Macron’s election call unsettles Paris Olympics build-up

AFP

Macron’s election call unsettles Paris Olympics build-up

Cyril Touaux – June 10, 2024

France will hold snap elections just weeks before the Paris Olympics (Ludovic MARIN)
France will hold snap elections just weeks before the Paris Olympics (Ludovic MARIN)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Monday described the prospect of French parliamentary elections just weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics as “extremely unsettling”, while the International Olympic Committee played down any direct impact on the event.

“Like a lot of people I was stunned to hear the president decide to do a dissolution (of parliament),” Hidalgo said of Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call snap parliamentary elections on Sunday.

The surprise announcement came after hugely disappointing European parliament election results for the centrist president which Hidalgo said meant the president “could not continue as before”.

“But all the same, a dissolution just before the Games, it’s really something that is extremely unsettling,” the 64-year-old Socialist, a domestic political rival of the president, added during a visit to a Paris school.

The two-round parliamentary elections have been called for June 30 and July 7, with the Paris Olympics set to begin less than three weeks later on July 26.

The vote could lead to political instability in the event of another hung parliament in which no party wins a majority, or a seismic change if the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen emerges as the biggest party nationally.

Rumours in Paris had previously suggested Macron might dissolve parliament after the Games, with the 46-year-old head of state possibly eyeing a bounce in the polls if the first Games in France in 100 years were deemed a success.

Hidalgo stressed that from an operational perspective the elections would not affect the Olympics, a message echoed by the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, who was with her during the school visit.

“I think that all the work of installing, of preparing the Games, the infrastructure, is behind us and what remains is to welcome the entire world and we will do it with the joy that we have to host these Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris,” Hidalgo said.

Bach said the elections are “a democratic process which will not disturb the Olympics”.

“France is used to doing elections and they are going to do them once again. We will have a new government and a new parliament and everyone is going to support the Olympics,” Bach said.

– Divided country –

The Paris Olympics begin with an unprecedented open-air ceremony on the river Seine on July 26, the first time the opening festivities for a Summer Olympics have taken place outside the main stadium.

Organisers have consistently talked up the ambitions of their vision, promising “iconic” Games that will see the world’s biggest sports event play out against the historic backdrop of the City of Light.

Worries so far had focused on security arrangements for the opening ceremony, and whether the river Seine would be cleaned up in time to hold the open-water swimming events and triathlon as expected.

Repeated strike threats from trade unions have also cast a shadow over preparations, as did public feuding over the choice of music for the opening ceremony and the official poster — indicators of France’s starkly divided political class.

Those divisions were illustrated during Sunday’s European elections, in which anti-immigration and far-right parties won almost 40 percent of the vote, inflicting heavy defeat on Macron’s centrist allies.

The snap parliamentary elections raise question marks over the government that will be in place at the time of the Olympics, with ministers such as transport and interior set to play key roles in ensuring the smooth functioning and safety of the event.

The two-stage election will also mobilise hundreds of thousands of security forces, further straining resources.

“For the preparations, the installations are ready, accreditations have been sent, plans put in place for transport: everything is primed, it remains only to be put in place,” Jean-Loup Chappelet, an Olympics expert at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, told AFP.

He also played down the impact of any personnel changes in the cabinet.

“Nothing will change between now and July 8 in the preparations of the Games and afterwards it will be absolutely too late to change anything,” he added.

David Roizen, an Olympics expert at the left-leading Jean Jaures Foundation think-tank in Paris, said the political turmoil would put an end to a “largely successful” phase for organisers, including the ongoing Olympic torch relay.

“It risks ending the positive dynamic, meaning that people only talk about the Olympics from a security perspective,” he told AFP.

These are the 10 most bacteria-polluted beaches in America, group says

Fox Weather

These are the 10 most bacteria-polluted beaches in America, group says

Hillary Andrews – June 9, 2024

One of nation's most polluted beaches making California residents sick

The Surfrider Foundation just released its list of the top 10 most bacteria-polluted beaches in America during 2023. At two beaches, every sample taken throughout the year exceeded state health standards.

The organization set up the Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) which sampled water at 567 different sites across beaches, oceans, estuaries and freshwater creeks throughout the U.S. They collected 9,538 samples. About 22% of the samples showed high bacteria levels and 64% of the almost 600 beaches monitored didn’t pass state health standards at least once.

According to the report, funding is leading to a reduction in the number of beaches being monitored by government agencies on a regular basis.

“Chronic underfunding has forced states to prioritize which beaches to monitor, reduce sampling frequency, and limit beach seasons in order to stretch their federal grant dollars as far as possible,” stated the Surfrider’s Clean Water Report 2023.

“Most chapter water testing programs are designed to fill in the gaps and extend the coverage of state and local agency beach monitoring programs,” the report continued. “Surfrider volunteers are not only testing beaches that are not covered by agencies, but they are also monitoring potential sources of pollution, such as stormwater outlets, rivers, and creeks that discharge onto our beaches.”

Some beaches only monitor in the summer. About 67% of the samples showed low bacteria levels and 11% showed medium levels.

“The majority of the water samples that failed to meet health standards were collected from freshwater sources, such as rivers, creeks, and marshes, which are influenced by storm water runoff, or at beaches near these outlets,” wrote Surfrider. “These results are consistent with national trends, which show that storm water runoff is the number one cause of beach closures and swimming advisories in the U.S.

FECAL MATTER POSED RISK AT 90% OF TEXAS BEACHES LAST YEAR, REPORT SAYS. HERE’S HOW TO TRACK IT

Stormwater washes chemicals and other pollutants from streets and lawns into local waterways and down to the beach, the group said. Stormwater and flooding after heavy rain can also cause wastewater systems, like cesspools, septic systems and sewers, to fail and send untreated sewage into rivers, streams, oceans and lakes.

“Nearly 10 trillion gallons of untreated stormwater runoff flow into U.S. waterways every year, carrying a cocktail of pollutants including road dust, oil, animal waste, fertilizers, and other chemicals,” Surfrider wrote. “Sewage can contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites that make people sick with gastrointestinal symptoms, rashes, skin and eye infections, flu-like symptoms, and worse.”

Both Imperial Beach in San Diego County, California, and Nawiliwili Stream at Kalapaki Bay in LihueHawaii, on the island of Kauai, failed every test. That means that bacterial levels were so high, the state deems the beach unsafe for swimming.

HOW TO TRACK YOUR BEACH’S WATER QUALITY

Authorities have closed Imperial Beach for 930 days, according to local media. However, closing the beach to swimming still won’t keep everyone safe.

