Messages for the 21st Century

When you educate someone, there should be a positive result to the experience. Trouble is, it is sometimes necessary to argue with people who have already lost their love of nature. They have been urbanized. In order to get your message through to people who have lost their connection with nature, the educational messages need to be strong and concise. Unfortunately, you will seldom hear these arguments being presented by large wildlife organizations or conventional zoos.

Ideally, in addition to giving information about animals, every exhibit and every lecture would provide education about why these animals and their natural habits are important to people. There are at least three basic arguments that should be considered:

1. Probably the most powerful argument will always be based on economics. Tourism is the second largest revenue producer in the world. Nature-based tourism, also called ecotourism, brings in large amounts of revenue in areas that still have wildlife, wilderness, and open spaces to enjoy. The money that is spent then trickles –downs to benefit local and regional commerce. Economics always seems to be the most powerful incentive to save anything.

2. Another powerful argument—one that seems to have gone by the wayside—is the fact that the presence of wildlife, wilderness and open spaces contributes to the quality of life of people who enjoy nature. At a time when much of our society is being programmed with fantasy by films, cartoons, television and the media in general, it is important for people to stay in touch with reality by experiencing the wonders of the natural world first hand.

We should begin to discuss what quality of life for human beings, especially our children, really is. Should it just be going to shopping malls, hanging out and playing video games, or should it include enjoying activities in the great outdoors? Reconnecting with the natural world? Even if you are not blessed with material wealth, if you have the love of nature in your heart, you can enjoy time spending time with friends and family in the great outdoors, without spending a lot of money.

3. Perhaps the most powerful argument has to do with how we treat the land. It is just now emerging that the greatest social tragedies in the world today are always the result of the destruction of natural resources. There is a biological law of nature that says that a “tipping point” occurs when the land can’t support the species. Right now, there are numerous species poised on the tipping point, including humans. Education that produces positive results can help shift the balance back in our favor.

©2012 Jim Fowler