Science & Environment

spaminator

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My girlfriend who lives in Winnipeg was found wondering around the streets after her husband passed away. The cops were called and they took her to the Seven Oaks Hospital where she was diagnosed with dementia. They've since found a facility for her but it was a scary thought, her wondering around, not knowing where she was or where she lived.

After not hearing from her for awhile & trying to get in contact, I asked the Winnipeg City Police for a "welfare check" and received a call shortly afterwards telling me where she was. She has no relatives there so she's by herself with no one to watch out for her.

I was skyping her every week but she doesn't know me anymore so I just check in once a month to ensure she's being taken care of.

So yes, the issue of "wondering seniors" is definitely a concern.
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spaminator

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It’s raining microplastics: Hurricane Larry dropped plastic particles all over N.L.
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Jean-Benoit Legault
Published Dec 18, 2023 • 3 minute read

When hurricane Larry made landfall in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2021, the powerful storm brought heavy rain and wind across the province — and millions of microplastic particles originating from the Atlantic Ocean, researchers from Dalhousie University have found.


“So we have a saying … it’s raining cats and dogs,” Tony Walker, a professor in Dalhousie’s school for resource and environmental studies, said in an interview. “But now it’s raining cats and dogs and microplastics.”


Larry offered researchers a unique opportunity because the hurricane never flew over land between its formation off the western coast of Africa and its landfall in Canada. The storm, however, passed through a patch of the North Atlantic where thousands of tonnes of rubbish accumulate.

“What was important about this hurricane is typically hurricanes kind of pass through the Caribbean and then come up through Florida and the United States, and they probably would have also contained microplastics, but it’s really hard to determine whether those microplastics came from land-based sources of plastic or the ocean,” Walker said.


“Larry never made landfall … so the only place those microplastics could have come from was the North Atlantic garbage patch.”

As soon as the path of the storm became clear, two students, Anna Ryan and Amber LeBlanc, moved quickly to collect rainwater from Larry. They used a cylindrical glass container to avoid contaminating the sample with more plastic — and even wore cotton clothing, Walker said.

The storm made landfall near Great Bona Cove as a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 11, 2021, with winds of 130 kilometres per hour and gusts more than 180 km/h.

The researchers collected rainwater samples between Sept. 9 and Sept. 12 of that year. A new sample was taken every six hours, for a total of eleven. They collected, on average, 20,000 microplastic particles per square metre per day before and after Larry’s passing. At the height of the storm, that number jumped significantly to nearly 115,000 particles per square metre per day.


“So during the storm, it was actually five times higher,” Walker said.

Because of Larry’s trajectory — and all the precautions the researchers took — Walker said he’s confident the microplastics could only have come from the waste vortex in the Ocean and not from North America.

Newfoundland and Labrador is approximately 405,000 square kilometres; the approximately 115,000 microplastic particles per square metre when Larry was at its strongest represents an astronomical amount of pollution.

Microplastic particles are less than five millimetres long, so small that they are impossible to discern with the naked eye. They come from the degradation of other, larger plastic products and have been detected in every environment on the planet.


The risk they pose to the health of humans, animals and ecosystems remains poorly understood. The researchers point out, for example, that these particles are small enough to contaminate groundwater.

Additionally, the study notes that “because of their small size and because they are already airborne, microplastics can enter organisms, including humans, through respiration, which has health consequences that are still largely unknown.”

Walker said it’s important for the public to recognize how pervasive microplastic pollution is.

“I think it’s important now for members of the public to recognize that microplastic pollution is everywhere,” Walker said. “Knowledge is really important because we can then help change decision-makers and give them the power to actually make really important decisions to curb plastic production.”

The conclusions of this study were published in November in the scientific journal Nature.
 

spaminator

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Iceland volcano erupts, spewing magma in a spectacular show of Earth’s power
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marco Di Marco and David Keyton
Published Dec 18, 2023 • Last updated 16 hours ago • 3 minute read

GRINDAVIK, Iceland — A volcano has erupted in southwestern Iceland, sending a flash of light into the evening sky and spewing semi-molten rock into the air in a spectacular show of the Earth’s power in the land known for fire and ice.


The eruption Monday night appears to have occurred about four kilometres from the town of Grindavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said. The town near Iceland’s main airport was evacuated in November after strong seismic activity damaged homes and raised fears of an imminent eruption.


Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, averages an eruption every four to five years. The most disruptive in recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and led to widespread airspace closures over Europe.

