Nature Deficit is a term first coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder as a descriptor for the ever increasing physical, psycho-social and psychological damage occurring to our younger generations as a result of lessening participation in outdoor related activity.
Our children are becoming less and less active and suffering from more and more disorders. And so are we.
It is critically important that we establish healthy life habits that incorporate a higher ratio of nature play to sedentary pursuits into our children’s lives in order to develop a lifestyle they will take with them into adulthood.
Getting back in touch with nature will not only increase the mental and physical health of ourselves and future generations it will ensure we have an appropriate respect and a sense of ownership of the natural environment we are so dependant on for life.
My top 3 reasons to get back to nature:
1-Personal well being
Getting out and experiencing our natural environment not only gives us an awareness of where all life comes from, it has the ability to calm and de-stress our minds.
It is a place for solace, a place for mindfulness and a place where we can grow and learn.
The health benefits of re-engaging with our natural environment have been well documented with studies showing Nature or Eco-Therapy contributes to decreasing depression and anxiety in all age groups by giving us a sense of well being.
Children who play outside from an early age seem to present less frequently with allergies, tend to have better immune systems and are usually better adjusted individuals.
Take a leisurely stroll through some natural bushland, or a local parkland area and find a peaceful spot, or even just go sit in your garden for half an hour. Breath in and relax. It can really help to gain perspective and it sure helps me feel happier.
Getting in touch with nature doesn’t mean you need to go climb Mt Everest or trek barefoot across the Simpson desert. Nature is all around us, we just need to recognise it, embrace it, and enjoy it.
Here is an article outlining 7 scientifically backed reasons to get outside.
2-The less we connect with nature the less we will care about its destruction
As our children grow up less and less connected with the natural world around them they will become equally dis-engaged with its preservation, feeling no obligation to care for or preserve it.
When we live surrounded by a ‘built’ environment and have little interaction with the natural environment, it is easy to disconnect, becoming apathetic towards the importance of the natural world.
Children who are withheld from nature experiences become afraid of nature, and a cycle is formed. Things we fear we destroy, it’s our default setting.
The ramifications of our apathy are potentially devastating to the earth and ultimately the longevity of the human race. (Of course some would say that our demise would be a good thing. But before then we need to fix this planet)
We have an obligation to ensure that future generations understand the need to contribute to the preservation and regeneration of our planet.
Our existence is dependant on the natural environment around us and if our children do not understand the connection and importance of the various ecosystems, they will not be part of the solution. Leaving us in a downward spiral to further global climate degradation.
3-Sustainability of natural resources
If we continue to use our natural resources at the rate we are, we will inevitably find ourselves battling for survival, and the doomsday ‘preppers‘ will be saying “I told you so”.
When we are not engaged with the natural world around us we limit our understanding of where the resources we rely on to survive are generated.
We have all seen the stories about children who honestly think milk comes from a bottle and that meat comes from the freezer section. And it is amazing to see their reactions when they realise where the chicken fillet in their burger really comes from, or how an egg gets to the carton.
Take water for example.
Water is one of our most precious resources for sustainability of life on earth, if we become so detached from the effects of our actions on our environment we will eventually run out of this precious commodity.
We need to get out into nature so we can see for ourselves the affect of our actions. We need to see the streams that used to feed the valley, but no longer flow because we want to have a lovely water park in our subdivision.
We need to see and smell the polluted waterways, victims of our landfills, full from our obsessive over consumerism and waste producing lifestyle.
When we discuss the energy and resource sectors in our financial reviews we focus on such commodities as coal, ore, gold and electricity. We neglect to consider the fiscal value of water or even oxygen.
Imagine the day when our water resources are so scarce that we are paying hundreds of dollars per litre, if we are lucky enough to be able to access it at all. Sound like a scene from Mad Max? Sure it does.
But that scenario is not that far fetched. 70 percent of the world is covered by water but only 2.5 percent of it is fresh.
With temperatures increasing and weather patterns altering, it is inevitable that our precious water resources will become more and more scarce.
In recent times adults and children from countries such as China are being struck with life threatening respiratory illnesses as a result of toxic air, driving people to buy fresh air collected in Canada and the UK. WHAT THE!!
So it is only common sense to educate our children about our natural environment. Take them outside, you will benefit too.
Leave your digital devises at home and go play.
You will feel better for it and hopefully your children will gain an appreciation of our planet that will shape the way they behave and interact with nature in the future.
By fighting our nature deficit I hope we create a new generation of earth smart children. Smart enough to not only recognise the damage we are doing, but to do something about reversing that damage and restoring a balance that will allow all species on this planet the opportunity to survive and thrive.
Until next time,
stay safe and be happy. Check out the books below for some great insights. 🙂