The Daily Mail- by no means known for it’s subtleties- produced an article in 2011 entitled
‘Why living in a city makes you fat, infertile, blind, depressed and even causes cancer’
The article cites how exposure to pollutants, even before you are born, can have an impact on your weight and metabolism, yet then includes how over hygienic homes lead to asthma and allergy development. It also looks at how the city causes some of the mental health problems can arise as I discussed in my previous post.
A key issue the article concludes with is the lack of nature and greenery in a city-dwellers day-to-day life.
‘Not only should we slap a health warning on urban life — we should put a regular spell in the countryside on prescription.’
The human need to connect with nature has been termed ‘biophilia’ and is something that I have noticed in myself particularly since moving to London. Before coming here I never really thought about the impact being surrounded by trees and open space had on me, but since arriving I find myself seeking it out, trekking to Hampstead Heath or Primrose Hill, or even one of the many ‘squares’ located near the university. Sitting in a park has a great calming effect, but it’s not just good for well-being, it’s also good for the city, improving our air quality too.
Picture taken on my most recent trip to Primrose Hill
In a blog praising street trees and urban greenery, the author states ‘When we are deprived of nature, we lose a basic aspect of humanity’. Green spaces have certainly been proven to have health benefits, but the idea of humanity seems to encompass a lot more. On a spiritual level, nature as something that is not created by man in the same way as tower blocks and multi storey car-parks, gives us a possible connection to something bigger than ourselves, whether we choose to attribute that to a God or not.
Luckily for me, though it’s not quite rural, London is the greenest major city in Europe and the third greenest city of its size in the world. But is this a trend that will carry on?
Green areas are fairly well protected in the UK for the moment, but as other cities continue to grow in population size and expand, my question is- how will we see this drastic urbanization affect the body? Will our health fail or adapt? Will new pathologies arise? And will our need for green dissipate or remain?
Could this be our only way of sustaining green space in the future?
1. Benfield, K. (2014). The many benefits of street trees and urban greenery (excerpted from People Habitat). Available: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/the_many_benefits_of_urban_gre.html. Last accessed 10th March 2015
2. McGlone, C . (2013). London ‘greenest city’ in Europe. Available: http://www.edie.net/news/6/London–greenest-city–in-Europe-/. Last accessed 10th March 2015.
3. Naish, J. (2011). Why living in a city makes you fat, infertile, blind, depressed and even causes cancer. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2064106/Why-living-city-makes-fat-infertile-blind-depressed-causes-cancer.html. Last accessed 10th March 2015.
1. Bloggers own photograph