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Margot McConnell

Fraker’s article points out something that all of us face on a daily basis but probably do not always recognize. When I read this article, I started to reflect back on times when I have felt guilt for not being sustainable. For example, when I have a plastic water bottle and I cannot find a place to recycle it, I feel guilt throwing it away in the regular trash can. Even though this is something small, we know it makes a difference to recycle, and it is something I always make an effort to do.
I feel like this article connects really well with what we have talked about in terms of injustice and pollution. If people knew the actual extent to which their choices were affecting the public health of others especially those at a socioeconomic disadvantage, maybe they would change their behaviors some because of the guilt and anxiety that they are feeling about their actions and the impact it has on others.
I found this really interesting article about how large companies are a large contributor to pollution and plastic waste. It seems like these large corporations try to place their responsibility and blame somewhere else. Apparently Coca Cola has put out 3 million tons of plastic packaging into the world. It is similar to the EPA loosening restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The argument there was that large companies did not need to be worried about their carbon footprint right now. It is just another excuse for these large companies to pollute as much as they want. The worst part is the pollution will affect those live nearby who are more than likely at a socioeconomic disadvantage.
This article from the New York Times talks about a man who felt guilt for his emissions, so he started teaming up with Climate Care, which is a carbon-offset trading company. I did a little research on Climate Care itself and it sounds like they have done a ton of incredible work to reduce carbon emissions. It seems like they work with companies and people to generate ways to reduce carbon emissions. I found their website to be really great—it is definitely worth looking at. According to their data, they have cut 35 million tons of carbon dioxide and improved the lives of 37 million. They work all over the world. It is promising to see that organizations like this are making such a big impact in the world. What I found most interesting about the article was actually the year it was written: 2007. It is really interesting to see that even 13 years ago there were people who were feeling guilty about their carbon footprint. Fast forward to 2020 and we are in a much worse situation, so the guilt is even worse now.



In Tools of Titians, a book I'm currently reading by Tim Ferris, there's a quote from Sebastian Junger which I found to be connected to Franker's message. Stressful information tends to increase the flight or fight responses in our minds. Junger gives an example of special forces members of the military. He says that when these individuals are told they're about to experience an attack, their cortisol levels dropped and they were super calm. For these individuals, their cortisol levels increased with the anxiety about the unknown. As soon as they knew what was coming, they were able to spring into action with a purpose. They had a sense of mastery and control that made them feel less anxious than they were just waiting around in a dangerous place.
To relate to this article, we are constantly surrounded with news about the declining state of the environment, and, although there are some slivers of positive progress, we are accustomed to taking in this information and feeling a sense of despair. I think the most prominent message here is that we (individuals, organizations, etc.) don't just have to sit around and wait. It's actually incredibly beneficial to act - for the individual and the world.
The Blue Marble Project seems to work to lower cortisol levels and allow individuals to approach the information with an open mind - in a way that is much calmer than reading disheartening statistics in the news.

Dani Murray

Whenever I am feeling stressed or anxious, my mother always tells me to go for walk outside and to enjoy some fresh air. After every time I workout outside, I do always feel better. I was drawn to the project mentioned in the article called "Operation Surf." Martin, the veteran, described how he felt reconnected with peace and purpose after surfing in the ocean. With this positive response to surfing, it could lead to a surge of ocean conversation. This got me thinking about the world's current situation.
As we enter a month of isolation (with no clear end in side), we are starting to realize how much we appreciate wide open clean spaces. Speaking for myself, I hate being locked up in my house. I love the hiking, skiing, running, walking...basically anything that allows me to get outside and explore. Since I cannot go outside, I started watching a lot of movies/documentaries. I finally had time to watch "Blackfish:" a documentary about a captive killer whale at SeaWorld. While watching the documentary, I felt like I could relate to these captivated animals. I knew what it felt like to be caged in and not able to move around freely. I then felt the strong desire to look into ways to help caged/captivated animals. They are many different foundations/charities with this mission.
My whole point to this long winded story is that I am sure we will come out of isolation/quarantine with a new appreciation for nature. It is clear that without proper stimulation from nature, humans are negatively impacted. Maybe COVID19 and its isolation will lead us to the next "Blue Marble Project." I believe that we will all come out of isolation determined to make our world a better place for future generations.

