PREMO Weekly

2,500-year-old marijuana discovered

A 2,500-year-old stash of whole marijuana plants have been unearthed from an ancient tomb in northwest China. This discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that ancient people used marijuana for its psychoactive properties, and incorporated it into their rituals.

 

World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020

A recent report by Living Planet Index shows vertebrate populations are set to decline by 67% on 1970 levels unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact.

The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame.

The creatures being lost range from mountains to forests to rivers and the seas and include well-known endangered species such as elephants and gorillas and lesser known creatures such as vultures and salamanders.

The collapse of wildlife is, with climate change, the most striking sign of the Anthropocene, a proposed new geological era in which humans dominate the planet. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report.

New Mapping Project Shows The History Of Economic Discrimination

A new mapping project from University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab has provided an interactive and historical look at the way the federal government initially established economic inequality and discrimination.  Mapping Inequality is a database of more than 150 federal “risk maps,” an effort executed by the New Deal Program that would dictate decades of economic discrimination in cities.

They’re a reminder that letting huge swaths of the American city fall apart was essentially federal policy beginning in the Great Depression, when banks began to withhold lending from certain communities based on color-coded risk maps.

As reported in Henry Grabar’s article on Slate.com, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, or HOLC, brought together mortgage lenders, developers, and real estate professionals in hundreds of American cities to design four-color maps. Neighborhoods were shaded green (“best”), blue (“still desirable”), yellow (“definitely declining”), or red (“hazardous”), in descending order of credit-worthiness. These maps, which came to shape not just the distribution of mortgages but other types of lending and investment, were the origin of the term “redlining.”

The innovation of the Mapping Inequality project is that it links maps from scores of American cities with contemporaneous neighborhood reports, which allows you to toggle easily between maps and more detailed descriptions. What’s revealed is how the mapmakers’ obsessive focus on racial “infiltration” dominated the outcome of appraisals.

New Study Finds That Women Drink As Much As Men

The report, published in the medical journal BMJ Open, analyzed 4 million people born between 1891 and 2001 and found that, historically, men were more likely to drink alcohol, and in amounts that would damage their health.
Now, women are catching up, especially in more recent generations.
Early in the 20th century, men were more than twice as likely to drink than women and more than three times as likely to develop alcohol-related problems. But today, the two genders are about equal: Men born since the 1980s are only 1.1 times more likely to drink than than their female counterparts and 1.3 times more likely to consume alcohol in a way that is considered problematic.
women-drinking
The results came from the analysis of 68 international studies published between 1980 and 2014. The researchers grouped people by birth date to look at levels of alcohol consumption. Researchers looked at any use, including quantities and frequency, problematic uses such as binge drinking or heavy drinking, and the prevalence of associated problems.
“There had been several reports of sex convergence regarding alcohol consumption, but nobody had confirmed that, which is why we decided to look over global studies published throughout the years to see if we could prove that there had been a shift,” said researcher Katherine M. Keyes, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.
The study did not test why the gap is closing between men and women when it comes to alcohol, but researchers noted that changing traditional gender roles for women could be one explanation.

Female Chief in Malawi Breaks Up 850 Child Marriages

Theresa Kachindamoto, the senior chief in the Dedza District of Central Malawi, wields power over close to 900,000 people… and she’s not afraid to use her authority to help the women and girls in her district. In the past three years, she has annulled more than 850 child marriages, sent hundreds of young women back to school to continue their education, and made strides to abolish cleansing rituals that require girls as young as seven to go to sexual initiation camps. With more than half of Malawi’s girls married before the age of 18, according to a 2012 United Nations survey — and a consistently low ranking on the human development index, Kachindamoto’s no-nonsense attitude and effective measures have made her a vital ally in the fight for women’s and children’s rights.