Science round-up: Cancer, China, and climate change

Almost one-third of families of children with cancer have unmet basic needs during treatment

These basic needs include food, housing, clothing, transportation, as well as incidental expenses.

These families are mainly low income workers and people in poverty. The United States not only does not provide the needed assistance to these families with sick children, it tolerates the knowledge that this situation has a negative influence on the survival rate of these children many of  whom die of their cancers who may have lived if they were not poor. This is one more reason to oust the Republicans from power wherever they are so that they can no longer block legislation and programs that could remedy this problem.

Legal drinking age of 18 tied to high school dropout rate

Research indicates that there is a strong relation between lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 and the increase of the dropout rate of high school students. The last time the age was dropped to 18 the dropout rate increased anywhere from four percent to 13 percent and minority children were the most likely to dropout. The current discussions on lowering the drinking age back to 18 should consider the facts that only the alcohol producers will really benefit due to market demand and that minority students will be the most vulnerable due to the lack of social services and the social pressures many are under to dropout of school.

Goods manufactured in China not good for the environment, study finds

While the development of the Chinese economy has lifted millions out of poverty and turned China into an economic world power, their manufacturing sector spews forth more CO2 by far than similar sectors in other countries. This makes their system more detrimental to the environment than it should be. This is due to their dependence on burning coal for fuel and the fact that many of their factories are technologically out of date. To its credit the Chinese government has taken steps to remedy the situation by closing down coal fueled plants, investing in alternative energy sources, and beginning to upgrade the manufacturing sector.

Are American schools making inequality worse?

The answer is yes according to analysis of math teaching around the world. The U.S. was included in this study, which revealed that social class was a major factor in getting a good math education. More content and better access to higher math classes are available to more affluent students while lower class students get a lower quality math education. This puts these students at a disadvantage in passing tests for better colleges and jobs in the future and helps to perpetuate the lower class status of low income students. Of course, in a country based on inequality and birth privilege the schools will reflect and reproduce the class and income structure of society as a whole.

Climate change negatively affects birth weight, study finds

Low birth weight babies are more likely to be handicapped as adults and they also have a higher mortality rate. These studies show that this negative affect is most pronounced in poor third world populations but as the climate worsens will eventually spread to the developed world as well.

Photo: According to an analysis, U.S. schools are worsening inequality.   |   Patrick Collard/AP


Thomas Riggins
Thomas Riggins

Thomas Riggins is associate editor of Political Affairs. Reach him at