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Environment

Shinrin-Yoku or Being in Nature

forest

A study conducted across 24 forests in Japan found that when people strolled in a wooded area, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol plummeted almost 16 percent more than when they walked in an urban environment. And the effects were quickly apparent: Subjects’ blood pressure showed improvement after about 15 minutes of the practice. But one of the biggest benefits may come from breathing in chemicals called phytoncides, emitted by trees and plants. Women who logged two to four hours in a forest on two consecutive days saw a nearly 40 percent surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells, according to one study. “Phytoncide exposure reduces stress hormones, indirectly increasing the immune system’s ability to kill tumor cells,” says Tokyo-based researcher Qing Li, MD, PhD, who has studied shinrin-yoku.

This Huffington Post Article doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t know. I think we all know how good being in nature is for us but the scientific research is a good reminder of the necessity to plunge into nature as often as possible. Too, remembering that I’m not just going for a walk I’m practicing Shinrin-Yoku .. being there with awareness, is probably going to add something beyond pretentiousness.

Global Warning

According to David Roberts and the majority of climate scientists we are facing imminent disaster. Global warming will cause droughts and floods and consequent mass starvation across the planet and will eventually result in the planet becoming uninhabitable. Scientists have been saying this for years but we have been collectively too stupid or too fatalistic to respond in the way we should. We don’t have the political systems that can respond properly to this crisis. Bottom line is we have the political, economic and social systems that reflect our state of consciousness so we need to change that consciousness and make the political and economic systems responsive to that better consciousness.
Teachers, philosophers and religious/spiritual leaders have a big role to play here and the dangers presented by climate change should have a catalysing effect.

Resources:

NASA: Global Climate Change

Population

Professor Hans Rosling’s interesting presentation, using state of the art visuals, argues that the world’s population will stablise at about 11 billion by the end of this century because of a declining birth rate. Also looks at changes in global poverty over the last century.

Ecology and Economics

The Philippines negotiator at a 2012 climate change conference is clearly affected by the reality of the impact of climate change on his own country.

A Guardian article give some additional information and a transcript of his speech:

When a senior diplomat at global talks breaks down in public, it is a signal that other countries must pay attention. It happens rarely, but it can have a dramatic effect.
 
On Thursday, it happened in a full plenary session of the COP18 climate talks at Doha.
 
Naderev Saño, the lead negotiator of the Philippines delegation, got halfway through his prepared statement and then stopped (video).
 
He wanted to relate the tortured negotiations to the tragedy unfolding in his own country when typhoon Bopha slammed into the island of Mindanao, killing hundreds of people and making thousands homeless. It was, he said, like hurricane Sandy which hit New York, Haiti and Cuba last month, a clear sign of climate change. No typhoon had ever come so far south, it was more intense than ever and one had not hit this region in many decades. Saño told the plenary session:
 
“As we sit here in these negotiations, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising. There is massive and widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered without homes. And the ordeal is far from over, as typhoon Bopha has regained some strength as it approaches another populated area in the western part of the Philippines.
“Madam chair, we have never had a typhoon like Bopha, which has wreaked havoc in a part of the country that has never seen a storm like this in half a century. And heartbreaking tragedies like this are not unique to the Philippines, because the whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confront these same realities.
 
“Madam chair, I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, a quarter of a million of whom are eeking out a living working here in Qatar [as migrant labourers]. And I am making an urgent appeal, not as a negotiator, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino …”
At this point he broke down.
 
“I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
 
“I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
 
“Thank you madam chair.”
The hall rose and applauded.
 
Later I spoke to Saño, or “Yeb” as he is widely known. He said: “This was the 16th typhoon this year. It was particularly intense and uncharacteristic, struck the province of Davao Oriental. I know the area well. I have been there many times. Quite a few of our delegation have their families there.
 
“Each destructive typhoon season costs us 2% of our GDP, and the reconstruction costs a further 2%, which means we lose nearly 5% of our economy every year to storms. We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing.

“We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt. So more and more people die every year. I feel very frustrated. I was very emotional because it tears your heart out when you know your people are feeling the impact. We cannot go on like this. It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.
 
“You feel frustrated when the UN process does not work. We always go to the brink in the negotiations. That is a bad sign. Climate change negotiations cannot be based on the way we currently measure progress. It is a clear sign of planetary and economic and environmental dysfunction.”

Looking around for more info I found an interesting article, on a Philippines website, that notes:

The whole world also has to rethink the present system of production and distribution which is not only wrecking havoc on our environment and causing climate change but also continues an unacceptable system of inequality that favors a few wealthy over millions of impoverished people.
 
The ethic and system to produce profit for a few will have to urgently give way to a world where production is geared for people’s welfare and needs, for immediate use, for immediate response to people’s basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
 
The present profit-oriented system will have to change as well to protect and preserve nature and our earth. Why must a few be allowed to continue to create poverty among people and destruction of our earth?

I haven’t found a site explaining the link between tornadoes and climate change. I don’t know the science but is important/urgent for me is the link between ecology and economics drawn by the writer of the aticle quoted.

davidsuzuki

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