Billowing smoke and flowing lava turning the sky orange are seen in this Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management handout image during an volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula 3 km north of Grindavik, western Iceland on Dec. 19, 2023.
Billowing smoke and flowing lava turning the sky orange are seen in this Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management handout image during an volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula 3 km north of Grindavik, western Iceland on Dec. 19, 2023. PHOTO BY ICELANDIC DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL PROTECTION AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT/HANDOUT /AFP via Getty Images
But the eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 50 kilometres southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, wasn’t expected to release large amounts of ash into the air. Iceland’s foreign minister, Bjarne Benediktsson, tweeted that there were no disruptions of flights to and from the country, and international flight corridors remained open.


Icelandic broadcaster RUV showed a live feed of the eruption on its website. Christmas carols played in the background.

By early Tuesday afternoon, the Icelandic Meteorological Office reported that the size of the volcanic eruption at Sundhnuksgigar “continues to diminish.” It said the lava flow was estimated to be a quarter of what it was at the time of the eruption. Lava ”fountains,” which reached as high as 30 metres (yards) have also been falling.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir told RUV that for now, the lava was not endangering critical infrastructure near the volcano. Although the lava flow was moving in a promising direction, precautions were nevertheless being taken near the Svartsengi power plant.


“We also know that the flow of lava can change the surrounding landscape, so this can change with short notice,” Jakobsdottir said.

The November evacuation of Grindavik meant few people were near the site of eruption when it occurred, and authorities have warned others to stay away. The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa — one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions — also closed temporarily last month as a swarm of earthquakes put the island nation on alert for a possible volcanic eruption.

Nonetheless, the residents of the evacuated fishing community of 3,400 had mixed emotions as they watched orange flames touch the dark sky. One month after the evacuation, many are still living in temporary accommodations and don’t expect to ever be able to return to live in their homes.


“The town involved might end up under the lava,” said Ael Kermarec, a French tour guide living in Iceland. “It’s amazing to see but, there’s kind of a bittersweet feeling at the moment.”

Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a scientist who flew over the site on Tuesday morning on a coast guard research flight, told RUV that he estimates twice as much lava had already spewed than did during the entire monthlong eruption on the peninsula over the summer.

Gudmundsson said the eruption was expected to continue decreasing in intensity, but that scientists have no idea how long it could last.

“It can be over in a week, or it could take quite a bit longer,” he said.

Matthew Watson, a professor of volcanoes and climate at the University of Bristol, said that tourists should strictly follow travel advice because hazards such as new eruptions can quickly put people in harm’s way.

“As is common with this eruptive style, it began with a sustained eruption of ballistics that, over time, has lengthened to form a fire curtain — a long fissure out of which lava is being violently ejected,” he said. “This style of eruption is amongst the most spectacular ever seen, and there will be a strong pull for tourists, even though the Blue Lagoon complex has again shut.”

The spectacular natural phenomenon is already proving hard for people to resist.

“It’s just something from a movie!” said Robert Donald Forrester III, a tourist from the United States.
iceland-volcano[1].jpg
 

55Mercury

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My girlfriend who lives in Winnipeg was found wondering around the streets after her husband passed away. The cops were called and they took her to the Seven Oaks Hospital where she was diagnosed with dementia. They've since found a facility for her but it was a scary thought, her wondering around, not knowing where she was or where she lived.

After not hearing from her for awhile & trying to get in contact, I asked the Winnipeg City Police for a "welfare check" and received a call shortly afterwards telling me where she was. She has no relatives there so she's by herself with no one to watch out for her.

I was skyping her every week but she doesn't know me anymore so I just check in once a month to ensure she's being taken care of.

So yes, the issue of "wondering seniors" is definitely a concern.
sometimes I wonder about wandering

then for a minute I think I was going somewhere...
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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How reindeer eyes evolved to survive dark winters
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Allyson Chiu, The Washington Post
Published Dec 19, 2023 • 3 minute read

Rudolph’s red nose may have gone down in history, but research says it was probably his shining blue eyes – a common trait among reindeer – that helped keep him and the rest of Santa’s herd nourished.


A new study suggests that the hoofed mammals’ unique eyes, which glow a vivid blue when illuminated in colder months, may be a result of the species evolving so they can more easily find food during dark Arctic winters.


“Reindeer have just an amazing visual system,” said Nathaniel Dominy, the study’s lead author and a professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College. “It’s unlike any other mammal we know about.”

Similar to other animals, like cats or deer, the ungulates have light-enhancing tissue in their eyes, known as tapetum lucidum. But in reindeer, the luminescence changes colour from a golden colour in the summer to blue in the winter.

