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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>

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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>

Domestic Travel

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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>

Mind

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"We want answers": Furious cruise passengers stage protest after itinerary change

<p>Passengers onboard a Norwegian Cruise Line voyage has expressed their outrage after their once in a lifetime trip to Antarctica changed course after the journey had already begun. </p> <p>Melbourne woman Helen Midler was one of hundreds of people onboard the cruise from Buenos Aires to mainland Antarctica, when staff informed all travellers that their itinerary had changed. </p> <p>Days into their journey, those onboard were told they would not be visiting Antarctica at all, but would be doing a "South America round trip" instead.</p> <p>Midler took to social media to share her frustrations, saying the communication between the cruise line and the passengers was very poor. </p> <p>She explained that she only found out about the change after checking the app a few days into the journey and noticed the name of the cruise had been changed.</p> <p>Passengers were later told the change of destination was for "operational reasons" after raising their concerns, however no further explanation was given.</p> <p>Those onboard were allegedly told the decision was made by the head office in the US to not visit Paradise Bay, on mainland Antarctica, before departure on January 31, and that all passengers were notified by email, and again at check-in.</p> <p>However, Midler claims this was not the case.</p> <p>"I can assure you that we never got any email and many of our friends here on board, and I'm talking hundreds of people we know, did not receive any email either," she said in a video posted online.</p> <p>"Until the cruise had commenced, most people on this ship were not aware of the change in the itinerary."</p> <p>Midler said "everyone was angry", with hundreds of passengers meeting at in the ship's foyer one morning in protest to demand further answers from the crew. </p> <p>"Customer service are refusing to acknowledge us, they sent a security officer out to calm us down," she said while standing in the noisy crowd. "We feel we're being cheated, being scammed".</p> <p>Midler said frustrated travellers, some of whom "spent their live savings" on the cruise that costs upwards of $4,000 per person, just "want answers, transparency and clarity" but claims they're being treated with "absolute disdain and disrespect" with little explanation given.</p> <p>"Everyone on this ship has paid a lot of money to cruise to Antarctica, not to do a round trip of South America at sea," she fumed. "We are being dismissed, ignored, refused answers. They're telling us we just have to accept it.</p> <p>"They think we're idiots. We're not idiots and we're not prepared to just accept this sitting down," she continued. "We may not get to Antarctica. The chances of this cruise now going to Antarctica are minimal. But we want answers."</p> <p>In the days after her initial post, Midler updated her online followers and said those onboard were trying to make the best of a bad situation, despite still not hearing any clear answers about the change of itinerary. </p> <p>"We saved and we booked this two years ago for the trip of a lifetime," she said. "We're feeling very disappointed and dejected about the outcomes here."</p> <p>"We'll never be able to afford to do this again. And we've lost that trip to the Antarctica mainland that we had all been hoping and waiting for, and that we'd paid for. But we're going to try and do our best to enjoy it."</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Legal

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To avoid the worst of climate change we have to change how we travel

