Sunday, November 11, 2007

Different Viewpoint on Louv

This essay by Michael Vandeman has been floating around the blogosphere. It gives a counterpoint to some of what Rich Louv says about Nature Deficit and future support of the natural world.
But what strikes me most about this book is how Louv is able, in spite of 310 pages of text, to completely ignore the two most obvious problems with his thesis: (1) We want and need to have contact with other species, but neither we nor Louv bother to ask whether they want to have contact with us! In fact, most species of wildlife obviously do not like having humans around, and can thrive only if we leave them alone! Or they are able tolerate our presence, but only within certain limits. (2) We and Louv never ask what type of contact is appropriate! He includes fishing, hunting, building “forts”, farming, ranching, and all other manner of recreation. Clearly, not all contact with nature leads to someone becoming an advocate and protector of wildlife. While one kid may see a beautiful area and decide to protect it, what’s to stop another from seeing it and thinking of it as a great place to build a house or create a ski resort? Developers and industrialists must come from somewhere, and they no doubt played in the woods with the future environmentalists!

Vandeman's intentions are noble, but he tends to leave out other issues at hand, such as the growing differences in generational thinking about the world and our place in it. I still believe that Rich Louv's message is relevant and clear. Read his essay and see what you think.