Nature Deficit Disorder The Santa Barbara Independent

01/04/2012 2:02
Nature Deficit Disorder The Santa Barbara Independent

So much in this piece…so eloquent, so accurate….so sad.  

Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above  
During the past several months, one primary theme of this column has been the importance of a sense of place. This article builds on the theme by describing an important problem — ecological illiteracy.
Wild salmon can navigate through oceans …. In reproduction, this sense is passed on from one generation to another. 

…..Our human capacity to make connections between mountains, rivers, and the sea is also an important factor that contributes to our capacity to sustain our community. The problem today is that we rarely understand these connections, nor are we willing to nurture and protect these ecological and cultural relationships that sustain our economies. We enter our machines (car or bus) and quickly become passengers through a world we no longer care to understand.

We view the world through the lens of a mechanical and electronic eye (e.g., the computer, television, and camera lens). The mass media first convinced us that the imaginary was real, and now they are convincing us that the real is imaginary. …The more reality the TV screen shows us, the more cinematic our everyday world becomes. The reliance on technology can change our relationship to nature and society. Real “nature” is becoming imaginary — even as natural entities depicted on the TV screen go extinct……We continue to turn to the mass media to represent nature rather than interacting and participating in a natural world.

As we go further into an electronic and digital era, the separation of humanity from place seems inevitable. Children are more familiar with a cell phone or iPhone that depicts images of an imaginary nature than they are with a species of oak and chaparral that are part of their landscapes. 

Each generation is brought up to a different environmental context. With each generation, the diminishment of the natural world around us diminishes our shared ability to learn from other animals and our natural surroundings, and to adapt. We become more digitally connected but lose our capacity to relate to community.

Ultimately, the denaturing of nature coincides with a dehumanized society, people disconnected from the natural world and from one another. The loss of what it means to be a human being unfolds along with the death of nature.

The cultural and social aspects of this denaturing effect are dramatic. Society faces a crisis in education, poverty, and homelessness. Our political and economic elite fail to recognize the connection between ecological decay and cultural impoverishment. This scenario is being played out worldwide as material poverty accompanies what we often celebrate as technological progress.

Tess Michaels