NATURE CONNECTEDNESS:A new relationship with nature
November 01, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
The emergencies of the warming climate and decline in wildlife show that the human relationship with the rest of nature is broken. To fix it we need a new relationship. A relationship that moves beyond use and control of nature to one that recognises that we are part of nature.
People differ in many ways, some have a closer relationship with nature than others. Similar to other differences like being more outgoing or shy, we can measure how close a person is to nature. ‘Nature connectedness’ is the term used in psychology to describe that relationship between a person and the rest of nature. This focus is helpful to understand and improve our relationship with nature.
People with higher levels of nature connectedness are more likely to do more for nature. Both in reducing their impact on the environment through using fewer resources and taking positive actions to help wildlife. This closer relationship with nature also tends to help people feel good and function well. This should come as no surprise. Looking back, we evolved to make sense of the natural world and spent eons deeply embedded in our natural habitat. Nature helps manage our moods and research has shown that something as simple as placing a hand on a piece of oak, or looking at flowers, can have a positive effect on our physiology. We are part of the wider network of nature and we should recognise and celebrate that.
Sir Bob Watson was the lead scientist of the IPBES landmark health-check of life on Earth – the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystems published this year. The report showed that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. In an interview soon after, he saw solutions in a new and closer relationship with nature. He asked: how do we become more in tune with nature? What makes us happy?
A focus on nature connectedness can help answer these questions. We can tune in through taking a moment to pause and notice the good things, even in towns and cities. Tuning in to nature brings wellbeing and perhaps a realisation that surrounding ourselves with technology and ‘more stuff’ isn’t the ultimate ‘good life’. The answers lie, not in looking back, but forward to a new relationship where the health of nature is integrated into business, agriculture, social and cultural life – into every part of our lives, because nature is our lives.