I'm thinking back to 1993. I was teaching in a local primary school when Michael Jackson's song Heal the World inspired me to plan an entire topic of work about the threat to our climate. For those who don't know the song it begins with the line:
🎵 Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race... 🎵
I bought a children's book about the Earth Summit Conference that had taken place in Rio de Janeiro the year before and I planned lessons in English, maths, geography, history, biology, music, art and PE. (Remember the freedom of pre-National Curriculum restrictions?!) I timed the project to culminate with the date of my class's school assembly. The whole project was thoroughly enjoyed by my class of lovely Year 5 and 6 youngsters (aged 9 to 11). (The National Curriculum has destroyed all that spontaneity and enthusiasm.)
It may have been a success in my classroom but as for healing the world, I guess nobody actually listened to those lyrics. Few people have taken heed of either the Earth Summit or subsequent conferences on the growing climate crisis.
By now, almost 30 years later, you'd think that humans would have woken up to the issues, be more prepared to do something radical about it all but no. We are all sleep-walking into disaster. To make matters worse, I read an article suggesting there are links between the climate crisis and Covid-19. This month's Lancet says:
'...the causes of both crises share commonalities, and their effects are converging. The climate emergency and COVID-19, a zoonotic disease, are both borne of human activity that has led to environmental degradation...' (Lancet, December 02, 2020)
It goes on to say that neither crisis was unexpected and related loss of life was preventable. That can bear being repeated. It makes me ashamed of humanity.
Both crises had been predicted.
Related loss of life was preventable.
There are people, not least of all Greta Thunberg, and organisations trying to persuade us to join together and tackle this world-threatening issue.
The Friends of the Earth UK website makes for interesting reading. They talk about:
- Lobbying Parliament: They are pressing for a fair and green recovery from the pandemic which really makes sense. We've got a chance to look at how life was before and change things, even if it's just encouraging home-working to continue for part of the time to reduce traffic congestion.
- Planting trees: They are urging us to double the amount of tree cover in the UK. That's got to be a good idea and I do love trees.
Friends of the Earth also talk about:
- protecting nature
- plastic and the environment
- trade and climate
- reducing air travel
- saving our bees
I'll end with the final line from that Michael Jackson song because, in spite of any feelings you may have about his personal life, he certainly understood world issues:
🎵 There are people dying, if you care enough for the living make a better place for you and for me. 🎵