<p>In September last year I embarked on a 5 week trip throughout Italy and France.</p> <p>We swam in the waters of Cinque Terre, ate the best pizza we’d ever had in Naples, and walked blisters into our feet through the streets of Paris.</p> <p>The marvels of modern aviation meant I completed my 32,000 km round trip in roughly 24 hours each way.</p> <p>But while I budgeted for the monetary costs associated with the trip, I neglected to consider another crucial one – the carbon cost.</p> <p>Humans are changing the Earth’s climate. It is estimated our activities have caused about 1°C of additional  atmospheric warming since the industrial revolution. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">crossing a 1.5°C threshold</a> will unleash devastating climate change impacts on human life and ecosystems.</p> <p>To keep global warming to below 1.5°C, as called for in the <a href="https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Paris Agreement</a>, emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest, halve by 2030, and reach net-zero as soon as possible before 2050. The <a href="https://www.unwto.org/the-glasgow-declaration-on-climate-action-in-tourism" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism</a>, launched at <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/cop26" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">COP26</a>, commits the tourism sector to these goals.</p> <p>So, what will global tourism look like as it begins to decarbonise? Will it necessitate changing the way I approach travel in the coming decades?</p> <p>Paul Peeters, a professor of sustainable transport and tourism at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands is one of the principal authors of a report released last year that seeks to <a href="https://pure.buas.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/27136592/Peeters_Papp_EnvisionTourism_report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"><em>envision tourism in 2030 and beyond.</em></a></p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">Tourism and emissions: how big of a contributor is it?</h2> <p>Tourism is a major contributor to climate change. According to Peeters, at least 5% of global CO<sub>2</sub> emissions come from tourism and travel, with some estimates as high as 8-11% if you include indirect (supply chain) emissions.</p> <p>These emissions are inequitable, about half of the global tourism footprint is caused by travel between the richest countries.</p> <p>If global tourism continues unchanged, it’s predicted to increase emissions by 73% by 2050, compared to 2019. In this scenario, the sector will use over 66% of the world’s remaining carbon budget between 2023 and 2100.</p> <p>Peeters says this is not a viable way forward. But it doesn’t mean that tourism will cease to exist, or that we must stop flying altogether.</p> <p>Instead, the modelling he presents finds there is a plausible decarbonisation pathway that allows tourism to continue with similar levels of growth in global revenue, trips, and guest nights compared to 2019, while also achieving net-zero emissions, by 2050.</p> <p>This model is called the Tourism Decarbonisation Scenario (TDS) and it requires us to re-think how we travel.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">How do you put tourism emissions into a holding pattern?</h2> <p>“If you look at the division of the [emissions from] different parts of travel, then in general… transport takes about 75-80%, 20% goes to the accommodation sector,” says Peeters.</p> <p>That 20% also includes activities, like visiting museums or amusement parks.</p> <p>“And then within transport, you see that about more than half of the emissions come from aviation, while at the same time aviation serves about a quarter of all trips,” he says.</p> <p>Each country party to the Paris Agreement – a legally binding international treaty on climate change – is required to establish a <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/all-about-ndcs#:~:text=Simply%20put%2C%20an%20NDC%2C%20or,and%20adapt%20to%20climate%20impacts." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Nationally Determined Contribution</a> (NDC). An NDC is an action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts, updated every 5 years.</p> <p>Most of tourism – like accommodation and on-ground transportation – falls within the Paris Agreement and these NDCs and will decarbonise through changes already happening in the legislation of each country. For instance, the transition to electrified forms of travel and accommodation powered by renewable energy. So, as a tourist, I won’t need to change my behaviour there.</p> <p>“But it’s not true for aviation. And the problem is that aviation, in terms of governance, has got an exemption,” says Peeters. Aviation emissions are much harder to reduce.</p> <p>The International Civil Aviation Organization  – ICAO – governs international aviation. It has a long-term aspirational goal for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and to achieve these goals is pursuing improvements to <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/engineering/hydrogen-fuelled-planes/">aircraft technology</a>, <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/energy/from-refinery-to-biofuel-reactor/">sustainable aviation fuels</a>, and <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/climate/carbon-offsetting-right/">carbon offsets</a>.</p> <p>But Peeters’ modelling says this won’t be enough.</p> <p>“The final technology is low or zero emission aircraft technology,” he says.</p> <p>“But that takes decades to develop and then decades to replace the whole fleet – you are not buying a new aircraft every year like a car.</p> <p>“That technology will come […] much faster actually than 10 years ago, but still it’s at a pace that we will have it by the end of the century fully implemented, not before.</p> <p>“We need an international body that governs the growth of aviation that actually stops it for the next couple of decades, to create a timeframe for the technology we need.”</p> <p>So until sustainable aviation technology can be fully implemented, the key is to slow the rate of growth of aviation.