Barriers to Sustainability and Environmental Learning and Action

There are many barriers that keep adults from environmental learning and action. Many of these barriers apply to
our young students as well.

While doing research for my master's degree in environmental adult education, I discovered innumerable barriers (obstacles, impediments, blocks, hurdles) that still keep us from learning about and acting on environmental issues.

These still exist even though many if not most adults are now aware that problems such as global climate change are huge threats to life on Earth and need urgent action.

I have categorized them as

Some of these barriers are real and some are merely perceived. Some are internal and some are external [59 - see the References page]. Many of them apply to children as well as adults.

The literature I searched was drawn from a wide range of fields, including adult education, community development, deep ecology, ecofeminist theory, ecopsychology, environmental education, indigenous ecology, and social marketing, among others.

Despite high levels of "green" attitudes, environmental concern has failed to translate into widespread environmental action.
— Glenda Wall

The Mother of All Barriers

Cities and Cars Disconnect Us from Nature

Although I found no one barrier that, once mitigated or removed, would solve all the world's environmental ills, I did uncover the most important of all the barriers.

Computers Disconnect Us from Nature

The West's EuroAmerican cultural belief that we are separate from the rest of Nature has spawned many of the other barriers, which revolve around our perceived disconnection from the natural world, reinforce it, and emanate from it.

For us teachers, this means we must consciously and deliberately reconnect our students with their true mother — the Earth. We can do this by

In short, to counteract the most powerful barrier
to environmental learning and action — our society's belief that we are apart from Nature rather than a part of Nature — we need to help our young people (as well as our adult students) bond with the natural world and learn the secrets of how life works on Earth.

Go to References

Visit Enticements to Sustainability

Return to GreenHeart Education Homepage