Tuesday, August 20, 2013

#232 / Our Brains On Water

Bay Nature Magazine has printed a July 31, 2013 article about Wallace J. Nichols, who lives on the North Coast of Santa Cruz County. 

Nichols is a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, and he proposes to apply a "new object of study to conservation: the human brain." Nichols accurately states that "on a neurological level, most people shut down in the face of anxiety around environmental issues." He believes that "in order to gain traction, conservation efforts need to inspire empowerment, [and] responsibility, and compassion."

"We know... about our brains on chocolate," says Nichols, "and our brains on red wine, and pretty far down on that list are things like your brain on water. The dominant feature on the surface of our planet seems like fair game for neuroscience to think about, but for some reason [it] hasn't been.”

Nichols has dubbed his approach “neuro-conservation,” and he hopes to raise awareness of the cognitive benefits of exposure to a clean, healthy nature. Insofar as we do this, says Nichols, "our neurological response shifts away from stress and towards hope and compassion." 

Nichols has started the Blue Marbles Project as a way to move from theory to practice. It is something that people can do that will connect their brain to nature. It is worth reading about. 

Properly connecting our brains to Nature, to the Natural World that sustains all life, is exactly what we will need to do, if we want to survive in the world we most immediately inhabit, that human world we build to our own specifications, but a world that is dependent, in every way, on the World of Nature within which we ultimately live. 

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