My 5: Jacob Sackin, Author and Environmental Educator
Author Jacob Sackin, whose young adult novel we recently reviewed, responded to the two questions we like to ask those we interview. We invite you to ponder Sackin’s words and consider how you would respond to the same questions. When you have finished, I encourage you to read his young adult novel, Iglu. — Julia Wasson, Publisher
BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to protect the planet?
1. Invest in environmental education.
I have been an environmental educator for 12 years, and I am always amazed by the number of 6th graders in the U.S. who have to think for awhile before they can tell you where apples and oranges come from. In order for people to care about the environment, they need to understand how they are connected to it.
If every school invested at least one day a month to getting students outside exploring the habitat they live in, Americans would not be as disconnected to the Earth and they would care more about what we are doing to it.
2. Vote for and encourage government representatives to pass legislation to stop climate change.
To solve the problem of climate change and to prevent an ever increasing climate of drought, floods, and sea level rise, we need the government to pass laws that regulate the amount of carbon that citizens and corporations put into the atmosphere, and to pass laws that invest in sustainable energy and carbon sink technology.
3. Invest in alternative transportation.
We are addicted to cars in the U.S., and we need to walk more, ride more bikes, and take more public transportation. This can be done by investing in train and bus systems and making more bike lanes. However, since people are always going to need their cars, we desperately need to invest in alternative fuels like biodiesel made from plant waste or used vegetable oil.
4. Grow our own food and stop wasting so much food.
Right now in the U.S., we waste an incredible amount of food because most people see food as just another disposable thing that comes from somewhere far away. Food distribution is a huge problem because of the amount of fuel and water that it takes to transport food.
We can improve the quality of food in schools by increasing funding to school garden programs. With all the open space we have in the U.S., there is a great opportunity for communities to start local gardens and raise their own chickens for eggs. It would also make a huge difference if people ate less meat.
5. Use religious language when fighting for the environment.
Most people in the U.S. believe in God, yet environmental rhetoric is rarely religious. John Muir often spoke of Yosemite as a cathedral, and the argument was often invoked that “man should not destroy what God has created.” Science should embrace religion in order to speak more passionately about humanity’s relationship with the Earth and to convince religious leaders to embrace science in order for congregations to better understand how to be stewards of God’s creation and to not destroy the world and climate that God created.
2 Minutes with the President
BPGL: If you had two minutes with the president, what would you say?
I would talk to him about the importance of outdoor environmental education and describe the work schools like Exploring New Horizons, San Joaquin Outdoor School, and Northwest Youth Corps Outdoor High School are doing: getting students outside to learn about the natural world.
Programs like Exploring New Horizons has 6th grade students spend a week at the outdoor school, staying in cabins, exploring the redwood forest and coastal communities, weighing their food waste after every meal and learning how they are connected to the environment.
In my two minutes with President Obama, I would try to convince him that the U.S. desperately needs to invest in environmental education in order for communities to reconnect to the natural world that their citizens depend on for survival.
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