The environmental justice movement has risen from the inception of Greenpeace to the countless organizations present today. Nations around the world have acknowledged the importance of sustainable development through the Paris Climate Agreement; however, not all individuals are equally interested in preserving the beauty of our natural environment. People exhibit compassion for the environment on different levels and in different ways, be it not at all or changing all aspects of our living to live more sustainably. But why is this so? How come we differ in our love for nature? What leads some to campaign actively and others to glaze over advocacy news with apathy?
Widgeon Creek at Widgeon Slough (Image Source: Willhite Web)
I recently visited Widgeon Slough, a campsite situated in the rural countryside near Vancouver, B.C. Under the array of stars and streaks of meteor lights, the serene peace and surrounding beauty spoke to me and reignited my concerns for the environment. Whether I was carving paths through waves with sturdy canoes, or gazing upwards from the refreshing waters of a natural pool, the intimate connection I formed with my surroundings developed my resolve to advocate for environmental sustainability. To preserve the beauty of our planet.
Not everyone will have the same opportunities to develop a profound connection with nature. With dense urban populations, policies aimed to plant bubbles of nature like parks in our cities will become increasingly important for the sustainability movement. If individuals become less in tune with the surrounding environment, they become too focused, perhaps pigeonholed, on matters which detract their attention from nature.
A visualization of Nature Deficit Disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv. (Image Source: Julian Glandar)
The distractions of the technological age can lead one to lose sight of one’s natural setting. The phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder,” coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, refers to this very disconnection. Louv coins this disorder to include the wide range of behavioural problems caused by excessive amounts of time spent indoors. Some of these problems include a compromised attention span and obesity, Louv suggests. He recommends parents to send children outdoors, in order to foster a sense of connection with nature at an early age.
If we are to honour the Paris Climate Agreement, we should find it vital to continue to emphasize research on the roots of apathy towards the environment. From my experiences, as well as the work of Richard Louv, one can infer that this indifference results from a lack of time spent with nature. As a result, it is in our best interests to not only promote outdoor education for children, but to include policies that enforce a connection with nature, both within the close bonds of the family home and the 9 to 5 grinds at the office.
We cannot change another’s reasoning. However, we can offer the opportunity for all individuals to engage intimately with nature. But we have not yet ensured that all demographic groups have this opportunity. In order to grow the sustainability movement and preserve the planet’s natural beauty, we must not only hold politicians accountable to formulate appropriate policies, but also strive to take initiative in our own daily lives to create connections to the nature around us.