Quote of the Day: David Orr on "Biophobia"


'Nature and I are two,' Woody Allen once said, and apparently the two have not gotten together yet. Allen is known to take extraordinary precaution to limit bodily and mental contact with rural floral and fauna. He does not go into natural lakes, for example, 'because there are living things there.' The nature Allen does find comfortable is that of New York City, a modest enough standard for wildness.

Allen's aversion to nature, what can be called biophobia, is increasingly common among people raised with television, Walkman radios attached to their heads, and video games and living amidst shopping malls, freeways, and dense urban or suburban settings where nature is permitted tastefully, as decoration. More than ever we dwell in and among our own creations and are increasingly uncomfortable with nature lying beyond our direct control.

Biophobia ranges from discomfort in 'natural' places to active scorn for whatever isn't manmade, managed, or air-conditioned. Biophobia, in short, is the culturally acquired urge to affiliate with technology, human artifacts, and solely with human interests regarding the natural world."

—David W. Orr in Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect (2004, Island Press)

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