Saturday, 1 May 2010

Nature and Nurture: For the Future

The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble. Blaise Pascal

My original question was: ‘How can parents mold the environmentally responsible citizens of tomorrow?’, which was succeeded by discussions on Pets and on Like a Garden.

Now, this was not just a random query, but one of importance. These future citizens of tomorrow are those who, with their choices and attitudes, sculpt the earth of tomorrow regardless of whether or not they occupy key role in political governance. Thus, parents have crucial role to play, given the great degree of responsibility lying in these hands.

It would be inane to doggedly insist that mankind has not contributed to environmental degradation. The question which faces us now is about what can be done to rectify this degradation which mostly happened as a result of the race towards development. Whilst it might be hard to attain the state of the environment (before it was sullied), we can still, with proactive participation by each individual, prevent further deterioration, and if possible, try to restore some of what has been lost. This individual participation is decisive- very much like the general elections in your country. Each citizen is faced with two options- either to stay at home and choose not to vote for a myriad of reasons (usually it’s along the lines of ‘my vote doesn’t matter’) Or to participate in this and make their voices heard. That one little splash may generate a ripple which can have far reaching effects.

I would like to conclude this series, on Nature and Nurture, by enumerating a few more activities which would not only instill an awareness of nature and environmental issues, but also create a supportive attitude. None of these activities are restricted to your home- the same can be practiced at your school, university, workplace, or clubs.

a. The idiot box, that spring of all temptation and lethargy, is the unlikely hero, being the source of nature and wildlife channels such as Animal Planet, Discovery, and National Geographic, all of which air informative programmes on an array of areas pertaining to nature and the environment. Apart from broadening your horizons, these can provide a visual glimpse into the vast world beyond the confines of our cities and districts. And should one intend to pursue a career in the life and physical sciences, this early training would be useful.
Whilst it was only in 1996 that we subscribed to satellite TV and its extensive assortment of channels, our childhood featured us watching David Attenborough’s programmes and other wildlife documentaries, which have, doubtless, left a great mark upon us.

b. By opting for green technologies and energy supplies (including solar), one does more than doing their little bit for the environment. Another tip would be to make the maximum utilisation of natural sunlight – why switch on the lamps during daytime when the sun is much more luminous?

c. Recycling (as well as reducing unnecessary wastage) and Reusing could be encouraged. Furthermore, purchasing recycled materials, such as stationery, helps these green innovators and can also encourage the need to prevent harm to the environment. It is possible that you may already have such green initiatives in your town. If not, why not start these and encourage others to participate as well?

d. Reducing the amount of plastics used in the household. Also, a good shopping bag can easily accommodate all the groceries and reduce the usage of plastic bags which are so freely distributed by the retailers.

e. Instead of juicy gossips dominating the living room tête-à-tête, one could stimulate a fruitful and illuminating discussion by referring to environmental issues or discussing such recent reports.

f. A plethora of magazines are published the field of nature and the environment. For the novice, there are Birds and Bloom, Scientific American, and National Geographic. For the curious, New Scientist, Nature, and Science. For the professional, just too many to list down here. Reading these and adding these in your library or in the foyer can result in some amount of eye-opening!

g. Schools, universities, and workplaces have in-house magazines which certainly will be read by the current students/employees, the alumni, and (potentially) their family members. By publishing articles in these magazines, you will be reaching a wider audience. Encouraging the children to participate in such activities at their school will reap benefits as well.

h. And here’s one of my favourite activities: one often gets invited to birthday parties and many other occasions which requires celebrations. Why not give a plant (or some seeds) as a gift? Alternatively, you could gift them with a membership to a nature/environment organisation!

i. And why take the car when you can easily walk to a site/work/school? Good for health and good for the environment!

j. There are numerous other possibilities, but these require some degree of leaving the comfortable confines of your home and enjoying nature where it can be enjoyed best- the outdoors.
The possibilities are numerous: a visit to the zoo, weekend exploration of the countryside and nearby forests, ecotourism options, just to state a few. Furthermore, all of these can be garnished with hiking, biking, and (for the more adventurous) camping! And for those with tight purse-strings, these activities are all very affordable. After all, nature doesn’t come with a price tag.

I am very certain that I have overlooked other points relating to Nature and Nurture. If the readers have such suggestions, I will be very grateful if you could list them via the comments. I shall, then, incorporate these into another post. But WWF-India and have a great list of tips for those who are interested in getting more tips on how to be green.

Parents tend to be the role-models of the children. Your behaviour and attitudes leave a lasting impact on them. So, if you tend to have a green outlook (although I would eschew anything too extreme!), it is likely that your children would be inspired to be like you as well.

And what do parents get out of this? Happiness, cohesiveness, and knowing that there’s one more environmentally responsible child, who, in turn, would inspire many others. After all, it is each individual choice which determines the nature of future policies. .

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