At City Lab, a good story on researchers zeroing in on social isolation—loneliness—as a major emerging public health threat, especially among the elderly. It puts me in mind of a rather bone-chilling recent article by Jean Twenge at the Atlantic, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” She writes:
Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been.They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.
For just one of many statistical indicators consider this: 85 percent of Boomers and Gen-Xers went on dates as high school seniors, but in 2015, only 56 percent of kids did.
The title of Twenge’s piece is, unfortunately, slightly misleading. What seems to have drastically changed for the younger-than-millennials generation is the toxic combination of smart phones and social media. I’m adding this to my growing pile of research-based evidence that participation in social media may be, on net, very harmful to our emotional well-being.
Also at the Atlantic, Molly Ball plays anthropologist among the anthropologists as she filets the Third Way centrists in “On Safari in Trump’s America.” Along the way, she poses a jarring—and probably seriously under-examined question—what if, down deep, Americans don’t really want to get along with those they disagree with?
Another week of bad news for the coal coalition: a large utility right in the heart of Trump country recently announced its intention to close three large coal-burning power plants by early 2018. Since Texas isn’t exactly known for its dedication to command-and-control laws or environmental protection, they’re going to have a hard time arguing that it was the burden of regulation that caused these closures. Especially as the price of natural gas continues to fall and Texas continues to take advantage of its own cheap and abundant wind energy potential. The three closures together will add up to about 850 job losses in the coal industry. So much for bringing back those coal jobs.
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Some jobs are experiencing enormous growth however, and the two hottest jobs in the market right now just happen to be solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians. Hmmm.
Zero-emission bus mechanics and technicians may have to be added to the list, as 12 major global cities just signed up to the “fossil-fuel free streets” declaration, promising to buy only zero-emission buses beginning in 2025 and phasing out emissions from downtown areas entirely by 2030. The signatory cities are London, Paris, Los Angeles, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, and Auckland.