Environmental Literacy is the need of the hour

22 Apr 1970 — A revolution was born in the name of World Earth Day. A day to sensitise and educate the world on the importance of our planet in terms of our utilisation of its resources. Over the last fifty years, the Earth Day Organization has grown close to 200 countries trying to spread awareness about the importance of environmental protection, conservation and resurrection. It is heartwarming today to see the number of participants in this activity, especially on this day.

A few months back I emphasised the importance of financial literacy in one of my articles. Lesser did I know something of Environmental Literacy back then. Indeed, I never knew that such a term even existed. Sounds ridiculous, right? But that is the truth. I have heard of environmental studies, environmental education and all sort of lecture stuff and never realised the importance of the environment in those classes.

Today when I saw it was world earth day, I decided to know more about it and opened the website — www.earthday.org. It took me to a page that asked whether I wanted to see the activities related to India as I was from India. On clicking yes, I was taken to the India page. The website was a curious find and got me all excited. I started exploring the site and one thing that immediately caught my eye was this topic — Climate and Environmental Literacy. Believe me, I spent more than an hour on this page. The amount of information it had kept me so engrossed in it that I didn't keep a count of the time. If you are interested in knowing more about it, I am attaching a link here for you. Check it out.

The page started with the following paragraph that got me more interested.

Climate and environmental literacy, coupled with strong civic education, will create jobs, build a green consumer market and allow citizens to engage with their governments in a meaningful way to address the climate crisis.

After going through the entire stuff, I asked myself — How much did I ever know about Environmental Literacy before this? The honest answer from my conscience was — a big No. All this while I was just under the imagination that I knew so much about the environment, its protection, conservation and preservation. It was heartbreaking for me to know that I knew nothing. While sex education was made almost mandatory or compulsory in our schools this subject still remains a science - probably that's what makes it a little boring for the young minds.

Mankind has always been stupid and funny. We are in search of water and signs of life on other planets. We are in search of aliens too. But how many of us have actually searched the depths of our own beautiful planet? The obvious answer is a lot of people did and found a lot, which eventually we have plundered after its discovery. Time and again we have proven to be a selfish society thinking and exploring sources and resources only for our benefit, comfort and luxury. That is one of the main reasons why we have lost many of our natural resources in the last few centuries and also led to the extinction of so many species.

The fact that even a honey bee has a role to play in the balanced running of this world proves that our six sensed brains are nothing but machines that work only in our favour and not the planet or other species. As we celebrate the 50th year of world earth day, it is time to spread awareness of the word. Our children need to be taught environmental education to make them understand what we have now is more precious than what we intend to have. And that can start only from us — the grown-ups.

Here comes my suggestion towards this — The world needs to be a prodigy of sustainable living. This means, that every human being needs to understand why he/ she lives and what they need to contribute to the environment. We can start with discarding practices and products that would cause damage to the environment. Examples are plastic, paper and more. Not all inventions are dope. The digital world promises a better future for us and our children. It can create a revolution worldwide reducing the use of paper. Technology can indeed help us in leading a sustainable life. Imagine the quantum of change that we will bring to the environment if all of us start living a sustainable lifestyle.

I don't want to deviate much from the actual discussion here. Hence I leave the thoughts of sustainable living to you and my future articles. Climate and environmental literacy will give birth to a new society of well-informed individuals who will work towards a prospering heavenly planet. I’d like to borrow a quote from Earthday.org here.

I believe every learner in every school in the world should receive fully integrated, assessed climate and environmental education with a strong civic engagement component.

A dish without a pinch of salt is always a failure and eventually a disaster for a mouth that savours the good taste. Similarly, education without the teaching of this -climate and our environment will definitely mean an ultimate failure on our part. While it is going to take some time for our education system to react to preparing an engaging study on the environment for the students, we can start off at home. I plan to start with these:-

  1. Teaching my kid to plant a seed and grow it as she grows.
  2. Avoiding the use of plastic bags thereby reducing its need and eventually its production. (Read my blog on sustainable living to know how do I plan to do that)
  3. Going back to my roots like the use of earthen vessels, natural food over processed food, leading a life close to nature.
  4. Keeping my environment and surroundings free of the litter that would affect animals.
  5. Reducing my carbon footprint by reducing the usage of petrol/ diesel vehicles where it is not required. I’d rather take a walk.
  6. Try to plant more saplings to reduce soil erosion.
  7. Avoid the use of paper to the maximum extent possible by going digital.
  8. Avoid unwanted use of electricity whenever it is not needed.
  9. Going more vocal on this topic to create awareness.

And finally,

10. Building a house that is eco-friendly in all aspects and closer to mother nature. (I’d definitely avoid air conditioners).

Rest- I leave the thoughts to you. Think for yourself and become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Remember — we have only one world and one planet. There is no happiness in finding another planet to sustain life by destroying this.

Happy Earth Day!

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