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It is easy to become overwhelmed by the difficulties we face in trying to save the world from our destructive tendencies - the inertia of the mindset that is causing so much of the devastation that is occurring to our environment can sometimes seem too much.

That we all contribute what we can, and share our eco-tips, is of vital importance in halting this catastrophic slide, but I can empathize with anyone who feels occasionally that our efforts are just dealing with the symptoms. More eloquently said by biologist J Griffiths "Environmental problems are promoted everywhere as the great ‘Save the World’ issue, but the truth is we have only been focusing on the symptoms not the cause of the devastation of our world and the disintegration of society that is happening everywhere we look, which is us humans" (http://www.worldtransformation.com/save-the-world/). None of us will accept defeat, but I suggest the light at the end of the tunnel if we are to save the world lies in the most important natural resource of all – our children.

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Children are the building blocks of the future. They are the key to stopping the seemingly unstoppable problem of environmental devastation occurring in our world. Instilling appreciation and education of the natural world in our children is essential in dealing with the problem at its roots - because at the end of the day, it is people that are the problem. Today we can mount a rear guard action to minimise the damage that others of our kind are causing; but in the long term we have to change our kind.

To do this we need the next generation to stop creating the problems; to do this we need to capitalize on our children’s natural affinity with the environment before they become desensitized to the damage that transpires every day (like us adults). A generation of people with this new mindset will create a stable foundation to undertake the critical remediation and ongoing sustainable management of the world and its resources that saves the world – this is what we all dream of.

Advice on how to go about this:

Allow our children to experience nature. The most important thing you can do to develop an appreciation of the natural environment in your children is letting them spend time in it. Camping is the obvious thing to do, but day trips to the beach or into the woods are great too. Their innocent souls will be more at home out there than you are, so all you have to do is make the effort to get them out there, make sure they are safe, and nature will do the rest. You can rest assured that you are instilling in them a love that will never leave them; and you will be spending quality family time too!

Teach them natural love. All children are fascinated by living creatures so whether you live closer to a coast or forest ecosystem, school yourself up on the local organisms so that when you go there you have facts on hand to foster their interest. There is oodles of material out there to fuel their growing minds as well –make it fun – watch the wildlife DVDs available on a vast array of different habitats, take them to the aquarium or San Diego Zoo, get out and about and use the local library. Nourish their enquiring minds!

Set an example. Children are very observant so it is important to behave in a way you would like them to emulate. They will naturally pick up your habits so the old saying “do as I say, don’t do as I do” will not cut the mustard. If you are serious about cultivating a respect for the environment and awareness of our impact on it you need your actions to reflect this.

Educate them about the problems. If children have knowledge of their environment and can understand the consequences of not looking after it properly they are more likely to incorporate this knowledge into their decision making process, whether consciously or unconsciously, and ultimately behave in a sustainable way. This doesn’t mean constantly lecturing them on the do’s and don’ts, as that is most often counter-productive; it means showing them genuine steps they can take, and the ramifications of not taking them, and the genuine satisfaction that comes from living a life devoted to saving the world.

All of us can employ some or all of these activities regardless of whether you are a busy mum or dad or a retired grandparent. Just remember there are many recipes for encouraging and nurturing children’s empathy and passion for the living world, and at the end of the day they are our most precious natural resource – they are tomorrow’s eco-warriors; and there is nothing we can do that is more important than instilling a love and understanding of the environment in them.

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