Environmental Ethics and Environmental Education
- Living Together with Nature -
President, Konan University
It is my pleasure that Konan University will hold an International Symposium on the theme of "Environmental Ethics and Environmental Education - Living Together with Nature -".
I'd like to offer special thanks to Mr. Alan Drengson (Professor, University of Victoria, Canada), Ms. Laddawan Kanhasuwan (Director, Environmental Education Center, Rajabhat Institute Phranakorn, Thailand), Mr. Jin Shibai (Emeritus Professor, Central Institute of Educational Science, China), and Mr. Wilhelm Vosse (Lecturer, Department for Policy Management, Keio University, Germany). I also wish to express my sincere appreciation of the help and support I have received from Mr.Yonezo Nakagawa (Emeritus Professor, Osaka University), Mr. Zenji Suzuki (Professor, Osaka-Kyoiku University), Mr. Hakobu Nakamura (Professor, Konan University), and Mr. Tetsuya Hisatake (Professor, Konan University).
Towards the 21st century, it is also my pleasure that the Hirao Taro Foundation, which is for "Ground Theory of Environmental Science", would support this well-timed symposium coordinated by Professor Fumiaki Taniguchi, who does research "Environmental Philosophy".
Science and technology have made great progress during this century, but on the other hand, they have brought environmental destruction and led people to racial discord. I am afraid that it is difficult to live together with nature because of the rapid change of modern society caused by scientific technology. We must recognize the wisdom of these words: "Except for mankind with modern civilization and scientific technology, all beings in nature have the instinct and innate ability to live with other lives according to the laws of nature", "The progress and development of mankind have made environmental destruction and therefore the people in modern civilization are coming to forget their ability to get along with nature and coming to distrust her ability" .
I believe that we are now in serious danger caused by world-wide environmental destruction through economic activities related to the progress of scientific technology. We cannot solve both environmental and economical issues without a global point of view. However, people all over the world have not considered the problems very seriously. I understand that people who depend on the people in bigger countries believe that having nuclear weapons is the best way to survive. They regard these weapons as something just like a gun. However, such ideas are misguided. We could never solve the problems of the relationship between countries not to mention the environmental issues between countries using nuclear weapons. "Mutual understanding" is the most important aspect of any solution to these problems.
The civilization of science and technology is stepping out to the next stage--the civilization of information and systems science. It is developing without our consciousness of the hazards from environmental destruction. This makes me recognize the 21st century as the hardest era known to man.
Throughout this symposium, discussion will concern the crisis of the environment deeply and seriously, through discussion of environmental ethics and education. I sincerely hope that young people will understand the environmental issues associated with "Environmental Ethics" and reach a concrete solution through "Environmental Education".
Environmental Ethics and Environmental Education
- Living Together with Nature -
President, The Japan Society of
Nowadays lots of information on today's theme has been often seen in the newsletters published by the International Society of Environmental Ethics. In the UNCED of 1992, held in Rio de Janeiro, various opinions have been stated. I was especially concerned about the following opinions by Holmes Rolston; "The aspect of environmental ethics can be a challenge from an educational point of view for the improvement of environmental education", "Our present way of thinking, that is, economic rationality, will need to take into consideration the need for the preservation of the natural environment", "To observe an eco-system itself and the degree of health of the eco-system will show the direction to the new approaches toward the preservation of natural environment", and "The stability of an eco-sysytem is related to harmonious and sustainable development".
These words suggest the relationship between environmental ethics and environmental education; however, their meanings are too broad to understand concretely. This will merit further discussion as one of today's themes.
Although "bio-ethics" has been considered as a social issue, the emphasis is quite different according to whether bio-ethics would be understood as "seimei rinri (meaning life ethics)" or "seibutsu rinri (biological ethics)".
I will concretely mention the problems which each "rinri (ethics)" faces. First, in the case of "seimei rinri", as the society of "seimei rinri" have been already acting, transplants and brain death would be serious problems. As reported by TV programs these days, would buying and selling organs be indeed worthy of blame legally and morally? I believe that those are the problems for units, or organs consisting of the units. If the problems are for tissues, for example, a blood platelet, a red blood corpuscle, or a white blood corpuscle, they would be treated as the problems for clinical examinations and pathological examinations.
On the other hand, in the case of 'bio-ethics' or "seibutsu rinri", it would correspond to the subtitle of this symposium "Living Together with Nature". There are many cases of "symbiosis (living together)", for example, we can see the case between leguminous plants and leguminous bacterium or the case between the hermit crab and the sea anemone in science textbooks. On the other hand, the relationship between an overly increasing monkey population and mankind should be considered as "coexistence" among species and differentiated from "symbiosis (living together)". The description - "the co-existence of wild animals with mankind - on 20th anniversary of CITES" is in the proceedings by Wild Animal Preservation Press.
I strongly hope that all participants will engage in enthusiastic discussion of the problems of "bio-ethics (environmental ethics)" and its relation to "environmental education" through this symposium.
Environmental Ethics and Environmental Education
- Living Together with Nature -
Director, Executive Committee of International Symposium
Professor, Konan University
Today we are strongly warned by the presence of various environmental problems, locally, regionally and globally. Despite a great deal of effort being made to protect our home "Earth", environmental degradation is becoming increasingly serious. It is therefore extremely necessary today to exchange views about humankind and the environment internationally and compile them into a solid option leading to a sustainable future.
This international symposium, sponsored by Konan University (Kobe, Japan) with support by the Japan Society of Environmental Education, is to be joined by professionals and academics from various disciplines from Japan, Thailand, China, Canada, and Germany.
In this symposium, we will examine "Environmental Ethics" as the comprehensive framework to provide direction toward the 21st century, in order to understand various environmental issues as a whole, and we will exchange views and ideas about "Environmental Education" based on ethical principles.
As for "Environmental Ethics", there is a difference between the environmental thought of the West and that of the East. In the West, human beings tend to be in conflict with the natural environment, predominate over it and exploit it. On the other hand, in the East, human beings have been placed in the natural environment and have lived with it.
However, it will be more significant for people from the East and the West to take this great opportunity to discuss common problems face to face. I believe that sharing feelings with each other in this symposium will reveal the philosophical background; that is, the background of new Environmental Ethics.
With respect to "Environmental Education", it is a relatively new field of study. I feel that in this symposium we will achieve standardization of environmental education at the global level, while considering the culture peculiar to each country.
I am happy to open the international symposium with these intentions on December 14th. I also sincerely hope that all the participants will attend the public symposium on December 15 in order to fully understand the idea mentioned in the subtitle "Living Together with Nature".
Director, Environmental Education Center Rajabhat Institute Phranakorn
Graduated Indiana University and received M.S. Promoted consultant of the Institute of the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology etc. Resigned Rajabhat Institute Phranakon. Published many books on Environmental Education.
