Call to Action: Reconnect with Nature Post-MCO

Reconnecting with Nature

Written by: Yuvena Siri Logeswaren (Tenby International School, Ipoh)

The planet we call Earth is on fire! The heat generated from global warming has brought much devastation to nature, the environment, the people, and the economy. In this essay, I will discuss my thoughts as a teenager on the dangers of climate change and global warming, and why youth and children need to care for our nature and forests to lessen the impact of climate change. Using my personal experiences, I will also discuss what children and youths can do to play a more active role in promoting the importance of nature and forests in school and at home.

 

What is global warming, and how does it impact climate change, you may ask? Global warming is the average temperature of the Earth's climate system. Global warming has increased in strength due to greenhouse gases, impacting climate change. Who is to be blamed for this catastrophe? Humans have played a key role in climate change and are the main culprit. Our daily human activities have maximized the greenhouse gas effect, causing the Earth’s temperature to rise, affecting the climate.

 

Picture a vast green scenery full of pine-scented and deep-rooted trees going for miles. Imagine also prickly and bright yellow-hued shrubs, and mud-filled swamps covered in ogre-green moss full of harmonious life. The image I described is the breathtakingly outspoken beauty of Mother Nature. This scene will soon vanish if we humans do not take more severe actions to lessen the impacts of climate change. Climate change is already a critical issue in numerous parts of the world. There are many risks due to climate change, which affects nature, humans, wildlife, aquatic life, plants, and many more living organisms on the planet.

 

How are forests, which are part of nature, consequential for climate change? The luscious greens of coarsely textured leaves regulate carbon footprint. If our forests are destroyed, our entire ecosystem begins to fall apart, with dire consequences. According to WWF, forests provide habitats to various animal species and are home to 80% of the world’s natural biodiversity. Without diverse animal species, our biodiversity goes through an event of appalling changes, impacting communities as well, especially the indigenous people.

 

I experienced seeing this personally at the Raja Musa forest reserve when I took part in a tree-planting initiative to repopulate trees in the forest due to the trees burning down as a result of scorching heat. When I went hiking in Kledang Hills in Ipoh and Dumpling Hill in Scotland, I could witness first-hand how the weather has tremendously impacted the forest, and the creates living within. There were patches of trails that were barren, with barely any grass and shrubs.

 

What role can children and youth play to protect our nature and forests? In schools, we can demand the use of less paper to save more forests. We should also ask our school not to chop down trees within the school grounds unnecessarily and start vegetable and flower patches through gardening activities instead. Through the curriculum, schools can start Eco Clubs to educate the students on the impacts our planet is facing due to climate change and global warming. Schools should also organize more field trips to help students experience forests and nature. 

 

As children and youth, we are the future, and we need to make a difference. We must be braver to express our dissatisfaction with the unfair treatment of our planet. We should be the voices for nature, forests, and climate change.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are entirely the writer's own.

Re-establishing our connection with nature: post-MCO

Written by: Chong Xin Yi, Tee Ke Jia, Lim Tze Fong (SMK Damansara Jaya)

As we approach the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an average youth’s daily lives have become hectic as they chase after their dreams and do their best to get a brighter future. This is one of the many reasons why youth in the 21st century don't connect with nature. They don't have the luxury of time and energy to expend it on reconnecting with nature. Even if they do, they think it is bothersome, and it brings more trouble than benefits to themselves. Due to the pandemic crisis, people are forced to stay indoors as much as possible, which causes them to lose touch with nature and become more attached to their gadgets and the comfort of staying at home.

As Nelson Mandela once said, "children of today are the leaders of tomorrow,” if the youths do not realize the importance of nature and start taking action to conserve and preserve the environment, life on Earth will eventually come to an end. For the Earth’s survival, tomorrow’s leaders will have to take proactive actions to develop and plan for a greener future. Meaning to say, youths today have to be aware of what is happening to mother nature and discover the root of the problems and overcome it before the damage becomes irreversible. 

There are many alternatives to reconnect the youths back to nature. Knowledge: New Old Twists (KNOTS) is a new organization that wants equal access and opportunities to quality and inclusive education for children and youth. One of their primary purposes is to expose youths to nature to uphold the responsibility to safeguard the environment. We strongly agree with that. Because through education, we can make a change. KNOTS has done an excellent job of educating children to learn about the environment and ways to preserve it. The pandemic that we’re facing currently makes most of us forget about nature. We’ve taken too much from mother nature, and now it’s time for us to help her back. Although Malaysia is still undergoing the movement control order, we should always do our best to stand up for nature while following the standard operating procedures.

