2005 July 22 Friday
Londoners Feel Stressed By Lack Of Contact With Nature

Population growth increases stress. Nature reduces stress.

The sight of the sea is the quickest and most effective way to reduce high stress levels for many people, a survey has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults by Hoegaarden found daily stress is a problem for 30% of the population.

However, 84% said being in contact with the natural elements made them feel more relaxed instantly.

Only 19% of rural dwellers found daily strees to be a problem. A sea view was said to be be best stress reducer with 42% of the population saying that looking at the sea reduces stress.

Immigration is the largest cause of population increase in the United States. California's population is projected to reach 60 million by 2040. A decreasing fraction of California's population will have ocean views or views of undeveloped valleys. Developments are spreading out across more deserts and into more valleys. Apartments are packing more people into existing cities. Fewer people will have serenity.

Once upon a time conservationist groups cared about population control. But as non-whites came to represent large fractions of population growth the leftist environmentalists flip-flopped on this issue. Now no population increase is large enough to draw their opposition.

Silence is golden but increasingly rare.

While 30% of the population admit to being seriously stressed on a daily basis, 84% believe that being in contact with the natural elements makes them feel instantly more relaxed. A short walk in a park or the sight of the sea is guaranteed to lower stress instantly.

The survey commissioned by Hoegaarden, is based on a survey of 2000 adults nationwide, who blame a number of factors on their stress levels. These include the morning commute (13%), work itself (32%) and getting up (14%) as the main causes of their daily stress. Just 19% of those who live or work in rural locations say they feel stressed on a daily basis.

Natural antidotes to stress

When it comes to lowering stress levels our senses are key, with 42% of those surveyed, reporting that seeing the sea was the quickest and most effective stress reliever. A third of us benefit most from a walk in the park, 10% cite the smell of cut grass as the best stress buster, and 14% rate hearing a bird as having the biggest impact on reducing stress.

An urban population removed from nature

Although 86% have seen a bird in the last 24 hours, one out of every ten people in the UK haven't seen a sheep or cow for over 6 months. Londoners are almost as likely to have seen a mouse or rat in the last month (22%), as they are a sheep (28%) or cow (28%).

On average city dwellers can expect to spend 73 days without more than 5 minutes of silence at a time, whilst those who live in rural areas go only 14-24 days. Shockingly, almost a quarter (22%) of all Londoners haven't experienced silence for over 6 months.

Housing prices are skyrocketing near coasts. Decades ago ocean front acreage was not so valuable because there was so much of it. But as the population has grown suddenly everyone has realized that relaxing views are in short supply and the prices for the relaxing views has shot up. Unless you make a lot of money expect to live in more stressed environments in the future. In the United States we could reduce the extent of the future decay in quality of life by keeping out immigrants.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 22 12:55 PM  Immigration Societal Decay


Comments
T. J. Madison said at July 22, 2005 1:45 PM:

Sorry, I just couldn't resist:

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure."

-- Agent Smith

TangoMan said at July 22, 2005 2:59 PM:

You should tie this post into the Richard Lamm - Sierra Club incident. Even Morris Dees found a way to tar Lamm's conservationist plank as racist.

Invisible Scientist said at July 22, 2005 5:43 PM:

Actually, with GOOD city planning, you can have plenty of silence and nature. For instance, build a giant pyramid complex which is 1 mile high, to house 10 million people, and then surround that pyramid with wonderful parks. The view from the pyramid will be wonderful, and with good insulation, there will be perfect silence and no disturbance from neighbors. This CAN be done, and it WILL be done because robots will accelerate the construction process and the work will be much cheaper in 25 years.

Engineer-Poet said at July 23, 2005 2:43 AM:

Intelligent building codes and laws could do much of this today.  We know how to make well-isolated apartment walls and quiet A/C fans, and unmuffled motorcycles and boomer cars exist only because we allow them to.

M.robinson said at July 23, 2005 7:27 AM:

Being an ex Londoner I know the feeling. Although there was a semblance of 'planning', it was not neccessarily good for us or the environment. The house prices have rocketed and a lot of people have moved out to a bit 'north' of london. It is very stressful to live in a urban jungle that has 'little' greenery in relation to its overall size.

