- What promotes human connection to nature?
Human connection to nature can be promoted in different ways for everyone. Here are some examples : weather, walking and biking as a mode of transportation, animals, natural tourist attractions, picturesque views of nature, beaches, hiking, camping, mountain climbing, sailing, fishing, and other outdoor sports. Weather promotes human connection to the environment because it makes people plan their day accordingly to the weather, as well as dress accordingly to be protected from the harsh weather, such as rain, snow, or even storms and floods. Climate change has a huge impact on the weather, by intensifying the storms, such as floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, etc. This aspect is promoting human connection to nature, in a depressing way, because humans are now obligated to be aware of the weather and storms that are coming their way for safety measures. On a more positive note, natural tourist attractions, such as National Parks, with picturesque views of nature are a major part in promoting human connection towards the environment, because many people are using social media to share these experiences, which helps promote these connections even more. Outdoor sports, wether they are on land or water sports, are also a major part in promoting human connection to the environment. First off, there is the physical component of people being outdoors and using the natural space to have fun while doing activities. Secondly, in my opinion, having fun outdoors is very addicting and contagious; meaning people will want to continue going outdoors, and these people will share their experience and tell their friends how these activities are a great time.
2. What promotes disconnection from nature?
Many things can promote disconnection from nature, such as lifestyles, living locations, personal interests, career choices, etc. Not being connected to nature in a personal manner can really destroy our environment because without any personal connection, humans will not have a reason to be kind to it, and to protect it from harmful pollution. The article Disconnected from Nature. Is this the Reason we’re Raping the Planet? written by Aaron Hoopes has a very good point of view and reasoning behind this subject. “The reason for this is our Nature Deficit. When we are disconnected from the natural world we lose our ability of feeling empathy for what is going on. Our obsession with technological innovation and our infatuation with electronic connectivity cuts us off from the web of life force energy and substitutes it with an artificial construct.” Living in the city, surrounded by concrete, vehicles and artificial materials promotes disconnection from nature because there is no physical connection that humans can visually see when they are surrounded by non-natural materials. Humans living in technologically advanced societies with careers which makes them work indoors all day, five days a week, might not have the need or the want to go outdoors or outside city limits to explore and appreciate nature. With technology these days, there is no need to go out in nature for anything because technology will “have an app for that”. It is simply with the pure personal interest of the person that they will go outdoors to have that connection to nature.
3. Is there a danger to a growing disconnect from nature?
I strongly believe there is a danger to humans being disconnected from nature. First of all, having a personal connection to nature and the environment will have a huge impact on how people will try and protect that environment For example, someone who goes hiking every week in a forest only 15 km from their hometown will most likely protest against a forestry company trying to clear the forest to make parking lots and buildings. The danger of being disconnected from nature is that it will soon be destroyed by pollution, and stripped from all resources that used to be bountiful. Having a connection to nature is very powerful for human health as well. Breathing in healthy air in an environment full of vegetation, being active outdoors, being in the sun, are all examples of activities that are important to human health. The air we breath in an area full of vegetation, like the boreal forest, is much healthier than the air we breath in downtown Winnipeg. There is very little harmful chemicals, pollutants, and fossil fuels in that air because it is far away from cities, and the vegetation will take all that CO2 and turn it into a plentiful amount of healthy oxygen. This ties into being active outdoors because, when doing physical activity outdoors, we are breathing in that air which is not filtered by an air conditioner or an electric heater. Being in the sun is also very beneficial for human health because it is a natural way to get a dose of vitamin D, which is hard to get most of the year when we wear lots of layers in Canada. Renee Cho, from Columbia University supports this idea by explaining how humans are very healthy if they have contact with nature. “Nature has positive effects on children with attention deficit disorder, asthma, and obesity, and being in nature relieves stress and improves physical health. Adults who work in spaces incorporating nature into their design are more productive, healthy and creative; and hospital patients with a view of nature from their window heal faster.”
Hoopes, Aaron; Disconnected from nature. Is this the reason we’re raping the planet?; URL
Cho, Renee; Why We Must Reconnect With Nature; May 2011; Earth Institute, Columbia University; URL
- Where do your environmental ethics lie?
The deffiniton of biocentric ethics according to Joseph R. Desjardins is the following:“Biocentrism, ethical perspective holding that all life deserves equal moral consideration or has equal moral standing.” This is exactly where my environmental ethics lie. I believe that all living organisms on earth is equal and deserves the same respect as any other being. I believe in biocentrism because all living things on earth have to co-exist together and rely on each other to survive. Animals would not be able to survive without plants, because there would be no more oxygen on earth; and vice versa. There is a reason for every living organism to be on this earth. Wether it is to produce oxygen and shade for animals to cool off during hot summer months, or to feed on high populations of fish, to maintain a balanced food chain, like the great white shark. Humans kill animals when they feel threatened or when animals are a pest to them. This is because humans do not want to get killed by this animal or because they do not want to be bothered by it. I believe humans should let the animals be, and take precautionary measures without killing them, as in perhaps securely moving that animal to a safer habitat, such as the forest. Killing an innocent animal for simply being in the same area as humans should not be a reason to do so. They have not done anything wrong, other than simply being there. I also believe it is not morally correct to clear cut a forest because cutting out a major source of oxygen to humans and not to mention, destroying animal habitat, therefore killing some animals because they have a a far ways to go to find another home. Instead of clear cutting forests, I believe it is morally correct to do selective cutting, which implies to cut down a small amount of trees in a forest at a time. The forest will regenerate naturally, which will be very less harmful to the animals and to the forest in a whole.
