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This part of the US will be hardest hit by climate change



CLIMATE WIRE | According to a new index created by the Environmental Defense Fund and Texas A&M University, industrialized areas of the Deep South are the most vulnerable in the US to climate change, which analyzes the impact of climate and living conditions in the area, such as poverty and health.

Nearly all of the most vulnerable communities are located along the Gulf Coast from Mobile, Alabama to Corpus Christi, Texas, a region prone to floods and hurricanes, deep pockets of poverty, poor health, and economic and racial inequality. Communities in Memphis, Tennessee, Birmingham, Alabama, and Chattanooga, Tennessee also scored high on the index.

“Black communities in the Deep South are fighting for their lives to protect their community from years of environmental racism, and we need every tool available to showcase what years of pollution look like in our communities,” said Beverly Wright, Founder and CEO. director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in New Orleans.

Wright welcomed the new index, saying in an email that “data is critical to ensuring that these federal resources reach the communities they are intended for.”

The index is the latest in a series of new or recently updated online tools that assess environmental and climate risks in more than 70,000 small geographic areas known as census tracts, each with only a few thousand people. The effort comes as the Biden administration is prioritizing “disadvantaged communities” in allocating billions of dollars in new environmental and community spending.

The new index will help “ensure that adaptation efforts are directed to those who need them most,” Grace T. Lewis, lead author and senior fellow at EDF’s Climate and Health Program, wrote in a blog post.

Other interactive tools include Centers for Disease Control and PreventionEnvironmental Justice Index, Federal Emergency Management Agency National Disaster Risk Index another EJ EPA Screenlaunched in 2015 and updated in 2022. The White House recently published Checking climate and economic justice a tool to help channel federal climate and environmental spending through the Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative.

More than a dozen states, including California, New York and Pennsylvania, have their own screening tools, which are sometimes used to prioritize funding and protect vulnerable areas.

And in August, the Wright Group and the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University launched the HBCU Climate and Environmental Justice Review Tool in collaboration with Justice40. The Justice40 initiative aims to allocate 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to “disadvantaged communities” that have high levels of environmental impact and social vulnerability.

The EDF and Texas A&M index stands out for its breadth and scope, according to officials. The researchers collected data on more than 180 indicators of both “underlying vulnerability” and climate change risks—about three times the number the White House used for its screening tool. The data spans five categories: health, socioeconomic status, infrastructure, environment. and extreme events such as hurricanes.

The five categories are part of the climate change index because “vulnerable groups will be disproportionately affected by greater exposure to climate risks and lower ability to prepare, adapt and recover from their effects,” the researchers wrote in the journal. International Environment Organization. Such communities have been the focus of “environmental justice” campaigns.

The index is designed to help communities explore federal funding opportunities, including through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The goal is to provide a science-based tool that provides the data needed to support increased investment in these areas,” said Elena Kraft, EDF Deputy Vice President and health and climate expert.

Sarah Colangelo, director of Georgetown University’s Clinic for Environmental Law and Justice, said the index will help vulnerable communities “both by providing data that validates community experiences and by visualizing risks for decision makers at the governmental, nonprofit and corporate levels.”

The index provides “a fine understanding of vulnerability to climate change,” Colangelo added.

The index shows that the most climate-vulnerable communities are along the industrialized Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to Mobile, and in parts of Memphis and St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, along the Mississippi River. The parish south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana is part of a region commonly known as “cancer lane”. The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the legacy of industrial pollution and high cancer rates in the area.

Some high-profile areas outside the South include major cities such as Philadelphia, parts of the Ohio Valley, and central and southern California.

Weihsue Chiu, study co-author and professor at Texas A&M University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, highlighted the “hyperlocal nature” of health and socioeconomic disparities that will be exacerbated by rising average temperatures and associated natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts. .

“If you look at specific numbers, some of them are geographically dispersed” across states and counties, Chiu said. “But a lot of them, especially those basic vulnerabilities, you cross the street and it’s a whole different world.”

Chiu said the South generally scores high on the Basic Vulnerability Index because it has high levels of poverty and health problems. “It highlights a lot of the things that the EJ movement was talking about,” he said.

Reprinted from News from Europe and Europe with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2023. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.






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NASA television report on the movement of the crew of the Soyuz space station



NASA will be live streaming as the three crew members aboard the International Space Station make a short trip inside the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, starting at 4:15 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 6, to move the spacecraft from one parking spaces to another.

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Conspiracy theories can be undermined by these strategies, new analysis reveals



When someone falls down the conspiracy rabbit hole, there are very few proven ways to get them out, according to a new analysis.

The study is a review of research into attempts to counter conspiracy thinking, and it shows that common strategies, including counterarguments and fact-checking, largely fail to change people’s beliefs. The most promising ways to combat conspiracy thinking seem to involve prevention, either by warning people ahead of time about a particular conspiracy theory or explicitly teaching them how to spot false evidence.

