“I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address these problems.
But I was wrong! The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”
As an environmental educator, I have grown to believe that the future welfare of my high school students is in jeopardy. Many of these fine young people are unaware of the world that much of the adult generation over age 25 is leaving for them — a future world that includes limited food supplies, less land available to support all life on earth, and social unrest. Many of us older adults are apathetic about Nature even though Nature is our home upon which we all depend. Much of the human adult population over age 25 harbors a worldview that humanity is not connected to Nature. We see this apathy expressed in human attitudes about the climate change crisis and a deep distrust of scientists and educators. In addition, our older adult population has actively participated in the pollution of our society’s value system resulting in an economic free-for-all that has caused the over-consumption of Nature’s resources.
I offer this question to you:
How can humans thrive within a natural world that has the ingredients necessary for our survival but, at the same time, is threatened by human destruction of that world?
In answer to this question, Earth Charter offers a challenge to we environmental educators and to all stewards of Nature.
“We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. … a future that at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that amid a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.”
Despite the apathetic impact of a large group of humans over age 25, there is a significant group of people in this age range who are very effective stewards of our Earth and who hold the power to help our youth embrace and enable a worldview that can result in them advancing the well-being of our home — Mother Earth. These facilitators include environmental educators, park rangers, Nature guides, parents, scientists, and all other Stewards of Nature who embrace Nature as being the provider and protector of life on Earth. Through their worldviews and their informed actions, these people act within a framework of protecting our home and building a constructive legacy of young people while the older generation of naysayers with their destructive worldview die off.
It is my view that the first thing that this powerful group of stewards of Nature, environmental educators, and young people must do is to intensely focus on the replacement of humanity’s destructive “Story of Separation” with the guiding light of a worldview that incorporates the “Living Earth Story”.
“Worldview” is commonly defined as a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world that guides us. The worldview of a large part of modern adult humans is believing that we are separate from Nature, from each other, and from the community of life. This worldview is commonly called the “Story of Separation”. This story erroneously portrays humanity as being able to control and predict Nature. The “Story of Separation” results in human behaviors of exploitation, excessive economic growth, extremes of wealth and inequality, and the misuse of Nature’s resources which result in the effects of climate change, consumerism, and overpopulation. For many human adults, the “Story of Separation” is their guiding worldview. But for humanity to survive, we need to be guided by a worldview that is in synergy with our home — Mother Nature. It has been proposed by several people and organizations that we humans need to embrace the “Living Earth Story”. A “Living Earth” is an environment where everything is interconnected and interdependent. It is an environment where life’s energy flows from our sun and then between every living creature on Earth. Indeed, the health and well-being of all life on Earth depends upon the transportation and transformation of this energy flow. For Earth’s human population to survive, this pattern of interdependence must become a powerful part of our consciousness. In the “Living Earth Story”, we humans believe in the power of community and interdependence — not separation.
The “Living Earth Story” can have its birth and growth in the minds and hearts of our youth while in the classroom and while being outdoors. Interdependence can be studied and practiced in the classroom, in Nature outdoors, and in human society. My teaching methods focus on inquiry-based seminars and field trips (with primary, secondary, and high school students), where we trace Nature’s vital energy flow and explore the consequences if we humans interrupt that flow. We explore interdependence in Nature and in human society. The theme of my entire teaching program is:
“Everything in Nature is Interdependent and Interconnected”.
My students and I embrace the “Living Earth Story” as learning takes place.
It is my view that, if enough environmental educators and their schools throughout the world introduce and focus upon the “Living Earth Story”, our younger generations will gradually adopt and practice the “Living Earth Story” as the way of life that is already practiced by Mother Nature and many Stewards of Nature. As our older human generations die off, younger humans will operate in unity with Nature and achieve sustainability.
In this website, I invite environmental educators and other stewards of Nature to join me in a dialog where we can all work together to create a plan of action for helping our young people adopt and practice a worldview that is guided by the “Living Earth Story”. Sections in this web site include:
- This home page.
- A further discussion about Nature’s energy flow.
- A description of modern human worldviews.
- Ideas about environmental education.
- A free PDF textbook about empowering our youth.
- A list of all the blog essays that are included on this website.
If you are operating a computer, each section can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate menu item at the left of each web page. If you are using a cell phone, access the menu by clicking the three-line symbol located at the upper right part of the screen.
Please provide your comments in the space at the end of any page or by contacting me at my Twitter account @ballenamar.