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">Further does not equal better</h2> <p>In 2019, nearly all long-distance travel over 16,000 kms return trip was by air. These trips, equivalent to flying return Shanghai to Sydney or further, made up just 2% of all trips in 2019. But they were the most polluting – accounting for 19% of tourism’s total carbon emissions.</p> <p>My roundtrip from Australia to Europe sits in this bracket. I estimate my seats on those planes probably came with a carbon footprint of about 6.4 tonnes of CO<sub>2</sub> altogether. To put that in perspective, the average Australian emits 15 tonnes per year, according to <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/co2/country/australia" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">ourworldindata.org</a>, and I emitted almost half that in just 48 hours.</p> <p>Failing to curb the growth of these longest-haul trips means they will make up 4% of all trips but account for a massive 41% of tourism’s total emissions by 2050. To prevent this, the TDS says we need to cap them at 2019 levels – about 120 million return trips per year.</p> <p>In this scenario, shorter distance trips up to 900km return – that’s roughly equivalent to flying from Rome to Milan in Italy – and those by car, rail, coach, and ferry, would increase to 81% of all trips by 2050.</p> <p>Longer distance trips (return journeys of more than 7,000km, roughly equivalent to return flying Sydney to Perth and further) would also grow less quickly than current rates and account for 3.5% of all trips by 2050 (down from 6.0% in 2019).</p> <p>This could have flow-on benefits, especially for local tourism.</p> <p>“So, you keep the number of trips, and you keep the number of nights – you could even increase that a little bit as a compensation maybe for not being able to travel so far, then you can travel deeper. And that means the total revenues in the sector can grow as we are used to because the number of trips and the number of nights generate most of the revenues,” explains Peeters.</p> <h2 class="wp-block-heading">What curbing the aviation industry could look like</h2> <p>So, what will this mean for my travel habits in the coming years, if further isn’t better?</p> <p>It will likely involve a switch in mindset to consider whether an alternative, less carbon intensive mode of transport exists to reach the destination I have in mind.</p> <p>According to Peeters, even 1 fewer person sitting in an aircraft’s seats can measurably change its emissions.</p> <p>“Aircraft are quite lightweight, half of the weight of an aircraft taking off is not its structure. But it means that if you remove 100 kilograms, even off an Airbus A320, you can measure the difference in fuel consumption. It will save, I calculated it for flights, just a 1,500 km flight, already up to 10 kilograms of CO<sub>2</sub>,” says Peeters.</p> <p>Compare that to a different mode – adding an additional person to an already incredibly heavy train will add perhaps half a kilogram in emissions at most, probably less.</p> <p>It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I’ve never considered the idea of an interstate road trip, taking the car across the border or opting for a coach or train instead of flying, as a viable option for domestic travel in Australia.</p> <p>But it has for other people. <a href="https://flightfree.net.au/about/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Flight Free Australia</a> encourages us to stop flying, and people have already taken their pledge to swear off air travel – whether for the next 12 months or until it’s ‘climate safe’ to do so again.</p> <p>As for Europe… Well, Peeter’s report predicts that ticket prices will increase, with the cost of flying increasing to 0.18 $/pkm in 2050, from 0.06 $/pkm in 2019, caused mainly by mandates for sustainable aviation e-fuels.</p> <p>Entire families have event attempted to make it from one end of the world to another without setting foot on a plane – a months-long journey ultimately <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-22/british-family-travel-australia-without-flying-carbon-footprint/103256280" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">foiled</a> by cyclones north of Darwin.</p> <p>Whether the changes outlined in the <em>Envisioning Tourism in 2030 and Beyond </em>report are made to the aviation industry, already my perspective on flying is changing. Why would I reduce my carbon footprint in other areas of my life, but turn around and negate those efforts by jumping on a plane?</p> <p>It doesn’t mean that I have to give up travel, just change my perspective on what makes a worthy destination.</p> <p>“You see a growing number of people, particularly young people, that say, ‘I stopped flying, whatever happens, I never go anymore’,” says Peeters.</p> <p>“And it makes your life so much easier. You don’t have to choose every time ‘should I fly?’. No, if you can’t get there by train, car, or whatever, you don’t go. And then you go somewhere else, of course, you’re not sitting at home. And you discover that somewhere else is also beautiful.”</p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1"><img decoding="async" fetchpriority="high" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Cosmos-Catch-Up-embed_728x150-1.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Sign up to our weekly newsletter" width="600" height="154" title="to avoid the worst of climate change we have to change how we travel 2"></noscript></p> </div> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></p> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=294884&amp;title=To+avoid+the+worst+of+climate+change+we+have+to+change+how+we+travel" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></p> <p><!-- End of tracking content syndication --></p> <div class="share-syndicate-wrapper margin-top-1"> <div class="article-sharing"> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> </div> </div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/synergy/to-avoid-the-worst-of-climate-change-we-have-to-change-how-we-travel/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/imma-perfetto/">Imma Perfetto</a>. </em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

