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Blog Essays

This page lists all of the essays that are presented in this website. The essays are listed by category and date (newest to oldest). To go to an individual essay, simply click on its title in the lists shown below. To return to the category list, use the “back” key.

Conservation Issues

Ecoliteracy

Ecological Civilizations

Empowering Our youth

Engaging Nature

Environmental Education

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Human Worldviews

Moral Guidelines

    My Blog Essays

    Nature's Energy

    Natures Connections

    Natures Patterns

    Our Youth

    Systems Thinking

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    web_resources

    Welcome

     

     

    Empowering Nature’s Stewards

     Lessons From the Web of Life

    This free PDF book advocates a human worldview that includes a deep consciousness for an interdependent and connected Nature. With this worldview, we are empowering humans to partner with Nature rather than unsuccessfully trying to manipulate and control Nature. Without interdependence and connectivity in Nature, all life on Earth, including we humans, would cease to exist because the energy necessary to sustain life could not flow Everything must be connected. Everything, including humans, is interdependent.  Nothing is self-sufficient.

    The words and ideas in this book are directed to all stewards of Nature, elementary, high school, and university students, and all environmental educators including classroom teachers, park rangers, docents, and nature guides. In turn, it is hoped that you, the reader, will promote the idea that Nature’s processes of interconnection and interdependence are vital to the welfare and harmony of both Nature and humanity on this Earth.

    The strategy of the material in this book is to demonstrate the vital importance of identifying, understanding, and protecting the interconnections that provide energy flow in Nature. Equipped with this consciousness and knowledge, the reader is in a position to help current and future human generations respect and preserve the Earth’s interdependent environment that is essential for all life to exist.  You, the reader, become the messenger.

    This book is designed to help you become an effective and knowledgeable messenger to both current adult generations and to future human generations — our young people. The book offers a series of teaching resources that include teaching strategies, case studies, activity sets, and lesson sets that focus on the theme that “Nothing In Nature Exists In Isolation”. The methodology for presenting this material to human beings of all ages is to set aside the formal presentation of facts in favor of individual exploration and discovery. Instead of being a purveyor of facts, you, the messenger acts as a mentor and facilitator.

    Through seminar-style discussion groups accompanied by hands-on place-based education in the outdoors, this material will help the “student” in any age group to build a healthy consciousness for Nature by engaging, exploring, and discovering Nature’s interconnected world.

    This book:

    * Identifies and describes unsustainable human population growth on a planet with limited resources.

    * Uses modern systems science to more fully describe our planet as an interdependent living system.

    * Evangelizes the deep dependency of humans on Nature’s energy flow within Her ecosystem

    * Examines current scientific fact as the basis for creating an environmental ethic that will guide humans toward a sustainable harmony with Nature.

    * Focuses on conservation practices that identify and preserve the pathways of energy flow in Nature. By identifying and conserving energy flow networks, mankind does not get involved in trying to predict what an unpredictable Nature will do. Instead, Nature, makes the decisions that best serve Her and Her creatures.

    * Emphasizes the fact that the environmental education of our youth produces a powerful legacy of effective conservation practices in Nature.

    The book is organized into the following sections:

    • Introductory material that describes the book’s purpose.
    • Teaching concepts – suggested methods for effectively presenting the material provided in this book to different audiences.
    • Case studies for seminars – basic study/research material that describes 28 different ecological subjects to be used for conducting inquiry-based (Socratic) seminars.
    • Suggested activity sets to be used for hands-on, place-based outdoor activities in Nature.
    • Suggested lesson sets created by professional biology/ecology teachers.
    • Epilogue – Summary of the ideas presented in this book.

    Your feedback to me about this free ebook is an extremely important part of my work. Whether you have found this book useful or not, I ask that you provide your critique by offering your comments in the comment section at the bottom of this page. It is through your comments that I build the foundation for the next edition of this book. I have found that comments from students are a very important part of any critique and I strongly encourage students to offer their opinions and suggestions.

