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Green Tsunami Rising: Environmental Education’s Third Wave

Originally appears in the Spring 2008 issue

We inhabit a curious time, a time of great crisis and yet extraordinary opportunity, a time of ecological yin and yang.

The yin you know all too well: the climate is changing, species vanishing at record rates, glaciers melting, sea levels rising, rainforests burning, coral reefs bleaching and dying, deserts spreading, population rising. Clearly, the world is approaching a day of environmental reckoning.

And yet if you place your finger on the pulse of popular culture, the flip side of the environmental coin is utterly palpable.  The word green is suddenly everywhere:  green roofs on green buildings, green products on web sites, presidential candidates debating “green collar jobs,” a new phrase that entered the lexicon only this year.  Madonna graces Vanity Fair’s annual green issue while crooning “only got four minutes to save the world” with Justin Timberlake.  Meanwhile, Al Gore, fresh off his Nobel Prize, has launched a $300 million “We can do it” global warming campaign.

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Mike Weilbacher has been teaching and writing about environmental concerns since the 1970s, presenting both keynote addresses and vaudevillian, particpatory theater performances in schools, museums, nature centers, and conferences across North America. He writes a weekly column for his hometown newspaper and directs the Lower Merion Conservancy, a neighborhood land trust.