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COVID-19: lockdowns widen the ‘disadvantage gap’ between rich and poor children

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covid 19 lockdowns widen the disadvantage gap between rich and poor children

The ‘disadvantage gap’ felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age.

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers.

In particular, highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown, while those of poorer children were neglected more.

Youngsters from less well-off households had less access to outdoor activities and books while COVID-19 restrictions were in effect — unlike before lockdown.

The team also found that lockdown increased TV and touchscreen time for three-quarters of babies and toddlers — and particularly within poorer households.

The 'disadvantage gap' felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age (stock image)

The 'disadvantage gap' felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age (stock image)

The ‘disadvantage gap’ felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age (stock image)

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers

‘Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,’ said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford.

‘It is heartening to see that most families have been managing to find time to talk, read and play with their babies during this critical time — even amongst everything else going on.’

‘But from what parents are telling us it is clear that during lockdown some babies have been missing out.’ 

The findings are the first results to come out of a new project investigating how the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is impacting both family life and early child development, with the aim of helping policy makers reduce any further impact on the very young.

The ‘Social Distancing and Development Study’ has polled more than 500 parents — of kids aged three and under — about how much time they have spent engaging their children in enriching activities both before and lockdown.

Enriching activities were defined as including arts and crafts, cooking, engaging in one-on-one conversations, exercise, gardening, playing, reading, singing and spending shared time outdoors. 

The adults were also asked to detail how much screen time their children had. 

'Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,' said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford

'Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,' said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford

‘Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,’ said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford 

Highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown (as depicted), while those of poorer children were neglected more (stock image)

Highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown (as depicted), while those of poorer children were neglected more (stock image)

Highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown (as depicted), while those of poorer children were neglected more (stock image)

According to the researchers, 90 per cent of families reported an increase in the time they spent engaging their children in enriching activities during lockdown — but that this improvement was not spread equally among all the households.

Disadvantaged parents — those with lower incomes, education levels or occupational statuses and those living in more deprived neighbourhoods — were less likely to spend as much time enriching their children.

In particular, such families were found to be far less likely to spend time doing activities that require access to either books or outdoor spaces.

‘We know disadvantaged families often do not have access to the same opportunities for child development as their more well-off peers,’ explained Social Distancing and Development Study leader Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez.

However, the Oxford Brookes University-based psychologist added, ‘these disadvantages were exacerbated by the UK lockdown.’

‘In particular, the closure of playgrounds and libraries has disproportionately impacted children from disadvantaged backgrounds.’

‘The crisis has been difficult for most people, but has had a particular impact on families without the resources to buffer its impacts for their babies,’ said the Parent-Infant Foundation’s head of policy and campaigning, Sally Hogg.

‘Sadly too many of our young children live in poverty, poor housing and without stimulating toys and books at home. These results show the impact that the closure of libraries, playgrounds and drop-in groups had for these children.’

‘National and local governments must hold these results in mind when making decisions about future lockdowns and families’ access to activities and support.’

‘Evidence shows us that what happens in the first 1001 days, from pregnancy, lays the foundations for later development,’ Ms Hogg continued.

‘Therefore the impact of inequitable experiences during the pandemic may have lasting effects without immediate action to support families. This is why we are calling for babies and young children to be central to the COVID-19 recovery efforts.’

‘We are calling for a one-off Baby Boost, a catch-up fund to enable local services to support families who have had a baby during or close to lockdown.’

‘There have been catch-up funds for school age children, but this research reinforces that young children need support too.’

The full findings of the study — which have not yet been peer reviewed — have been submitted for publication in the journal Development Psychology. 

HOW TODDLERS DEVELOP COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Language development explodes from between the ages of two and four according to Dr Amos Grunebaum,  an American obstetrician and gynaecologist.

A child’s vocabulary, understanding and communication skills flourish at around these ages, he says.

These skills are an essential foundation for how a child interacts with others and they significantly impact cognitive, social and emotional development and their future lives in school and beyond. 

By the time a child reaches its second birthday it should have mastered pointing to common objects; three body parts; labelling familiar objects such as cup, dog and shoe. 

Most two years olds can: follow a two step instruction; use more than 50 words – although half will be unintelligible; make phrases of two or more words; use simple plurals and personal pronouns; know the names of close friends and family.

Most three-year-olds will be able to follow two or three step commands and speak in three to four word sentences. 

They should now be much easier to understand and have a vocabulary of around 200 words. 

They should be inquisitive, asking many questions – why, what, who, where, when – and be able to say their name, age and gender. 

They may understand place words like ‘in’, ‘on’ and ‘under’ and be able to name a best friend. 

Their conversation will begin to become more interactive and two-way. 

As a child transitions to preschool, their understanding is becoming much more refined. 

They will begin to understand time words and order words – today, tomorrow, first, next. 

They will be getting better at following more complex instructions and she should be able to hear and understand speech in a variety of settings. 

Their pronunciation will be improving but she may still struggle with difficult consonant like sh, th and l. 

They may begin to name letters and numbers. They may be able to retell events and keep a simple conversation going. 

