3 billion tons of cereal crops lost from 1964 to 2007

Accuweather Mon Feb 8 2016 By: Heather Janssen

Nearly a tenth of cereal crops were wiped out by droughts and heat waves between 1964 and 2007, according to a UBC study featured on Accuweather.

The researchers studied crop data and weather disaster reports and estimated that more than three billion tons of cereal crops were lost between 1964 and 2007 due to droughts and heat waves.

“Our estimate is that every drought or extreme heat event reduces current cereal production by roughly 9-10 percent,” said author and UBC professor Navin Ramankutty. “In the future, it is anticipated that, with climate change, we will have more extreme heat events and potentially more droughts as well [although the latter is a bit more controversial].”

Signs someone you know is a psychopath in disguise

Huffington Post Fri Feb 5 2016 By: Megan Drillinger

A Huffington Post article on sociopaths and psychopaths mentioned a checklist of psychopathic traits developed by Robert Hare, emeritus professor of psychology at UBC.

The checklist is a diagnostic tool drawing from Hare’s research with criminals in prison.

Liberals using consultations to avoid making decisions: critics

Huffington Post Sat Feb 6 2016 By: Althia Raj

Tory critics are accusing the Liberals of using consultations as a way to defer making decisions, reports the Huffington Post.

However, UBC political scientist Kathryn Harrison says public consultations can be a good thing where major public policy changes are involved. “Things like the electoral system and federal-provincial relations with respect to Canada’s greenhouse gas emission target, these have potential for really big and far-reaching policy changes,” Harrison said. “They are important things where it is appropriate to solicit input from the public.”

Canada has signed the TPP. Now should we ratify it?

Global News Thu Feb 4 2016

Kurt Hübner, director of the Institute for European Studies at UBC, says Canada may have made too many concessions to join the Trans Pacific Partnership and should think twice before ratifying the deal.

“Canada came very late to the game, meaning our previous government tried very hard to join TPP negotiations. They may have made too many concessions,” Hubner told Global News. “The [former] Harper government already signalled there would be payouts for those potential losers, particularly the dairy sector and the food sector.”

A big concern, according to UBC political scientist Yves Tiberghien, is that TPP is being positioned by the Japanese leadership and some sectors in the U.S. as a hedge against China, which would bring a lot of security concerns into trade. On the positive side, the TPP could boost agriculture, Tiberghien told CBC’s Early Edition.

Explaining the similarities between rats and ravers

VICE Wed Feb 3 2016 By: Gigen Mammoser

A VICE article compared the effects of flashing lights on rats’ decision-making and on Saturday night ravers.

The writer interviewed one of the co-authors in a UBC study that showed rats tended to make riskier choices when subjected to flashing lights and music.

Studying ‘foreign ownership’ in Vancouver

SCMP Wed Feb 3 2016 By: Ian Young

A South China Morning Post blog said the B.C. government’s study of Vancouver’s housing market is unlikely to produce useful information.

The article mentioned previous, peer-reviewed research–including work done by UBC professor David Ley–that already examined the effects of foreign investment on Vancouver real estate.

Slots put players in the ‘machine zone’: UBC

24 Hours Tue Feb 2 2016 By: Eric MacKenzie

24 Hours featured the research being done at UBC’s Centre for Gambling Research. The centre, led by director Luke Clark, examined the impact of slot machines on user behaviour and found that slot players tend to fall into “the machine zone.” Clark defines this as a trance-like state where the player could easily forget what’s happening in the outside world beyond the game.

Clark is presenting some of this research on Wednesday as part of the New Horizons in Responsible Gaming Conference.

Gadget that ‘eavesdrops’ on water warns you of waste

Live Science Sat Jan 30 2016 By: Elizabeth Goldbaum

LiveScience featured a new gadget for water conservation developed by Nascent, a Silicon Valley startup, in partnership with UBC’s Behavioural Sustainability Lab.

The device incorporates a bar of light that gets shorter whenever it hears the tap left running.

Similar articles appeared on Yahoo and Kelowna Capital News.

Vancouver researcher finding meaning in fantasy flicks

Metro News Sun Jan 31 2016 By: Tereza Verenca

A UBC study called the World Hobbit Project found that moviegoers try to find themes in fantasy films that relate to their own lives and concerns, reports Metro News.

“Humans are meaning-seeking creatures,” said Ernest Mathijs, head of UBC’s centre for cinema studies. “If blockbusters allow – through imagery, through particular pieces of dialogue – audiences sort of mold these films into something that means something, like using it as a guide to their own life, using it as a way to bond with friends with family.”

The Georgia Straight also featured Mathijs’ study.

Cantonese still thriving in Metro Vancouver

The Vancouver Sun Mon Feb 1 2016 By: Chuck Chiang

The city’s newest Chinese immigrants tend to be Mandarin speakers, not Cantonese, according to a Vancouver Sun article.

Ross King, head of UBC’s Asian Studies program, discussed a new undergraduate, for-credit Cantonese language class offered by the department to Asian Studies students whose mother tongue isn’t Chinese.

UBC linguistics researcher and PhD candidate Zoe Lam expressed concern about the future of Cantonese and said the current generation of Cantonese speakers play an important role in the transmission of the language to younger generations.

A similar article appeared in The Province.

Poll finds more transit funding unpopular whatever the source

CBC News Mon Feb 1 2016

UBC political science PhD candidate David Moscrop commented on political psychology on CBC Early Edition.

People don’t want to pay taxes but “the problem is what you end up with is a situation where citizens are cutting off their nose to spite their face,” Moscrop said. “At the end of the day, we’re the ones who are going to shoulder the burden of a poor transit system in the long run, when we have a million more people here.”

Yahoo also ran this story.

Canada open to dialogue with Russia Mon Feb 1 2016 By: Roger Annis

A article on the federal government’s shift towards Russia quoted UBC political science professor Michael Byers, who believes that Russia’s record of scientific cooperation in the Arctic has been exceptional. Byers cited the number of scientific, political and transport treaties and agreements that go back decades between the eight member countries of the Arctic Council, which includes Russia, the United States and Canada.

You’re more productive than you think

National Post Tue Feb 2 2016 By: Stephen Gordon

A National Post article on Canadian productivity mentions a 2012 study by UBC’s Erwin Diewert and Emily Yu of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The authors proposed a new productivity measure that suggests Canada’s annual productivity growth is four times as much as the official estimates.

Ethnic economies on the rise in North America

The Vancouver Sun Sun Jan 31 2016 By: Douglas Todd

A new Vancouver Sun article highlights the growing importance of ethnic economies.

Examples of ethnic economies include Vietnamese immigrants in nail salons and Indian immigrants in the U.S. hotel sector, according to UBC geographer Daniel Hiebert.

“Living in the midst of a large co-ethnic group may be beneficial, perhaps by enabling people to access social capital, or perhaps through the employment opportunities that may arise in….ethnic economies,” Hiebert said.

This story also appeared in The Province and Ottawa Citizen.

Permanent residents to B.C. from China drop by half

The Vancouver Sun Sun Jan 31 2016 By: Tara Carman

The Vancouver Sun reports on the latest numbers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which show that migration from China has plunged in the past decade.

UBC history professor Henry Yu said the decline in permanent residents from China reflects growing preference among Chinese parents to apply for the 10-year super visa introduced by the Conservative government. The visa allows parents and grandparents to visit children in Canada for up to two years at a time, making migration a less necessary option.