Our Nature-Deficit Disorder Needs a Remedy

Our Nature-Deficit Disorder Needs a Remedy
We live on a planet, but a lot of us don't act like it.

We suffer what eco-psychologists call "nature deficit disorder," which is the absence of both knowledge about and a heartfelt connection with the natural world. Unfortunately, examples abound.

I am flummoxed to hear of people who are oblivious to nature's laws, often to their peril. Consider one couple who died less than a mile from a convenience store because they hiked into the unforgiving Sonora Desert in midday with no water. Then there are folks who drive into rising water during a flash flood. It takes less than 2 feet of water to float most vehicles, transforming them into flotsam and, too often, coffins.

During my backpacking forays, I've encountered day hikers attempting to summit alpine peaks without food, water or appropriate gear, including boots (I've seen them in flip-flops). Others have sought my guidance after dropping their GPS in a river because they didn't know basic navigation.

I mean it's not Disney World out there. Particularly when venturing into the wild, one should be self-sufficient and well versed about the local ecosystem. When you're beset by hypothermia or dehydration, or injured in a fall, a tram isn't going to come along and pluck you from the wilderness like it's some theme park.

What's more, many people lack a rudimentary understanding of weather, including how to recognize an approaching storm, safety around lightning, what to do if caught in the open near…
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