All In the Mind ABC Radio National 2010

Natasha Mitchell: But there's also a fear of nature. A point that you make , which is slightly paradoxical, is that the rise in environmental education and this generation's awareness of global environmental issues has perhaps compounded that kind of estrangement from nature.

Richard Louv: Certainly I hear folks who have camps et cetera, kids come on school buses field trips, they tell me that over and over again the kids get off the school bus and they're terrified to get off the sidewalk, terrified of the lions and tigers and bears. they really believe there are lions out there. In the mountains of San Diego there are, but...but there's another kind of fear though. Glenn Albrecht in Perth has come up with a phrase for that, 'solastalgia', which is a kind of deep homesickness for nature itself. We miss it at some deep level, and the fear of that loss of that nature is always there. There's another phrase for that that David Sobel at Antioch in the US uses, 'ecophobia', that's the fear of environmental destruction. Sobel makes the point that we are programming our kids way too early to believe that the Earth is over, that nature is at an end, because...

Natasha Mitchell: Well, kids are carrying a sort of sense of impending doom into their future.

Richard Louv: And there's nothing wrong later with talking about those things, but in their formative years...these children haven't even had a chance to go out and have that sense of joy and wonder and just playing in nature, just digging a hole in the backyard just for the fun of it, or finding a turtle. Those kinds of experiences, they're having less of those and they're being told more and more at the same time nature is dying. So if we do that too much too early, for the rest of their lives they associate nature with what? With fear and destruction and the end. That's not exactly going to produce good conversationalists and environmentalists in the future, it's not going to create really happy people in the future either.

We're missing two-thirds of the story, and the two-thirds of the story that we're missing is that, because of climate change et cetera, everything in the next 40 years must change. To any self-respecting creative 16-year-old, that could be good news, and we better be entering one of the most creative times in human history. That's exciting.