By Michael Svoboda
The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.
By Beth Ann Mayer
Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A Barcelona opera house played its first concert since mid-March to an unusual audience: 2,292 plants.
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By Jessica Corbett
"Humanity's broken relationship with nature comes at a cost."
That cost is new zoonotic diseases, which are passed from animals to humans and "are emerging at an alarming rate." That is according to a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report released Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate communities and economies across the globe.
<div id="8bf27" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="abcfdcc8ebf06dbba43a9b5295022d5b"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273245890652901377" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">#COVID19 is the greatest health, economic and social crisis in a century. How we respond to it will shape the futur… https://t.co/aXOKL2N0Vb</div> — WWF (@WWF)<a href="https://twitter.com/WWF/statuses/1273245890652901377">1592400450.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="7facd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0d96b0f1be500e1be6fa1b430334a062"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273174411399626752" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Nature provides food & water, powers our economies & underpins our health. Yet we are pushing it to the brink.… https://t.co/8A2wAvIKwN</div> — WWF (@WWF)<a href="https://twitter.com/WWF/statuses/1273174411399626752">1592383408.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Jennifer Atkinson
The coronavirus pandemic has set off a global gardening boom.
Why Americans Garden<p>Prior to industrialization, most Americans were <a href="https://www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus/" target="_blank">farmers</a> and would have considered it odd to grow food as a leisure activity. But as they moved into cities and suburbs to take factory and office jobs, coming home to putter around in one's potato beds took on a kind of novelty. Gardening also appealed to nostalgia for the passing of traditional farm life.</p><p>For black Americans denied the opportunity to abandon subsistence work, Jim Crow-era gardening reflected a different set of desires.</p><p>In her essay "<a href="https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxhbWVyaWNhbmxpdDE0MTV8Z3g6NWRlMGUyYzc5NDJjMTRmNA" target="_blank">In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens</a>," Alice Walker recalls her mother tending an extravagant flower garden late at night after finishing brutal days of field labor. As a child, she wondered why anyone would voluntarily add one more task to such a difficult life. Later, Walker understood that gardening wasn't just another form of labor; it was an act of artistic expression.</p><p>Particularly for black women relegated to society's least desirable jobs, gardening offered the chance to reshape a small piece of the world in, as Walker put it, one's "personal image of Beauty."</p><p>This isn't to say that food is always a secondary factor in gardening passions. Convenience cuisine in the 1950s spawned its <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt5hh1rm" target="_blank">own generation</a> of home-growers and <a href="https://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/4372.htm" target="_blank">back-to-the-land</a> movements rebelling against a <a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520250352/meals-to-come" target="_blank">mid-century diet</a> now infamous for Jell-O mold salads, canned-food casseroles, TV dinner and Tang.</p><p><span></span>For millennial-era growers, gardens have responded to longings for <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329483674_The_Earth_Knows_My_Name_Food_Culture_and_Sustainability_in_the_Gardens_of_Ethnic_Americans" target="_blank">community and inclusion</a>, especially among <a href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/06/09/doing-whatever-it-takes-to-create-a-prison-garden" target="_blank">marginalized groups</a>. Immigrants and inner-city residents lacking access to green space and fresh produce have taken up "<a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520277779/paradise-transplanted" target="_blank">guerrilla gardening</a>" in vacant lots to revitalize their communities.</p>
Gardening in the Age of Screens<p>In 2011, Ron Finley – a resident of South Central L.A. and self-identified "<a href="https://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-fo-ron-finley-project-20170503-story.html" target="_blank">gangsta gardener</a>" – was even threatened with arrest for installing vegetable plots along sidewalks.</p><p>Such appropriations of public space for community use are often seen as threats to existing power structures. Moreover, many people can't wrap their heads around the idea that someone would spend time cultivating a garden but not reap all of the rewards.</p><p>When reporters asked Finley if he were concerned that people would steal the food, <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerrilla_gardener_in_south_central_la" target="_blank">he replied</a>, "Hell no I ain't afraid they're gonna steal it, that's why it's on the street!"</p>
