We should all be worried about the gaping psychological chasm separating humanity from nature. Indeed a strong argument can be made that bridging this divide deserves to be ranked amongst the most urgent 21st Century priorities. Yet so far the human-nature divide hasn’t even made it to our cultural to-do list.
For the past several decades, numerous scientists and environmentalists have been telling us that we must change our ways and strike a balance with nature, or face…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on January 23, 2013 at 11:20am — No Comments
We humans have a rather bizarre relationship with nature. We seek out nature to stroll, run, bike, rollerblade, climb, swim, skydive, surf, sail, commune, birdwatch, whalewatch, and stargaze, spending billions of dollars a year gearing up for and traveling to these activities. While there, we collect bugs, rocks, driftwood, fossils, counts of bird species, or, most commonly these days, photographs. Closer to home, we grow nature in our gardens, place it in pots that adorn our living spaces,…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on January 3, 2013 at 12:19pm — No Comments
Arriving at our backyard “sit spot,” Jade and I didn’t have to wait long before the familiar chickadee duo appeared in a nearby thicket and began chirping happily. A male robin patrolling his territory wasn’t far behind, his pulsing crimson breast pumping out a gorgeous melody. Next to emerge, seemingly out of thin air, was a pair of song sparrows, who began a staccato of “seep-seep” calls. “I’m here.” “Yes, I’m here too.”
Suddenly, like a lighting strike, the calm morning…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on December 31, 2012 at 1:52pm — No Comments
Yesterday, I discovered a remarkable TED talk by David Roberts. Roberts is a blogger who writes about energy and politics for Grist. His aim in this 15-minute presentation, remixed with music and extra imagery, is to summarize and simplify the science of climate change. Just the facts ma’am. Now, I study fossils, not climate, so I’m not on a first-name basis with all the relevant data. Yet, given my understanding of current climatological consensus, Roberts has his facts…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on November 29, 2012 at 3:41pm — No Comments
Fifty years ago to this very day—September 27, 1962—your world-changing book Silent Spring was first published. Though you did not live to see the full revolution that ensued, rest assured that the book’s impact has been immense: the environmental movement, Environmental Protection Agency, banning of various pesticides, Earth Day, . . . on and on.
It’s not surprising, then, that for most people, the name Rachel Carson still brings to mind an ardent activist bravely…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on September 27, 2012 at 7:46am — No Comments
When people think of nature, too often the only images that come to mind are distant, expansive places like Yellowstone Park and the Grand Canyon, or even more remote wilderness like Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is a grave mistake. Viewed through the wildlands lens, nature is something you might visit at best a couple of times a year while on vacation. Yet nature is everywhere—in our backyards, schoolyards, and gardens, thrusting skyward through sidewalk cracks and chirping…Continue
Not long ago, I stood with my nine-year old daughter Jade on a rocky knoll over the ocean near our home. Minutes earlier, the sun’s orange disk had slipped below the horizon. In the distance, San Francisco began to glow. Much further away, starlit pinpoints began poking through the darkening dome overhead. We watched a clan of turkey vultures execute spiraling descents before settling for the night in a eucalyptus tree. As we began our own short descent toward home, it seemed as good a time…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on July 30, 2012 at 10:37am — No Comments
Well, here we are in yet another election year full of vitriolic demarcations of right from left, seemingly with little overlap. Once again, the looming dangers of global warming, failing ecosystems, and our overall unsustainabilty are lost amidst the rhetorical din of jobs and economy (as if these were somehow distinct from the aforementioned perils). Meanwhile, the chasm between humans and nature deepens.
Watching the national debates unfold, I find little to be positive…Continue
I am very fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay region of northern California. When not traveling, I head out several times a week and hike up into the hilly Marin Headlands, an extensive protected area that few would hesitate to call “nature.” The evergreen shrubs and patchy grasslands afford spectacular coastal vistas and erupt into a kaleidoscope of wildflowers come springtime. The plentiful animal spottings include red-tailed hawks, coyote, alligator lizards, quail, mule deer,…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on May 4, 2012 at 1:56pm — No Comments
A quick scan of today’s online New York Times reveals the usual plethora of stories. Among them: News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch seeks to deflect allegations that he bribed British officials; Pakistan test-fires a nuclear-capable missile; ethnic biases are now shifting in South Los Angeles; and a Dartmouth frat receives a 3-term probation punishment for hazing.
Why do hundreds of millions of people each day follow the news, read fiction, watch television, and line up to…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on April 25, 2012 at 12:14pm — No Comments
In just the past couple of weeks, the children-in-nature crisis has been featured in the New York Times, the LA Times, and on the BBC wireservice. Driven by the heroic work of Richard Louv, the Children & Nature Network, and many others, high profile media coverage is getting the word out. Childhood in this country is dysfunctional, even broken—and so too is our society. Rampant obesity, attention deficit disorder, and diabetes; depression, skyrocketing school dropout, and…Continue
Added by Scott D. Sampson on April 19, 2012 at 12:51pm — No Comments
Sunshine and springtime were rare bedfellows where I grew up. One day when I was four, my mother took me into the forest a few blocks from home. She had heard that the “Frog Pond," as it was known, was brimming with tadpoles. Cinching the deal that fateful day were scattered, caressing rays of sun . . .Continue