Cross-curriculum perspectives: Environmental education

Human activity can have a profound effect on the natural environment. Following is a list of environmental issues that can arise due to human activity:

  • Climate change, including Global warming, Fossil fuels, Rising sea levels, Greenhouse gases.
  • Conservation, including the Extinction of species, Endangered species, Coral bleaching.
  • Energy, including Energy conservation, Renewable energy.
  • Genetic engineering, including Genetically modified foods
  • Intensive farming and Land degradation, including Overgrazing, Irrigation, Land pollution, Desertification.
  • Soil, including Soil conservation, Soil erosion, Soil salination.
  • Land use, for example Urban sprawl, Habit destruction.
  • Nuclear Issues, for example Nuclear fallout, Nuclear power, Radioactive waste.
  • Pollution, for example Water pollution, Acid rain, Oil spills, Air pollution, Smog, Light pollution, Noise pollution.
  • Resource depletion, for example Overfishing, Logging, Mining.
  • Toxins and waste.

Environmental science encompasses the wide range of scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry and biology, that need to be brought together to understand and manage the natural environment. Environmental scientists study the impact of human activity on the environment and develop strategies for restoring ecosystems.


Resources

  • EARTH CHARTER
    The Earth Charter Initiative is to ‘promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework…’ incorporating respect and care for life and land, ecological integrity, human rights, democracy and peace. This enables viewers to check and compare the endorsements of member nations including Australia. There are useful links to papers and protocols linked to a variety of religious, government and environmental organizations. This website is suitable for secondary teachers and students. The website is clearly laid out and easy to navigate. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)
  • AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION
    The Australian Conservation Foundation website offers information and opportunities to join up and to donate. You can however access useful material easily and freely. There is access to a free climate change kit including a fridge magnet and a car sticker plus other good stuff however you need to give your email and mailing information to receive it. There is a great kids page called Earth Kids with games and quizzes, also ways and ideas to celebrate Ocean day. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)
  • FRIENDS OF THE EARTH
    The Friends of the Earth, Australia Website provides interesting audio and visual materials that would be very useful for Upper primary and secondary students in work on climate change, nuclear power, environment, sustainable food, nano technology, indigenous issues, trade and chemicals. For example there is a video of a family happily living in Barcelona without a car. They outline how they use public transport ,bikes and walking to access everything they need. This material would be very handy for use in debating preparation or background info in other areas. There is quite a lot of ads on this site but they can be avoided. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)
  • GREENPEACE
    Another website for an environmental conservation organization providing lots of up to date information regarding a variety of environmental causes including pressuring the ‘global food giant’ Nestle to desist using ‘forest destroying’ palm oil in their manufacture of their products. There is information about the future risk of bushfires and the impact of human action on potential harm. Lots of photos and videos of issues, protests and ways to get involved. Interesting website however if time is an issue I’d steer clear. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)
  • LANDCARE
    Excellent link to Junior Land care site where there are ideas for participation of children and others in land care activities. Also links to grant applications and ideas for funding your school initiative. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)
  • PLANET ARK
    'Planet Ark works to show people and businesses the many ways they can reduce their day to day impact on the environment - at home, at work and in the community.' This includes recycling printer cartridges, mobile phones and greeting cards. Provides interesting and sensible background information about recycling for primary and secondary teachers wanting to encourage real engagement from their students. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)
  • UNESCO
    Spectacular website with this section being Teaching and Learning for Sustainable Futures. There is a free and easy to use resource library with each section further referenced and linked to other sources. Each section has substantial teaching and learning ideas to cover all the issues that UNESCO look at in ‘educational’ language and appropriate set out. This website is a #1 for usefulness and ease of access for Secondary Teachers and students and for background use for primary teachers. Well worth a look for anyone. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)
  • BEHIND THE NEWS
    Fabulous website dedicated to the development of global literacy skills in primary students. While primary students and teachers are the target audience this website is entirely appropriate also for use with younger secondary students. The website compliments the weekly ABC current events program that can be downloaded or watch on free- air TV. Support materials found on the website is useful and easy to find. The content is high interest and presented in a fun and interactive manner. The site contains an interactive component where students can have their say and take part in quizzes and polls. There is archival material from earlier years and up-to-the-minute videos and teacher material all freely downloadable for use in classrooms. You can subscribe so that you are emailed the pre-show materials ready for the following week at no cost. BTN is an easy way to keep up with current events and to explore the causes and consequences of world and local happenings through the simple explanations given. Issues such as river catchment management are outlined and discussed. Other websites are reviewed and daily current affairs highlighted. (retrieved Jan 25, 2011)


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