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Travellers with disability often face discrimination. What should change and how to complain

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kelsey-chapman-1345505">Kelsey Chapman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/elizabeth-kendall-210342">Elizabeth Kendall</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-stafford-1505408">Lisa Stafford</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p>Australia’s former disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes, has settled his dispute <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-23/adelaide-airport-graeme-innes-disability-discrimination-dispute/103375068">with Adelaide Airport</a>. His complaint to the Human Rights Commission was lodged after being denied access to a body scanner with his assistance dog in <a href="https://graemeinnes.com/2022/05/17/airport-discrimination-dash-i-am-angry-as-hell-and-im-not-going-to-take-it-anymore/">May 2022</a>.</p> <p>Unfortunately, Innes’ experience will resonate widely with Australia’s <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia/contents/people-with-disability/prevalence-of-disability">4.4 million people with disability</a>.</p> <p>“People with disability know how challenging air travel can be, and that experience needs to be more inclusive,” said Innes, who was disability discrimination commissioner for nine years and is on the board of the <a href="https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/governance/board/board-profiles">National Disability Insurance Agency</a>.</p> <p>Experiences like Innes’ have been widely <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/feb/03/australias-airlines-and-airports-urged-to-improve-treatment-of-travellers-with-disabilities">reported</a> and have happened to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/graeme-innes-fights-to-change-how-disabled-people-are-treated-when-they-fly-20220516-p5alqs.html">prominent Australians with disability</a>. The everyday experience of air travel is likely even more shocking. Change is happening, but it is moving slowly.</p> <h2>Airport and airline ableism</h2> <p>The Human Rights Commission received more than <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/awptor2023-submission-a16-australian-human-rights-commission.pdf">100 disability discrimination complaints against airlines</a> in the six years to 2022, including the period in which COVID restrictions saw air travel severely limited.</p> <p>Issues included:</p> <ul> <li>assistance animal refusals</li> <li>inaccessible facilities</li> <li>inaccessible ticketing arrangements for people with vision impairments</li> <li>taxis and rideshare providers not turning up, long delays or refusing passengers with disability aids and/or assistance animals.</li> </ul> <p>These issues highlight a system underpinned by unchallenged <a href="https://theconversation.com/ableism-and-disablism-how-to-spot-them-and-how-we-can-all-do-better-204541">ableism</a> – discrimination that favours people without disability.</p> <h2>Freedom of movement</h2> <p>An important right under the <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/article-20-personal-mobility.html">United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities</a> is freedom of movement. This right seeks to enable all people to be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09687599.2023.2203307">included in society in ways they self-determine</a>.</p> <p>Ableism in air travel is a fundamental denial of independence and freedom of movement. Discrimination can be even more blatant and offensive. People have been removed from flights or denied boarding because there are <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/awptor2023-submission-a16-australian-human-rights-commission.pdf">limits on the number of wheelchair users who can access an aircraft</a> or because they require additional support to access facilities.</p> <p>People with disability report the removal of, or damage to, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-31/virgin-airline-wheelchair-damage-broken-compensation/103010472">personal mobility equipment</a>, and lack of suitable equipment. In the most severe cases, people have been <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/australians-with-disabilities-suffer-dehumanising-treatment-at-airports-travel-news/b7de6139-258a-4e86-a615-031eb0e89074">injured during travel</a> or left stranded in dangerous circumstances.</p> <h2>Inconsistency can fuel ableism</h2> <p>Inconsistent policies and practices significantly impact travellers with disability. This is made worse by the fact that individual airlines and airports are encouraged by government to develop their own <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure-transport-vehicles/aviation/aviation-access-forum-aaf/dafp">Disability Access Facilitation Plans</a>.</p> <p>So, it is not surprising when news reports highlight instances of assistance dogs being denied travel <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-15/jetstar-assistance-dog-policy-criticised/103221894">domestically</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/22/travel/jetblue-service-animal-dot-open-form.html">internationally</a>, even when they’ve <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-20/qantas-sued-over-assistance-dog/103223736">previously been approved</a> by other airlines.