“These closures don’t fully prevent people from getting sick as some toxins are aerosolizing and contaminating the air in Imperial Beach and other nearby border communities,” said Surfrider. “People are getting sick just by breathing the air as they go to work, school, and even trying to enjoy their own backyards.”

South Bay Urgent Care in Imperial Beach told FOX 5 San Diego that in the past year the number of patients needing breathing treatments grew by 140%.

RAINWATER POLLUTED BY FOREVER CHEMICALS WORLDWIDE, STUDY SAYS

File: A dog competes during the 5th annual Loews Coronado bay resort surf dog competition in Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, California on May 22, 2010.
File: A dog competes during the 5th annual Loews Coronado bay resort surf dog competition in Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, California on May 22, 2010.

“Every day is another patient getting sick, and we don’t want that anymore. We see newborns come in. It’s tough for people over 100,” Dr. Mathew Dickson said. “They’re coughing, eyes are running, eyes are watering, and they’re wheezing a lot.”

He is on a task force researching long-term effects of pollution exposure.

The Scripps Institute of Oceanography linked 34,000 illnesses to Imperial Beach pollution in 2017.

“Coastal waters along Tijuana, Mexico, and Imperial Beach, USA, are frequently polluted by millions of gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater runoff,” the research stated. “Entering coastal waters causes over 100 million global annual illnesses, but CWP (coastal water pollution) has the potential to reach many more people on land via transfer in sea spray aerosol.”

Hurricane Hilary alone released 2.5 billion gallons of contaminated stormwater through the Tijuana River Valley, according to the Clean Water Report. Volunteers found bacterial levels almost 100 times higher than California’s health standard for safe recreation.

TOXIC ALGAE BLOOM BECOMING DEADLY FOR SEA LIONS, DOLPHINS IN PACIFIC OCEAN

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 19: A surfer walks out of the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach shortly after sunset with Hurricane Hilary approaching on August 19, 2023 in San Diego, California. Southern California is under a first-ever tropical storm warning as Hurricane Hilary approaches with parts of California, Arizona and Nevada preparing for flooding and heavy rains.
File: A surfer walks out of the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach shortly after sunset with Hurricane Hilary approaching on August 19, 2023 in San Diego, California.

HOW TO WATCH FOX WEATHER

Scripps study from 2021 pointed out that in the U.S. alone, an estimated 90 million cases of waterborne illness of the gastrointestinal tract, ear, eye, respiratory tract and skin occur every year from recreational contact. The estimated cost of that is $2 billion every year.

“These priority beaches represent a variety of recreational waters and access points that are important to local communities, yet water quality conditions could be putting public health at risk,” Surfrider said. “No one should get sick from spending time at the beach.”

Other beaches and waterways on the list are recreational waters and access points to rivers and bays for paddleboarders and kayakers in local communities.

Nawiliwili Stream in Hawaii flows across a Kauai, Hawaii, beach where families bring kids to play in the calm shallow waters, according to Surfrider.

HOW FLOODWATER CAN MAKE YOU VERY SICK

Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, California is a popular surf break. Kahalulu on Oahu in Hawaii is an access point for snorkeling, boating and fishing in Kaneohe Bay.

File: Beachgoers walk at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, Calif., on Wednesday, June 15, 2023.
File: Beachgoers walk at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, Calif., on Wednesday, June 15, 2023.

The BWTF posts recent water test results on their website. The EPA has a list of all beaches that are monitored. The EPA also posts beach closures and advisories along with water test results.

Russia is trying to scare people away from the Paris Olympics, report says

NBC News

Russia is trying to scare people away from the Paris Olympics, report says

Ken Dilanian – June 4, 2024

New warnings of Russian threats to Paris Olympics

Banned from the 2024 Olympics over the war in Ukraine, Russia has mounted a secret influence campaign seeking to discredit the Games and sow fears of terrorism, according to a new report from Microsoft’s threat intelligence unit.

The report tracks what it calls “prolific Russian influence actors” that last summer began focusing on disparaging the 2024 Olympic Games and French President Emmanuel Macron, including by posting a bogus documentary featuring a deepfake of actor Tom Cruise.

“These ongoing Russian influence operations have two central objectives: to denigrate the reputation of the [International Olympic Committee] on the world stage; and to create the expectation of violence breaking out in Paris during the 2024 Summer Olympic Games,” the report says.

“Russia has a decades-long history of undermining the Olympics, but for the Paris Games, we’ve observed this old playbook has been updated with new generative AI tactics, “ said Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who directed the study. “They want to scare spectators from attending the Games for fear of physical violence breaking out.”

Most recently, the Russian campaign has sought to capitalize on the Israel-Hamas war by impersonating militants and fabricating threats against Israelis who attending the 2024 Games, the report found. Some images referenced the attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where an affiliate of the Palestine Liberation Organization killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team and a West German police officer.

Munich Olympics 1972 Hostage Crisis (Russel McPhedran / Fairfax Media via Getty Images file)
Munich Olympics 1972 Hostage Crisis (Russel McPhedran / Fairfax Media via Getty Images file)

The fake documentary, posted online last summer, was titled “Olympics Has Fallen,” a play on the 2013 movie “Olympus Has Fallen.” Designed to resemble a Netflix production, it used AI-generated audio resembling Cruise’s voice to imply his participation, the report says, and even attached sham five-star reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post and the BBC.

YouTube took it down at the behest of the International Olympic Committee, but it remains available on Telegram, Microsoft says.

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recently been faced with a number of fake news posts targeting the IOC,” the committee said in a statement last fall, citing “an entire documentary produced with defamatory content, a fake narrative and false information, using an AI-generated voice of a world-renowned Hollywood actor.”

Tom Cruise in
Tom Cruise in

The Russian campaign also put out videos designed to look like news reports that suggested intelligence about credible threats of violence at the Paris Games, Microsoft found.

One video that purported to be a report from media outlet Euronews in Brussels falsely claimed that Parisians were buying property insurance in anticipation of terrorism.

In another spoofed news clip impersonating French broadcaster France 24, the Russian campaign falsely claimed that 24% of purchased tickets for Olympic events had been returned due to fears of terrorism.

A third Russian effort consisted of a fake video news release from the CIA and France’s main intelligence agency warning potential attendees to stay away from the 2024 Olympics due to the alleged risk of a terror attack.

Microsoft says Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, has a long history of attacking the Olympics.

“If they cannot participate in or win the Games, then they seek to undercut, defame, and degrade the international competition in the minds of participants, spectators, and global audiences,” the report says. “The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Summer Games held in Los Angeles and sought to influence other countries to do the same.”

At the time, according to Microsoft, U.S. officials linked Soviet actors to a campaign that covertly distributed leaflets to Olympic committees in countries including Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and South Korea, claiming that nonwhite competitors would be targeted by American extremists if they went to Los Angeles.

