Kids -- and adults -- these days are "videophiliacs" who prefer their nature through the TV screen
rather than personally experienced, says a new study estimating that U.S. folks'
participation in outdoor recreation has dropped as much as 25 percent over the
past 20 years.
Researchers looked at four metrics: visitation to public lands, number of
fishing and hunting licenses issued, time spent camping, and time spent
backpacking and hiking. Only day hiking has increased since the mid-1980s, and
just slightly. "We were surprised by the results, and in some sense, quite
frightened," says Patricia Zaradic, coauthor of the research, which was funded
by the Nature Conservancy and published in Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.
The trend bodes ill for human health, and ain't good news for the planet
either: warns coauthor Oliver Pergams, "We don't see how future generations,
with less exploration of nature, will be as interested in conservation as past
also, in Grist: A chat about Congress'
efforts to restore environmental education
also, in Grist: A review
Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods
, and an interview