It is easy to describe the mess the world is in, and to preach large changes of heart. Short, saleable books which do that may be useful if they persuade people in good directions, but only if people know how to move in those directions. (Hugh Stretton, 1976, p. 2)
In June 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development will be held in Brazil. A follow up to the World Commission on Environment and Development, it will mark the twentieth anniversary of the first UN conference on the environment, held in Stockholm in 1972. Promoting environmental education is one of 23 objectives for the conference.
Conference delegates in Brazil are likely to hear that the global ecological crisis has worsened, that sustainable development is not being realised, and that there is a continuing need for education. Yet more initiatives in environmental education are likely to be advocated and some delegates will go away feeling happier.
What they and others may fail to realise is that much environmental education is part of the problem rather than the solution. Current practice fails to reveal the true causes of environmental problems and to educate pupils in ways which enable them to realise sustainable development. It is based on inadequate theory and practice yet receives increasing support from powerful elites who must manage the global ecological crisis in their own interests.