intimately intertwined with identity. For them, the <a href="https://www.cell.com/one-earth/pdf/S2590-3322(20)30250-5.pdf">impacts of climate change</a>, colonisation and resettlement interact, further complicating the question of relocation.</p> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-019-01463-1">Place attachment</a> – the emotional bond between people and their environment – might suppress the urge to move. But environmental change might fundamentally alter the characteristics that make a place unique. What we once loved and enjoyed <a href="https://wires.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/wcc.476">has then disappeared</a>.</p> <p>This sort of change <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953612003255">impacts human health</a> and results in feelings of <a href="https://www.cell.com/one-earth/pdf/S2590-3322(20)30250-5.pdf">loss and grief</a>. It can prompt people to decide to leave.</p> <h2>So who stays and who leaves?</h2> <p>In our <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666623523000028#sec0014">research</a>, we found that when residents imagined the loss of what they valued about Perth’s environment this significantly increased their intentions to move away and significantly decreased place attachment. They nominated bushland, beaches, fauna and flora, and the climate/weather as characteristics they valued and feared changing or losing as climate change progressed.</p> <p>One study participant wrote: "It would be hotter and much more unpleasant in summer. I would miss the trees, plants and birds. I would hate living in a concrete jungle without the green spaces we have here. I would miss being able to cycle or walk to the local lakes to connect to nature and feel peaceful."</p> <p>But social factors matter too. We found people who valued characteristics of Perth such as social relationships and lifestyle were more likely to stay as they tended to have less reduction in their place attachment.</p> <p>We also found place attachment was associated with people acting to protect that place, such as protesting environmentally destructive policies. Yet people who were more likely to take such actions were also <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-019-01463-1">more likely to leave</a>.</p> <p>This could make the remaining community more vulnerable to further unwanted change. That’s because those who can afford to relocate are usually the ones with the resources – psychological, social, political and financial – to take action to protect their homes, neighbourhoods and cities.</p> <h2>Proper planning for adaptation is long overdue</h2> <p>Climate change impacts everyone. It causes significant economic and non-economic losses for both individuals and communities.</p> <p>Many locations are becoming unliveable. A changing climate and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-21/dark-roofs-raising-the-heat-in-australian-new-suburbs/102990304">inappropriately built or located housing</a> interact to create conditions where some people can or should no longer stay.</p> <p>Some will be prompted or forced to move, but not everyone has that capacity. Furthermore, relocation pressures have environmental, infrastructure and social <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/">consequences for the places to which they move</a>.</p> <p>The housing crisis in Australia adds to resource constraints and their impacts for individuals and communities. Relocating can also disrupt psychological, emotional, social and cultural connections that are crucial for people’s wellbeing.</p> <p>We need co-ordinated, well-governed, long-term planning for people to move in the face of environmental change to ensure equitable and positive transitions for individuals and communities.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The authors wish to acknowledge the following contributors to this research: Professor Pierre Horwitz and Dr Naomi Godden (Centre for People, Place &amp; Planet, ECU), Dr Deirdre Drake (School of Arts and Humanities, ECU) and Dr Francesca Perugia (School of Design and the Built Environment, Curtin University).</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221971/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justine-dandy-121273">J<em>ustine Dandy</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, Centre for People, Place &amp; Planet, and School of Arts and Humanities, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/zoe-leviston-823">Zoe Leviston</a>, Research Fellow, College of Health and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: </em><em>Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-forcing-australians-to-weigh-up-relocating-how-do-they-make-that-difficult-decision-221971">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Out of the rabbit hole: new research shows people can change their minds about conspiracy theories

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matt-williams-666794">Matt Williams</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-kerr-1073102">John Kerr</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mathew-marques-14884">Mathew Marques</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p>Many people <a href="https://theconversation.com/was-phar-lap-killed-by-gangsters-new-research-shows-which-conspiracies-people-believe-in-and-why-158610">believe at least one</a> conspiracy theory. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – conspiracies <em>do</em> happen.</p> <p>To take just one example, the CIA really did engage in <a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/13/cia-mind-control-1266649">illegal experiments</a> in the 1950s to identify drugs and procedures that might produce confessions from captured spies.</p> <p>However, many conspiracy theories are not supported by evidence, yet still attract believers.</p> <p>For example, in a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12746">previous study</a>, we found about 7% of New Zealanders and Australians agreed with the theory that <a href="https://www.earthdata.nasa.gov/learn/sensing-our-planet/on-the-trail-of-contrails">visible trails behind aircraft</a> are “chemtrails” of chemical agents sprayed as part of a secret government program. That’s despite the theory being <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084011">roundly rejected</a> by the scientific community.</p> <p>The fact that conspiracy theories attract believers despite a lack of credible evidence remains a puzzle for researchers in psychology and other academic disciplines.