Emeritus Professor, Central Institute of Educational Science
Born in 1925. Graduated Northeastern University. Promoted professor of Shing Hai Language University etc. Resigned and given a title of emeritus professor in 1991. Published many books on comparative education.
Lecturer, Department of Policy Management, Keio University
Born in 1963. Graduated University of Hannover and received M.A. in 1992. Promoted lecturer at Keio University Published books on Policy of Environment.
Professor, University of Victoria
Born in USA. Published many books on Deep Ecology, Ecoforestry and so on. Published Journal the International Journal of Ecoforestry. He also made an effort to set up the Ecoforestry Associations in both America and Canada. He is known as an authority on Deep Ecology in Canada.
Professor, Konan University
Born in 1930. Graduated Kyoto University and received Ph.D. Promoted professor of Konan University. Published many books on molecular biology and biological evolution.
Emeritus Professor, Osaka University, Environmental Medicine
Born in 1926. Graduated Kyoto University Medical School and received Ph.D. Appointed Lecturer at Osaka University Medical School (Medical Humanities). Promoted Professor at Osaka University (Environmental Medicine). Retired from the University and given the title of Emeritus Professor in 1988. Elected the president of the Japan Academy of Health Behavior Science. Published many books on medical humanities.
Professor, Konan University, Geography
Born in 1947, Graduated and received Ph.D from Kyoto University. Promoted Professor of Konan University. Published many books on Cultural Geography.
Professor, Osaka Kyoiku Univ.
Born in 1933. Graduated Tokyo Kyoiku Univ. Promoted Professor of Yamaguchi University. Published many books on Environmental Education.
Professor, Konan University
Born in 1946. Graduated from Osaka University. Promoted Professor of Konan University. Published many books on Philosophy, Psychology, Environmental and bio-ethics.
Environmental Education Based on Thai Customs
Director, Environmental Education Center
Rajabhat Institute Phranakorn, Thailand
This talk entitled "Environmental Education Based on Thai Customs" will introduce ideas and concepts of beliefs, rituals, and customs of Thai people as well as Buddha's teachings as they are related to environmental ethics. In addition, some projects of environmental education based on Thai customs and Buddhism will be also presented.
It is undeniable that the world today is suffering from environmental problems caused by rapid population growth with tremendously increasing basic needs of people for their survival. The world is then forced to accelerate their development efforts which inevitably result in both direct and indirect exploitation of their natural resources. Such rapid development processes using new technology have brought about a multitude of environmental problems: one of the most serious is environmental pollution. These problems can affect people's living conditions and lives. As a result, every country is attempting to solve and prevent the occurrences of such problems.
Since the past, every country 'including Thailand' has been thinking only about how to solve the problems of environmental degradation. A seemingly good set of regulations has been used in almost every country in the world. However, they have not been successfully reinforced. Furthermore, technology has been used to develop industries which in turn create environmental pollutions. People, therefore, attempt to solve these industrial wastes and pollutions by utilizing more technology. The picture, then, is like a snake swallowing its own tail. It seems that we will never be able to stop these environmental problems in our life span. It will take a very long time indeed to build up a quality of life with a sound environment.
Isn't it about time we shifted our efforts from pollution clean-up to pollution prevention? Let's start by thinking about the causes of the problems. Isn't it man who lives WITH nature? The answer is YES. But isn't it man who always thinks that nature belongs to him? Therefore, he exploits natural resources with little awareness, and the priority toward pollution prevention is to develop a sense of environmental awareness in people.
Regarding human awareness development, the most important aspect is to emphasize the human mind or moral understanding. At present, environmental education has been developed for people with the major attitude emphasis on awareness, knowledge, skills, and participation only. Regrettably, environmental ethics has always been overlooked.
Fortunately, the future for environmental prevention is not dead yet. Environmental educators in almost every country including Thailand are beginning to agree that environmental ethics is an essential solution to save environment from further degradation. At present, environmental educators in Thailand are studying appropriate ways to instill environmental ethics in people through environmental education.
Before discussing about environmental ethics, we should come to the same understanding of these two terms: ethics and environmental ethics.
2. What is ethics?
Ethics means any good or decent behaviour that people should have in order to build a peaceful society and to lead a happy life.
3. What is environmental ethics?
Environmental ethics means good behaviours that people should engage in toward environment through not causing environmental problems.
In fact, environmental awareness and ethics have been instilled in Thais through their beliefs and customs for a long time. The details will be discussed later. First of all, I would like to share with you the background information of Thailand and Thai people in order to make you understand how environmental awareness and ethics have developed in the Thais.
4. Background information about Thailand
To make my presentation clearer, allow me to give you an overview of Thailand: its climate and topography, natural resources, and people.
4.1 Climate and topography of the country
Thailand is located between latitude 5-12 N and longitude 97-106 E with two main climate regions, namely, tropical rain forest climate and monsoon climate.
The mainland, which is the upper part of the country, lies within continental Asia. This area is influenced by six months of extremely wet weather and six months of extremely dry weather.
The southern part of Thailand, comprising a long coastline, lies within Peninsular Malaysia. The area is exposed to the tropical rain forest climate where wet conditions predominate throughout the year.
4.2 Natural resources
Thailand is a fortunate country having a variety of natural resources: for example, forest, water, minerals, natural gases, etc. May I focus only on forest and water resources, since they have been very close to Thai people, especially those who live in the rural areas.
Natural terrestrial vegetation in continental Asia consists of dry deciduous forests with teak and diptero-carpous being the dominant stands, while vegetation in the south consists of tropical evergreen species.
The resources of water consist of surface water and ground water. The Chao Phraya is the largest river basin in Thailand and it is the most essential for people. Most agriculture production is located in this basin. The second most important river basin is the Maekong Basin which originates in the North and North East. In addition, the Mun is the main river basin in the northeast region.
There are other smaller river basins in the East and in the Southern Peninsular.
Thailand has a rapid population growth. In ancient times, Thailand had a very small population but since then it has been increasing for a long time. Around 1950, the population was only 18 million. This year, 1996, it has risen to 60 million.
4.4 Lifestyle and character of the Thai people
In former times, Thai people lived close to nature and new technology was not necessary for them. They learnt to survive harmoniously with nature. Foods, clothing, shelter and medicines, all were provided from nature. They lived in an interdependent society. Everybody willingly helped each other. For example, in the time of rice growing and harvesting, they shared labour and celebrated together afterwards.
People realized the value of the environment and were concerned about natural resources. They used natural resources such as soil, water, forests, minerals, etc. just when they needed, not when they wanted them. Since they were so concerned about nature, a supernatural power was built up in their minds. They believed that natural disasters resulted from people's misconduct towards nature. Therefore, the holy spirits or guardian angels or gods who protected the land, the sky, the river, the forest, and the mountains punished them for their maltreatment of nature.
