I think we can all agree, through consensus research conducted by scientists around the world, that the human race is damaging our planet in ways that will eventually, inevitably catch up to us in one way or another. Whether that means being forced by law to live completely different lifestyles, or human extinction, its an important concept and on the forefront of many forward thinking scholars.
As I’ve advanced through various levels of schooling, teachers, politicians, and family members have tried different approaches to getting through to me regarding being an environmentally responsible member of our community on this planet. First, it was my mom explaining to me the rudimentary concept that I couldn’t just throw everything into the garbage can because plastics harm the earth and animals on the earth. Next, it was my sixth grade science teacher showing our class an Al Gore global warming movie, displaying numerous graphs and examples meant to scare people into recycling. Growing up in an almost unanimously conservative republican small-town in Georgia, those of my classmates who were more politically savvy naturally brought up opposing articles and graphs discrediting the video our teacher had shown us.
Amid this whirlwind of conflicting thoughts and ideas, many of which seemed to be politically motivated, I was lost. But I developed my stance based on the popularity it would garner from my classmates, typical 6th grader. I was stoutly against the concept of global warming, and naively, also the idea that human action was harming our planet in a way that we affect our species in the long run.
Going to a prep school in New England, the culture surrounding me drastically changed from small town Georgia, but I still held true to my opinions regarding human action effecting the environment. We spent two weeks dissecting this video in an ethics course called “The Story of Stuff,” which, like many other videos of its kind (Al Gore), depicted humans, and more specifically Americans, as villains in this process. In the Story of Stuff, the woman eludes to ideas highlighting our intentional waste dumping on other countries.
I have a greater belief in the morals and ideals of our country, and the side effects of a competitive and free capital market that we are so famous for. Looking back, I realize my thoughts regarding the environment were relatively immature, and there has been enough of a consensus opinion from people far smarter than I to allow me to realize that we are indeed effecting this planet in a negative way that we may not even be able to comprehend.
I believe that schools across america are going about the process of teaching young people about the way humans are harming the environment is totally off-track and not particularly helpful in breaking through to most young people. For many, hearing such drastic negativity causes a defense mechanism, and often a mental wall to go up. If someone is preaching to everyone that we are screwed because we tossed too many beer cans in the garbage or drove our gas powered cars around excessively, I just don’t really want to listen. However, reading Alicia’s article had an affect on me, because it highlights how these decisions could affect me in realistic every day scenarios. This is the way we should be teaching young people about the environment, not the scare tactics and dramatic language used in so many environmental movies and speeches.