We are at a critical juncture. Our planet is in trouble. Apparently we humans are to blame. Not only have we overpopulated the earth but we have lived carelessly. We have polluted, raped and pillaged our natural resources, mostly in the name of profit. We have been arrogant, thinking that no matter how we behaved that the planet would somehow recover; it would somehow forgive us.
Perhaps our worst crime has been that we have taught our children that the natural world is something that can be taken for granted. Don’t look now, but we are in the midst of an entire generation of children in the western world who spend almost their entire lives indoors. The average child in the U.S.A. between the ages of 8 and 18 spends over six and a half hours a day using some sort of electronic media. Life in the natural world has been placed with life inside an electronic prison. Video games, the internet, television, cell phone communications, and god only knows what else has become our children’s learning environment.
There is little hope for saving our planet without the help of our children. There is little reason for our children to be involved in the greatest task ever to be taken on by humans if they have no reason to understand what we are trying to save. The irony is that it is likely that the earth will recover from what ever disaster we create, even if it is without us. So, from the human perspective, the real reason to help our planet is entirely self serving. We cannot live without a healthy earth, but the earth can live without us.
While some of our greatest minds are tackling climate change, energy conservation, alternative energy creation, sustainable green economics, and wildlife conservation in a changing global world, we might be overlooking the one thing that is most important; educating our children to the wonders of the natural world.
The beauty of this aspect of saving our planet is that we can all be involved. Take some time and take your children out into the wilds. Volunteer at a local school to do nature education. Create reading groups at public libraries to get children interested in the natural sciences or outdoor adventures. Help a child explore a wild place; take them on a raft trip in a wild area, or take them canoeing and explore the edge of a fresh water pond. Help them to hear the birds, understand the wonders of a vernal pool, or take in the vastness of a forest. Do what you can, but do something that will bring them back to nature.
It is our only hope. If we are to get through these tough environmental times it will take an appreciation of what the natural world has to offer; peace, love, and glory for all those who appreciate our earth for what it is; our home.
Written for www.wildramblings.com in May 2009.