“Unfortunately, we are still in the early stages of developing a silver bullet that will fight disinformation in general,” says Cyan O’Mahony, a psychology doctoral student at University College Cork in Ireland, who led the study. What’s this published today in PLOS ONE magazine.

Countering conspiracy beliefs is important because conspiracy beliefs can motivate people to act in detrimental ways, says Kathleen Hall Jamison, professor of communication and director of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the new review. For example, the people who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 believed that the results of the 2020 presidential election had been stolen. And COVID vaccine conspiracy advocates are putting themselves at risk of disease by not getting vaccinated. But the field is so young that trying to compare individual studies is risky, Jamison says.

“There are so many different definitions and specifications of what is conspiracy belief and conspiracy thinking that it is very difficult to collect this data in any way that allows for generalization,” she says. Jamison adds that the comparisons in the new review are a suggestive starting point, but should not be seen as the last word in counter-conspiracy interventions.

Research often blurs the lines between conspiracy theory, misinformation, and disinformation, O’Mahony says. Disinformation is simply false information, and disinformation is intentionally misleading. Conspiracy beliefs, as O’Mahony and colleagues define them, include any belief that involves intruders involved in a conspiracy to explain a major event. Such beliefs are not necessarily false—real conspiracies do happen—but there are many erroneous conspiracy theories, from the idea that the moon landing was rigged to the notion that COVID vaccines cause mass death that the authorities cover up.

O’Mahony and colleagues focused on research aimed at conspiracy beliefs rather than disinformation or misinformation. They found 24 studies in 13 articles. Most of these articles were conducted in the US or UK, although some were conducted in other countries, and most of them included online sampling, which often included participants from different countries. In nearly two-thirds of these studies, researchers tried to change people’s general willingness to believe in conspiracies, while the rest were about individual beliefs.

There were several categories of interventions. One of them consisted of preliminary studies that used an unrelated task to change someone’s mindset. For example, participants may be asked to read a passage written in hard-to-read type, which requires extra work to process the information and encourages analytical thinking. The researchers can then present the participants with a conspiracy theory to see if the task reduces belief. These studies showed that priming mostly worked, but had little overall effect. Another strategy for challenging conspiracy theories with facts has also shown very little effect. The least effective arguments were to appeal to the believers’ feelings of empathy or ridicule them for their beliefs.

More promising were the vaccine studies, which warned people ahead of time that they might encounter conspiracy theories and argued against them. This had a medium to large effect in reducing conspiracy belief. However, vaccination can have unpleasant consequences. One study found that if a conspirator warns against vaccination, that the vaccine no longer works. Politicians use this “vaccination versus vaccination” strategy in the real world, says Joseph Uscinski, a University of Miami political scientist and co-author of American Conspiracy Theories (Oxford University Press, 2014), who was not involved in this study or the new analysis. For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis began to accompany his arguments about teachers indoctrinating students with a “wake up” agenda with phrases such as “Anyone who tells you it’s not happening is lying to you“.

Another challenge is figuring out whether the vaccine or any other strategy works in the long run, says Karen Douglas, a social psychologist at the University of Kent in England, who was not involved in the new review. In many of the studies examining this method, scientists measure immediate effects but do not observe over days, weeks, or months. “For something to be effective in tackling a larger problem,” Douglas says, “we need to know that the intervention will continue over time.”

The best opportunity to avoid conspiratorial thinking may be the most time-consuming. In the new analysis, one of the biggest effects came from A study that involved a three-month university course purpose of distinguishing science from pseudoscience. For the study, three instructors taught students the critical thinking skills needed to understand common human errors of perception and logic. The result was a reduction in conspiracy beliefs. “This was a unique study, but it focused on teaching these skills,” says O’Mahony.

While it’s hard to change ingrained beliefs about conspiracies, the upside is that it’s also hard to get people to believe in conspiracies, contrary to popular belief, Uschinski says. In 2022, he and his colleagues published a study in PLOS ONE that found no evidence that conspiracy beliefs are growingdespite their visibility on social media. It is difficult to change ingrained beliefs of any kind, Ushchinsky says, especially if those beliefs are closely tied to one’s worldview. “Sometimes people choose the beliefs they need and do what they want based on who they are,” he adds.

For those who want to challenge conspiracy thinking, the authors of the new review offer some advice:

  1. Don’t appeal to emotions. Research shows that emotional strategies don’t work on budget.
  2. Don’t get fooled by factual arguments. The authors found that controversy about the facts of a conspiracy theory or the consequences of believing in a particular conspiracy also did not matter much.
  3. Focus on prevention. The best strategies seem to include helping people recognize unreliable information and unreliable sources before they are confronted with a particular belief.
  4. Support education and analysis. Making people analytical and explicitly teaching them how to evaluate information seems to be the most effective defense against conspiracy rabbit holes.

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