Their personality will begin to shine through as she chooses topics of conversation that interest her. 

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Climate change could bring the start of Autumn forward by almost a week

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climate change could bring the start of autumn forward by almost a week

The start of autumn could begin a week sooner in the future due to climate change causing trees to capture more carbon and drop their leaves earlier in the year. 

For decades scientists expected temperate trees would shed their leaves gradually later in the year – making autumn later as average temperatures rise worldwide.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change. 

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier.  

The new discovery means instead of autumn starting up to three weeks later, it will start between three and six days earlier over the course of the century.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

Warning winters cause spring leaves to emerge earlier and it a widespread example of a climate-change impact, according to the team behind the study. 

The timing of when the leaves fall is harder to spot. There might be limits to how much greenhouse gas a tree can use or store in a single year, explained Dr Zani.

If all carbon needs are met, leaves might fall earlier rather than later in the autumn. 

Changes in the growing-season of trees greatly affect global carbon balance, Zani explained, but it is difficult to predict future patterns.

This is due to the fact that the environmental drivers of leaf ageing aren’t well understood by scientists. 

Autumn shedding in temperate regions like the UK is an adaptation to stressors – such as cold weather and a common assumption is that if you warm the air up this would allow leaves to persist for longer and fix more atmospheric carbon. 

Dr Zani and colleagues used long-term observations from dominant Central European tree species from 1948 to 2015 and experiments designed to modify carbon uptake to evaluate the related impacts. 

The study showed an increased growing-season in spring and summer due to more CO2, light and higher temperatures will lead to earlier leaf shedding – not later.

This is likely because roots and wood cease to use or store leaf-captured carbon at a point – making leaves costly to keep.

The researchers used the data to build a model to improve autumn prediction under a business-as-usual climate scenario – that is one where no efforts are made to slow the rate of climate change by keeping global average temperature from rising.

The model forecasts the possibility of autumn leaf-dropping dates becoming earlier over the rest of the century rather than later – as previously assumed.

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

Dr Zani said: ‘Changes in the growing-season lengths of temperate trees greatly affect biotic interactions and global carbon balance.

‘Yet future growing-season trajectories remain highly uncertain because the environmental drivers of autumn leaf deterioration are poorly understood.’

Accounting for increases in spring and summer productivity due to rising carbon uptake improved the accuracy of predictions by up to 42 per cent.

‘These findings demonstrate the critical role of sink limitation in governing the end of seasonal activity and reveal important constraints on future growing-season lengths and carbon uptake of trees,’ said Zani.

The results ‘substantially lower our expectations of the extent to which longer growing seasons will increase seasonal carbon uptake in forests,’ she added.

 

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The researchers pointed out the universality of this pattern in other forest types remains unknown – they can only say for certain it applies to temperate regions.

They note an important next avenue of research is implementing such growing-season length constraints across a wider range of systems. 

Dr Christine Rollinson, a tree scientist at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, who was not involved in the study, said it shows the forest is not a bottomless carbon sink.

‘Thus, whereas trees and forests remain one solution for mitigating the impacts of climate change, they cannot be the sole means of response.

‘A diverse portfolio of actions that include emissions reductions and tree conservation and planting is essential to mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions and climate change.’

The findings have been published in the journal Science

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Climate change could bring the start of Autumn forward by almost a week

Published

on

By

climate change could bring the start of autumn forward by almost a week

The start of autumn could begin a week sooner in the future due to climate change causing trees to capture more carbon and drop their leaves earlier in the year. 

For decades scientists expected temperate trees would shed their leaves gradually later in the year – making autumn later as average temperatures rise worldwide.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change. 

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier.  

The new discovery means instead of autumn starting up to three weeks later, it will start between three and six days earlier over the course of the century.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

Warning winters cause spring leaves to emerge earlier and it a widespread example of a climate-change impact, according to the team behind the study. 

The timing of when the leaves fall is harder to spot. There might be limits to how much greenhouse gas a tree can use or store in a single year, explained Dr Zani.

If all carbon needs are met, leaves might fall earlier rather than later in the autumn. 

Changes in the growing-season of trees greatly affect global carbon balance, Zani explained, but it is difficult to predict future patterns.

This is due to the fact that the environmental drivers of leaf ageing aren’t well understood by scientists. 

Autumn shedding in temperate regions like the UK is an adaptation to stressors – such as cold weather and a common assumption is that if you warm the air up this would allow leaves to persist for longer and fix more atmospheric carbon. 

Dr Zani and colleagues used long-term observations from dominant Central European tree species from 1948 to 2015 and experiments designed to modify carbon uptake to evaluate the related impacts. 

The study showed an increased growing-season in spring and summer due to more CO2, light and higher temperatures will lead to earlier leaf shedding – not later.

This is likely because roots and wood cease to use or store leaf-captured carbon at a point – making leaves costly to keep.

The researchers used the data to build a model to improve autumn prediction under a business-as-usual climate scenario – that is one where no efforts are made to slow the rate of climate change by keeping global average temperature from rising.