     

    Click Here To Download Your eBook

     

    Environmental Education

    This web page offers environmental educators and other stewards of Nature ideas that I consider vitally important when I am working with my young students. I urge you to offer your comments in the space provided at the end of this essay.

    The photo at the top of this page portrays a high school student of mine working with a group of primary students to demonstrate how Nature is connected and interdependent. For me, it is a captivating photo because it demonstrates the power of legacy where one young person is able to pass along the power of his knowledge to younger people. 

    Prepare Our Youth For  A Changing World

    Many things in our world will be changing soon. Our world will become an uncertain and very different place for all life on Earth including our young people, their children, and their grandchildren. Here are four examples of what is predicted by many scientists and sociologists :

    • By the year 2050, the effects of climate change will start redefining how we live. Locally, climate change will cause rising sea levels that will flood many coastal regions worldwide.
    • We humans are over-consuming the resources of the Earth at a rate that will not sustain human life after the year 2100. As a result of these and other human-caused changes in our planet, the ethics of a civilized society will be gradually displaced by the ethics of a hostile society that is competing for limited resources.
    • The human population could increase from the present 7.6 billion people to an environmentally unsustainable population of 10 billion people by 2100 but perhaps as soon as 2050. With a population of 10 billion people, there will be no more land available to grow food.
    • Economic inequality among humans will continue to increase. Only a small percentage of the human population will own a huge percentage of the economic wealth. This trend will promote the uncontrolled expansion of multi-national corporations which will result in a negative impact on our environment.

    These and other environmental and social crises are caused by human adults, mostly older than age 25, who have a very inaccurate worldview of how Nature operates.

    Most of our adults do not believe that we humans are totally dependent on Nature for our life’s energy. They erroneously believe that we humans have dominion over Nature and are able to control and predict Nature and its environment. Our disconnected elders erroneously believe that our technology will save us if anything bad, like climate change, takes place. The result is the growing crisis that we humans are now facing. Indeed, the destructive worldviews of our elders are leaving a horrible mess for our young people. No matter what career students choose, these young people will be forced to plan their lives based on political instability, economic instability, and environmental instability in the years to come.

    In the face of this crisis, what can educators do to offer our youth a chance for a productive, sustainable, and happy life? The answer lies with environmental educators because these people have the capability to empower our youth with a worldview that is compatible with the way Nature and society do operate.

    The fact is that all of Nature, including we humans and human society, is interconnected and interdependent. Life on Earth depends upon the flow of life’s energy from our sun to our Earth. This energy is then transported and transformed from one organism to another organism. These processes are both ecological and social. They form networks of interconnection and interdependence. The greatest gift that we can offer our youth is the power of a worldview that sees everything on Earth, including Nature and our human society, as interconnected and interdependent. With this way of thinking, called “systems thinking”, our young people and future generations will be empowered to understand and resolve current environmental and social crises.

    About 50% of all humans on earth are 25 years old or younger. For the most part, these young people have fresh minds that have not been corrupted by the disconnected worldviews of their elders. The relationship between our educators and our youth is a critical connection if our teachers are able to offer their students an education that stresses systems thinking in every subject including biology/ecology, history, social studies, and mathematics. In doing so, our youth can acquire the wisdom of interdependence and systems thinking. This form of education stresses that human society, like Nature’s ecosystems in which we humans live, are intimately interconnected where the connections between each part in a system are more important than the parts. In other words, we must first understand how the connections are made between things before we can understand the whole system. Education of our youth must be based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace.

    However, there is one characteristic of modern education that may stand in the way of achieving a meaningful holistic education. In order to understand our world, young people and adults must be able to see life as a collection of systems and elements that interact and are dependent upon one another. But in school, many of us are taught subjects in a compartmentalized way, with history in one class, natural science in another, social studies in yet another, and so on. In other words, we are taught to understand Nature and society in parts. We are not taught how these parts are connected. We are not taught how and why things in life are interdependent. Yet most real-world issues, like climate change, terrorism, and water use, are understood by connecting disciplines such as politics, geography, history, and biology. The current compartmentalized approach in most schools reinforces the incorrect idea in the minds of our students that knowledge is made up of many unrelated parts that are not connected. This lack of systems thinking provides little opportunity for students to see recurring patterns of behavior across subjects and disciplines in their real world. Our students need to find identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace. Indeed, with an understanding of living systems like ecosystems, climate change, and other ecological challenges, we humans will be able to assess what we are doing wrong that causes bad things to happen.