Nikki Doherty

Connecting with nature definitely has positive benefits, large enough to outweigh feelings of stress, anxiety, and worry. During this period of “social distancing” and lockdowns, we have less time outdoors (due to cancelled sports practices or even no walks outside to different academic buildings). I have undoubtedly felt this change mentally. Every small thing that happens these days seems especially overwhelming, and I find myself unsure of how to deal with it or move forward. Recently, I have been taking extra time to get outside, along the Chessie, around Woods Creek, even just in my neighborhood, and engage in mindful meditation. This has made a great difference. I feel my brain decompressing when I let myself go in nature. I feel the weights of everyday stresses finding places to escape to. Current research points that I am not alone in this.

Frances Kuo has found that trees are associated with improvements in nearby residents mental health. Green spaces, and nature more generally, are connected to individual’s well-being. Kuo theorizes that green spaces affect the brain like mediation does. Green spaces spur “gentle engagement” that actually allow muscles to decompress and relax. Additionally, Kuo finds that residents who live in proximity to green spaces have less ADHD symptoms and more sensations of calmness. Green spaces also seem to be associated with decreased crime in neighborhoods. Her work is based in Chicago neighborhoods.

Similarly, Thompson et al. (2012) suggests that green spaces are linked with lower levels of stress, as measured by salivary cortisol patterns. Interestingly, they suggest that this association is strongest among “deprived populations.”

I take these two pieces of literature to be inspiring. Even small pieces of nature, such as trees, change the brain. One does not need to go to the Grand Canyon or into the Pacific Ocean to feel nature’s effects.

The idea that nature calms is likely not a new one, however, today, when everyone is searching for “ways to reduce stress” and “tips to connect the mind and body,” offers a chance to capitalize of nature’s power… and instill a need for conservation. It is clear that nature is purest form of recovery!

Information about Frances Kuo’s work can be found here:

Thompson et al (2012):

Max Gebauer

Work like this reminds us of a key question and an important maxim. The question is one I'm like a broken record on "What are we really concerned with?/What do we strive for?" and the maxim is (roughly): the Neo-classical understanding of humans as purely rational beings that utilize all available data in objective way to plan our actions and inform our decisions is simply not the case and treating it as such when working at the level of persuasion is to ignore reality.

On the question of what we're concerned with, I maintain my position that we're concerned with promoting a flourishing life for all current and future generations understood in terms of some Capability based approach. If you're a monist about the mind, which you should be, then it's clear that our relations to the natural world are valuable in and of themselves, Nussbaum even incorporates this idea into her 10 Central Capabilities. We're not (or at least shouldn't be) directly concerned with wealth and production, these truly are means to ends, pluralistic ends that are irreducible to each other. Our mental relations to the natural world form an integral part of a flourishing life that cannot be satisfied by other goods, there's no commensurability here, no amount of wealth can satisfy this aspect of human flourishing. The beauty of this approach to understanding human wellbeing is that it can be spun in consequentialist, Kantian, anthropocentric, nonanthropocentric, and/or Aristotelian terms meaning one can find consistency with their other commitments. The approach ive given above is only an outline, a flexible outline that recognizes plurality of value and always upholds the importance of a green earth in wellbeing.

On the maxim, this piece shows how we need an empirical understanding of how human minds make decisions and react to presentations of data when we're concerned with encouraging action. At the end of the day one can lament the ineffectiveness of presenting large swathes of data to try and encourage action, one can complain that people are voting and acting directly against their own interests, and they might be. But a better approach is interdisciplinary research into the mechanics of the human mind and the electro-chemical responses that certain modes of communication bring about. Building a strategy from this basic level that packages the relevant message in a casually powerful format is a far more pragmatic approach then simply trying to force a model onto reality when said model's utility lies elsewhere.

For some relevant stuff I'd read Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen for an introduction to capability theory, Dale Jamieson for an outline of "green" virtues and their role in flourishing, and perhaps even some Rosalind Hursthouse for some more contemporary virtue ethics (as opposed to Aristotle whose work is a bit dated).

