Dear EarthTalk: A friend recently told me that when her family stopped using hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes all the time, they stopped getting sick so much. Is there any research backing up this theory, or is it just a "new" wives' tale? -- Betsy Edger, via e-mail
In August, I was invited to participate in a small bus tour focused on soil heath. The group consisting of myself, area producers, and staff and board members of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District traveled to central South Dakota to see and hear from several members of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition.
Dear EarthTalk: Are any environmental groups working specifically to increase access to nature and the outdoors? -- Mary Pelletier, Macon, GA
No one doubts that time spent outdoors in nature is time well-spent, especially in this age of smartphones, tablets and laptops vying for our attention. Research consistently shows links between higher levels of health and well-being when people have access to parks, gardens, greenways and other natural areas.
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that the Monarch Butterfly is on the brink of extinction? How did we let that happen? -- Alex Degeneres, Cincinnati, OH
Dear EarthTalk: You never hear anything about ozone depletion anymore. Have we solved this problem and if so why can't we get a handle on global warming as well? -- Lia Smith, Reno, NV
Global warming is certainly a hot subject in the news right now, what with all the oppressive weather we've been having, but it doesn't mean we've solved the myriad other environmental problems facing us.
Dear EarthTalk: I know that ranchers and environmentalists have traditionally been at odds, but what are some ways they are working together these days? -- Jim H., Boone, IA
Ranchers and environmental advocates haven't always seen eye-to-eye, but the differences between the two aren't as extreme anymore, as more and more ranchers have come around to the understanding that taking good care of the land supports both economic stability and environmental health.