Joseph R. Desjardins, Biocentrism ethics, Britannica Encyclopedia, URL
Reflexion on a sustainable future
Cities have adopted sustainable manners to create a more eco-friendly and modern lifestyle. This is becoming a very attractive lifestyle to many people in the world because it is becoming the new style, and it is saving lots of money. First of all, having gardens in the city is becoming more accessible because people are planting vegetation on roofs, and having public urban gardens. These are fantastic ideas because it is not only practical for people to have fresh vegetables grown in their own garden, but it is also creating an area that captures rainwater and carbon emissions. It is also saving people money, which is always a bonus, because they do not have to go out to the grocery store and spend lots of money on organic vegetables. Saving money on energy bills is also becoming the new fad; by creating homes and buildings that use daylight as lighting for the whole building, or heating the building with solar panels and heat from the sun. Alex Steffen shared some amazing ideas that people are already incorporating in their cities and neighbourhoods, in his video on TedTalks called “Seeing a sustainable future”. Steffen explains how having cities with a denser population is the best way to eliminate carbon emission. Having a dense population in a smaller area inclines people to walk, bike or take the bus because everything they need would be in a small enough radius that there would be no need to drive a car. Another idea he shares is having green infrastructures, such as green sidewalks. This would be done by creating sidewalks without concrete, but only soil and vegetation, like a trail in the woods. It would take runoff water from our homes, and naturally filtering it through the trees, rocks and soil to be used again as energy. Steffen also suggests that pollinator pathways in cities would be a great way to get the pollinator population up and running again. I believe this is an amazing idea, especially with all the green infrastructure, there would be lots of places to have these pathways. Soil and carbon sequestration is also a great idea to be done by cities and communities. This would turn waste matter into soil and taking carbon out of the air we breath. I believe these ideas are all possible and are already being done by many people on this earth.
Steffen, Alex; Seeing a sustainable future; TedTalk; URL
- Can parks meet its dual mandate of access and protection?
Yes parks can meet its dual mandate of access and protection. National Parks in Canada have a mandate to preserve wildlife and the environment in the National Parks. This implies many different laws and regulations for different parks, such as no polluting the park with any garbage and having a limited amount of people allowed in an area at one time. With measures being placed, such as limiting the amount of people in an area of the park, it is possible to meet the dual mandate of access and protection. Having small groups at a time, the public can go out in the park and explore for a limited amount of time, such as seven days. This will not only create many job opportunities, but be very good for the economy because this can be done in the eco-tourism sector. Having hiking groups lead by a tour guide in parks is a great way for people to have access because they will experience the park in its wild state, and most important of all, they will not harm the park because they will be hiking instead of using carbon emissions to get around. Many National Park have cut off wildlife corridors by building roads, small towns and commercial buildings. To keep its mandate to protect the parks, I believe building wildlife corridors such as bridges that go over the roads, or even having natural paths going across built roads will have a positive effect on preserving the wildlife. Without these wildlife corridors, animals do not have as much genetic crossings, because they are “trapped” in one specific area.
2. How can this be achieved in Wapusk?
In Wapusk National Park, one of the mandates, like many other parks, is to provide access. To meet its other mandate of protecting the park, the park is only accessible by traditional access. Traditional access in this case means, taking a helicopter to one point in the park, and taking a tundra vehicle to one of the research sites. At this point in time, it is only researchers that are allowed the park. To achieve its dual mandate, for public access and protection, Wapusk National Park could have many things in place such as guided camping tours, day hikes, and public viewpoints enclosed by a barrier so wildlife cannot be harmed by humans, and vice versa. This can make some problems arise, such as wildlife being desensitised of humans, by the interactions between both species. I believe this can be controlled by having limited amount of people in the park, as maintained now. An example of how public access and protection of the park can be met, is as mentioned before, guided tours. A small natural trail and parking lot can be made for the people to come by tundra buggy. The handfull of people will then take a short educational class on security measures to be taken in the park, such as what to do when encountering a polar bear. This educational class can also involve teaching the people how to live in a camping environment, without polluting or harming the environment. After the course, the people can then go all together with the tour guide to the park, and hike to a camping spot/research spot. These tours will create job opportunities, as well as educating the public about the wilderness and history of Wapusk National Park. These tours will also make humans connect to nature, which will have many positive benefits, such as protecting the environment we live in.