We also have to do a much better job of comparing risks. Yes, there are some dangers outdoors, but there is also great danger of raising a future generation of children under virtual house arrest. Yes, Lyme disease can be a problem, but it's also worth pointing out that one of the most dangerous spiders in North American—the brown recluse—likes to live inside in closets.
What would you say to people who say that they live in the city and getting to nature is essentially impossible?
I would tell them that the Sierra Club sponsors an interesting volunteer program in which they put backpacks on the kids and go on a 5-mile hike in their city, in their own neighborhood, and find nature. Anybody can do that with their children. Anywhere you are you can find birds nesting in windowsills or bugs crawling in alleys. Urban birding, windowsill gardening, planting flowers that attract butterflies—there are options for people who live in cities.
Does the increasing interest in global warming and the environment help at all?
If we emphasize environmental destruction at too early an age in the absence of a joyful experience, we are setting up kids to associate nature with the end of things and fear and disaster. That's important, but we also need to emphasize the positive that nature plays simply by being there.