Life on earth also exists in a spatial relationship to the atmosphere, which must . growth to a whole earth economy that is based on right relationship with the. Our relationship with Earth needs to change quickly homes sits atop a sea of garbage on World Environment Day in Manila: The growing. We must simultaneously limit the growth of our numbers by making family planning services freely available to all, and encouraging their use.
It can be characterized as the positive state of well-being and the capacity of a person to cope with life stresses as well as contribute to community engagement activities 83 It has the ability to both determine as well as be determined by a host of multifaceted health and social factors being inextricably linked to overall health, inclusive of diet, exercise, and environmental conditions. As a result, there are no single definitive indicators used to capture its overall measurement.
This owes in part to the breadth of methods and tends to represent hedonic e. Third, social health can be generalized as the ability to lead life with some degree of independence and participate in social activities Indicators of the concept revolve around social relationships, social cohesion, and participation in community activities.
Further, such mechanisms are closely linked to improving physical and mental well-being as well as forming constructs, which underline social capital. Owing to its complexity, its measurement focuses on strengths of primary networks or relationships e. Current Knowledge on the Human—Nature Relationship and Health This section summarizes existing theoretical and literature research at the intersection of the human—nature relationship and health, as defined in this review.
Physical Health Though it is widely established that healthy eating and regular exercise have major impacts on physical health 98within the past 30 years research has also identified that exposure to nature e.
Empirical research in this domain was first carried out by Ulrich 46 who found that those hospital patients exposed to natural scenery from a window view experienced decreased levels of pain and shorter recovery time after surgery. In spite of its increasing findings, some have suggested the need for further objective research at the intersect of nature-based parameters and human health 9. This presents inherent difficulty in comparing assessment measures or different data types relative to the size and scale of the variables being evaluated 9.
Further, there still remain evidence gaps in data on what activities might increase levels of physical health as well as limited amount of longitudinal datasets from which the frequency, duration, and causal directions could be inferred Mental Health Mental health studies in the context of connecting with nature have also generated a growing research base since the emergence of the Biophilia concept in the mids Supporting research has been well documented in literature during the last few decades.
Similarly, further mixed-method approaches and larger sample sizes are needed in this research field. This would enhance existing evidence gaps to enhance existing knowledge of variable interlinkages with other important sources e. Social Health In the last two decades, the relationship between people and place in the context of green spaces has received much attention in academic literature in regards to its importance for the vitality of communities and their surrounding environments One of the main limitations within this field relates to the generally perceived idea that public green spaces are freely open to everyone in all capacities This limitation has been, as already, highlighted from the emerging arguments in the field of environmental justice and economic—nature conflicts As such, many researchers highlight the need to maintain awareness of other barriers that might hinder cohesion and community participation e.
Further, there still remains a gap between academic research and local knowledge, which would otherwise lead to more effective interventions. Nonetheless, for such approach to be implemented requires sufficient time, cost, and an adequate scale of resources to ensure for aspects of coordination, communication, and data validation This in part owes to the increasing evidence accumulating in research literature centering on the relationships between the following areas: Such health-related effects that have been alluded to include chronic diseases, social isolation, emotional well-being as well as other psychiatric disorders e.
Reasons for these proposed links have been suggested to stem from various behavioral patterns e. Further, these suggested links have been inferred, by some, to be visible in other species e. Nonetheless, research within this field remains speculative with few counter examples e.
With a growing trend in the number of chronic diseases and psychiatric disorders, costs to the U. However, this anticipated trend is considered to be both undesirable and expensive to the already overwhelmed health-care system In concurrence are the associated impacts on health equity, equating to further productivity and tax losses every year in addition to a growing gap in health inequalities Furthermore, population growth in urbanized areas is expected to impact future accessibility to and overall loss of natural spaces.
We regard it as a thing, a big thing, an object to be owned, mined, fenced, guarded, stripped, built upon, dammed, ploughed, burned, blasted, bulldozed, and melted to serve the material needs and desires of the human species at the expense, if necessary, of all other species, which we feel at liberty to kill, paralyze, or domesticate for our own use.
Among the many forms of egoism that have come to be the focus of psychodynamically oriented psychologists in an age of self-criticism about our narcissism, this form of species arrogance has received little scrutiny. This attitude contrasts dramatically with the pragmatic, live-and-let-live and reverential relationship with nature that is reflected in the words of native American leaders such as Chief Seattle and Sioux Medicine Man John Fire Lame Deer, who recognize our complete interdependence with the earth and the need to live in balance and harmony with nature.
All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man does not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Chief Seattle More than a century later Lame Deer wrote: To come to nature, feel its power, let it help you, one needs time and patience for that.
Time to think, to figure it all out. Lame Deer The seemingly mindless destruction of the natural landscape by the Japanese, a people who have been known for their delicate appreciation of nature, attests to the degree to which disciplined industrialization and accretion of wealth can overwhelm such sensitivities and separate us from the earth itself.
The Human–Nature Relationship and Its Impact on Health: A Critical Review
This cutting off of consciousness from a connection with nature, and the spirit that most peoples throughout human history have experienced as inherent in it and in us, of course, as part of natureis one of the supreme negative achievements of modern, industrially developed man.
This separation is painfully demonstrated in modern Japan, and is reflected in my dream. One must wonder how or why we have done it, how we have so overdeveloped the use of reason at the expense of feeling, in the service of a fear-driven need to conquer other peoples and the material world on a planet with a growing population that is perceived as yielding finite, diminishing resources.
Chief Seattle shared this bewilderment.
