In the holiday rush, you may have missed a piece of good news last month. At a much-delayed global conference in Montreal, almost 200 nations adopted a landmark agreement for protecting nature and slowing the loss of wild species.

It’s a step toward a goal many conservationists advocate: creating a “nature-positive” future in which human activities enhance nature instead of depleting it. This would be a radical shift, but the concept isn’t new. Arizona State University humanities scholar Jonathan Bate traces it back to the poet William Wordsworth and other 19th-century Romantics, who asserted that the well-being of human society depended on a healthy relationship with the environment.

This week we also like articles about the uptick in union organizing and strikes, the cognitive benefits older people derive from social dancing, and Alfred Russel Wallace – a founder of evolutionary theory who wound up much less famous than his colleague Charles Darwin.

Jennifer Weeks

Senior Environment + Energy Editor

Wiliam Wordsworth lived and wrote in Grasmere, in England’s Lake District, from 1799-1808. Mick Knapton/Wikipedia

William Wordsworth and the Romantics anticipated today’s idea of a nature-positive life

Jonathan Bate, Arizona State University

The idea that human activity threatens nature, and that it is important to protect wild places, dates back to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

Not only is it good aerobic exercise, but dancing may help the elderly with reasoning skills and memory. Thomas Barwick/Stone via Getty Images

Kick up your heels – ballroom dancing offers benefits to the aging brain and could help stave off dementia

Helena Blumen, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dancing requires physical, social and cognitive engagement and, as a result, it may bolster a wide network of brain regions.

Workers such as these Starbucks employees in St. Anthony, Minn., increasingly went on strike in 2022. Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Worker strikes and union elections surged in 2022 – could it mark a turning point for organized labor?

Marick Masters, Wayne State University

Workers have filed the most union petitions since 2015 and the number of strikes have surged, but whether this turns into a sustained increase in membership rates is still unclear.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:

    A record 12 women will serve in what public office in the U.S. in 2023?

    1. A. Member of the House of Representatives
    2. B. Senator
    3. C. Supreme Court justice
    4. D. State governor

    Test your knowledge