In 2017, the IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Games after finding widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by Russian athletes.

But the current ban is over the war in Ukraine. The committee decided that qualifying athletes from Russia and close ally Belarus may compete in the 2024 Summer Games only as “individual neutral athletes,” prohibited from flying their national flags.

Microsoft said the online influence campaign picked up shortly afterward.

The Russian Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schools that never needed AC are now overheating. Fixes will cost billions.

The Washington Post

Schools that never needed AC are now overheating. Fixes will cost billions.

Anna Phillips and Veronica Penney – May 24, 2024

Nearly 40 percent of schools in the United States were built before the 1970s, when temperatures were cooler and fewer buildings needed air conditioning.

That has changed. In recent decades, heat has crept northward, increasing the number of school days with temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Large parts of the country, where temperatures were previously cooler, now experience at least one month of school days with temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Many schools still don’t have air conditioning.

America’s aging school buildings are on a collision course with a rapidly warming climate.

Last fall, school officials were forced to send students home across the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic – just as many were returning from summer break – because of extreme heat and schools lacking air conditioning. In Baltimore and Detroit, high heat led to early dismissals, the same as it had four months earlier when summer temperatures struck in May.

In Philadelphia last year, administrators moved the first day of school from late August to after Labor Day, in part to avoid a repeat of heat-related school closures in previous years. But the weather didn’t cooperate. They ended up closing more than 70 schools three hours earlier than usual for the entire week.

Hot weather is not a new concern for school districts. But as the burning of fossil fuels heats the planet, it’s delivering longer-lasting, more dangerous heat waves, and higher average temperatures. Across much of the northern United States, where many schools were built without air conditioning, districts are now forced to confront the academic and health risks posed by poorly cooled schools. Fixing the problem often requires residents to pass multimillion dollar school repair bonds, which can be hard to do. Climatic change is arriving faster than most can adapt.

“We have had situations where it’s been 88 degrees outside but the real feel in the classrooms is well over 90 degrees because of the humidity,” said Shari Obrenski, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union. Although most of the district’s schools have air conditioning, 11 switched to virtual instruction during a period of high heat in 2022. “It’s miserable,” she said, “students throwing up, not being able to keep their heads up, just horrible conditions.”

Because of the highly localized nature of U.S. public schools, data on school air conditioning is scarce and researchers rely on surveys to gather information.

In 2021, when the environmental advocacy group Center for Climate Integrity set out to examine air conditioning, its researchers collected information on more than 150 schools and school districts across the country. They found that in places where temperatures historically hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit at least 32 days during the academic year, the vast majority of schools already had air conditioning.

Using this as their threshold for when AC is needed, they modeled what it would cost to keep schools cool in the near future under a moderate warming scenario. Their answer: more than 13,700 public schools in the United States that did not need air conditioning in 1970 need it today. Some have already installed it, some are working on it now and some can only dream of having enough money. The estimated cost of this huge investment exceeds $40 billion.

Paul Chinowsky, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led the analysis, said it showed two distinct trends in America: Northern school districts experiencing hotter school year temperatures that are overheating classrooms and forcing closures, especially in old buildings without enough electrical capacity to run air conditioners. And Southern districts with aging cooling systems outmatched by abnormally hot weather.

A generation ago, few would have imagined that school districts from Denver to Boston would need to spend millions of dollars on cooling. Today, the reality is different.

Aging schools, built for a different climate

The scene at Dunbar Elementary was so distressing that, six years later, it is still fresh in Jerry Jordan’s mind.

In late August 2018, a punishing heat wave gripped Philadelphia just as public school students were returning from summer break. Jordan, the president of the local teachers union, was holding a news conference at Dunbar to demand the state help pay to air-condition schools. Before the event, he walked through the building to get a feel for what its students and staff were experiencing.

“I ran into one teacher as she was walking her first-grade class down to computer science – she was wearing a dress and the back of the dress was literally soaked right through. It was sticking to her,” Jordan said. A little boy got out of line and lay down on the concrete floor. He stayed put, even when the teacher urged him to rejoin the class. “But it’s cool here,” Jordan remembers him pleading.

Today, roughly 30 percent of Philadelphia public schools don’t have fully air-conditioned classrooms, according to district officials. In interviews, teachers said many more buildings don’t have cooling in gyms, cafeterias and libraries. The district has made progress since that 2018 heat wave, thanks in large part to millions of dollars in federal pandemic aid and a $200,000 donation from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. But it still has many buildings with only enough power to support window AC units in every other classroom, or on certain floors. Some units are broken or barely functional. At one school, parents said the units are window dressing – they can’t be switched on for fear of using more electricity than the building can safely handle.

The district’s goal is to have all classrooms air-conditioned by 2027, but its pandemic money is about to run out and state funding remains uncertain. “The aspirational is absolutely dependent on funding,” said Superintendent Tony Watlington Sr.

In interviews, teachers said that classroom temperatures have climbed into the high 80s to low 90s in the early fall, past the point when studies have shown heat can impede learning.

“94 degrees F in my classroom today,” teacher Trey Smith wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on a day in late August, posting a photo of a thermometer in his third-floor un-air-conditioned classroom at Marian Anderson Neighborhood Academy. Smith said that, for years, he has had to endure high temperatures with only fans and a portable AC unit that trips the circuit breaker.

“I’m angry,” he said. “Not at the district and not at my administration, it’s just that as a state we’ve underfunded our schools. That’s the crime.”

As hotter-than-normal temperatures become more common in the late spring and early fall, they pose a risk to students’ academic success. Researchers have linked heat exposure to reduced learning, in addition to a range of well-known health effects such as dizziness, headaches and worsening asthma symptoms. Teachers aren’t immune either – especially in places that aren’t used to hot weather.

“On those really really hot days, our attendance is low because kids don’t want to boil in a classroom and asthmatic kids are being kept home by their parents,” said Olney High School teacher Sarah Apt, who also has asthma. “Those are days I have used my inhaler and kind of take it slower.”

Climate change is expanding the swath of the country facing these problems.

At the same time, as school shootings become more frequent, district leaders are under pressure to turn their buildings into fortresses to stop an attacker.

“We’ve got schools that want to button up for security reasons, but that’s making them hotter, stuffier and requiring more mechanical air conditioning,” said Chinowsky. “You’ve got two different goals working against each other.”

