Science plays a very important role in sustainability and is a whole different discipline within environmental studies, called environmental science. Its biggest contribution comes in the form of data collected through experiments. The reason for these experiments goes beyond data collecting and is meant to serve as an educating experience, so that we can better understand the matter and energy that make up the physical world. Although scientific data is very useful, it does have its limitations. First, people rely a lot on the statistics provided by scientific research, but there is no way for them to be completely absolute about their results. Second, all scientists are human, which means that they will all have their own biases about their research. Third, the natural systems of the world are extremely complex and involve many different variables, which can make it very difficult to accurately experiment on them. Lastly, the amount of degradation is so great that it would be impossible to measure how much has occurred annually worldwide. These limitations require scientists to utilize their imagination and develop creative ways to support sustainability and educate the public.
Because of the complexity of the world’s natural systems, it is important to understand at least how they work. So what exactly keeps us and other organisms alive? Three factors sustain life on earth, flow of energy, cycling of nutrients, and gravity. Without these three factors we would not be able to survive, let alone keep two feet on the ground. As humans we are only a small factor in the ecosystem. We may be high on the food chain, but there is this constant cycle of energy that connects us to the small plankton living in the deep oceans. What many people refuse to believe is that every time we build a new high-rise or drive a car, there will be some kind of pollution that will occur. Every action has a consequence and it is difficult for people to realize that although their intentions may be good, in the end it is more damaging than they believe. But, people also have to remember that these consequences can have a good result as well. Our actions can change the way humans act on this earth and hopefully one day, people will treat their environment as a partner in life, rather than simply a resource.
The amount of beauty on this earth is so incredible and as human beings we realize that and are compelled toward nature. What makes our ecosystem so amazing is the amount of biodiversity that exists. It is estimated that there is 8 million to 100 million species on earth, but to be honest no one really knows the exact number because we have not discovered them all and probably never will. Biodiversity is not only interesting, but also vital to sustaining earth. We are currently losing our biodiversity day by day because of the rate of extinction, which is now exceeding the rate of species evolution.
The film “Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction” is a wake up call to everyone who believes that we are not in fact going through a global crisis. In the next 24 hours an animal will go extinct. The natural extinction rate used to be about one in a million. Today, the extinction rate is about 10,000 times that and in no way shape or form is it completely natural. Humans play a big part in the threat of extinction of many species around the world. It is important that we protect these species not only for their right of existence, but for the very fact that they contribute to our environment. No one can separate himself or herself from the circle that connects us all. We rely on each other, which means every organism on earth deserves an equal amount of respect.
We can continue to discover all of these statistics about the current rate of extinction, but they are of no use unless the public is educated about it. The United States is currently #2 on International Index of Ignorance. There is a serious disconnect between science and the American public. It is impossible to support a movement you cannot understand. Research is useless unless it is put into practice. Ignorance stems from lack of education and therefore, it is in the hands of the scientists to allow the public to join in their movement.
Question: What can we do to eradicate environmental ignorance within the United States? Can it be solved simply through an increase of environmental education?