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Discovering different views about sustainability

What is sustainability and why is there so much talk about it now?

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To help you explore this question, UNESCO has developed many resources that develop the concept of sustainability and why it is a significant issue in the contemporary world. The UNESCO site, Teaching and Learning for A Sustainable Future, offers comprehensive, interactive curriculum and professional learning resources for understanding the complexity of sustainability. The site includes an introductory paper for educators by Dr. Anthony D. Cortese that broadly outlines the global issues and factors that drive the current need to address sustainability in education.  It is an article worth reading as you begin designing the learning for your students.

Who thinks what about sustainability?
Most discussions about sustainability inevitably reveal the diversity with which the issue is viewed in the community. There are various views  concerning the science underpinning the call to more sustainable lifestyles. In addition, there are various belief and value systems that underlie people’s attitudes to how they choose to live.
Before you discover the different views, think about your own stance…

  • What comes to mind for you when you think of sustainable living?
  • What assumptions or beliefs do you bring to the issue?
  • What most influences what you think about sustainability?
  • The article Stewardship of Earth offers a good primer on this topic.

Now consider some other views …
Vanessa Morris is an Australian woman who draws on both the Australian and the global contexts to make her case that human activity, particularly our use of energy, affects our global ecological systems. Follow the Canberra 10 link to view Vanessa making such a case within the Climate Reality project site.

The Edmund Rice Centre argues that leading world scientists agree that climate change is a pressing global issue. They present their case by ‘debunking  myths’ about climate change.
Catholic Earthcare argues that human activity affects the world’s ecosystems. Read their ‘Call to Science’ on pg.13 of On Holy Ground.

View John Hardy talking about his own personal values and beliefs about sustainability that prompted the building of his green school in Bali, Indonesia.
Alternatively, there are others who challenge the view that our lifestyles affect the climate and the world’s ecosystems. View an episode of SBS’s Insight program, ‘The Sceptics’, where those who reject the idea of human induced climate change exchange views with the late climatologist, Professor Stephen Schneider.