Didi Pace

Stress is a powerful emotion, and as the article points out, is often accompanied by a fight or flight response. Last year, my neighbor was talking about how climate change isn’t real, the climate has “changed before”, scientists are in it for the money, namely every myth in the book… Having just taken Professor Greer’s climate change class, I was equipped to present the science to take down any of those ‘arguments’. Yet, almost everything I said was met with aggressive incoherent yelling (the ‘fight’ response). This flight or fight response is holding people back from truly understanding climate change.
Approaching conservation by connecting it with cognitive benefits of nature will align the values of humans and nature. People may perceive human values to directly conflict with those of nature, but this does not have to be the case. Having a personal connection with nature, like the veteran surfer, gives one a new found value for the natural world. As with the surfer, I have a similar sense peace when in nature. When I find myself frustrated with athletic performance/in a slump, all it takes is a run in back campus to get straightened out again. There is this inexplicable feeling of going back there, surrounded by nothing but trees and the calm flow of the Maury. I am grateful for that. Conservation efforts will find meaning for all if more and more people find this similar sense of gratefulness.

Sydney Goldstein

From reading Fraker’s article and hearing about the Blue Marble project, I became interested in what kind of literature exists that links nature and cognitive science. I found out that there is a large field of science called environmental psychology with extensive literature. One paper that I decided to read and found the most relevant is called, “The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health,” by Bratman, Hamilton, and Daily. In their introduction, the authors discuss how it is theorized that humans are inherently fond of nature due to evolutionary influences. Furthermore, that evolution may influence what specific type of nature a person may prefer i.e. mountains, beaches, desert, forest, etc. Another popular hypothesis states that grasslands and savannahs may be valued more due to sightlines and room for flight response that early humans relied on for survival. The paper states that although scientists may disagree over details of the argument, most postulate that since the evolutionary experience of humans relies on natural environments, we are therefore inclined to resonate with it, whether it be consciously or not. Consequently, it is ascertained that natural environments increase positive affect and decrease negative feelings, especially in environments that have evolutionarily aided in survival. Ulrich, a scientist that was very active in the 70s and 80s, suggested that landscapes with water and vegetation were most beneficial for survival. He ran an experiment that showed color slides of what he considered the ideal landscape (water and vegetation) to one group and city slides with little to no vegetation to another group. He measured stress levels before and after and found that by stress reduction theory the ideal landscape helped moderate and diminish arousal (stress) and negative thoughts within minutes through psychological pathways. I think the discussion of how evolution relates to an inherited love of nature is something very fascinating. What further interests me is how urban environments impact this connection, both in short term psyche and in a long term evolutionary framework. Current studies show that having greenspaces in urban locations, improves both physical and emotional health. But I wonder, as the world becomes more urbanized, will our brains change, or will the inherited love of nature persist? I am inclined to think that inherited love of nature will persist, due to the literature I have read, but I still think it would be an interesting study to try to pursue.

Paper (warning it is 136 pages but is very interesting, would especially recommend pages 119-130 which talk about stress reduction and attention as related to the environment): http://willsull.net/resources/BratmanHamiltonDaily2012.pdf

Side note: Much more cognitive functions are discussed such as impulse inhibition, but I focused on the aspects of the paper that were most relevant to Fraker’s article.

Christopher Watt

Wow, this post brings me utter joy and hope! Having myself grown up in a rural area with deep connection to the land and surrounded by a community wide ethos of protecting the long leaf pine forest and its many species, I feel what Nichols is seeking to pass along. For me, being outside, be it hunting, fishing, hiking, or simply sitting and listening to birds, I feel a deep peace--an even spiritual connection to the land. This is an experience I hear echoed around me from family member and friends in my region, as well as friends on campus who experience similar connections to the Blue Ridge. I love his message of encouraging people to act through appreciation and awe of the Earth, rather than fear and anxiety. Most of all, I think it is so cool that someone is trying to research the neuroscience behind this and how humans' connection to the earth and aboriginal appreciation for it can be the motivating force for protecting it. From an economics stand point, it is a part of our "preferences." For many, connection to the outdoors, for recreation, enjoyment, and peace is so important. I think many have lost the connection in our generation, but mainly because of a lack of opportunity or exposure. I hope that Nichols' project can work to re-connect us all and motivate us toward protecting and conserving our resources.
In relation to this and the "operation surf" program, there are a number of organizations that use conservation or outdoor recreation as different forms of therapy--both physical and mental. Nichols' work reminded me of a number of organizations, such as Project Healing Waters or the Wounded Warriors Project, which get vets and other individuals with PTSD into the outdoors hunting and fly fishing. I have seen and experienced the healing nature of the outdoors, and like Nichols said, one observation is all that is needed to start the research...I cannot wait to see what they find!

