Teen Substance Abuse Decreases When They Have Fun

teen computerBeing a teenager is hard with all the chaos that is finding one’s identity and dealing with the incoming stresses of life. In many places around the world, teens react to these pressures by using illicit substances or otherwise “misbehaving”. Iceland was having a huge problem with teens drinking and smoking throughout the 90s, then they decided to do something about it. Today Iceland has pretty much eliminated smoking among teens and substance abuse is almost a rounding error on surveys.

The solution that Iceland discovered is to give teenagers something to do. It’s that simple. Instead of having bored kids trying to find something to kill time, give them something that they find enjoying.

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month program. Some stayed five years.

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Visualizing Bold Climate Action

from desmog

There’s so much talk about taking action around climate change that it can be hard to remember what real action looks like. Climate action can take on many different forms and around the world how places react to climate change is different; meaning that we can see so many ways that cities are changing the world. Over at desmog blog they have compiled 11 cities that are making real efforts to take on climate change and what it looks like in picture.

Yokohama, Japan

The city of Yokohama is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Clean Energy Category. The Yokohama Smart City Project uses Smart Grid technology and solar panels to help cut energy consumption in homes and businesses by between 15 and 22 percent (Yokohama aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80 perce

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Thanks to Delaney!

Reusing Renewable Power Pieces

Rotterdam

Despite being more efficient and better than other forms of generating electricity renewable power generation does cause waste. The waste isn’t in the form of smog or tailing ponds or even radioactive barrels. When it comes to wind power the waste generated is broken blades, and there are a lot of them!

Rotterdam has taken charge of their ‘wind waste’ by turning it into playground and park equipment. It turns out that the blades used in wind turbines are perfect for making interesting local parks!

In 2007, the Rotterdam municipality unveiled a playground for Kinderparadijs Meidoorn built out of rotor blades that were originally destined for landfills. Several rotor blades were cut up into parts to serve as tunnels, towers, bridges, hills, ramps and slides. The recycled blades were secured into the ground and painted white with brightly colored stripes.

The city also has public seating at the Willemsplein square where nine intact rotor blades were placed at various angles to create ergonomic public seating with a diversity of seating options. Similarly, in 2014, a durable bus shelter was created in the city of Almere, again from end-of-life turbine blades.

According to the GenVind Innovation Consortium, if only 5 percent of the Netherlands’ yearly production of urban furniture such as playgrounds, public seating and bus shelters were made using waste rotor blades, then the country could get rid of all of its estimated 400 waste rotor blades produced annually.

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Use of Coal Power to Shrink Regardless of Politics

Coal producers can’t keep up. Coal used to be the cheapest form of energy, but that was before cheap renewable technology and more efficient gas plants came along. What’s more is that there are social, health, and environmental costs to using coal that makes it hard to argue for.

The future of coal is not looking good, which means that the future health of our planet is looking good. Despite the subsidies coal industries get around the world the end of their profits is nigh. Renewable energy is here to stay and it’s only getting more competitive.

But even without the CPP, coal already can’t compete with other energy sources in most of the country when it comes to building new power plants, suggests a new computer model from researchers at the University of Texas (UT) in Austin.

The work is part of a broader initiative at the institute, aimed at tallying all the costs that come with keeping the lights on, from environmental impacts to building transmission lines or responding to regulations. Snazzy online calculators and mapping tools that accompany the new model enable users to tweak a number of variables, including gas prices and environmental costs, and see how the nation’s energy future might change, at the level of individual counties.

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Thanks to Stephanie!

Work for Your Future Self

If you have trouble motivating yourself to start a new project or change something about yourself, change your perspective from now to the future. By thinking about what will benefit your future self you’ll be able to gain the motivation to act today instead of tomorrow. The best time to reshape your thinking is, of course, today.

Collectively, those moments of satisfaction will add up, a process Ainslie calls “bundling.” Like a worker assembling a gift backet, the brain’s subconscious reward circuitry computes the collective value of all the different benefits that will accrue tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and ties them all together in a package. Even if any of the individual future rewards may seem distant and hence hold little value, the whole bundle added up together amounts to something quite large—larger, even, than a single moment of pleasure in the here-and-now. The mountain will always remain larger than the tree. Even if the future benefits may seem distant and hence hold little value, they collectively can add up to something greater than a single moment of pleasure in the here and now. The mountain will always remain larger than the tree.

What you’re doing, essentially, is mentally projecting yourself into the future so you can experience the satisfaction of tomorrow’s rewards today. Intriguingly, researchers have found that people who more strongly identify with their future selves are better at self-control. In a 2009 study published in Judgment and Decision Making, psychologist Hal Hershfield showed subjects Venn diagrams with circles labeled “Current Self” and “Future Self.” Those who said they viewed the circles as mostly overlapping demonstrated more self-control in a later task: They preferred to wait for larger monetary rewards rather than taking small monetary rewards right away. Numerous other experiments have demonstrated a similar effect. “Being able to step into the shoes of our future selves,” says Hershfield, “is akin to being able to realize both the positive and the negative ramifications of our decisions.”

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