While quarantined at home, our learning does not come to a halt. Our school English teacher has prompted us to reconnect with nature via the Internet. The assignments require us to research and inquire about topics such as global warming and climate change. Amongst the task given by her, one that we vividly remember was Climate Action. We read about inspiring and awestricken stories of youth, such as Greta Thurnberg, fighting to make the Earth a better place. We believe that educators play an essential role in encouraging and pushing the youths to implore more about nature and connect them with nature despite being unable to get physically in touch with nature. Another project of ours to conserve the environment is an eco-school project based on WWF Malaysia, the vertical garden. We would spend hours cutting plastic bottles, inserting strings, and hanging it onto the wall. Even with the tedious and time-consuming process, we manage to overcome the flaws in our planning and succeed. Our hard work paid off when the flowers bloom delicately. It may be a small step on our part, but it’s still better than nothing. As the essence of KNOTS stands, the youths should involve themselves in more physical activities to sustain nature. 

With the internet’s accessibility, youths can quickly obtain suggestions as to what they can do in their part to conserve and preserve the forest. They are encouraged to take out time from their busy schedules, come together occasionally, and plan forest conservation activities. They could either volunteer in tree-planting activities or participate in gotong-royong, which vastly reduces trash in forests. Organisms of the forest would benefit from events like these as their habitat is being preserved.

In a nutshell, nature is one of the greatest blessings for human life. It has been our companion since eternity. Therefore, all the youths have to change their perspective about conserving and preserving the environment and not take it light-heartedly. Youths must become aware and thoughtful of the urgent need for environmental action. So, what are you waiting for? Let us reconnect ourselves back with nature.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are entirely the writer's own.

Reconnect: The Force of Youth with Nature

Written by: Suraj Aravind Sukanthan (SMK Bandar Utama Damansara 2)

WWF-Malaysia hosted a Livestream on Facebook on the importance of reconnecting with nature. The speakers who conducted the Livestream were Johleen Koh, Co-Founder of Knowledge: New Old Twists, and Nor Shidawati Abd Rasid, WWF-Malaysia.

A programme that showed great significance to me was Knowledge: New Old Twists or KNOTs for short. KNOTs serves as an educational platform tailored for youth who are less fortunate in receiving quality education living in high-risk communities. The following are given the golden opportunity to learn about mother nature and the many gifts it bears humanity while establishing a personal bond with the environment through its combination of the indoor and outdoor curriculum. It is great to see such effort being taken to a scale this huge, which can reduce the risk of our country suffering yet another national crisis (children being deprived of education) while instilling a sense of responsibility for the environment. Through this program, the general public will also be more empathetic towards environmental affairs. 

Looking at the education given through WWF-Malaysia, progressive levels of success can be observed starting way back from 1977 up to this date. Introduced in 1977, the Mobile Education Unit was an excellent way for WWF-Malaysia to convey information and spread awareness about current and future environmental affairs. In the year 2004, the Mobile Education Unit was rebranded to a more efficient means of education, named the Environmental Education Unit, targeted to a broader spectrum of learners: schools and teacher education campuses to spark behavioral change within students’ minds and teachers alike. 

This way, the public was enlightened and had more faith in themselves when it comes to conserving and saving the environment through live demonstrations of easy and sustainable techniques to be more eco-friendly. In this day and age, there are now registered schools and tertiary education programmes under Eco-Schools and FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) EcoCampus. Great news in terms of further developing new and innovative ways of bettering the Earth because now those with a great passion for environmental science can pursue that through their education right here in Malaysia.

The speakers also touched on the salience by including more facilitators, moderators, and outdoor education. This must be stressed more and more because only through the influence of big role models can the young and impressionable minds of today establish a secure and ever-lasting link between themselves and the environment. For example, parents have to be more attentive towards today’s environmental affairs and practice a more green lifestyle to sew these values into their children. Furthermore, it is a given that nature’s importance is not stressed enough in today’s curriculum. Students have taken such a topic as just another part of their syllabus because they haven’t received any kind of hands-on learning unless they have a biology teacher with a great love for the field.

In my opinion, the educators over at KNOTs have done an excellent job making sure that the beneficiaries’ education is a part of their lifestyle even during the MCO. One initiative taken in particular was the sending of the KNOTs Surprise Parcel. A sort of care package was sent to the beneficiaries containing some primary plants such as curry leaves and spinach to plant anytime, anywhere.

This empowers them because they can be grown as long as they have anything ranging from a small pot to an old sink. By creating a small garden, they can experience the surprises that come with it, such as the comeuppance of snails, caterpillars, and earthworms, establishing a strong connection between man and nature. This will incite a specific curiosity in the beneficiaries’ minds about what can be learned through having a garden as they rummage through the plants, finding all types of wildlife that they have never seen before. This thirst for knowledge will only grow more.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are entirely the writer's own.

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