Thursday, 1 May 2014

Is WiFi in Canadian National Parks the Future of Nature Appreciation or just a Digital Distraction?

Video: Parks Canada wants to install wireless internet access hotspots at up to 50 of its parks this year

"My thoughts can be expressed quite simply. I think it is a disastrous, quite stupid, idiotic concept, and should be eliminated immediately."
~ Farley Mowat, author, environmentalist, activist, one of Canada's most widely read authors

"I think the idea of WiFi in the national parks is great…if you don't want to partake just don't bring your phone. It might even get people out to the parks who otherwise wouldn't go.... they'll probably hopefully get distracted by all that nature."
~ Kathy Daley, camping enthusiast from Winnipeg
Source: CBC Radio The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti: WiFi in some of Canada's national parks gets a fuzzy reception from campers

It’s a fair question, is it not? Quite a divisive question in fact: one which seems to be causing quite the stir not just in certain circles, but among the general public. Is Wi-Fi in Canadian national parks the future of nature appreciation or just a digital distraction?

The point—that we are living in a digital age and that internet access might make national parks more palatable to a new generation of young, wired Canadians—on the surface has its merits. Why not entice young people away from their cloistered computer screens to experience the great outdoors?

The counterpoint was summarized well by Stephen Sharper, columnist for The Toronto Star and an associate professor of the School for The Environment at the University of Toronto in a panel discussion on CBC Radio’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti:
“Children who often suffer from ADHD, from suicidal tendencies, and depression often improve dramatically when exposed to nature. And it doesn’t have to be a wilderness experience, it can be a visitors’ centre at a national park. But it’s direct experience with nature, not mediated through computers or Wi-Fi technology…[which] is very salutary and very important for the psychology and physical wellbeing of our children. And anything that can enhance that and foster that, I think, is to be promoted.”
~ Stephen Sharper, School for The Environment at the University of Toronto
Source: CBC Radio’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti

Mr. Sharper made his comments in reference to the work on Natured Deficit Disorder or NDD, pioneered by Richard Louv and featured in his books Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder and The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Richard Louv is not only a journalist and author of eight books about the connections between traditionally recognized human institutions of family and community with nature. He received the Audubon Medal in 2008 and the Cox Award in 2007. In his newest book, The Nature Principle, Louv offers readers:

“a new vision of the future, in which our lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology. This future, available to all of us right now, offers better psychological, physical and spiritual health for people of every age.” 
Source: About Richard Louv

What does PeapodLife think about all this? It’s quite simple, really: nature represents the gateway to a whole other kind of “network,” one which the Internet can scarcely hold a candle to…an UNLIMITED SOURCE of KNOWLEDGE; an INFINITE WEALTH of BEAUTY, INSPIRATION, IMAGINATION and PEACE.

Our previous blog article, Nature’s Perfection Recorded Beautifully: Birds on The Wires is Music to Our Ears attempted to illustrate how nature has in the past inspired geniuses throughout time and in every area of human endeavour—and continues to  do so. “But for how long?” is the question we posed.

And we pose it again: how long will nature serve humanity as a gateway to “the cosmic web” if our last bastions of pure, unadulterated natural splendour become infected by the mechanical, technocratic paradigm?

What marvels of inspiration, what deep, world-changing insights will be lost to another level of Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga?  What precious once-in-a-lifetime opportunities will be lost forever because the individuals “present” were more concerned about taking a selfie and posting it to Instagram than being truly present to witness the miracle of nature unfolding before them?

PeapodLife believes wholeheartedly in the work of Richard Louv and others, but we take it to a whole new level. It’s not enough to occasionally expose ourselves and our children to nature. We must learn to live in harmony and mutual symbiosis with nature again.

This means submerging ourselves into the energetic field which only ecosystems generate; surrounding ourselves in our daily lives with healing, calming, rejuvenating and inspiring energies. We know that by doing so, this question of Wi-Fi in national parks will simply go away. We won’t need it.

In fact, we may begin to find ourselves relying less on Wikipedia (and the like) and more on our own innate (but currently atrophied) abilities to access universal knowledge.

Image: There is no Wi-fi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection
Source: Echoes of the Heart Healing: Album:Mobile Uploads: Grateful for Higher Connections

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