Paris climate deal must ensure respect for human rights: U.N.

From Pacific islanders losing their homelands to encroaching seas, to indigenous people forced from their forests in the name of conservation, human rights are already being violated by both climate change impacts and solutions, U.N. rights experts said.

“There is a relationship between human rights and climate change – Paris can’t do anything about pretending that relationship doesn’t exist,” said John Knox, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment. “What it can do is recognize that the relationship does exist and do something about it.”

From Paris, a NC message on climate change

Justin Catanoso writes, “Letitia Webster, a top official with Greensboro-based VF Corp., came to the 21st UN climate summit in Paris with a message from corporate America to the world. She ended up delivering one to state legislators in Raleigh.

“I think what we’ve shown already in North Carolina is that when you provide the incentives – the investment tax credits for solar; when you have the renewable energy portfolio – it works,” said Webster, VF’s senior director of global corporate sustainability and responsibility, in an interview.

Catanoso, director of journalism at Wake Forest, reported from Paris during the climate talks. His work is supported by the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability at Wake Forest and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

News Center Media Report for Dec. 5-11

The WFU News Center Media Report for Dec. 5-11 is now available online.

Making sense of the senseless violence

Mass shootings and the accompanying carnage have now become a regular part of life in America. And mental health experts warn that this steady drumbeat of violence could have major consequences for the nation’s psyche.

There have been 355 mass shootings in the United States so far this year — defined as incidents in which four or more victims were shot, though not necessarily killed, according to, a crowd-sourced website that monitors U.S. gun violence.

Others might become angry and determined, and see the ongoing violence as a call to action – even if they aren’t exactly sure what they can do. Samuel Gladding, a professor of counseling at Wake Forest, agrees. “Those closest to the shootings are responding with an outpouring of altruistic acts,” he said. “In such communities there is more fear, but also more defiance and resolve to not let violence win.”

Going gray naturally can be the bold move these days

Joanne Hudson’s friends didn’t hide their surprise when she mentioned earlier this year that she was considering letting her grey hair show. Most were enthusiastic and supportive. But they treated the idea of going naturally grey as a bold, gutsy move.

“Grey hair is a sign of aging and today, in that association, it still creates as much anxiety as it did in the past,” says Wanda Balzano, associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. She sees a false liberation, rather than progress, in the widespread acceptance of banishing grey hair.

“What is different today is the fact that men are becoming increasingly conscious of their hair image,” Balzano says, “and have thus joined the ranks of women in being conscious of how they look.”

Ho-hum holiday? Maybe traditions need an update

The holidays are coming, and that often means falling into routine get-togethers with family and friends. While there are undoubtedly cherished traditions that everyone looks forward to, others can be as welcome as stale fruitcake.

First, lose the guilt if you would rather take a pass on the communal viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” making holiday cookies nobody seems to want anymore or hosting that December party whose luster has faded. People who have “holiday burnout” shouldn’t feel bad, said Samuel T. Gladding, professor of counseling at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“People get tired of doing the same thing year after year, day after day, holiday after holiday,” Gladding said.

News Center Media Report for Nov. 28 – Dec. 4

The WFU News Center Media Report for Nov. 28 – Dec. 4 is now available online.

News Center Media Report for Nov. 22-27

The WFU News Center Media Report for Nov. 22-27 is now available online.

UN climate change summit could bring first progress in years

Government leaders from 194 nations, braving threats of further terrorist attacks, gather Monday in Paris for the 21st United Nations climate change summit. Their goal is to forge a framework that they hope will spare the planet from the kind of catastrophic warming by 2100 that many climate scientists see as inevitable.

News Center Media Report for Nov. 11-20

The WFU News Center Media Report for Nov. 11-20 is now available online.