Well-off school districts often address this problem by putting a bond before voters, asking them to support higher taxes to pay for cooling. But despite its improving poverty rate, Philadelphia is still the poorest big city in the nation. And a quirk in state law bars the school district from raising its own revenue, leaving it few options but to ask the city and state for money. That hasn’t worked out so well – last year, a state court found that Pennsylvania’s funding formula leaves some schools so underfunded that it violates students’ constitutional right to an education.

Parents and teachers have become increasingly vocal in demanding healthier conditions following scandals over asbestos and lead contamination in schools. The teachers union now employs a director of environmental science and commissioned an app that allows teachers to report extreme temperature problems, as well as leaks and pest infestations.

Yet some families don’t know their children attend schools without air conditioning.

Sherice Workman was among them. When she chose Paul Robeson High School in West Philadelphia for her youngest son, Juelz, she was unaware how hot it was inside until he began bringing deodorant to school to mask his constant sweating. He came home with stories of students sleeping through class to deal with the heat. She and some of the school’s staff delivered a petition to district leaders two years ago.

“When it is 80 degrees outside, it is 90 to 100 in the classrooms. When it is 90 degrees outside, it is 100 to 105 degrees in the classrooms,” the petition read. “This extreme heat in our building has caused our children to pass out and miss classes due to dehydration-related headaches.”

The district installed window air conditioners at Robeson the next year, an experience that Workman said taught her the value of speaking out. When it comes to air conditioning in neighboring suburbs’ schools, she said, “It’s just something they have. Our fight isn’t their fight.

Hotter school days and no cheap fixes

Fall in Colorado’s Front Range can be glorious – with blue skies and aspens changing color in the Rockies. But it is also the time of year when Colorado has experienced its greatest warming, with temperatures rising by 3.1 degrees Fahrenheit from 1980-2022, according to a state report.

That’s when kids are in class. In the northern Colorado city of Fort Collins, classroom temperatures in some buildings reach upward of 90 degrees when the school year starts in mid-August, said middle school social studies teacher Jacque Kinnick, and the heat is lasting longer in the season.

“I used to need sweaters,” in October said Kinnick. “Now, I wear short sleeves.”

Kinnick said one of her colleagues compared the test scores of students in her morning and afternoon classes and found that the children performed worse later in the day, when the heat was highest.

“It’s like you can actually see kids just wilting,” she said. “They’re sweating, they’re laying their heads on the desk.”

University of Pennsylvania economist R. Jisung Park has studied the effect of rising temperatures on students. He found that, even when other factors are controlled for, students who are exposed to days in the 80s and 90s perform worse on standardized tests. His research also suggests that, in the United States, heat has a greater effect on Black and Latino students, who are less likely to have air conditioning at school or home.

The effect may not be noticeable at first – a one-degree hotter school year is linked to learning loss of about one percent – but the damage accumulates and the impact is likely underestimated. A federal analysis published last year noted that while these losses only account for students’ exposure to hot days during high school, newer research suggests heat experienced by elementary and middle school students also impedes learning.

Some of the coldest parts of the country will eventually have to face overheating schools, too. The federal study found that at the 2 degrees Celsius threshold, the states with the highest projected learning losses per student, because of low AC coverage in schools, will be Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wyoming.

Heat also affects students’ well-being. It increases ozone pollution in cities, extends the pollen season, worsens asthma symptoms and can exacerbate a host of other medical conditions, forcing students to leave their classes in search of relief. Children become dehydrated easily and turn woozy and irritable. After sitting in a hot classroom all day, they may struggle to play sports or participate in after-school activities.

Schools along the Front Range have historically counted on the region’s overnight low temperatures to cool off their buildings. But as climate change causes nights to warm faster than days, such methods are proving ineffective.

Jeff Connell, chief operations officer of the Poudre School District, which is centered in Fort Collins and includes surrounding towns, said the district recorded temperatures between 85 and 90.5 degrees in an elementary school classroom last fall. Poudre’s leaders have discussed postponing the start of school, but with extreme daily highs becoming more common, “it’s harder to know with certainty that if we move the calendar, we’ll avoid the hot days,” said Connell.

Fort Collins exemplifies two trends that confront public education as climate change intensifies. Heat is one problem – in part because urban schools are often ringed by heat-reflecting asphalt parking lots and playgrounds.

Demographics are another. Since funding is tied to enrollment, some school districts face budget crises as their student populations shrink – yet they need more money for air conditioning projects to keep their schools habitable.

Fort Collins’ affordability and easy access to the mountains has long-fueled the city’s growth. But the increasing number of high heat days has put a strain on teachers and students as enrollment is beginning to decline, prompting the school district to consider closing schools. Poudre has a $700 million deferred maintenance backlog. Last year, an assessment of how much it would cost to fully air-condition 36 school buildings came in at more than $200 million – money the district does not have.

The city is hardly an outlier.

In 2020, the Government Accountability Office found that an estimated 41 percent of school districts surveyed needed to replace or update their HVAC systems in at least half of their schools. But the report also found that roughly 40 percent of districts rely on state money for large-scale facilities improvements and don’t have the capacity to issue bonds or raise property taxes.

Persuading school board members and voters to fund air conditioning in schools can be a tough sell. This is an acute problem in Southern school districts where cooling was installed decades ago, but is now breaking down from near-constant use, Chinowsky said.

“The people making these decisions have a tendency to say, ‘We dealt with it when we were in school,’ Or, ‘It’s only hot for a couple of days,’” Chinowsky said. “And the fact is that’s not really the truth anymore.”

Often, the states aren’t coming to districts’ aid. Neither is the federal government. Advocates for more school funding said the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which rebuilds schools once they’re destroyed, is the biggest source of government money.

Decades of planning help keep classrooms cool

Some communities have more latitude to address the problem.

In Denver, about an hour south of Fort Collins, school officials have slowly been preparing their buildings for a hotter world. It began a decade ago with simple measures such as blinds and nighttime cooling. But as the years progressed and nights didn’t cool off like they once did, officials decided they were going to have to install air conditioning. The district began prioritizing retrofits based on factors such as student poverty levels and disabilities, the age and condition of the buildings and indoor temperatures.

Denver residents have approved multiple bond measures to pay for the upgrades and they may be asked to vote on one again soon. The district expects that 30 schools still won’t be fully air-conditioned by the end of the year. Fixing them will cost an estimated $290 million.

“The voters have been pretty receptive,” said Trena Marsal, chief operating officer of Denver Public Schools. “We’ve heard from our teachers, from our community members and our parents that the classrooms are hot.”

Among the districts where voters have agreed to support facilities bonds, some have used the money to not only air-condition their classrooms, but to also electrify their heating and cooling systems with air source or geothermal heat pumps. In St. Paul, Minn., the school district has finished installing a geothermal system at one of its high schools, where heat is pumped out of the building during the summer, transferred to water and stored deep underground in pipes. That heated water is pumped back into the buildings in winter to warm them.