I heard a while back that the chinese were thinking of cities in the region of 80 million people, presumably on the basis to conserve more land for agricultural purposes(to feed such a large population), which may be plausible if they industrialize at this current rate.

The only way to have such large cities would presumably mean very large (and high) skyscrapers built in close vicinity to reduce area of city.

Randall Parker said at July 23, 2005 8:55 AM:

E-P,

But I want my door and windows open when the weather permits. When I do that I hear weed blowers, UPS trucks, lawn mowers, a neighbor's house getting hammered on, and countless other noises.

Also, the vast bulk of the housing stock already exists.

Also, noise muffling doesn't create scenic vistas.

me said at July 23, 2005 10:41 AM:

"Once upon a time conservationist groups cared about population control. But as non-whites came to represent large fractions of population growth the leftist environmentalists flip-flopped on this issue. Now no population increase is large enough to draw their opposition."

Sorry to get side tracked but would you not make such blanket statements. If I wanted to I could shoot back that the right thinks all sex is evil and unwanted pregnacies are gods punishment, but that wouldn't be reasonable either. Becides the issue you seem to be refering to is immigration, not population control. Furthermore, In the united states the problem is partially people leaving the heartland, for the coast, where there are more jobs. Perhaps more people working at home could reverse that trend, though right now that doesn't seem to be the case. In europe population is decreasing in many countries.

Randall Parker said at July 23, 2005 10:47 AM:

"me",

I make blanket statements when the statements are correct. The statement is correct in this case. Look, I remember very clearly the rhetoric of environmentalist groups of the 1970s. Population control was a big deal to them back then. Now they rarely mention it. Why? Immigration.

You can't separate immigration from population control. In the United States immigration causes a large amount of population growth. The immigration amnesty of the mid-1990s caused a baby boom among Hispanics who got amnesty. So immigration plus amnesty brings in more people and causes them to have more babies.

crush41 said at July 23, 2005 2:54 PM:

For instance, build a giant pyramid complex which is 1 mile high, to house 10 million people, and then surround that pyramid with wonderful parks.

There's a terrorist target if ever one has existed!

Randall Parker said at July 23, 2005 3:04 PM:

Another problem with the pyramid idea is that the more people you have concentrated in a spot the further each has to travel to get away from the rest of them.

Picture this massive pyramid with 10 million people in it. The parks closest to it would be full of people. The idea of running from your apartment with, say, your dog to go to the park just wouldn't work. You'd have to travel thru the pyramid and then thru the outlying area far enough to get away from the millions of people.

Also, not everyone could live or work on the outer layer of the pyramid. The lower levels especially would have large amounts of housing and offices far away from natural sunlight or scenic views.

crush41 said at July 23, 2005 3:23 PM:

Me,

Randall is right. The US fertility rate is ~2.1, exactly at replenishment rate without population growth. Immigration is the only reason the US population is expanding, and without 32 million+ plus Hispanics it would be shrinking like all of Western Europe and especially the old Soviet states currently are. With the median age increasing a year per decade in the US, population growth is going to be mandated unless science helps the elderly remain economically productive into their seventies (and they want to continue working) or the putative "culture of death" makes voluntary euthanasia of the old as common as abortion for the soon-to-be. I imagine it will in Russia, Spain, etc within a few decades, where the generational storm clouds are considerably worse than they are here.

Invisible Scientist said at July 24, 2005 4:26 PM:

Randall Parker:
-----------------------------------------
Another problem with the pyramid idea is that the more people you have concentrated in a spot the further each has to travel to get away from the rest of them.
Picture this massive pyramid with 10 million people in it. The parks closest to it would be full of people. The idea of running from your apartment with, say, your dog to go to the park just wouldn't work. You'd have to travel thru the pyramid and then thru the outlying area far enough to get away from the millions of people.
Also, not everyone could live or work on the outer layer of the pyramid. The lower levels especially would have large amounts of housing and offices far away from natural sunlight or scenic views.
_-------------------------------------------------------------
OK, I was exaggerating the size of the pyramid, but just imagine the SAME population of Manhattan,which is 10 million, fitting in just 4 pyramids of 2.5 million people, then the rest of Manhattan can become a nice park. Also, the pyramid's first floor does NOT have to start close to the ground level, it can start at an altitude of 500 feet. Fast elevators and well designed public transportation systems, CAN, and WILL be able to take the residents of even the top of the pyramid, from Lower Manhattan to Bronx within less than 15 minutes. Addionally, every family will have a LARGE balcony that will have room for a lot of plants, so that the balcony will look like a garden.