5. Developing environmental ethics based on Thai customs
Environmental ethics of the Thai people in former times was developed on the basis of their beliefs. In order to make my presentation clearer, may I give you some interesting examples of our people's beliefs.
They believe in Mae Phra Thoranee, Mae Posope, Mae Phra Khongkha as guardian angels of the land, rice crops and water respectively. In addition, Phra Pyne, Phra Aukanee and Rnka Tawa are regarded as the divinities of wind, fire and forests or big trees respectively.
Such beliefs of the people have brought about rituals, annual ceremonies and festivals with different purposes. The main purposes are as follows:
*To ask for forgiveness to the guardian spirits and gods for their maltreatments to
rivers, forests, mountains, soil, etc.
*To implore the divinities for fertility of vegetation especially asking for the rain
to come and water their rice fields.
*To rejoice and release pent-up energy accumulated throughout months of hard work
fatigue and frustration.
*To wish for good environments including nature, society and family life.
The festivals and rituals have been celebrated on suitable occasions and they become customs and cultures. For the festivals and rituals, people are reminded to appreciate the value of natural resources. Consequently, the environmental ethics were developed in them.
6. Thai Customs and cultural festivals
There are many Thai cultural festivals but it is not possible to include all of them in this paper. A few of them are selected as examples.
6.1 Loy Krathong
On the full-moon night of the twelfth lunar month, usually in November, people throughout the country participate in the Loy Krathong activity. A krathong is a floating offering traditionally made of banana leaves to form a cup-like receptacle in the shape of a lotus flower, Loy in Thai means "to float". A krathong is floated upon the water to Mae Phra Khongkha, the guardian angel of the water, to appease and ask her forgiveness for abusing and polluting the water throughout the year, As a life-giving source, water should be treated with care. Despite its importance and usefulness, many sources of water are polluted by people's activities.
6.2 Bun Bang Fai
The Bun Bang Fai is a Rocket Festival. It is a typical north-east village festival which serves a social purpose besides appealing for rain. It is an occasion for the entire village to gather and social bonds are reaffirmed.
The importance of the festival is its attempt to bring rain, and much time and effort are dedicated to creating powerful rockets. In preparation for the event, rockets are decorated, launching platforms are built and lively processions set the mood for the festivities. Several legends surround the origin of the festival; all are concerned with rain and symbolic beings such as naga, the guardians of the underground waters. Some believe that rockets will please the god of rain. More popular is the belief that there is a god of sky named Phya Taen. The farmers have to appeal to him and please him by firing rockets, to which he will respond favourably by releasing rain to fertilize the earth.
Songkran is one among many interesting traditional cultural festivals of Thailand. Traditionally, this festival celebrates the Thai New Year. It is observed from 13 to 15 April. On the eve of Songkran every house is thoroughly cleaned as to create a sound environment at home in order to bring good luck to their family in the new year.
The customary three days of celebrations consist of religious ceremony, family gatherings, paying respect to their parents and family elders, and delightful water splashing.
The first day of Songkran is known as Maha Songkran or the great Songkran. This day is believed to be the peak of the hot season when the hours of the day and night are equally divided. In the early morning of the first day, people bring offerings of food to the monks. This is customarily a temple ritual which enables the public to acquire merit.
In the early afternoon, Buddha images are taken out of temples for ritual bathing and sprinkled with lustral water by devotees. On this day, people free birds from their cages and release fish into rivers as to gain additional merit and good fortune.
In addition, Songkran is a time for family gatherings, when young members bring gifts, visit their elders, pour scented water over the palms of their hands and receive blessing in return. The gentle water sprinkling is done within families and extends into public splashing by the bowl. Traditional people use a silver bowl as a water container. These activities are observed in the second day. On the last day of Songkran, people build sand pagodas in the temple areas. They have to carry sand from outside into the temple. The pagoda symbolized the place where Buddha's ashes were kept. This custom is also a symbolic replacement of sand which may have clung to people's shoes and inadvertently carried out of the temple.
It is obvious that all festivals can be worthwhile to the environmental education. All activities help to build up people's awareness of environments (natural environment and social environment). Young people are taught to be good citizens and to keep a warm relationship within their families. Moreover, it seems to me that the activity on taking sand from outside into the temple for building up the pagoda is a way to develop the idea of environmental conservation. In addition, environment ethics is transferred to young generations. Furthermore, it is important for human beings to keep their cultures and customs as heritage for generations to come.
In conclusion, the examples of Thai customs mentioned in this paper can indicate how moral goodness and environmental ethics are instilled in traditional Thais. The Thais have always been aware of our valuable heritage with great pride. We have been brought up practising traditional customs in many parts of our daily lives: at home, at school, at the temple and everywhere else. Although many of the Thai customs are still evident, they appear somewhat diluted. We have to accept that people have become modernized over the years, dropping those ancient beliefs which no longer have a place in their lives.
Fortunately, the Thais always realize that if we do not conserve our customs as our heritage, it will be dangerous to our environments (nature and society). I, myself; do believe in the influence of the Thai customs for environmental conservation. Then Thailand has a national policy to maintain and to revive Thai customs to be part of the Thai heritage forever.
7. Buddhist perception of nature
Buddhism has been a dominant influence, probably the most important factor in the development of the Thai personality. In addition, the teaching of Buddhism has brought about environmental ethics and public awareness on conservation of nature.
Buddhism is an ancient enduring philosophy embodying themes of awareness and compassion for all life. Furthermore, Buddhism is also influential in many parts of Asia with unique and endangered species of animals and plants as well as habitats. In addition, Buddhism has also been demonstrated to have a direct, beneficial effect in saving species and forest areas.
The following are parts of Buddhism teachings and stories corresponding to developing environmental ethics and environmental awareness.
7.1 Five precepts of Buddhism
Buddhism is the national religion of Thailand and to most Thais. To be a Thai is equated with being a Buddhist. Buddha's teachings are practical and easy for people to understand.
There are many precepts of Buddhism. One among them that people can basically practise in order to have a harmonious life, is the one called "Five Precepts".
*The first precept forbids the taking of life.
*The second precept forbids taking things that do not belong to you. In the other words,
not to steal other people's belongings.
*The third precept forbids telling lies.
*The forth precept forbids committing adultery.
*The fifth precept forbids taking alcoholic drinks.
It is clear that the Five Precepts of Buddhism can develop moral goodness in people. According to the first precept, the action is to protect and preserve lives, an achievement that requires loving kindness based on denial of the ego which is the heart of Buddhism.
