Our ravished oceans face another threat: irreversible damage to the world’s beautiful coral reefs.
As reported by Aljazeera, half the corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have died over the past 25 years. Climate change is irreversibly destroying the World Heritage-listed underwater ecosystem.
Coral reefs teem with life, covering less than one percent of the ocean floor, but supporting about 25 percent of all marine creatures.
“They buffer shorelines from the effects of hurricanes. An estimated 500 million people earn their livelihoods from the fishing stocks and tourism opportunities reefs provide. The tiny animals that give rise to reefs are even offering hope for new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.” [National Geographic]
Due to global warming and warming seas, the coral is disappearing fast.
Over the last year, about 12 percent of the world’s reefs have bleached, due to El Niño and climate change. Scientists have predicted that nearly half of these reefs (more than 4,600 square miles or 12,000 square kilometers, or more than five percent of reefs) could disappear forever.
Life-Based Learning takes the issue of the environment seriously as one of nine equal priority themes through which all subject learning is channelled. The Physical World Theme teaches children about how environments can change as a result of human actions..
Ravished oceans: A trilogy: part one: A Fishy Tale. Preparing children for tomorrow’s world today
‘Sea monsters’, the size of football fields, trawl nets hundreds of metres long, catching everything in their path. These refrigerated, factory ships can catch and process up to 250 tons of fish a day.
‘Bycatch’ is the euphemistic term for everything unwanted caught up in the nets to be shovelled back into the ocean – juvenile fish, non-commercial fish, dolphins, turtles, porpoises, sharks, small whales and seals.
Bottom trawling nets scrape the ocean floor. Small hole shrimp nets are especially indiscriminate. They deplete marine fauna, destabilise the marine floor and cause excessive bycatch for every shrimp caught.
Bycatch – difficult to estimate – is put at 63 billion pounds of unwanted catch caught every year, responsible for 40% of the worlds annual marine catch.
Last night David Attenborough, in the BBC documentary ‘Extinction: The Facts‘ tolled the bell on worldwide loss of habitat and biodiversity, threats to species and extinction of not just wild animals, but putting human existence itself at risk. Pulling no punches, Attenborough banged that bell to hell.
Unfortunately, while the message is not new, human impact on the environment is ever on the increase.
Only last week the Living Planet Report showed that, on average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68 per cent between 1970 and 2016.
One of the nine themes of Life-Based Learning [along with Plant Life and Animal Life] is ‘The Physical World‘. Children in Primary School learn scientific and geographical concepts, knowledge, techniques and skills through their exploration of the damage to the world’s physical resources by human activity and the impact this is having on life and living.
Is it too much to hope that the National Curriculum subjects can be rearranged to ensure our young children are prepared to meet the environmental challenges they will face as adults?
Life-based learning focuses on the value of animals to humanity and aims to foster in children an interest in the need to preserve animal diversity, protect animal habitats and manage the use of animals in sustainable ways to the mutual benefit of humans and the planet.
Above all, it ensures that children are sensitised to the issues facing animals caused by human use of animals and their environments.
The Wildlife Trusts, which represents 46 local organisations and 2,300 nature reserves in the UK, is recommending that all primary schoolchildren should spend at least one hour a day learning and playing in wild places.
They point out that it will help to improve well-being and confidence.
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