The model forecasts the possibility of autumn leaf-dropping dates becoming earlier over the rest of the century rather than later – as previously assumed.

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

Dr Zani said: ‘Changes in the growing-season lengths of temperate trees greatly affect biotic interactions and global carbon balance.

‘Yet future growing-season trajectories remain highly uncertain because the environmental drivers of autumn leaf deterioration are poorly understood.’

Accounting for increases in spring and summer productivity due to rising carbon uptake improved the accuracy of predictions by up to 42 per cent.

‘These findings demonstrate the critical role of sink limitation in governing the end of seasonal activity and reveal important constraints on future growing-season lengths and carbon uptake of trees,’ said Zani.

The results ‘substantially lower our expectations of the extent to which longer growing seasons will increase seasonal carbon uptake in forests,’ she added.

 

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The researchers pointed out the universality of this pattern in other forest types remains unknown – they can only say for certain it applies to temperate regions.

They note an important next avenue of research is implementing such growing-season length constraints across a wider range of systems. 

Dr Christine Rollinson, a tree scientist at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, who was not involved in the study, said it shows the forest is not a bottomless carbon sink.

‘Thus, whereas trees and forests remain one solution for mitigating the impacts of climate change, they cannot be the sole means of response.

‘A diverse portfolio of actions that include emissions reductions and tree conservation and planting is essential to mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions and climate change.’

The findings have been published in the journal Science

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

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SpaceX launches reusable Falcon 9 rocket booster for SEVENTH time

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spacex launches reusable falcon 9 rocket booster for seventh time

SpaceX has reused a Falcon 9 rocket for a record breaking seventh time during its most recent mission to put another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.

It comes as the Elon Musk-owned space launch firm is preparing for the first high altitude test flight of its mammoth Starship prototype spaceship – dubbed SN8. 

Launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 02:13 GMT this morning, the Falcon 9 flight was the seventh time that particular first stage booster had been used.

This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment.

The Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the early hours of this morning carrying the 16th batch of Starlink satellites

The Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the early hours of this morning carrying the 16th batch of Starlink satellites

The Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the early hours of this morning carrying the 16th batch of Starlink satellites

SpaceX was able to recover the booster from the Atlantic Ocean using a drone flight – which means it may be able to fly for an eighth time in the future.

The booster wasn’t the only part of the Falcon 9 to be reused during this flight – that brings the total of small Starlink internet satellites up to nearly 1,000.

The fairing cover used to protect the payload had also been used before – half on one other trip and another on two different trips before this one, SpaceX confirmed.

Every time SpaceX is able to reuse a component it reduces the cost of getting material into low Earth orbit compared to using parts for the first time.

Research by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that the average cost of putting 1kg of material in orbit on a SpaceX launch is $2,600.

In comparison, the average cost to put a 1kg object in orbit from a Russian Soyuz was $17,900 and the United Launch Alliance Delta E came in at $177,900 per kg. 

Musk is working to bring that cost down even further with each element of the Falcon 9 they are able to reuse.

Part of that drive to reuse is pushing development of the massive Starship two-stage-to-orbit fully-reusable heavy lift vehicle.

It has been under development since 2012 and is designed to bring the cost of each launch downs significantly by being fully reusable.

A single Falcon 9 launch costs about $51 million if it is reusing components that have flown before – Musk hopes to get the Spaceship launch in at $2 million per trip.

That reality could soon be a step closer as the firm is preparing to send up the latest prototype Starship SN8 on a high altitude test flight.

Musk tweeted that it has already undergone a successful static fire test and that in the next week or so it would fly up to about nine miles into the sky.

This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment

This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment

 This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment

Space X performed the third over all static fire on Starship SN8 Thursday November 12 at its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The next stage is a high altitude test

Space X performed the third over all static fire on Starship SN8 Thursday November 12 at its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The next stage is a high altitude test

Space X performed the third over all static fire on Starship SN8 Thursday November 12 at its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The next stage is a high altitude test

The edge of space is agreed by NASA and others to be 50 miles above sea level but to go into orbit you need to get to at least 100 miles above sea level.

If this latest flight test – that will see the triple Raptor engine fire and lift the 400ft spaceship into the air – is successful, then further, higher tests will likely follow.

November 30 has been provisionally set aside as the date of the high altitude test that will see the spaceship reach the highest it has ever flown.

Musk tweeted: ‘Good Starship SN8 static fire! Aiming for first 15km / ~50k ft altitude flight next week. Goals are to test 3 engine ascent, body flaps, transition from main to header tanks & landing flip.’

The landing is one of the most important aspects – as it needs to be fully reusable to achieve the goals and price per flight set out by the SpaceX team. 

WHAT IS ELON MUSK’S ‘BFR’?

The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, will complete all missions and is smaller than the ones Musk announced in 2016.

The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would take its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned mission in 2024 and claimed other SpaceX’s products would be ‘cannibalised’ to pay for it.

The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars.

Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.

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44DFD4DC00000578 4933944 image a 77 1506734013996

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