    In summary, a system of education that teaches how all of life interrelates and is interdependent should be a fundamental part of 21st-century education and anyone’s lifelong learning plan. It will be this revised system of education that will give our youth a worldview of connection and interdependence in our moral philosophy, our society, and in Nature. It will be this revised worldview that replaces the destructive worldview of our elders. It will be this worldview of interdependence that equips our youth to solve our problems of over-population, unsustainable consumption, climate change, and other issues.

    Educators are a critically important influence in making this change. What follows is a preliminary list of important things that our educators must do to begin the process.

    A Curriculum Must Be An Interrelated Collection Of Subjects

    If educators are going to emphasize relationships and interdependence in the hearts and minds of our students, these concepts must be reflected in the curriculum. We must stop teaching such subjects as mathematics, history, or literature as separate subjects. In addition to teaching facts in each class, we must now emphasize how the material relates to the other subjects we are teaching. For example, a history class must now explore the interrelationships between human actions and historical events including what might have happened if the human actions were different. A math class should now emphasize applied mathematics where the student uses new math/statistical skills and network diagrams to calculate events and relationships in Nature. A religion or ethics class should conduct seminars with case studies about how religion and ethics can guide social systems. All of these classes should now employ an inquiry-based (Socratic) seminar approach (described in the next section) where students participate in seminar discussions rather than listen to lectures.

    Use Inquiry-Based Learning (Socratic Learning)

    Imagine, for a moment, teaching and learning that looks like this:

    • Picture a seminar-style setting where the teacher is a facilitator and the students consider assigned questions and do their own research to provide answers in front of their peers and their teachers.
    • Young people continually question why things look and function the way that they do.
    • Their natural sense of wonder is at the center of their learning and drives the direction that learning will take.
    • Knowledge is dynamic, collectively constructed, and provided by many sources instead of being contained in a single textbook or classroom lectures.
    • Information is investigated, analyzed, and negotiated between students and their teachers.

    This is process is called “Inquiry-Based Learning”.

    Education is much more than force-feeding information to students and measuring how well they regurgitate that information back to the teacher on command or through testing. With the facilitator asking questions instead of lecturing, the student is required to think and probe. This process of critical thinking embeds knowledge and creates curiosity and a yearning to learn more. Critical thinking encourages the exploration, adventure, and discovery that we see in outdoor education.

    When I was a student, one of my truly great life experiences was two years working on a Master’s degree at Harvard University. In this program, we used no textbooks. There were no lectures. Classes were totally inquiry-based where the professor played the role of facilitator by continually posing difficult questions. We students would prepare for a class by doing research and gathering facts to support conclusions. That preparation was vital to building a knowledge base for a given class session. We learned the value of good research. We gained the ability to think about and defend our ideas. Most importantly, we built critical thinking skills as we defended our ideas in front of our peers and our professor. This Harvard experience became the model for my role as an educator. I was amazed to find that the inquiry-based approach to learning worked well with my university graduate students as well as my primary (5th grade and up), secondary, and high school students.

    Benefits of Inquiry-Based learning include:

    • Honoring students’ questions increases their motivation, leading to higher levels of engagement, improved understanding, and a love of learning.
    • Inquiry stimulates students’ curiosity, leading to progressively deeper questions and habitual critical thinking.
    • Inquiry builds lifelong learning skills that become greater than simply learning facts, listening to lectures, and taking tests.

