My baby is obsessed with trees. He’s only eight weeks old but the easiest way to stop him crying is to take him to gaze at branches, or to peer at leaves. Someone who wouldn’t be surprised that a tiny child is reacting so positively to nature is the eminent Harvard professor Edward O Wilson, arguably the greatest living evolutionary biologist. In the mid Eighties, Professor Wilson wrote a book called Biophilia, in which described the “innately emotional affiliation of human beings towards the natural world”. As he said when he gave a speech on biodiversity at my company, Second Home, a few years ago: “We’re a biological species that co-evolved in a biological world, so of course we have a deep affinity for ecosystems and living things.” This has come to be known as the “biophilia hypothesis” — and it’s been tested in experiments all over the world. A famous example came from an American psychologist called Roger Ulrich, who reviewed the hospital records of patients recovering from surgery — comparing the recovery rates for people with bedside windows looking out onto trees, versus the ones who could only see brick walls. It turned out that the ones who… Read full this story
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