The environmental crisis is gradually becoming the canary in the mineshaft of the modern community. Many centuries ago, miners checked the quality of mines by lowering caged canaries into mineshafts. If these birds came back alive, the miners would conclude the mines didn’t contain toxic gases. If the canaries came back dead, the miners would avoid the mines – because they were not safe.
Today, the environmental crisis appears to be playing the same role for the modern society. For instance, animals and plants are becoming extinct and the water is becoming increasingly polluted. Oceans’ fisheries are declining and the ‘fresh air’ we breathe is becoming smog. Besides, industrial processes continue to release toxins into the atmosphere, land, and water. These toxins alter the environmental processes so severely that the natural reproduction capability of living organisms (including humankind) is negatively impacted.
All these events point towards a reality that we should face; the generativity of planet earth and nearly all the social structures dependent upon this planet are in peril. The earth is reacting to human activities through the environmental crisis. It is warning us or probably beseeching everyone to respond appropriately.
The question is…
The most important question raised by environmental problems is not whether global warming and overall climate are happening. It is no longer about whether farmlands, fisheries, and forests can sustain the ever-increasing level of exploitation. And it is no longer whether the air we breathe or water we use is polluted. The essential question is, ‘to what extent our home (earth) will remain strong enough to sustain the modern society we have come to know?’
Generally, environmental problems are a long-term threat to planet earth’s wellbeing. Technology has performed excellently in exploiting natural resources to the point that humankind is rapidly using up renewable and non-renewable resources. Similarly, the toxic by-products of consumer lifestyles and production processes are being produced more rapidly than the earth can safely absorb.
The effect is so pervasive that there is no single ecosystem on earth is free from the impact of human activities. For instance, the toxic emissions from industries have been detected in samples of ice taken from deep in the Arctic. Industrialization, agriculture, and other human activities have altered the ‘chemistry of earth.’ This is the main reason we are facing issues like ozone depletion, the growth of deserts, climate change, and more.
And what’s the answer?
The only answer to the deepening environmental problem is a sustainable and mutually beneficial human-earth relationship. We need to put aside individualism and consider ourselves connected to earth intimately. This is a challenge at the deepest level because political leaders, environmental experts, policy makers, policy analysts, and other experts in different aspects must work together!
To save our home (earth), sustainability must take precedence over consumption.
Do you agree? Please share your thoughts.
Dinosaur Fossil: Stages of Formation
Throughout periods of human history, men have unearthed fossils and wondered how they have been formed. In old times, fossils even inspired legends about strange creatures and monsters. 2000 years from now, Chang Qu, a Chinese writer, mentioned the discovery of rare “dragon bones”, probably fossil of a dinosaur. Fossils are impressive because of their delicate beauty as well as bizarre forms.
How are fossils formed?
Formation of fossil takes place in various ways, but most fossils form when an animal or plant dies and is buried in silt and mud. Soft tissues are the ones that decompose fast, leaving behind shells or hard bones. Years after years, sediments pile up on top, hardening it like a rock. During stages of erosion, the beautiful secrets hidden inside stones reveal themselves.
In simple words, the word fossil indicates traces of the existence of past life. So, a fossil can be either plant remains or animal remains like bones, teeth, shells, etc. Fossil records also include activities of organisms like burrows, feces, and footprints.
Five ways in which fossil formation takes place:
Let us learn in detail about the five primary processes of fossil formation:
Of all the methods of formation of fossils, permineralization is the most common. Once a shell, wood fragment, or bone is buried and covered in sediments, the movement of water (rich in minerals) takes place through the layers of the sediment. This water fills up the empty spaces leaving mineral deposits, thus producing a fossil. Multiple marine fossils, petrified wood and dinosaur bones fossils have formed by the process of permineralization.
- Natural casts and molds
When water flowing at a great speed removes most of the original tissue or bone of a dead organism, an empty space is created. This depression is known as a mold. Later, other sediments fill that space forming a matching cast inside the mold which is similar in shape and size to the original part or organism. This is how natural casts are formed. Biologists have found many mollusks as casts as their shells wear out easily.
Some fossils take shape when high pressure compresses the remains, leaving a dark imprint behind. Compressed fossils are mostly ferns and leaves.
- Amber preserved
This type of fossilization is also known as unaltered preservation. When plant parts or insects get trapped in a hardened category of tree sap (amber), the organism turns into a fossil over time.
- Preserved remains
Preservation of the original material is the most common method. For instance, once a hunter’s body was frozen inside a glacier, giving scientists the scope to examine the hair, skin, and internal organs. This type of fossils helps scientists collect DNA from the remains and match the DNA sequences with their modern counterparts.
The interesting story behind creation of dinosaur fossil:-
William Ferguson, the renowned geologist, discovered the first dinosaur fossil at Cape Paterson in 1903. In order to preserve dinosaur fossils, remains of dead dinosaur must be buried under the ground before being devoured by scavengers or getting decomposed completely.
