Are You or Your Child Suffering From Nature-Deficit Disorder? Try a Large Dose of ‘Vitamin N’ or Green Exercise!

You’ve Heard of Spa Breaks, Spring Breaks, Coffee Breaks, and Family Fun Breaks to reduce stress and blood pressure – but are you familiar with the benefits of “Nature Breaks”? With ever increasing big-city development, population density, and not enough backyards, and too little in urban access ways to recreational parks, you or your child may be one of millions of Americans suffering today from “environmental deprivation” – a lack of exposure to nature and the outdoors. That’s right – the healing power of nature in both physically challenging activities and visually experiential observations and self-reflections – has now been proven to have scientific merit.

But before I delve into researchers’ studies and examples of “green prescriptions”, let’s determine if you are suffering from the negative effects of a Nature-Deficit Disorder.

1- How long has it been since you played in the outdoors – i.e. hiked in the mountains, swam in the ocean, paddled on a lake – AND- felt so vibrant and full of life doing it?
2- How long has it been since you planted flowers or vegetables in your own backyard garden or front-side verandah or window box –AND- felt the peaceful inner pleasure of watching something grow under your care?
3- And yes, when was the last time your child voluntarily spent time away from his or her video games, his or her television set, his or her computer monitor or  iPad, and his or her mobile phone –AND INSTEAD- happily volunteered to help out an animal shelter, set up a campsite, build a wildlife sanctuary, or become a map and compass trail instructor?

Whether you are six or 60 – without “enough” exposure to natural settings – illness and behavioral issues can suddenly erupt and spill over into your daily life and workplace. Here then is what researchers have found about the power of ‘Vitamin N’ for Nature in the last 30 years.

– During the 1980s and 1990s, a number of studies demonstrated that just looking at natural landscapes offered a wide range of benefits for post-operative hospital patients, office workers, prison inmates and car commuters: quicker recovery rates, higher work productivity, lowered blood pressure, less headaches and enhanced use of the senses.
– In 2008, University of Michigan researchers demonstrated that memory performance and attention spans were improved by 20 percent after just one hour of interaction with nature.
– University of Kansas researchers have reported a 50 percent boost in creativity for people who were immersed in nature for just a few days.
– And in Japan, Jikei and Nihon University research studies show that stress-buster sleepovers at the Enoshima Aquarium can counteract a bad day at work – specifically watching jellyfish. Apparently watching jellyfish overnight stimulates the production of a compound in the saliva associated with relaxation.
– Recent studies in the USA have also shown that bringing groups of inner city children with behavioral issues on recreational and educational field trips in nature can drastically improve their sense of self-worth and social relations with others.
– As for children brought up in rural areas, two Cornell University environmental psychologists discovered back in 2003, that the amount of green landscapes a rural child is exposed to greatly influences a child’s resilience against stress and adversity – “that life’s stressful events appear not to cause as much psychological distress in children who live in high-nature conditions compared with children who live in low-nature conditions”. Conducted by Professors Nancy Wells and Gary Evans, their innovative behavioral study of rural children and the “naturalness scale” of their residential environments assessed the degree of nature in and around the homes of 337 rural children in grades 3 through 5 (whose family’s socioeconomic status and income were the same) by the number of live indoor plants inside the family home, the amount of window view space of nature itself, and the material texture of the outdoor yard – grass versus dirt or concrete.
– In a separate study, Professor Nancy Wells also found that nature significantly boosted a child’s attention span when children were moved from poor-quality housing to better-quality housing with plenty of green spaces around.

All of this gives credence to the popular “Attention Restoration Theory” first developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in their 1989 book, “The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective” – which asserts that “people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature.” So with the importance of this in mind, let’s take a look at how you or your child might engage with nature and enhance your physical, emotional, and spiritual capacity to live good quality lives.

1-Plant a garden or “schoolyard habitat”. The National Wildlife Federation assists schools in developing and “certifying” outdoor classrooms where educators and students learn how to attract and support wildlife. These mini-outdoor environments then become places where students not only learn about specific wildlife species and ecosystems but they allow children to hone their academic skills and nurture their innate creativity and curiosity. Thus far, the NWF’s Schoolyard Habitat program has certified 4000 schoolyards in all 50 states of the United States plus two territories.
2-Become a “Nature Mentor” to your children or grandchildren. Establish a “green hour” in your household – sanctioned time for contact with nature be it a television program on nature, a lunch-hour picnic in the park or on your own backyard deck, or perhaps even encouraging your youngster with an outdoor DIY project of their own making – building a wooden bird house, creating a ceramic waterfall fountain or crafting a wreath from acorns, pinecones, shell, leaves, and straw.
3-Plan a “Nature-themed” vacation or “Eco-weekend” trip. Whether your destination is an expensive eco-friendly island resort or an inexpensive bed-and-breakfast in the rural countryside, keep in mind the healthful benefits of having locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs – knowing the eco-historical and cultural legacy of the region – and seeing the eco-vibrant practices, amenities, and recycling efforts being used to protect and preserve the ecological balance of the area.

So melt away all your family’s chaotic energy and rejuvenate your senses by tapping into and reconnecting with Nature! And make sure your child’s stress reduction routine and improved attention span is sprinkled with a large dose of Vitamin N treats!

Ten of China’s Ongoing Investment Efforts in Renewable Energy!


1- It is official: China is now the world’s largest consumer of energy, surpassing the US in 2009, according to the International Energy Agency. It is now poised to spend $473.1 billion on clean energy investments in the next five years. China also wants 20 per cent of its total energy demand to be met by wind and solar by 2021.

2- In terms of solar power, China is projected to surpass Germany in 2013 as the world’s largest market for solar energy. As of 2011, China produced three-fifths of all the solar panels in the world and exported 95% of these panels much of them going to the United States.

