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Environmental Education

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

What is needed is still not being done and environmental education could be the missing trigger.

Before talking about the specific theme of this article “Environmental education, an important factor in conservation” I want to talk first about education in general. In my opinion, education is the process of passing on knowledge, values ​​and principles between individuals and it is one of the foundations of a society. For me a country is the mirror of its education system. It is the existence, evolution and development of the education system in developed countries that have made these countries developed and with prospects of continuing their growth and, on the other hand, it is the weak education system in underdeveloped countries that does not allow them the desired development.

I look at education as an investment, this investment being possible in the short, medium and long term as the skills acquired through education can be applied at any time in an individual’s life, it can be applied either after learning or after a few years when that competence/knowledge is needed. There are two quotes that I particularly like about education because in a very simple way they characterize education. The first is a Portuguese proverb that I’ve heard my grandparents speak since I was little and I quote “Saber não ocupa lugar” which means “Knowing doesn’t take place” and the second is a phrase by Aristotle in which he says, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”.

Given my opinion regarding education, I will now talk about the subject that brought me here. For some decades now, the human being has been causing great impacts on our planet. We take a lot more from the Earth than we give it back and this is taking us to a point where there may be no going back.

Human influence on the environment is increasingly clear and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and the most recent are the highest in history (IPCC, 2014). This continuous increase in emissions brings with it environmental consequences that worsen as emissions increase, making it necessary to take measures to control and reduce these emissions. To give you an idea of ​​the danger we’re dealing with, in the month I’m writing this article cities in the US and Canada are hitting their highest temperatures ever with some reaching 42°C at night and 50°C during the day (“heat wave” that caused more than 500 deaths), it snowed in Brazil and in Greenland in a single day it melted enough ice to cover Portugal with 10 centimetres of water in height. These abnormal occurrences, having climate change as the main culprit, have a direct impact on people’s lives.

I speak more properly in relation to issues more related to greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, since this is my area of ​​work and study, but it is also important to mention that it is not only with emissions that we are cause impacts on the Planet, but another example is also the exploitation of resources that currently exist and the pollution of aquatic environments. This shows us the importance of acting quickly in order to counteract the changes caused by Us and here, in my opinion, acting quickly is mainly through environmental education, which plays a very important role in the conservation of the environment and our Planet.

Education and environmental awareness are necessary because, despite climate change, pollution and the need to conserve the environment are subjects increasingly addressed and discussed, the truth is that it was not enough. Despite the alarming situation in which we find ourselves, what is needed is still not being done and environmental education could be the missing trigger.

From my point of view currently in our daily lives, we are faced with people with different opinions regarding environmental impacts and the need for environmental conservation. Below I point out the groups in which I divide these people into five groups:

  1. Those who are aware of environmental problems and are taking action to conserve our planet.

  2. Those who know about environmental problems, but who don’t know how to help.

  3. Those who know the environmental problems, but who are “comfortable” and think they cannot make a difference and that someone will solve this problem.

  4. Those who are unaware of environmental problems.

  5. Those who deny climate change and who claim that we are on the right path.

In terms of environmental action, these groups are located at different levels and education must be adapted to each one of them, not even people in group 1 do everything they can, there is always something else that can be done to help. It’s funny that education is an important factor in conservation as well because it can shape these various types of positions towards the environment.

As I said earlier regarding education, environmental education is also an investment, an investment in Us and in the Planet. It is important to invest in:

  • Short term (investing in adults) – Since they are the main decision-makers and those who can make the biggest difference now and have a preponderant role in the education of young people.

  • Medium term (investment in young people) – environmental education in young people is important as they can start acting and more important because in the coming years, they have become the main decision-makers and must be prepared for this. They are perhaps the most wronged because they are the ones who will receive the responsibility to act and they are not even close to the main culprits, they will have to fix the bad choices of their parents and grandparents.

  • Long term (investment in children) – it is very important to invest in children from the early years of school so that they can make the right decisions from an early age and so that they are well prepared when they must make important decisions at a later age. If environmental education is provided to children from an early age, they will be the best prepared, which will certainly prevent them from making the same mistakes. “When it is possible to provide a multidisciplinary approach to Environmental Education, especially in basic education, the school will fulfil its role in the formation of environmentally conscious citizens.” (Isabela Lia Vaccari and Mario Marcos Lopes, 2018).

An example that demonstrates the importance of environmental education as a conservation factor and that everyone’s help is needed are companies that care about the environment. These companies want to reduce their impacts, such as reducing and offsetting their carbon footprint, and have been investing in environmental education/training of their employees because they understand that this impact reduction needs to be done together and that this is necessary educate and raise awareness of its employees so that they can play an active role in this struggle. Reflora informally and indirectly teaches and encourages environmental education through the dissemination of environmental problems and the provision of some solutions helping small companies to understand their impacts, reduce and offset them.

Environmental education is an important factor for conservation because it provides the necessary tools both in Our school and in adulthood so that we can counteract the consequences of our actions over the last century.

Environmental education is an important factor for conservation because it provides the necessary tools both in Our school and in adulthood so that we can counteract the consequences of our actions over the last century. We all had responsibility or in some way benefited from the environmental impacts and now it is necessary to all act together because “each for himself” helps, but it will not be enough. For everyone to help and play their role in this fight, it is necessary that All of us have at least a minimum of knowledge regarding the environmental impacts caused by us and what measures and actions can be taken by each one. Education is one of the pillars of society and environmental education can be the great pillar for the conservation of the planet, it is the starting point.

“Education can help people of different ages and social positions to learn about values, motivation, skills and responsibilities in relation to maintaining the quality of the environment and human health.” (Florica Morara, Andrea Peterlicean, 2012). “The biggest challenge of Environmental Education is to go beyond behavioural learning, reaching the construction of a citizen culture, with ecological attitudes.” (Isabela Lia Vaccari and Mario Marcos Lopes, 2018).

By Marco Fernandes, Emissions Calculation at Reflora Initiative.

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