Human Health and Nature
Links between human health and the environment have long been discussed; however, much of the attention until recently has been on the negative impacts of certain environmental conditions on human health. Examples have included connections between poor air quality and asthma, drinking water issues, and carcinogenic toxins in soil and groundwater. For various socio-economic and other disparity reasons, these connections have launched the field of environmental justice.
In more recent years, research and general discourse has turned to the positive impacts of the environment on human health. The positive impact of spending time outdoors in nature on human physical and mental health has received attention in both scholarly journals (e.g., White et al., 2019, in the journal Nature and South et al., 2018, in Journal of the American Medication Association) and the popular media (e.g., Time magazine article from February 2019). People who spend more time outdoors have lower levels of stress hormones, healthier blood chemistry, and better mental health. Crime is lower and reported “happiness” is higher in urban areas with green spaces than in settings without green spaces.