Valerie Marshall

I thought this article was really great, and reading it definitely made me feel calmer than most other articles we read for this class. We so often hear about the many scientific disciplines interwoven in environmental science: biology, chemistry, biochemistry, geology, physics. But I had never heard of neuroscience being applied to environmental science before. I wanted to look up more articles on this topic, and found this article by Forbes articulating both the physical and mental health benefits of nature. https://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrist/2017/06/15/the-science-behind-how-nature-affects-your-health/#6f92be115aeb
The article cites studies finding that people living in cities have a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40% higher risk of mood disorders compared to people in rural areas. A 2015 Stanford study found that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression, and a University of Michigan study found that time in nature increases your attention span. These findings made me realize the fully compounded affect on our health that environmental protection has. We learned earlier in the semester about the harmful health effects of air pollution and MTR. MTR would have increased negative health effects according to these studies because it damages land that could have provided outdoor recreation opportunities to nearby residents, worsening these residents’ mental health. Similarly, creating more parks around cities to plant trees in can help improve air quality in those areas, improving both respiratory and mental health. Thus, our conservation efforts have a double effect of improving both our physical and mental health. I might be remembering wrongly, but I do not remember any of the papers we read calculating the costs of climate change, coal mining, or air pollution including costs of worse mental health. If the costs of medication and therapy to address worsened states of mental health were included in the calculation of the life cycle analysis of the cost of coal, I assume these costs would increase further. Overall, the article made me realize that the difference between the PMC and SMC of pollution and reduced environmental conservation are likely a lot larger than current estimates.


Wallace ‘J’ Nichols does compelling work trying to understand and then convey the public benefit to a clean environment. While individuals can claim and confirm nature’s therapeutic abilities it is all anecdotal until it can be backed by neuroscientific evidence, then, this argument can be significantly strengthened. The work Nichols is doing can help to expand upon a region’s ecosystem services. In turn, this research can then be translated into a concrete economic valuation. Eventually, scientific support for conservation can quickly turn into economic support for conservation, These two fields build on one another and could not exist alone.

mini spiel: When first deliberately deciding on environmental studies as an academic pursuit, there seemed to be fewer conversations about environmental optimism than I anticipated. All the talk about impending doom, evoked the rise of cortisol the article mentioned. I figured with enough “fear-mongering”, people are bound to be turned away from environmentalism, giving up as they have lost the battle before it's even started. Luckily, it is campaigns, discussions about breakthroughs, gratitude, and “movements'', like the Blue Marble Project, that spread positivity and inspire masses (and me) to keep moving forward.


Fraker’s article hints at something that is innately primal and subconscious about us all. I’ve read a fair bit into the psychology of climate denial and fear and much of it Fraker gets right. I’d also like to add that people, especially with climate change, react so strongly in opposition to facts that often are abstract and difficult for people to directly empathize with. Take a look at different ways to measure climate change like different pollution metrics in PPM, average air and ocean temperatures in future years, or many others and people simply have a hard time knowing what you’re actually talking about. Secondly, climate change is rightfully deemed a grave threat to mankind’s continued way of life that emotions, mostly fear, take over the mind and drive it to repress whatever climate change nonsense (even though it’s obviously not nonsense) it just heard. I also think climate denial or skepticism in America stems from our nation’s long history of independence and skepticism for government and the so-called elite. When scientific fact comes in conflict with personal beliefs, a person’s beliefs usually win out. Another issue with how climate change has been framed, it is less so now, is that people need to make drastic sacrifices in their daily lives in order to stem the effects of global warming. I think people’s reaction to climate change was, and is less so now, so polarizing because of again the fear it invokes within people. If you tell someone they can’t fly across the country to see their family, drive a SUV, crank the AC in the summer, live in a big house, etc. they not only fear losing those things they love, or at the very least perceive value in, but fear that the “climate change people” want to take away my right to do/have X. I think it is comparable to the polarizing debate we have in this country about gun control/safety. Despite having certain restrictions of firearm ownership being commonsense people deny it outright because it’s taking away my right, my option value at the least, for guns. As we realize that technology has the potential to solve the climate crisis the message has rightfully so shifted away from the self-sacrifice message. The way Fraker claims that having people experientially connect climate change with our current world helps immensely change the dynamic of how people empathize with facts and the path forward with climate change. Instead of CO2 PPM will reach 400 by 2050, it means they won’t be able to go skiing, camping due to drought, their favorite flora and fauna will fade out of existence, etc. Attaching personal connections to the stakes of climate change can be very helpful. Since the writing of his article belief in climate change has continued to increase but not at the rate necessary to bring about the sweeping and drastic changes needed. A great article branching off of Fraker’s argument can be found from the March 2015 issue of National Geographic (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2015/03/science-doubters-climate-change-vaccinations-gmos/). An interesting survey of climate change beliefs in the country can be found from Yale (https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/)