3- Located in the northwestern province of Gansu, in the ancient garrison town of Jiuquan on the old Silk Road, wind turbines now stretch into the desert landscape with the capacity to generate 6GW of wind energy – roughly equivalent to that of the whole UK. The plan is to more than triple that number by 2015, when this area could become the biggest wind farm in the world.

4- China is now in the midst of constructing the largest offshore wind farm in the world in its northern Hebei province. With an investment of 913 million, the wind farm will consist of 100 units of 3 megawatts offshore turbines. It will be located near Puti Island in Bohai Sea and completed in 2015. When it goes into operation, the wind farm will generate 752 million kilowatt-hours of electric power annually.

5- Since 2009, China has embarked on the largest Green Hotel Plan in the world – building 10,000 green hotels over a four year period – 1000 green hotels in 2009, 2000 green hotels in 2010, 3000 green hotels in 2011, and 4000 green hotels in 2012.

6- China, the world’s largest automotive market is planning to become the electric vehicle mecca of the world – producing one million electric cars by 2020. To meet the challenge of sustainable mobility, both Iranian investors and Chinese industrial units announced just this month a joint venture to manufacture electric cars in Shanghai in an attempt to reduce air pollution in Iran. Meanwhile, Germany’s automaker, Daimler AG, and China’s battery and car producer, BYD Co., will be launching a new electric car brand next year called the “DENZA”.

7- Since 1978, China has been planting a series of forest strips called “The Green Wall of China” designed to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert. This green program is scheduled to be completed by 2050 and 2,800 miles in length.

8- The world’s largest sustainable city or eco-city, Tianjin, is now being developed with the hottest energy-saving technologies. Located 93 miles southeast from Beijing, it will extend 30 square kilometers, equal to half the size of Manhattan Island in the USA, and be home for 350,000 residents.

9- Beginning this year, China’s government is set to invest $25.2 million to explore and evaluate shallow-lying geothermal energy spots in 29 provincial capital cities across the country. In addition, water investments are set to double in the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) with more than $4.54 billion being allocated for water and wastewater treatments.

10- Last October, Air China and American-based aerospace company, Boeing, conducted China’s first sustainable biofuel flight on a Boeing 747 – a two hour overland flight from Beijing Capital International Airport using jatropha-based aviation biofuel developed in southwest China by PetroChina blended together with Honeywell’s UOP Green Jet Fuel. Air China and Boeing are now working on plans for a trans-Pacific flight between China and the USA with biofuel sourced from both countries. In addition America’s Boeing has signed a collaboration agreement with China’s National Energy Administration for further study of regional biofuel development.

But China isn’t the only country undergoing a green revolution – we shall now look to Monaco, Morocco, and the Mideast in our next posting and the efforts being made there by the ruling families of each region – known today as the “Green Royals”.

Disturbing Myths or Real Eco-Phenomena? Alien Eco-Terrorists or Science-Seeking Balderdash? Like UFO’s, How Well Do You Know Your Space Alien Encounters? (Part II)

In Part I, I tested your knowledge of “eco-terrestrial” monster movie trivia over the last 60 years.  But now I am going to test your knowledge of “eco-celestial” phenomena that has appeared over thousands of years the world over – in records from ancient China to ancient Egypt – in paleolithic petroglyphs from Val Camonica in Italy to Wondjina rock art in Australia – and in sightings from WWII Europe to the 1970’s in the western states of the USA.  Let’s see then how well you know your space alien encounters.

1-You most likely have heard of China’s “Terracotta Army”, a collection of life-sized terracotta sculptures buried with the First Emperor of China around 210 BC — but have you ever heard of the “Chinese-Alien Wars” that occurred in the 30th century BC – recorded on ancient parchments of rice paper and silk? After this extraterrestrial army arrived, they enslaved the native Chinese to build what structures in order to suck some mysterious element from deep within the earth?

2-Provocative archaeological discoveries have recently been made in Guatemala and Mexico surrounding the ancient-but-advanced Mayan civilization. Surrounded by jungles, one explanation being proposed is that the Mayan people were in contact with extraterrestrials using the flat tops of their pyramids as ___ ___ for alien spacecraft. Very clever indeed, if proven to be true.

3-Discovered in 1927 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, what is the name given for a series of geoglyphs and geometric line clearings found in Peru that depicts animals, plants, and humans in stylized forms? One theory is that this high, arid 53 mile stretch of plateau was also an alien airfield.

4-Are the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt repositories of alien technology? Ancient Egyptian pyramid texts describe a “time” when “sky gods” came down to Earth on flying boats, raised the land from mud and water, and brought laws and wisdom to the royal line of pharaohs. What is the name for this legendary time?

5-Was the destruction of the Indus River Valley Civilization around 1500 BC the result of highly advanced extraterrestrial technology? According to the ancient Indian Sanskrit text known as the “Mahabharata”, and the remains found around today’s archaeological sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, an explosion of what kind is being given for an explanation for its sudden disappearance?

6-What is the name of the most controversial incident in UFO history whereby an alien spacecraft and its occupants were purported to have crashed in the desert of New Mexico?

7-Witnessed first by British RAF Pilots, and German and Japanese pilots over both the European and Pacific Theater of Operations, what was the name of the mysterious aerial phenomena later coined by an American Night Fighter Squadron during World War II?

8-What dark animal phenomena was witnessed by terrified farmers throughout New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and 10 other western states in the USA during the 1970’s?

Answers: (1) Pyramids (2) Landing Pads/Landing Zones (3) Nazca Lines (4) First Time (5) Nuclear/Atomic Bomb (6) Roswell Incident (7) Foo-Fighters (8) Cattle Mutilations