Daily Archives: May 3, 2014

Climate change is making our kids neurotics, and that’s good for business


Al Gore poster child

Al Gore poster child

Or so say professional “grief counsellors”.

Child psychiatrists, psychologists and educators say they’ve seen an escalation in the anxiety levels of today’s youth, who are constantly exposed to doomsday talk about the destruction of our planet. But despite the fact that we live in a world with more volatility and fear, experts say there is hope. And to stay mentally strong, they all advocate not just calling for change, but acting for it.

Dr. Anthony Levitt, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s director of research in the department of psychiatry, agrees climate-change anxiety increasingly enters into the discussions he has with many of the young people who come to see him. “Younger people [teens to mid-20s] appear to be much more accepting of the science and facts than older people,” Levitt observes. He’s also seen an uptick in climate-change-related anxiety in parents with younger children.

“For most people who are anxious about climate change, the anxiety is escalated by the fact they do not see an answer or a way to make a change. Worry plus powerlessness leads to distress,” says Levitt, who is also a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Toronto.

“The answer, on a personal basis, to this kind of helpless distress is ‘mastery’: that is, helping people to master small tasks that reduce their carbon footprint can lead to a greater sense of control and efficacy for that person – and with that a reduction in anxiety. Can one person taking action to reduce their carbon footprint change global warming? Who knows. But it can relieve the distress that comes from anxiety mixed with impotence that affects a growing number of people in our society,” he said.

North Carolina-based psychotherapist Chris Saade, co-director of the Olive Branch Center, a grief/wellness counselling firm, says he’s seen a huge jump in the number of patients under 18 who come to him with concerns about the environmental crisis.

“Unlike adults who can put their heads in the sand about what we have been doing to our planet, these kids are very aware of what’s going on,” adds Saade, who has led more than 200 psychological retreats in the United States and has offered grief counselling through his private practice for more than 20 years. “Because of the Web, it’s not hidden any more. Children often ask me questions that we, as adults, try to evade: What is going to happen to the human race?”

Environmental activist and author Kenneth Worthy is quick to point out that kids aren’t the only ones trying to cope with the anxiety and fear that goes hand-in-hand with climate change. “Adults, too, are struggling to come to terms with the mental-health strains connected to the volatility, including economic loss from storms, floods and other natural disasters,” says Worthy, who quit a lucrative job as a software developer in Silicon Valley more than a decade ago to do a graduate degree in environmental studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

To cope with volatility, Worthy, 52, advises that we realize every generation has had great challenges. “Our forebears had the First World War and the Second World War. Another generation dealt with the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. Now the greatest threat to this generation – young and old – is the climate problem, which involves a lot of volatility, and a lot of change.”

He hopes we can face it as a generation, together. “We have to find the flexibility, the courage and the determination to stand up to that crisis – collectively, not just as individuals. Like our parents did before us.”

At the Olive Branch, Saade says counsellors acknowledge youths’ grief about the changing planet, and try to show them how to translate that into hope and action. “We tell them grief is a normal response of the human psyche when a loss is happening, whether it’s personal or, in this case, a global loss in terms of the environment. If we don’t feel grief, at the end of the day, we won’t do anything.”



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Okay, in response to the reader’s request for a cheery Kentucky Derby story …


Coming in dead last

Coming in dead last

Friends headed to the Kentucky Derby find a corpse in their RV

A dozen friends heading to the Kentucky Derby for a bachelor party discovered a dead body en route to the Run for the Roses.

The group was headed to Churchill Downs Thursday when they stopped off in Winona, Minn., and made the grim discovery, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The groom and his pals had started out in the Twin Cities and stopped off in Winona to pick up a few more partygoers when they found a body in an exterior compartment of the RV they had rented.

Jake Wanek, of Minneapolis, told the newspaper the first hint of trouble came when someone opened one side of the compartment and there was a foul odor. He said when someone opened the other side he saw the body. It “didn’t look fresh. Let’s put it that way,” he said.


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Torn between three mothers


So old fashioned

So old fashioned

Brave new world: twin five-year-olds caught in custody battle between egg -donor mother, birth mother and the ex-girlfriend of the birth mother.


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Civil Engineer Piotr Stanczak: after 96 hours, they cut his head off

Civil Engineer Piotr Stanczak: after 96 hours, they cut his head off

Captured Taliban cannot be held more than 96 hours lest it violate their human rights.

British soldiers may not hold their enemies in Afghanistan as prisoners for longer than 96 hours because to do so would breach their human rights, a judge ruled yesterday.

It means that Taliban chieftains captured by British troops must be freed to fight again within four days.

The judgment – which followed claims brought by four Taliban commanders now held in Afghan jails – alarmed military chiefs and politicians.

They believe soldiers should not be asked to fight and die on the battlefield according to the letter of human rights law.

The 117-page High Court ruling by Mr Justice Leggatt means that the European Convention on Human Rights, and the UK’s Human Rights Act, which made the convention part of British law, apply wherever British troops are fighting.

The judge said that by detaining Taliban leader Serdar Mohammed for 106 days beyond the legal 96-hour limit, Britain had breached his right to liberty.

Taxpayers will now have to pay compensation running into tens of thousands to Mohammed and three other captives involved in the case.

The ruling also opens the way for many other Afghan detainees to sue for compensation, with British law firms likely to be queuing up to help them.

There will also be high legal costs for the taxpayer. Two legal firms represented the Taliban prisoners on no-win no-fee deals, and the case involved 11 barristers. The MoD is likely to face a six-figure bill.
The case revolved around the arrest and detention of Serdar Mohammed in April 2010.

Our own military has encountered the same unreality –  trying to fight a war against people who know no rules while our soldiers are constrained by the daffiest puff clouds of compassion and kumbaya Washington bureaucrats can dream up. I’m amazed any of our troops are still willing to serve.


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Why do they stop short? Why not make everyone rich?


Future millionaires are hungry for the wealth that is their due

Future millionaires are hungry for the wealth that is their due

California congresswoman Barbara Lee urges a $26 per hour minimum wage.

“And you don’t think that’d have an effect on unemployment?” Gingrich interrupted.

“No, Newt, trust me, believe you me,” Lee replied, “you’d have a more productive workforce, you’d have people who could afford to live in areas now where they cannot afford to live. You would increase diversity in certain communities where you don’t have diversity anymore. You would have economic parity and the income gap would begin to close.”

Why settle for just beginning to close the income gap? Why not close it completely, right now! For that matter, why not create a new income gap, with the unskilled and illiterate on top, lording it over their former oppressors? I simply don’t understand how Democrats can be so heartless.


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When can we expect our legislators to finally act, and save us from this scourge?


Headed for Hartford: Bonnie and Clyde

Headed for Hartford: Bonnie and Clyde

Man robs Waffle House with a pitchfork.

NORCROSS, Ga. — Police are searching for a man who used a pitchfork to rob a Waffle House restaurant northeast of Atlanta.

Norcross police say 50-year-old Jeffery Wooten entered the diner in Norcross, Georgia, Thursday night and forced people toward a back room. He then grabbed the cash register.

WSB-TV reports that the suspect dropped the pitchfork while carrying that cash register back to his truck.

Two restaurant workers followed the robber outside, grabbed the abandoned pitchfork and used it to smash a window on the robber’s truck as he escaped, possibly injuring the suspect.

Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers says investigators have secured a warrant charging Wooten with armed robbery. He has not yet been caught.


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