/Learning to live in the future

Learning to live in the future

By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock

The kids are back in school, which is a good thing. Excellent education without COVID-19 infections is the hope of all.

Canada has good education systems with teachers dedicated to giving students the best education available. However, curriculums established to guide teachers on what to teach are outdated and do not address what our children must learn to face the future.

Their future will be challenging, to put it mildly. Realistically, their future could be catastrophic.

Today’s children, and tomorrow’s, face a future of more COVID-like viruses, devastating changes brought by global warming, and massive political upheaval. They will encounter crises that will test the limits of human capabilities and require the dynamic leadership not seen today in many countries, Canada included.

Most serious is climate change that can bring diseases and people migrations, which can worsen current political instability. And, anyone questioning why we should worry about political instability close to home should look to the United States where talk of civil war has moved out of the shadows and into everyday conversations.

Presumably we are teaching our children about global warming, its causes and the impacts on our weather, and therefore our lives. But is our education system providing a thorough understanding of biodiversity and its critical importance to future life?

A United Nations study has reported that one million animal and plant species face extinction over the next few decades because of climate change, habit loss and other human activities. Loss of species lowers biodiversity, which leads to changes in landscapes and creates conditions for new diseases to attack animals, including humans.

There is probably no better lesson on the importance of biodiversity than the story of the Yellowstone National Park grey wolves. Wolves were exterminated in the park because humans hated them and refused to acknowledge their important role in nature.

The Yellowstone wolves fed on elk which flourished without them. Growing elk populations destroyed river bank willow stands, which beaver need to survive. Fewer beaver changed the river systems.

Wolves were reintroduced the park to balance elk populations. The threat of wolves kept the elk on the move, leaving them less time to browse riverbank willows. Willow stands recovered, beaver populations grew and nature’s balance was restored.

A full story of the Yellowstone wolves can be found at: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/wolf-restoration.htm 

Today’s children need new mindsets, knowledge and skills that will help then find solutions to the problems they will face. They will be charged with finding how humanity can occupy the planet’s spaces without dominating and degrading them.

To achieve that they will need to learn how to live differently, ensuring that biodiversity does not continue to be degraded. Without strong levels of biodiversity there is no future.

They also will need to learn life changes required for the future. So much of life today is focussed on the individual and individual things such as money and status. The future will demand more collective thought and collective action.

Individual actions always will be important for creating change but the issues looming for the future demand dedicated collective action – people working together on critical common goals.

They also will require strong leadership focussed on collective goals and free of political thinking. 

Collective thinking and collective action, directed by strong, unbiased leadership, have helped to find solutions to other serious human problems. 

In the 1950s smoke from burning coal was destroying life in London. The air was made cleaner by finding alternatives to burning coal.

In the 1970s, smog was destroying life in Los Angeles. The invention of catalytic converters for automobiles helped to clear the smog problem.

Today’s children can live in a safer future world if they are taught the importance of how all lives are critical to nature’s balance. Even small, seemingly useless lives.

One life no longer aiding nature’s balance is the ivory-billed woodpecker. The bird is believed to be the inspiration for Woody Woodpecker, the iconic cartoon character with the famous Heh-Heh-Heh-HEH laugh.

The ivory-billed woodpecker was declared extinct in September of last year, a victim of industrial logging. 

Woody Woodpecker gone from our world forever. And that’s no laughing matter.