Greenery is good for you

It is fairly well proved that living surrounded by greenery promotes good health — dramatic in the case of respiratory diseases — improves mental health, reduces mortality, and lowers depression.

All this is revealed by a research team under Peter James at the T. H. Chan School, a post-graduate department of Harvard University. They collated the medical records of 100,000 Americans between 2000 and 2008 with the amount of greenery around their homes, this being measured from satellite photos. They controlled for a lot of other factors that might have affected the results but not whether it was a case that people with a higher level of health already might have been attracted to greener environments.

Nevertheless, despite the experiment not being fully scientific, the result must have some weight. One interesting question to ask is whether a partiality exists for living in a green environment. If Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist (1875-1961) were alive now he would ascribe this to ‘ancestral memory’, if not going back to early man, then to living in the countryside in pre-industrial times.

Also if Jung were alive today he might realise that evidence is building that ‘ancestral memory’ might well exist. Pleasant memories of the past — from before your lifetime — can, in fact, be activated. This is due to the recent discovery of epigenes, chemical markers that can be attached to genes and can intensify or modify the expression of emotions. These can also be inherited and can run on from generation to generation. Fear of snakes can be inherited. There is no reason, in principle, why pleasure of greenery — or at least of the colour green — should not also be heritable.

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