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The Importance Of Reconnecting To Nature – Part 1

Updated: Jan 26

A blog by Laura Buchenlicht

a young white woman standing in a forest of giant redwood trees, looking up

This is the first part of two blog posts, starting out with a very brief history of alienation from nature.

Have you ever thought about how disconnected people in modern industrial societies are from the natural world?

Sure, most people do something like going for a walk every now and then, walking their dog in a park, going for a run, or practising another activity in a green space.

But if we remember that humans are just another animal species, it seems pretty weird that we have created surroundings for us that are nothing like the natural world that our ancestors came from. A park is hardly like a forest or savanna, and we don’t spend much time in it either.

Just think about it – more than half of the world population lives in towns or cities nowadays, which means being surrounded by gigantic concrete blocks, noisy metal boxes zooming all over the place, and minimal verdure.

The high levels of depression, anxiety, and other forms of emotional distress that plague these people are certainly not surprising. Just like any other animal, humans suffer when they live in conditions that are radically different from their species’ natural habitat.

The detrimental affects of human activities on the land and humans themselves were already noticed in ancient civilisations like those of the Middle East, Pakistan, India, China, or Greece. This Greenpeace blog post gives you a short summary of the history of environmentalism, but note that it doesn’t mention a single female person until the early 20th century and focuses heavily on western culture.

With regards to modern times, the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America, which began at the end of the 18th century and reached its peak in the second half of the 19th century, led to the radical technological and economic changes that define all industrial societies nowadays.

It is interesting to note that even back then there were people who were horrified at these changes and started a “back to nature”-movement. Most of them were artists, writers, and scholars of the romanticism movement.

Hell is a city much like London - a populous and a smoky city;” as the British poet Percy Shelley put it.

The movement grew over time and the early 20th century saw the beginnings of what we call “going green” today. In Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, the life reform movement* focused on better health through living more aligned with nature – by more child-friendly education, abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, wearing more comfortable clothing (or none at all), less chemicals, organic farming, and – vegetarianism!

This reform movement was one of the stages that led up to the later environmentalist, animal rights, student, pacifist, and civil rights movements in the 1960s (despite two world wars dividing these eras).

So we can see that history keeps repeating itself, and wherever societies with big cities and dense populations arise, there will be critics who point out how unhealthy this way of living is.


* = Please note that this Wikipedia article – like most articles on that website – is written from a very male- and white-centric point of view. It doesn’t list any of the numerous female proponents of the movement and doesn’t say much about similar movements in other countries.

To give you one example, Maria Montessori was an influential Italian educator, physician, and philosopher of the time, who revolutionised early child education. It also doesn’t mention the connections to the present social justice movements, like the animal rights movement. Sadly I couldn’t find a better online source on the topic.

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