Scientists have long puzzled over that trait, along with the reindeer’s ability to see light in the ultraviolet spectrum. The layer of tissue is typically found in nocturnal animals because it increases their ability to see in dim light, but reindeer are out and about during the day.


Dominy and researchers from the University of St. Andrews’ School of Psychology and Neuroscience say they have one possible explanation: Reindeer vision has evolved, in part, to help the animals survive dark winters by improving their ability to find their favourite food when conditions aren’t favourable.

The researchers carried out their work in the Cairngorms mountains in the Scottish Highlands, home to Britain’s only reindeer herd and more than 1,500 species of lichen. That includes the animals’ food of choice: a type of lichen known colloquially as “reindeer moss.”

“They’re the only large mammal that is known to eat such high amounts of lichen because typically lichen is not a very nutritious type of thing,” Dominy said. “It’s kind of a puzzle that reindeer would sort of specialize on it so much.”


The pale, branchlike organisms tend to grow in thick beds and resemble shag carpeting, he said. It is found across the northern latitudes, including the United States, where it can often blend into snowy landscapes.

But by studying lichen, the researchers found that the reindeer’s preferred meal, as well as several other species that the animals also enjoy feasting upon, absorb UV light. That makes it more visible to hungry reindeer scanning the snow-covered terrain for food.

“They can see it from a distance and this would give them big advantages because then they don’t have to wander around the landscape looking for food,” Dominy said. “They could see a patch of food in the distance, move in a straight line and conserve energy at a time when energy is scarce.”


The study is believed to be the first effort to measure the amount of light at different wavelengths that’s being reflected from the lichens that reindeer often eat, Dominy said. The results, he added, indicate that the organisms are “strong absorbers of UV light, and this is a plausible explanation for their very unusual visual system.”

Meanwhile, images taken with light filters adjusted to mimic reindeer sight showed that the animals probably see lichen beds as dark patches against the highly reflective snow.

The researchers note that the blue tapetum also allows up to 60 percent of ultraviolet light to enter the eye, meaning reindeer see their surroundings in winter in shades of purple with surfaces that reflect UV giving off a glaring glow while UV-absorbing things appear dark.
 

spaminator

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Weekend shut eye could improve heart health: Study
Author of the article:Eddie Chau
Published Dec 21, 2023 • Last updated 2 days ago • 1 minute read

Study suggests that sleeping longer over the weekend could help prevent heart attacks.
Getting more sleep is always a good thing.


And doing so on the weekend may prove to be better for your heart, according to a study published in journal Sleep Health.


The study, conducted by researchers from China’s Nanjing Medical University, utilized data provided by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – which questioned 3,400 American adults aged 20 and over in 2017-2018.

Those questioned in the survey were asked how long they slumbered on weekdays and weekends and whether they had health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study suggested those who slept an hour longer on weekends were shown to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease – more specifically coronary heart disease, stroke and angina – when compared to those who got in fewer hours of shuteye.



We are a nation of the sleep deprived.

A lowered risk of heart-related health issues was most significant in those who had less than six hours of sleep on weekdays but slept in for two extra hours on weekends.

At least seven hours of sleep a night is recommended by the Sleep Research Society.

According to America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lack of sleep has been linked to higher risk of health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity, and high blood pressure to name a few.
 

spaminator

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Men become less aggressive after smelling women’s tears: Study
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published Dec 22, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

Crying may be a natural response to feeling sad but scientists found that women’s tears can also make men feel less mad.


Human tears contain a chemical signal that reduces activity in two aggression-related parts of the brain, according to researchers out of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.


More specifically, they discovered that men who sniffed women’s tears before playing a competitive game were significantly less aggressive, according to a new study published in PLOS Biology.

Mostly women volunteered for the study “because for them it’s much more socially acceptable to cry,” Ph.D. student Shani Agron, co-lead author, said in a statement.

But the tears don’t necessarily need to come from a woman to have an effect.

Previous studies with rodents found that female mouse tears reduce fighting among male mice, while male mole rats slather themselves in their own tears to avoid being attacked by alpha mice, the Weizmann Institute noted.


The researchers collected the tears of six female volunteers who watched sad movies to get the water works flowing.

Thirty-one men were then exposed to either the tears or a saline liquid, both of which were clear and odorless, by sniffing the saline or tears before having swabs with the droplets stuck to their upper lip.

The men then played a computer game used in other studies to provoke aggressive behaviour as points are unfairly deducted from players.

Players could get revenge by making their opponent lose points, even though they wouldn’t gain more points for themselves.

After smelling women’s tears, the men’s desire to seek revenge fell 43.7%.

