In June of last year, Law 27621 was enacted to implement comprehensive environmental education in the Argentine Republic.
It is as necessary as it is convenient if we think about the future and assume that there are many things we must change in order to live better. Let us make it clear that it is also important because it refers to the formation of citizens in terms of understanding the relationship with the environment of which we are a part. There is no environment on the one hand and we on the other.
Humans are part of the environment, another species among the millions of living things. We believe that we are superior and dominate nature not by reason but by force, to the point of plundering our home; Something no other living creature would do.
Of course, sometimes we get slapped in different ways that bring us back to reality: a hurricane, torrential rain, long droughts, record high temperatures, and even a virus that exposes our fragility.
The Environmental Education Act recognizes a series of important principles to shape it from the formal and informal educational system, at all levels and ages from the adoption of a new paradigm, that of sustainability. In the past two hundred years at least, we have seen the idea of separation or fragmentation unite, not only between elements but in two universes.
It is understood, and we have been taught in this way for a long time, that man can separate himself – in deed and destiny – from nature. In science, the idea of fragmentation or dissolution to study and solve problems, as well as the conviction of the superiority of man over all living and inanimate elements, comes from René Descartes (discourse style) and Isaac Newton, among others.
In the social sciences, particularly in economics, this idea has been popularized since the end of the nineteenth century. Since then, economics has abandoned dialogue with other sciences, particularly with physics and biology, ignoring problems that it might classify as externalities.
Let’s take a simple example. We have been trained – especially since the oil crisis of the 1970s – on the concept that producing plastic packages and bags is better because of their lower costs, without any thread in analyzing their consequences.
Now, we see how the oceans overflow with plastics destroying entire ecosystems, and today it is the empirical validation of the futility of a thought that has hitherto been valid and validated by our behaviours.
Climate change is the extreme externality of the production and consumption model – linear and based on fossil fuels – that has us feeling the notion of progress now in free fall.
The Environmental Education Act can change those training errors that for just over a century have led us to seriously endanger the sustainability of life on this planet. We have learned to do daily chores that put us in the current state of unsustainability.
Now, we must educate ourselves to restore a planet and way of life that reflects the problem and creates conditions of environmental, social and economic sustainability. But, as a warning, we must make sure that this tool does not fall into absurd political discourse that tends to manipulate issues and people. Education is building citizenship, not sectarian frivolity, which is embodied in the slogans of this occasion.
Why should we care about learning how to take care of the health of the planet?
Because it depends on what we have now and in the future – water, land and air so that the human race can live. These, if you will, will be the biological and physical reasons that underpin the need to adopt sustainability as a new paradigm.
But there are also the social foundations, which already include the economic and political ones. It goes beyond constitutional mandate (Article 41 CN) and laws dealing with this issue. Here she shares our way of living day by day and how we act in front of the available resources and the ecosystem in which each group lives.
We learned a model of production and consumption of a linear type: we extract resources, we consume, we dispose of waste.. This led to a system where we create value in which we irrationally consume non-renewable resources; We consume more than we really need; We pollute the environment. And finally we destroy value by getting rid of waste. All the resources we use to produce and then consume end up dying while they could have a longer life.
From the end of the nineteenth century until now we have taught ourselves to be able to insert ourselves into industrial society. Today this world is dying and we must urgently prepare ourselves to live in a knowledge society that has a fruitful dialogue with sustainability. Environmental education, knowledge economy and sustainability are part of a new paradigm Which has a proposition capable of creating value, eliminating waste generation, avoiding pollution, creating jobs, renewing old industries and creating new ones: it is called circular economy.
But to find out what it is and all its benefits, we will have to wait for the next note.