Schools must revamp how they teach about the environment to prevent ecological collapse, conservationist Charles Saylan and UCLA life scientist Daniel T. Blumstein argue in "The Failure of Environmental Education (And How We Can Fix It)," published this week by the University of California Press.
"Americans like to think we are doing a great job educating our kids about the environment, but there has been a major disconnect between raising awareness about the environment and taking action to reduce environmental degradation," said Blumstein, a UCLA professor and chair of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology. "We believe environmental destruction pollution, global warming, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, over-harvesting resources, to name a few is ruining the Earth and that students should be taught to preserve the Earth."
"Environmental education has failed to keep pace with environmental degradation," said Saylan, co-founder and executive director of the Ocean Conservation Society. "We are advocating a sea change in education."
"The world will be a very different place by the end of this century," Blumstein said. "Is that a world we want for our kids and our grandkids?"
"Sooner than that," remarked Saylan. He and Blumstein strongly emphasize "tipping points" that can rapidly degrade the environment.
"Many systems may be stable for a long time and suddenly change," Blumstein said. "Tipping points are unpredictable. You don't know when you're near one."
He cited the rapid collapse of Hosni Mubarak's government in Egypt as one example and the depletion of many fish species as another.
"You don't know where tipping points are until they tip," Saylan agreed. "They can happen faster than most people think. Many people all over the globe, for example, are running out of fresh water. Where will all these people go?"
Blumstein and Saylan recommend integrating
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University of California - Los Angeles