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Introduction

Over the last two decades or so, we've seen how more and more writers link our current environmental problems to modern living. Take for instance Rachel Carsens' 'Silent Spring' or Ulrich Beck's 'Risk Society', both of which continue to be widely cited and quoted at environmental gatherings. Such works argue that the environmental crises we hear about is a product of industrialization and inappropriate development. Education then, according to such an argument, must respond by addressing the destructive nature of modernity.

Today, most social problems experienced by humans somehow have their root in the distribution and use of natural resources. We know that human survival depends on the continued existence of natural resources and that the quality of life humans is intricately linked to the quality (and perhaps also, the quantity) of environmental resources such as water, air, soil and so forth. Science has shown that despite the efforts of thousands of environmental organizations, our environmental problems continue to worsen. Resources are being depleted and habitats are still being destroyed to make way for human progress. Other life forms that depend on these resources and surroundings also become threatened. This chain effect of resource depletion or environmental degradation ultimately effects all of us.

A famous eastern saying runs as follows: 'all things are connected and are none of themselves'. Whatever affects anything in the biophysical world will ultimately affect us as humans. It is every person's duty and responsibility to find ways through which to develop an understanding of how humans are linked to the natural order and how we can use our intellect to remedy the effects of destructive actions. This realization raises important questions for the educator, who must now take up the task of addressing environmental problems as that which is rooted in the social, economic and political life-world of a learner (see also Learner Resources for more on the environment as interacting life-words).

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