     

    Eliminate Exams. Use project-based learning.  Grade each student based on preparation and participation

    What is needed are tools to help the student explore relationships in our world. Exams do not accomplish this. However, a student project provides the opportunity for the student to learn about relationships, exercise that knowledge in a practical way, and be evaluated.

    While both projects and exams will get a student to memorize new information, the skill that is needed is applying the information. Project-based learning will teach the material, and then guide the student to seek out information, then apply the new knowledge to explore real-world examples, and encourage working in groups to reinforce the new knowledge.

    When we eliminate the compartmentalized idea of exams in the curriculum, how are we able to evaluate student progress? Inquiry-Based learning provides an automatic tool for evaluating progress. That tool is to grade students at each class or seminar session according to their participation and preparation. When the facilitator calls upon a student to explore a certain issue in class, it will become quickly apparent whether the student has prepared for the class. In addition, active and voluntary, meaningful participation should be rewarded with a higher grade.

    I start each school year by giving each student a grade of 10.0. This grade can be reduced if a student fails to prepare or participate. In addition, a student can receive a restored good grade if the student demonstrates improvement in participation and preparation.

    Hospitality – People Learn From People/Things That They Love

    The metaphor of hospitality is an extremely important part of education that is often forgotten by educators. Henri J.M. Nouwen was a Catholic priest, author, professor, and pastor who wrote over 40 books about spiritual life. One of his books, “Reaching Out” uses the metaphor of hospitality – a gracious host serving the needs of a guest – to describe many different human relationships. One of the relationships that Fr. Nouwen examines is the relationship between a teacher and a student. He does so in a very profound and effective way that becomes a guide for any teacher who cares to challenge his/her students to reach new horizons.

    In his book, Fr Nouwen said:

    One of the greatest tragedies of modern education is that millions of young people spend many hours, days, weeks, and years listening to lectures, reading books, and writing papers with a constantly increasing resistance. Students perceive their education as a long endless row of obligations to be fulfilled. They are considered as poor needy, ignorant beggars who come to a man or woman of knowledge. Teachers are perceived more as demanding bosses than as guides in the search for knowledge and understanding.

    While the ability to think critically and the opportunity to develop one’s talents are far more career-defining than any subject matter that is taught, educators continue to define themselves by offering memorized and regurgitated knowledge. The teacher is trained to offer solutions without the existence of a question. Consequently, critical thinking skills are never developed and talents are never encouraged because the student rarely gets the opportunity to argue a question.

    Hospitality is the creation of a friendly empty space by a host where a guest can fearlessly reach out to fellow human beings and invite them to explore new relationships. Hospitality is much like gardening. We cannot force a plant to grow but we can take away the weeds and stones which prevent its development.

    Hospitality can take place on many levels and in many kinds of relationships. One such relationship is that between a teacher and a student where the student is treated like a guest who honors the host’s house with his/her presence and will not leave it without having made a unique contribution.

    The good host (the teacher) is the one who not only helps guests (the students) see that they have hidden talents, but who also is able to help them develop and deepen those talents so they can continue their way on their own with new self-confidence. “

    This journey of discovery can be accomplished through inquiry-based  (Socratic) learning.

    Add seminars in systems thinking to the curriculum

    All of life in our world, from a molecule to the entire earth can be defined as systems of relationships that permit energy or social interaction to flow from one organism to another organism. The study of these relationships has matured over the years into a discipline known as “systems science” or “systems thinking”.

    Systems thinking is the study of the causes and effects of relationships. Systems thinking allows us to visually portray what is happening as we study a particular system. It allows us to see and analyze our world in simpler terms. Systems thinking focuses on the characteristics of the connections in a system. Systems thinking helps us define what is going on in our world. On the Internet, there is a huge wealth of information about systems thinking and the teaching of systems thinking. Many lesson plans are offered.

    In my view, an excellent way to introduce systems thinking to students is through biology or ecology classes because these subjects introduce interconnected and interdependent energy flow in Nature. In my program, systems thinking is introduced to primary (4th grade and older)  secondary, and high school students. Both in-class inquiry-based learning and field trip experiences are offered with the primary goal being to develop a love relationship between a student and the student’s world.