Natalie Burden

Fraker’s article on Nichols’ “neuroconservation” ideas brought up a lot of different roles that neurology could play in environmental issues. It suggested the value of nature for psychological and mental health reasons; it also touched on how the brain responds to different calls to action on environmental issues. Fraker didn’t go into much detail on either of these topics, and when I was trying to find an article that did, I came across the following article.
This post discusses a similar idea of how the brain responds to stress as opposed to compassion around environmental issues, but in the context of marketing. The author discusses how “neuromarketing” techniques could be used to encourage consumers to buy into conservation-related activities or products despite higher financial cost. He raised the question of how it could be used and whether it even should be used. In the context of marketing, it seems like it could be somewhat exploitative, and dangerous if used for bad reasons.
Still, it made me think about politicians, and whether certain methods could be effective for encouraging politicians to choose the moral high road over their fossil fuel campaign donors. These articles/posts were both written in 2013, and not much discussion has resulted since then. However, it might be worth trying something different and trying to stir up more compassion and empowerment than stress on the political front. When called to action, it seems as though conservative politicians either deny the importance of the environmental issue at hand or accuse the people fighting for the environment cause of using “scare tactics.” That seems like the definition of fight or flight. So, maybe we should be looking into neurology to guide our methods of calling politicians to take action on environmental issues.

Patrick Sullivan

The part of this article that resinated with me the most is the neurological power of nature, particularly the ocean. As a swimmer it reminded me a lot about the arguments surrounding outdoor and indoor training and the benefits of both. I would tend to agree that the outdoors have some sort of "healing" powers and reminded me of an article i read about a professional swimmer about a year ago that I will link in the post.


The open spaces and sunshine i think could absolutely have a positive impact on people and their mental state. Some of my fondest training memories come from training outdoors in high school. I feel like the mix of sunshine combined with the South Carolina heat made hard work more bearable and fun. I know most of this is antidotal and isn't necessarily backed by science currently, but i think it is a good thought experiment. Do we actually feel better while outdoors? or do all we need is a change of pace and perspective every once in a while?

Maisie Strawn

Neuro-conservation is a really interesting subject. I have read several articles about the mental and emotional benefits of being outside in nature and the importance of green space.(I really like this one from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_nature_makes_you_kinder_happier_more_creative). There is certainly room for a neuro-conservation argument within the broader framework of environmental activism. It can be an important tool for effectively communicating environmental issues to a broader public; messaging certainly should not be negative all the time. Your audience will become burnt-out with negativity. However, I think in some places it has to be just one aspect of a multi-part strategy. For example, you might explain some environmental problem with the frightening statistics and facts, but then give your audience actionable steps to take, so they feel empowered not helpless. I think most would agree that it was negative imagery, like the burning Cuyahoga river or Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” that spurred the environmental movement of the early 1970s, which resulted in the creation of some of our most important environmental protection laws. In my own life and community, I have not seen that people having connections and positive feelings towards nature necessarily means they are going to want to conserve it. My county is surrounded by water on three sides and spending time outside and on the rivers is a huge part of life here, but that doesn’t seem to translate to wanting to take action on or even believe in environmental issues like climate change, despite the fact that, in my experience, lots of people here do have a “sense of awe, respect, and peace” towards their surrounding environment. I think there’s a lot of the work of the three I’s that must be overcome to successfully communicate environmental issues in communities like mine. Although messaging like what Nichols calls for can be an important part of that, I don’t think it’s up to the task alone.

Adam Harter

Wallace J. Nichols discusses in his research how nature has many positive health benefits. Particularly, people connection with the ocean and how it impacts their view of conservation. When the ocean has a higher sentimental value on it, it become harder for people to destroy it and makes them want to do something about it being destroyed. This approach is different from moral suasion. Which would typically focus on media related to how beautiful/destroyed the ocean is. Instead, people realize the true benefits of the ocean when they are directly interacting with it. Sadly, we do not live in a world with decision-makers who value the environment at the same level as Nichols. And this essentially is what allows climate change to continue to occur. The individual can do as much as they possibly can to prevent disaster, but it’s hard for this to have visible benefit. There needs to be people at the top that can make serious change before we will see serious change. And using Nichols science of showing people the power of nature maybe a tool in the toolkit. Unlike many other techniques, such as a tax or a command and control policy, this approach creates positive pathways in the brain. Even the staunchest conservative, who has never supported raising a tax in their career, could potentially see the positives in nature by just being shown it. Perhaps if the green new deal wants to be passed, the congress needs to go on a vacation first.


