Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



FLORA AND FAUNA
How can you define nature
by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX) Nov 23, 2017


It's all natural

Think, for a moment, about the last time you were out in nature. Were you in a city park? At a campground? On the beach? In the mountains?

Now consider: What was this place like in your parents' time? Your grandparents'? In many cases, the parks, beaches and campgrounds of today are surrounded by more development, or are themselves more developed, than they were decades ago.

But to you, they still feel like nature.

That's what University of Washington psychology professor Peter Kahn calls "environmental generational amnesia" - the idea that each generation perceives the environment into which it's born, no matter how developed, urbanized or polluted, as the norm. And so what each generation comes to think of as "nature" is relative, based on what it's exposed to.

In a new paper, which Kahn co-authored with doctoral student Thea Weiss, in the latest issue of Children, Youth and Environments, they argue that more frequent and meaningful interactions with nature can enhance our connection to - and definition of - the natural world.

"There's a shifting baseline of what we consider the environment, and as that baseline becomes impoverished, we don't even see it," Kahn said. "If we just try to teach people the importance of nature, that's not going to work. They have to interact with it."

For years, Kahn has examined how people perceive and impact the environment. As cities grow and open spaces shrink, it is environmental generational amnesia, Kahn argues, that enables development to continue relentlessly. Each generation inherits a new baseline for what nature is, and what "normal" surroundings are.

During his early years in academia, Kahn studied children's concepts of the environment in Houston, one of the largest and most polluted cities in the country. He found that, when children were asked about air pollution, most could explain it and point out other cities that were polluted - but not their own.

"With each ensuing generation, the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation tends to perceive that degraded condition as the nondegraded condition, as the normal experience," Kahn and Weiss wrote in their paper.

Research has linked exposure to the outdoors with physical and mental health benefits, greater ability to focus and communicate with others and an overall improvement in quality of life. At the same time, health conditions connected to sedentary lifestyles, such as diabetes and obesity, are on the rise.

One solution is to provide opportunities - for children and adults - for encounters with "big nature." By big, Kahn means wild, in the most traditional sense: old-growth forests, unshackled rivers and untamed species like grizzly bears and native trout.

But "big nature," he concedes, is also relative: To a child in a city, playing in a fountain is an experience with a natural element. Kahn said he tries to be realistic about how and where people live; interacting with nature can mean accessing what is available, while aspiring to what is not.

Interacting with nature makes a difference in how people view and move in the world, Kahn said.

To gain perspective on what children learn from nature, the authors turned to a Seattle preschool, Fiddleheads Forest School, where director Kit Harrington has created a curriculum shaped by the outdoors. There, the authors observed children developing skills that adults might take for granted but that are only learned through the experience of being outside: mimicking bird calls, digging in the dirt and even protecting one's body during a fall.

"Knowing how to do that is not a given," Kahn said. "We have an entire generation that spends so much time in front of screens that, when they do go out into nature, they don't know how to interact with it, or handle themselves."

Meaningful interactions with nature not only can teach, but also help people rejuvenate, reflect and recognize the importance of the outdoors. If a bike path, playground or trailhead is the closest nature to you, then you should take advantage of it. Developing a "nature language" - encountering the environment in ways large and small that result in positive feelings - can begin to reverse environmental generational amnesia.

In Seattle, the city's largest park can serve as a laboratory for how people interact with nature. To that end, Kahn and his research group are collecting feedback from Discovery Park visitors about their experience there. The effort is a way, Kahn said, to give voice to the perspectives and experiences of people who visit the park and to learn what nature means to them.

"A park of that size allows for interactions with nature that are almost impossible to have in the city. It's not enough, but it's better than not having it," Kahn said. "A bigger park is better than a smaller park, and a smaller park is better than no park.

"You can't take nature for granted anywhere. Even in Seattle."

Research paper

FLORA AND FAUNA
US court convicts Irish man of rhino horn trafficking
Washington (AFP) Nov 15, 2017
A US court has sentenced an Irish national to 18 months in prison for trafficking a cup made from the horn of an endangered rhinoceros, in the latest case linked to an illicit global trade. At the end of his sentence, Michael Hegarty will be on supervised release for three years, the Department of Justice said in a statement. He was convicted in Florida of buying a "libation cup" of carv ... read more

Related Links
University of Washington
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

FLORA AND FAUNA
Libya navy says over 30 migrants dead, 200 rescued off coast

South Korea quiet for quake-delayed college entrance exam

Aid groups urge Greece to improve refugee camps before winter

Dutch St Martin's PM quits after pressure over Irma aid

FLORA AND FAUNA
Booming life for 'PUBG' death-match computer game

3rd SES bids farewell to ANGELS satellite

New way to write magnetic info could pave the way for hardware neural networks

Borophene shines alone as 2-D plasmonic material

FLORA AND FAUNA
The tragedy of the seagrass commons

Ocean acidification harms young mussels

New research could predict La Nina drought years in US

Coral transplant raises Barrier Reef survival hopes

FLORA AND FAUNA
Operation IceBridge 2017: The Beauty of Ice

Study reveals structure and origins of glacial polish on Yosemite's rocks

Polar bears crowd on Russian island in sign of Arctic change

Salt pond in Antarctica is fed from below

FLORA AND FAUNA
Intercropping formula promises food security in Sahel Africa

Urbanization may have a positive effect on the soils

Portuguese cattle farmers desperately wait for rain

Crunch time for food security

FLORA AND FAUNA
Thousands flee over Bali volcano eruption fears

Iran earthquake death toll rises to 483

Floods paralyse Saudi city of Jeddah

Thousands flee as Bali raises volcano alert to highest level

FLORA AND FAUNA
Zimbabwe crisis: What we know

Chinese firm probes if children work in African mines

China respects 'good friend' Mugabe's resignation

US strike in Somalia kills more than 100 Shabaab fighters

FLORA AND FAUNA
What grosses out a chimpanzee?

Human evolution was uneven and punctuated, suggests new research

Chimp study reveals how brain's structure shaped our evolution

High cognitive ability not a safeguard from conspiracies, paranormal beliefs




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement