As an environmental scientist it is my job to look at the global environment and determine if it is healthy and happy, or in need of a helping hand. Environmental scientists read the landscape and make an assessment based on the weight of evidence provided.

Looking around at the world this week I have grown less confident that the future Earth will be healthy and happy.

Each day I journey from my home through a sea of other homes. Housing developments that have stripped all life from the landscape. Once beautiful bushland, now transformed into the monotonous straight lines and grey rooftops of ‘progress’.

“The inhabitants are detached from the natural world in the same way an animal caged in a zoo is detached from its own natural world”

The inhabitants of these homes are boxed into an ecosystem that affords nothing of the base needs of humans. The inhabitants are detached from the natural world in the same way an animal caged in a zoo is detached from its own natural world.

It is this detachment from the natural world that I see as the greatest inhibition to a better future. We, as humans, have lost touch with nature. We are happy to sit in our boxes, in our world of convenience and technology. We are happy to be detached from the ecosystems that are there to sustain us.

Pacific Coast USA. Source: Deane Bayas on Pexels.

People travel to the Pacific Coast to stare longingly at the natural world – the ocean. Sensing a base instinct to connect with that environment. An instinct that is supressed by the humdrum of life in the urban jungle. People travel to the savannah plains of Africa to allow themselves to feel the ‘energy’ of the continent. To fill a void created by living life disconnected from the natural world. But the connection is neither deep nor meaningful. It is fleeting. Enough to recharge the battery just long enough before the next vacation.

Humans have not evolved in separation from the natural world, no, the opposite is true. Humans have evolved to have a deep and meaningful connection to the natural world. I do not begrudge development, housing, and life in the city. But we have become so detached from the natural world that we are failing to see just how much our lives depend on it.

“Connecting with the natural world is a base human instinct, and it something that many of us have lost.”

As an environmental scientist, part of the study of environments and ecosystems is the study of us. The natural world is suffering, and so too are we. Without a connection to the natural world, a realisation of the deep bond that we have with the environments around us, I fear what the future will hold.