Nature's Lesson: Are You Listening?
Updated: Apr 26
I propose that we have a beautiful opportunity in front of us with what we are facing. I propose that nature is teaching us to slow down, be grateful for what we have, and become mindful on what we are doing. Many of us are walking around completely unaware of the animals we pass, the trees we walk by, what we eat, what we drink, how we think, where our trash goes, where our food comes from, and why we do what we do. This lack of awareness has bled through our health and onto the earth. Depression is the number one disability in the world, we are sicker from food borne and stress borne illness than ever, people are being abused, and nature is getting destroyed globally which is displacing our precious animals and increasing our risk of demise. We can heal and the time is now. I propose that this situation we are all facing is providing an amazing opportunity for us to become aware of ourselves, reflect on what we are doing to the earth, and create new, sustainable ways to preserve it. I am seeing this situation as a lesson from nature. Here are some facts on what is happening to the earth and the devastating impacts it is making.
Pollution can be described as contamination of air, water, and soil by the introduction of a contaminant into a natural environment, usually by humans that are harmful to living organisms. Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. China is the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide. The United States is number 2. Most of the hazardous pollutants that are discharged in the atmosphere each year are released to surface water, groundwater, and land, combined. Chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD) that develop due to indoor air pollution is responsible for the death of more than 1 million people every year. People who live in places with high levels of air pollutants have a 20% higher risk of death from lung cancer than people who live in less-polluted areas. High coronavirus rates are linked to cities with more pollution. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 6400 people die every year in Mexico due to air pollution. Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming. Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year. Oil spills are only making this situation worse. Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, stormwater, and industrial waste are dumped into US water. Livestock waste majorly contributes to soil pollution. During monsoon, water runs over the fields carrying dangerous bacteria from the livestock into the streams. Americans buy more than 29 million bottles of water every year and only 13% of these bottles are recycled every year. More than 3 million children under age five die annually from environmental factors.
The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since 2010. 2016 was the warmest year on record. What's the big deal? Small changes in temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment. For example, at the end of the last ice age, when the Northeast United States was covered by more than 3,000 feet of ice, average temperatures were only 5 to 9 degrees cooler than today. The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade. Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world: Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa. Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30%. NASA is predicting stronger hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, and sea levels to rise as the ice melts.
Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land for use such as arable land, pasture, urban use, logged area, or wasteland. Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 18 million acres of forest are lost each year. It is estimated that within 100 years there will be no rainforests. One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second. Loss of forests contributes between 12% and 17% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. There are more than 121 natural remedies in the rain forest which can be used as medicines. 25% of cancers fighting organisms are found in the amazon. According to Rainforest Action Network, the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population yet consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper. The paper industry is fourth largest in producing greenhouse gas thereby majorly contributing to deforestation. 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon forest. Soil erosion, floods, wildlife extinction, droughts, increase in global warming, and climate imbalance are few of the effects of deforestation.
We have been so busy racing across the planet, making money, and racing to and from work or school that we have forgotten how to preserve our most important resource. The rat race or survival mode that most of us live in day in and day out does not serve us. It makes us physically and mentally sick. We are humans doing rather than humans being. Many of us are disconnected from mother nature which can cause disease. Nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Child-nature connection and environmental literacy should be considered as fundamental elements of children’s cognitive development, as well as their psychological and physical health. Future education reform must widen the definition of the classroom. To help young people learn in nature, not just about nature, policy-makers must view parks, wildlands, farms and ranches as the new schoolyards. The earth provides all the healing tools we need such as food, water, plant medicine (such as psilocybin and ayahuasca), herbal medicine, air, sun, wind, and energy. Nature is a source for rehabilitation too. People who are afraid of nature are the people who need it the most. We need to preserve the earth in order to preserve ourselves.
Mother nature is our greatest teacher and we must listen to what she is trying to teach us so that we can create a better future for generations to come. This time is an opportunity for us to practice gratitude for what we have and slow down; a time for us to create new ways of living, a time for us to practice being, a time for us to recognize what’s important, a time for us to reflect on what’s been happening so we can create a deeper insight into who we are and who we want to be. Change begins with one person. Change begins with me. Change begins with you. We are together in this. We are collectively one. Here are some ways for you to connect with mother nature along with earth preserving ideas for you to integrate at home and in your communities.
