British kids can more easily identify Japanese cars than native plants and animals, says moderator, Robert Draper here at the Aspen Environment Forum, sponsored by the National Geographic and the Aspen Institute.
American children not readily exposed to nature are more prone to depression, obesity and attention deficit disorder. This is a global phenomenon. What else happens when there is a growing disconnect between a modern society and the biosphere?
Can we draw a link with this disconnect and the loss of biodiversity at an unprecedented rate? By 2050, the majority of our citizens will consist of the young people where that disconnect is most profound.
Sally Bingham, Episcopal priest and an environmental activist
Audrey and Frank Peterman, authors of “Legacy on the Land”
In the days of Thoreau, the love of God was inseparable from the love of Nature. Has that changed? Bingham says that most people attending the Forum in Aspen probably have had a spiritual experience with nature as a child. Her strongest experience of God has been in nature and she believes that that is true for most people. She believes that there has been a disconnect with nature (and God, presumably) because children are spending less time outside. We pick up sticks and stones because they are part of what we are. As we have become more urbanized we have lost the sense of belonging to God through nature.
When Bingham began speaking of our responsibility of taking care of our environment and recognizing that climate change hits the poor the hardest, she was called a communist by many in her congregation in San Francisco.
Frank noted that his parents knew nothing about National Parks, even though his family lived near the Everglades. When he brought a group of children and adults to the Everglades, recently, they were overjoyed. He saw an instant connect to nature. He believes we are hard wired to make that connection, because that is what we come from. If they were afraid, the fright lasted for at most of 2 minutes.
Audrey and Frank noticed on a tour of the National Parks a few years ago, they were struck by the beauty and the diversity of the plants and animals. They noticed that the people were not diverse- no black people. So they began a public relations campaign encouraging people of color to take in the outdoors through trips to national parks.
Bingham thinks that it is a spiritual experience to grow, harvest and cook food. However, few people, less than 2% of Americans have this experience. This loss contributes to this disconnect from nature that it destroying our souls. How do we get children to know where there food comes from? She believes that children that gets lost in the wilderness and then find their way have more confidence. If you are hooked into nature as a child, it stays with you your whole life. We need these children because they are our future environmentalists.
In NYC, they cant see the stars anymore.