</p> <p>Lack of consistency, negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices in the air travel industry have resulted in <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/singapore-airlines-disability-discrimination-amputee-b2301471.html">reportedly aggressive eviction of passengers</a> with disability from exit rows. Others report being told to “<a href="https://qdn.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Voice-of-Queenslanders-with-Disability-report.pdf">catheterise</a>” (to insert a tube through the urethra to the bladder) to avoid needing toilet facilities on an overseas flight. Many people with disability experience situations like Innes’ where they are subjected to alternative, sometimes undignified, processes.</p> <p>Ongoing experiences of ableism not only deny people with disability their rights to travel but can also <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09687599.2023.2203307">damage their dignity</a>. Anticipation of discrimination can increase anxiety and stress for travellers with disability or prevent them travelling altogether.</p> <h2>Slow reform</h2> <p>These stories and many others point to the need for urgent reform.</p> <p>Stories shared by more than 60 participants in a special Disability Royal Commission session prompted its chair to <a href="https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/news-and-media/media-releases/chair-writes-ceos-airlines-and-airports#:%7E:text=The%20Chair%20of%20the%20Disability,their%20experiences%20with%20air%20travel">write directly to the CEOs</a> of Australian airlines and airports, urging them to work on solutions.<br />The review and modernisation of the <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure-transport-vehicles/transport-accessibility/transport-disability-standards">2002 Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport</a> along with the upcoming release of the Australian government’s <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure-transport-vehicles/aviation/aviation-white-paper">Aviation White Paper</a> could be key mechanisms to address systemic discrimination. But only if key recommendations from disability organisations and advocacy centres are adopted. They include:</p> <ol> <li> <p><a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/agp2023-submission-c170-australian-federation-of-disability-organisations-and-national-inclusive-transport-advocacy-network.pdf">specific standards</a> for air travel co-designed with people with disability and representative organisations. <a href="https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/2022-04/Universal-Design-for-Transport-TAs-discussion-paper-20220421.pdf">Universal design</a> aims to make products and environments usable by all people, without adaptation. It can play an important role in overcoming the systemic barriers in infrastructure and service design to create more seamless and inclusive transport and air travel experiences</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://piac.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/PIAC-Submission-to-Aviation-Green-Paper.pdf">reportable and enforceable standards</a> and independent oversight, such as funding the Human Rights Commission to oversee compliance.</p> </li> </ol> <h2>Complaints are just one route</h2> <p>The exclusion of people with disability from seamless airline travel is a violation of their fundamental right to freedom of movement.</p> <p>Decades of travel horror stories in the media, continuing legislative reviews and national enquiries should bring change. Everyone should be able to make journeys with dignity and autonomy. People with disability deserve the same travel privileges as non-disabled Australians.</p> <p>Governments and the aviation industry will need to collaborate to implement comprehensive accessibility measures, ranging from wheelchair-friendly facilities to trained staff capable of providing appropriate assistance. Embracing inclusivity in air travel not only aligns with the principles of equity but also contributes to a society that celebrates diversity.</p> <p>For now, there are a number of ways to raise complaints, including with the individual airline or with the <a href="https://humanrights.gov.au/complaints/make-complaint">Human Rights Commission</a>. Raising complaints with the Human Rights Commission can be completed by anyone who experiences discrimination. Legal support and advice may also be sought from some state-based legal aid organisations.</p> <p>While complaints are one mechanism for change, more proactive methods for change include the disability royal commission’s recommendation for the design and implementation of a <a href="https://teamdsc.com.au/resources/inside-the-disability-royal-commission-s-final-report">Disability Rights Act</a>, which would see human rights enshrined in legislation and facilitate barrier-free travel.<!-- 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/kelsey-chapman-1345505"><em>Kelsey Chapman</em></a><em>, Research Fellow Dignity Project, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/elizabeth-kendall-210342">Elizabeth Kendall</a>, Professor, Director, Griffith Inclusive Futures, Griffith University, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-stafford-1505408">Lisa Stafford</a>, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Inclusive Futures Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith 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/travellers-with-disability-often-face-discrimination-what-should-change-and-how-to-complain-221740">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Senior changes will to leave fortune to pets instead of family