What are the four significant phases of fossilization?
- Stage 1: A demised dinosaur needs to get buried before the body’s remains are destroyed completely.
- Stage 2: Over years, layers after layers of sediments keep accumulating and they exert pressure on the buried remains.
- Stage 3: Dissolved minerals, carried by ground-waters, fill in the vacant spaces between bones. Chemical reactions, time, and prolonged pressure together transform the sediments into solid rock whereas the bones become mineralized fossils.
- Stage 4: The fossil stays hidden inside the rock until excavation or erosion uncovers it.
How are fossils discovered and excavated?
Chance plays a key role in this discovery of fossils. Some common instances are:
- Miners digging for minerals
- Chance discovery during road cuttings
So, finding fossils requires hard work, luck, and knowledge of possible places where one can find them. Fossils mainly come out from sedimentary rocks which are then removed in blocks and taken to the laboratory.
Fossils are extremely valuable as they give us information about the history of the Earth and the life forms inhabiting the world centuries ago. They also give clues regarding past geological events and climatic conditions. By know
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Environmental Education For Students Pledge For Better Tomorrow, This Earth Day 2020
The struggle for survival is not a new concept. It was there when the early man started to build tools for hunting with stones in Palaeolithic age and the struggle is still on when we are trying to save our existence due to the diminishing health of our natural environment. The research is flooded with some significant and disturbing facts. As per the United Nations (UN), the world population is projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050. There will be an increase in demand, twice as many resources as the planet can supply. The people would require more understanding and creative problem-solving skills to meet the needs at multiple levels – ecological, cultural, spiritual, and economical. In this respect, environmental education is promoted as a gizmo to provide knowledge, skills, and motivation to the learners about the complex environmental challenges.
As Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.Marching with his words, environmental education or EE is being added as a major curriculum subject for the students of the middle and secondary level. In fact, the concepts of saving Earth and resources are introduced to little kids at the primary education level in the form of activities such as planting trees, saving water, sorting trash.
India’s take on the importance of environmental education
Introducing environmental education during the early academic years is a great step towards building a responsible future generation. EE equips the population with the knowledge, attitude, commitment, and skills to understand the current environmental challenges. It is proving to be a successful approach to attain sustainable development goals by encouraging students to conserve and protect the natural environment in their schools, neighbourhoods, city, and country at large.
In India, the implementation of environmental education in the formal school curriculum is guided by two national policy documents:
- The National Curriculum Framework 2005 and
- the directive of the Supreme Court.
A learned man once said facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. This holds true for the present condition of our environment where glaciers are melting at rapid speed, marine life is endangered, water resources are getting scarce, the air is getting unconsumablefor humans and animals alike. EE aids understanding of how to reverse the process of environmental decline. There are more offerings as well.
- There is an enhancement in creative and critical thinking.
- Students acquire skills that can be applied to real-world problems.
- The learning prompts thinking to come up with actions that can boost the environment.
- It teaches interconnection between ecological, political, cultural, and economic aspects, concerning the natural environment.
- It induces a healthier lifestyle and makes the world a better place to live.
- It helps the community at large to fight nature deficit disorders.
- And above all, the education helps in strengthening our bond as a community
In India, environmental education is included in the curriculum with the following structure:
|Classes||Mode of Transaction|
|I and II||Through Activities|
|III to V||Environmental Studies (EVS)|
|VI to X||Infusion Model|
|XI to XII||Project-based Study|
This learning continues at some graduate and post-graduate professional courses too, such as BBA, BCA. Alongside, various diploma courses in environmental studies have been designed by environmental experts and are offered by prestigious universities.
Students’ role in attaining the wisdom towards the environment
The main focus of environmental education is to enable the students to analyze, evaluate, and draw inferences about problems and concerns related to the environment. And with their acumen, they should be ready to contribute to their current understanding of environmental issues and come up with positive solutions in response to those. At the moment, this is the only expectation.
The students are advised to learn about the environment, through the environment, and for the environment. The major part of our Indian culture supports the principle of reuse, reduce, and recycle. This is in harmony with our mother Earth. The youth is looked upon to carry forward this tradition for the sake of the environment and focus on the educational curriculum to have an in-depth understanding of what is wrong with our world.
There are few expectations from the students:
- Be more responsible when you come upfront to face environmental issues.
- Take part in the initiatives offered at schools, colleges, or country level.
- Have a role model for yourself and be a one for others.
- Empower themselves with skills to conserve the environment.
The role of mentors and associated governing bodies is crucial too.
- Easy implementation of concepts
The teachers must be adequately trained to lower the gap between theoretical learning and practical implementation.
- Enhanced teacher competencies
Provide a solid learning platform with the availability of staff that can provide an in-depth understanding of the different environmental education subjects and topics.
- Structure of the curriculum
Evaluate and sequence the academic curriculum with the required components of environmental studies. Make timely and relevant changes based on the modern developments and problems.
