By Gururaj Rao:
Human beings are joined in the most intimate of relationships with the outside world from the day they are born. The irony is that very little time is spent thinking and caring about one of the most important ones! Obviously, I am talking about our connection with the environment. This lack of attention is a major cause of concern because rapidly growing world population and the increased use of energy are placing unprecedented pressures on earth and hence our environment. Solutions will have to be found out which are truly global in scope. The nation’s youth have special responsibilities in relation to protection of the environment. This is mainly due to the fact that young people have to live for an extended period with the deteriorating environment bequeathed by earlier generations and there are a lot of risks and health hazards involved in this. Young people will be forced to engage in improvised and effective forms of action and activism; thereby generating effective responses to ecological challenges.
Future generations will also be affected by today’s course of action because their future depends on the extent to which they have addressed concerns such as the depletion of resources, the loss of biodiversity, and long-living radioactive wastes. To represent the concerns of future generations is difficult in the context of policy-making at the present moment. Environmental education is one way to equip young people with the necessary cognitive skills to recognize and withstand the pressures of the advertising world. The kind of education that needs to be imparted here involves providing information about how the world’s ecosystems are under stress as well as proper guidance on how to draw links between an advertiser’s product and its ecological consequences. As the cognitive demands are very high and advertisers are extremely skilled, they will always try to convince you that their products and activities are environmentally sound or beneficial. This is commonly known as “green washing”.
In order to turn your backs to such corporates, consumer boycotts and protests can be the most effective, eventually causing polluting companies to rethink their corporate strategy. Apart from having a greater stake in the more distant future, young people are properly poised to promote environmental awareness simply due to the fact that they often have better access to information about the environment than their elders. The youth have lived all their lives in an era in which environmental issues have loomed large. They can introduce fresh ideas and outlook to environment-related issues because anti-ecological ways of thinking and behaving are not ingrained in them. A major reason why the youth ought to take the lead in protecting the environment is stronger awareness of the issues and a greater stake in long-term sustainability. They will obviously face challenges as pressures are brought to bear in the opposite direction. Commercialization in every aspect of life is severely affecting the youth of today. In addition to these effects, on the whole, technologies that increasingly distance people from the environmental effects of their consumption decisions are growing with globalization, acting as an impediment to environmental awareness.