Filling the Void<p>Page's observation suggests a final reason why the coronavirus pandemic has ignited such a flurry of gardening. Our era is one of profound <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.01.010" target="_blank">loneliness</a>, and the proliferation of <a href="https://www.upmc.com/media/news/012219-primack-sidani-posneg" target="_blank">digital devices</a> is only one of the causes. That emptiness also proceeds from the staggering <a href="https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/" target="_blank">retreat of nature</a>, a process underway well before screen addiction. The people coming of age during the COVID-19 pandemic have already witnessed oceans die and glaciers disappear, watched Australia and the Amazon burn and mourned the astonishing <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/wwf-report-reveals-staggering-extent-of-human-impact-on-planet" target="_blank">loss of global wildlife</a>.</p><p>Perhaps this explains why <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/15/magazine/quarantine-animal-videos-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">stories of nature's "comeback"</a> are continually <a href="https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-04-21/wildlife-thrives-amid-coronavirus-lockdown" target="_blank">popping up</a> alongside those gardening headlines. We cheer at images of animals <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/science/coronavirus-animals-wildlife-goats.html" target="_blank">reclaiming</a> abandoned spaces and birds filling skies cleared of pollution. Some of these accounts are credible, others <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/03/coronavirus-pandemic-fake-animal-viral-social-media-posts/" target="_blank">dubious</a>. What matters, I think, is that they offer a glimpse of the world as we wish it could be: In a time of immense suffering and climate breakdown, we are desperate for signs of life's resilience.</p><p>My final conversation with Wallace offered a clue as to how this desire is also fueling today's gardening craze. She marveled at how life in the garden continues to "spring forth in our absence, or even because of our absence." Then she closed with an insight at once "liberating" and "humiliating" that touches on hopes reaching far beyond the nation's backyards: "No matter what we do, or how the conference call goes, the garden will carry on, with or without us."</p>
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By Cris Brack and Aini Jasmin Ghazalli
Are you feeling anxious or irritated during the coronavirus lockdown? Do you constantly want to get up and move? Maybe you need a moment to engage with nature.
Biophilia<p>But inside, in your hastily constructed home office or home school room, you may be unable to take full advantage of <a href="https://theconversation.com/green-for-wellbeing-science-tells-us-how-to-design-urban-spaces-that-heal-us-82437" target="_blank">urban nature</a>.<br></p><p>Embracing the notion of "biophilia" – the innate human affinity with nature – while locked down inside may improve your productivity and even your health.</p><p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/building-a-second-nature-into-our-cities-wildness-art-and-biophilic-design-88642" target="_blank">biophilia hypothesis</a> argues modern day humans evolved from hundreds of generations of ancestors whose survival required them to study, understand and rely on nature. So a disconnection from nature today can cause <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1010043827986" target="_blank">significant issues for humans</a>, such as a decline in psychological health.</p><p>In practice at home, connecting with nature might mean having large windows overlooking the garden. You can also <a href="https://makeitwood.org/documents/doc-1624-pollinate-health-report---february-2018.pdf" target="_blank">improve working conditions</a> by having natural materials in your office or school room, such as wooden furniture, natural stones and pot plants.</p>
Indoor Plants<p>Our research has demonstrated that even a small number of plants hanging in pockets on along a busy corridor provide enough nature to influence our physiological and psychological perceptions.</p><p>These plants even caused behavioral differences, where people would <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1618866717306763" target="_blank">change their route</a> through a building to come into contact with the indoor plants.</p><p>We surveyed 104 people, and 40% of the respondents reported their mood and emotions improved in the presence of indoor plants.</p><p>They felt "relaxed and grounded" and "more interested". The presence of indoor greenery provides a place to "relax from routine" and it made the space "significantly more pleasant to work in".<span></span></p><p>As one person reported:</p><blockquote>When I first saw the plants up on the wall brought a smile to my face.<br><br>Whenever I walk down the stairs or walk past I mostly always feel compelled to look at the plants on the wall. Not with any anxiety or negative thoughts, rather, at how pleasant and what a great idea it is.</blockquote>
Looking at Wildlife Photography<p>Our research also explored whether viewing images, posters or paintings of nature would make a difference.</p><p>We photographed the plants from viewpoints similar to those the corridor users experienced. Survey responses from those who only viewed these digital images were almost the same as those who experienced them in real life.</p><p>While we can't say for sure, we can hypothesise that given the importance of vision in modern humans, an image that "looks" like nature might be enough to trigger a biophilic response.</p><p>However, physically being in the presence of plants did have some stronger behavioral effects. For example corridor users wanted to linger longer looking at the plants than those who viewed the photographs, and were more likely to want to visit the plants again. Maybe the other senses - touch, smell, even sound - created a stronger biophilic response than just sight alone.</p><p>So the good news is if you can't get to a nursery – or if you have a serious inability to keep plants alive – you can still benefit from looking at photographs of them.</p>
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By Tim Radford
Forget about organic farming: get the best out of the best cropland, return the rest to nature and still feed the world. It could work, say researchers.