Once loving kindness is generated, each one will extend his field of action to cover others, and hence brings about peaceful co-existence.
The rest of the Five Precepts of Buddhism will help develop sound social environments.
7 .2 The Buddhist standpoint
Much evidence clearly indicates the Buddhist standpoint regarding conservation of water and forest resources.
Buddhists have learnt that to pollute waters or to destroy a pond is to commit a great sin because all lives depend upon water without which all living would come to an end. In addition, we should keep in mind that not only all living things but also non-living things can not last long without water.
For forest conservation, Buddha emphasised to his disciples the value of living in the forest. As the Buddhist community primarily comprised forest-dwellers, members had to be mindful of the forest which was basically their abode in every respect; a community member had to respect each tree with which they come into contact.
Thailand has realized the value of Buddhism not only in the aspect of developing human's moral but also in creating environmental ethics to people. Environmental conservation cannot survive only on law enforcement, but it must stem naturally from the understanding and belief of the people themselves. With these reasons, environmental ethics, based on Thai customs and Buddhism, is included in environmental education in the school system for all students in every level and out of school system for the public.
8. Projects on environmental conservation based on Thai customs and Buddha's teachings.
In order to enhance people's awareness and conservation of environments, many interesting projects based on Thai customs and Buddha's teachings are established. The projects have been introduced to both the public and the school system.
Some among many interesting activities on the festivals and national holidays of Thailand will be described as follows:
8.1 Songkran Festival: the National Family Day.
As mentioned before, Songkran is a traditional cultural festival which can strengthen the family relationship. It falls on 13 April and lasts for three days. Traditionally, the family members will get together to pay their respects to their family elders. With this reason, the National Family Day is to be observed on Songkran Day.
Activities are as follows:
8.1.1 At schools, students learn about the importance of Songkran festival as a Thai cultural tradition and the family significance.
8.1.2 At home household Buddha images and each house are cleaned.
Family elders are presented with some small gifts, usually a towel or a piece of cloth and scented water is poured over their palms.
In addition, people free birds and fish as well as avoid killing animals even for foods during the Songkran Festival.
All activities help develop environmental ethics to people in all generations.
8.2 Khao Pansa (Buddhist lent): the National Tree day
The day of Khao Pansa is the period of Buddhist lent. In Thai, Khao Pansa means to enter the rainy season which lasts 3 months, from July to October. During this time, all monks are confined to their temples and abstain from traveling or leaving the temple for any length of time. This practice dates from the early days of Buddhism when monks customarily walked in the countryside and preached. With few pathways the monks had to traverse newly planted paddy-fields in the monsoon rain. It resulted in killing both plants and small animals inadvertently.
This clearly indicates that Buddha is a great conservationist. He showed responsibility and awareness for plants and animals in the ecosystems. Therefore, Krao Pansa is now observed as the National Tree Day as well.
On this day students and people in every community all over the country will set up activities on providing knowledge of conservation to people in both schools and communities (towns and rural areas.)
8.3 Campaign Project on "Using Banana Leaves for Loy Kratong Festival "
For traditional Loy Kratong Festival, banana leaf is used for making a cup-like container called Kratong to float in a canal or a river. At present, plastic foam is well known among people who have found its properties as floating and light material. Therefore, people prefer to use plastic foam instead of banana leaves to make kratongs. This results in an environmental problem.
At present, conservationists are concerned about this problem and this is the reason for establishing this project. People all over the country have been informed about the degradation of the environment resulting from the plastic foam used to make kratongs. Furthermore, people are encouraged to use banana leaves, not only for environmental conservation but also for maintaining our custom.
8.4 The National Environmental Day and The National Father Day.
The National Environmental Day and the National Father Day are on the same day of December 5, which is His Majesty King Bhumibol the Great's birthday. His Majesty the King of Thailand holds a very special place in the hearts of all Thai people. He is respected as the father of Thailand. In addition, since he has conducted many natural conservation projects especially for water resources, he is also respected as the father of natural conservation.
The followings are activities on this day.
- Family gatherings honouring their fathers.
- People participating in environmental activities: cleaning up canals, rivers and
8.5 Forest Loving Water Projects (Pah Ruk Nam)
This project is originated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen of Thailand. Her Majesty the Queen has a deep concern over the destruction of Thailand's forest and the fast disappearing of wildlife. She also realizes that environmental education is necessary for people in order to prevent the natural resources. As a result, "Forest Loving Water Project" is established.
Some among many interesting activities according to this project are as follows:
*providing knowledge about the importance of forest and water as well as how to
conserve them, to people living in the area around watersheds and forests.
*introducing the way of watching and protecting forests.
*encouraging people to participate and take action in taking care of forests and
8.6 Little House in the Forest Projects (Ban Lek Nai Pah Yai)
The projects are established by Her Majesty the Queen in order to enable people to be together with nature. The projects have been carried out in Bhupan district, Sakon Nakorn province and Bhuping Chiangmai province.
Activities are as follows
8.6.1 Providing people with knowledge about appropriate ways to live in forests without destroying them, as well as how to protect forests.
8.6.2 Instilling in people appreciation in the value of the forest.
8.6.3 Introducing people on how to grow plants in the forest as their sources of food.
The projects have been done effectively and they are planned to expand into other areas. The projects on Ban Lek Nai Pah Yai are worthwhile for forest conservation and how Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand tries to conserve the forests is appropriate, following Buddha's teaching.
8.7 Youth Loving Animals Project
The project is set up by the Environmental Education Center of Rajabhat Institute Phranaknon. The main objectives are to create loving kindness for all animals, a concept which is corresponding to Budoha's fifth precept.
The project is under the co-operation of Dusit Zoo, Bangkok and Rajabhat Institute, Phranakhon. Activities are arranged in Dusit Zoo for primary students from different schools in Bangkok every year during their summer vacation. Activities on sensory awareness, learning about animals lives from video media and visiting animals in the zoo are provided for students.
This project has been done since 1987. By observations and questionnaires, students and their parents are enthusiastic and they would like to visit the zoo again.
8.8 The project on "Buddhist Sunday Schools"
This project is developed to build up ethics in students. It takes place on Sunday at temples all over Thailand. Students are taught about the Buddha's teaching as well as practising meditation.
This project has been successfully carried out.
At present, the world's environmental problems are severe and it is most necessary to increase public awareness. Enforcing by law is not the best way to solve the problems; instead, environmental education should be applied to all people. In any case, environmental ethics should not be overlooked. We should keep in mind that without developing people's ethics, the environmental problems can not be successfully solved.
Thailand is regarded as a Buddhist country with beautiful customs. Thai traditional customs and festivals, whether old or relatively new, are part of the lives of the Thais.