The results are similar to the study findings involving rodents, but unlike rodents, humans don’t have a structure in their noses that detects chemical signals with no odour.


The researchers went so far as to study 62 olfactory receptors, which play a key role in the sense of smell, and found four were activated by tears but not the saline.

The study participants were also hooked up to MRI machines and after smelling tears, the areas of the brain linked to aggression – the prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula – were less active.

Scientists believe the substance of tears may have evolved when verbal communication is not possible, as with babies.

“Infants can’t talk, so for them relying on chemical signals to protect themselves against aggression can be critical,” Agron noted.

Other research shows sniffing tears reduces testosterone, according to Agron, and the scientists plan to expand their research to include women as test subjects.

“We knew that sniffing tears lowers testosterone, and that lowering testosterone has a greater effect on aggression in men than in women, so we began by studying the impact of tears on men because this gave us higher chances of seeing an effect,” she explained.

“Now, however, we must extend this research to include women to obtain a fuller picture of this impact.”
 

spaminator

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Ash from Indonesia’s Marapi volcano forces airport to close and stops flights
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Rahma Nurjana
Published Dec 22, 2023 • 1 minute read
Mount Marapi
Mount Marapi spews volcanic materials during its eruption as seen from Tanah Datar, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. PHOTO BY ALI NAYAKA /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PADANG, Indonesia (AP) — Volcanic ash spewing from Indonesia’s Mount Marapi shut down airports and blanketed nearby communities on Sumatra island Friday.


The nearly 2,900-meter (9,480-foot) volcano in the Agam district of West Sumatra province is about 113 kilometers (70 miles) north of Minangkabau International Airport in Padang, the provincial capital.


On Dec. 3, Marapi shot thick columns of ash as high as 3 kilometers (more than 9,800 feet) that killed 23 climbers and injured several others who were caught by a surprise weekend eruption.

Smaller eruptions since then spewed more ash into the air, and on Friday the volcano began belching ash that reduced visibility hundreds of kilometers away, said Indra Saputra of Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation.

Minangkabau airport was closed Friday afternoon after ash, which can pose a deadly threat to aircraft, reached its airspace.


Airport authority head Megi Helmiadi said two international flights from Kuala Lumpur and 13 domestic flights were canceled and the closure would remain in effect until 10 p.m. local time (1500 GMT), though it might be extended depending on the conditions.

Marapi is known for sudden eruptions that are difficult to predict because they are not caused by a deep movement of magma, which sets off tremors that register on seismic monitors.

The volcano has been at Indonesia’s third highest alert level since 2011, indicating above-normal volcanic activity that means climbers and villagers must stay more than 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the peak, according to the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation.

Although hikers are not supposed to enter the danger zone, local officials have acknowledged that many people likely advance higher than permitted.

Marapi is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The country is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
1703408424464.png
 
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spaminator

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Dolphin
A dolphin with thumbs has been spotted off the coast of Greece. (SCREENSHOT/Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute)
THUMBS UP GO TO THIS RARE DOLPHIN IN GREECE
If Miami Dolphins’ mascot Snowflake had thumbs like this dolphin, he could’ve thrown a touchdown pass to help win the Super Bowl in the 1994 comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Researchers have found a rare dolphin that appears to have hook-shaped thumbs on its flippers off the coast of Corinth, Greece.

Officials from the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute found the thumbed aquatic mammal playing with other dolphins.

According to Pelagos Scientific Coordinator and President Alexandros Frantzis, it’s the first time they’ve seen this kind of flipper change.

“It was the very first time we saw this surprising flipper morphology in 30 years of surveys in the open sea and also in studies while monitoring all the stranded dolphins along the coasts of Greece for 30 years,” Frantzis told LiveScience.

In an interview with USA Today, Franztis said because the irregularity was found in both flippers, it shows the thumbs were not caused by illness, but rather rare genes.

Lisa Noelle Cooper, associate professor of mammalian anatomy and neurobiology at Northeast Ohio Medical University, told USA Today that like human hands, dolphins have fingers that form into a paddle shape, but the cells die off between the fingers before birth for humans.

Dolphins, on the other hand, develop fingers in the flipper but the cells don’t die off, thus keeping them concealed, said Cooper. The unique dolphin found in Greece appears to have had some cells die off in the flipper while still in the womb.
1703473451414.png
 

spaminator

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Alabama woman with rare double uterus gives birth to two children
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Dec 23, 2023 • 1 minute read
Kelsey Hatcher
Kelsey Hatcher gave birth to twins over two days.
DORA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama woman with two uteri and two cervixes has given birth to two babies after carrying one of them in each uterus.


