David Suzuki: “If we disconnect from the natural world, we become disconnected from who we are.”

David Suzuki: How Nature Benefits Human Health

| August 26, 2015 12:19 pm | Comments

dsuzukiIf a home is not cleaned and cared for, it will become rundown and less habitable or even unlivable. It’s no different with our broader surroundings, from the immediate environment to the entire planet.

If we disconnect from the natural world, we become disconnected from who we are—to the detriment of our health and the health of the ecosystems on which our well-being and survival depend.

Adding 10 or more trees to a city block offered benefits to individuals equivalent to earning $10,000 more a year or being seven years younger. Photo credit: Shutterstock
Adding 10 or more trees to a city block offered benefits to individuals equivalent to earning $10,000 more a year, moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Understanding that we’re part of nature and acting on that understanding makes us healthier and happier and encourages us to care for the natural systems around us. A growing body of science confirms this, including two recent studies that explore the ways nature benefits human health.

A Toronto-based study, published in Nature and co-authored by a team including University of Chicago psychologists Omid Kardan and Marc Berman and David Suzuki Foundation scientist Faisal Moola, examined the relationship between urban trees and human health. According to “Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center,” people living in areas with many trees, especially large trees, report feeling healthier than people in areas with fewer trees.

The other study, published in Ecosystem Services and co-authored by scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reviewed a range of previous research to explore “observed and potential connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health and well-being.” The authors of “Exploring Connections Among Nature, Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Human Health and Well-being” concluded, “the significance of biodiversity to human welfare is immense.”

According to the Toronto study, adding 10 or more trees to a city block offered benefits to individuals equivalent to earning $10,000 more a year, moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger. As well as self-reporting of health and well-being, the study also found reduced rates of heart conditions, cancer, mental health problems and diabetes in areas with more trees.

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