Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the National Bestseller Last Child in the Woods

Blog Posts: May 2011

SEVEN REASONS FOR A NEW NATURE MOVEMENT

Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, by word and example, that any movement — any culture —will fail if it cannot paint a picture of a world that people will want to go to. As others have said, his speech was not called “I Have a Nightmare.”

For decades, our culture has struggled with two addictions, to oil and to despair. It’s pretty clear by now that we can’t kick one of those habits without kicking the other. Yet, for many Americans, perhaps most of us, thinking about the future conjures up images of “Blade Runner,” “Mad Max” or Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”: a post-apocalyptic dystopia stripped of nature. We seem drawn to that flame.

It’s a dangerous fixation. Think how children and young people must feel today, growing up in a time when so many adults seem to accept, with a shrug, only darkness ahead. The key question here is: How do we change our vision of the future? Where do we start? Here’s one suggestion: reconceive environmentalism and sustainability – help them evolve into a larger movement that can touch every part of society. 

Here are seven reasons for a New Nature Movement.

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GETTING NATURE SMART: How to Build Your Brain

One day after a talk in Seattle, a woman literally grabbed my lapels and said, "Listen to me: adults have nature-deficit disorder, too." She was right, of course. As a species, we are most animated when our days and nights are touched by the natural world. While individuals can find immeasurable joy in a great work of art, or by falling in love, all of life is rooted in nature, and a separation from it desensitizes and diminishes us. That truth seems obvious to some of us, though it has yet to take root in the wider culture.

However, in recent years an emerging body of research has begun to describe the restorative power of time spent in the natural world. Even in small doses, we are learning, exposure to nature can measurably improve our psychological and physical health. While the study of the relationship between mental acuity, creativity, and time spent outdoors is still a frontier for science, new data suggests that exposure to the living world can even enhance intelligence.

At least two factors are involved: first, our senses and sensibilities can be improved by spending time in nature; second, the natural environment seems to stimulate our ability to pay attention, think clearly, and be more creative....

Read more of this excerpt from THE NATURE PRINCIPLE in the Outside Magazine excerpt. Read Full Post.