    Integrate Ethics Development In All Classes

    One must love something in order to protect it. If we are to succeed in helping our students live in the world that they face, the faculty must cause a love relationship between each student and the world as it is today. This love must include a growing passion to protect what we love.

    Ethics is a set of guidelines that we must exercise regularly if we are to protect our world. Ethical guidelines lead us as we apply what we have learned in biology, mathematics, history and all of the other subjects that are taught in school. A suggested list of ethical principles might be:

    • Everything in Nature, including we humans, is interdependent.
    • The actions of one can affect the whole.
    • Nature is always changing.
    • Conservation is a necessary part of human morality.
    • Compassion means that we humans cannot assign a greater value to one person or species over another.

    Ethics development should take place in every class. Ethics development should not be compartmentalized into a single subject or class. Through inquiry-based learning, teachers should regularly ask their students to discuss “what if” scenarios that relate to the ethics of the subject matter being taught.

    Empower Our Students To Change The World

    An important part of the education that schools and teachers offer students is in guiding them to act upon that which they have learned. In particular, with the climate crisis, educators need to help students act in a way that might help them cope with what they might be facing after they graduate. Here is my suggestion:

    Students should be working with student groups in their local community, their state, their nation and around the world to bring awareness and to protest to the adults who have allowed the climate crisis to happen. One possibility might be to join with students from other schools to work with their government to lower our carbon footprint. As successes become a reality, our students will then have the opportunity to set an example for the world.

    There are a number of youth groups forming worldwide. Students would have the opportunity to communicate with these groups by way of the Internet, seek their advice and learn from their experience, and join forces with these groups.

    Below are three Internet references that talk about the power of youth to act and to resolve current environmental issues:

    The Climate Kids Are All Right

    Youth around the world are rising to the climate challenge — and they don’t care what the trolls have to say about it.

    Youth Activists Are Building A Climate Justice Movement

    Youth are building new models for social movements. Young people are no longer sitting back and waiting for older generations to make the change we know needs to happen.

    Greta Thunberg gives a speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference

    Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist, has become very famous and has developed a strong following all over the world. You can Google her name to see many of her activities concerning climate change and the power of young people. Your students can communicate with her.

    It is my hope that, after reviewing the ideas in this section, you will communicate with me in the space provided below. You are free to agree or disagree with me. In addition, the contribution of your ideas will help us all become more effective educators that give our youth new power.

    Welcome

    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.”  – Gus Speth

    The common factor that connects the effects of climate change, the COVID-19 epidemic, and the stewardship of Nature is the destructive world view that drives many human beings. Manu’s worst enemy is man himself. As an environmental educator, I have grown to believe that the future welfare of my 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 separates humanity from 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 have asked myself the following question:

    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. 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.”

    A Systems View of Life

     

    A Systems View Of Life

    If you like this essay, share it with others

    “All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in the community but his ethics prompt him to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).” –– from Aldo Leopold “A Sand County Almanac” 1949

    The Systems View of Life Is A Unifying Vision

    In order to become ecologically literate and to survive on this Planet, we need to learn how to think in terms of relationships among the various members of the Earth Household. Any living system, whether it be an organism,an ecosystem, or a social system, is an integrated whole whose properties cannot be reduced to those properties of smaller parts.

    Author Jeremy Lent suggests that we must understand Nature as a networked system: 

    “The systems perspective offers important insights into the nature of reality that upend many assumptions forming the basis of the predominant worldview. It tells us that the relationship between things is frequently more important than the things themselves. It emphasizes that everything in the natural world is dynamic rather than static, and that biological phenomena can’t be predicted with precision: instead of fixed laws, we therefore need to search for the underlying organizing principles of nature.”
    “These principles, it reveals, occur across widely different domains, from heart rhythms to climate variations and from lake ecologies to internet social media connections. It also shows how self-organized systems are fractally embedded within one another: a cell may be part of an organism, which is part of a community, which is nested within an ecosystem, which in turn is part of Gaia.”