Nature under threat<p>At the same time, both <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/a-third-of-plants-and-animals-risk-mass-extinction/" target="_blank">climate change driven by global warming</a> and <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/humans-put-conservation-reserves-at-risk/" target="_blank">the expansion of the cities and the surrounding farmlands</a> continue to amplify the threat to natural habitats and the millions of species – many yet to be identified and named by science – that depend upon them.</p><p>And this in turn poses a threat to human economies and even human life: almost every resource – antibiotic medicines and drugs, food, waste disposal, <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/wild-plant-ancestors-need-more-protection/" target="_blank">fabrics</a>, building materials and even fresh air and water – evolved in undisturbed ecosystems long before <em>Homo sapiens</em> arrived, and the services each element provides <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/entire-wild-systems-at-risk-from-rising-global-heat/" target="_blank">depend ultimately on the survival of those ecosystems</a>.</p><p>So the challenge is to restore and return to nature <a href="https://www.half-earthproject.org/" target="_blank">around half the land humans already use</a>, while at the same time feeding what could be an additional 2bn people, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions but still <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300" target="_blank">sustaining development</a> in the poorest nations.</p><p>Dr Folberth and his colleagues from Slovakia, France, Belgium, Spain and the UK are <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/win-win-way-to-aid-food-security-and-climate/" target="_blank">not the first to argue that it can be done</a>, and not just by <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/climate-crisis-needs-radical-food-changes/" target="_blank">changing the planetary lunch menu</a>.</p><p>The scientists looked at the data for 16 major crop species around the world to calculate that at least in theory – with careful use of the right crops on the most suitable soils, and with high fertilizer use – about half of the present cropland now cultivated could still deliver the present output.</p><p>That is, the land humans occupy is not being managed efficiently. If it were, the other half could be returned to wilderness, and <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/conservation-pays-its-way-handsomely/" target="_blank">conserved as natural forest, grassland or wetland</a>.</p>
Climate benefits<p>If humans then thought about how best to slow biodiversity loss, they would do almost as well by abandoning farmland in those places where there was the greatest concentration of wild things – tropical rain forests, estuary floodplains and mangrove swamps, for instance. And just returning 20% of farmland to nature everywhere else would still reduce human farmland use by 40%.</p><p>In return, fertilizer use would remain about the same, but greenhouse gas emissions and water use would fall, while more land would become free to sequester atmospheric carbon.</p><p>There would be costs – nitrogen pollution would go up in some places, and many rural farmers would become even poorer – so more thinking needs to be done. The point the European researchers want to make is that, in principle, it should be possible to feed people, abandon farmland to the natural world and <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/european-union-helped-to-cool-2003-heatwave/" target="_blank">reduce emissions</a> all at the same time.</p><p>"It shows that cropland expansion is not inevitable and there is significant potential for improving present land use efficiency," said <a href="https://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/2019/0520-mobersteiner.html" target="_blank">Michael Obersteiner, another author, now at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford</a>.</p><p>"If the right policies are implemented, measures such as improved production technologies can be just as effective as demand-side measures like <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/less-meat-for-rich-can-cut-heat-and-hunger/" target="_blank">dietary changes</a>. However, in all cases, such a process would need to be steered by policies to avoid unwanted outcomes."</p>
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By Amanda Paulson
Just off Highway 880 at the edge of Hayward, the cityscape changes abruptly. Businesses and parking lots give way to large swaths of pickle grass and pools of water stretching out to the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay.
On a recent sunny, windy March day – just before COVID-19 sent the Bay Area into lockdown – Dave Halsing stood on the trails at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve and pointed out what used to be old industrial salt ponds. He noted how they're gradually being restored into a rich mosaic of tidal wetlands and other ecosystems in the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.
