The world’s youth will be the determining factor in curbing global warming and environmental degradation, according to environmental educator and youth advocate Lisa Glithero.
The Women of the Earth Award-winner spoke to a crowd of about 50 students and professors at Concordia University on Wednesday, discussing the experiences she has had interacting with youth, and how she believes that the younger generations have the power to make the necessary local shift to sustainability.
“The power that young people bring to the table in terms of sustainability is that the challenges we’re facing need a new perspective,” she said.
This notion was reinforced by the Concordia Student Union VP Sustainability and Projects, Alex Oster, who noted the younger generations have a great appreciation for the urgency of the problem.
“I think youth, in terms of the ability to recognize the imminent changes that are happening in our climate, have to provide the leadership,” he said, speaking about the environmental movement.
Glithero is an advocate of non-formal education, promoting environmental education in forms other than through reiterating information gathered by scientists. As a strong believer in nature as a force for personal transformation, she is one of the founders of Students on Ice, a program that brings scientists and young people from around the world to arctic regions, exposing them first-hand to the visible effects of global warming on a fragile environment.
“The goal is to get young people exposed to what we feel are the greatest classrooms on earth,” she said, adding that “the land is by far the teacher.”
While she uses her trips as a means to reinforce the environmental cause, Glithero acknowledged that few people would ever experience this first-hand view. With that in mind, she emphasized the importance of local movements in creating sustainability.
“Despite having experts that give you a global perspective, the shift … will come locally,” she said, though she was clear that it had not yet occurred. “The shift still has to happen. We haven’t yet shifted so that it becomes a cultural norm.”
Still, Glithero remains optimistic about the situation, especially as she sees the grassroots sustainability movements emerge across the country. “The answers are out there, it’s just a matter of connecting the dots.”
Glithero’s lecture was the official opening to the CSU’s Green Month, which will feature social and educational events as well as a Tuesday lecture series, all focusing on the environment and sustainability.