Friday, May 17, 2013

Now presenting An Entire Education, my second documentary short film. The film was inspired by the passion and insights of the children I worked with in the duration of my Environmental Citizenship course. I hope you take a minute to watch this, and understand how simple it is to change your life and to help change the lives of others for the best of the planet.

Environmentally yours,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Update 2

Another quick update, just in case there is anyone out there. In conjunction with teaching the environmental citizenship classes, I filmed and began to edit a short documentary film about the experience, showcasing the children's passion for this planet. I'm in the process of finishing up with that, and I'll be sure to share it with you when I'm done. Stick around!

Environmentally yours,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Making a Change

The last two posts concerned the impending natural apocalypse we have brought on ourselves. Well, perhaps it isn’t all that dramatic quite yet. The short-sighted endeavors concerning the human race and natural resources at our disposal have created an unsustainable situation, which, if continued as such, will lead to a world unsupportive of human life. The danger, in the eyes of the author, lies not only in our vastly depleted resources, bloated population and crippled ecosystems. It is not simply the poisoned skies, polluted rivers and barren earth. No, the danger lies in our ignorance. As aforementioned, one cannot combat a problem if they know nothing of it. Children who are raised unaware of our environmental impact and the etiquette of an environmental citizen cannot grow to be the women and men leading the fight to ensure the specie’s continued survival. You cannot help but step on the ant you cannot see. 

So I made a decision. I have had the fortune of being raised in a family where the environment was always a primary concern. My father, a LEED certified sustainable architect, has always been absolute in his devotion to the environment, a trait he passed on to my sister and me. Because of this privilege, I decided to stop griping to the internet, go out into the world and impart some of my knowledge to someone who otherwise wouldn’t be so informed. At first, I reached out to one of the plethora of under-funded public elementary schools in my hometown of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, because of scheduling issues, I had to move my operations to an established and well-funded private elementary school. The impact though, was hopefully the same. 

I ended up teaching a series of mini-courses on environmental citizenship to a group of children from second through fifth grades. These grades seemed optimal because a second grader is mature enough to see and understand problems in the world, and a fifth grader is old enough to make a difference. In the classes we watched clips from documentaries, such as Anne Leonard’s polemical ode to sustainability The Story of Stuff, played games, did hands-on activities and creative pieces. The classes were intended to show students some of the things they can change in their own lives to minimize their negative impact on the planet. They learned how easy it can be to make a difference. 

These kids showed me a passion for their planet that I could not have expected. Their insights into our unsustainable lifestyles reminded me of why I even care about the environment. They reminded me that I am not fighting for myself. My generation will be long dead before the true consequences of our actions roll around, but not theirs. These kids will see the waters rise. They will see floods and droughts, gross overpopulation, starvation and disease, entire species vanishing. These children will see blizzards on the 4th of July, and heatwaves at christmas. All I want is to warn them. To prepare them. To allow them to change.

Environmentally yours, 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Environmental Education Worldwide

In my last major post, I went over the environmental situation our race’s communal greed, stubbornness, and ignorance has placed us in. Shifting climates, species going extinct, melting icecaps. Heavy stuff. These world-wide dangers we face are certainly no laughing matter, and yet the answer seems laughably clear. Considering this is an issue of ignorance, it seems clear that we should fight it with education. Education is, in essence, the engine with which change comes about in the world. An ignorant nation is a stagnant nation. An ignorant world is an unchanging world. After all, it’s very hard to fix a problem without knowing about it. So to that end, considering I am not very well educated about environmental education, I found someone who was. On a recent visit to the UK, I struck up a conversation that eventually found its way to the ethics of environmentalism, while admiring a victorian-era toilet in the Sherlock Holmes Museum, in London. The woman I was speaking with, Tatiana Shakirova, happened to be the Manager of Education for the Sustainable Development Program, for the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia, or CAREC. Later, I had a chance to conduct a short Interview with Tatiana via email about the importance of environmental education. 

The interview went as follows:

Q: What is your position within The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia?
A: Manager of Education for Sustainable Development Programme

Q: What inspired you to enter the field of environmental education?
A: My own education and the level of pollution of my country and in my city.

Q: What is the status of environmental education in Central Asia? How widespread is it, and how is it incorporated into standard education?
A: You will find more information at the CAREC web-site:

Q: At what age is environmental education introduced into standard education in Kazakhstan?
A: We have a mandatory course “Ecology & Sustainable Development” in Kazakhstan for bachelors of all specialties [majors] of all Kazakh universities.

Q: How does CAREC approach environmental education, and what individual issues are considered most important to teach to students?
A: You will find more information at the CAREC web-site:

Q: Do you believe the world as a whole can benefit from widespread environmental education?
A: I do believe. I do not have any other choice, otherwise I should leave my job! 

Environmentalism Crisscrosses the Globe
Unfortunately, Ms. Shakirova was leaving for vacation at the time of writing this, but kindly took a moment to give her opinion. Despite the brief nature of the interview, Tatiana’s passion for environmental education, and the personal nature of her cause resonates after reading her responses. Pollution and climate change should be a personal matter to all of us. Every one of us can see the pollution that litters our grounds, darkens our skies and infects our waters. We can feel the erratic and dangerous weather changes. And so what do we do? According to Tatiana and the CAREC website, we spread the word. Apart from the mandatory Ecology & Sustainable Development course Tatiana mentioned, CAREC has organized educational lectures and courses for government officials from all over the central asian region, as well as many other programs for students. These are patterns we in the U.S. should be following. Unfortunately we’re are far from widespread mandatory environmental education. Courses stateside remain optional, obscure and poorly funded, but more on that next time. 

Environmentally yours,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Update 1

Just a quick update for you folks, if you're out there. I'm working on the next major post, and I've gotten in contact with some fascinating, passionate people in the world of environmental studies. It's been wonderful so far to see the astounding vigor with which these folks are charged when talking about the environment, environmental education and our planet. These are the men and women who would fight day in and day out to save our planet from ourselves. Its truly inspiring. See you soon with more info, and maybe an interview or two.

Environmentally yours,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Situation

Humanity is young. While the fecund earth from which we sprang came into existence a colossal 4.54 billion years ago, the human race only reached anatomical modernity approximately 200,000 years ago. We began to muse over the more intricate concepts a minuscule 50,000 years ago, reaching a point archeologists describe as behavioral modernity. Only 12,000 years ago, we began to settle down and practice sedentary agriculture, then, beginning a mere 200 years ago, in the 19th and 20th century, we pulled forth from the stone of the earth a double-edged sword. Our double-edged excalibur? Fuel. 

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.

So what do we do to fight this massive, ever-growing problem? With an issue as pervasive as this, simple taxes and bans will never get to the heart of the problem. Our greatest tools in this oncoming struggle are our minds. The issues of global climate change, pollution, overpopulation and non-sustainable fuel are issues of science and behavior. So how do you fight an issue of behavior? How about an issue of science? The answer is through education. The only way we can change the actions of the human race as a whole is to educate the human race as a whole. To slow the additional injury to our planet that is caused every minute, we must spread the word. It also can not work to confine this knowledge to the select few who can include higher education in their lives. The range has to be far and wide. 

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 required 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.

Environmentally yours,