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Environmental Success Stories; Why Nature Makes Us Happy; Self-Driven Children

Elsa Partan
Being in nature for just 15 minutes lowers blood pressure.

This week, Living Lab Radio is sharing three of our favorite interviews from the last year.

Environmental Successes: How We Can Make Them Happen Again

First aired October 16, 2017

Susan Solomon of MIT

Most of the time, the headlines are full of bad news. That’s especially true of environmental headlines. But Susan Solomon of MIT says we have a track record of environmental success stories that deserve more attention. 

Solomon is MIT’s Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies and is internationally recognized as a leader in atmospheric science, particularly for her insights in explaining the cause of the Antarctic ozone hole. 

Why Nature Makes Us Happy

First aired November 20, 2017


Florence Williams

There are scientists studying how spending time in nature restores us physically and mentally.

A cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Utah noticed that after he spent a few days backpacking in nature, he got great ideas. He wanted to quantify it, so he gave people pencil-and-paper tests before and after they took hikes. The scientist, Dr. David Strayer, found that the people experienced a 50 percent increase in their creativity after the hike.

Florence Williams is the author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. She says even 15 minutes of walking in the woods reduces the blood pressure, reduces cortisol stress hormones, and changes the heart rate variability – all things that lead to better health.  

The Self-Driven Child

First aired March 19, 2018


Ned Johnson

There’s been a steady decline in mental health among teens and young adults in recent decades. Since 1960, anxiety, depression, and addiction have increased, as as has the number of young people who say they aren’t the ones in control of their lives. That lack (or perceived lack) of control may be at the heart of the problem.

In The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, Ned Johnson and William Stixrud draw on the work of numerous neuroscientists, psychologists, and social scientists, as well as their own experiences as the founder of a tutoring service and a clinical psychologist. The upshot: parents who are afraid to let their children flounder or fail may be causing more stress than they are alleviating, and the results can be lifelong.

Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.