Earth Day: For the Love of Nature

27 Apr

In thinking about reasons to live a more planet-friendly lifestyle I may have overlooked a glaringly obvious one: For the love of our planet itself.

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For me this was always self evident: we should try to preserve nature because nature is awesome. But I grew up playing in the “woods” behind my house and going on birding expeditions with my grandfather. My parents were able to work past their comically horrible first camping trip together and often took me and my brother on weekend camping trips, and scouting offered us opportunities to visit the wilderness (or at least what felt like wilderness to us). Nature was never far away or remote in my childhood.

As I started working within parks I came to understand that it’s not like this for everyone. There are a number of things that can limit a person’s access to natural areas ranging from a lack of transportation to those places to inadequate funding to keep parks open. There are all sorts of benefits that come from getting outside and from having public parks.

Yet we are spending less time outdoors and more time with our electronics. This is manifesting in a number of health problems including rising obesity rates and increased anxiety and depression. This trend has had a particularly profound effect on children who now average over seven hours a day with a screen. Writer Richard Louv has called this phenomenon of decreasing exposure to nature “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

One other consequence of people not spending time in nature is a total disconnect from environmental issues. I can’t say I blame them. Why would someone who has never seen a forest care if one is cut down? If we want more people to care about the environment we need more green places and we need more people to visit them.

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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, near L.A.

Although I have a tendency to focus almost exclusively on national parks there are tons of other places where people can connect with nature such as state and local parks and preserves. My earliest connections with nature were formed in a small thicket of grapevine and buckthorn next to my yard. While remote wilderness areas like Yosemite have a special place in my heart, I think green spaces that are accessible to urban populations are even more important. A natural place doesn’t need to have a superlative fixed to it to be of value.

There are a number of ways you can support parks and green spaces. You can make a donation or volunteer with your favorite park. You can vote for park measures on election day. But the most important thing you can do to show support for parks is to use them, take care of them, and share them with others. Ultimately it will make you healthier, happier, and you may discover a new reason to go green.

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Check out these links for a sample of the great people who help parks and connect people with the outdoors:

The National Trust for Public Lands
The National Park Foundation
National Get Outdoors Day
Outside Mom
National Wildlife Fund: Get Out There

For more reading check out these articles:

NY Times: We’re Rich (In Nature)
Outside Magazine: Diversity In The Outdoors
National Parks Traveler: Give Us a National Park, but Please, Not It’s Regulations

~Robin

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2 Responses to “Earth Day: For the Love of Nature”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Earth Day: And Beyond! | Without a Map - April 29, 2013

    […] of the reasons I thought of were to save money, to help someone else, because you just love the planet, or just because it’s the cool thing to […]

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    […] April 25, EArth Day: Environmental Justice April 26, Earth Day: Apartment Alternatives April 27, Earth Day: For the Love of Nature April 28, Earth Day: A favorite Resource April 29, Earth Day: And Beyond! April 30, Earth Day: […]

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