Charlie Dunnigan

"Healthy Nature, Healthy Nation"

Dear President Donald Trump, I am a Boy Scout, and as you may know, the Scouts offer a lot of outdoor activities, from camping, to whitewater river rafting. I have had the extreme pleasure of enjoying camping, backpacking, and canoeing trips, in national forests, and parks, witnessing magnificent natural wonders, where I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced any of it. The Boy Scouts of America are a great organization, and through them I have spent countless hours in nature, bringing to my senses a greater value of the outdoors, and the natural world , which brings me to my problem. Nature Deficit Disorder. Nature Deficit Disorder, or NDD, isn’t actually a real medical disorder, but more of a name for the lack of nature a lot of people, especially right here in the U.S., are experiencing. NDD is a major problem in our society, linking to many behavioral, and physical problems, which affect adults, and children, alike.Wikipedia states, “The effects from nature deficit disorder could lead to the first generation being at risk of having a shorter lifespan than their parents.” As of December 2016 (according to CRWN), 88 percent of children use computers, averaging 8 hrs daily on media, 9 million youth(in the U.S.) are overweight, 70 percent of children are vitamin D deficient(due to lack of sunlight) , the facts go on. Also,the biggest causes are, “the proliferation of electronic communications; poor urban planning and disappearing open space; increased street traffic; diminished importance of the natural world in public and private education; and parental fear magnified by news and entertainment media”(Wikipedia). The first time I saw this information I was surprised, because it’s hard to imagine nature not in my life. But then again, all I have to do is take a trip to downtown San diego, or my school, and realize that the effects are real. Almost everybody I know has an electronic device, especially phones, and they use it almost everyday. People are glued to technology, and overstimulated with too many structured activities, it’s go go go to soccer practice, piano lessons, the grocery store, then back home to sit in front of a screen. I’ve personally felt this, and I don’t like it, but I’ve also felt the peace and satisfaction of slowing down, and doing things like just watching a bird, or taking a quick hike, because exposure to nature can lead to 50 percent higher test scores, increased creativity, better ability to cope with stress, higher self esteem, more adaptability, decreased anxiety, healthier body and mind, and improved social skills. The list of benefits goes on as well, but just talking about the great perks of living a nature oriented lifestyle isn’t enough, we need to do something(CRWN). A small first step we can take to get this Anti-NDD snowball rolling, is to slowly reintroduce nature back into urban areas, such as establishing community gardens , saving remaining open space by declaring them protected parks, and greening up workspaces, offices, sidewalks, schools,and homes. We could also use the media to help popularize spending time in nature, and in schools by bringing back more field trips, outdoor fitness programs, and nature electives. As Richard Louv(a leading expert in NDD) puts it, in his interview with National Geographic, “One way is through "biophilic design" [nature-inspired design], which is the incorporation of nature where we live, work, learn, and play, not only as something we drive an hour to visit.” There are so many reasons, and ways to stop the disorder because,“When we reconnect, we remember that we are completely reliant and dependent on Nature; we are a part of, not apart from it.”(CRWN). As a fellow American, I ask you, President Trump, to help cure this crisis plaguing so many of our fellow citizens, by addressing NDD to the public, and creating greener urban areas, initiating nature programs in schools, workplaces, etc., and expanding the National Park Service. I guarantee that if you do, we will see less behavioral, and physical problems, and just a better nation overall, even if just by a little. Time is running out though, and if we don’t act fast, knowledge of, and eventually nature itself could disappear. Let’s stop talking, and start doing, because America deserves better. A concerned outdoorsman, Charles Dunnigan Sources -The Nature Principle by Richard Louv - - -