Some of these systems can qualify for major federal subsidies. Yet to the chagrin of environmentalists, large school districts in cities such as New York City, Boston and Philadelphia are buying thousands of window units, which gobble up electricity and break down easily.

“They’re a maintenance nightmare. They’re an operating cost nightmare,” said Sara Ross, co-founder of the group UndauntedK12, which advocates for green building improvements in schools. “The decision to use window units is only going to worsen these districts’ challenges in terms of their emissions because they’re using much more energy.”

The picture in selected areas

Philadelphia: 3.7°F warmer since 1970

197,115 students enrolled

67 out of 218 schools are not fully air-conditioned.

By 2025, students will experience 22 more days with temperatures above 80°F. In 1970, 28 days were above 80°F. In 2025, it is predicted that 50 days will be above 80°F.

Fort Collins, Colo.: 3.4°F warmer since 1970

29,914 students enrolled

36 out of 49 schools are not fully air-conditioned.

By 2025, students will experience 17 more days with temperatures above 80°F. In 1970, 25 days were above 80°F. In 2025, it is predicted that 42 days will be above 80°F.

Denver: 1.3°F warmer since 1970

89,235 students enrolled

37 out of 207 schools are not fully air-conditioned.

By 2025, students will experience 18 more days with temperatures above 80°F. In 1970, 32 days were above 80°F. In 2025, it is predicted that 50 days will be above 80°F.

About this story

Sources: Resilient Analytics and the Center for Climate Integrity (hot school days); NOAA Regional Climate Centers via the Applied Climate Information System (temperature trends); Denver Public Schools.

The Post used data from Resilient Analytics and the Center for Climate Integrity that estimates the increase in hot school days by 2025 using downscaled climate projections for North America from CMIP5. The gridded data has a resolution of 3.7 miles. To calculate the increase in hot days by 2025, researchers used the middle-of-the-road RCP 4.5 scenario.

There are some U.S. counties where varying terrain affects county-level temperature projections. Monroe County, Fla. – just west of Miami-Dade – includes mainland, coasts and islands. The varied terrain creates microclimates that make county-level averages cooler than neighboring counties, even if mainland areas of the county remain very hot.

School years days were defined separately for each state using the 2018-2019 school year calendar for the state’s largest school district. Charter schools are not included in the analysis.

To determine the increase in average temperature for each school district, The Post used station temperature records from NOAA Regional Climate Centers via the Applied Climate Information System. Maximum temperature records for 1970-2023 were analyzed using a linear regression to determine the average rate of warming over the time period. Days with missing temperature measurements were excluded.

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Chiefs Kicker Goes Wide Right In Blasting Joe Biden On Abortion In Graduation Speech

Ron Dicker – May 14, 2024

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker launched a right-wing screed at President Joe Biden during Saturday’s commencement at Benedictine College (Kan.). (Watch the video below.)

Butker targeted Biden’s support of abortion rights and railed at “degenerate cultural values,” “dangerous gender ideologies,” and the “tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion” on a platform he said was given to him by God.

The guest speaker, whose game-tying field goal extended the recent Super Bowl to overtime, where the Chiefs eventually beat the San Francisco 49ers, tried to score points with his conservative audience at the liberal arts Catholic school.

“Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith, but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross during a pro-abortion rally,” he said, referring to Biden’s gesture last month that seconded a Democratic official’s criticism of Florida’s six-week abortion ban.

“He has been so vocal in his support for the murder of innocent babies that I’m sure to many people it appears that you can be both Catholic and pro-choice,” Butker continued.

Butker had already gone further afield, appearing to criticize Dr. Anthony Fauci’s COVID-19 response while voicing other conservative objections.

“Bad policies and poor leadership have negatively impacted major life issues,” he said. “Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media, all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder.”

HuffPost reached out to the Chiefs for comment on Butker’s remarks.

Fast-forward to 1:20 for many of Butker’s remarks aimed at Biden and culture-war points of contention:https://www.youtube.com/embed/-JS7RIKSaCc?rel=0

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker bashes Pride Month, tells women to stay in the kitchen. Yikes !!!

Touchdown Wire

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker bashes Pride Month, tells women to stay in the kitchen

Doug Farrar – May 13, 2024

There are some times when maybe, just maybe, one should actually stick to sports.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has been tremendously successful in his chosen profession over the last few years; the 1027 seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech has helped his team win three Super Bowls, and in the 2023 season, he made 94.3% of his field goals in the regular season (a career high), and he went 11-fot-11 in the postseason.

Butker’s legacy of tolerance is a bit more complicated.

Butker recently delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College, a liberal arts institution in Atchison, Kansas. This is the same college that once forced out gay basketball player Jallen Messersmith to remove a rainbow flag from his dorm room window.

It would seem that Butker felt right at home.https://www.youtube.com/embed/-JS7RIKSaCc?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

After delivering some incendiary comments about Covid and President Biden, Butker got around to what he perceives as a woman’s ultimate and rightful place: the kitchen.

“I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.

“I can tell you that my beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say her life truly started when she started living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. I’m on this stage today, able to be the man that I am, because I have a wife who leans into her vocation.

“I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all. Homemaker.”

Then, Butker got to what he termed the dangers of the “church of nice.”

“The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Butker said. “We fear speaking truth, because now, unfortunately, truth is in the minority.”

Then, on to Pride Month, which takes place in June.

“Not the deadly sins sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, “but the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the holy ghost to glorify him.”

Butker has every right to say whatever he wants at such an address, but he also deserves the flak he’s going to get over it. Most likely, he’ll take it as one for the team in the fight against, as he put it,

“dangerous gender ideologies.”

Oldest living Japanese American, 110, shares her longevity tips and the 1 food she eats every day

NBC News

Oldest living Japanese American, 110, shares her longevity tips and the 1 food she eats every day

Aryelle Siclait, TODAY – May 7, 2024

With 110 years of life behind her, Yoshiko Miwa isn’t going to wallow in the negative, and she doesn’t want you to either.

The oldest living person of Japanese descent in the United States, according to the Gerontology Research Group, Miwa prefers to focus on the times when she was happiest. She’s lived through the Spanish flu, prohibition, Black Tuesday, World War II, and the losses of her parents, siblings and friends, and still the supercentenarian’s go-to piece of longevity advice is: Don’t dwell.

Miwa is part of the nisei — the second-generation Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II — who often say “gaman,” which translates to “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity,” Alan Miwa, her son, tells TODAY.com. It’s often loosely translated to “perseverance,” “patience,” or “tolerance.”

