MAROPENG ENCOURAGES LEARNERS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINTS

  • April 01, 2012

While countries and governments around the world continue to encourage populations to prioritise sustainability, Maropeng, the official visitor’s centre to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, is showing schools and learners what they need to consider when taking responsibility for their own ecological footprints.

“April is Earth Month at Maropeng, and although we have a number of permanent displays addressing the need for a global commitment to sustainable practices to combat climate change, the focus this month is on the youth. We want to teach them what they need to think about and action, so that they can stand up and take responsibility for their own ecological footprints,” says Magel van de Venter, Education Marketing Executive for Maropeng.

In its sustainability exhibition Maropeng shows how humankind first arose in the African cradle by adapting to the natural elements and later learned how to harness them to support its growing populations.

“Our ancestors adapted to a changing environment over millions of years. Our ability to make tools has developed to such an extent that now more than ever, we are able to shape and in some cases change our environment to suit ourselves,” comments van de Venter.

An important message Maropeng is trying to get across to the learners is how today, we have developed such control over our environment, through agriculture and industry, that a new story is emerging, one that involves the future of our planet and ourselves. “Two hundred thousand years ago, when Homo sapiens first emerged, there were probably at first only a few hundred of us. Now, in the 21st Century, the global population is fast approaching 10-billion people.

At first, we humans barely made an impact on the environment. But this has changed, as our technological abilities have progressed. Now our activities are causing serious implications for our planet, including the unusually fast extinction of species and global warming,” explains van de Venter.

“Many learners are unaware as to how the food we eat, the appliances we use, the vehicles we travel in, the clothes we wear and so many other everyday aspects of our lives, depends on us utilising the Earth’s natural resources. And that the Earth has a limited capacity to produce the raw materials needed to sustain our lifestyles,” she adds.

Van de Venter says that future generations also need to understand that sustainability is not only about humans’ impact on the environment, but it’s also about how we treat one another as a species.

“It is our collective insatiable appetite that is putting strain on our planet and we hope to show learners how food and global sustainability issues relate to one another,” she says. “We explain how every year, hundreds of millions of people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and millions of them die because of it, including more than six-million children under the age of five. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest incidences of undernourished people in the world, with statistics creeping up each year and we want to try and show learners how and why this is so.”

Also included in the display is a description of the five mass extinctions. “Scientists believe that there have been five mass extinctions on Earth so far, all caused by natural forces. Now, though, many believe that we are in the midst of the next extinction, the Sixth Mass Extinction – and the cause is us. Their message to us, and the one that we pass on to learners, is that unless we take the theme of sustainability seriously, we will create our own destruction,” concludes van de Venter.

For more on Maropeng’s educational tours go to www.maropeng.co.za.


COMPILED ON BEHALF OF MAROPENG BY CATHY FINDLEY PUBLIC RELATIONS. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT NICOLLE KAIRUZ ON (011) 463 6372 OR  NICOLLE@FINDLEYPR.CO.ZA.

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