<p>An elderly woman in China has decided to leave her $A4.3 million fortune to her pets instead of her three children, after she claims they never visited or took care of her when she was sick. </p> <p>The Shanghai woman, known by her last name Liu, drafted the will a few years ago according to the <a href="https://www.scmp.com/news/people-culture/trending-china/article/3248592/elderly-china-woman-leaves-us28-million-assets-beloved-pets-instead-children-who-never-visited-even" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>South China Morning Post</em></a>. </p> <p>However, as her three children rarely contacted her, and left her on her own while she was sick, Liu decided her cats and dogs were more deserving of her multi-million dollar fortune, and changed her will. </p> <p>Chen Kai, an official from the China’s Will Registration Centre headquarters, told her that leaving her entire inheritance to animals is illegal in China, but there is a way for her to ensure her pets get taken care of. </p> <p>“Liu’s current will is one way, and we would have advised her to appoint a person she trusts to supervise the vet clinic to ensure the pets are properly cared for,” he told the <em>South China Morning Post</em>. </p> <p>Another official added that Liu could always change her mind, if her children changed their attitude. </p> <p>“We told Auntie Liu that if her children change their attitude towards her, she could always alter her will again,” the official said. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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Climate activists throw soup at Mona Lisa

<p>Two climate change activists have hurled soup at the bullet-proof glass protecting Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting, the Mona Lisa, at the Louvre Museum in Paris. </p> <p>On Sunday morning, local time, a video posted on social media showed two women throwing red and orange soup onto the glass protecting the painting to the shock of bystanders. </p> <p>The incident came amid days of protests by French farmers across the country demanding better pay, taxes, and regulations.</p> <p>The two women, with the words "FOOD RIPOSTE" or "Food Counterattack" written on their T-shirts,  managed to pass under the security barrier and stood in front of the painting, while shouting slogans for a sustainable food system.</p> <p>“What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food?” they asked. </p> <p>“Your agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work,” they added, before the security put black panels in front of the painting, and asked visitors to evacuate the space. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="fr">ALERTE - Des militantes pour le climat jettent de la soupe sur le tableau de La Joconde au musée du Louvre. <a href="https://twitter.com/CLPRESSFR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CLPRESSFR</a> <a href="https://t.co/Aa7gavRRc4">pic.twitter.com/Aa7gavRRc4</a></p> <p>— CLPRESS / Agence de presse (@CLPRESSFR) <a href="https://twitter.com/CLPRESSFR/status/1751538762687893894?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 28, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>On its website, the "Food Riposte" group said that the French government is breaking its climate commitments, and they demanded a state-sponsored health care system to be put in to give people better access to healthy food, while providing farmers with a decent income. </p> <p>The protests comes after the French government announced a series of measures for agricultural workers on Friday, which they believe do not fully address their demands. </p> <p><em>Image: Twitter</em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> </span></p>

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It’s 4 years since the first COVID case in Australia. Here’s how our pandemic experiences have changed over time

