Japanese bank funding for new coal plants in question FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Three coal-fired power plants under consideration in Vietnam, Botswana and Mongolia supported by Japanese banks probably wouldn’t be eligible for financing under more climate-friendly guidelines emerging from the Asian country’s financial institutions, according to research by a climate-change advocacy group.The facilities, with a combined capacity of 2,070 megawatts, fall short of some of the stricter financing guidelines set by Japanese banks this year because they fail to use more advanced air-pollution technologies, Market Forces said in a report to be published Tuesday. The Australia-based group, which advocates for climate-friendly investment, identified 10 coal-fired power projects for which at least one of Japan’s three major banks are providing advisory services or considering loans.The analysis shows the potential impact from shifts in policy by some of Japan’s largest banks, which are some of the world’s biggest financial supporters of coal-fired projects overseas, especially in emerging economies. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc., which have all tightened their coal-financing policies this year, declined to comment.Market Forces analyst Bernadette Maheandiran said Japanese financial institutions that have announced stricter coal-financing policies should implement the new rules for projects under consideration. “While the banks consider projects long before financial close, they are not committed until loan agreements are signed,” she said in an email.Sumitomo Mitsui Banking said in June it wouldn’t help finance new coal-fired generation if the emissions technology was below the so-called ultra-supercritical category. Policies for new projects announced by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group would preclude their involvement in the Botswana and Vietnam ventures, Maheandiran said.It’s unclear what impact the policy shifts will have on projects already under consideration. Sumitomo Mitsui has said it would consider exceptions for projects where it has already committed support or where the Japanese government or multilateral development banks’ support are confirmed. A spokesman declined to say if the power plants will be exempted from the bank’s new policy.More: These 3 coal plants might not get Japan funds under new rules
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg News:Over the past year, the cost of generating energy from wind projects fell by 4% and large solar projects by 7%. The levelized cost of any particular energy technology is the break-even price that companies investing in that technology need in order to see a competitive rate of return. In the case of both utility-scale solar and onshore wind power, this rate has dropped to about $40 per megawatt hour — which is lower than the cost of building new power plants that burn natural gas or coal. Many forces have brought about this change, including steady improvements in technology and reductions in capital costs. And while the rate of decline has slowed a bit lately, especially for onshore wind (now dropping about 7% a year), costs for solar power at large-scale have continued to fall rapidly (about 13% a year) for the past five years.These trends are even starker when you take into account federal incentives for renewable energy. With government subsidies, the average costs of onshore wind ($28 per megawatt hour) and utility-scale solar ($36/MWh) are roughly equivalent to those of coal and nuclear generation ($34/MWh and $29/MWh, respectively). With the federal incentives, building new wind and solar facilities makes more sense than continuing to run old coal and nuclear plants. That is to say, we can reduce fossil-fuel consumption without undue economic disruption.More: Wind and Solar Power Have Become Amazingly Affordable Solar and wind continue to gain cost advantages over traditional U.S. power generation
This week, Colorado-based runner Jax Mariash finished running for 365 consecutive days (and because 2012 was a leap year, she added a 366th day just to be safe). These weren’t junk miles, either. She logged 18-mile training runs and weekly track workouts in her 365-day running mission. She competed in races at an elite level and chased down personal records. She averaged over eight miles a day.Her work with Native Eyewear required several weeks of travel across the country; she traveled to 54 cities, 15 states, and 2 countries during her year of running. Often, she ran in airports and along the snowy shoulders of roads. She once jogged up and down the stairs of her hotel for three miles.Even more amazing are the setbacks she overcame: she broke two ribs while skiing, but pushed through the pain that evening to squeeze in a three-mile run. She endured heartbreaks, too, but kept running. How did she do it? She viewed her pain as small compared to the suffering of the people for whom she was running. Her 365 days of running was dedicated to cancer patients through LIVESTRONG. Her mission was clear and powerful: “To emotionally give back every day to those fighting for their lives, fighting for someone else along bedside, reflecting back at their own fight against cancer, or mourning a loss. If they don’t get a break, I don’t.”Read more about Jax’s incredible year of running here.
