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Coastline near Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse. (Jacques Pleau/Parks Canada)
Coastline near Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse. (Jacques Pleau/Parks Canada)

Social Studies

Rising oceans predicted to cause humanitarian crisis Add to ...

Forecast? High tides

“[S]cientists have determined that when the Earth warms by only a couple of degrees Fahrenheit, enough polar ice melts over time to raise the global sea level by about 25 to 30 feet,” says The New York Times. “Experts say the [greenhouse] emissions that may make a huge increase of sea level inevitable are expected to occur in just the next few decades. They fear that because the world’s coasts are so densely settled, the rising oceans will lead to a humanitarian crisis lasting many hundreds of years.”

Do electric fans kill?

“Filipino kids can’t wear red when it’s stormy out, since that would attract lightning,” writes Ken Jennings at Slate.com. He is the author of Because I Said So!, an examination of parental clichés from around the world. “Germans and Austrians live in mortal fear of drafts, which get blamed for everything from pneumonia to blocked arteries, so summertime commuters routinely swelter on [30 C] trains and buses rather than cracking a window through which a cooling – but lethal! – breeze might pass. In South Korea, however, the concern about ventilation is exactly the opposite. Koreans will only use electric fans if a window is cracked, because leaving a fan on in an enclosed room, it’s almost universally believed, can be fatal.”

Mom pays for armed guards

“A Florida mother concerned about safety has donated more than $11,000 (U.S.) so that armed deputies can patrol the elementary school her child attends, Flagler County Public Schools said Tuesday,” reports CNN.com. “Laura Lauria made the decision to donate the money to the school district after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 young students were gunned down, said Principal Nancy Willis of Old Kings Elementary School. Lauria did not want to be interviewed, Willis said. … The money will help pay for a ‘rotation of deputies’ to patrol the perimeter and hallways of the elementary school through the end of the school year.” The district, which has 10 schools, already employs armed guards at its middle schools and high schools, according to Superintendent Janet Valentine.

Firefighters’ revenge

A gang of youths who pelted firefighters with snowballs in Leeds, England, learned a valuable lesson, says Orange Co. U.K. “Footage has emerged online showing the unequal exchange during Britain’s latest cold snap. The video shows a firefighter standing on a boat [in the river Aire] about to use a giant hose when a cheeky teenager on a bridge above throws a snowball that hits him on the head. His friends then try to hit the fire crew with more snowballs. But within seconds the victim turns on the pump on his hose and starts shooting water up at the offenders, leaving them drenched. A video, taken by a bystander and posted on YouTube, captures the laughter of the crowd watching as the boys get their comeuppance.”

Glasses for anonymity

“A pair of glasses dubbed a ‘privacy visor’ has been developed to thwart hidden cameras using facial-recognition software,” BBC News reports. “The prototype spectacles have been designed by scientists at Tokyo’s National Institute of Informatics. The glasses are equipped with a near-infrared light source, which confuses the software without affecting vision. Law enforcers, shops and social networks are increasingly using facial-recognition software. … Heavy make-up or a mask will also work, as will tilting your head at a 15-degree angle, which fools the software into thinking you do not have a face, according to an online guide produced by the hacktivist group Anonymous.”

Thought du jour

“Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.”

André Gide, French author and Nobel laureate (1869-1951)

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