Back to Nature: Book Extract

A photograph of a book in some fallen leaves

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From our balconies and gardens to our woodlands, national parks and beyond, Back to Nature captures the essence of how we feel about the wildlife outside our windows.

I was inextricably drawn to nature; as soon as I could waddle its magnetic attraction pulled me into its myriad beauty, where I spun, entranced and ever hungry for more, more, more. I was born a biophile; the love of life was in my blood or, more accurately, in my genes.

The term ‘biophilia’ was first coined by German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in 1973 when he described it as ‘the passionate love of life and of all that is alive’. It encompasses an idea that humans harbour an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. The brilliant American biologist EO Wilson expanded the thesis in his 1984 work Biophilia by suggesting that such a tendency to be drawn to nature and to affiliate to it and other forms of life has, in part at least, a genetic basis.

Just as I was sucked into an inexplicable attraction to those simple commonplace organisms that lived around our house and garden, many others manifest a similar appreciation. People love the rich diversity of shapes and colours in life and respond to them creatively. We have also integrated nature into our languages and very notably into our religions; there is a ubiquitous spiritual reverence for animals in cultures all over the world. This spiritual experience and the way nature has been woven into the fabric of our lives arose at a time when we lived in far closer contact with the natural world than we do today. Indeed, there is little doubt that in the West those bonds between us and other life sadly began to unravel in parallel with our technological progress in the industrial and social revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These took us away from nature in a physical sense, as we began to inhabit spaces devoid of as much wildness. Now in the twenty first century we live in sterile modern homes, where we can’t see, hear, touch or taste it, and we drive through it in our airconditioned cars, disconnected from it. It’s in these environments that we spend more and more of our time, to the point now where people have switched from biophila to biophobia, that fear of life that fuels our intolerance and ignorance of the natural world.

Read the full chapter

You can download the entire first chapter for free and take a step towards reconnecting with nature.   PDF 554 kb