YESNo one wants a McDonald’s in front of Old Faithful, a fear I hear time and again when privatization is mentioned. However, once the government determines how to manage a particular park, should its operation be privatized? Sure. The National Park Service faces hundreds of millions of dollars in capital needs and deferred maintenance. It is crazy to use that limited budget for federal employees to clean bathrooms and man the gatehouse, when private companies have proven they can do a quality job much less expensively. The U.S. Forest Service, for example, has had private operators in over a thousand of its largest parks for nearly thirty years, and unlike state parks agencies or even the Park Service, it is not considering park closures or accumulating deferred maintenance, despite having its recreation budget axed. Why? Because its partnership program with private operators is a fundamentally sounder, lower-cost approach to park operations.In fact, such public-private partnerships are nothing new for the National Park Service. The Park Service was an early innovator in this field, and currently private companies operate many of the visitor services in parks, such as lodges and gift shops. The Forest Service innovation, which has been copied by many agencies including most recently California State Parks, has been to turn over operations of the whole park, not just the lodge, to a private company. These are highly structured contracts, wherein the private company cannot modify the facilities or change fees without agency approval, and must meet a range of detailed performance goals.Most critiques of private park operations center around quality and fees. While there certainly have been some isolated failures, in general the results have been quite good. In Arizona, a recent poll by CampArizona.com ranked the top 10 public campgrounds in Arizona. Of these, three of the top five were US Forest Service campgrounds run by a private operator, as was the top Arizona campground in Sunset Magazine’s “Best of the West” (OK, I have to brag, these are all run by my company). As for fee concerns, state-run parks in California charge $30 for a no-hookup camp site. Privately operated public campgrounds in California forests seldom charge more than $18.My company operates over 150 state, county, and federal parks. They are well-run, generally with more staff than a typical state park, and have no significant deferred maintenance backlog. Oh, and not a single one has a McDonald’s, a billboard, or a neon sign in front of a national monument.Warren Meyer is the president of Recreation Resource Management.NOThere are many things that business does or could do better than government. But twenty years of experience working on park issues convinces me that managing our national parks isn’t one of them.Every American is a shareholder of the natural and cultural heritage protected and made available by the National Park Service. The “profit” we shareholders receive for our investment is the knowledge that America’s stories and most precious natural resources will be accessible to our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Given the tasks of protecting fragile habitat, scenic vistas, historic character, and life-changing human experiences, most members of a board room would be way out of their element.The American public was recently asked this very question in a national poll conducted jointly by Republican and Democratic polling firms. While there is sometimes vehement disagreement about the proper functions of the federal government, 95 percent of those surveyed said that protecting national parks is an appropriate role for the federal government. Further, when told the amount we currently spend operating our parks, 92 percent said that federal funding for parks should be maintained or increased, including 88 percent of Republicans and 96 percent of Democrats. In our deeply divided electorate, Americans are nearly unanimous about our national parks—and the role of government in protecting them.The argument that privatization is needed for the parks to succeed economically assumes there is a problem. Given that the “profit” we shareholders might expect also includes a healthy contribution to our overall economy, let’s examine how the parks are doing.According to a recent study, visitors to the national parks supported more than $31 billion in spending to local economies–$10 for every $1 invested–and more than 258,000 jobs in 2010. All of these benefits come from an agency funded by 1/14th of 1 percent of the federal budget. If the National Park Service were a Fortune 500 company, it would rank right above McDonald’s and close behind American Express. Privatizing national parks would be trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.It is the inability of Congress to work together for the public good that threatens our national parks as economic generators. Allowing sequestration or other funding cuts to diminish the parks would mindlessly impede America’s economic recovery. National parks aren’t part of the problem; they’re part of the solution, and cutting or privatizing their budgets would be about as penny-wise and pound-foolish as it gets.Don Barger is the senior regional director for the National Park Conservation Association.
