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2 posts from February 2023


Prof. Julianne Holt-Lunstad Discusses Social Isolation and Loneliness (February 15th)

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Since suicides serve as a proxy measure for social isolation and loneliness (SIL), last week the CDC reported after declines in 2019 and 2020, suicides increased 7% in ‘21, particularly among those 25-44, to 48,343 returning their peak in 2018.  Over the past 2 decades suicides have increased 30%, they are now is the 12th leading cause of death.   Also in 2021, the CDC’s most recent bi-annual Youth Risk Beh Survey, published this past November,  found among other things teenage girls experienced persistent sadness at twice the rate of teen boys and three in five teenage girls reported being persistently sad or hopeless, a 60% increase compared to a decade earlier.  The survey also found 30% of teenage girls had also seriously considered attempting suicide, up nearly 60% from 2011.  Frequent listeners are aware in June 2021 I had related conversations with Brian Alexander regarding his book “The Hospital,” discussed deaths or despair in November 2021 with U of Maryland’s Prof. Carol Graham, published a related piece in December 2021 subtitled “the unrecognized tragedy of working class immiseration,” discussed with psychiatrist, Dr. Lise van Susteren, related climate crisis health effects last March and in December with Susan Linn related issues she raises in her book "Who’s Raising the Kids.”   

The 33-minute interview begins by Prof Holt-Lunstad defining social isolation and loneliness, the magnitude of the problem, i.e.,  and the causes thereof.  To what extent SIL is recognized and addressed in the clinical practice setting, discusses the need for core objectives and for SIL measuring and benchmarking SIL, SIL among clinicians and other medical professionals, discusses related efforts by the Administration for Community Living and the World Health Organizations, what the healthcare insurance industry is doing to address SIL, and offers comments for family caregivers regarding SIL.       

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, where she was recently named the Martin B Hickman Outstanding Scholar and is also the director of the social neuroscience lab.  She also has an adjunct professorship at Iverson Health Brightspotcdn.byu Innovation Research Institute Swinburne University of Technology; Melbourne, Australia; and the founding Scientific Chair for the US Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness and the Foundation for Social Connection.  Prof Holt-Lunstad has provided expert testimony in a US Congressional Hearing, expert recommendations for the US Surgeon General Emotional Well-Being in America Initiative, served as a member of the scientific advisory committee for the UK Cross Departmental Loneliness Team, and a member of a National Academy of Sciences Engineering & Medicine consensus committee, and the US Administration for Community Living.  She has been awarded the George A. Miller Award from the American Psychological Association, Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Research Award, Mary Lou Fulton Young Scholar Award, Marjorie Pay Hinkley Endowed Chair Research Award from BYU, and is a Fellow for the Association of Psychological Science and American Psychological Association.  

Prof. Holt-Lunstad's SIL review published last year in the Annual Review of Public Health, discussed during this interview, is at: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-052020-110732.



Prof. Toshihiro Higuchi Discusses His Work, "Political Fallout, Nuclear Weapons Testing and the Making of a Global Environmental Crisis" (February 8th)

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The word Anthropocene has been used over the past 20 years to define the modern era during which time man has come to shape the environment.  This reality became significantly more pronounced with the advent of the nuclear Anthropocene.  As Prof. Higuchi explains in the introduction of  "Political Fallout," from 1945 to 1963, when the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) was signed by the US, the Soviet Union and Britain, these three nations conducted approximately 450 nuclear weapons tests, in sum equal to 26,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs, that caused worldwide radioactive contamination.  Though in small concentrations, radioactive particles from this period of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests are still present around the world.  How and why the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, signed by the US, the Soviet Union and Britain, came into effect remains important.  Among other reasons, this past August the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, concluded the world has entered “a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War.”  Two weeks ago the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists forwarded its Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight.  The clock has move forward 4:30 since 2010.  This history is also important because it potentially offers lessons regarding how we address the climate crisis.   

During this 46 minute discussion, Prof. Higuchi begins by defining the Japanese word hibakusha and defines what is radioactive fallout.  He next discusses how concerns regarding nuclear fallout became publicly known, how the US's understanding of radioactive contamination evolved through the 1950s, discusses his "politics of risk" framework used to discuss fallout's biological effects, social acceptability and policy implications, how ultimately a PTBT was achieved, and discusses what lessons can be learned from the nuclear Anthropocene relative to the climate crisis.          

Prof. Toshihiro Higuchi is an Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University and field chair of Regional and Comparative Studies (RCST) in Toshihiro-Higuchi-1050x1050 the School of Foreign Service (SFS), Georgetown University.  Prof. Higuchi is also an official historian for the International Commission on Radiological Protection, serves on the editorial board of Kagakusi kenkyu, the executive board of Peace History Society, and a committee of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.  A native Japanese, Prof. Higuchi received his PhD at Georgetown University in 2011.  Before he returned to Georgetown in 2016, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University (2011-12); an American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellow at the University of Wisconsin - Madison (2012-14); and, a Hakubi Project assistant professor at Kyoto University (2014-15).  His Political Fallout: Nuclear Weapons Testing and the Making of a Global Environmental Crisis (Stanford University Press, 2020) won the 2021 Michael H. Hunt Prize for International History from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.  His academic works have also appeared in Peace & ChangeJournal of Strategic StudiesHistoria Scientiarum, and International Relations of the Asia-Pacific.  His opinion pieces have also appeared in a number of news outlets, including the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and Asahi Shimbun.  Prof. Higuchi is a member of several professional societies including the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, History of Science Society, Association for Asian Studies, American Society for Environmental History, Peace History Society, and Japan Association of International Relations.

Information on "Political Fallout" is at: https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=23212