Ways To Connect With Mother Nature
Take a walk outside and notice what you feel and see - wind, trees, bird, dirt, grass, and animals.
Go outside and take 3-10 conscious breaths of fresh air. This boosts immunity and energy.
Go barefoot for 20 minutes daily on the earth. This gives you gain energy, release emotions, reduces pain, reduces inflammation, speeds up wounds, improves sleep, and enhances mood.
Eat more whole food from the earth: vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds. For personalized nutrition guidance and to find out what you may be nutritionally deficient in, email me to set up an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grow your own garden and mushrooms.
Move your office outside.
Sit outside and read a book or meditate.
Have play dates and met friends outside.
Enjoy meals outside when the weather is nice.
Drive to bodies of water, nature preserves, and state parks. Enjoy the views along the way.
Talk to nature. Yes, talk to nature.
Plant medicine can help you connect with mother nature and yourself. It improves mental health. This medicine should always be done in a safe and healing setting. I provide preparatory and integration sessions for this type of medicine. I also provided psychedelic therapy assisted sessions. To set up an appointment for this, email me at email@example.com.
Ways To Reduce Pollution
Do not litter.
Ditch the plastic trash bag. Plastic trash bags take 10 to 20 years to decompose and can wreak havoc on natural ecosystems. A greener alternative to buying standard kitchen trash bags would be to purchase 100% recycled plastic bags. Beware of biodegradable plastic bags. Landfills are designed so that trash does not rot. A biodegradable plastic bag in a landfill is just another plastic bag.
Re-use fabric bags at grocery store rather than getting plastic or paper ones every time.
Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home or office equipment.
Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.
Follow gasoline refueling instructions for efficient vapor recovery, being careful not to spill fuel and always tightening your gas cap securely.
Consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled “spill-proof,” where available.
Keep car, boat, and other engines properly tuned.
Be sure your tires are properly inflated.
Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.
Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste.
Consider using gas logs instead of wood.
Avoid excessive idling of your automobile.
Refuel your car in the evening when its cooler.
Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees.
Defer lawn and gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.
Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials.
Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
Get politically active.
Ways To Reduce Climate Change
Eat more meat-free meals.
Buy organic and local whenever possible.
Don’t waste food.
Grow your own food and mushrooms.
Eat foods in season to reduce emissions from long travel.
Design your workspace around natural light.
Swap your furnace for a heat pump, which works by extracting heat from one location and transferring it to another
Install a programmable thermostat.
Use less water.
Swap your gas stove for an electric stove, which will also lower indoor air pollution.
Unplug computers, TVs and other electronics when you’re not using them.
Wash clothes in cold water. Hang-dry your clothes when you can and use dryer balls when you can’t.
Change to energy-efficient light bulbs.
Get a home or workplace energy audit to identify where you can make the most energy-saving gains.
Take public transit.
Ride a bike or advocate for bike lanes in your community.
If you have a large, inefficient vehicle, retire it and switch to an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Fly less (if you do fly, make sure you offset your emissions).
Try composting. Research shows that as much as half of the waste in your trash bin can be composted, so consider composting at home.
Plant trees on your property along with wild flowers. These will provide more water to the soil along with homes and food for animals who have been displaced.
Get politically active.
Ways To Reduce Deforestation
Plant a tree where you can.
Go paperless at home and in the office.
Buy recycled products and then recycle them again.
Buy certified wood products.
Swap out paper towels for washable cloths. Need an easy household project during quarantine? Repurpose old clothes, tablecloths, or scraps of fabric to use as napkins, kitchen towels, and rags.
Re-use paper and plastic bags to discourage deforestation.
Pick products which require less packaging.
Be creative and mail manufacturers telling them to use eco-friendly products. Show them your deforestation knowledge by highlighting certain important facts using statistics.
