Speedy scientific advances in the 1800s allowed humans to delegate unpleasant tasks to fossil fuels, and we began to innocently extract these resources from the earth in many different forms. There is a twist to this happy fairytale though. Human greed, lethargy and corruption drove us deeper and deeper into a spiral of addiction. We pillaged and plundered the very earth that provided for us. We grew fat, as individuals and as a race, creating unhealthy lifestyles and living conditions for ourselves. We have crippled the Earth, making it less and less supportive of life as we know it by spewing toxic chemicals into the air, destroying habitats and unbalancing ecosystems. The most impressive part? We have utterly redefined what it means to be a living creature by demanding that the Earth provide every little amenity for us at the lowest personal cost - all in the last 200 years.
To me, it makes perfect sense that the group we need to focus on educating first and foremost is children. This generation of kids will be among those facing the most drastic human-caused changes in our world that we have seen yet. It seems natural that these people should know the intricacies of sustainable living by heart. It should be their first instinct. Despite this, environmental education is still lacking severely in public school systems in high schools, let alone in middle schools and elementary schools. The EPA has given out more than 3,500 grants for environmental education programs since 1992, a nod in the right direction, but one organization giving out grant money can not turn the tide of a massive country like the United States. What we need is a revising of our priorities. Environmental education programs should not be optional individual programs, they should be mandated and integrated into schools of all economic or racial statuses. As of 2007, only 12 states require integration of environmental education and environmental literacy programs in K-12 schools. This cannot be accepted. Its time to spread successful environmental education to every corner of the United States, before its too late.
An ongoing bibliography