It is 2014 and we have just learned from the Living Planet Report (1) published by the Worldwide Fund For Nature that over a period of 40 years from 1970 to 2010 the populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have declined by 52% due to human environmental impact. Well done, human race! Great job!
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live” –Albert Einstein
We also know that one insect that we are so dependent on, the bee, has been disappearing in recent decades with an especially huge decline in recent years. In the last 5 years the bee population in the US alone has declined by 30% and particularly in Spain by around 80% (2)!
It isn’t entirely certain what has caused this crisis, but there is strong evidence that it is closely connected to human activity: artificial electromagnetic fields, genetically modified crops and pesticides to name just a few factors. Bees aren’t merely necessary to sweeten our teas, they are essential for our sheer survival. Bees pollinate our crops and it is estimated that at least one third (3) of the food we eat is linked in some way to the pollination process.
Human activity is threatening the ecosystem and we are depleting natural resources very quickly. Some resources like minerals or fossil fuels that are fundamental to almost everything we do today take millions of years to develop and we might only have a few decades left for most of them. It is estimated that if nothing changes by 2030 we will need two planets to sustain our lifestyle (4).
But environmental degradation is only one of many burning issues that we face today. We are living through wars based on lies, diseases, poverty, famine, corruption etc.
Once you start learning and teaching yourself about the world we live in, you will start to see how insane our behavior is as human beings. It might not seem this way when we are concerned with day to day problems related to our work, family or relationships, but it is a clear and present danger which affects us all, undermining the very future of this planet.
There are two vital tools needed to improve our life on this planet and start living more sustainably: education and compassion. Both have to be used together. You can be educated and have knowledge but you can use it to create evil, that is why the second element is necessary. You can use your education to build a nuclear weapon but you can also use it to build sustainable technologies.
Lets start with education. We need better access to this, one of the problems is that it can be expensive; universities often charge very high fees. Studying is also often associated with something unpleasant. Thankfully we have the Internet where more and more free and reliable educational resources appear every year and in all sorts of formats. One of them will be Awe Academy – the project I have been working on for the last two years.
The idea is to create a free online database of lecture materials in different fields and categories then narrow these down to single topics. You can think of it as being like Wikipedia in a lecture format or YouTube for education but there is so much more to it. We are planning on creating a competitive environment for its tutors so they can produce free lecture materials, presentations and tutorials.
One of the benefits they will gain is that, once they are approved and their qualifications verified, they will be able to teach privately using our video system and charge for it independently; this is optional but the main aim is to create this free video library explaining as many topics possible.
You may wonder how this would be more enjoyable then other learning platforms. But if you have an open source platform you can have many teachers explaining the same topics and you might want to choose to listen to those that resonate with your own preferred learning style or to those which have the highest rating etc.
Probably every one of us was taught by at least one teacher who was so boring that we never really learned very much from them. But you might also remember one teacher whose classes were so interesting and engaging that you learned with pleasure and never forgot their lessons. Why not choose who you want to teach you and not have to learn from someone you don’t like?
Compassion is the other crucial factor necessary to create positive change in the world. Unfortunately most of us only focus on ourselves and our families, our own wealth and pleasures. This is what has got us into the mess I spoke about before.
We have to start becoming less selfish. We need to start thinking more maturely, stop labeling ourselves by nationality, race or religion. These are man-made labels, but the truth is that we are human beings and we are dependent on other life forms on this planet and this planet is our home. We should care about the whole community and live in harmony with what surrounds us. There are many ways in which we can spread kindness and help the planet. Here are just a few:
– give away old clothes to charity
– research brands and try to avoid buying from those less ethical
– support local communities and ethical companies
– start blogging and educating others about what matters and how the world works
– sign petitions
– protest peacefully
– get involved in charity work
– encourage rather then criticize
– become vegetarian
– give away your seat on the bus to someone who needs it more than you
These are just some random acts that anyone can make time for. But as I said before, the most powerful partnership is when you mix kindness and education together. Start by changing yourself and making better choices.
About the Author
Mike Sygula is a blogger and activist promoting alternative ideas to
raise public consciousness of the important issues facing humankind.
He is currently involved in establishing Awe Academy, an open source
learning and teaching platform. You can learn more about Awe Academy
here. You can also follow Mike on Facebook (http://facebook.com/mike.sygula)