Nature meets culture: Connect with nature — from your couch

© Conservation International/Tim Noviello

To curb the spread of COVID-19, cities across the globe are requiring residents to limit their time outside their homes — which can make it difficult to reconnect with nature. 

Until self-quarantine ends, here is a review of new shows, podcasts and more that can help bring nature to life for you, wherever you are.

As days blur into weeks of self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic, life within the four walls of your home can get repetitive. 

To break free of this monotony, Google Earth is providing a series of digital treks to help you see some of the most spectacular natural places across the globe — without actually leaving your house. 

From the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, Google Map Treks offers panoramic views of exotic wildlife and sprawling landscapes, as well as explainers about why these places are unique — and critical to conserve. For the first time ever, Google Maps has also developed a collection of “underwater street views” in partnership with the Catlin Seaview Survey, an organization dedicated to creating a global record of the ocean’s coral reefs. Using this feature, viewers can explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where they will witness sea turtles gliding through open waters and clown fish hiding within the crevices of vibrant corals.

For people who prefer to practice their virtual hiking skills, Google Earth also offers tours of 31 of the national parks found across the United States. With this feature, you could travel from California to Alaska to Florida in a single day — no flights required. 

Learning about the state of the planet during a climate emergency and a pandemic can seem like a daunting and disheartening task. But knowledge is power — and staying informed about the most pressing issues facing nature is one of the best ways an individual can learn to help protect it. 

Through engaging  animations and helpful narrations, the “Our Changing Climate” series from Ted-Ed can help people at all ages learn about the science behind the climate crisis. Over the course of 41 different lessons, viewers will realize that global warming can touch all aspects of life — from tiny honeybees to massive glaciers. One lesson even compares the carbon cycle to the videogame “Tetris” to explain how overconsumption of fossil fuels is piling up too many “blocks” of carbon in the atmosphere — and making the game unwinnable for humanity in the long-run. 

But each episode ends on a positive note by exploring innovative technologies and strategies to tackle climate breakdown, from using renewable energy to creating sustainable fish farms to reducing meat consumption

As humans shelter in place, some wild animals are emerging from nature to explore the now-empty streets of cities and towns — from a gang of goats trotting along the streets of small towns in Wales to coyotes perusing the sidewalks of San Francisco, California. 

But most wild animals have stayed put in their natural habitats — and is providing a front-row seat to their antics and interactions.

With more than 100 animal livestreams projected daily on the platform, gives people a glimpse of an average day in the animal kingdom. Viewers can witness African elephants socializing at a watering hole in Kenya, marvel at manatees feasting on bok choy in Florida or even spot a brown bear emerging from hibernation in Alaska. 

This online platform also offers an educational series to help viewers learn about all of the animal behaviors they are witnessing, with lessons on polar bears, gorillas, orcas and more.

And the best part: Research shows that watching animal videos can actually make you more productive, while improving your mood. 


Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: Sea lions in the Galápagos (© Conservation International/Tim Noviello)

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