Ashley M Johnston

As I read this article, I remembered the day that Professor Casey showed us the pictures of the bleeding whales on the beach. The message that day was that people respond more to negative images than positive ones. I think this article offers a cool perspective on how to use the wiring of our brain to communicate efficiently and effectively to people. I found myself encouraged and hopeful. Nichols's research finds interesting links between our actions and our environmental awareness. One, in particular, I found interesting was the link between water sports (yay swimming) and environmental interactions. They examine the different environmental attitudes of athletes in blue spaces (swimming, kayaking) compared to athletes in green spaces (mountaineering). I think these connections are important because research like this opens doors to more effective communication and education of environmental issues. If promoting more outdoor sports leads to greater awareness and accessibility to environmental issues, people might actually internalize environmental issues.

Link to research articles:

Lucas Roberton

I think this article hits the nail right on the head when it comes to our reactions when we hear about all of the climate problems we have. It is simply overwhelming, stressful, and just as the article said, will cause most people to just shut down when they are bombarded with facts. I looked into articles about introducing children to climate change without giving them anxiety or fear. Some common themes I found were giving them ways to relate positively to the environment (which is exactly what Nichols is getting at) and helping them think about what they can do, no matter how small. I think that this second concept is much harder to instill in adults, as we know that just recycling plastic bottles a little more than before isn't exactly going to save the environment. But I think that we overlook the value of something that we all have the right to do: vote. While voting is a small thing action wise, its impacts can be enormous. But we have yet to see sufficient action from our officials in the past, and today as well, so I fear that people may have lost faith to some extent in the power of their vote. If we can find a way to combine this idea of connecting with the environment and neuro-conservation with the fact that as a democracy we have the power to elect officials that will take action, then we could potentially see real action taken in our government, on a larger scale.

Articles I read about introducing kids to climate change:



Jacob Thompson

After reading this article, I couldn't think of a more relevant time than now to consider the positive effects of nature on our health. As people have been isolating themselves and practicing social distancing, it seems that more and more people have increased their amount of time outside, if only because they're tired of being trapped in their house. While it may seem like a small thing to look forward to, it becomes the highlight of many people's day. Another aspect of the article that caught my attention was the idea of people feeling stressed and helpless about the worsening condition of the world. While I feel this is true for a select group of people that are aware enough of our growing problem, I fear that it may be irrelevant to others. As much as I'd like to have faith in humanity, I believe that there is a large percentage of the world that doesn't feel stress about environmental issues, as they feel that it isn't their problem as they likely won't be around for the consequences. Being able to be in a class such as this one gives me much more faith than I previously had, but I still fear the nonchalant attitudes towards the environment that many others have.

Giddings Harrison

I really enjoyed this article as I found it to be true in my own life. When working in New York City in the summer, I have always felt a heightened sense of stress. Of course the city itself is full of people and a sense of hustle and bustle, but it also lacks a lot of green space, besides Central Park. My office this summer was situated on the Hudson. While the Hudson is not the cleanest river, my post-work runs along the Hudson always gave me a sense of relief or escape from the stress I felt while inside Manhattan.

Today, we can see the importance that policy makers are placing on getting outside. Many states that have stay-at-home orders in place still allow and encourage people to go outside. This policy demonstrates that policymakers around the nation place a value on the outdoors for mental and physical health. Perhaps our time in quarantine has actually heightened our appreciation for and value on nature. Therefore, this approach to advocating for nature conservation could be powerful given our conditions today.

Reading this article also reminded me of the approach that the Natural History Museum in Washington, DC took to argue for the protection of our oceans. The ocean has absorbed much of our carbon emissions, mitigating the effects of climate change. The Natural History Museum educates its viewers about the power of the ocean to help our climate and ultimately makes the viewer feel compelled to protect it. I think that this education about the ocean's ability to protect our climate coupled with Wallace Nichols' approach would adequately demonstrate all of the benefits of the ocean has to offer. Emphasizing what the ocean does for us, in protecting our climate and giving us mental health benefits, would perhaps motivate more individuals to care for the nature around them.

