Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the International Bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

From the Blog

Apocalypse No: Something large and hopeful is forming out there. You're already creating it.

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Why is the future so often portrayed as a post-apocalyptic dystopia, filled with human brutality and stripped of nature?

For decades, our culture has struggled with two addictions: to oil and to despair. But what if our lives were as immersed in nature as they are in technology every day? What if we not only conserved nature, but created it where we live, work, learn and play? What if something large and hopeful is already forming out there; what if we’re part of it?

Despite the glum economic and environmental trends (and in some cases because of those trends), new currents are on the move, ones that often transcend political, religious, racial, economic and geographic barriers.

Among them: the Slow Food and simplicity movements; organic gardening, urban agriculture, refugee agriculture, vanguard ranching and other forms of the new agrarianism.

And pediatricians who are partnering with parks to prescribe nature to children and their families; the growing popularity of ecopsychology and other forms of nature therapy; citizen naturalists of all ages who are finding a deeper sense of personal identity by learning about and caring for the species of their bioregions and salvaging threatened natural habitats and creating new ones; the growing backyard revolution of urban and suburban dwellers who are replacing their traditional yards with native gardens (and potentially linking them to create Neighborhood Butterfly Zones or even a Homegrown National Park) ...

And the growing number of nature-based schools igniting students’ imaginations and raising tests scores; “natural teachers” and other educators, reigniting enthusiasm and love for their profession; law enforcement officials who view the encouragement of natural urban places as a key to safer communities and lower recidivism ...

What if these currents grew stronger, and quickened their speed, and joined with many others?

Including: bioimagineers who are working nationwide to build “human-nature social capital” by safely bringing more wildlife into our cities; residential developers and urban redevelopers who are, during a profound economic pause, reconsidering the nature of future neighborhoods; pioneering biophilic designers who, in architecture and urban design, are taking traditional green design to the next level, transforming our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods and potentially whole cities into places that not only conserve fuel, but produce human energy ...

And of course, the children and nature movement, which helps power, and in return is made stronger by, all of these currents; and the racially and economically diverse young new leaders of that movement, who know that connecting adults to the natural world is as important as connecting children, that we are not separate from the natural world, and that the merging of all of these streams and tributaries will create a greater river: a new nature movement. The topic is our culture’s need for an image of a different future. What if we were to ignore the odds, reject despair and seek a newer world? What if we’re already doing that?


Richard Louv is founding chairman of the Children and Nature Network, where this essay first appeared. He is the author of “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder,” and “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”

Recently, the filmmaker Camilla Rockwell kindly sent an out take from her film Mother Nature’s Child: Growing Outdoors in the Media Age. The clip offers further thoughts on the theme above. Here’s a link to the interview clip.

Next post: Saving the Field of Dreams: Building ‘Natural Cultural Capacity’ to Enrich Our Parks and Cities

Prev post: Midnight at Ground Zero


Actually, mankind’s obsession with doom goes back way before technology, beginning with Noah and flood and moving through Sodom and Gomorrah and Revelations. Seems most utopias occur following world changing upheaval.
Maybe people just like to be unhappy.

Thankful conversation 😊 Seriously…or not seriously I appreciate a Different View of the Future and Life Now. Thanks for this concept.

Hi Richard!! It’s all about different thinking for the future. I enjoyed your article. I think it is worthy for appreciations. Keep up the good work.

I found this article really nice and informative. This is what we face right now, the reality. We can’t predict our future, instead pray for what will happen because I believe that only God knows everything.

Hello Richard,

It’s not clear what you mean by “human energy” just from this post, but I’m happy to read your book to find out. 

Last Child in the Woods made a big difference in how I perceived my life an my kid’s lives in the outdoors. So, I look forward to learning about this energy idea.

Technology consumes much of my energy, so I’m very familiar with how it can take over on the personal level. And of course the larger cultural and ecological levels are all too obvious.

Hope is a necessity for serious problem solving. Our youth will find hope in something, and we should always remember that hope can be directed towards positive and negative goals. Even the hijackers of 9/11 had hope in something, misguided as it was.

