SPOTLIGHT: GOOD AND BAD NEWS FOR THE PLANET
Breathe in ... Last year, an estimated 147 gigawatts was added to the worldâ€™s renewable power capacity â€" the largest such global rise ever recorded, making it an â€œextraordinaryâ€ year for renewable energies. According to the Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, investment in green energies around the world also reached a new high, with $286 billion in 2015, for a sector that now employs 8.1 million people.
But hold that breath: If change is afoot, itâ€™s still considerably spotty. Data recently released by the World Health Organization shows for instance that air pollution levels are rising in many of the worldâ€™s poorest countries, with cities in Nigeria and Pakistan beating usual suspects like Beijing or New Delhi. Onitsha, a fast-growing economic hub in Nigeria, has earned the infamous designation as this yearâ€™s â€œmost-polluted city in the world,â€ with particle concentrations exceeding up to 30 times the WHO recommendations. Breathe out ...
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Worldâ€™s longest rail tunnel (35 miles) opens in Switzerland.
- LGBT Pride Month begins.
- French rail workers begin open-ended strike.
ISIS RESISTING IRAQI ASSAULT ON FALLUJAH
Battles around the Iraqi city of Fallujah are intensifying and Iraqi forces are facing tough resistance from ISIS fighters in their offensive to retake the city, Al Jazeera reports. Even if ISIS eventually loses the battle, thereâ€™s growing concern about what will happen to Fallujah afterwards.
ANOTHER MASS SEXUAL ASSAULT IN GERMANY
At least 26 German women reported they were sexually assaulted during a music festival in Darmstadt this past weekend, in attacks that are reminiscent of those in Cologne on New Yearâ€™s Eve. Three Pakistani men have been arrested, but more are believed to have taken part in the assaults.
â€" ON THIS DAY
Morgan Freeman and a family massacre in Nepal are linked to June 1. More in todayâ€™s 57-second shot of history.
OECD WORRIED ABOUT GLOBAL GROWTH
The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has expressed pessimism with the current state of the global economy, warning in a critical Economic Outlook that it is â€œstuck in a low-growth trap.â€ Read more from Bloomberg.
â€œDidier Deschamps has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France,â€ French soccer player Karim Benzema told Spanish sports daily MARCA just 10 days before France begins hosting the European championship.
TOP JEWISH TERROR SUSPECT FREED
Israelâ€™s Shin Bet has released Meir Ettinger, its top terrorism suspect, after 10 months of administrative detention, Haaretz reports. Ettinger was accused of carrying out an arson attack against a Palestinian family in July 2015.
Today, gunsmiths in the United States credit 20% of their sales to the female market, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. For Swiss daily Le Temps, Xavier Filliez went to Scottsdale near Phoenix, Arizona, to meet with pro-gun women and discuss pink rifles, bra holsters, and teaching kids to shoot: â€œMelodie Coffman admits she personally prefers assault rifles like AK-47s. â€˜It's so much more fun,â€™ she says. â€˜Thirty years ago, I was a at supermarket when someone pointed a gun at my temple. I think the trauma came back. Now that we live in a remote area, I want to be ready in case someone breaks into my house,â€™ says Robyn Hazlewood, who came with her partner, Tori Simpsons. â€˜The state of the world forces us to protect ourselves. Everyone has his own fears. For example, my partner Tori is scared of riding a bicycle.â€™â€
Read the full article, Americaâ€™s Gun-Loving Women, Where Feminism Meets Firearms.
LAST PUSH FOR TTIP
The U.S. and the European Commission are â€œscrambling to rebuild momentumâ€ for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership amid growing opposition on both sides of the Atlantic, the Financial Times reports.
A poll published in todayâ€™s Guardian puts Brexit supporters in the lead, ahead of the June 23 referendum, with a majority now in favor of Britain leaving the EU.
â€" MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH
- Communal Living, An Alternative To Real Estate Status Quo â€" Süddeutsche Zeitung
- Why So Many Fish Are Dying In The Nile â€" Mada Masr
- Floating To Sleep â€" My Grand-Pèreâ€™s World
TRUMP FANS IN PYONGYANG
A column published on one of the North Korean regimeâ€™s mouthpieces sings the praises of Donald Trump, who it says â€œis not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician and a prescient presidential candidate.â€ Read more from Reuters.
Our carelessness toward the environment could be due, in part, to the functioning of a very primitive area of our brain: the striatum.
PARIS — Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?
In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.
This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.
Addictions to sex and social media
Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone.'
Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.
No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.
Transverse section of striatum from a structural MRI image
According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.
Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.
Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.
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