Parks Make Kids Smarter and Reduce Health Inequality

Urban parks can greatly improve the quality of a neighbourhood and it can improve the wellbeing of all people in the area. Of all the users of a park kids may benefit the most. A park in a city gives kids a place to play and it helps them mentally too.

The study authors suggest that green spaces may have a positive effect both directly and indirectly. “Green spaces provide children with opportunities to develop mental skills such as discovery and creativity,” says co-author Payam Dadvand, a physician and researcher at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona. More indirectly, green spaces may help by reducing exposure to air pollution and noise, increasing physical activity, and enriching microbial input from the environment, all of which have been associated with improved mental development, he says. When the researchers measured and factored in traffic-related air pollution, which is higher in places with fewer plants and trees, they found that it accounted for 20 to 65 percent of the observed association between greenness and cognitive development. Air pollution has been shown to have neurotoxic effects, Dadvand says.

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Thanks Delaney!

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Typographic Design Can Improve The World

The font you choose matters, it sets the tone of what is read and the overall look of what’s presented. A simple decision around fonts can turn something beautiful into an ugly mess and vice versa. Be conscious of what you pick.

Not only can fonts make things look nice they can also improve the lives of people around the world. The seemingly simple act of making things legible is more complex than you probably think.

But elsewhere, life-saving typefaces are still making notable appearances on the road — this time inside the car. In 2012 researchers at MIT partnered up with the typeface company Monotype to tackle the problem of driver distraction. They thought that if they could design easy-to-read screens and displays for inside a vehicle, drivers would spend less time trying to decipher words — and more time with their eyes on the road. To make those screens easier to read, they tried tweaking the typeface.

They settled on a “humanist” style typeface for the job, which has more space between characters and easily distinguishable letterforms. Research suggests that humanist styles are more legible than the widely used geometric and square-shaped typefaces often used by car manufacturers. Here’s a graphic from the MIT/Monotype study that demonstrates the difference in counter shapes and other aspects that affect legibility:

font
Pro tip: don’t use comic sans.
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An Award For Revealing Connections Between Human And Environmental Well-Being

Sir Partha S. Dasgupta has been awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement thanks to his works in economics. He has drawn multiple connections between human and environmental well being in regards to economic factors. It’s obvious to many people that there are direct connections between all three, now there is academic rational and research backing up why they are connected.

He is recognized for developing economic theory and tools to measure the relationships between human and environmental well-being, poverty, population, economic growth and the state of natural resources. Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge.

“Sir Partha Dasgupta’s contributions to economics have driven fundamental and ongoing changes in the international conversation about sustainable and just development, and use of natural resources,” said Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair Julia Marton-Lefèvre, the Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholar at Yale University.

“From co-chairing the committee that advised Pope Francis on the scientific basis of climate change to helping shape the Sustainable Development Goals, Sir Partha’s work has ensured that we keep in mind both people and the way we use our natural resources to benefit present and future generations,” added Marton-Lefèvre.

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From Fishing To Farming

It’s well known that the fishing industry is, err, fishy. Slaves are used in international waters by large multinational corporations and overfishing around the world is rampant – pushing many species close to extinction and totally ecosystem collapse. Basically, fishing is a bad thing.

One fisherman has seen his practice change over time and has altered his ways. Instead of culling fish he’s cultivating plants in what is referred to as a “3D farm”.

Bren Smith, a former fisherman, developed an unique, vertical 3-D ocean farming model that is currently revolutionizing our seafood plates while restoring our oceans.

After working as an industrial fisherman for decades and witnessing the devastating effects of mass-fishing, Smith developed his own ocean farm: a sort of underwater garden composed of kelp, mussels, scallops and oysters. Those species are not only edible and in high demand but they also are key in rebuilding our natural reef systems.

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Achievements Don’t Equate To Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is life to some people, although they’ll likely never achieve it. They won’t get to their desired level of happiness because they think that a certain achievement will bring them happiness. Instead, they should learn what books of wisdom already know: be happy with what you have.

In his book If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?, Raj Raghunathan looks into this question. He has much to share when it comes to happiness and how one should think about that desired emotional state in the context of their life as a whole.

Raghunathan: That’s the plight of most people in the world, I would say. There are expectations that if you achieve some given thing, you’re going to be happy. But it turns out that’s not true. And a large part of that is due to adaptation, but a large part of it also is that you see this mountain in front of you and you want to climb over it. And when you do, it turns out there are more mountains to climb.

The one thing that has really really helped me in this regard is a concept that I call “the dispassionate pursuit of passion” in the book, and basically the concept boils down to not tethering your happiness to the achievement of outcomes. The reason why it’s important to not tie happiness to outcomes is that outcomes by themselves don’t really have an unambiguously positive or negative effect on your happiness. Yes, there are some outcomes—you get a terminal disease, or your child dies—that are pretty extreme, but let’s leave those out. But if you think about it, the breakup that you had with your childhood girlfriend, or you broke an arm and were in a hospital bed for two months, when they occurred, you might have felt, “Oh my goodness, this is the end of the world! I’m never going to recover from it.” But it turns out we’re very good at recovering from those, and not just that, but those very events that we thought were really extremely negative were in fact pivotal in making us grow and learn.

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