Healthy Relationships with Nature
Respect and Reciprocity Through Immersion
We are more likely to protect what we know and love. Caring for our planet starts with our personal relationship with nature. When we feel a strong connection with the land, water, plants, and animals that surround us, we are more likely to see how we can give back. This relationship of reciprocity includes direct experience as well as scientific knowledge; both can deepen our understanding and connection with nature.
Direct Connections with Nature
Direct connection with nature encourages people to feel as though they are a part of something larger. Being connected with nature improves mental and physical health and encourages people to appreciate the intrinsic value of natural ecosystems. Some examples of connecting with nature include hiking, environmental education, camping, ecosystem immersion experiences, and spending time in local parks.
Connecting with nature can include direct relational experiences in nature; Connecting with animals, plants, fungi and algae, and all wildlife, domesticated animals; Animal welfare, empathy for all sentient beings; Awareness of plants: edible, medicinal, herbal; Gardens vs lawns, awareness of native plants that require less watering, reducing chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides, growing our own food, including plants that absorb toxins and emit oxygen in our home.
Hiking, an easy and typically accessible form of exercise, has been proven to lower the risk of heart disease, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, strengthen muscles, and improve mental health. The fresh air, pleasant views, and other components of nature all aid in overall health improvements.
While meditation overall is a healthy habit, meditating outdoors in the midst of nature provides an extra layer of benefit for mind and body. Walking barefoot, sitting on the ground, and taking in the sounds of plants and animals improves quality of health and mental fortitude. Meditators feel more grounded and stress-free.
School is typically taught indoors. However, recently, teachers are taking their students out to the forest, park, and general outdoor areas to have their lesson. Doing so has improved classroom engagement, retention, and attitudes. These results prove true across several topics and amongst various ages of children.
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that is grounded in a deep and disciplined relationship to nature. Environmental scientists study ecosystems to continuously learn more about their dynamics, roles in supporting life, and the factors that impact ecosystem health.
This interdisciplinary approach includes but is not limited to chemistry, ecology, climatology, hydrology, and biology. Environmental scientists also study and describe the interconnectedness between various ecosystems, animals, plants, and chemicals so individuals, businesses, governments, and other stakeholders can make more informed decisions to prevent and reverse harm.
Environmental science is incredibly important and valuable as it helps us understand the impact we, as humans, are making on the planet. It also helps us understand the circular relationship between all life. The denial of environmental science research can lead to some very harmful thoughts and practices. When people ignore the impact they have on the planet, it can lead to further erosion of the ozone, destruction of habitats, diminished quality of life, and more.
- The Climate Intervention Biology Working Group, a team of internationally recognized experts in climate science and ecology, is developing a technique that could ultimately reflect a portion of the sun’s radiation away from the planet. While still in its conceptual stage, the aim is to cool the Earth and bring the planet back to a healthy temperature.
- Satellites are being used to target invasive species and reduce or eliminate them from the impacted environment. The hemlock woolly adelgid, for example, is an invasive species affecting the Adirondack region (one of the largest wildernesses east of the Rocky Mountains). The team of researchers use satellite imagery to identify areas of needle mortality. A field crew is then deployed to manage the problem using chemical or biological treatments. By identifying these issues early on, the spread of hemlock woolly adelgid can be curbed.
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