Buddna's teaching and many of the Thai customs are useful for environmental education in two aspects: developing environmental awareness and instilling environmental ethics in people. Consequently, the environment is conserved. These are reasons for applying environmental education based on Thai customs to help protecting the environment.
*Forest Conservation in Omkoi District, Chaingmai Province, Working Conclusion of Forest Conservation Project, Thailand, 1995 (in Thai).
*Gerson, Ruth., Image of Asia Traditional Festivals in Thailand, Oxford University Press, 1996.
*Kabilsmgh, Chatsumarn., A Cry From the Forest, Wildlife Fund Thailand, O.S. Printing House Co. Ltd., Thailand, 1987.
*Tonkin, Derek, and Kongsiri, Visnu., The Simple Guide to Customs and Etiquette in Thailand, APA Publications (Thailand) Ltd., 1996.
and Environmental Ethics in China
Emeritus Professor, Central Institute of Educational Science, China
I. Present Situation of the Global Environment and the Chinese Environment
Toward the 21st century, now the world is facing an historical turning point which is often described as "the movement of the crust of the earth" or "diastrophism". In China, we are now also undergoing "the structural change", that is to say, China is shifting from a planned economy to a market economy. The time has started to search for new viewpoints and principles, and requires a new social revolution. What we have to bear in mind in this context is that environmental destruction and ecological deterioration are in progress on a global scale, thus the existence of human beings itself is in danger. Therefore, in order to maintain the continued existence and survival of human beings, we need to go back to the starting point, and ask ourselves fundamental questions as to what is meant by the coexistence of human beings and nature, and what is our position and role in global environment. Although current environmental problems are emerging on a global scale, as a matter of fact, these are generated by local environmental issues occurring in each region.
Therefore, what we should do is to tackle the problem from a global point of view, integrating modern civilization and culture: it is no longer a subject to be tackled by the perspective of individual countries.
The theme of my lecture is "Environmental Thoughts and Environmental Ethics in China". In order to clarify the relationship between the psychological consciousness and ideological thoughts which inhere recognition and behavior regarding the environment, I will discuss the situation of environmental issues in China and express my opinion frankly.
Since reformation and liberation, the economy has been achieving favorable growth, and people's living standards have also been increased dramatically in China. However, the environment has deteriorated to a severe degree; thus we cannot help being deeply concerned about it.
Serious environmental problems affecting people such as air pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, soil deterioration and desertification, water pollution, sea pollution, extinction of wild animal species, increase of waste, decrease of forest, noise, vibration, mephitis, and population growth are found in China. Now I will give you some examples of these problems.
Since coal is the major source of energy in China, 70% of smoke exhaust and 90% of carbon dioxide exhaust are generated by coal combustion, and they have brought serious air pollution to cities where industries and population are congested. Some parts of them are damaged by acid rain, and are becoming gradually intensified. According to a survey in 1994, the amount of hazardous substances such as nitrogen oxide and suspended particles exhausted annually in the air, have reached 15 million tons. Consequently, China is the country which has the largest amount of emission of hazardous substances into the air. For example, in Chongqing the annual coal consumption is 15.71 million tons and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air is 800 thousand tons in a year. Two thirds of that amount becomes acid rain which falls causing serious pollution of buildings, trees, ground and rivers. Thus, the TV tower of Chongqing started to rust just three years after construction.
Noise is another problem related to human life, and causes psychological suffering to us disturbing peaceful sleep. Today noise pollution is becoming one of the most serious environmental problems in metropolitan areas of China. Almost 30% of the workers in the country of China are working in places where a lot of noise is generated. The situation is even more serious among workers in the small - or medium - sized companies which are less advanced in the field of technical equipment as well as the production process.
There is another problem concerning water pollution in the sea, rivers and lakes. We have 131 big rivers in China. According to the report, more than half of those rivers are already polluted. There are 83 rivers including small and big rivers in the peripheral areas of Beijing. 54 out of 83 rivers are already polluted and emit an offensive odor such as ammonia.
More than 300 cities out of 600 in China are suffering from water shortage and also water contamination.
The increase of industrial solid waste is also a serious problem. The amount is 620 million tons per annum, and the aggregate amount is 6.46 billion tons accumulating industrial waste hitherto produced. They are distributed over about a 55.697 ha area. An inappropriate treatment of these wastes will cause environmental pollution an intolerable burden on the environment. On reclaiming in the final stage, it is necessary to convert the natural land to the disposal areas. Moreover, water contamination caused by the illegal industrial waste in areas which are not designated for the purpose is becoming a considerable problem.
Industrial waste is also a serious problem from the international perspective. A large amount of waste has been illegally transported into our country from overseas countries. This has occurred 11 times in Kangtong province alone from 1983 to 1988. Last year, we had a sensational affair, in which industrial waste transported from America was found in a district out of Beijing.
There is contradiction between the increase of population and decrease of land. The population of China has reached 1.2 billion, and there are 20 million more newborns year per annum, whereas the area of arable land is decreasing by several million a year. There is 1.2 a of arable land per person, which is one quarter of the average of the world. The forest area is only 11.3 % of the world average.
The annual amount of soil and sand washed away is about 5 to 6 billion tons. The area of desertified land has already reached 2300 km2 in China.
According to the report, the basin of the Mother River, the Yellow River, which is the cradle of Chinese ancient civilization, has dried up for 133 days this year. In July of 1996, a great amount of muddy soil poured into the Yangtze at the downstream of constructing Sankyo dam, thus the fishing was interrupted temporarily.
It seems that there is some cause-and - effect relationship between the examples mentioned above and the destruction of the ecosystem.
Although wild animals have lived together with human beings up until now, some are at a crisis of extinction, since their habitats have been destroyed by our modern lifestyle. For example, a report says that about 398 species of vertebrate animals of wild animals in China are at a crisis of extinction. Out of 1009 species of higher plants, 15-20% of them are also in danger of extinction. Therefore, we have to tackle these environmental problems without any delay in China.
China is a developing country with a vast land area and a high population. Once the environmental situation has deteriorated, then it will bring about a dangerous situation to the peripheral areas. Thus it is time to tackle the environmental problems in China not from one single country standard but from the global viewpoint.
Our country is facing the double problem of economic development and protection of the environment. If we tackle environmental problems with consideration of the country situation, then we will be able to move into the solution of the environmental issues step by step. For this purpose, we should work out a strategy to control our population, use energy effectively, suppress or control our desire for consumption to an appropriate level, protect the ecological environment and guarantee existence and sustainable development. I would like to say that we should consider the following things about conditions of China.