Could Planting One Trillion Trees Actually Work?<p>Those promoting natural climate solutions emphasize that it's just one piece of a puzzle that also requires a major shift away from fossil fuels and carbon-based energy. But many experts are seeing these natural solutions as low-hanging fruit that have yet to be tapped at a large scale. </p><p>In January, the World Economic Forum launched the ambitious <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank">One Trillion Trees</a> initiative, with the goal of planting and conserving 1 trillion trees around the globe in the coming decade. Even President Donald Trump signed on. </p><p>The initiative has received some criticism, even among climate activists, who worry it's overly simplistic, takes emphasis off of the energy shift that needs to happen, and will encourage poorly conceived projects that might perpetuate other environmental issues.</p><p>And some climate experts have argued that the claims made by natural-solutions proponents in general are lofty and overly optimistic – that they couldn't come close to reducing carbon dioxide at the magnitude some studies have found. </p><p>But those debates, ultimately, are unproductive, says James Mulligan, a senior associate in the World Resources Institute's food, forests, and water program. Climate solutions, he notes, aren't a zero-sum game. Nature-based solutions won't ever be enough on their own, says Mr. Mulligan, but they have some big upsides, particularly that most are relatively low cost, some have more bipartisan appeal, and many are "win-win," with none of the "losers" that can be a byproduct of other strategies. </p><p>"The question for me is: would this help? And the answer is yes," says Mr. Mulligan. "Do I think we can restore a trillion trees to the planet? Probably not. ... In the U.S., our analysis shows we could restore 60 billion trees to the American landscape." That, he says, would be a "tall order," but would remove about a half a gigaton of CO2 per year.</p><p>"That's a meaningful wedge," he says. "And that's just one nature-based solution." </p>
Protection Before Planting?<p>All trees – and all nature-based solutions – aren't created equal. And many advocates stress that it makes sense to focus on the ecosystems with the most to offer, or the methods that yield the biggest dividends.</p><p>"We need to protect first, to hold the line," says Mr. Ellis of The Nature Conservancy, explaining that he views good management of existing ecosystems as being even more important than restoration. </p><p>Certain ecosystems, like mangroves and peatlands, are of vital importance to conserve, says Will Turner, senior vice president of global strategies for Conservation International. In those ecosystems, the soil stores so much carbon that losing much more of it in coming years would be devastating, he says.</p><p>But to Dr. Turner, conservation and restoration are two sides of a coin, both necessary. Protecting critical ecosystems like tropical forests and mangroves that are being destroyed at a steady rate is crucial in terms of reducing current emissions, he says. But removing carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere is also necessary, if there is any hope of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius. </p><p>"We have a long way to go before we have any technology that is capable of removing CO2 from the atmosphere at scale except trees," says Dr. Turner. "We'd be foolish not to invest incredibly heavily in regrowing forests."</p><p>Despite all the potential of natural climate solutions, most of the examples being tried so far are at a relatively small scale. </p>
Discovering an Ecosystem in Every Backyard<p>Meanwhile, part of the beauty of nature-based solutions, Dr. Turner says, is that – while some may certainly have more payoff than others in terms of climate mitigation – "there is something that can happen anywhere. Every community has an option to protect a forest or grow a forest or protect a grassland, or to better manage grazing lands so you can get greater carbon stored in the soil."</p><p>And many of those solutions – like the marsh restoration taking place in the San Francisco Bay – offer significant local benefits that go far beyond potential emissions reduction: habitat for endangered species, cleaner air and water, recreation opportunities for residents, flood risk mitigation at a time of rising seas. </p><p>In the Bay Area, emissions mitigation isn't a real driver of the restoration work, and the carbon market for wetlands isn't as robust as that for forests. But that doesn't mean those benefits don't exist, says Letitia Grenier, co-director of the Resilient Landscapes Program for the San Francisco Estuary Institute. </p><p>In her role at the institute, Dr. Grenier looks for creative ways to harness the natural benefits of ecosystems in ways that work for both people and nature – and they are plentiful, she says.</p><p>"One of the things climate change has shown us is that we live in ecosystems," says Dr. Grenier. "Not only do we impact ecosystems, but our ecosystem impacts us." In many instances, she says, when she looks at, say, a large watershed, the system is essentially broken. Too many discordant elements have been introduced. </p><p>"Suddenly, our system is not working for us," says Dr. Grenier. "Climate change is creating the realization of that, and the opportunity to fix it."</p>
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By Tim Lydon
Climate-related disasters are on the rise, and carbon emissions are soaring. Parents today face the unprecedented challenge of raising children somehow prepared for a planetary emergency that may last their lifetimes. Few guidebooks are on the shelves for this one, yet, but experts do have advice. And in a bit of happy news, it includes strategies already widely recognized as good for kids.