A couple of years ago, some super smart scientists released the results of a study that showed beer, when consumed during and after exercise, actually works to rehydrate your body. It was a big deal. I think they released pigeons during the press conference.Sure, beer may not be the best tool for rehydration, but the result of drinking beer while sweating your ass off is a net positive. I was very enthusiastic about the findings, because I’ve been fortunate enough to stake a large portion of my career on the combination of hard exercise and copious amounts of alcohol. Suddenly, I had some scientific validation for my way of life.I didn’t think things could get any better than downing a beer in a gravel parking lot after a hard mountain bike ride, but then I found The Cyclist at my neighborhood bar, and my eyes were opened yet again.The Cyclist is a simple combination. Get a pint glass. Fill half the glass with beer, fill the rest with lemonade. I guess you could call it a beer cocktail, but I’m not going to call it that because I don’t like beer cocktails, but I really like The Cyclist, so how could it be a beer cocktail?You follow my logic?The Cyclist I had at my neighborhood bar was made with a New Belgium Snapshot, which is a light, effervescent wheat beer. If you’re making one at home, using a wheat beer is key. You want something that’s really bright, and kind of spicy to stand up to the lemonade. Sour beers could also work. Some people use straight up lemonade, but you lose a lot of carbonation in the process. I like The Cyclist with lemon soda instead.Mixing lemonade with beer actually dates back to the ‘20s in Germany, when a bar-owner figured out he could make his beer supplies last twice as long if he cut them with something like lemonade or lemon soda. It was a brilliant move, and cyclists loved them. Germans call them “Radlers,” and they’ve been causing a riff in the beer world for almost 100 years. Beer purists think it’s sacrilege to put something as base as lemonade in a beer, but those beer purists have probably never pedaled up to a bar after a hard, hot ride and wanted something a little bit more refreshing than a beer.A number of breweries make a version of The Cyclist that you can buy in cans or bottles, but this is one situation where a DIY approach will serve you best. Find your favorite summery wheat beer, some Country Time, and rehydrate.
I’m often surprised that some bands manage to remain a cohesive unit for twenty-five minutes.But twenty-five years? Wow.Michael Clem, long time bassist for folk rockers Eddie From Ohio, will be celebrating that milestone this weekend with his EFO bandmates during three sold out shows at The Birchmere, one of the region’s finest music halls.During that quarter century run with EFO, Clem has also gone about practicing his own songcraft. This past weekend, he celebrated the release of his second solo album, Fifty Clementines, at sold out shows in both Vienna and Charlottesville, Virginia.Fifty Clementines was recorded at JLM Studios in Charlottesville and features a bevy of fantastic Virginia artists, including local faves Sam Wilson, Sons of Bill, Terri Allard, Ellis Paul, Peyton Tochterman, and James Mclaughlin, who co-produced the record.I recently caught up with Michael to chat about metaphysical poets, great friends who double as great musicians, and what it means to celebrate 25 years with a band.BRO – You are coming off of a weekend of CD release shows. That has to feel good.MC – I’m not just coming off, I’m coming down, but ever so slowly, like a feather floating back to Earth. Two full houses in my new and old hometowns, ecstatic crowds both nights, and a band that was firing like a bazooka. I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome. Yep, that feels good.BRO – Ten years between solo records. Why the long break?MC – Complacency. Procrastination. Sloth. I’m starting to learn my own stuff, which is why I’m not going to manufacture a clever answer. A serious wake up call over four years ago resulted in me stepping things up in my life, particularly where music is concerned. It’s what I do, and I’m too old to retrain to do anything else.BRO – Your recording sessions included some great musicians from around Virginia. With friends like these, who needs session players?MC – You’re not kidding! The talent among new and old friends is immense, but make no mistake, these aren’t mere hobbyists. They’re musicians by trade. I just happen to have their cell numbers, so there’s no escaping me.BRO – We are featuring “John Donne” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?MC – Probably one of my oldest backstories, dating back to my JMU days, about thirty years ago. By sophomore year, I was in a poetry class, and while I wasn’t the best student, my attendance was impeccable, even if I did have to roll out of my dorm bed into the class building next door at the crack of 10 A.M. I truly identified with John Donne’s “The Sun Rising” piece, as I wasn’t much of a morning person, either, at the time. I’ve had a lyric and melody bouncing around for years, but I finally finished it for this album.BRO – 25th anniversary shows with Eddie From Ohio this weekend. Where has the time gone?MC – I’m not very quick on the uptake, and it wasn’t until this past month while working on promotion for my 50th birthday/CD release/Eddie From Ohio’s anniversary weekend of three sold out shows at The Birchmere that it occurred to me, “Hey, I’ve spent half of my life playing with this band.” I’m actually quite proud of that . . . not my mental thickness, but my two and a half decade career.Congrats to the lucky folks with tickets that will be joining Michael Clem and his mates in Eddie From Ohio for this weekend’s shows at The Birchmere. Fans can catch Michael doing his solo things as part of the We Are The 9 Songwriter Series at The Tally-Ho Theater in Leesburg, Virginia, on January 22nd, and in Charlottesville at The Paramount Theater on February 26th.For more information on Michael Clem, his tour dates, or how you might grab a copy of the new record, please visit his website.[divider]More from the Trail Mix Blog[/divider]
