The Nature Principle

reviewed by Kristine Morris

The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder

by Richard Louv

The release of Richard Louv’s previous book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, was a wake-up call to a fact that was going unnoticed: children were losing their awareness of and connection to the natural world. Now his call is directed to the rest of us: “Vitamin Nature” can enhance our mental and physical health, and the lack of it threatens our spirit, our physical and mental wellbeing, our economy, and our environment.

Our out-of-balance faith in technology and subsequent turning away from the natural world may well be “the outdated dogma of our time” and one well worth reconsidering, according to Louv.

In contrast, The Nature Principle suggests that “in an age of rapid environmental, economic, and social transformation, the future will belong to the nature-smart — those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of nature, and who balance the virtual with the real.”

We are paying an unimaginable price for turning away from our instinctive awareness that contact with nature is an essential part of who we are as individuals and as a species, but Louv knows that “to act, most of us need something more than despair.” His stories of those creating change in our time offer the encouragement that despite what appears to be insurmountable odds, transformative change is possible. In fact, Louv suggests that we are standing at the brink of the most creative period in human history — a time in which the deepening awareness of our lost connections with the natural world will drive us to move beyond mere sustainability to the “re-naturing” of everyday life. He foresees that we will come to know that the more we live in a virtual world, the more we need nature if we are to remain in balance. By using a combination of nature and technology, we will increase our intelligence, creative thinking, and productivity, resulting in what he calls a “hybrid mind” and a “high-performance human” who will recognize the power that comes with living in nature. Such humans, he says, will conserve, create, and abide in natural habitats and in doing so, they will thrive.

Richard Louv is a journalist and the author of eight books on the connections between nature, family, and community. He is also the cofounder and chairman of the Children and Nature Network ( and was the 2008 recipient of the National Audubon Society’s Audubon Medal.

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