PoPositive Stress and Strong Support Networks<p>Wiese defines resilience as the ability to manage stress and adapt to change. Her words are backed by a 2017 American Psychological Association <a href="https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-health-climate.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> on the mental health impacts of climate change, which also emphasizes strong caregiver support and the value of resilience. For parents, the report's authors recommend cultivating belief in a child's own resilience, fostering optimism, and teaching children to control emotional responses to change. These are common tenets of modern parenting the report said are made especially important by climate change.</p><p>Psychologists also describe the value of "<a href="https://center.uoregon.edu/StartingStrong/uploads/STARTINGSTRONG2016/HANDOUTS/KEY_49962/TypesofStress.pdf" target="_blank">positive stress,</a>" which may include public speaking, making new friends, and other experiences that can briefly increase heart rates but that help wire young minds to adapt to change. Parents who provide supportive coaching through these normal life experiences help kids develop resilience.</p><p>"Parents also need to model positive and appropriate responses to stress," Wiese said.</p><p>Like many things, what happens earliest in life matters most, but teens and even adults can still improve resilience. The APA offers an online <a href="https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resilience" target="_blank">guide</a> with age-appropriate strategies for parents.</p><p>In contrast, stress related to poverty, malnutrition, violence, or abuse can weaken a child's resilience, acting as "threat multipliers" of their own for children born into the climate change era. In such cases, climate can compound existing stress, potentially increasing odds for substance abuse, anxiety, or depression, according to the authors of the APA report.</p><p>Especially where caregiver support is lacking, coaches, teachers, and other mentors can help young people manage these negative stressors. It's a reminder that entire communities, not just parents, will have a hand in raising climate-resilient children.</p><p>That community focus is an important factor according to Susan Clayton, a psychologist at Wooster College in Ohio and co-editor of <em><a href="https://www.elsevier.com/books/psychology-and-climate-change/clayton/978-0-12-813130-5" target="_blank">Psychology and Climate Change: Human Perceptions, Impacts, and Responses</a>,</em> which summarizes psychological research tied to climate change.</p><p><span></span>"Strong social support networks give children a better foundation in resilience," Clayton said. She lists teachers, clubs, and faith communities as good examples of social networks that become "sources of meaning" for kids.</p>
Connnection to the Outdoors<p>Connecting youths to the outdoors is also important when it comes to climate change. <a href="https://www.parentingscience.com/outdoor-learning.html" target="_blank">Research</a> shows time outdoors, especially at an early age, can reduce childhood stress and anxiety, while strengthening confidence, imagination, and physical health — all characteristics that will help tomorrow's adults adapt to a changing world.</p><p>"Nature-based education [and] therapy are real sources of strength and resilience for young people," Clayton said.</p><p>But not everyone grows up with access to the outdoors, and both climate change and population growth are driving greater <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/03/climate-migrants-report-world-bank-spd/" target="_blank">movement</a> to urban areas worldwide. It means more kids live in developed areas with limited time in nature.</p><p>Fortunately, concern over how much time kids spend hitched to phones and computers has already sparked a <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/environment/2019/12/13/nature-based-education/" target="_blank">revival</a> in nature-based education. Parents and teachers today can access a growing network of tested programs. Some, such as <a href="https://www.plt.org/about-us/" target="_blank">Project Learning Tree</a> and the <a href="https://www.neefusa.org/nature/water/benefits-environmental-education" target="_blank">National Environmental Education Foundation</a>, are active across the country, but an expanding galaxy of others function at the local level. At the movement's cutting edge is a growing number of outdoor-focused <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/04/early-childhood-outdoor-education/558959/" target="_blank">preschools</a> and <a href="https://www.rei.com/blog/news/are-outdoor-preschools-the-wave-of-the-future" target="_blank">kindergartens</a> that provide formative experiences in natural settings, including within urban areas.</p><p>Proponents say nature-based education is good for older kids, too, and can spark interest in science and other fields that will be crucial in the decades ahead, as people engineer solutions to climate-related challenges. Such programs may steer teens toward promising careers. But in the short term, learning about science and nature can instill optimism in the face of discouraging climate news.</p>