    Systems thinking  means that understanding life requires a shift of focus from objects to relationships. Each species in an ecosystem helps to sustain the entire food web. If one species is decimated by some natural catastrophe, the ecosystem may still be resilient enough to survive if there are other species that can fulfill similar functions. In other words, the stability of an ecosystem depends on its biodiversity. Biodiversity is a popular word that describes the complexity of Nature’s network of relationships. Nature’s ecosystems.

    Without A Relationship With Nature, We Have No Life

    We commonly think of the word “relationship” to describe a  personal, romantic, or passionate attachment of some kind. One might say: “I have a great relationship with my daughter”. Or, in your Facebook profile, you might state “I am in a relationship with Sandy Smith”. But rarely do we hear or read about the most important kind of human relationship that is so critical to the maintenance of life itself. This kind of relationship is a relationship with Nature.

    Perhaps one reason for this omission is that much of humanity does recognize our dependency on Nature. In our “me” societies, our hubris suggests that we can control Nature. This arrogance prevents us from admitting that, while Nature can survive without us, we cannot survive without Nature.  Many scholars point out that the unchecked, exponential population growth of the human race will result in the resources of the Earth being unable to supply food for humans within the next 50 years. This dire prediction has come about because humanity has failed to look upon Nature as a relationship.

    Some years ago, Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi published a seminal book entitled “The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision” .  Capra is well known as one of the fathers of modern systems science. Since the 1960’s, modern science has undergone a major paradigm shift by recognizing that:

    “…the material world, ultimately, is an evolving and ever-changing system in which complex structures are developed from simpler forms. Nature is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships. The planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system. A central characteristic of this systems view of life is that all living systems are complex networks where there are countless interconnections between the biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions of life.”

    An ecosystem is greater than the sum of its parts. It cannot be defined by looking separately at each of its interconnected parts. In addition, the high complexity of an ecosystem makes it impossible to predict.

    The problem is that the society of mankind is unable to grasp this fundamental truth. Humanity fails to see that we are part of the relationship. We cannot stand aside from something that we are part of. If we affect Nature, we affect ourselves. For example, if we pollute the air, we might suffer climate change.

    The human concept of economics is another powerful example of how we might end up damaging or destroying relationships within human society by damaging Nature. Capra notes that:

    The outstanding characteristic of most of today’s economic models – whether they are promoted by economists in government, in the corporate world, or in academia – is their assumption that perpetual economic growth is possible. Such undifferentiated and unlimited growth is seen as essential by virtually all economists and politicians, even though it should by now be abundantly clear that unlimited expansion on a finite planet can only lead to disaster. Since human needs are finite, but human greed is not, economic growth can usually be maintained through the artificial creation of needs by means of advertising. The goods that are produced and sold in this way are often unneeded and thus are essentially waste. The pollution and depletion of natural resources generated by this enormous waste of unnecessary goods is exacerbated by the waste of energy and materials in inefficient production processes. The continuing illusion of unlimited growth on a finite planet is the fundamental dilemma at the roots of all the major problems of our time.”

    Indeed, we humans are an integral part of Fritjof Capra’s systems view of life.

    What does the term “systems view” mean when it is applied to life? It implies looking at a living organism in the totality of its relationships. But clearly, the idea of a relationship of interdependence with Nature is ignored by most of the human race. Instead, we pursue a reckless dominance that might wipe out our species.

    In April of 2018, the Ecologist Journal published an essay by Fritjof Capra entitled “The Way To Sustain Life Is To Build And Nurture Community” . 

    Capra’s essay is a wonderful summary of modern systems science thinking that has been completely ignored by many organizations who are carrying on “conservation” projects in Nature. What follows is a series of quotes from Capra’s essay that suggest a new way of thinking about conserving Nature. 

    The Systems View of Life Requires A New Kind Of Thinking

    Today, it is becoming more and more evident that concern with the environment is no longer one of many “single issues.” It is the context of everything else — of our lives, our businesses, our politics.”

