Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Need for Global Environmental Education

In a paper prepared for the 2012 Rio +20 Earth Summit, leading scientists issued a warning that humans are facing “an unprecedented [planetary] emergency” driven by overpopulation, over-consumption and use of environmentally damaging technologies. Climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, environmental degradation, economic instability and a host of environmentally related illnesses will threaten civilization’s very survival if people do not act. Unfortunately, say the authors, “humanity’s behavior remains utterly inappropriate” for dealing with the problems people face, and their continued “failure to act will impoverish current and future generations.”

Indeed, the world’s children will be called upon to solve unimaginable challenges in their lifetime. They will desperately need the knowledge and tools necessary for survival in the 21st Century. According to Michael K. Stone in his book, Smart by Nature (2009), “This generation will require leaders and citizens who can think ecologically, understand the interconnectedness of human and natural systems and have the will, ability and courage to act.”

The need for global environmental education (EE), starting with the very youngest children, is urgent. In the United States alone, more than 130,000 public, private and independent K-12 schools educate approximately 55 million students each day. As keepers of the world’s most precious resource – its future leaders and problem solvers – schools have an obligation to prepare the next generation for the environmental challenges of the coming decades. They must actively engage children in global efforts to conserve resources, mitigate climate change, reduce pollution and transition humanity into a clean energy economy.

Source: Sustainable Solutions Green Schools: A 21st Century Imperative : Center for a Better Life

Emily Alix Fano is a consultant with the Green Schools Alliance. She has a Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Tufts University and writes on green schools, biotechnology and the environment for national and international forums. A passionate environmentalist devoted to the goal of zero-waste schools, Fano is an active member of the District 3 Green Schools Group – a coalition of parents creating model green programs in New York City public schools. She has been recognized as a Changemaker by Planet Green. E: efano@greenschoolsalliance.org

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1 comment:

Genevieve said...

Thank you for writing on this important topic. I firmly believe that environmental education should be integrated within the school system starting from a very early age. Children will need to understand the principles of sustainability today in order to shape a better world for tomorrow.