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Environmental literacy is an individual’s skills, understanding, and motivation to make conscious decisions that consider their relationship to the natural environment, systems, communities, and future generations. Environmental literacy is the expected outcome of ecological education which attempts to provide students or learners with proper scientific details, skills for critical thinking, strategic and creative problem solving, and good decision making.
According to the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education, creating scientifically informed citizens require a collective and systematic approach to environmental education.
Today it is necessary to highlight the importance of environmental literacy. Our environment has never been so exploited and damaged as it is today. Humans extract approximately 55 billion tons of fossil fuels, metals, minerals, and other natural resources each year. Every year around 1,692 acres of land turns into desert.
Today, pretty much everyone is aware of the terms climate change and global warming and what they are. However, not many are aware of the magnitude of this problem. Several people, especially urban citizens, do not understand the importance of the environment for survival. People do not respect and value nature; they take it for granted.
The first Earth Day on 22nd April 1970 marked the beginning of widespread environmental awareness. Since then, humans have tried to understand the planet and its ecosystems better. Countries have signed several international treaties governing climate change, protecting the ozone layer, biodiversity conservation, preventing desertification, and various other forms of pollution.
However, degradation of the environment continues year after year, with countries failing to keep their promises and fulfill their duties. Environmental literacy in society is essential as today’s young generation will have to implement the above agreements and form new ones for increasing ecological issues.
The future generation will struggle a lot more than the previous ones. The planet will need to accommodate a huge population of 9 billion people by 2050, all trying to share the available natural resources needed to achieve 9 billion different dreams.
Environmental education today is essential to ensure the continuous progress and survival of the human population. Other kinds of literacy provide access to participation and decision-making in a democracy. Similarly, ecological and climate literacy is also necessary for carrying out action for a just and sustainable world.
Environmental literacy involves interactive learning that can spark creativity and imagination among learners. It enables learners to draw connections and apply their learnings in the real world, which can highly benefit future generations. Environmental literacy motivates learners to study, investigate, and research why certain things happen and make decisions about ecological issues.
Environmental literacy enables people to understand how their actions affect the environment and also builds the knowledge and skills required to address complex ecological issues. Exposing people to nature and allowing them to learn from it creates sensitivity, respect, and appreciation for the environment, which is needed amid a growing environmental crisis.