    “The great challenge of our time is to build and nurture sustainable communities, designed in such a manner that their ways of life — businesses, economies, physical structures, and technologies — do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life.”

    “The first step in this endeavor, naturally, must be to understand how nature sustains life. It turns out that this involves a new ecological understanding of life. Indeed, such a new understanding of life has emerged in science over the last 30 years.”

    “The systems view of life requires a new kind of thinking — thinking in terms of relationships, patterns, and context.”

    “One of the most important insights of the systemic understanding of life is the recognition that networks are the basic pattern of organisation of all living systems. Ecosystems are understood in terms of food webs – i.e., networks of organisms; organism are networks of cells, organs, and organ systems; and cells are networks of molecules.”

    “The network is a pattern that is common to all life. Indeed, at the very heart of the change of paradigms from the mechanistic to the systemic view of life we find a fundamental change of metaphors: from seeing the world as a machine to understanding it as a network. “

    ” Today, it is becoming more and more evident that concern with the environment is no longer one of many “single issues.” It is the context of everything else — of our lives, our businesses, our politics.”

    ” Sustainability, then, is not an individual property but a property of an entire web of relationships. It always involves a whole community. This is the profound lesson we need to learn from nature. The way to sustain life is to build and nurture community.”

    “Today, it is becoming more and more evident that the major problems of our time — energy, environment, climate change, economic inequality, violence and war, and so on — cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent. They require corresponding systemic solutions — solutions that do not solve any problem in isolation but deal with it within the context of other related problems.”

    “Unfortunately, this realization has not yet dawned on most of our political and corporate [and scientific] leaders who are unable to connect the dots. Instead of taking into account the interconnectedness of our major problems, their so-called ‘solutions’ tend to focus on a single issue, thereby simply shifting the problem to another part of the system — for example, by producing more energy at the expense of biodiversity, public health, or climate stability. Moreover, our leaders refuse to recognize how their piecemeal solutions affect future generations. What we need is solutions that are systemic and sustainable.”

    Ecoliteracy And The Understanding Of Nature’s Systems Is Vital To Sustainable Living 

    In the coming decades the survival of humanity will depend on our ecological literacy — our ability to understand the basic principles of ecology and to live accordingly.”

    “This means that ecoliteracy must become a critical skill for politicians, business leaders, and professionals in all spheres, and should be the most important part of education at all levels — from primary and secondary schools to colleges, universities, and the continuing education and training of professionals.”

    “We need to teach our children, our students, and our political and corporate leaders the fundamental facts of life — for example, that one species’ waste is another species’ food; that matter cycles continually through the web of life; that the energy driving the ecological cycles flows from the sun; that diversity assures resilience; that life, from its beginning more than three billion years ago, did not take over the planet by combat but by partnerships and networking.

    Environmental Educators Hold The Key To Altering Humanity’s Misguided Worldview About Nature

    Is there any hope of building an ecoliterate worldview of systems thinking within humans? I think so !! Despite the irresponsible ignorance of a large number of humans, many of our children and future generations do not hold this destructive point of view. Their minds are fresh and responsive to awe and wonder. Through environmental education programs that emphasize Earth’s web of life, they are likely candidates for embracing the idea of relationships and interdependence. By being shown how to identify and protect energy connections in Nature, they become effective stewards of our Earth.

    Through hands-on, place-based education:

    • Ask each student to describe his or her relationship with a plant or animal.
    • Ask students to draw a complete food web diagram, INCLUDING THEMSELVES,  of the ecosystem that they are observing.
    • Have the students play the Web of Life game that includes themselves.
    • With care, guide the students away from consumerism.

    Hopefully, with these ideas and other ideas, our children can develop an ecoliterate “relationship consciousness” and become legacy builders — Nature’s evangelists for future generations.

    Here is a current list of essays about ecoliteracy for your consideration. This list will expand with time.

    For Your Further Consideration

    Please Comment 

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