As discussed in Trends 1 and 2, population is increasing. In the first half of this century (2000 - 2050) the population of the world will increase from around 6 billion to 9 billion - an increase of 50%. All of these people will have needs and wants - and current trends show that the gap between the haves and have nots will increase. More people will put more pressure on food production, global warming, access to water, the spread of diseases and so on, and at the same time more and more people and governments will have access to weapons that could wipe out the planet. The generation of students in our schools today will be the ones making the decisions about destroying or saving our world - so it's important to consider what education they are getting to help them deal with these issues in the future - are they seeing these issues as threats or as opportunities?
Here's one example: when I was in school most of the oil we used in the UK came from the Middle East. During the 1970s, however, the price of oil increased so much that expensive and previously uneconomic sources, such as beneath the North Sea, became practical for drilling, and with more supply of oil the price dropped. Since then wars have been fought over oil and countries invaded or corrupt regimes propped up to maintain access to oil. It seems we can't do without it, and yet 200 years ago we didn't even know it existed or what we could do with it. Now we hear the oil is rapidly running out - scientists are going to have to come up with news forms of energy. This could be a problem when looked at one way, or it could be an opportunity when looked at from another perspective. One thing is sure - we need to educate students to be creative and innovative, to be problem solvers and critical thinkers - one of today's students could well be the person who discovers a new source of energy that will become to the next generation what oil is to us today. Are we encouraging such thinkers?
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