Today in Research: More Pollution in Our Lakes; Aggressive Drunks

Discovered: Mercury in our food, the ecological effects of climate change, people who don't think about the future make bad drunks, a reason for lower marriage rates, and parental gender preferences.

  • More pollution in our lakes. Last week it was nitrogen, this week it's mercury. Burning fossil fuels releases mercury vapor into the atmosphere, which then falls back into the earth and gets redistributed in the food chain, found research in the journal Nature Geoscience. The worst part: The mercury can come from any fuel burning, anywhere in the world. Meaning that Asian production could contaminate American water and soil, making this another climate-related tragedy of the commons. [Eureka, The Guardian]
  • The trait that makes drunk people aggressive. In unsurprising research of the day, those who consider future consequences of current actions are less belligerent drunks, found research in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. "People who focus on the here and now, without thinking about the impact on the future, are more aggressive than others when they are sober, but the effect is magnified greatly when they're drunk," writes Brad Bushman, lead author. Looking at 495 social drinkers in their early 20s, the researchers got participants drunk and put them in situations with an adversary. "The less people thought about the future, the more likely they were to retaliate, but especially when they were drunk," continues Bushman. "People who were present-focused and drunk shocked their opponents longer and harder than anyone else in the study." Of course someone not concerned with the future has no problem acting like a total asshole. [Ohio State]

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