Nature Giving Way to Virtual Reality

Historically, Americans have been active patrons of national parks, forest preserves, and other outdoor resources. A report in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes the declining interest of citizens in nature-based recreation activities, including parks, forests, and other public lands.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Bryn Mawr College measured indicators of outdoor activities in four areas: visits to public lands (including national parks and forests), hunting and fishing, camping, and backpacking or hiking. Across the board, participation is significantly down - as much as 25% since the 1980's. This trend has ominous implications for conservation efforts.

The cause? Researchers suggest "videophilia" may be to blame - the increasing amount of time spent in front of the television and computer.