Philip Chard – Our ‘nature deficit disorder’ needs a remedy

19/11/2012 3:03
Philip Chard – Our ‘nature deficit disorder’ needs a remedy

Philip Chard is a psychotherapist, author and trainer – or

A very interesting article. Chard displays surprise that we as a species are so ignorant of our environment, often to the extent of paying for that ignorance with our lives. I don’t think it is ignorance. To me ignorance is something that is unknown. However the separation with our environment that I see on a daily basis is borne out of an active fear and apathy and the “pink fluffy cloud” world most of us exist in where everything will be the same as it is forever.

Full article can be read from the link above.

We live on a planet, but a lot of us don’t act like it.

We suffer what eco-psychologists call “nature deficit disorder,” which is the absence of both knowledge about and a heartfelt connection with the natural world. Unfortunately, examples abound.

I am flummoxed to hear of people who are oblivious to nature’s laws, often to their peril. Consider one couple who died less than a mile from a convenience store because they hiked into the unforgiving Sonora Desert in midday with no water. Then there are folks who drive into rising water during a flash flood. It takes less than 2 feet of water to float most vehicles, transforming them into flotsam and, too often, coffins.

During my backpacking forays, I’ve encountered day hikers attempting to summit alpine peaks without food, water or appropriate gear, including boots (I’ve seen them in flip-flops). Others have sought my guidance after dropping their GPS in a river because they didn’t know basic navigation.

I mean it’s not Disney World out there. Particularly when venturing into the wild, one should be self-sufficient and well versed about the local ecosystem. When you’re beset by hypothermia or dehydration, or injured in a fall, a tram isn’t going to come along and pluck you from the wilderness like it’s some theme park.

What’s more, many people lack a rudimentary understanding of weather, including how to recognize an approaching storm, safety around lightning, what to do if caught in the open near a tornado, etc.

Unfortunately, these individual examples echo throughout the larger culture, explaining, in part, why we are depleting and poisoning the planet upon which we are utterly dependent for our existence while also busily denying that our abusive activities are having any deleterious effects. It’s ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand stuff, and ominously frightening.

I believe our collective ignorance in this regard is a product of having so many individuals who are alienated from, and clueless about, the natural world.

Recently, I asked a 10-year-old where milk came from, and she replied, “Pick ‘n Save.” I laughed and told her I meant its original source, but she only stared back blankly. Years ago when my daughter was carping about having to take swimming lessons and asked me why she had to, I replied, “Because two-thirds of the planet is water.” We live here.

Our indifference toward the power of Mother Earth creates a “What, me worry?” attitude toward trashing the planet, which is pretty self-destructive given that nature can level any human edifice and any species. It builds mountains, carves canyons and wipes the land clean with fires, storms and floods. It gives us air to breathe, food, water and the very atoms that make up our bodies. And it can take them away.

I think that deserves a little respect. As residents of this planet, we need to learn about and adapt ourselves to its realities, as well as balance our lifestyles in keeping with its laws, not our own.

If not, we’ll collectively end up like that couple on the Sonora Desert.

Tess Michaels