Connectedness to Nature: Its Impact on Sustainable Behaviors and Happiness in Children

Given the environmental problems humanity is currently facing, and considering that the future of the planet lies in the hands of children and their actions, research on the determinants of sustainable behaviors in children has become more relevant; nonetheless, studies on this topic focusing on children are scarce. Previous research on adults suggests, in an isolated manner, the relationship between connectedness to nature, the development of behaviors in favor of the environment, and positive results derived from them, such as happiness and well-being. In the present research, connectedness to nature was considered as a determinant of sustainable behaviors, and happiness was considered as a positive consequence of the latter. This research aimed to demonstrate the relationship between these variables in children. Two hundred and ninety-six children with an average age of 10.42 years old participated in the study, in which they responded to a research instrument that measured connectedness to nature, sustainable behaviors (pro-ecological behavior, frugality, altruism, and equity), and happiness. To analyze the relationships between these variables, a model of structural equations was specified and tested. The results revealed a significant relationship between connectedness to nature and sustainable behaviors, which, in turn, impact happiness. This suggests that children who perceive themselves as more connected to nature tend to perform more sustainable behaviors; also, the more pro-ecological, frugal, altruistic, and equitable the children are, the greater their perceived happiness will be. The implications for studying and promoting sustainable behaviors are discussed within the framework of positive psychology.


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Climate Change Helped Drive Homo sapiens’ Cousins Extinct

Sharp drops in global temperatures helped seal the fate of three extinct hominin species, including our close relatives, the Neanderthals, according to thousands of archaeological specimens and a model of past climate conditions.

The branch on the tree of life that is the genus Homo is a gnarled, twisty one with many offshoots and dead ends. Of at least six species who have walked the Earth within the past few million years, all but one have gone extinct, for reasons that are largely a mystery.


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Antropoceno, crise da biodiversidade e extinção

Pela sexta vez, desde que surgiu vida na Terra, estamos à beira de extinção em massa de espécies. Seria a primeira desde o fim dos dinossauros, há 65,5 milhões de anos. Que é o fenômeno. Qual o papel do ser humano. Como interrompê-lo?

Muitas pessoas têm negado a degradação ambiental de nossos tempos sob o argumento de que isso faz parte de ciclos naturais da Terra e que, como houve perda de biodiversidade em outras eras geológicas, isso poderia estar ocorrendo novamente. No entanto, a análise do professor Heraldo Ramos Neto revela que é preciso calma e cuidado com análises reducionistas. Ele diz que é verdade que outros eventos causaram transformação no planeta. Porém, desde a existência do ser humano sobre a terra, as rápidas transformações são visíveis. “A espécie humana é um organismo causador de perturbação e que precisa reavaliar suas ações, sob o risco de não conseguir persistir. Em uma biosfera cada vez mais modificada, aumenta-se o risco de colapso dos processos ecológicos e evolutivos que sustentam a vida, incluindo a humana”, adverte na entrevista concedida por e-mail à IHU On-Line.


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L’inquinamento atmosferico altererebbe la morfologia cerebrale

Mentre l’inquinamento atmosferico è stato a lungo considerato un problema per la salute polmonare e cardiovascolare, solo negli ultimi dieci anni gli scienziati hanno rivolto la loro attenzione ai suoi effetti sul cervello.

I ricercatori dell’Università della California hanno trovato un legame tra l’inquinamento atmosferico legato al traffico e un aumento del rischio di cambiamenti nello sviluppo del cervello. Queste modifiche sembrano essere rilevanti per lo sviluppo di disturbi neurologici. Il loro studio, basato su modelli di roditori, conferma precedenti prove epidemiologiche che dimostrano questa associazione (Patten et al., 2020).


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Agricultural diversification promotes multiple ecosystem services without compromising yield

Enhancing biodiversity in cropping systems is suggested to promote ecosystem services, thereby reducing dependency on agronomic inputs while maintaining high crop yields. We assess the impact of several diversification practices in cropping systems on above- and below ground biodiversity and ecosystem services by reviewing 98 meta-analyses and performing a second-order meta-analysis based on 5160 original studies comprising 41,946 comparisons between diversified and simplified practices. Overall, diversification enhances biodiversity, pollination, pest control, nutrient cycling, soil fertility, and water regulation without compromising crop yields. Practices targeting above ground biodiversity boosted pest control and water regulation, while those targeting below ground biodiversity enhanced nutrient cycling, soil fertility, and water regulation. Most often, diversification practices resulted in win-win support of services and crop yields. Variability in responses and occurrence of trade-offs highlight the context dependency of outcomes. Widespread adoption of diversification practices shows promise to contribute to biodiversity conservation and food security from local to global scales.


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Why People Harm the Environment Although They Try to Treat It Well

Anthropogenic climate changes stress the importance of understanding why people harm the environment despite their attempts to behave in climate friendly ways. This paper argues that one reason behind why people do this is that people apply heuristics, originally shaped to handle social exchange, on the issues of environmental impact. Reciprocity and balance in social relations have been fundamental to social cooperation, and thus to survival, and therefore the human brain has become specialized by natural selection to compute and seek this balance. When the same reasoning is applied to environment-related behaviors, people tend to think in terms of a balance between “environmentally friendly” and “harmful” behaviors, and to morally account for the average of these components rather than the sum. This balancing heuristic leads to compensatory green beliefs and negative footprint illusions—the misconceptions that “green” choices can compensate for unsustainable ones. “Eco-guilt” from imbalance in the moral environmental account may promote pro-environmental acts, but also acts that are seemingly pro-environmental but in reality more harmful than doing nothing at all. Strategies for handling problems caused by this cognitive insufficiency are discussed.


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What our response to the Covid-19 pandemic tells us of our capacity to respond to climate change

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, many governments are currently implementing urgent, costly and radical measures to slow down the spread of the pandemic. Many of these measures result in very significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollution – some of them sparing lives, as a result of lower levels of air pollution. Though the global impact of the pandemic on climate change will be difficult to assess, one thing is certain: it is possible for world leaders to take urgent and radical measures in the face of an imminent threat, and for the populations to accept them. Yet
we haven’t been able, so far, to take similar measures to confront climate change, despite repeated calls from activists and scientists alike to declare a state of ‘climate emergency’.


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The Effects of an Ecological Diversifying Experience on Creativity

Sometimes, life houses rare and unexpected events, such as moving abroad or meeting a special person unexpectedly. Recently, these situations have been indicated as “diversifying experiences” (DEs), defined as unusual and unexpected events that drag people outside their daily routine and accustomed schemas. The core mechanism of DEs would entail the disruption of our mental schema, which can facilitate unexpected connections among even distant ideas, thus enhancing people’s cognitive flexibility, that is, a key component of creative thinking. Despite both qualitative and lab-based studies have investigated the features of these experiences, an ecological assessment of their properties also in relation with creativity is still an open issue. The aim of this research is to study the DE-creativity link in a more ecological way, on the basis of a real-life disruptive experience of light deprivation. Specifically, we compared an ecological DE artistic established entertainment format (i.e., “dialogue in the dark,” which is seeing people perform several daily life activities but in the absence of light) with an equivalent experience in which the same activities were acted in the sunlight. The absence of light played the role of violating mechanism, framed within the ecological experiential format of the “dialogue in the dark.” We compared visitors’ emotional profile [Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), ad hoc Adjective Checklist], perceived impact of the experience [Centrality of Event Scale (CES)], and creative performance [Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT)] in both groups of sighted people (in absence of light vs. in presence of light); and we also controlled for people’s openness to experience and need for cognitive closure, as dispositions. Results showed that (vs. control group) “dialogue in the dark” (i) led to worse creative performances, (ii) produced more intense positive affect, and (iii) resulted as a more impacting experience. Intense short-term impact of DE could have been detrimental for participants’ creativity. People may need more time to elaborate the DE and accommodate existing schema to generate more creative ideas. This is the first study proposing and succeeding in demonstrating the feasibility to investigate even real complex DEs in a controlled way, thus outlining how their link with creativity can take place in real life.


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Environmental Health Literacy

This book explores various and distinct aspects of environmental health literacy (EHL) from the perspective of investigators working in this emerging field and their community partners in research. Chapters aim to distinguish EHL from health literacy and environmental health education in order to classify it as a unique field with its own purposes and outcomes. Contributions in this book represent the key aspects of communication, dissemination and implementation, and social scientific research related to environmental health sciences and the range of expertise and interest in EHL.

Readers will learn about the conceptual framework and underlying philosophical tenets of EHL, and its relation to health literacy and communications research. Special attention is given to topics like dissemination and implementation of culturally relevant environmental risk messaging, and promotion of EHL through visual technologies. Authoritative entries by experts also focus on important approaches to advancing EHL through community-engaged research and by engaging teachers and students at an early age through developing innovative STEM curriculum. The significance of theater is highlighted by describing the use of an interactive theater experience as an approach that enables community residents to express themselves in non-verbal ways.


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Creating sustainable societies: developing emerging professionals through transforming current mindsets

Future professionals will bear the brunt of creating sustainable societies. Equipping them for the task is the challenge of current educators. Educational experiences facilitating the development of sustainable habits of mind are needed. This research reports on the experiences of developing scientists and engineers engaged in a sustainable energy research program. Its focus is the learners’ changing conceptions about sustainability and their role in creating sustainable societies. It is an exploratory, multi-strand, case-oriented study, utilizing mixed methods to analyze qualitative and quantitative data. The research was grounded in the literature of education for sustainability and situated learning in communities, highlighting the common threads supporting the development of a new generation of scientists and engineers with sustainable mindsets. Findings indicated learners’ concepts of sustainability were broadened from narrow, discipline-specific definitions to an understanding of sustainability as a multidisciplinary field. Learners’ developing identities from budding scientists and engineers to citizens invested in and capable of creating sustainable societies is discussed. The development of learning communities was an integral mechanism for facilitating perspective changes; however, field trips and seminars focused on exploring sustainability were identified as key influences in developing multifaceted and more complex conceptions of sustainability.


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