First, the huge population has a strong impact on the environment. Today, we have a population of 1.2 billion in China, and it is increasing by 20 million per annum. At the end of this century, it will reach 1.3 billion. In a sense, the essence of the environmental problems is considered as population issues. Although China is huge and has abundant resources, the area of cultivable land per person is extremely small. Thus population and environmental problems are prominent. In the process of constructions for modernization in progress, such kind of contradiction will become more serious and harsh.
Second, from the perspective of industries, since most companies are small to medium in size, using basic technology and scattered all over China, the amount of energy and raw materials consumed is large. Therefore, the amount of industrial waste will also be large. The development of small factories and town factories will have an especially strong impact on the environment. For example, under the order of the National Environment Conservation Bureau, 15 kinds of industries such as pulp factories or leather manufacturing factories, which include 90 thousand places, will be closed compulsorily in this year, because they are notable polluters. 50 thousand places will have been already closed since the end of September.
Third, there is another problem in that coal accounts for the primary form of energy consumed petroleum and natural gas. It is clear that environmental problems will be not be easily solved in the near future.
Fourth, science and technology are less advanced, and the moral consciousness and ethics of the people with regard to the environment are rather low. Environmental consciousness or awareness of people is also low. Therefore it is really questionable whether the ability to improve the environment can catch up with the speed of the environmental destruction. There are other various problems. Generally speaking, it is still very difficult to solve the historical remaining environmental problems and at the same time to control the environmental issues which are emerging during the process of development. I believe that we still have a lot of difficulties and a long way to go before solving our environmental problems.
But here is one example in which our country's development policy among economy, society and environment has been successful.
Since 1978, the Chinese government has been carrying out a project called "Ten Forestation and Plantation Project". The main objective of the project is to realize the protection and the improvement of the natural ecological environment and the sustainable use of resources. I will briefly introduce the "Sanpei area" shelter belt forest or wind break forest project.
Sanpei is a general term for all of these three regions: the western part of Northeast China, the northern part of North China, and the whole of Northwest China. We work on tree planting and afforestation in the large wasteland extending over 551 districts of 13 provinces. The whole area is 40.6 thousand km2, which covers 42.4% of our country. The project started in 1978 and will be completed in 2050. The area in the process of afforestation is 534 million a. When it is completed, the ratio of covering of the forest will increase from 5.05% in 1977 to 14.95% in 2050. This Forestry Eco Project, which involves many provinces and divisions, has been highly evaluated internationally and given the name "The Green Great Wall of China". Today the first and second stages of the construction have been already completed. An afforestation area reached 18.51 million ha, and the ratio of covering of forest increased from 5.05% to 8.2%. More than 40 thousand km2 of "barren area" were converted to green forest and more than 1.3 million ha of the sands were turned into agricultural lands, pasture lands, and orchards. 12% of desertified land was developed and 10 % of desertified land prevented from undergoing further desertification. More than 11 million ha of agricultural lands are protected by forest shelter belt. Since 8.93 million ha of grassland regained their vigor, the amount of grass produced increased by more than 20%.
At the same time, the agricultural ecological environment in one third of the districts in Sanpei goes toward a benign circulation. These continuous efforts during more than 20 years have achieved a great success which drew much attention. Environmental pollution and ecological deterioration are now basically controlled and the environment of some cities and areas have started to be improved and reformed at this moment.
II. Various Thoughts through Environmental Ethics
and Environmental Education.
The global environmental problems which we are facing are not occurring on their own. The three factors such as environment, economy and our life styles are inseparably related to one another; thus it seems that the environmental crisis is emerging simultaneously with regard to these three factors. In other words, today's environmental problems are related to not only the destruction of nature but also the economy, society and our life styles, and we must recognize that the former is always accompanied with the latter. The human environment is not only the natural environment: it also includes the artificial environment as well as the social environment. Therefore, we should pay attention to two environmental factors such as the natural and social environment, when we discuss environmental problems. In this sense, it is necessary to deepen the understanding and awareness regarding environmental philosophy and environmental ethics.
The principle of environmental ethics and environmental education draws on deep human philosophy, in views of nature, in views of the world, and in views of values, and it is also related to the culture, traditions and social relationships of each country.
Here, we will investigate and consider the ancient Chinese thoughts regarding environmental attitudes.
1. The View of Nature and the View of the Environment in Ancient China
Prior to the ancient philosophy of China people considered that the world and nature, and humans and their lives cannot be separated, and that the view of the world and the philosophy of life are one body. Thus, there was no thought that human beings could control and utilize nature. The thought of "the integration of nature and human beings" is considered as the philosophy of nature of the ancient Chinese people. According to this thought, the destiny of human beings depends on nature. The experience of nature is life. Since nature is not something that human beings can perfectly control and she - nature - must coexist with humans, I emphasized the integration of the nature path and the human path. The path I just mentioned means the laws or the rules. There are laws of generation and change in all things in the world, hence we have to follow the laws. As I already mentioned, there are 2 types of laws - those concerning nature and humans. The former indicates the laws of generation and change in the natural world, and the latter purports to be the laws that we - human beings - must follow in society, that is morals and ethics. These two kinds of laws are inseparable as one whole natural path. In other words, nature which is object and the human, which is subject, should not be antagonistic: they must form a complete whole. Originally untouched nature was an entire thing.
Chun-tze states that the path of nature has "no limitations", no boundaries and no wisdom. The picture of the world in the philosophy of Lao-tze and Chung-tze is a holistic world of nature in which the object and the subject, substance and consciousness are never sharply distinct; rather, both of them should mix together and flow together in it. Hence human beings can not infringe on the laws of nature by their activities. According to the moral philosophy of Lao-tze, "Human beings follow the earth, the earth follows nature, nature follows laws and the laws follow nature". "Follow" means "adhere to". Human beings are not the central existence in the world. Through our subjective activities, we can only play a part to investigate and modify nature, which is the objective substance. Therefore, human beings should not modify the nature selfishly by anthropocentric standards, and we need to have the spirit of respecting nature. That is, we have to develop a coexistence with nature. Here, the oriental philosophy of nature is condensed.
The teachings of Confucius go as follows. Although nature says nothing, the seasons change and the whole creation lives and dies. According to him the movement of nature and the earth bring about seasonal changes. In accordance with the seasons, the following cycle is formed: trees and plants sprout in spring, grow in summer, bear fruit in autumn, and are harvested and stored in winter. Following this cycle, people plant seed in spring, cultivate in summer, harvest in autumn, and store in winter. Hence, nature, in which all creatures including human beings exist organically, rotates with no beginning and no end, and develops harmoniously. These thoughts are the essence of the view of nature of ancient China - "a philosophy that sets out the integration of nature and man".
