Frozen Friday Fab Four #2

By Victoria Metcalf 08/04/2014

Four of the Antarctic or anything else headlines/social media bits that have grabbed my attention this week.

A double fracture in my daughter’s wrist followed by two mystery allergic reactions and a stomach bug for all means it’s a little past Friday, but we’ll just have to roll with it and temporarily suspend belief. Don’t do that with the science stuff below though. It’s worth reading.


1. The biggest news that came out this last week from my perspective is the latest climate change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It summarises the risks, states a multitude of observed impacts and looks at the future risks and opportunities for adaptation and this time the IPCC haven’t held back- “the worst is yet to come”. The report and media articles (e.g here) summarising it have some specific focus points of which we should take note: the threat to world food supply, risks of rising world insecurity, marked inequality with the poorest hardest hit but it also contains hope.

It’s highly concerning then that at about the same time a thoroughly peer reviewed and investigated research paper about links between climate change deniers and conspiracy theorists was withdrawn by the publishers from the journal, not because of its content but due to legal threats.

If you’re worried about how to talk to the future generation about climate change, here’s a brand new video to help you converse.


2. The big hoorah moment last week (and I literally whooped with joy when the news was released) was definitely the World Court’s decision that Japan must immediately cease whaling in Antarctic waters. The second hoorah was that Japan has accepted the World Court’s decision. However, it doesn’t at present stop Japan fishing for whales in other waters and therefore it may just shift the fishing location, but it’s still great progress towards conserving cetaceans.


3. A study by Michigan State University researchers has just come out in Psychological Bulletin that breaks the misconception that parenting is the key force in determining the child’s behaviour, in a top-down fashion. In fact, there appears to be a genetic impact on parenting that comes from the child- in other words the child’s behaviour also influences parenting- “parenting is both a cause and a consequence of child behaviour”. This may seem pretty obvious to those of us that are parents but I view it as a positive step towards empowered parenting choices that scientific studies are being applied to the complexities of parenting and the two-way relationship with the child.


4. In what I think is the coolest story of the week scientists from UCSD think they have cracked an evolutionary mystery dating back to disagreement between Darwin and Wallace- why zebras have stripes- and it isn’t for camouflage. The latest theory is that they have evolved to deter parasitic flies like tsetse flies as flies apparently don’t like stripes. The researchers came to their theory by looking at the pattern of stripes on equine species versus the habitat range of parasitic flies.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these stories.