Letzte Generation deface fountains, block traffic; new study quantifies the psychological harms of German school closures; Greens deploy dirty tricks to force their way into the Bavarian government
The self-gluing climate idiots of Letzte Generation, as promised, are at it again with a new focus on my home, Bavaria. On 23 August, the 75th anniversary of the Constitutional Convention on the Herreninsel, they appeared before the New Palace and dyed the water in two garden fountains black, apparently to symbolise oil, before plunging symbolic constitutions into it.
They unfurled banners claiming that “the climate catastrophe is sinking our fundamental human rights.” The rhetoric is obviously an appeal to the judiciary to intervene and stop CO2 emissions, even though nobody who drafted the constitution in 1948 would’ve recognised their arguments.
Yesterday, Letzte Generation blocked major traffic arteries in Munich, in heavy rain that made their adhesives ineffective. Some motorists dragged them from the road, and others pushed them out of the way with their cars. This morning they did more of the same, this time with glue, although they’re forbidden to carry it by an emergency decree of city authorities. Their purpose is to disrupt the IAA Mobility Summit, an automaker trade show scheduled for 5–8 September.
I considered briefly whether I should return to Munich to document the action in person, but then I thought better of it. While Letzte Generation protests generate enormous media coverage, there’s remarkably little to say about them and their infantile messaging. I wonder, sometimes, if that isn’t the point.
A team of German researchers have published a new study in Science Advances on the harms wrought by extended school closures.
They look at survey data on adolescent mental health and crisis helpline calls from before and during the pandemic. Against this data, they compare state-by-state variations in school closures in order to isolate the effects of pandemic restrictions. Schools are the centre of the social world of children; closures effectively condemned millions of kids to months-long periods of isolation at home, away from their peers, with lasting consequences.
These consequences are now quantified. The study authors show that every week schools remained close had substantial, measurable impact on the mental health of children. Worse affected were boys, younger children, and children whose families had smaller living spaces. Crisis hotline calls suggest that family problems were a major driver of psychological impacts. This too makes sense: Parents were forced to work and look after their young children at the same time, often in small under-equipped apartments, amid the unending stress of virus panic messaging.
The authors emphasise that their results are “only the tip of the iceberg”:
We only provide insights into the short-run effects of prolonged school closures on youth mental health. In addition, our estimates correspond to the effects of initial school closures only, lasting between 4.7 and 10.1 weeks. In Germany, 25 or more additional weeks of school closure followed; in other countries, such as the United States, students were exempted from in-person learning for 71 weeks in total. The effects may obviously not accumulate week by week. Many adolescents may have adjusted to and learned to live with the different situation. However, the pandemic and its related measures represented an immense burden for adolescents and their families, depriving adolescents from the positive social interactions urgently needed for a swift recovery to happen.
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