Beyond Biophilia: On the Human Need for and Right to Nature, Wild and Free

I recently wrote the essay linked to below as part of a course I recently took that is part of Harvard’s Sustainability and Environmental Management Program.

The premise of the paper is based on the notion that we have not only externalized nature from consideration in our economic systems, but from consideration regarding human rights. My thesis states that, based on the evidence, humans need nature along its whole continuum, from nature next door to nature wild and free, and that, based on this basic need, there are grounds to add the human right to nature to the lexicon.

The thesis builds on the work of E.O. Wilson’s  biophilia hypothesis and the concept of nature deficit disorder put forward by Richard Louv originally in his book Last Child in the Woods. It also takes a complex systems science approach to the issue, arguing that humans not only need nature at the individual level, but also at the collective global level where nature provides essential regulating and provisioning services for things like climate change and biodiversity.

I will be building out some of the ideas in the essay in this blog soon, as I was limited by the length in what I wanted to say about some of the concepts, such as about how cybernetics can play a role in our understanding of nature, our place in it, and how to find solutions to integrating human systems more harmoniously with those found in nature.

Here is a link to the paper. It’s still a bit rough around the edges and my plan is to develop it further, so any feedback on it would be much appreciated!

Maria Lavis Right to NatureCopyright held by Maria Lavis, December 2014.