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La Educación
Número: (115) II
Año: 1993


This article departs from the thesis that certain forms of social organization imply greater intrusion into the natural world than others, and that prevailing models of economic development have been especially hostile to “nature.”  

The discussion proceeds to a consideration of political economy and the environmental crisis, identifying large-scale patterns of environmental destruction in Latin America. The author points out a central feature of this process: while the economic benefits derived from the exploitation of natural resources are often appropriated privately, the resulting environmental destruction is absorbed publicly. Thus, certain social groups benefit from environmental destruction, while others suffer.  A resolution to the environmental crisis will therefore require a transformation of the prevailing development pattern, and this transformation must take place at the political level, where development priorities are established.

The article concludes by saying that education is one essential starting point in the treatment of the environmental crisis, and that the environmental crisis can be more precisely characterized as a social crisis.  In contributing to a resolution of the crisis, then, education will have a particular objective, defined by the crisis, itself.  Environmental education, if it is to be effective, must make clear that environmental problems, or imbalances in natural processes, have their roots in social imbalances, meaning inequity, exclusion, and centralized power.  In this sense, environmental education constitutes an important forum for addressing environmental degradation, but it will also represent a focal point of social conflict.