These feelings, Alan Miwa suspects, are born from the resilience of many from his mother’s generation — who had much to endure. Shikata ga nai (仕方がない), a Japanese phrase meaning, “It cannot be helped,” or, “Nothing can be done about it,” is a common saying among them, too, he adds.

Yoshiko Miwa was born Yoshiko Tanaka on Feb. 28, 1914, in Guadalupe, California, to Japanese immigrants. She was the fifth of seven children. When her mother and infant brother died in 1919, her father struggled to care for his family and tend to the farm he owned. So Yoshiko Miwa and her siblings were sent to live at the children’s home founded by their parish, Guadalupe Buddhist Church.

She went on to graduate from Santa Maria High School in 1932, and she studied business at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1936. She married Henry Miwa in 1939.

During the Second World War, the pair and their families were sent to Poston Internment Camp in Arizona before relocating to Hawthorne, California, after the war. When they, along with many other Japanese people, had difficulty finding work upon their release in 1945, her husband founded a plant nursery business, and in 1963, Yoshiko Miwa got her nursing license.

Yoshiko Miwa has three sons, 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grand children and one great-great-grandchild.

Yoshiko Miwa  (Alan Y. Miwa)
Yoshiko Miwa (Alan Y. Miwa)

These days, Alan Miwa says she’s in good health and lives in a care facility, where she gets her hair done weekly and attends church services on Sundays.

In addition to a positive spirit, keeping your mind and body active is the key to a long life, Yoshiko Miwa has said in the past. Ahead she shares a few other aspects of her life that she believes have led to her longevity.

She keeps an ever-expanding roster of hobbies

When Yoshiko Miwa retired, she’d walk 4 miles each morning. In 1990, at 76, she walked a 20K as part of the March of Dimes Walkathon. She’s an avid reader, she practices ikebana (flower arranging), sumi-e (Japanese ink art), sashiko (Japanese stitching), sewing, furniture refinishing and reupholstery.

These days, though, her favorite activity is sleeping, she tells TODAY.com via email.

She wrote an autobiography

After taking a writing course, Yoshiko Miwa penned an autobiography. In it, she recalls her travels to Rome, Japan, Paris and Niagara Falls. She describes life in the children’s home and the long walks to school, her siblings and her childhood with her parents.

“We had a big pasture for the horses and cows to graze on,” she wrote of her family’s farm her in autobiography. “Some days, my sister and I would wander around the pasture to pick wild violets that grew there.”

She loves to eat noodles

Yoshiko Miwa’s a fan of any kind of noodles, eating them every day. “When I was in the children’s home, the cook used to make noodles and I used to love them,” she says. “Today, I like spaghetti, udon, ramen, soba and any other kind of noodles.”

Her faith energizes her

Yoshiko Miwa is grateful to Rev. and Mrs. Issei Matsuura of the Guadalupe Buddhist Church, who took her in when her mother died of the Spanish flu.

Family and friends of Yoshiko Miwa at her 110th birthday celebration at the Gardena Buddhist Church. (Courtesy Alan Y. Miwa)
Family and friends of Yoshiko Miwa at her 110th birthday celebration at the Gardena Buddhist Church. (Courtesy Alan Y. Miwa)

Yoshiko Miwa was 4 years old when her father turned to the church for help. “The church then started a children’s home and taught us Buddhism, Japanese language, Japanese culture and responsibility,” she recalls. “I’ve always been indebted to Rev. and Mrs. Matsuura.”

… And her family does, too

The Miwa family travels together and hosts reunions. “I’ve been fortunate that my sons, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren and relatives have always been there for me,” says Yoshiko Miwa.

“Because my mother died so young, I have never enjoyed the warmth and love of a family unit,” she wrote in her autobiography. “Later, when I had my children, I keenly felt the wholesomeness of a complete family.”

Can drinking a blend of oats, water and lime juice help you lose weight? Here’s what nutritionists think about the ‘oatzempic’ trend.

Yahoo! Life

Can drinking a blend of oats, water and lime juice help you lose weight? Here’s what nutritionists think about the ‘oatzempic’ trend.

Maxine Yeung – April 10, 2024

A bowl of uncooked oats and two glasses of what looks like oat milk.
Experts say “oatzempic” doesn’t offer a balanced or sustainable approach to weight loss. (Getty Images) (izhairguns via Getty Images)

Weight loss drugs continue to gain in popularity, but not everyone who wants them can afford these medications, leaving some people hunting for more cost-effective alternatives. While natural options may seem promising, their effectiveness can be unpredictable. Berberine, for example, has been labeled “nature’s Ozempic,” though it may help more with managing blood sugar levels than aiding in actual weight loss. Meanwhile, psyllium husk — an inexpensive fiber supplement — is sought-after for its ability to temporarily suppress appetite by promoting a sense of fullness, but it’s important to note that fiber alone does not directly cause weight loss.

More recently, there’s been a viral trend involving the consumption of “oatzempic,” a drink crafted from oats, water and lime juice blended together. Its name cleverly references the prescription diabetes medication Ozempic, which is also well known for its weight loss benefits. This trend has gained lots of attention on platforms like TikTok, with claims suggesting it can help individuals shed as much as 40 pounds in two months.

“The oatzempic trend may seem enticing due to its simplicity and potential for rapid weight loss, but it’s essential to approach it with caution,” Vandana Sheth, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes, tells Yahoo Life. So what are the downsides — as well as any possible benefits — of oatzempic, and can it really help with weight loss? Here’s what experts have to say.

How do you make oatzempic?

To prepare oatzempic, blend a half cup of raw oats, 1 cup of water and the juice of half a lime together until smooth. Drink it on an empty stomach, aiming for one to two servings a day. If you aren’t a fan of the taste, some people add a dash of cinnamon or honey, though the latter will add some calories and sugar.

Why the lime?

It’s unclear why lime juice is a key ingredient, though many suspect it’s primarily for enhancing the flavor of the drink, which has been described as chalky. Plus, lime juice provides a healthy dose of the antioxidant vitamin C.

Despite what some believe, Sheth clarifies, “there’s a misconception that acidic foods like lime juice can aid in fat burning, which is not supported by scientific evidence.” Dr. Amy Lee, head of nutrition for Nucific, tells Yahoo Life that a stomach’s acidity is greater than that of the fruit anyway.

What are the benefits?

Oatzempic’s benefits have been touted by people on social media trying it out for a 40-day challenge, but its impact on health hasn’t actually been researched. That said, oats alone boast many health advantages: They contain antioxidants and are linked with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol and better blood sugar control. Research also shows potential for oats to help with regulating appetite and maintaining weight.