Noah Gallagher

This article does a fantastic job explaining the reasons why scientific argument is stronger when it is paired with emotional imagery, and why optimistic viewpoints and images can encourage conservation. Just like the photo of bleeding whales that Professor Casey showed us a few months ago, seeing the damages up close can shock us, and seeing the wonder up close can awe us into changing our behaviors. Being back in Colorado, particularly during these strange times, I am greatly appreciative of the easy access to nature.

We'll need to apply these same strategies - both emotional imagery and sound data - to our discussion of climate change. Pairing imagery with, for example, the study about children's lung diseases near coal mines could help to convey the terrible reality of these health impacts. Planet Earth does it best - I would encourage you all to use some of this time to watch soothing nature scenes narrated by David Attenborough. The producers of this documentary series have certainly figured out how to use emotion to get people to care about nature that they otherwise might have ignored.

Photos of Western Colorado: https://www.visitgrandjunction.com/winter-western-slope

Steven Black

I think having people connect with nature and different species could do a tremendous amount in increasing conservation and actions to prevent climate change. While all the statistics we have learned throughout the year, such as air pollution affecting respiratory health or carbon emissions leading to higher sea levels and risks of forest fires, are important, it usually takes something more relatable and clearly present in one's life to motivate change. If you can get people to enjoy surfing or hiking or rock climbing, then they would be motivated to protect the environments that bring them joy. Similarly, when someone interacts with an endangered species, they tend to place a much higher value on the existence of that animal. Getting people to value animals and the environment more would naturally increase the costs of harming the environment, thus the market should produce less pollution or environmental damage. This cannot be the only step in our climate solution, but it could be effective when combined with several of the other potential solutions that we have discussed throughout this course.
This ties back into our past discussions on nonmarket values. In economics, we tend to be drawn to something's utility as his sole source of value, but there are many nonmarket reasons that something could have value. We need to make sure that nonmarket values are taken into account during cost-benefit analysis when determining if we should drill for more oil or mine more coal. Additionally, as I mentioned above, this creates another channel for the climate change solution by working to raise people's nonmarket valuations of the environment and the species it supports.

Lauren Paolano

I agree with the point Giddings made of how your surrounding environment can help shape your mood and stress level immensely. When I studied abroad in Florence last winter, I lived in the heart of the city with very few parks or open grass areas to walk around and enjoy. Every weekend, my roommate and I would make a conscious effort to escape the city a bit and travel to enjoy some of the clean fresh air in parks or by doing other recreational activities.

While in Switzerland, I had the pleasure of going paragliding over beautiful Interlaken. The entire ride over the mountains probably lasted about 15-20 minutes, but left me with a lifetime of happy and calming memories. Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I think back to the beautiful views I saw while paragliding in Switzerland. I think it’s important for all of us to enjoy the outdoors or for the time being now, think of a happy place in which you feel most comfortable and calm. I hope that we all have some sort of escape place during quarantine, whether that be going for a walk around your neighborhood or even gardening like I have been finding myself doing over the past few days. This social distancing has given me a sense of a greater appreciation for my surroundings and the beautiful nature that I am lucky enough to call my backyard on Long Island.

Ginny Johnson

This article reminds me of an anecdote from my favorite book of all time, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer who is a Native American woman and professor of plant biology. She writes of a time when she asked an upper-level conservation biology class whether or not they thought the earth loved them back. Their studies and passions made it clear that these students were dedicating their lives to loving the earth, but the idea that the earth could love them back dumbfounded them. Not to sound like a hippy, but the earth takes such good care of us: feeding us, letting us breathe, giving us good clean water, being breathtakingly beautiful. Acknowledging that these are gifts given to us makes the job of protecting those gifts so much more important and so much easier. When you’re just on a crusade to save the earth, it’s so easy to burnout, but when you see the earth’s love for you with every summer strawberry and springtime flower, all you want to do is take care of the earth in return.
I think it is incredibly cool that Nichols is starting a movement to take anecdotes about the benefits of Nature and study the actual, citable science proving that they are more than anecdotes. It is a great way to legitimize people who already know or have felt the benefits of spending time outside or forest bathing or recovering from PTSD through surfing, and an even better way to show people who might be skeptical that these benefits are real and therefore need conservation efforts so people can continue to enjoy these benefits.

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