Protecting the environment, a new journey that starts with education

Why must people protect the environment? Are there any benefits? How can we protect the environment through education? You need to know!

Traffic looking down from the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto, Ont. (Tianye Gu/Toronto Observer)
Traffic looking down from the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto. (Tianye Gu/Toronto Observer) 

The release of nuclear wastewater, the burning of forest fires, and the explosion of a train in Ohio have all raised concerns about our environment and safety. With the conference of the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication taking place from Feb. 15 to 17, much attention is being paid to developing environmental awareness in the next generation to protect the environment and improve sustainable development.

Why should people take environmental topics seriously?

Thomas Berry, who advised Al Gore on environmental issues, once said, “You cannot have healthy people on a sick planet.” According to 2016 World Health Organization statistics, 13.7 million people die yearly from modifiable environmental risks. Not only that, but according to the WHO survey, 91 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution levels exceed the WHO guideline limits.

To live a long and healthy life, we must address environmental issues. “We have to take care of the Earth to take care of ourselves,” Stephen Bede Scharper, a professor of anthropology and environmental studies from the University of Toronto, said in a Zoom interview.

Much environmental pollution is created by people and can therefore be reduced.

What is environmental protection through education?

According to WHO, air pollution is responsible for seven million premature deaths yearly. A large part of this air pollution comes from people using wood, kerosene and coal for cooking.

In recent years, many people have started to take action. “There are many different and valid responses to the threats facing our natural world and our individual impacts on it,” said Tovah Barocas, the president of Earth Rangers.

Many organizations are helping to solve environmental problems by teaching the next generation. Earth Rangers, for example, is an organization that takes children into the natural environment to teach them about the fragility of nature. The organizers believe such educational acts can build awareness of environmental protection from an early age.

What is good about spending effort on children?

Educating children about protecting the environment will enable new generations to develop an early awareness of protecting nature, as well as improve the process of sustainable development. At the same time, allowing children to spend more time in contact with nature is also a process by which children are healed by nature.

Scharper, who is also director of the Integrated Sustainability Initiative at Trinity College, believes that people are “in a computer-dominated world” now. In the interview, he referred to an idea by the American researcher and journalist Richard Louv. 

Louv suggests that children are suffering from what he terms “nature deficit disorder.” In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Louv argues that many psychological and medical concerns facing young people, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression and suicidal tendencies, can actually be successfully addressed by immersing children in nature.

Earth Rangers and numerous studies have found that children’s mental, physical and emotional health improves well after learning activities that bring them close to nature.” This is why doctors are now prescribing nature for people of all ages suffering from mental illness,” said Scharper.

The B.C. Parks Foundation has established a program called PaRX that aims to improve people’s mental and physical health by connecting them with nature. PaRx director and family physician Dr. Melissa Lem told CNN, “there’s almost no condition that nature isn’t good for, from diabetes to high blood pressure. ADHD in children, anxiety and depression.”

What will people gain if the environment is next well protected?

Firstly, people will be able to enjoy a peaceful life. There would be far fewer cars on the road to reduce carbon emissions. The sound of horns and sirens that used to fill people’s ears would be reduced.

Secondly, air quality has improved. Because people understand the health hazards of air pollution, the number of harmful gasses emitted into the air will be controlled.

Last but not least, the number of endangered animals will increase, and some of the city’s wildlife will return.

Many positive things will happen when people start to make actual moves to protect the planet’s ecology. 

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Posted: Feb 12 2023 10:28 am
Filed under: Mental Health News Science & Health