What I learned from David Attenborough? How nature supports our lives.
The other night I watched “A Life On Our Planet” a witness testimony of David Attenborough.
He touched viewers lives over the last 60 years, and I hold a huge respect for the work he has done. One of the most notable lessons that struck me and is stirringly obvious, is that nature is us. We are part of the biodiversity and the evolution of nature. During his time on television, Attenborough dedicated his career bringing science and nature to our screens. Introducing us to the intimate parts of our planet we live on, places that that we have never experienced before. ‘The Blue Planet’ and his ability to get so close to species that we may have not seen and understand their habitat.
As we grow older, and fill our dairies with to do lists, it easier to become even more detached from the natural environment around us. And it can often make us feel disconnected and ungrounded. Statistics by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tell us that during the week in USA we spend 93 percent of our time indoors and UK is not far behind i.e. just above 92 percent. I get it –life gets busy, we get stressed and turn to technology to fill the voids we experience, while becoming unfocused from the things that truly matter: our natural world. Walking in nature reduces our stress and cortisol levels, yet we are glued to devices which can increase our stress and affect our wellbeing. “Scientists tell us that “the more time spent on the couch , the less time spent in physical activity, reading and interacting with friends… this has physical and cognitive consequences. We need to get the balance right, as the research findings are worrying, we have to get out more and enjoy the elements. The National Trust study provides further concern about how children are becoming disconnected from nature and the long term wellbeing and even economic impact this will bear on our society. Today, I will revisit how nature supports us, balancing our lives.
What Does Nature Provide Us?
While it’s easy to forget, a lot of what we consume in our everyday life is a “product of multitudes of interactions within nature.” David Attenborough says that we, as humans, must “look after the natural world, and its animals and plants, because it is their planet too.” And with that being said, it’s an excellent reminder to everyone that beyond the physical products that we harvest from the Earth to survive and prosper, the natural world also provides us with remarkable gifts concerning art, beauty, spirituality and of course wellbeing. Even more, our psyche is positively charged when we spend time in nature. We feel at piece and energized and our lungs are filled with clean air, delivering the much needed oxygen to our cells.
Did you know that approximately 80% of the world’s vegetation requires pollination from insect species? Scientists report that “pollination results in the production of seeds and is necessary for many plants to reproduce. So, pollinators receive nectar,” which is vital in producing proteins, fats, and vitamins to help them survive. Currently, we are losing honeybees at an alarming rate around the globe. And if this trend continues, we may lose a majority of the plants that bees pollinate and the animals that eat those plants to survive – meaning our supermarkets shelves will have 50 percent less of fresh produce in the future. How did we get to where we are? Are we chasing the wrong economic factors? David Attenborough has stressed that each species are essential, and if we continue to exploit nature at accelerated, unsustainable way we too become the victim and cause of extinction/ Lets be clear here, we all learned and remember the biology lessons about the imbalances in the food chain and how loss of a species are detrimental to our planet, creating domino effect in a food chain. As a species we evolved and have an ability of higher thinking, yet we disregard the laws of nature to the point that we see climate changing at unprecedented rate. Wildlife being threatened to the point of extinction.
Fresh Water & Clean Air
Without a doubt, one of the most important things on earth is the abundance of fresh water. We take that as a given, but without fresh water supplies, all vegetation would perish. In an interview with CBS News 60 Minutes, Attenborough stressed that “we depend upon the natural world for every mouthful of food that we eat and indeed every lung full of air that we breathe.” And for those of you who don’t know, if vegetation ceases to exist, the air we breathe would become toxic, methane gasses are released at accelerated rate, as due to excessive deforestation the trees and plants which would absorb CO2 in our atmosphere –essentially purifying it, and cooling it , are not there in numbers that can balance the gasses. Our planet will yet again become ‘The Red Planet.’
Reading science and medical journals confirms to me that some of the most extraordinary medicines come from the Earth. For thousands of years, different cultures have used natural forms of treatment, cultivated from the environment rather than manufactured drugs. However, some of the Earth’s ecosystems, such as the rainforests and coral reefs that have provided some of the world’s most essential medications are among the most endangered, and preserving the ecosystems and biodiversity today in Attenborough’s eyes will ‘benefit, or even save millions of lives tomorrow.’ We are acutely aware of how nutrient dense foods positively affect our cells, immune system and how highly processed, nutrient poor foods contribute to obesity globally. Herbs and teas , tinctures , have been widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) for centuries. Ayurvedic practices are still used these days and the natural elements such as Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth have a great emphasis on these practices. Greek and Romans discovered the benefits of hot springs, which the nature provides abundantly around the globe. There are ample of herbal remedy books out there. Many vitamin and mineral supplements derive from nature. We need micro-nutrients and vitamins to live.
I want you to imagine a world without any scenery, a poem without the mention of a flower or a painting without any landscapes. It’s important to remember that this planet is breathtakingly beautiful and the muse to so many intriguing art aspects, symmetry, color, balance, sound. Without the beauty of the natural world around us, some of history’s most famous works of art and literature wouldn’t be the same. The escape that art provides to so many people wouldn’t exist.
You don’t need to be religious to understand and appreciate that nature is a part of the human spirit. When we immerse ourselves in nature, whether it be laying on a sandy beach, or taking a stroll through the forest, when we take time away from the technology and fast-paced lifestyle and connect with nature in the smallest of ways, we ground ourselves back into our environment, expand our awareness, airways and reduce stress. Deepak Chopra reminds us that “when you’re immersed in nature, it’s impossible not to be awestruck by the size, magnificence, power, and beauty of the natural world.”
I think an essential take away from, and what David Attenborough has stressed for the entirety of his career and in his latest program “A Life on Our Planet,” his “witness statement” is that individually we must take active steps to improve and protect our ecosystems. We are but one of the many diverse species that inhabit the Earth, and it is our job to ensure that the world around us remains biodiverse, abundant and healthy, not just for ourselves, but for the generations that will come after we depart from our planet and yet again become atoms to form a part of another spices.
What can we do?
Eat less meat. As spices we are more herbivore than carnivore, meat was a bonus not a staple diet. The demand dictates the supply, so if we choose to alter our diets to eat more veg, the food market will need to follow.
There is so much technology out there for clean energy, geothermal, solar, wind, water, so we need to switch to eco friendly energy supplier to protect our fossil fuels and keep the planet clean. Support eco friendly providers.
Talk openly about the future of our planet and educate ourselves. Support petitions to save our planet to voice your concerns with the policy makers. Top down and bottom up approach is necessary if we want to continue enjoying the world as we see today. Protecting land, supporting marine wildlife were just some suggestion how we can begin to reverse the damage.
Recycle what you can.
Grow what we can sustainably and change the way we farm, as according to 2014 Sheffield University study Dr. Nigel Dunnett warns that the nutrients in our soils are in sharp decline and we only have 100 harvests left until our soils become depleted.
Go and forage responsibly and connect with nature. Grow and make and preserve your own produce.
Use natural beauty products and stop supporting the palm oil plantations, which stirp of the biodiversity of the rain forests. Palm oil is a base of many creams.
Use beeswax candles, as these are a healthy option and non toxic and buy your honey from your local bee keeper or even learn to keep bees yourself.
Plant a tree and have a biodiverse garden that supports pollination.
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