Natural Environment Amnesia - Why We Don't Know What We're Missing

February 18 2010

When I was growing up, I could never identify with actors in space travel science fiction films. On the other hand, I was able to get really immersed in westerns, James Bond and other adventure movies (although, having been somewhat of a tomboy, I admit identifying most often with the male protagonists).

Why couldn't I warm up to Hollywood's depiction of space travel? Or to stories of ultra-modern metropolises?

The absence of trees, grass, birds and other animals, wind and rain...

A study by Peter Kahn and two of his graduate students at the University of Washington reveals why I felt uneasy about the cold sterility of those environments.

"We are a technological species, but we also need a deep connection with nature in our lives," says Kahn.

Kahn's conclusion, which he calls "environmental generational amnesia," appears to be heir to those of Thomas Berry (a self-described"geologian") and others reinforcing Pierre de Chardin's thoughts about earth and people's relationship to it.

"Poor air quality is a good example of physical degradation. We can choke on the air, and some people suffer asthma, but we tend to think that's a pretty normal part of the human condition," Kahn says. "...across generations what will happen is that the good enough will become the good. If we don't change course, it will impoverish us as a species."

Category: Need to Know
Filed under: Ecology, Allergies