In just half a cup of oats, there are 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber, particularly beta-glucan, which helps slow digestion, moves food and waste through the gut and promotes regular bowel movements.

Does oatzempic help with weight loss?

Substituting a meal with oatzempic can support weight loss efforts. However, as Julie Pace, functional dietitian and founder of Core Nutrition Health and Wellness, tells Yahoo Life: “It’s important to understand that this weight loss is primarily due to calorie restriction rather than any unique properties of oatzempic’s ingredients.” With just about 150 calories in a half cup of oats, oatzempic is low-calorie. Its fiber content may also promote a feeling of fullness, leading to less overall eating during the day.

Experts advise embracing this trend with caution since oatzempic does not offer a balanced or sustainable approach to weight loss. “Simply substituting high-calorie meals with low-calorie shakes may result in quick weight loss,” Sheth explains, “but without sustainable lifestyle changes, it may lead to health complications and weight regain once regular eating habits resume.”

Lee agrees: “I don’t think it is a long-term solution. Changing just one meal and its composition is a good start, but overall, one has to be mindful of the rest of the day as well.”

What are the downsides?

Pace says that oatzempic “encourages an unhealthy, unsustainable and restrictive approach to weight loss that is not supportive of overall health and well-being. Sustainable weight management involves making gradual, sustainable changes to diet and lifestyle rather than relying on quick fixes or extreme measures.”

Sheth warns that “rapid weight loss through extreme measures can lead to health complications such as nutrient deficiencies, loss of lean muscle tissue, hair loss and hormonal imbalances.” Not only are trends like oatzempic restrictive, especially if done for an extended amount of time, but they also risk promoting disordered eating habits.

While some people recommend using oatzempic as a meal replacement, experts point out it doesn’t contain nearly enough calories, protein or fat to be considered an equal swap. Generally for meals, you want to aim for about 15 to 30 grams of protein and at least twice as many calories as what’s found in a single serving of oatzempic.

“I do see some people adding protein powder and altering it by squeezing in some good oils,” says Lee. However, these additions change the simplicity of oatzempic and resemble more of a balanced breakfast.

Final takeaways

“If one is trying to just feel full in the morning to start their day strong, there are definitely other ways to do so,” says Lee. Instead of drinking oatzempic, aim for a satisfying breakfast of oatmeal, including fruit, seeds (hemp, chia and flax) and nuts (walnuts, almonds) for added protein, fiber and fat. If you prefer the drink version, consider swapping in milk for water or adding nut butter.

Although drinking oatzempic may increase fiber and water intake, experts agree that prioritizing overall health and wellness with sustainable habits is best if weight loss is your goal, and they note that weight loss alone doesn’t always mean improved health.

Maxine Yeung is a dietitian and board-certified health and wellness coach.

25% of U.S. adults say they drink 1 or 2 glasses of water a day — and 8% rarely or never drink it, Yahoo/YouGov poll finds. Here’s how to sneak more hydration into your day.

Yahoo! Life

25% of U.S. adults say they drink 1 or 2 glasses of water a day — and 8% rarely or never drink it, Yahoo/YouGov poll finds. Here’s how to sneak more hydration into your day.

Kerry Justich, Health and Wellness Writer – April 18, 2024

How much water should you be drinking a day? (Getty Images)
How much water should you be drinking a day? (Getty Images) (fizkes via Getty Images)

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll has revealed that many Americans are coming up short in hydration. The survey of 1,746 U.S. adults, conducted from April 11 to April 15, found that 8% say they rarely or never drink water, while 25% are drinking just one to two glasses of water a day. The overwhelming majority of respondents (66%) reported drinking three or more glasses a day.

Is that enough? According to Edwina Clark, a registered dietitian, certified specialist in sports dietetics and owner of Edwina Clark Nutrition, the answer is no. Clark tells Yahoo Life that she’s “concerned” about the 8% of Americans who are getting very little water intake, especially given the popularity of sugary beverages.

How can people who are skimping on their water consumption make sure they’re still getting hydrated — and what’s the ideal water intake we should all be getting? Experts share their recommendations.

How much water should you drink a day?

According to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the daily recommendation for water consumption is nine glasses a day for women, totaling 2.2 liters assuming a standard 8-ounce cup size, and 13 glasses, or 3 liters, for men. These guidelines account for “fluid intake from beverages including water, tea, broth and milk,” says Clark. “Food typically provides another 0.5 to 1 liter of fluid intake per day on top of water from beverages.”

But water needs, she adds, can “vary widely depending on age, activity level, size, climate or season, and illness.” People might also need more than what’s been recommended by the NAM when considering water loss through factors like sweat.

“Fluid intake is particularly important before, during and after exercise to combat sweat-related losses,” says Clark. “Some people may need a sports drink during and after exercise to replace electrolytes lost through sweat as well as fluid. However, this is largely dependent on exercise intensity, duration and ambient temperature.”

What are people drinking instead?

Of the 8% of poll respondents who report rarely or never drinking water on a daily basis, 38% indicated that soda is their preferred beverage. Clark says that this is cause for concern.

“While soda may not increase fluid depletion [meaning it won’t contribute to dehydration], drinking sugar-sweetened beverages on a consistent basis is associated with a raft of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and tooth decay,” she says.

Clark adds that while “the occasional sweetened drink is fine for most,” consistently opting for it over water could pose problems.

The second-most-popular drink among this group was tea, preferred by 21%, which Clark says is a good alternative to water if unsweetened. The 15% who go for coffee, however, could have trouble staying hydrated depending on the amount of caffeine they drink over a day.

“Low to moderate caffeine consumption has not been shown to impact fluid balance,” she says, noting that a 16-ounce Starbucks cold brew won’t leave an average-size adult dehydrated. A 2017 study indicates that higher caffeine intake, amounting to four or more coffees a day, could lead to a diuretic effect.

How can you tell if you’re hydrated?

Ingesting fluids is important for maintaining a good blood pressure, heart rate and electrolyte balance, according to Dr. Amber Robins, a family and lifestyle medicine practitioner at Rochester Regional Health. She tells Yahoo Life that the easiest way to determine if you’re hydrated is taking a look at your urine.

“Having clear urine can mean that you have an adequate amount of fluid intake,” she says. “If your urine is darker in color, this likely means that you are dehydrated.”

Simple ways to increase water intake

If you notice that you might be dehydrated, Clark suggests the following to amp up your fluid intake:

Have water within reach. Keep a large water bottle on your desk, in your gym bag, etc. and sip frequently throughout the day. The more visible water is, the more likely you are to stay hydrated.

