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Humans=Nature

Humans=Nature

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Are we losing touch with nature? How could we, when we and everything we create, are part of nature?

With so much of life based on electronic representations of reality, humans risk losing touch with nature, says University of Washington psychologist Peter Kahn.

From web cams that offer views of wildlife to virtual tours of the Grand Canyon to robotic pets, modern technology increasingly is encroaching into human connections with the natural world. Kahn and his colleagues believe this intrusion may emerge as one of the central psychological problems of our times.

It's true that the environment that we live in now, the “manmade” environment, is different than the environment we used to live in, the “natural” environment. But if we are part of nature, then it seems to be a mistake to chalk these differences up to human meddling. If nature meddles with nature, it's all natural. As a scientific naturalist who believes that humans are part of an evolutionary chain, it's hard to define the difference between natural and artificial. If beaver dams are natural why isn't the Hoover Dam?

 

Ted Kaczynski talked a lot about the tragedy of nature's loss in his Unabomber's Manifesto. He is an ultra-Luddite, one who opposes technology, because humans are not psychologically able to handle a technological world. He wants a return to an agrarian society, because any other world is cruel and unusual. So he bombed scientists and mathematicians who advance technology.

I'm not saying that if you pine for the great outdoors, you are like the Unabomber. We did evolve in a world that did not include technology and “artificial” surroundings. We are built to camp, lights fires, hunt, gather, and garden. It's good for us.

But let's be perfectly clear: technology will be our salvation (if such a thing can be said to exist) because it is our only hope for survival. Better that we forget what used to be natural than that we destroy or simply neglect our collective future.

 

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