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Where did it start?

We all know the importance of sunbathing for our health (as well as the risk that comes with too much exposure). But what about the importance of exposure to high-quality air?

Both sunlight and air are prerequisites for life, and our bodies require a natural relationship with each if you are in the pursuit of health and wellbeing. I live in Central London, which means that the air I breathe daily is likely to be contributing negatively to my overall health due to pollutants from vehicles and industry.

For most of us, we are now living in the harshest environment, in terms of air quality, that we have ever had to face. It has only been in the last 200 years that we have reached the level of industry required to make monumental changes to air quality. But these 200 years have seen unparalleled degradation of the air around us.

We now know that when we spend time breathing in natural spaces like forests, moors, parks and wetlands, our bodies and specifically our lungs and biome receive a health bump.

This health bump comes in the form of exposure to natural plants, fungi, bacteria and animals. Physically when we breathe in nature, we are exposed to spores and pollen that can support healthy lungs as well as a healthy microbiome.

Our bodies have evolved to expect interaction with the natural world, and our towns and cities have been built to minimise that exposure. We can only combat this by choosing to airbathe in nature.

Why HS2 scares me

For those that do not understand the threat that HS2 poses to the health of our country and its citizens, it is really very simple. Right now, we just do not understand our natural world well enough to justify cutting down any significant part of it and move it in its entirety.

For me, that is the crux of the argument. It is all well and good making promises to replant trees, but that commitment in itself shows ignorance. Ignorance that the trees are the only things that need moving and that there is no wider ecosystem at play.

For longer than humans have been evolving, the animals, plants, bacteria and fungi of Britain have been quietly going about their jobs as the natural life support systems of the planet. What will happen if we keep replanting the trees but forget to move all the other crucial members of the ecosystem?

Even simply replanting the trees removes a vital role of tree growth. In the wild, young saplings are supported to develop correctly by the senior or more parental trees in their area. When we replant, we remove that possibility, meaning the forest is less resilient.

Our natural world is the life support system of this planet

Time to Airbathe

HS2 aside, we still have an obligation to spend time amongst these natural life support systems to boost our own health. When we airbathe in nature, we provide our body with a diverse range of nutrients not available anywhere else.

The good news is that there are limited risks to airbathing too. Compared to sunbathing, which has to be considered thoughtfully and safely, there is little risk to us spending more time breathing in nature. In fact, the longer we spend, the more benefits we receive.

Where will you airbathe today?

Palm trees on an Australian beach

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