There are plenty of facts about the importance of the human / nature connection.
In today’s hyper-rational world they’re worth their weight in gold and I collect them accordingly. Here I share with you my personal favourites.
A lot of them are common sense, though some may surprise you. In any case, may they bring your next water cooler chinwag, dinner party, hot date or bath-tub soak a little closer to nature.
When you’re done, you might like to visit the WithNature Fact Trove where I share the rest of my current collection and links to valuable research studies. And if you know some curious and worthwhile facts or studies yourself about the importance of the human / nature connection and would like to share them, please get in touch.
Top Ten water cooler chin-wag facts about humans + nature
Did you know…(in rough chronological order):
- Five million years passed before humans evolved into what we are today. Therefore, more than 99.99% of our evolutionary history was spent in natural environments and less than 0.01% in urban ones.
- The Buddha didn’t get enlightened indoors. He was outside under a tree and open sky at the time.
- The first European hospitals were infirmaries in monastic communities where a garden was considered an essential part of the hospital in that it supported the healing process.
- Approximately three to five million women were tortured and killed by the Roman Church’s “Holy Inquisition” for such simple activities as showing a love for animals or walking alone in the woods (1). This is a crime I find particularly disturbing.
- The Cold War ended in 1991 partly thanks to the infamous ‘Walk-In-The-Woods’, a proposal developed between Russian and US ambassadors literally during a walk together in the Genevan woods (2, 3). The apparent intention for choosing the woods was to avoid electronic surveillance. However, given the evidence we now have that nature enhances our cognitive ability, mood, memory and creativity whilst reducing our stress, anxiety and depression – it seems likely these other wondrous benefits that nature provides played their role in bringing about peace!
- After 9/11, New York’s parks and botanical gardens had record numbers of visitors (4). Nature’s been shown to hold the biggest benefit for those who need it most.
People now spend 25 per cent less time in nature than they did 20 years ago. Instead, recreational time is often spent surfing the internet, playing video games and watching movies.
- My favourite Julia Roberts’ role is when she plays Mother Nature herself in the celeb-packed series ‘Nature is Speaking’ by Conservation International. My favourite line is ‘When I thrive, you thrive’.
- We have only one Planet Earth, yet we leave an ecological footprint of 1.5 planets. That is, we currently use 50 percent more resources than our planet can regenerate to meet our consumption needs. Personally, I feel a little more heartened when I consider this fact alongside the next one…
- Research shows that developing a relationship with nature makes us care more about the planet. One study found that people who don’t feel related to nature are less motivated to protect it. This includes being less likely to walk or cycle to work to conserve petrol, recycle or identify ourselves as an environmentalists. It found that developing a close relationship with nature depends on experiencing natural environments.
“The more we can do to get city slickers to experience the pleasure of being in nature, the more of us will care about preserving the natural environment, and the more governments will be expected to do to make the economy ecologically sustainable.” – Ross Gittens
- Tolle, E. (2005). A New Earth. Penguin: London.
- Matlock Jr., J.F. (2004). Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended. Random House, NY.
- Rostow, E.V. (1993). Toward Managed Peace: The National Security Interests of the US, 1759 to the present. Yale University Press, New Haven.
- In The Light Productions (2015). Love Thy Nature (film).