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Education for Sustainable Futures: too little too late ?

Education for Sustainable Futures: too little too late ?. Ian Lowe 25 March, 2010. “sustainability must be integrated as the driving principle of education across all sectors” A Just and Sustainable South Australia Conference, 6-7 April 2004. A fundamental point.

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Education for Sustainable Futures: too little too late ?

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  1. Education for Sustainable Futures: too little too late ? Ian Lowe 25 March, 2010

  2. “sustainability must be integrated as the driving principle of education across all sectors” A Just and Sustainable South Australia Conference, 6-7 April 2004

  3. A fundamental point • The future is not somewhere we are going, it is something we are creating • Many possible futures • We should be trying to shape a sustainable future

  4. How could we create unsustainable futures ? • Rapid population growth • Growing consumption per person • Deplete mineral resources, e.g. Oil • Over-use fisheries, forests, water • Disrupt climate, lose biodiversity • Economy demands resource growth • Widen inequality • Materialism or fundamentalism

  5. “Our present course is unsustainable - postponing action is no longer an option”- GEO 2000 [UNEP 1999]

  6. Discovery of large oil fields

  7. IGBP [2004] “In terms of some key environmental parameters, the Earth system has moved well outside the range of natural variability exhibited over the last half million years at least. The nature of changes now occurring simultaneously in the Earth System, their magnitudes and rates of change are unprecedented.” Ian Lowe

  8. IGBP [continued] • Human activities are affecting global systems in complex, interactive and apparently accelerating ways • Earth dynamics characterised by critical thresholds and abrupt changes • We can now alter natural systems in ways that threaten the very processes and components on which we depend • We could trigger catastrophic changes W. Steffen et al, Springer-Verlag 2004 Ian Lowe

  9. An example of non-linear change Ian Lowe Millennium Assessment Report 2005

  10. The Knowledge Base • Much damage done by applying narrow knowledge to part of the system • Develop a much better understanding of complex natural systems, including links between local and global processes • Use this improved understanding to reduce the impacts of human activities on the natural world Ian Lowe

  11. Climate Change Denial • Climate not changing • Changed but now stabilised • Changed but it always changes • Changed but no human cause • e) Climate changed, benefits > costs

  12. Living in the Greenhouse, 1989 • Increasing average temperatures • Drier in southern Australia • Wetter in northern Australia • More frequent extremes: floods, cyclones, extended dry spells, heatwaves, severe bushfires • Spread of vector-borne diseases

  13. February 2009 • Extreme heatwaves in SA & Victoria • Devastating Victorian bushfires • Cyclonic events hit northern coasts • Severe flooding in Qld, NSW • Dengue outbreak Cairns, > 350 cases

  14. Arctic Sea Ice Melting IPCC central projection Satellite observations projection Bjeknes Centre for Climate Research, Svalbard, Norway (2008)

  15. Loss of species diversity Ian Lowe

  16. JSCT report, 19.03.2009 • Australia should aim to cut emissions 80 per cent by 2050 • Australia should support a global goal to stabilise atmospheric CO2 level at 450 ppm or less

  17. IEA World Energy Outlook 2008 “nothing short of an energy revolution”

  18. “these recent crises - fuel, food and finance - are simply the three canaries in the mine. These are the early warning signals that our current economic system is simply not sustainable.” WEF Global Agenda Summit, 2008

  19. Limits to Growth + 30 years data On all key parameters [population, resource use, industrial output, agricultural production and pollution] we are tracking the “standard run” which leads to economic and ecological collapse before 2050. “No-one has to change. Survival is optional”

  20. Vision for a Sustainable City Sustainability Sustainability is about living within our means. It is about managing our consumption of resources and balancing environmental, economic and social outcomes. It means improving our quality of life, but making that improvement without leaving a burden on the future generations. Looking after our Environment Environmental Sustainability is about reducing our impact on the environment by protecting our air, water and land, our native flora and fauna. It means reducing the load on our natural resources, such as water and fuels for energy, and decreasing our production of waste. A Better Place to Live Liveability is about making Sydney a better place to live. It means being able to walk to your corner shop, local school, park or bus stop, as well as providing us with a choice of housing that meets our needs. Environmental Liveable Just Sustainable Healthy Efficient Competitive Supporting our Economy Competitiveness is about supporting Sydney's role as a Global city, and ensuring our city's long term economic prosperity. It means providing quality infrastructure and services to service our jobs and the economy, and supporting urban centres

  21. S O C I E TY E N V I R T E C O N O M Y

  22. Markets give us things many of us want Natural systems give us things we all really need

  23. S O C I E T Y E C O N O M Y E C O L O G Y

  24. Three alternative responses [Richard Eckersley] • Denial: Don’t change, instead try to prove that change is not necessary [John Kenneth Galbraith] • Avoidance: “Don’t underestimate the power of distraction” [Woody Allen] • Take responsibility for change: a small group can change the world [Margaret Mead]

  25. The underlying drivers of unsustainable development • Population growth • Consumption per person • Societal values

  26. New suite of values • Domination of nature becomes ecological sensitivity • Consumerism replaced by quality of life • Individualism -> human family

  27. Where real change has been achieved, we have used all the tools in the box: • Financial incentives • Regulation • Education

  28. Behaviour Change Only genuinely durable change Determines impacts technology Obviates need for laws, $ Smoking, drink-driving “education”, example

  29. Education for sustainability • Prepare for a world of rapid change • Invest in our economic future • Enhance ability to assess complex ecosystems and human impacts • Develop technological options • Equip all to cope and shape futures Ian Lowe

  30. Cognitive basis • Understand impacts of human activities on natural systems • Be aware of finite scale of non-renewable resources, limits of using renewable resources • Understand need for viable economies • Understand impacts of social inequality • Understand importance of cultural traditions, beliefs and practices

  31. OECD CERI Report [1987] “enhance behavioural dispositions such as co-operativeness, curiosity, initiative, responsibility and independence as well as intellectual skills related to creativity, autonomous thinking and efficient problem - solving” Ian Lowe

  32. So education should move: • From consumption to collaborative learning • From teacher-centred to learner-centred • From knowledge accumulation to problem - solving capability • From cognitive objectives only to include affective and skill objectives Ian Lowe

  33. “globo sapiens” • Empathy • Global consciousness • Thinking beyond our generation • Willing to embrace change • Courage !

  34. Among UniSA graduate attributes: is prepared for life-long learning in pursuit of personal development and excellence in professional practice  is committed to ethical action and social responsibility as a professional and citizen  demonstrates international perspectives as a professional and as a citizen.

  35. “sustainability must be integrated as the driving principle of education across all sectors” A Just and Sustainable South Australia Conference, 6-7 April 2004

  36. Utopian? • 1800: end slavery • 1900: votes for women • 1989: Berlin Wall South Africa without apartheid apology to stolen generations African-American US president good coffee, civilised licensing laws in Queensland ! • Practically all features of modern life

  37. Conclusion • Our decisions shape the future • Aim: a sustainable future • Many dimensions: resources, economic, social, environmental, health, cultural, spiritual… A better party ! • Our moral responsibility to other species and to future generations

  38. a new story

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