</p> <p>Indeed, there has been a great deal of research on conspiracy theories published in the past few years. We now know more about how many people believe them, as well as the psychological and political factors that <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-25617-0">correlate with that belief</a>.</p> <p>But we know much less about how often people change their minds. Do they do so frequently, or do they to stick tenaciously to their beliefs, regardless of what evidence they come across?</p> <h2>From 9/11 to COVID</h2> <p>We set out to answer this question using a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-51653-z">longitudinal survey</a>. We recruited 498 Australians and New Zealanders (using the <a href="http://prolific.com">Prolific</a> website, which recruits people to take part in paid research).</p> <p>Each month from March to September 2021, we presented our sample group with a survey, including ten conspiracy theories, and asked them how much they agreed with each one.</p> <p>All of these theories related to claims about events that are either ongoing, or occurred this millennium: the September 11 attacks, the rollout of 5G telecommunications technology, and COVID-19, among others.</p> <p>While there were definitely some believers in our sample, most participants disagreed with each of the theories.</p> <p>The most popular theory was that “pharmaceutical companies (‘Big Pharma’) have suppressed a cure for cancer to protect their profits”. Some 18% of the sample group agreed when first asked.</p> <p>The least popular was the theory that “COVID-19 ‘vaccines’ contain microchips to monitor and control people”. Only 2% agreed.</p> <h2>Conspiracy beliefs probably aren’t increasing</h2> <p>Despite contemporary concerns about a “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320252/">pandemic of misinformation</a>” or “<a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30461-X/fulltext">infodemic</a>”, we found no evidence that individual beliefs in conspiracy theories increased on average over time.</p> <p>This was despite our data collection happening during the tumultuous second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns were still happening occasionally in both <a href="https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/things-to-do/a-timeline-of-covid-19-in-australia-two-years-on">Australia</a> and <a href="https://covid19.govt.nz/about-our-covid-19-response/history-of-the-covid-19-alert-system/">New Zealand</a>, and anti-government sentiment was building.</p> <p>While we only tracked participants for six months, <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0270429">other studies</a> over much longer time frames have also found little evidence that beliefs in conspiracy theories are increasing over time.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe class="flourish-embed-iframe" style="width: 100%; height: 600px;" title="Interactive or visual content" src="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/16665395/embed" width="100%" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" sandbox="allow-same-origin allow-forms allow-scripts allow-downloads allow-popups allow-popups-to-escape-sandbox allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation"></iframe></p> <div style="width: 100%!; margin-top: 4px!important; text-align: right!important;"><a class="flourish-credit" href="https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16665395/?utm_source=embed&amp;utm_campaign=visualisation/16665395" target="_top"><img src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/made_with_flourish.svg" alt="Made with Flourish" /></a></div> <hr /> <p>Finally, we found that beliefs (or non-beliefs) in conspiracy theories were stable – but not completely fixed. For any given theory, the vast majority of participants were “consistent sceptics” – not agreeing with the theory at any point.</p> <p>There were also some “consistent believers” who agreed at every point in the survey they responded to. For most theories, this was the second-largest group.</p> <p>Yet for every conspiracy theory, there was also a small proportion of converts. They disagreed with the theory at the start of the study, but agreed with it by the end. There was also a small proportion of “apostates” who agreed with the theory at the start, but disagreed by the end.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the percentages of converts and apostates tended to balance each other pretty closely, leaving the percentage of believers fairly stable over time.</p> <h2>Inside the ‘rabbit hole’</h2> <p>This relative stability is interesting, because <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/2564659">one criticism</a> of conspiracy theories is that they may not be “<a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/criterion-of-falsifiability">falsifiable</a>”: what seems like evidence against a conspiracy theory can just be written off by believers as part of the cover up.</p> <p>Yet people clearly <em>do</em> sometimes decide to reject conspiracy theories they previously believed.</p> <p>Our findings bring into question the popular notion of the “rabbit hole” – that people rapidly develop beliefs in a succession of conspiracy theories, much as Alice tumbles down into Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s <a href="https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11">famous story</a>.</p> <p>While it’s possible this does happen for a small number of people, our results suggest it isn’t a typical experience.</p> <p>For most, the <a href="https://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2023/opinion/how-to-talk-to-someone-about-conspiracy-theories">journey into</a> conspiracy theory belief might involve a more gradual slope – a bit like a <a href="https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1985.tb05649.x">real rabbit burrow</a>, from which one can also emerge.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Mathew Ling (<a href="https://www.neaminational.org.au/">Neami National</a>), Stephen Hill (Massey University) and Edward Clarke (Philipps-Universität Marburg) contributed to the research referred to in this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222507/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <hr /> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matt-williams-666794">Matt Williams</a>, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-kerr-1073102">John Kerr</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mathew-marques-14884">Mathew Marques</a>, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/out-of-the-rabbit-hole-new-research-shows-people-can-change-their-minds-about-conspiracy-theories-222507">original article</a>.</em></p>

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