- Comprehensive evaluation
Adhere to variables that dictate the learning and knowledge curve of the students. Evaluate and provide them opportunities to overcome the deficiency in their implementation approach.
We as humans have the instinct to protect our home. But presently, we are the major culprits in destroying our common homeland – The Earth.
For Earth Day’s 50th anniversary on 22nd April 2020, take part in 2020. Global Teach-In, an Earth Day network initiative for connecting with more than 500 million students and community members worldwide. Be a part of the change and show that you care.
Environmental Education for Students
In a nutshell, environmental education is a process that is designed to create awareness and understanding of environmental problems that result in individual and group actions. When done correctly, environmental studies promote critical thinking, effective decision-making, and problem-solving skills. The education uses processes that involve learners measuring, observing, experimenting, classifying, and other data collection techniques. These processes help them in inferring, discussing, interpreting, and predicting information about environmental concerns.
This article will look at environmental education for students, as well as its importance. But before we do that, let’s have a look at some problems arising from the distraction of Mother Nature.
Effects of environmental degradation and destruction
The environment is currently facing lots of challenges. Issues like acid rain, global warming, urban sprawl, air pollution, water pollution, depletion of the ozone layer, waste disposal, climate change seem to worsen by the day. It would have been better if all these happened naturally (albeit, it is still a bad thing) – but that is not the case. These problems are a result of animal and human activities—the same humans who end up taking the hit.
Over the past few years, the exploitation of the earth and degradation of the surrounding has skyrocketed at an alarming speed. Since human actions are consistently not in favor of saving the planet, natural disasters have been cropping up each day, causing more havoc than we could even imagine. A good example is the Amazon Rain Forest fires that happened in 2019. These fires consumed thousands of hectares of forest land; a forest that plays a critical role in the production of oxygen; one that is home of hundreds of animals and plant species – burning down at a record rate.
And that is not the only case. In 2019, China experienced a deadly typhoon, Lekima, that claimed 72 lives. The tropical storm swept through numerous provinces leading to severe floods and incredible damage to bridges and roads. In the same year, Typhoon Hag ibis claimed not less than 86 people in Japan. Not to forget the heat wave in India that killed 90 people in the summer of 2019. And these are just a few examples – the list goes on and on.
What is disturbing is that human beings seem not concerned with all these. It is business as usual. Different organizations and groups have cropped up trying to effect change, but nothing substantial has come out of it. It seems as though this generation is hardwired to a certain way of life. But all hope is not lost. The good thing is that there is an upcoming generation that can make a difference. These are our kids at school – whether it is pre-school, grade school, senior school, or college. These are tomorrow’s leaders. And with the right environmental education for students, they can be the change that we want to see.
Teaching the students and the masses
Environmental education is perhaps the best weapon that we can use to minimize and eventually cut out human actions that contribute to environmental issues. Different individuals, groups, and environments across the globe are playing their part in educating the masses about environmental care. They are informing people on how their small actions can add up for a greater good.
Educators, too, are teaching their students about the environment in a bid to turn them into responsible adults. When students study environmental science, it becomes part of their lives. This makes it easy for them to respect nature. Additionally, ecological education teaches learners about how to protect and ensure the safety of things around them.
When done right, our children will grow up knowing that tropical forests play a significant role in preventing climate change and that burning them will increase global warming and other resulting consequences. Again, they will understand that reversing the burning of fossil fuel and loss of natural habitat are the only ways to reduce climate warming.
And while technology is trying to curb a range of issues – like replace fossil fuel and even reduce greenhouse gases, it is still less likely to attain what is required in the short time available. Besides, technology will not be effective if the destruction of savannah and tropical forests becomes widespread.
With students being motivated to bring about change, many are looking into ways to help save the environment. In fact, some are coming up with creative renewable energy solutions to reduce over-reliance on fossil fuels. Other green innovations include drinkable seawater, illuminating water, solar panels, plastic from banana peels, eco-bags, and so on. All these innovations come about when students are motivated enough to want to effect change.
A few things to note about environmental education
It is important to note that environmental education and environmental information are two very different things. The latter involves offering facts about specific environmental problems or concerns. This can be achieved through informational brochures, press releases, videos, bulletins, and other media channels. It is also directed towards the general public rather than a specific audience or group. In most cases, environmental information is just effective among those who are motivated and concerned about particular issues or topics.
Quality environmental education focuses on the educational process. It is science-based and not biased. Educators can be advocates, but when they take on teaching students, they should not be inclined toward a specific direction. By this, we mean, they should be neutral and not allow their personal beliefs to inform their teachings.
By 2030, the global population will need twice as many resources as Mother Nature can supply. This is according to The Economist. Meeting the cultural, economic, spiritual, and ecological needs of global citizenry calls for understanding and creative problem-solving abilities. Environmental education arms students with the motivation, skills, and knowledge to handle sophisticated environmental concerns in the 21st century.
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