Friday, March 05, 2010

climate change and environmental education

ClimateandCapitalism | Probably many of the scenarios presented in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) most recent reports on the natural and social impacts of global warming will take place not in the year 2100 or even 2050. It seems they will occur much sooner than that. Actually, we can already see several examples of environmental collapse. Therefore, it is critically urgent to adopt policies which truly address the environmental problems we face. Environmental education is a vital part of this call to action. As an intellectual mechanism, environmental education serves both as a means of persuasion and a way to bring about behavioral change.

But first we need to clarify the kind of environmental education that can actually achieve this goal, since, in general, government policies regarding environmental protection have been superficial and do not focus on the true causes of the ecological crisis. This is not a surprise. Governments today are simply incapable of preventing the ecological suicide which the prevailing capitalist logic is paving the way for. This superficial approach, however, is not due to a lack of understanding of the environmental crisis; rather it is an inherent consequence of the functioning of the capitalist economy.

Profit is the main driving force behind capitalism, and this requires unlimited expansion, unlimited accumulation and commodification. These conditions are essential for the continuous reproduction of the capitalist system. Aside from all other technicalities, this is the main ideological aspect of the climate issue: Capitalism is incapable of dealing with the global warming issue in a serious and responsible way.

Therefore, environmental educators must formulate a program of instruction which both holds the capitalist economy responsible for the global ecological crisis, while at the same time pointing out new directions in the fight against the ecosystem’s collapse.