The Human–Nature Relationship and Its Impact on Health: A Critical Review
So a psychology of the environment would be an expanded psychology of relationship, a conversation or experiencing in the deepest parts of our being, of our connection with the earth as sacred.
I say sacred because I do not believe that a mere threat to survival will be sufficient to create this new relationship without a fundamental shift in the nature of our being, as Vaclav Havel — who surely must have been personally revolted to discover the environmental catastrophe which his communist predecessors left him and which I witnessed from a train traveling from Prague to Berlin — so eloquently told the U.
For it must, by virtue of the very nature of the task, be a psychology that includes a powerful spiritual element. This will mean, for example, a reanimation of the forests and of nature, which we have so systematically and proudly denuded of their spiritual meaning.
Here then is the problem. By and large we in the West have rejected the language and experience of the sacred, the divine, and the animation of nature. Our psychology is predominantly a psychology of mechanisms, parts, and linear relationships. We have grown suspicious of experiences, no matter how powerful, that cannot be quantified, and we distrust the language of reverence, spirit, and mystical connection, recalling perhaps with fear the superstitiousness and holy wars of earlier periods.
Academic psychology, embodying now a reverence of numbers, tight reasoning, and linear thinking in opposition to intuition, direct knowing, and subjective experience is likely to look askance at efforts to reinfuse its body with the imprecise notions of spirituality and philosophy, from which it has so vigorously and proudly struggled to free itself in an effort to be granted scientific status in our universities, laboratories, and consulting rooms.
But this cannot be helped. For the route to a new psychology of the environment, which might contribute to our protecting it, probably cannot be achieved by measuring our reactions or talking about the problem. Only experiences that profoundly alter our view of nature and reconnect us with the divinity in ourselves and in the environment can empower people to commit themselves to the prodigious task before them.
The therapeutic methods must be powerful enough to shift the ground of our being so that we experience the earth in its living reality. This is why people like Walter Christieand his wife Ellen, Joanna Macy and in this volume, chapter 2and Stanislav and Christina Grofwho have been pioneers in creating methods of reconnecting us with the earth and with ourselves in nature, rely on experiential, imaginal, and consciousness altering or opening approaches.
This can become intolerably painful but also seems to empower people, impelling them to take action on behalf of the deteriorating environment. It is also possible that these images are now significantly penetrating our cultural consciousness and may contribute to fundamental changes in behavior and policy.
What I have described so far is, in a sense, the easy part of the problem. Deepening our conscious awareness, reanimating our connection with the earth, is important and can lead to responsible initiatives by individuals. For a psychology of the environment to be meaningful, it must address these powerful institutional, structural, or systemic realities.
Social institutions are, in a sense, the expressions of our collective psyches. But we come so much to take their existence and modes of operating for granted that to consider openly that we have the power to modify, transform, or dismantle them will, inevitably, encounter intense resistance because of the political, economic, and psychological vested interests with which they are associated.
To bring about structural changes of this kind, psychologists will need to work closely with policymakers, corporate leaders, economists, and many people representing other related disciplines and groups committed to social change. The political and personal resistance to environmental transformation can be flagrant. When I was in Japan, I read that industrial pollution in Korea had become so severe that, among other things, the water in the public water system in Seoul was condemned as unsafe to drink.
A professor at Seoul University who documented the severity of the industrial pollution problem was fired from his position, and people who supported environmental change were accused by the government of being communist sympathizers.
Inventing a Psychology of Our Relationship to the Earth
Resistance to facing the costs of environmental transformation may extend beyond top management to the shareholders themselves. It is not realistic to expect that the environmental crisis will be solved simply by deindustrialization.
But the unwelcome news the new psychology for the environment will need to communicate is that the unbridled license given in the West to free-market forces, and the irresponsible overbuilding of heavy industries in the socialist systems, have both led to the same disastrous result-a planet dying in the excesses of human waste.
Psychologists of the environment, while enabling increasing numbers of people to connect with the earth and its transcendent meaning, must also participate with committed citizens and community and corporate groups in a broad-based movement that must aim at nothing less than the transformation of our political and economic institutions.
Ultimately this means joining with others in a search for alternatives to the material values that now dominate the spirit in the United States and much of the world. An environmental movement on the scale necessary to bring about the changes that are essential for protecting the earth, a process to which psychology has a useful contribution to make, must be authentically international and cross-cultural in two senses.
First, we in the West or developed countries must be aware how powerfully precedent-setting is our example. When we destroy our own forests, pollute our air, and poison our streams with our industrial and personal garbage, it little avails us to admonish developing countries for unhygienic industrialization. Often-heard arguments, such as the fact that we cut down our timber in a more orderly manner than the developing countries that are destroying their rain forests, become trivial in relation to the psychological and economic forces involved.
Second, we need to be aware of the economic priorities and vital needs of the peoples of developing countries. Campaigns to save natural resources, such as trees and animals, upon which impoverished peoples depend for their livelihoods, without addressing the material needs of those societies, cannot be effective.
How to Restore Our Relationship to Earth by David Korten — YES! Magazine
In sum, a psychology of the environment to be comprehensive must include at least the following elements: An appreciation that we do, in fact, have a relationship with the earth itself, and the degree to which that relationship has become inimicable to the sustaining of human lives and those of countless other species. An analysis of traditional attitudes toward the earth in our own and in other cultures that may facilitate or interfere with the maintenance of life.
The dominant attitude to the earth in the industrially developed countries has been one of unchecked exploitation.
These approaches must be emotionally powerful, experiential, and consciousness-expanding, opening us to ourselves in relation to nature.