In any case, high and densely packed buildings would actually make room for parks, and good public transportation systems can and will make it possible to enter and leave the residential area within a few minutes.

Stephen said at July 24, 2005 10:46 PM:

I don't get the pyramid shape - wouldn't a cube shape (ie vertical edges) offer greater privacy from those on the balcony above? Not against the arcology concept, just wondering about the reasons for that particular shape.

Invisible Scientist said at July 25, 2005 3:09 AM:

A cube shaped building would also be OK, but I was just trying to adopt a more aesthetically interesting design. But you are right about the issue of privacy from the neighbors if the balcony of the neighbors below can be seen by the neighbors above, but how much of the balcony can be seen by the neighbors will also depend on the angle of the pyramid building: if the angle is not too large, the building would still be a pyramid, but most of the balcony would not be seen by the neighbors; also making the pyramid too flat would waste too much volume and area efficiency, so that we need to adopt a design which is almost as straight as a cube, but slightly angled to be a pyramid.

A geodesic dome shaped design is also interesting: a giant generalized version of a design like this, for example: http://www.domehome.com/

pyramid seller said at July 25, 2005 8:34 AM:

There are many good reasons why pyramids are the optimal shape for future arcologies. Too many to list here, but for starters pyramids are the the most stable of all possible structures and they would need to stand for 500+ years. On the aesthetic level - pyramids are nice to look at because they resemble mountains. The patios on terraced buildings can also be festooned in greenery. But, putting aside the enormous cost and technical considerations of such gargantuan buildings as suggested by invisible scientist, I believe its both undesirable and unnecessary for them to be anywhere near that size. I would propose pyramids of 300-500 metres base length with from 10,000 to 50,000 residents. A "pyramid city" would thus comprise many such structures and, even allowing for very extensive gardens/parks/woods/lakes surrounding each structure, overall pop'n density would be in the region 25,000 per km sq - ie, similar to Manhattan Island but with much more (and better and safer) nature provision. By the way, a huge cube structure would be not be "OK" - it would be AWFUL on every level (no pun intended).

pyramid seller said at July 25, 2005 8:43 AM:

BTW - the population of Manhattan Island (as opposed to New York) is 1.5 million not 10 million - I'm sure that was an unintentional mistake on your part, but we need to get the facts right.

Rick Darby said at July 25, 2005 10:50 AM:

Good for you for keeping the problem of overpopulation front and center, when it is currently so unfashionable as an issue on both the Left and the Right. And you are spot on that it's primarily a quality of life issue, rather than the endlessly debatable question of the adequacy of resources (in the conventional sense of "resources"). Whether or not we will run out of fuel, food, etc. for an ever-expanding population, there are other equally important resources that cannot be multiplied -- nature, tranquility, land for people to live in their own space instead of being stacked atop one another, etc.

Among the many drawbacks of our wave-'em-through immigration policy is that it both promotes overpopulation in the United States, and also gives Third World countries a safety valve to avoid reckoning with their own overpopulation.

Stephen said at July 25, 2005 7:24 PM:

I read a story years ago about an arcology. The arcology became a favourite place for non-residents to travel to in order to commit suicide. One 'successful' suicider left a message, "Think of it as evolution in action". That phrase has stayed with me ever since.

Randall Parker said at July 25, 2005 7:37 PM:

Stephen,

Todos Santos located in LA in Jerry Pournelle's Oath Of Fealty. The message was grafitti written by occupants of Todos Santos to describe the deaths of people who tried to break into the arcology.

Yes, it is a great line.

Parliament said at August 13, 2005 2:59 PM:

Engineer-Poet, I saw that episode of Frontiers of Construction too.


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