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/deborah-lupton-9359">Deborah Lupton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>It might be hard to believe, but four years have now passed since the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/covid-19/about">first COVID case</a> was confirmed in Australia on January 25 2020. Five days later, the <a href="https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/covid-19-public-health-emergency-of-international-concern-(pheic)-global-research-and-innovation-forum">World Health Organization</a> (WHO) declared a “public health emergency of international concern”, as the novel coronavirus (later named SARS-CoV-2) began to spread worldwide.</p> <p>On March 11 the WHO would declare COVID a pandemic, while around the same time Australian federal and state governments hastily <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp2021/Chronologies/COVID-19StateTerritoryGovernmentAnnouncements">introduced measures</a> to “stop the spread” of the virus. These included shutting Australia’s international borders, closing non-essential businesses, schools and universities, and limiting people’s movements outside their homes.</p> <p>I began my project, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2023.1092322/full">Australians’ Experiences of COVID-19</a>, in May 2020. This research has continued each year to date, allowing me to track how Australians’ attitudes around COVID have changed over the course of the pandemic.</p> <h2>Evolving pandemic experiences</h2> <p>We recruited participants from across Australia, including people living in regional cities and towns. Participants range in age from early adulthood to people in their 80s.</p> <p>The first three stages of the project each involved 40 interviews with separate groups of participants (so 120 people in total). These interviews were done in May to July 2020 (stage 1), September to October 2021 (stage 2), and September 2022 (stage 3). Stage 4 was an online survey with 1,000 respondents, conducted in September 2023.</p> <p>Limitations of this project include the small sample sizes for the first three stages (as is common with qualitative interview-based research). This means the findings from those phases are not generalisable, but they do provide rich insights into the experiences of the interviewees. The quantitative stage 4 survey, however, is representative of the Australian population.</p> <p>The findings show that as the conditions of the pandemic and government management have changed across these years, so have Australians’ experiences.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-10743-7">early months of the pandemic</a>, some people reported becoming confused, distressed and overwhelmed by the plethora of information sources and the fast-changing news environment. On the other hand, seeking out information provided reassurance and comfort in response to their anxiety and uncertainty about this new disease.</p> <p>Australians <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003280644-28/covid-19-crisis-communication-deborah-lupton">continued to rely heavily</a> on news reports and government announcements in the first two years of the pandemic. Regular briefings from premiers and <a href="https://theconversation.com/chief-health-officers-are-in-the-spotlight-like-never-before-heres-what-goes-on-behind-the-scenes-166828?utm_source=twitter&amp;utm_medium=bylinetwitterbutton">chief health officers in particular</a> were highly important for how they learned what was happening, as were updates in the media on case numbers, hospitalisations, deaths and progress towards vaccination targets.</p> <h2>Trust has eroded</h2> <p>Australians appear to have lost a lot of trust in COVID information sources such as news media reports, health agencies and government leaders. Early strong support of federal, state and territory governments’ pandemic management in <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-10743-7">2020</a> and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14649365.2023.2240290">2021</a> has given way to much lower support more recently.</p> <p>My <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4626720">2023 survey</a> (this is published as a report, not peer-reviewed) found doctors were considered the most trustworthy sources of COVID information, but even they were trusted by only 60% of respondents.</p> <p>After doctors, participants trusted other experts in the field (53%), Australian government health agencies (52%), global health agencies (49%), scientists (45%) and community health organisations (35%). Australian government leaders were towards the lower end of the spectrum (31%).</p> <p>In <a href="https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/1/daac192/7026242?login=false">2021</a>, Australians responded positively to the vaccine targets and “<a href="https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/victorias-roadmap-delivering-national-plan">road maps</a>” set by governments. These clear guidelines, and especially the promise that the initial doses would remove the need for lockdowns and border closures, were strong incentives to get vaccinated in 2021.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the prospect that vaccines would control COVID was shown to be largely unfounded. While COVID vaccines were and continue to be very effective at protecting against severe disease and death, they’re less effective at <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/vaccines/vaccines-faq">stopping people becoming infected</a>.</p> <p>Once very high numbers of eligible Australians became vaccinated against the delta variant, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37068078/">omicron reached Australia</a>, resulting in Australia’s first big wave of infection. This led to disillusionment about vaccines’ value for many participants.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4626720">2023 survey</a>, respondents reported a high uptake of the first three COVID shots. But when asked whether they planned to get another vaccine in the next 12 months, almost two-thirds said they did not, or they were unsure.</p> <h2>Enter complacency</h2> <p>Complacency now seems to have set in for many Australians. This can be linked to the progressive withdrawal of strong public health measures such as quarantine, mandatory isolation when infected, and testing and tracing regimens.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the media, government leaders and health agencies have played less of an active public role in conveying COVID information. This has led to uncertainty about the extent to which COVID is still a risk and lack of incentive to take protective actions such as mask wearing.</p> <p>In <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4626720">2023</a>, after mandates had ended, only 9% of respondents said they always wore a mask in indoor public places. Only a narrow majority of respondents even supported compulsory masking for workers in health-care facilities.</p> <p>The <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4626720">2023 survey</a> confirmed many Australians no longer feel at risk from COVID. Some 17% of respondents said COVID was definitely still posing a risk to Australians, while a further 42% saw COVID as somewhat of a risk. This left 28% who did not view COVID as much of a continuing risk, and 13% who thought it was not a risk at all.</p> <h2>COVID is still a risk</h2> <p>Whether or not people feel at continuing risk from COVID, the pandemic is still significantly affecting Australians. The <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4626720">2023 survey</a> found more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) reported having had at least one COVID infection to their knowledge, including 13% who had experienced three or more. Of those who’d had COVID, 40% said they experienced ongoing symptoms, or long COVID.</p> <p>If the pandemic loses visibility in public forums, people have no way of knowing the risk of infection continues, and are therefore unlikely to take steps to protect themselves and others.</p> <p>Updated case, hospitalisation, death and vaccination numbers should be communicated regularly, as <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-is-surging-in-australia-and-only-1-in-5-older-adults-are-up-to-date-with-their-boosters-220839">used to be the case</a>. To combat confusion, complacency and misinformation, all health advice should be based on the latest robust science.</p> <p>Australians are operating in a vacuum of information from trusted sources. They need much better and more frequent public health campaigns and risk communication from their leaders.<!-- 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/220336/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/deborah-lupton-9359"><em>Deborah Lupton</em></a><em>, SHARP Professor, Vitalities Lab, Centre for Social Research in Health and Social Policy Centre, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>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/its-4-years-since-the-first-covid-case-in-australia-heres-how-our-pandemic-experiences-have-changed-over-time-220336">original article</a>.</em></p>

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