Kelsey Hatcher of Dora, about 28 miles (45.06 kilometers) northwest of Birmingham, gave birth to two girls on Wednesday and Thursday after a combined 20 hours of labour.


Hatcher was diagnosed with a double uterus, also called uterus didelphys, when she was 17. The rare congenital condition occurs in 0.3% of women, according to a report published by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. There is an “estimated one-in-a-million chance” of carrying a baby in both uteri, also known as a dicavitary pregnancy, the report says.

The older child, Roxi, was born on Tuesday, and Rebel arrived on Wednesday. Hatcher told WVTM-TV that both she and the newborns are healthy. Her husband, Caleb, was with her in the hospital, she said.

“That was our first moment of just us four together,” Hatcher said. “And really getting to breathe that in and be in the moment and look at the girls together.”
 

Taxslave2

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Dolphin
A dolphin with thumbs has been spotted off the coast of Greece. (SCREENSHOT/Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute)
THUMBS UP GO TO THIS RARE DOLPHIN IN GREECE
If Miami Dolphins’ mascot Snowflake had thumbs like this dolphin, he could’ve thrown a touchdown pass to help win the Super Bowl in the 1994 comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Researchers have found a rare dolphin that appears to have hook-shaped thumbs on its flippers off the coast of Corinth, Greece.

Officials from the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute found the thumbed aquatic mammal playing with other dolphins.

According to Pelagos Scientific Coordinator and President Alexandros Frantzis, it’s the first time they’ve seen this kind of flipper change.

“It was the very first time we saw this surprising flipper morphology in 30 years of surveys in the open sea and also in studies while monitoring all the stranded dolphins along the coasts of Greece for 30 years,” Frantzis told LiveScience.

In an interview with USA Today, Franztis said because the irregularity was found in both flippers, it shows the thumbs were not caused by illness, but rather rare genes.

Lisa Noelle Cooper, associate professor of mammalian anatomy and neurobiology at Northeast Ohio Medical University, told USA Today that like human hands, dolphins have fingers that form into a paddle shape, but the cells die off between the fingers before birth for humans.

Dolphins, on the other hand, develop fingers in the flipper but the cells don’t die off, thus keeping them concealed, said Cooper. The unique dolphin found in Greece appears to have had some cells die off in the flipper while still in the womb.
View attachment 20507
For opening a tuna can.
 

spaminator

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‘Ecosexual’ woman embarks on ‘erotic’ relationship with oak tree
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published Dec 26, 2023 • Last updated 23 hours ago • 2 minute read
Sonja Semyonova, "ecosexual" woman who is having an "erotic" relationship with an oak tree.
Sonja Semyonova, "ecosexual" woman who is having an "erotic" relationship with an oak tree.
A B.C. woman who has felt lonely for much of her life has found herself in a fulfilling new relationship — with a tree.


Sonja Semyonova, 45, said that the feelings she experiences with the oak tree are what she has always sought in a human.


“I had been craving that rush of erotic energy that comes when you meet a new partner and that is not sustainable,” she explained, according to the Daily Mail.

“The presence I feel with the tree is what I’m looking for but that’s a fantasy with a person,” Semyonova said.

“The feeling of being tiny and supported by something so solid. The feeling of not being able to fall.”

The self-intimacy guide moved to Vancouver Island in the winter of 2020 and would go on daily walks during lockdown.

But out of all the trees near her home, one large oak caught her attention and she began having “erotic” experiences the following summer.


“I was walking a path near the tree five days a week for the whole winter,” she said. “I noticed a connection with the tree.”



Semyonova detailed: “I would lie against it. There was an eroticism with something so big and so old holding my back.”

The self-described “ecosexual” clarified that she did not engage in any physical acts with the tree, and said that the emotions nature stirs up within her are not the same as human sexuality.

“A big misconception is that ecosexuality means sex between people and nature, it’s a different way to explore the erotic,” she described.

“To watch the changing of the seasons is to me an erotic act,” Semyonova elaborated. “You go from death in winter and then everything comes alive in spring and mates.”



She continued: “There are similarities between sex with people and the eroticism ecosexuals feel with nature, but they’re not the same.”

As far as Semyonova is concerned, everyone is an ecosexual and declared that if we all accepted that, it could help solve environmental issues.

“It’s already present in a lot of people. There’s a reason we want to go for picnics in parks and hike in nature,” she said.

“What we fail to notice is that the reason we want this is to tap in to the life force that comes from these things, which is the erotic.”

She added: “I believe that we could gain from having a more symbiotic relationship with nature, that relationship could definitely be erotic.”
 
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