Overcoming Biophobia in Sustainable Development

Linked with JustMeans. – Published on JustMeans, by Kendra Pierre-Louis, May 31, 2010.

Although there’s a growing body of research recognizing the role of Biophilia, http://www.justmeans.com/Biophilia-City/13354.html
or humanity’s innate need for environments that are closest to the ecosystems within which we’ve evolved, biophobia, it’s opposite is still little understood. It’s a subject, however, that is extremely important if we hope to even begin to understand the structure of the societies we’ve created, and to successful unwind parts of those structures in the hopes of inserting sustainability in the name of sustainable development.

Biophobia, to quote author and professor David Orr, is humanity’s distaste for ‘natural systems’; this ranges from discomfort in ‘natural’ places to active scorn for whatever isn’t man made, managed, or air-conditioned … // 

… In addition, a recent study has shown that humans who eat dirt are happier and have less depression.

While no one is suggesting that we give up basic sanitation – washing hands and refrigerating food has saved an innumerable number of lives – but rather that it’s not such a bad thing to go stomping through some mud barefoot, or eating an organically grown apple with nothing more than a shirt rub. We should develop housing and communities in which ‘dirty’ isn’t always a bad word – working hard to eliminate everything but the most controlled aspects of the natural world does little good neither for the planet nor for us.

Acknowledging our biophobia and working to overcome it can do interesting things for design and for human health. Ventilation from open windows may very well be preferable over triple filtered HVAC systems and lower energy to boot. Household cleansers can simply clean (like soap does) instead of being required to sanitize and disinfect to hospital standards (using environmentally harmful chemicals in the process)maybe we’ll even go so far as to accept a bruised fruit or two. (full text).

Links:

Sustainable development on wikipedia;

Find more about Biophobia on Google.co.uk.

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