Email*: Zip Code*: I certify that I am over the age of 18.WIN ONE MORE ENTRY IN THIS CONTEST! I would like to receive updates from BRO, and prize partners straight to my inbox!* denotes required field Named 2014 Road Race of the Year by the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA), The Genworth Virginia 10 Miler offers a unique, diverse course lined with thousands of volunteers and spectators and more than 7 live bands. This energy brings participants back year after year.At the heart of Central Virginia, Lynchburg is a vibrant city that is highlighted by a historic downtown, offering hotels and restaurants along with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the James River.Lynchburg was chosen as the Outstanding Runner Friendly Community of 2011 and remains a designated Runner Friendly Community by the RRCA.The Genworth Virginia 10 Miler weekend is actually a “festival of events” that includes a 10-mile run, a 4-mile run, a 4-mile walk, and The Amazing Mile Children’s Run. A Family Festival will take place downtown during packet pickup on Friday evening featuring family-fun activities and food.Each year adds to The Genworth Virginia 10 Miler’s legendary history. 2016 is expected to be nothing less than “exceptional.” The Genworth Virginia 10 Miler in Lynchburg, Virginia is an event that has lived up to its reputation of “Where Southern Hospitality Meets the Road.”Celebrating its 43rd year, the race continues to attract thousands of individuals from around the nation, as they come to experience the beauty and friendliness of Lynchburg, Virginia through the unique rolling 10-mile course.Participants don’t just run a road race; they join a community of runners and spectators who pride themselves on its treasured history.Enter for a chance to win free registration here!
Alan Cameron climbed a rocky bank above a gravel road, shined his pocket-sized flashlight into a crevice and uttered a phrase he would repeat again and again on this, one of the more recent of his dozen-plus year’s worth of salamander-spotting excursions: “There’s a green.” He pointed to a creature that, without the glimmer of the beam off its moist skin, would have been invisible in these surroundings: only 5 inches long with a flat build that allows it to squeeze into narrow cracks, with background coloring that matches the brown of shaded rock, with gold-green blotches that mimic patches of lichen and moss.“You can see how it blends in,” said Cameron, 73. “Green salamanders spend most of the year in these rocks. They have to have crevices. It has to be shaded. The moss indicates good humidity and they have to have high humidity.”Cameron’s tireless volunteer work monitoring green salamanders (Aneides aeneus) helped lead to what, for him, was an unwelcome result — last year’s downlisting to threatened of what had long been the only salamander species designated as endangered by the state. But Cameron has also helped lay the foundation for research that might eventually restore the green’s status as endangered.In the general sense of the term, the green surely is endangered, he said, and that’s bad news all around because healthy green habitat is pretty much synonymous with a healthy Appalachian landscape. Bulldoze rocks and greens are gone. Clear rhododendron and they lose life-giving shade. Destroy forest canopy and their summer homes are razed. Allow invasive wooly adelgids to spread, killing stands of hemlock, and greens retreat. In fact, green salamanders and their kin are so closely tied our image of Eastern mountains that the most famous chronicler of this region, Barbara Kingsolver, “said ‘salamanders should be on the state flag of the Appalachians,’” according to leading amphibian researcher J.J. Apodaca.The green’s preferred environment is also Cameron’s. After retiring from the National Security Agency, he moved from Maryland to Western North Carolina in 2004, unwittingly placing himself between the state’s two documented groups of greens, one centered in the Isothermal region to the east of his home and the other in the Blue Ridge Escarpment, to the west. After he volunteered his services to the state Wildlife Resources Commission, his location made him a natural to monitor greens. And his energy, organizational skills and general love of wildlife — including the exotic varieties he saw on NSA postings in Thailand and Vietnam — led him to become a citizen scientist on speed and steroids.Weather permitting, he spends six days a week looking for greens and, in recent years, timber rattlesnakes and spotted skunks. He has monitored more known green habitat and discovered more new habitat — by far — than any scientist in the state, said Lori Williams, a WRC biologist who supervises his work. Because full-time scientists are often bound to their desks, “we could never cover the ground that Alan covers,” she said. “He’s been so devoted and he spends the majority of his year in the field . . . We have a lot more dots on the map (marking green habitat) than we would ever have without Alan.”No surprise, then, that Cameron and his data are at the center of two biggest developments in the world of greens — both the recent downlisting and Apodaca’s research showing the state’s two populations are far more distinct than previously believed, “separated by 14 miles and 11 million years,” Apodaca said.The change in the green’s protection status was based on a Wildlife Commission recommendation at a meeting in February of 2017. It was an appropriate action, Williams said, because listing decisions are data-driven and Cameron’s work and improved mapping tools have increased the number of known green dwelling places from about 100 to more than 1,000 in the past 15 years. Despite the downlisting, state law maintains the same