Support eco-friendly companies buy buying their products that promise more durability in an inexpensive way.
Be active and plant trees- it can be at your homes, backyards or you can join any organization keen on stopping deforestation.
Reduce the consumption of beef to tone down the pressure to clear more forests for the cattle.
Boycott companies by supporting organizations that care about the environment at the cost of fighting back for the evergreen trees.
Get politically active.
Environmental Organizations That Help
Earth Island Institute - Institute that works for solutions to environmental problems by promoting citizen action and incubating a diverse network of projects.
National Wildlife Federation - The nation's largest member-supported conservation group, uniting individuals, organizations, businesses and government to protect wildlife, wild places, and the environment.
Rainforest Action Network - Rainforest Action Network works to protect the Earth's rainforests and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action.
Tree People - mission is to inspire the people of Los Angeles to take personal responsibility for the urban forest - educating, training and supporting them as they plant and care for trees and improve the neighborhoods in which they live, learn, work and play.
Trees for the Future - A nonprofit organization established in 1989 with a mission to help communities in Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia,Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, Haiti, and Honduras plant trees.
Rainforest Foundation - mission of the Rainforest Foundation is to support indigenous people and traditional populations of the world's rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights by assisting them.
Nature Conservancy - mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
Trees Water People - develops and manages continuing reforestation, preserving local trees, wetlands, watershed protection, appropriate technology, and environmental education programs in Central America, Mexico, and the American West.
WWF - World Wildlife Fund - mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
Wilderness Society - goal is to ensure that future generations will enjoy clean air and water, wildlife, beauty and opportunities for recreation and renewal that pristine forests, rivers, deserts and mountains provide.
Sierra Club - Organization that helps to protect & save America's Forests, Arctic refuges, Lakes, Rivers, Streams, and National Wildlife.
Stop Global Warming - a non-political effort to bring all Americans together in one place, proving there is a vast consensus that global warming is here now and it is time for our country to start addressing it.
Friends of the Earth - Friends of the Earth International is the world's largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 71 diverse national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent. We campaign on today's most urgent environmental and social issues. We challenge the current model of economic and corporate globalization, and promote solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies Our decentralized and democratic structure allows all member groups to participate in decision-making. We strive for gender equity in all of our campaigns and structures.
Green Biz - is the leading information resource on how to align environmental responsibility with business success. They provide valuable news and resources to large and small businesses through a combination of Web sites, workshops, daily news feeds, electronic newsletters, and briefing papers. Their resources are free to all users.
I love the earth and am doing my part to preserve it. Please do your part too. This is an opportunity for all of us to do a little better. I am organizing the following: yoga events to raise money to plant trees, nature retreats to connect people to the earth, and trash clean ups in my neighborhood. I am going paperless in my offices and doing my part at home. I am volunteering to educate children about nature and all of its amazing benefits. We are part of the earth and if it dies, we die. We must respect and preserve our earth just like we need to respect and preserve our health.
Dr. Felty is a holistic naturopathic doctor who helps people reverse symptoms and chronic illness. She teaches people how to optimize health and heal with evidence-based natural medicine. Learn more about Dr. Felty at www.drfelty.com.
NASA Climate Change Evidence: https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
Food, Livestock Production, Climate change and Health: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673607612562
Climate Change, A Health Emergency: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1817067
Coronavirus Linked To Air Pollution: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm
United Nations - Marine Liter: Trash that Kills:https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/marine-litter-trash-kills
Air Pollution Tied To Lung Cancer: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-air-pollution/air-pollution-tied-to-lung-cancer-in-non-smokers-idUSTRE79R5NM20111028
Pollution Facts & Types of Pollution: https://www.livescience.com/22728-pollution-facts.html
Nonpoint Source Pollution - The Nation's Largest Water Quality Problem: http://wwals.com/2013/03/29/nonpoint-source-pollution-biggest-water-quality-problem-epa/
The State of Consumption Today: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1162/jiec.2005.9.1-2.296
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Non-Hazardous Waste: https://www.epa.gov/hw/learn-basics-hazardous-waste#initiatives