Green Communities

Gaining ecological literacy

A key step to sustainable living

Eric Bauer, Loyalist College professor, spoke about ecological literacy at the closing session of the Quinte Sustainable Living Symposium, at Loyalist College on Earth Day, March 29, 2008. Around 300 people attended the symposium and many members of the public visited the exhibition during the afternoon. People came together for the symposium to share ideas and gain information and find solutions, said Bauer. He identified the ecological crisis facing us and highlighted what has to be done: stabilize the world population: stabilize and then reduce greenhouse emissions; protect biodiversity; prevent and reverse the destruction of forests; conserve and improve soils; conserve and increase healthy water supplies; eradicate contaminating and polluting industrial and improve agricultural practices.

He spoke of the need to educate our selves for sustainable living by getting a better understanding the ecological pressures on and limitations of our world empower and thus enable us to act. All this he described as ‘ecological literacy. Literacy is ‘about making the most sense of any text you experience. By text he meant ‘anything we look at, hear, or perceive. Ecological literacy includes an understanding of ecology. Ecology, said Bauer is the scientific field that examines the multitude of non-living and livings structures, processes and interrelationships involved in moving energy and nutrients, and in regulating population and community structure and dynamics. One needs an understanding of the basic fact human social life cannot fail to take into account, in a pivotal way, the environment in which human social life unfolds, said Bauer. He defined ‘ecological literacy” as an understanding of the systemic interrelationship between the elements of the natural environment and the lifestyles of human beings. He ended his presentation by describing the competencies needed for sustainable living. These are head, hands, spirit and heart.