Traditional environmental education assumes that environmental awareness will somehow translate to action, but it doesn’t teach how to take that action. Whatever action this education has produced has proven grossly insufficient to keep pace with environmental degradation. If this traditional “raising awareness” model works, why is public opinion shifting away from supporting any meaningful climate legislation. And why is it so easy for “climate-change deniers,” often backed by industrial or oil business lobbyists, to discredit credible scientific opinion on climate change?
Environmentalism is not a political or lifestyle choice. Unlike religion or political affiliation, environmentalism is not a choice we make. It is a civic responsibility and fundamental aspect of any cohesive society, like respecting the law. If we breathe, if we consume anything, then we are each responsible for our part in that consumption, like it or not.
Not only students, but all of us must understand the consequences of consumption. Environmental educators must now develop ways to practically empower us to reduce it. Unbridled growth simply is not sustainable. Conservation is the single, easiest first step toward reducing humanity’s negative impacts on Earth. Not recycling, but real conservation. Using less. Reusing and repurposing things.