Education & Counteraction of the Negative Implications of Nature Deficit Disorder in Children: An Effective Means for Increasing Society’s Valuation of Nature and Conservation
Most people are acutely aware that we are living in a time of environmental crises. At an increasing rate, pollutants are being released into the atmosphere, soil, and water, natural areas destroying wildlife, and exploiting fisheries, fertile land, and water. Other resources are becoming more scarce, an increase in vector-borne diseases, and meteorological events are becoming more severe. This is all occurring under the context of an increasingly warm planet and exponentially growing levels of human population and consumption (Cullinan, 2011). Attempts have been and are continuing to be made to increase concern for our environment to protect the well being and prevent the demise of both human and nonhuman beings on our planet. Although some attempts have been successful, such as the Montreal protocol, which led to significant decreases in the rate of atmospheric ozone depletion, the general trend is that people are too apathetic to tackle and combat the current state of environmental crises.
With this in mind, the question arises: why we are continuing to destroy the world around us when we know that it is harming us, and what can we do about it? There are several reasons why such attempts at environmental salvation have likely been unsuccessful. Firstly, messages that are aimed at changing such behavior often involve behaviors from which the actor would not be directly benefited or harmed if he or she failed to pursue them (Davis, 1995). Secondly, people are more susceptible to discounting the well being of the future in decision-making when they are distanced from nature (Van der Wal et al., 2013). Thirdly, people are currently becoming more isolated from their surroundings, and it is unlikely that people will have concern for the environment unless they spend time outdoors (Logan & Selhub, 2012). My belief is that increasing information about nature deficit disorder can both directly and indirectly tackle problems associated with initiating pro-environmental decision making, and will also lead to an overall increase in the reverence that society has for the Earth.
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Laura Hein is a fourth year environment student (ecological determinants of health domain) who is planning to enter a career in public health/medicine. She is currently spending her last semester studying abroad in East Africa where she is conducting research on maternal health, and is hoping to volunteer at a rural clinic in Kenya after the program ends. Laura is interested in a variety of health issues such as environmental health, women’s health, nutrition, emergency medicine and mental health, which she has been able to explore over the past few years through volunteer and research projects related to these fields.