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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Posted in Climate change, Coronavirus | Tagged ,

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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Posted in Creativity, Ecology, Ecopsychology | Tagged , ,

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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Posted in Environment, Health | Tagged ,

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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COVID-19 lockdown allows researchers to quantify the effects of human activity on wildlife

Reduced human mobility during the pandemic will reveal critical aspects of our impact on animals, providing important guidance on how best to share space on this crowded planet.

Over the past few months, many countries around the world went into lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19. Brought about by the most tragic circumstances, this period of unusually reduced human mobility — which we suggest be coined ‘anthropause’ (see Box 1) — may provide important insights into human–wildlife interactions in the twenty-first century. Anecdotal observations indicate that many animal species are enjoying the newly afforded peace and quiet, while others, surprisingly, seem to have come under increased pressure.

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‘The time has come for humanity to go through its next evolution’

The novel coronavirus is nature’s way of telling us something, says environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev. He wants an economy not devoted to monetary wealth. Lockdowns around the globe have afforded the natural world an unexpected period of respite. Lower emissions, less pollution: the positive impact on the environment has been well documented. For environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev, a former high-level banker, the coronavirus crisis has made it clearer than ever that a dramatic shift in our relationship with the natural world is urgently needed.

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Pandemic sheds light on importance of biodiversity

The novel coronavirus again shows that deadly illnesses can pass between species. Environmentalists hope that politicians will take urgent action to protect biodiversity and deal with the effects of climate change.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the outbreak of infectious diseases is connected to the destruction of forests and other ecosystems,” Thies said. “Apart from the other more traditional reasons for protecting the environment, restoring biodiversity and the forests, there is also that of protecting health and preventing outbreaks of dangerous diseases.”

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Pandemic linked to destruction of wildlife and world’s ecosystems

 

Posted in Biodiversity, Coronavirus | Tagged ,

Stopping Deforestation Can Prevent Pandemics

Destroying habitats makes viruses and other pathogens more likely to infect humans.

SARS, Ebola and now SARS-CoV-2: all three of these highly infectious viruses have caused global panic since 2002—and all three of them jumped to humans from wild animals that live in dense tropical forests.

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Read also   Coronavirus pandemic linked to destruction of wildlife and world’s ecosystems

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The Role of Social Relational Emotions for Human-Nature Connectedness

Little is known about the psychological processes through which people connect to nature. From social psychology, we know that emotions play an essential role when connecting to others. In this article, we argue that social connectedness and connectedness to nature are underpinned by the same emotions. More specifically, we propose that social-relational emotions are crucial to understanding the process through which humans connect to nature. Besides other emotions, kama muta (Sanskrit: being moved by love) might play a particularly crucial role when connecting to nature. Future research should consider the role of social-relational emotions in human-nature relationships.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world”

– John Muir

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Posted in Nature, Social Relations | Tagged ,

Cognitive Restoration in Children Following Exposure to Nature

Exposure to nature improves cognitive performance through a process of cognitive restoration. However, few studies have explored the effect in children, and no studies have explored how eye movements “in the wild” with mobile eye tracking technology contribute to the restoration process. Our results demonstrated that just a 30-min walk in a natural environment was sufficient to produce a faster and more stable pattern of responding to the Attention Network Task, compared with an urban environment. Exposure to the natural environment did not improve executive (directed) attention performance. This pattern of results supports suggestions that children and adults experience unique cognitive benefits from nature. Further, we provide the first evidence of a link between cognitive restoration and the allocation of eye gaze. Participants wearing a mobile eye-tracker exhibited higher fixation rates while walking in the natural environment compared to the urban environment. The data go some way in uncovering the mechanisms sub-serving the restoration effect in children and elaborate on how nature may counteract the effects of mental fatigue.

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