restrictions on uses of public land that could harm greens and the same prohibitions on killing or collecting them. She also emphasized, for the benefit of landowners who might hesitate to report greens on their lots, that the new status leaves the same limits on the development of private property — none at all. “Thirty years ago, when these protection acts were written, private landowners and their property rights were very much at the forefront,” she said.Cameron initially opposed the downlisting because of the lingering effects of the mysterious mass die-off that led to the green’s designation as endangered in 1987. In the 1970s and ‘80s, about 98 percent of the green population disappeared, maybe because of acid rain or air pollution. But even after air and rainfall quality improved, individual populations never rebounded. An outcropping near Lake Lure, for example, once harbored as many as 15 greens. “Now, I’m lucky to see one,” Cameron said. “I was ready to go to the (Commission) meeting and yell bloody murder.” He was talked out of it, he said, partly because he believes the salamanders will regain endangered status once Apodaca’s work “hits the streets.” Instead of being considered one species with a growing documented range, greens in North Carolina will be seen as two smaller groups. “Not only will greens be listed as endangered, so will (Isothermal) salamanders,” Cameron said.It’s too soon to say that, said Apodaca, associate executive director of the non-profit Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy, who cautioned that his research is still being reviewed. But genetic analysis clearly indicates the Isothermal “population has a unique lineage.” It was the seed population, he said, and spread to the northern edge of the green’s range in southern Ohio and Pennsylvania, then back south through the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee before finally reaching the Escarpment. This is separated from the Isothermal region by a valley where green migration is currently blocked by Interstate 26 and where movement was impeded for millions of years before the road’s construction by the flat landscape, devoid of rock outcroppings.Apodaca and Cameron do agree, however, that Cameron was crucial in mapping the range of these populations. ”I’m the guy who found the two sites (of the separate groups) that are closest to each other,” Cameron said. “Without Alan,” Apodaca said, “we would have a much blurrier picture of where these animals live.”They also agree on the obvious point that greens and many other salamanders remain highly vulnerable. Globally “a little over 50 percent of the species are considered threatened on some level,” Apodaca said. It’s almost a rule of thumb that actions advancing human populations end up harming salamanders. Residential development, of course, clears habitat. So does farming, which also spreads chemicals that are hazardous to all salamanders and that are especially deadly to greens and other lungless species, which breathe through their thin, porous skin. Roads can be even more lethal, creating fragmented habitat and brutal gauntlets that can kill more than half the salamanders — never known as great migrators — that try to cross them, according to the nonprofit Save the Salamanders. And the green’s brilliant coloring and prominent “puppy-dog eyes,” as one researcher described them, create another hazard — appeal to collectors. Scientists recently noted the ominous sight of a screwdriver wedged in a Jackson County rock known for sheltering the species. Williams called it “indirect evidence of pet collection.”So, as Cameron sees it, greens need somebody to stand up for them. “They lived in our forests for millions of years before humans ever set foot on this continent,” he said. “I think that gives them the right to continue to exist here.” During an outing last October in Dupont State Forest, he quickly left the road and sought out salamanders the way he usually does, by bushwhacking. It’s an activity he is built for — compact and slim, a former champion age-group distance runner — the way salamanders are built to hide in rocks. He found them, one after another, and marked their location in a pad he carried the back pocket of his blue jeans. His miniature MagLite was tucked in the other pocket, and two cameras rode in holsters on his hips.Though he says he’s “not smart enough to analyze the data; I just collect it,” his work has amounted to far more than adding dots to maps. He has observed females descend from their summer homes in the treetops to lay eggs that are suspended — “like bunches of grapes,” he said — from the roofs of crevices. He has watched embryos develop in eggs as clear as snow globes, eyes first appearing as black specks, dark bodies expanding as yoke recedes, dime-sized versions of adults emerging and leaving brood crevices to meet who knows what fate. Only one scientist had previously recorded a sighting of a mutant flesh-colored green salamander before 2011; that year Cameron photographed two of them.He is the first person to document an apparent delay in some juveniles’ production of yellow pigment, which temporarily leaves their trademark green markings bright blue. And recently he has taken on the job of collecting swabs from salamanders’ skin so scientists can check them for pathogens.In the field that afternoon, he blocked one green’s escape route with twigs and prodded its tail with a blunt-tipped wire until it landed at his feet with a barely audible rustle of a leaf. “Sometimes they do that. They just jump,” he said. He rubbed its skin with a swab, measured its length (4.7 inches) with calipers and its weight (2.7 grams) on a tiny scale. He then returned it to the rock and watched it scurry back into its crevice, where it looked as fully at home as Cameron was with his notepad and camera — far from the road and deep in the forest, in among the lichen and the moss, the rocks and the salamanders.
