Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Importance of Science and Nature on Earth Day

One scientist and sustainability expert suggests we should go outside and play so that we can connect with nature on Earth Day.

Meg Lowman, is the Chief of Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences. She pioneered the science of canopy ecology which earned her the monikers, “Real-Life Lorax,” "Canopy Meg" and “Einstein of the treetops.” She is also a biologist, educator, and ecologist. Her personal mantra is “no child left indoors.”

In a Net Impact article, Lowman laments the scientific illiteracy of most American, particularly children. Never have we needed to understand science and appreciate nature more than today, she explains.

Understanding the science of climate change, biodiversity loss, species extinction, resource depletion, ocean acidification and other environmental concerns is essential if we are to forge a more sustainable relationship with our planet.

Lowman references the well-known book "Last Child in the Woods," by Richard Louv. In this book Louv analyzed the societal problems that have arisen in American youth who have generally lost contact with natural science. This leads to a condition Louv calls “nature-deficit disorder” as the human cost of alienation from nature, including diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.

"For Earth Day this year, why not pledge to enjoy the natural world and – if you can – take a kid with you? Climb a tree, watch a spider build a web, photograph spring flowers, download the iNaturalist app, or simply bring some leaves indoors. You don’t really have to get muddy while you’re at it, but why not? If anyone asks, tell them a scientist told you to do it."

As Rachel Carson said, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

In an era where life on earth is threatened by climate change, people need to understand science so that they can make responsible decisions in their own lives and at the ballot box.

We need to oppose those that seek to deride science to serve their own partisan interests. We need to confront the lies from the anti-science advocacy of the fossil fuel lobby and their political minions that threaten the future of civilization.

If we are to cultivate a passion for nature and the science which explains it, we need to get outdoors and be part of it.

Related
President Obama's Earth Day Address: Action on Climate Change Cannot Wait (Video)
Responding to Grist's Anti-Earth Day Rants
Earth Day Review of American Environmental Attitudes
Earth Day Activities and Actions in the US and Canada
Earth Day 2015: The Marriage of Economic Growth and Sustainability

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