Nature. The distance of individuals from natural areas is increasing. This was demonstrated by researchers from the University of Leipzig in a study published in December 2022 entitled “A Global Synthesis of Trends in the Human Experience of Nature.” The average distance around the world has increased by 7% in 20 years and has reached 9.7 km today. The average in Greater France is 16 km. In our country, 39% of children aged 3-10 have never played outdoors. As a result, more and more people are suffering from “nature deficiency disorder”. Our article.
We are creating a world in which nothing can live except by being blind to ecological dynamics, to other species.
75% of the surface of continental ecosystems and 40% of the oceans are severely degraded; one million species are threatened with extinction in the near future.
In a video dated May 31, 2022, Vincent explains the evolution of the Verza channel. open our eyes to living things, because we are creating a world where nothing else can live except by being blind to ecological dynamics, other species, environments. “.
A research team from Leipzig published a study in December examining the sources of this blindness to ecological dynamics. The root of this blindness: the growing distance of people from natural areas.
Human distance from natural space has increased by 7% in 20 years
Without going into a philosophical course about the relevance of drawing a more or less permeable boundary between nature and culture, natural or man-made space, let’s start by clarifying the definition of the natural area on which researchers base their research. These are areas less affected by human activity, combining both wet natural areas that have not been altered by humans, and areas with low urbanisation, small villages or hamlets, areas with organic or sustainable agriculture or even forest areas planted for exploitation. Basically: anything that isn’t bitumen or intensive monoculture.
Let’s agree that this is a rather broad definition of natural space. A little too much when we know the ecological poverty of the wooded areas planted to satisfy the voracious needs of capitalism: to produce as much as possible, everywhere, anyway, anything, anytime. However, even taken broadly, the numbers are alarming. The distance from a person to a natural space increased by 7% in 20 years and reached an average of 9.7 km in the world, and 16 km in the French capital (4 hours on foot, 1 hour by bicycle).
The culture of fear, virtualization and generational amnesia
This geographical distance leads to emotional distance. As the famous saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. If technological tools have partially enabled us to cope with this reality in the field of love, our digital connection has on the other hand strengthened our connection with the non-human. Indeed, soil concreting is only one of the factors. According to Romain Couillet, the culture of fear, the virtualization of the world and ” generational amnesia environmental reinforcing the chronic lack of nature in our society.
“Culture of fear”. According to the professor of the universities of Grenoble, more and more people are afraid of everything that is not controlled, framed by human techniques: rain, cold, wind, wild animals, insects. Fear of viscosity, humidity, touching grass, walking barefoot, walking alone. Fear of the dead.
In addition to the inhumane fears, there is also a growing fear of selling the brain space of companies specializing in the advertising and marketing sectors, especially television channels that use and abuse these studies and news reports. – consumption.
This culture of fear leads parents to prioritize the safety of the home, indoors and outdoors for their children. This phenomenon closed generation It hits Western Europe and North America hard. According to Public Health France, 39% of children aged 3-10 have never played outdoors and only 50% of children play outdoors at least 2 school days a week.
The inevitable result of this indoor life: screens, digital technology, the explosion of time spent in the virtual world. The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety shows that 49% of 11-17 year olds “More than four and a half hours a day in front of the screen” and/or implements “Less than twenty minutes of physical activity a day.” The statistics are similar to those of adults, but with more catastrophic results: children lose 25% of their cardiovascular capacity in 40 years.
Added to this explosive fear of external virtualization cocktail is environmental generational amnesia. Consider the tendency of each generation to view its environment as “normal.” As a result, as individuals distance themselves from nature, they lose the perception of this distance and pass on to future generations lifestyle habits that are increasingly disconnected from the non-human world.
How to break a tire?
The consequences of alienation are significant. On the one hand, physical inactivity and confinement affect the health of individuals. On the other hand, the disconnection of humans from the rest of life also leads to the chain extinction of animal and plant species. It’s easier not to care when you don’t know, don’t see, don’t feel lost. How to break this cycle of hell?
In a short time, every person can act. Like Vincent Verza, dedicating a few hours to bird watching or reconnecting with the camping tradition abandoned in favor of AirBnb. When it comes to changing society, the utility of these small gestures is of course questionable. However, they at least allow each individual to improve their own or their children’s health.
In the long run, the solution is collective and therefore political
At a time when 80% of France’s population and 56% of the world’s population live in cities, we need to rethink the way we build, organize and live in cities to allow the penetration of non-humans. This starts with limiting the use of concrete. And no, giant parking lots for Amazon warehouses is not one of them.
Equally important is the bifurcation of our agricultural model so that it can contribute to biodiversity conservation and bring people closer to the rest of life. No, mega pools are not the way to go.
Thus, a number of ways appear in the direction of the trend of artificialization of lands and the geographical distance of people from natural areas. It remains to fight the fear. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle. If the outside of the house continues to scare us, it will be difficult to reconnect with nature.
To do this, we must begin by reducing the disturbing power of CNews and company through legislation that reduces the concentration of private media ownership to prevent a few billionaires from paying for the right to report. The work of journalists should allow to educate citizens on the main topics of our time, to sharpen critical thinking, to revive democratic debates, not to stop in endless sterile polemics, and to arouse the fear of being different from the other.
Then it will be time to rediscover the outdoors, wildlife, the joy of the unknown, the joy of exploration and discovery, reconnect with the poetry of wind and rain, and rediscover school, education, arts and culture projects together to develop our culture. and the ability of future generations to marvel at the technical and artistic prowess of the rest of life.