Awesome: The Surprising Science Behind How We Experience the OutdoorsA cold front is sweeping over Pickem Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest, blasting a gale-force wind through the cliffs crowning its summit. The weather has my attention, but the trio of kids I’m hiking with are too busy to notice. They’ve got other business.“Is this where the salamanders live?” one of them asks, wandering towards a rock outcrop off-trail. I don’t know, but we check it out anyway, shining a headlamp into a narrow crevice midway up. Sure enough, the snub-nosed profile of a green salamander peers out at us.The kids are certifiably stoked. “Let me see!” they yell, pushing past each other to get the best look. One of them has his jaw dropped, while another is chattering excitedly about the salamander’s behavior. The third is silently staring at the animal, processing a part of the woods they’re seeing for the first time.There’s a common way to describe each child’s reaction: the kids are in awe.We’ve all experienced that feeling. It might not come from something as specific as a salamander in a rock crevice, but each of us has stumbled across one of those outdoor moments that leaves us gobsmacked. Maybe it’s waking up to a backcountry sunrise over a sea of valley fog, or perhaps it’s surviving a ride down epic singletrack that straddles the razor-thin line between exhilaration and a trip to the E.R. Regardless of the source, there’s an undeniable feeling in finding awe in the outdoors. We’ve experienced something different, and it won’t leave us the same.Why does that feeling happen? After all, emotions have biological sources, and awe is no different. In recent decades, psychologists have been delving into the science behind awe-inspiring experiences in nature, shedding new light on an emotion that everyone experiences but few easily understand.Much of that insight is coming from the Great Outdoors Lab, a collaboration between the Greater Good Science Center at U.C.-Berkeley and the Sierra Club. Previous work has shown that a feeling of awe stems from expanding one’s horizons—experiencing something different that forces you to reconsider your world—but an outstanding question has been if that experience translates into longer-term wellbeing.And as humans become more disconnected from nature, that question becomes even more relevant. “Most of our population lives in cities, and more and more we’re spending all of our time in front of screens,” says Craig Anderson, a postdoctoral fellow at U.C.-San Francisco and formerly a graduate student at U.C.-Berkeley. “Awe is an emotion that we feel in the presence of vast things that take us out of the context that we’re used to, and nature is really good at both of those things.”Anderson and colleagues tested that ability in research published this past summer, examining diaries kept by whitewater rafters including college students and military veterans. Their results were striking: more awe-inspiring experiences outdoors can lead to improvements in well-being and stress responses, including those tied to PTSD.While it makes sense that a single event like a rafting trip would generate transformative awe, Anderson and colleagues went a step further, asking participants to keep diaries detailing their thoughts and feelings as they went through everyday activities. Out of a list of positive emotions—amusement, contentment, joy, and pride—awe was the one most affected by regular time spent outdoors.“Those daily moments, whether it’s a sunset or noticing flowers blooming in the neighborhood, those can make you feel awe, too,” Anderson says. Over the two-week course of the study, participants who felt more awe in nature saw greater improvements in their well-being.Those of us who spend time outdoors know that feeling all too well. But why are the outdoors so primed for inducing awe in the first place? It turns out that a love for nature might be rooted in our DNA. For decades, researchers have known that humans are drawn to natural landscapes. As far back as 1984, biologist E.O. Wilson popularized a concept called the Biophilia hypothesis, which Wilson called the “urge to affiliate with other forms of life.”Work since then has suggested that our attachment to nature often links to places that support psychological notions like safety in an environment or the exploration of it. While some debate exists about how extensive those preferences may be in different populations, experiencing awe in nature is very likely a part of what makes us human.An added implication of Anderson and colleagues’ research is that our relationship to nature might also extend to our health. And the medical community is catching on to that notion. In recent years, medical professionals have begun prescribing time outdoors for a litany of health conditions. In Japan, a form of outdoor therapy called forest bathing has been linked to lower blood pressure and reduced diabetes risk. Here in the Blue Ridge, the region’s wilderness therapy programs are based on similar principles, as are a growing number of nature therapy centers regionwide.Granted, you’re probably never going to get a script from your doctor that simply says “go do something awesome.” But researchers are uncovering that there’s real scientific grounding behind that feeling of experiencing awe in nature, whether it’s a thru-hike on the A.T. or getting amped about spotting some salamanders with kids on an afternoon walk. The secret to a long and healthy—and yes, awesome—life, then, might lie no farther away than right outside.