Discuss and Model Solutions<p>But what about day-to-day actions in the home? Experts agree that discussing climate change and modeling behaviors that reflect climate solutions are important, too. Discussions need to be <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/04/raising-kids-climate-change/554969/" target="_blank">age-appropriate</a> to protect young children from unnecessary stress and anxiety. But exhibiting climate-positive behaviors such as energy conservation and avoiding single-use plastics carries value at all ages. According to Wiese, it shows kids that parents are engaged in trying to better the world, and it fosters resilience by channeling energy toward tangible action.</p><p>Mary DeMocker, author of <a href="https://www.marydemocker.com/" target="_blank"><em>The Parents' Guide to Climate Revolution</em></a>, agrees. As the mother of two young adults, DeMocker spent more than two decades raising kids with climate change in mind, and she believes in empowering young people to create solutions.</p><p>"Anything that gives kids a sense of agency is important," she said. "Maybe they help put together the family's emergency plan or evacuation kit. For older kids, it might mean writing letters to Congress."</p><p>DeMocker's book contains 100 short, action-oriented chapters with ideas on greener lifestyles, getting kids outdoors, and promoting solutions to the climate crisis. She is attentive to the science of climate change and the <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1046972" target="_blank">urgent need</a> for a swift transition to clean energy. That drives her belief that children growing up today must feel empowered to create change. In addition to strong support networks, time outdoors, and positive thinking habits, she said, empowerment comes from solid foundations in both civics and climate science.</p><p>"I encourage parents to push for climate literacy in schools," she said. "Climate change is the biggest thing that's going to affect their children's future. Kids need to know the science and causes but also the solutions. And it needs to be taught free from the constraints of political interests."</p><p>DeMocker said young people should not be told "what to think about climate, but how to think about it." She believes teaching kids to think critically about the issue, including in geopolitical terms, helps them avoid despair and instead empowers them to create change. A grounding in civics and democracy then informs kids how change can occur.</p>
Foster Compassion<p>Compassion is also a theme in DeMocker's work. She said it's an important emotional response for parents to exercise while listening to a child's fears about climate change, which may include concerns about wildlife, natural disasters, or the well-being of friends, family, and even pets.</p><p>In Alaska, Wiese also sees the importance of compassion. She said parents foster compassion when they provide a safe emotional place for kids to express their feelings and where feelings are respected. For younger children, she also sees value in <a href="https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/raising-includers-5-tips-to-help-your-kids-be-kind-and-compassionate?gclid=Cj0KCQiApaXxBRDNARIsAGFdaB9Dp67VmyJHY5kke0ptpDapbSc767cVtYMrs-05ZI0DtfKRAKVgRw8aArYCEALw_wcB#disqus_thread" target="_blank">compassion-based play</a>.</p><p>Exercising compassion models behaviors young people will need in the future, too, as they emerge as adults into a world undergoing significant physical and societal change. Global experts <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1041261" target="_blank">predict</a> low- and middle-income people — and especially children — will continue feeling the brunt of weather extremes, food shortages, and other climate-related events. Tomorrow's adults will need to know the value of compassion to promote responses that alleviate suffering, foster social justice, and decarbonize the economy. That provides a check against intolerance, nationalism, and other negative reactions that can compound suffering and civil unrest. Practicing compassion also carries mental health <a href="https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/the-compassionate-mind" target="_blank">benefits</a> that can help tomorrow's adults weather the climate disruption they will experience.</p><p>Like climate change itself, the prospect of raising children on a warming planet is daunting. When it becomes overwhelming, Wiese said, parents should focus on what they can control: Practice self-care. Provide kids with safety and support. Teach resilience and compassion. And model planet-healthy choices that orient children away from anxiety and toward solutions.</p><p><em>Tim Lydon has worked on public lands issues for many years and is a founding member of the Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation. His writing has appeared in Hakai Magazine, The Revelator, The Hill, Terrain.org, and elsewhere.</em></p>
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Ahead of government negotiations scheduled for next week on a global plan to address the biodiversity crisis, 23 former foreign ministers from various countries released a statement on Tuesday urging world leaders to act "boldly" to protect nature.
