Urban Forests Suck up tons of Carbon

The lush, dense, quality of rainforests instantly make one think of how beautiful and efficient they are at making fresh air (and thus suck up carbon). As a result of the obvious wonderfulness of rainforests we’ve done a lot of work to try to protect rainforests from destruction. We need to the same in our cities. In London, researchers used LIDAR technology to better understand how much carbon urban trees soak up. Trees in urban centres love to absorb that carbon! The proximity to carbon sources like automobiles make urban trees really effective at air-cleaning so much that they are comparable to rainforests.

Thank your local tree for making your air cleaner!

The UCL team used publicly available airborne lidar data collected by the UK Environment Agency, in conjunction with their ground measurements, to estimate biomass of all the 85,000 trees across Camden. These lidar measurements help to quantify the differences between urban and non-urban trees, allowing scientists to come up with a formula predicting the difference in size-to-mass ratio, and thus measuring the mass of urban trees more accurately.

The findings show that Camden has a median carbon density of around 50 tonnes of carbon per hectare (t/ha), rising to 380 t/ha in spots such as Hampstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery – that’s equivalent to values seen in temperate and tropical rainforests. Camden also has a high carbon density, compared to other cities in Europe and elsewhere. For example, Barcelona and Berlin have mean carbon densities of 7.3 and 11.2 t/ha respectively; major cities in the US have values of 7.7 t/ha and in China the equivalent figure is 21.3 t/ha.

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Belize’s Coral Reef Protection Praised

After years of being threatened by human activity the Belize Barrier Reef is getting some relief. The government of Belize has been praised by UNESCO for taking some neat initiative to save the reef. Back in 1996 the reef was added to UNESCO’s world heritage sites which stirred the government into action. The progress of protections of the coral reef has increased over the years and hopefully other governments will follow the lead of Belize.

In December 2017, lawmakers passed a landmark moratorium on oil exploration in Belizean waters, which makes it one of only a handful of countries in the world with such legislation.

At its meeting in Bahrain on Monday, Unesco praised Belize’s “visionary plan to manage the coastline”, saying that “the level of conservation we hoped for has been achieved”.

The decision comes just under a year after Unesco opted not to place the Great Barrier Reef on its “in danger” list, arguing that Australia had taken action to preserve it.

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Kids Don’t Benefit from Helicopter Parenting

Being a parent must be hard since websites are constantly telling you what you’re doing wrong. If you’re letting your kid explore the world on their own terms than you’re doing things right! Take a breather parents, it turns out that relaxing and stepping back is best for your kid. Parents who try to control their kids too much end up not letting the kids learn how the world works which means that later on in life those kids can’t cope. So, maybe just take it easy and watch your kids instead of directing them.

At the age of five the team looked at the children’s response to an unfair share of sweets, and their ability to think carefully about a puzzle under time pressure.

When the children were aged five and 10, the researchers asked teachers to rate problems such as depression, anxiety or loneliness in the children, the children’s academic performance, and their views of the children’s social skills. At 10 years the children were quizzed on their attitudes to school and teachers as well as emotional issues.

The team found that once factors including the child’s age, behaviour as a toddler and socioeconomic status were taken into account, more controlling behaviour by mothers was linked both to their children having less control over their own emotions and less control over their impulses by the age of five.

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How to Start Bird Watching

birds

Spending time outside in nature is good for your physical and mental health, so why not do something while you’re out there? Bird watching could be the thing for you! Take your phone with you to catalog nature and help discover birds, that way you’re improving science while also improving yourself. If you’re wondering about what bird watching (or just birding) is all about you can check out this in-depth beginners guide.

Bird enthusiast and author Jack Connor published an essay back in 1984 highlighting the pastime’s appeal, and his reasons still hold true today.

Connor shared that birding gives folks something interesting to talk about, a reason to explore the world, and the chance to meet likeminded people and make lifelong friends.

Unlike many hobbies that have the equivalent of a shelf life, bird watching is a pastime that can continue into old age.

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Thanks to Jonny!

Lift the Weight of Depression by Lifting Weights

Any physical movement is good for you and the evidence keeps piling up. A meta-analysis of the relationship between resistance exercise training (RET) and depression concludes that lifting weights does indeed help your mental health. Because studies usually look at only aspect of mental health we need more research looking across studies to provide a solid foundation and that’s what we’re seeing here.

One thing I realized when going to the gym is that it took weeks to get that positive feeling from working out. Don’t expect instance levity in your mood or skills. There’s no reason to start at the extreme by lifting way more than you can. Start with lighter weights and slowly work your way up to whatever you like.

After reviewing the literature, Gordon and team found that regardless of age, sex, or health status, RET is “associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.” The largest gains were found in adults with elevated symptoms, which gave the researchers hope that RET “may be particularly helpful for reducing depression symptoms in people with greater depressive symptoms.” They also found that supervised workout sessions resulted in larger gains than in unsupervised sessions.

As Gordon says, it’s impossible to blind people for this sort of research—you know who is lifting weights and who is not. As with most studies, the placebo effect could be at work. But given all we know about the benefits of exercise, this is a placebo with few side effects (overexertion and muscle strains being the most prominent). The benefits outweigh any potential risk.

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