Make it fun. Add fruit wedges and herbs to water to make it more appealing; some have even credited the “sexy water” trend with spurring them to sip. If you’re not a water lover, unsweetened tea and sparkling water are good alternatives without added sugar.

Eat your fruits and veggies. Water-rich foods like fruit and veggies can contribute up to 20% of your fluid intake. Make sure you get at least three servings of veggies and two servings of fruit a day to help top off your water tank. Cucumber, iceberg lettuce, bell peppers, watermelon, radishes, tomatoes, spinach and berries are more than 90% water.

Watch out for water depleters like alcohol. Alcohol will make you lose fluids more quickly, which is why bathrooms at bars often have a line.

Other ways to start would be to make a goal of drinking water before each meal or once you wake up in the morning, according to Robins. Clark adds: “People generally wake up dehydrated after consuming little or no fluid overnight, so starting your day with a big glass of water is generally a good idea.”

Many of us turn to food for comfort. But when does emotional eating become an issue?

Yahoo! Life

Many of us turn to food for comfort. But when does emotional eating become an issue?

Ashley Broadwater – April 18, 2024

How to determine and break emotional eating habits. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images)
How to determine and break emotional eating habits. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images)

When Sam Thomas, a writer, speaker and mental health campaigner, was 11 years old, he experienced homophobic bullying at school. To escape the bullies, he would hide in the bathroom and eat the food in his lunchbox. “It was a sanctuary, as it was the only place I knew I wouldn’t be found,” he tells Yahoo Life.

This common and understandable behavior — emotional eating — was a source of comfort for him, and it didn’t end when he left school. Instability in his home life as a child and teen contributed to Thomas’s eating habits and difficult relationship with food. “It helped fill a void that felt like numbness or emptiness,” he explains.

He’s far from alone in that experience. In fact, about 75% of eating is emotionally driven, according to psychologist Susan Albers from the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center. But Thomas’s experience is reflective of a more significant issue when the quest to become emotionally satiated by food leads to a cycle of shame and guilt, while underlying anxiety or stress remains.

What is emotional eating?

In a nutshell, emotional eating is using food to soothe, numb or cope with (usually difficult) feelings. “The emotional connection that we have to food exists every time we eat, even when we’re eating primarily because we’re hungry,” Christine Byrne, a registered dietitian and the owner of Ruby Oak Nutrition in Raleigh, N.C., tells Yahoo Life. Emotional eating, however, isn’t motivated by hunger. Instead, it is “the act of using food to cope with various feelings you’re experiencing,” she explains. Like turning to McDonald’s to soothe, distract or calm the mind and body after a stressful work day, rather than to feel satiated.

Emotional eating isn’t defined as an eating disorder, according to Healthline. However, it is a pattern of disordered eating that is heavily tied to mental health.

According to Byrne, “it’s tough to say definitively what the signs of emotional eating are, since the same behavior can either be healthy or maladaptive depending on the intention behind it, the intensity of it and how often you engage in it.”

However, some signs of maladaptive (or disordered) eating she encourages folks to look out for include:

  • Frequently eating because of feelings (such as boredom, sadness, loneliness, stress, happiness) instead of hunger
  • When eating is the only way you know how to deal with uncomfortable feelings
  • Frequently eating until you’re uncomfortably full as a way to numb or escape feelings
Why does emotional eating happen?

The connection between food and emotions has been evidenced through culture and science. “As humans, one way we connect and soothe from infancy is through food,” Rachel Heinemann, a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, tells Yahoo Life. “We build community over joint meals, we comfort those who are grieving with food and we welcome new neighbors with food.”

A study in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science also helps to explain the phenomenon of emotional eating, as it points out that sweet, high-calorie foods are often what people crave when experiencing a spike in cortisol from stress. These foods are linked to the release of serotonin, which can boost mood.

Thomas’s go-to foods when he was feeling depressed, for example, were cookies and chips (although he says he’d eat anything he could find in an effort to relieve emotional discomfort). This habit was also informed by past experiences of his mother rewarding and comforting him with sweets. “I associated certain foods with a whole range of emotions,” he says.

Childhood experiences, like being rewarded with sweets, are a notable cause of emotional eating. Other contributors include social influences, boredom, suppressed emotions and stress. Existing body image issues and restrictive dieting are also risk factors, as any one of these can be an emotional trigger that leads to a specific food craving. It’s not inherently a bad thing; however, feeding those feelings doesn’t always bring the intended result or relief.

In Thomas’s experience, food would provide him a kind of high while eating, to eventually experience what he refers to as a “come down” after the fact, in which the difficult feelings return. This is then paired with the discomfort that can come from mindless eating or eating beyond fullness. Breona O’Brien, a licensed mental health counselor with Mindoula, says that that aftermath can perpetuate a negative cycle with body image as well.

“This overeating can lead to weight gain and a feeling of a loss of control. These two things then lead to more negative thoughts about their bodies and can lead to more emotional eating,” she tells Yahoo Life.

When determining events and triggers that lead to emotional eating, it’s important to address the frequency in which it happens. “Frequent emotional eating can be an indication that there is something going on in your life, family, job [or] living environment that is making you distressed,” says O’Brien, “and no one deserves to live in a constant state of discomfort.”

Addressing the root issues

Mindfulness is key to addressing emotional eating and its causes, according to O’Brien. She says it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the messages that our bodies and brains are sending us when it comes to food. This would allow an individual to come to understand if they’re reaching for food because they’re actually hungry or if there’s an emotional reaction at play.

Mount Sinai offers a guide that suggests observing eating patterns and how they relate to certain feelings, situations or places; as well as working on developing new coping skills to handle those moments. This might include reading a book, talking to friends or going for a walk, for example, rather than heading to the pantry.

This isn’t to say that people should emotionally detach from food, or that all emotional eating is inherently a bad thing. (In fact, Heinemann emphasizes that food is meant to be a way for people to “connect, soothe and enjoy.”) These interventions, however, may be more helpful — or are at least other options you can turn to.

Other helpful tactics include eating slowly, planning ahead so that you’re not in a situation that feels urgent and working with a professional to avoid further discomfort, body image issues and the threat of an eating disorder.

Seeking therapy is ultimately what helped Thomas. “Having had trauma therapy, I realized my addictions had been with me since a very young age,” he says. “Therapy sessions enabled me to recognize the pattern [of my emotional eating] and find ways to break it.”

Thomas has found that activities such as going to the gym and writing in a journal also help him meet his emotional needs. To say that he hasn’t turned to food for comfort since wouldn’t be accurate. However, he has “a much healthier relationship with food” after ridding himself of guilt and shame surrounding it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder please visit the National Eating Disorders (NEDA) website at nationaleatingdisorders.org for more information.