I love Apple products. They give me hope that I can create great things. Even though I know the tools are not what really matter, I still believe that message! It’s so deeply ingrained, I suppose.

I’m curious to know how you feel about working *within* technology to achieve more natural aims. My technology projects aim to connect people to nature by using cameras, storytelling and Internet marketing techniques to make change.

So when you ask ‘are we doing that already’, I say “yes”. I’m trying to figure out ways to take the smart ‘hope messaging’ of marketing and make it work for us within the wild.

I think we’re getting there, we are becoming eco-conscious, and the best part is that we are setting a good example to the next generation.

nice stuff, richard can you provide us with movements and industries that are growing and can bring about change but you kind of leave us hanging, can you mention some names of people, or companies or organizations that we can go to , read about, follow, support, who specifically is making these changes?


Nice stuff Richard thanks for the info.

thank you for sharing the nice .. post

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I was raised in the woods by my father pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde and my mother. In 1951 my father became the first photographers ever sent on assignment for an environmental cause, to prevent dams in Dinosaur National Monument. Beginning as a student and teaching associate of Ansel Adams, Dad worked to share the beauty of nature for over 60 years as a full-time nature photographer before it was cool to be green. This “new” nature movement has been underway for a long time. Nonetheless, it is a pleasure to see it carried along by talented new writers such as you, Richard Louv. It is also encouraging to see it so well embraced by more and more people all the time. Hopefully before it’s too late we will reach the tipping point where more people are awake than the number that still believe we have to destroy nature to survive.

‘Prescribing nature…’ That is something we all need a bit more of. Just understanding that it is as necessary to nurture the spirit as it is to feed the body is a step in the right direction.

If we want to give are descenders a good future with a clean and clear nature where they don’t have any need to purify the air, water and natural resources which we use in our day to day life than this is the thing we need to do. We have to make a foot forward together for such kind of events… I really like the spirit behind this blog and also the support from so many people…..

You ask: “What if our lives were as immersed in nature as they are in technology every day?” For one thing, our hearts would be broken regularly, if we observed more carefully the world around us and could remain conscious of what we are doing to it. Mine is. Sometimes being with technology is less painful, but it also gives us ways to celebrate and share what is good.

Thank you for managing to remain upbeat in the face of all that’s going on… and for your good work in striving to overcome our life-denying culture. Yes, many people are doing wonderful things; many more are not. It’s a race whose outcome is uncertain.

I live my life every day, hour and minute. I think apocalypse can wait. Even if it comes what can we do? Well maybe speed up things more than ever, love with more intensity and work with more pleasure.

I know that when I am outside in fresh air, I feel an energy that is not there when I’m stuck inside my cubicle. I think that kids who can get outside, even if it is to sit under a pavilion or similar structure set up on school ground, can afford them a different learning perspective. Sure, they may not be out in the wild, but nature abounds even in our urban environments.

Just the act of getting outside may lead these kids to explore true nature when they can. Start small and show them there is more to the world than computers and video games.

Thank you, Richard, for offering us an antidote to pessimism and despair. I have referred many people to your blog. I believe we need to tell a better story if we are going to survive as a species, a better story about what it means to be human, a better story about our relationship with Nature. We also need to sit with our fears and our despair so that we can move through them and become engaged in the large and hopeful something that is being formed. Here is a link to a Youtube video of my song: How Shall I Walk with This Wounded Earth, a song which embodies, in some way, the work of Joanna Macy.
Yours in the large and hopeful something. Pauline

who know that connecting adults to the natural world is as important as connecting children, that we are not separate from the natural world, and that the merging of all of these streams and tributaries will create a greater river: a new nature movement

This is surely a good sign amidst all the fear mongering going around the world today. With the fear of a “doomsday” this december, the tension and fear in the air is at all time high. We as humans still have hope to do good, and as long as we educate our future generations well, they just might be able to reverse the damage we have done on the earth.

Is all the doom and gloom just a way to keep people scared and to keep their minds off doing thing’s differently. It seems that children today have lost the connection with nature. How many kids go out and climb trees as we did when we were young. There are too many people saying it is too dangerous. Funnily enough it is us who tell them.

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