The oil pollution recently discovered off the coast of Israel is a reminder that sustainability is a burning and relevant issue, and not a distant threat. This is a thing the children of today must understand in order to continue living here.
By Naama Grossman Kuba, teacher at SAE’s Sustainability and Social Responsibility High School which will open in Fall 2021.
The major oil pollution recently discovered off the coast of Israel joins the environmental damage that occurs around the world on a daily basis following accidents, contempt and negligence on the part of human beings. The current incident occurred at the end of an unconventional year on Earth, following the outbreak of the corona plague.
On the one hand, the closure of homes, the reduction of traffic and the shutdown of industrial plants reduced by tens of percent the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere, and the world knew a clearer and cleaner year. On the other hand, it obliges us to ask ourselves questions about the fabric of life on earth, the connections between ourselves and ourselves and nature, and how humanity affects this delicate fabric.
Global economic organizations have already realized that significant environmental change is needed. The International Monetary Fund has announced, following fears of significant economic deterioration in the Middle East and North Africa, an environmental recovery plan to reduce air pollution from industry and transportation in the region. The EU has decided to invest 750 billion euros in a crisis recovery program, focusing on land restoration, biodiversity restoration and emission reduction.
Also, last September, the UN convened for the first time a world summit dealing with biodiversity, a subject which touches all of us and will further profoundly affect all aspects of our lives.
It is important for children of today to understand the environmental challenges we face so that they can continue to live here as their parents lived and lead a safe and seventy life here like ours. For that to happen, we need to start speaking to them in a new language. We need to teach them about the economic and social impacts of the contemporary lifestyle: about productivity and consumerism, about technology, about the world of work, about proper urban planning, about ecology, and not just from the point of view of biology, energy, water and soil, the flora and fauna around us, but also about ourselves – human beings – and how to truly do good with us.
To enable this, we must educate out of an understanding that social responsibility and environmental responsibility are one, and out of an understanding that we must act in light. We must strive for a discourse that sees us as part of a large and complex system and teach our students to understand the system and act within it: to connect different fields of knowledge – science and technology, economics and society, environment and culture, in a way that benefits people and the environment.
The schools of the future will develop in students the skills of observing and analyzing the systems that surround them. They will enable students to initiate and plan targeted interventions to improve the system, and to implement these interventions and learn from their actions, with the goal the good of the individual and the good of the whole. The future school will also emphasize the emotional and social skills needed to perform such tasks, and will build in its students stronger personal resilience and self-confidence that will help them cope with a frequently changing world and future environmental crises.
Pollution at sea is an important lesson for all of us on environmental and social responsibility, encouraging the mobilization of the public to clean the beaches, which indicates a connection to the environment and responsibility towards it. It is a reminder that sustainability is a burning and relevant issue, not a future, distant and imagined threat. It is our duty, as educators and parents, to prioritize the issue and as an integral part of our lifestyle, to learn and teach it, and especially to give our children appropriate tools to deal with it.