Energy, Water, Food, Waste and Ecology are central to understanding the world we live in. These five topics completely shape our everyday lives and society but they are also the most overlooked elements in our day. Each of the Five Pillars of Sustainability encompasses a lot of information. A discussion about food for instance is certainly not just about food. It’s about the plants, pigs, chickens, tuna and salami. It’s about nutrition and choosing the right foods that help local American farmers while keeping down food shipping costs. It’s about stories that depict where our food comes from and how everything from corn, potatoes and tomatoes have a country of origin, once upon a time. Each topic, be it Energy, Water, Food, Waste or Ecology, all have an amazing story behind them. We break ground by telling the truth.
Energy – Energy is the currency of everything. Turn on a light bulb, press the START button on a car, step outside on a hot day and energy is there. Energy from the sun in the form of light, energy as heat and radiation warms our planet and powers life on Earth. Energy is life. Energy is all around us and within us. Energies such as electricity generated from fossil fuels such as petroleum have enabled both the industrial age and digital age. The brilliant inventions of many have allowed us to use our technologies for good and bad. Everything from a compact fluorescent light bulb to a atomic bomb are all tied to energy. Understanding energy – how people use it, create it and the consequences resulting, is a huge necessity if we want the future world to be the one we hope it is.
Water – Water, water everywhere and such a precious bit to drink! The water cycle is vital to all life. Without water, life would not exist. It is a prerequisite for all progress and all economic development. No clean water, no economy. As precious and vital as it is, water is also all around us and within us. In our cells, our blood, the air we breath and in the vapor we exhale with each breath. Yet, as important as water is, water is the most wasted and misused resource on Earth. Today, nearly one billion people – about one in eight – lack access to clean water. There has been significant public attention paid to the issue of water scarcity, and for good reason. Although water is a renewable resource, it is also a finite one. Only 2.53 percent of earth’s water is fresh, and some two-thirds of that is locked up in glaciers and permanent snow cover. Conserving water helps not only to preserve irreplaceable natural resources, but it makes the modern world possible. Fresh water issues is among the most important things we can educate our children on.
Food – The average plate of food has an amazing story behind it. So many of the foods we eat grow in different places all over the world and many have been domesticated over thousands of years by selective breeding and most recently by genetics. Health, nutrition and the environmental impact of what we eat all are important things to think about every time we put anything in our mouths. We explore every aspect of food – from the biology behind the plants and animals we eat, to the growing of them and all the way to the kitchen table. An education in where our food comes from and what it takes to get it there is important for ever person to have. Making good food decisions based on what to eat can change a person’s life. When it comes to food, you certainly are what you eat.
Waste – Humans are the only animals to produce trash that does not-biodegrade. This sad fact has lead to 150 years of terrible waste management practices concerning plastic, nuclear waste and chemical/industrial trash. How to properly manage our waste will be one of the biggest issues facing the generations of the future. Waste is not a dirty word – it is a natural process of life, death, decay and rebirth that humans have thrown out of balance by creating products that will never biodegrade. Things like water bottles become features in the environment forever. There is hope and that comes from biodegradable technoligoes and recycling/up-cycling programs. What we do with our waste and how we approach reducing waste it is essential for everyone to learn because it is an issue that affects everyone. One person’s trash needs to become another person’s treasure.
Ecology – We are part of the environment. The natural world is not ours to destroy and pillage. It deserves our respect and consideration. We are animals and we are doomed if we think of ourselves as disconnected from nature or having any kind of entitlement over this Earth. That is a dangerous, gluttonous, evil outlook on the world and it is dangerous to the good of humanity. As players in the environment we consume and produce resources and we need to be aware of this fact and manage it. Ecology is the study of ecosystems and habitats and how they relate to the organisms within them. Ecology seeks to understand the world of animals, plants and the natural forces and rhythms at play in the workings of nature. Without it, humanity has become trapped as objects of our own oppression in regards to those who provide us with food, water, waste, energy and government. It is time to stand for for the environment at all costs.
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