So much good music on Trail Mix this month. Looking for a last minute gift for that music lover in your life? Seek out some of these records and drop them under the tree or into the stocking. Support these great artists that we are lucky to showcase each month. 5:39 The New OK Drive-By Truckers This edition of Trail Mix brings this year to a close. It’s been a tough one. But I hope that the music these artists provide each month on the mix brought some amount of joy to all of you out there. And, as we prepare to bid a welcome farewell to 2020, trust that good times are just around the corner in 2021. I feel it in my bones. More great music, more adventures, and – most importantly – a return to normal. Trail Mix looks forward to being right there beside through it all, providing a soundtrack for you. Thanks for listening this year. Have a great holiday season, a tremendous New Year, and we’ll catch up with a brand new set of tunes in a brand new year really soon. Round out your listen by digging into tunes from Evan Troop, Leslie Mendelssohn, Yosh & Yimmy, Shinyribs, Alabama Slim, Carly Johnson, George Shingleton, Garret Wieland, and Call Me Spinster. At A Loss Matthew Sweet 3:31 Back in January, before the world fell apart, Drive-By Truckers kicked off 2020 with a brand new record. Fittingly, it was titled The Unraveling, though that title was inspired more by the current political and social climate than any potential havoc about to be visited upon us by a global pandemic. As the year comes to a close, it’s perfect, then, that these Alabama rockers end 2020 with the release of a surprise record, The New OK, which drops next week. Initially envisioned as an EP, tracks were passed between band members and, eventually, an LP was in the works. The Truckers’ collective eye for tackling tough social issues is readily apparent; political and social unrest provide much inspiration for the tracks. But there’s a sense of optimism on the record, too, spotlighting the notion that we, as a nation, are better than the tough times we have been wandering through. Trail Mix is excited to feature the title track, “The New OK, this month. 4:05 3:01 By The Lights On The Tree Eric Brace & Last Train Home Two Hearts Call Me Spinster 4:26 4:31 Mesa, Arizona Jeffrey Foucault Copy and paste this code to your site to embed. 2:55 2:01 2:18 Forty Jive Alabama Slim The Believer Carly Johnson Devotion Garrett Wieland 3:18 4:41 Audio PlayerJeffrey FoucaultMesa, ArizonaUse Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.00:000:00 / 4:31 4:53 4:51 And a December edition of Trail Mix wouldn’t be complete without some Christmas tunes. Check out the holiday offerings from The Infamous Stringdusters, Eric Brace & Last Train Home, Andrew Scotchie, Blake Miller & Amelia Biere, Jon Patrick Walker, and Patrick Mangan. All I Want For Christmas Blake Miller & Amelia Biere Have a Good Time George Shingleton 3:54 4:04 3:36 The Frost Is All Over / Christmas Eve / Maude Miller feat. Steve Holloway & Declan Masterson Patrick Mangan Embed My First Christmas Without You Andrew Scotchie Happy Xmas in the Edge Times! (2020) Jon Patrick Walker Everything is Moving Neal Casal Jingle Bells The Infamous Stringdusters Head And Heart Leslie Mendelssohn Soul of This Town Oliver Wood Bitch Better Have My Money Shinyribs 2:34 4:13 The World Is Sound Asleep Yosh & Yimmy 4:17 Gone Evan Troop 2:55 Appearing on Trail Mix are also some of my favorite songwriters. Included this month is one of the final songs recorded by noted guitarist/songwriter Neal Casal, who we lost entirely too early in 2019. Oliver Wood, of The Wood Brothers, appears with his first ever solo single, and Matthew Sweet returns with brand new music. Finally, Jeffrey Foucault is back with a set of previously unreleased songs, Deadstock, that he has collected over the last fifteen years. DOWNLOAD TRAIL MIX HERE