This blog brought to you by Past South West Pacific President and committed environmentalist Eileen Mitchel.
Listening to the car radio just last week, I was astounded to hear that May 27th was "World Hamburger Day". My immediate reaction was "you must be joshing!" but there it was - World Hamburger Day! My mind then drifted through to the contrast of such insignificance i.e. designating such a day as a "world" day, versus the upcoming actual United Nations Day and the call from UN Environment seeking the biggest global call and mobilization for action on 5 June, World Environment Day (WED).
The irony of all this thought was, here I was in a car, riding on bitumen, listening about celebrating fast food when the 2017 theme for WED is "Connecting People to Nature"! Thus is the endless quandary for the folk of this planet as, to quote "Man is both creature and "moulder" of his environment, which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet a stage has been reached when, through the rapid acceleration of science and technology, man has acquired the power to transform his environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale."
Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. However, in an ever-expanding population with its demand for food and human habitat, driven by a philosophy promoting continuous economic growth we are ever more segregated from the very basis of our existence - the natural world. In our cities we simply expect a continuous supply of the product from those rural workers and react more to the increasing costs of produce whilst ignoring that these workers are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.
It is not just the economic factors that have a serious impact. Researchers and authors such as Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder " identified decreased exposure of children to nature in American society and a consequent "nature deficit disorder" which harms both children and society. His book examines research and concludes that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. Writers in Europe have documented that there are pre-teens who have simply never, ever, walked on grass in bare feet at any time in their lives.
A little His-tory
In 1972 at the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden, environmental education gained international recognition when it was declared that "environmental education must be used as a tool to address global environmental problems". This conference, opening on June 5, agreed to a document that became Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, or "the Stockholm Declaration". This was made up of 7 proclamations and 26 principles "to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment."
Two year later in 1974 we saw the first UN "World Environment Day" and World Environment Day has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated all over the world. Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. Every World Environment Day has a different global host country and this year the host is Canada - a country proud of its rich and spectacular natural heritage whilst its abundant natural resources also support the country’s economic prosperity. The theme for World Environment Day 2017 "Connecting People to Nature", implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share. This year’s theme invites you to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.
Why not Her-story
Goal 2: The Soroptimist federations will be linked through their efforts to improve the lives of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities whilst the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states our resolve “to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources”.
Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a valley. (all items in italics from www.un.org/en/events/environmentday).
B. Ed. Studies
Principal Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre (Retired)