My 5: Jacob Sackin, Author and Environmental Educator

December 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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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

My 5

Jacob Sackin, author and environmental educator. Photo: Courtesy Jacob Sackin

Jacob Sackin, author and environmental educator. Photo: Courtesy Jacob Sackin

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.

Jacob Sackin

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Post

Iglu by Jacob Sacki



Iglu by Jacob Sackin

December 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Climate Change, Front Page, Refugees, Slideshow, War

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Iglu, by Jacob Sackin, is an exciting adventure set in a future Alaska, where glaciers are gone and refugees are pushing out the Inupiaq people.

Iglu, by Jacob Sackin, is an exciting adventure set in a future Alaska, where glaciers are gone and refugees are pushing out the Inupiaq people.

As I walked outside on the day that I wrote this, I inhaled the sweet air of springtime. Though I had gloves, I didn’t need them. My coat was open, and I didn’t shiver. Not so strange if this had been early in May. But it’s December in Iowa. Much as I love spring and enjoy the relative warmth of 63-degree days, I find the moderate temperature  most unsettling. December isn’t supposed to be warm where I live. This false, fall “spring” is the harbinger of a changed climate that is already dramatically altering weather patterns around the world. Yet, climate skeptics still fill the airwaves with denial.

In his young adult novelIglu, author Jacob Sackin imagines a world in which climate change is no longer questioned by anyone. Climate refugees are fleeing the lower 48 states to Alaska, pushing back the Native people and seizing the land for themselves. War rages on as the Inuit people fight back against the encroaching masses and the cruel Skyhawk soldiers sent to ensure the safety of the refugees.

The heroine of the story is April, an Inupiaq girl running for her life, narrowly evading the Skyhawk troops who have captured — or possibly killed — her parents. Everything familiar to April has been destroyed by bombing or bulldozers. Inupiaq people are being rounded up, forced into camps where they can be contained and controlled. April’s family has been torn apart, and she is left alone to fend for herself. In this futuristic coming-of-age story, April finds the strength not only to survive, but also to fight against the cruelty and injustice of the powerful U.S. government. She isn’t perfect — no realistic character is — but she makes a powerful role model for youngsters who are themselves coming to grips with an unfair world and an uncertain environmental future.

The political implications of this novel shouldn’t surprise anyone. The U.S. government is vilified, and the nation’s citizens are portrayed as self-interested and callow toward the plight of the Native people they are displacing. Although it’s set more than 100 years in the future, the characterization of my fellow citizens makes me more than a little uncomfortable. I hear a loud ring of truth about the way Native Americans were pushed back by people who look like me. The story of the Inupiaq people in Iglu, is universal: You have what I want; give it to me, or I’ll take it from you.

Today, we are all on our own inexorable march, but not (yet, anyway) a march northward. Instead, we are moving steadily toward the destruction of our own habitat. We are using resources with abandon. In the name of profit, convenience, and self-interest, we are killing the very rain forests and oceans that breathe oxygen into our air.

The ranks of the skeptics here at home are growing smaller as raging superstorms disable huge swaths of our nation and drought spreads its reach over much of the continent. Sadly, the youngest among us may live to see an Alaska with no glaciers, no permafrost, and no trees. It’s worth contemplating this painful future. If we do not change our ways now, this may be the awful legacy we offer our descendants.

The story is original, the message is compelling, and it is a cautionary tale worth reading — for young adults and adult readers alike. It took me some time to get into the story. Once I had read a few chapters, however, I found my self hooked, eager to know what would happen to April and those she met on her journey. I’d put the book down for a day or two and continue to think about the characters and their plight, glad to get back to it as soon as I could.

This is not a pretty story; ugly things happen to good people, and human nature shows its worst face at times. But there are moments of redemption and acts of kindness that restore the reader’s faith. The events may be too upsetting to younger readers, but older students and adults will find in Iglu ideas and events that lead to thoughtful discussion.

The only real hope for our survival is if we all make changes today. We can’t continue to blithely abuse our planet and think the future will be as bright for our grandkids as it was for us. Raising awareness through a vivid and exciting story is a step in the right direction.

Julia Wasson


Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)
Buy the book on Amazon: Iglu by Jacob Sackin

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