Over 2500 years ago, the philosopher Plato complained that humans had disturbed the hills in Greece. What would he say today?
It is well known that in order to understand our world today we have to look back in time and observe the collection of events that lead to the current landscape of the world. A question that intrigues us at the YMP is: How was humanity able to create the big sustainability challenges that we face today?
It seems that since long ago some people were able to observe and express detrimental causes of certain human activities. But it also seems that people have not been able to listen or do things differently. Why? Very likely people are not always prepared to listen, people not always understand the importance of an observation or fact. In some cases, there is something limiting us to do something. It can be our societal context. The aim of education for sustainable development is to equip us with tools and skills that help us listen, understand, and act. At the YMP we focus on helping youth find out by themselves what is needed and what it takes to make things happen.
A short story of the connection between society and nature, the subtle disregard to a keen observation, and its consequences reflected today
All organisms have an effect on their environment. As a species, humans have had a large and widespread impact on the natural environment. Environmental disturbance by humans is nothing new. Over 2500 years ago, the famous philosopher Plato complained that humans had disturbed the hills in Greece. The forests had been chopped down and when it rained the soil was washed away by rainwater, which drained into the rivers. It became very difficult to grow things in the ground. What is new is the rapid increase of impacts as population grows and the accumulated effects.
Humans have changed the environment to suit our “improved” lifestyles. While adapting nature to our needs, we have damaged our natural environment in many different ways. Of course our ancestors did not mean to damage their surroundings and we did not know about many of the problems we have been causing until a few decades ago.
Today we know more! And we are aware of the resulting challenges we are facing. Namely climate change, biodiversity loss, food insecurity, the steep transition to low-carbon energy sources, socio-economic inequalities including poverty, lack of health care, and issues of human rights among other challenges.
What is the next step?
Keep reading about sustainable development challenges on the YMP Programme.
Can you find an example from your history lessons in which a single event had detrimental social and environmental effects? Share here
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