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"We see ourselves not as an owner of wild rice but a symbiotic partner and a parallel entity from the Creator," says Frank Bibeau, a lawyer from the Anishinaabe indigenous group in the U.S. and Canada.
Indigenous Approaches Written Into Law<p>"Conventional environmental laws are really about regulating how we use nature," says Mari Margil of CELDF. "The consequences of that have been so devastating that people in different parts of the world are saying we need to make a fundamental shift in our relationship with nature."</p><p>With the idea that indigenous peoples are the most reliable custodians of our planet now repeated by politicians and environmental NGOs alike, giving nature rights suggests a way their approaches might be adopted by broader society.</p><p>It was in this spirit that Ecuador became the first country to enshrine the rights of nature — personified as Pachamama, the Andean earth goddess — in its constitution, in 2008.</p><p><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Bolivia">Bolivia</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Uganda" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uganda</a> have since enshrined the rights of nature in their constitutions, and <a href="https://celdf.org/2019/10/media-release-rights-of-nature-constitutional-amendment-introduced-in-swedens-parliament/" target="_blank">an amendment</a> was recently proposed for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Sweden" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sweden</a> to do the same.</p>
A Healthier Relationship With Nature?<p>Asserting that nature has intrinsic rights isn't just a legal tool to prosecute polluters. It also challenges the "ecosystem services" approach to environmental protection that costs up the economic value of clean air, water and biodiversity — and even the concept of conservation areas.</p><p>As a national park, land surrounding the Whanganui River in New Zealand was off limits to the Iwi Maori tribe who had hunted and fished there sustainably for generations. In 2017, the dispute was resolved by making the river a person in its own right, owned by neither the state nor the tribe.</p><p>Maori law professor Jacinta Ruru sees it as a major breakthrough that New Zealand law now reflects the relationship the country's indigenous people have with the environment — one that sees no division between what's good for people and the planet.</p><p>"My tribe — we'll talk about your veins in your arms as being like the riverways of the land," explains Ruru. "So you're seeing the health and wellbeing of who you are as a person, your health, your own happiness, as entirely connected with the health and wellbeing of the environment around us."</p>
Strategic Compromise<p>Ruru says it's too soon to judge the ecological impact of the Whanganui River's change of status. And it remains to be seen if the Rights of Manoomin will be any match for the interests invested in the pipeline.</p><p>In Ecuador's case, the new constitution has been used to block plantations and road-building that threatened forest, but it hasn't proved enough to transform an entire system geared toward economic development; cases brought by indigenous activists have ended in Pachamama's rights being trumped by those of <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55914fd1e4b01fb0b851a814/t/5748568c8259b5e5a34ae6bf/1464358541319/Kauffman++Martin+16+Testing+Ecuadors+RoN+Laws.pdf" target="_blank">businesses</a>.</p><p>Critics also <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2514848618763807" target="_blank">point out</a> that making rivers and forests honorary people owes less to any indigenous deification of nature than to the Western rights discourse.</p><p>"There is a strategic relationship between indigenous communities and the rights of nature," says Mihnea Tanasescu, a political scientist who authored a book on the subject in Ecuador, "but there is not necessarily an intrinsic philosophical affinity, because rights are a very Western legal category."</p>
Conversation-Changer<p>Last year, one such case made international headlines. Residents of Toledo, a city on the shores of heavily polluted Lake Erie in the U.S. state of Ohio, voted to give the lake rights. A local farm responded by filing a lawsuit claiming this violated the rights of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/agribusiness" rel="noopener noreferrer">agribusinesses</a>. </p><p>Since the bill was more or less quashed by Ohio state legislature, activists are fighting to revive it from legal limbo. But if nothing else, their struggle has drawn attention to the priorities of a legal system that treats nature as property but corporations as legal persons.</p><p>"Often people just don't think about these invisible systems that govern our world," Maloney says. "So as a starting point — and a conversation- and discourse-changer — the rights of nature is very powerful."</p>
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