As China is an agricultural country traditionally, we have keenly felt that we should follow the laws of the natural world in order to engage in agriculture through the ages. Studies about the natural world mainly focus on agriculture. Investigations of resources such as land, water, and animals and climate were carried out, and rational application of them were made with heart and soul. However, to follow the laws of nature does not mean to be enslaved to the natural environment taking a negative or passive stand. To investigate and recognize the laws of nature, and to improve and apply them to the environment rationally are an important objective for us.
Let us look at an historical example of such applications. In B.C. 200, the Du Jiang Yan dam was built by Governor Li Ping at "Tu", the Capital of "Chin". The Ming river, the large tributary of the Yangtze River, flowed into this reservoir, and was drawn into the "Chanto" plain, or the Szechuan Basin, as irrigation water. Although more than 2000 years has passed since then, the dam still plays a very important role today. Owing to this irrigation work, there were no disasters such as floods or droughts in "Situwan" Province, which has the greatest population in China, for the past 2000 years. In fact, this province is called "the Tien Pu area", because of its rich harvest every season.
When you have a chance to visit China and Chanto, please come and see the Du Jiang Yan dam. You will be amazed at the grand process for utilizing water, which scientifically and rationally utilizes the natural environment. It is one of the greatest works of ancient China, and is equivalent to the Great Wall of China. The Du Jiang Yan dam was built not for the sake of war, but for the sake of the welfare of a nation, and for the sake of welfare passed down from generation to generation forever, and it is still useful today.
In the view of nature of ancient China, it is always emphasized that human beings and nature are one body, and human beings are one part of nature. Human beings are regarded as gifts given from nature; that is, they are the children of Mother Nature. A Confucianist taught that we should take care of natural resources and use them rationally to the higher level of the "Road to Nature", and he pointed out that human beings would be able to reach the place where we can enjoy ourselves by only following "the Road to Nature". According to a Confucianist, human beings are the lord of all creation, and are the greatest being among all creations that exist between nature and land. On the other hand, according to Taoism, the universe consists of the four parts "path, nature, land and man", and human beings are only one of them. Based on the above order, human beings are considered to be the lowest existence of the four. When you have a chance to see an ink painting or black-and-white ink painting in China, you may recognize that human beings are always drawn in a very small way. The reason is that the existence of human beings is very small compared with nature. Human habitation is equivalent to that of animals. This is also one of the expressions of Taoism. Taoism also teaches that the desires of human beings should be controlled.
"Pure spirit and suppressed desire", "pure silence and no desire" and "back to nature" are representative principles in the philosophy of Lao-tze and Chung-tze. Every action by human beings toward the natural world has been effecting the destruction onto the pure natural environment to some extent. In this sense, the increasing desire of consumption in human society, including destructive development and plunderage, was considered to be attained by sacrificing the natural environment. The true happiness for human beings is "living simply such as weaving cloth and wearing it, and plowing the field and taking a meal". Here, I would like to cite a short phrase in the philosophy of Lao-tze and Chung-tze. "When the sun rises, I work. When the sun sets, I sleep. Digging a well, drinking water, plowing a rice field, taking a meal, and I don't care about the emperor".
The life style of "living together with nature" was the norm in old villages in China. A stable and artificial ecological environment was constructed, combining agricultural production and natural environment, and materials were circulated between cities and villages by the use of fecal matter as organic manure. Physiocracy; that is, the "agriculture-first" principle, has existed as the current of thoughts and world views of Chinese people during the course of a long history. A recognition of nature has changed from as God's will as a thing of conquest to that a partner we can live together with in the view of nature mentioned above, we should regard nature not as something we can use for our benefit, but as something that has much value in itself. The use of nature, the mental dependence upon her, and awe and respect to her must coexist. Even today, we should follow this view of nature in ancient China.
2. Chinese Views on Nature and the Environment Today
Frankly speaking, correct perceptions came to a fruitful end after many twists and turns. In the beginning, nature was regarded as something we can "conquer" or "rule over", thus we worked under slogans such as "Man can defeat nature without fail", "We can obtain unlimited pleasure after gaining victory over nature and the earth" and so on. To our regret, the result of the unlimited development of nature for the purpose of the victory of human beings in the fight with nature, has brought about the destruction of the environment.
Since the reformation and opening of the economy 17 years ago, modern Chinese society has succeeded in developing the economy and material civilization; however various problems such as the destruction of natural environment caused by confused development, the rise of money worship caused by the rapid growth of a market economy and the crisis of education, are coming to the surface. Moreover, lots of issues such as the wide gaps between wealth and poverty, city life and local life, or the littoral zone and back region, and moral degeneracy have become more and more conspicuous. It is necessary to consider such serious social conditions carefully. I believe that we live in the most greatest turning point for the Chinese society in thousands of years of Chinese history. Toward the 21st century, our country, struggling for modernization, has to take into consideration the construction of not only material civilization but also moral civilization.
Today, the most remarkable problem that our country is facing, is that of the aggravation of the environment. We suffer from industrial pollution. However, in addition to industrial pollution, as our lifestyle modernizes, the pollution caused by modern lifestyles due to overconsumption such as exhaust gas of cars, waste water, and nonburnable garbage have rapidly spread. What I would like to emphasize here, is that a viewpoint where the cause of the aggravation of environment is limited only to construction, is not correct. The reason is that the environment cannot be independent of consciousness, values, needs and actions. I consider that it is impossible to solve environmental problems apart from other problems among human beings. Environmental problems are due to not individuals but societies. What exists behind the aggravation of environment must include the fragility of national consciousness to environment, the lack of social morality, and lifestyle, that is , the serious, essential, moral and ethical problem related to the very way that modern civilization should be. Today, in China, environmental ethics is not established sufficiently.
A Chinese ethicist pointed out that when ethics in Chinese society is discussed, there are three contradictory and inconsistent phenomena. They are lack of humanity, sense of values, and poverty of civilization. These causes are due culturally to an ethos in which the economy and ethics are separated by placing value on "an economy first" principle with economy as the central figure. This has produced deleterious results such as money worship, egoism, egocentrism, and indifference toward the possibility of existence of the next generation. Thus, the following situation was brought about: moral civilization was changed to a corrupted Epicurean culture and material civilization was changed to Money First Principle. Today in China, a mass movement is growing which stresses the construction of moral civilization as a counter measure. To be concrete, these are the improvement of moral education in order to inculcate balances, a mind that sets value on a sense of justice and fairness, consideration for others, and a universal sense of values and morals.
In order to solve environmental problems, there is no doubt that external social and material efforts such as sufficient facilities for protection of the environment to enact laws of preservation, to make people observe the laws, and to make political efforts, are important. However, the improvement of internal, mental and moral ethics is more important.
III. Various Problems of Environmental Ethics
and Environmental Education.
Although the term "environmental education" is not new for the Chinese educational world, it was in the middle of the 70's that environmental education was taken up as an important problem on a full scale.
