Listening to the political discussions and debates over the current conditions of the human environment, has intensified my concern for how we will begin the process of changing our life-styles to provide for a more desirable future. The greedy removal of regulations designed to help protect the natural world, has set our country back significantly. Corporate America’s search for cheaper labor sources and reduced responsibility for worker benefits has had serious implications for American workers. The intensity and frequency of catastrophic storms continue to wreak havoc on people throughout the world. Demand for cleared land increases daily and, we sit back and hope our personal wealth will increase and advanced technology will provide and extend life on Earth! Why do we continue to dis-regard the facts and ignore the implications for the future?
It seems simple, present the facts and the people will insist on changes. History clearly demonstrates, that major changes have resulted when the people have endured enough and significant pressure is applied to the leadership of a country. Major solutions to complex problems inevitably come from the bottom up, not top down, and usually involve confrontation and conflict. I have difficulty understanding why we are comfortable with the status quo when overwhelming evidence tells us our future generations will face devastating results. Our younger citizens appear to be aware and very concerned about issues related to the natural world such as climate change. Is this due to concern for their personal future or academia’s effort to present information on environmental issues? Regardless of the reason, it has focused my interest in the education process for all levels of academic learning.
Efforts to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world and the story of creation, has led me to identify three major elements designed into the natural world and the story of creation. These three elements are; NOTHING IS ITSELF WITHOUT ALL THE REST, THE EXTENT OF DIVERSITY IS THE MEASURE OF PERFECTION, and THE CYCLING OF THE FOUR SEASONS DEMONSTRATES THE RESTORATIVE POWER OF THE NATURAL WORLD. The first element tells us that the circle of life depends upon relationships. Everything is connected and requires the other organisms to sustain life. This element defines what is missing in our educational process. Relationships are the foundation which supports all life systems. Education needs to focus on defining the relationships humans share and depend upon with the natural world. Ecology is the study of relationships but, few people major in ecology and then, only at the college level. We need to start at the elementary level with science and environmental studies, introducing students to the connections and relationships we share with other organisms and elements of the natural world. My book, “I’m Just A Tree-Life Depends on Me”, demonstrates how this can be done at the elementary level. High school students should be required to enroll in two or more environmental education classes which introduce each student to ecological relationships between the various life systems on Earth. Science classes must connect the pure scientific facts to the human element so these connections and relationships are fully understood. College and university levels should require science and natural resource students to first develop a sound foundation in ecological principles before specializing in one of the various majors in the scientific world.
Education and an appreciation for the importance of relationships within our Universal, Earth and Human communities is essential if we care about the future! What kind of a future can we expect if our destruction of the natural world continues? When I began my search for a deeper understanding of the concerns I developed during my career, I thought the science of forestry needed to adopt new goals and principles but, I now understand creation and the natural world were developed through the principles of perfection and it is the human element that is interfering with the ability to maintain these perfection principles. The United States is no longer seen as a leader in the education of our youth and changes are necessary, if we want to regain and retain our world leadership position. Our youth must understand and respect the complex workings of our Earth community and it must start with our elementary students. Life systems are completely dependent upon relationships and failure to appreciate and understand these relationships will provide unacceptable consequences for future generations!