One of the other reasons why we created this school program is because the demographics of the country are not
reflected in those who go to parks. And we know that
only those who have a connection to nature will know
how important it is to not only take advantage of these
places, but to preserve them for future generations.”
Though the environmental movement often has a
gloom-and-doom element, Louv said he is fairly optimistic about the future and has hopes that a new kind of
city can emerge.
“The world is urbanizing, so there is a danger that
the nature deficit disorder could grow,” he said. “As of
2008, more people in the world live in cities than in
“As that continues, humans will either lose most of whatever connection they have to the natural world, or we will
create new kinds of cities, ones that can become centers of
biodiversity and human health by having more nature in
them. That’s my hope. It won’t be wilderness, but it can
be done through biophilic design that incorporates nature
into public and private places — and individual actions.”
Moreover, Louv said he has been inspired by his talks
with college students — most of whom were raised with
images of a bleak dystopic and post-apocalyptic future.
“Martin Luther King said any movement will fail if it
cannot paint a picture of a world that people want to go
to,” he said. “But I am optimistic that we can turn this
around because of positive things that I have seen in the
“I talk to a lot of college kids. They know that things like
sustainability and energy efficiency are important. But
it’s kind of hard to get excited about BTUs.
The world is urbanizing, so there
is a danger that the nature
deficit disorder could grow.
There are tens of thousands of
people — mostly volunteers —
who are working on getting
kids outside again to play.
“However, when the conversation changes to discussing
what a nature-rich future looks like and whether they’d
like to be part of making that, their eyes light up and their
whole affect changes. They really want to go to that future.
That gives me a lot of hope.
“I’m also pleased with the counter-movement that has
emerged around the globe. There are tens of thousands
of people — mostly volunteers — who are working on
getting kids outside again to play and explore. There are
things like family nature clubs sprouting up all over. In
San Diego, where I live, 1,500 families belong to one and
do things like go out for a hike. And they don’t need a
foundation grant or government action. Things like that
make me optimistic, too.”
Brian E. Clark is a Wisconsin-based journalist and
a former staff writer on the business desk of The
San Diego Union-Tribune. He is a contributor to the
Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dallas Morning News and
Photos courtesy of Virginia State Parks