Introducing the world to a child gives conflicting feelings.
On the one hand, there is a feeling of doom: how do I dare adding another child to this deteriorating world, without asking her if she wants to live in it – and without being able to promise her the safe and happy live I got myself, when our nature wasn’t on the brink of destruction yet. It is an argument recently more frequently used to restrain from procreating at all.
Yet, perhaps a bit surprisingly, what I feel is mostly hope. Introducing the world to this fresh set of eyes, filled with wonder and curiosity, made me realize much more clearly that all is far from being lost. Even in our heavily populated corner of the world, between Brussels and Antwerp in the heart of Western Europe, there is natural beauty around us that fills my child with aw.
In a recent survey of more than 1200 Belgians and Netherlands, we asked if people experience a decline or increase in nature around them. 75% reported the former: they had the feeling that nature had deteriorated over their lifetime. This paints a gloomy picture at first sight, and the decline over time is undeniably there.
Yet what that babies amazement made me realise more clearly is that we shouldn’t dwell too much in the past. Observing what has been lost is important to see the gravity of the situation we are in, but what matters is what we do with that knowledge, now and in the future. She did not observe a decline yet over her lifetime, and we can do our absolute best to keep it that way.
What I also realized this way, is that nature can be in the smallest things – an oak leaf, a bird or a meandering stream. It is not only about the forests or mountains, or the world heritage sites those lucky few on your Instagram feed get to visit. But that’s another thing we asked our 1200 survey respondents: what IS nature to you? Results are mixed: those agricultural landscapes that made me and my baby so thoroughly happy this weekend, would you call those nature? For us, at that moment, it most definitely qualified.
This baby has given me lots already, but one important present is a fresh look on nature around me. I am ready to fight harder than ever before to save this precious resource for her and everybody.
Want to help? You can start by giving us your opinion on your definition of nature (if from Belgium or the Netherlands), via www.natureornot.be!