‘Certainly my daughter and her generation were born into a time of extraordinary disconnection, rapid climate destruction and psychological retreat from the rest of the living world. And yet, they are also connected to nature through story and language that stretch back into the deep past.
Humans have long turned to aspects of the natural world – particularly animals, landscapes, weather patterns and biological processes – as a way to interpret and make sense of our existence. From simple, practical idioms. ‘out on a limb’, ‘the early bird catches the worm’, ‘down to earth’ – to vast cosmic symbols of renewal, regeneration and tenacity, nature imagery helps us to understand and extract meaning from the world we find ourselves in. Of course our earliest creation myths and cosmologies are filled with shared motifs from the natural world – floods, serpents, eggs and animalistic beliefs – as early humans were much closer to nature. But, despite our disconnection, we still turn to it today. We even reach for it when we think about the internet: ‘web’, ‘stream’, ‘raw data’. We are deeply entwined with the rest of nature on a linguistic and mental level; we have created our language, culture and consciousness – the most essential parts of human psychology, from which our desires and preferences flow – within and in close relationship to, the natural environment we have lived in for millennia. The writer and naturalist Richard Manet pits this well: ‘our imaginative affinities with the natural world are a crucial ecological bond, as essential as our needs for air and water and photosynthesising plants.’’
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