The content of environmental education should be considered as interdisciplinary fields involving not only natural science but also social and humane studies. Problems directly conserving the environment are preservation of the natural environment, protection of various species, food and population, and environmental pollution. In addition to these, life and local environment relating to industrial structure of economy, laws and regulations, historical cultural inheritance, and the necessities of life are also major problems in environmental education.
Nowadays, environmental education is carried out as a subject or an extra curricular activity in elementary or junior high schools. However, the problem is that environmental education is restricted to problems that have actually occurred, and it is lacking in cultural and humanistic viewpoints till quite recently, considering only economical viewpoints which focus on economic efficiency. Environmental education does not say what environmental ethics is sufficiently, therefore it does not devote much attention to changing the national consciousness. However, environmental problems deeply question the very civilization of modern society. Environmental problems will not be solved thoroughly unless we observe the consciousness, the world view, and the moral view of the people who constitute and influence society. We should recognize today's environmental problems not only as problems of social structure but also as cultural ones involving our whole life and seizing its whole structure.
Thus, the environmental problem generates questions about how we should be: that is how we live and how we will live, and the problems of our view of life and the world. Ethics, which concern our way of life and relationship of generations, has given rise to new studies, that is environmental ethics. This concerns the relationship between human beings and nature, which also entails the study of the way of life of animals and plants on the earth. There will be no prospects for fundamental solutions to global environmental problems unless human beings develop moral responsibility toward the environment.
Since the manifestation of environmental problems and the importance of the environment has been pointed out, environmental ethics has become the center of public attention in China. To be concrete, the following two points will be mentioned.
First, we need a new view of the environment. Some people say that today's environmental problems in China are due to lack of progress in techniques for environmental preservation. Although I will not deny that science and technology is one of the important causes, I am sure that a view of environment, that is, our recognition of environmental problems is a major cause.
For a long time, a view of environment which emphasizes the divide between the subject such that we can develop, control and conquer nature, and the object. However this kind of idea is already outdated. Although there is an approach that focuses on the Preservation of the Environment today, this too is not sufficient. The reason is that this approach means we can simply mend or partially patch a destroyed environment. This is a backward-looking and negative perspective in that we patch nature after have once destroyed it. What we need is a determined attitude such that we stop the destruction of environment or reduce it in advance. It is possible that this idea may become the foundation of responsibility and ethics to nature: that is, nature as well as human beings is not only a means, but also an absolute value as the base of existence of human beings.
In this sense, the philosophy of "the integration of nature and man" of Chinese Confucianism, and the thought which "considers nature and man as one" of Taoism will prove instructive.
We must engage in an environmental philosophy that shows humans and nature developing in harmony, accept eliminating environmental problems as one of the main objectives of today's society, change the tendency of pursuing only economic growth and ignoring the preservation of the ecological environment, and plan a strategy which guarantees existence and sustainable development. First of all, we should search for the way of sustainable development that guarantees existence, requires development in existence, and improves existence into development. Here "existence" refers not only to the existence of human beings, but also that of a community of all creatures in the natural world. The term "development" implies inclusively not only the economic face but also the cultural and social face appropriate to human beings.
Next, we should strengthen environmental education, especially the education of environmental ethics, in order to raise our consciousness of the environment.
It is necessary for each of us to have the consciousness that we respect our natural environment, to understand the preservation of the environment, and to take part in it realizing it. However, the cultural grounding of Chinese people in this area is relatively poor, and we are only at the ABCs of our environmental education. It is attended with difficulties unless we particularly strengthen the education of environmental ethics. Whereas, in China, we have already started to enact various laws and regulations about the preservation of environment, there are a lot of problems that cannot be dealt with merely by laws and regulations. It is possible that those problems will be solved by education of environmental ethics.
Here is one example. According to the report of "ren ming ri pao", at a certain chemical factory in Gue Faog area in He Pei province, in order to dispose of piled up toxic waste, they carried them from the factory at midnight and threw them into a river 200 kilometers away. As a result, at Yangliao area in Tien-tsin City, the water for 200 thousand people living there was polluted. In dealing with this disposal problem, the person in charge in this factory clearly recognized that what he did was illegal and the result was serious. However, why are incidents like this repeated?
To my regret, there are too many such cases to count in our Chinese society. For example, as visitors to picturesque places increase, the environment is destroyed more badly. These days the more people move to apartments and they decorate the inside of the houses like gorgeous hotel rooms. However, the outside of their houses, are in a mess. They don't care at all about the environment on the outside of their living places -- for example they throw away garbage or spit as they wish.
This examples illustrates a deeper ethical problem, therefore it is important to educate people about environmental morals and to build up the education of environmental ethics. It is also important to make people have a sense of responsibility so that they care about their surroundings just the same way that they care about their own rooms. In order to engage in environmental education for instilling a correct sense of environment and a sense of environmental ethics, we have to start environmental education from our childhood. As the proverb says that a journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step, so we must start with activities close to home from the global viewpoint of environmental issues, since it is necessary that we think on a worldwide scale and act at our feet.
In China, opportunities to take part in various volunteer activities are provided. It is very important for students to have empirical studies (social experience, natural experience), that is, activities in which they can directly touch nature, by taking them "into their environment". It is insufficient that environmental education results in only prosecution of pollution and destruction of nature. Moreover, environmental education should be constructed on the basis of sense of value of new environmental ethics which includes moral education as ethics searching for the way of our life as human beings and seeking for regulations.
Environmental problems are now emerging on a global scale, and it is a well-known fact that those issues are jeopardizing the existence and also the safety of human beings. In fact, this environmental deterioration did not occur suddenly one day without warning; it has come to an advanced stage step by step. Human beings have been influencing nature in the natural environment for a long period, and human beings have grown as humans adapting themselves to nature. Nevertheless, human beings have altered nature, which is their real parent, and that has led them to be unable to adapt to what has become spoiled nature. What is the cause of that?
Tracing it to its origin, it is necessary to consider the nature of the relationship between a human being and the environment, and that between one person and another, and also it is important to approach the view of nature, the view of the environment and the sense of life such as the way of human life or thoughts.
First, in order to seek sustainable development, human beings have to discard their outdated and no longer appropriate ways of thinking.
Next, though environmental problems have regional differences, it is obvious that the environmental problems occurring in one region influence others. In other words, it is impossible for us to have nothing to do with the environmental issues emerging in any regions in the world. Therefore, we have to tackle environmental issues from a global point of view. All of us live in one village: that is the earth. Especially, the countries of Japan and China are neighbors, and there is only a narrow channel between the two countries which belong to the same Oriental culture. Let's together create a promising future hand in hand by drawing on the great traditional philosophy of the Orient in order to secure the continuance of human beings and the earth.