I love nature videos, nature blogs, nature magazines, nature books. I especially like gigantic nature books. I used to keep them in my classroom, and when students opened them, the human body, a coral reef, the crab nebula, or a monitor lizard would cover two desks. Not quite IMAX, but impressive nonetheless. We watched videos in class too. Maurice and Katia Krafft in earth science and dear David Attenborough in biology were their favorites. Check em out.
But is this ok? Should we substitute virtual experiences for actual experiences in the outdoors? Of course not. However, very few people have the resources to travel all over the world, and as more people have the opportunity to travel, these places become crowded and not at all what ecotourists are looking for. Learning about nature through a medium is a way to inspire interest. I cared about preserving the rain forest long before I ever stepped into la selva of southern Mexico. I know I live on a round planet in a solar system within a disk galaxy without having ever left the surface of the Earth. I know I’m made of stars without having ever witnessed a supernova. I may never go to the bottom of the ocean, but the fact that someone sent a robot down there to collect images makes me feel very privileged. No, it’s no substitute for heading into the wilderness myself, but nature media has taught me that I am part of everything, and to open my eyes and enjoy it.