A common raven suddenly begins to call from Cornwall Park. I rush to the front porch trying to see what the commotion is all about. Two adult ravens are flapping high over the green canopy, croaking vigorously. Like vigilant Block Watch captains protecting the integrity of a neighborhood, ravens exhibit exceptional observational prowess coupled with intense fidelity to family and place. I scan the forest with binoculars and notice three raven fledglings perched in a scraggly birch tree at the edge of the forest. Scanning higher, I finally detect a distant bald eagle circling over the urban park where the ravens have nested for a decade. Ravens recognize an opportunistic predator like a bald eagle as a “threat to the neighborhood” and they act decisively to protect their home. The raven’s objection is clearly articulated through their vocalizations and aerial antics and the bald eagle soon circles out of sight.
Why is it that when human observers experience an ecological threat and speak out in alarm (warning against drilling oil 5000 feet below the ocean surface or climate change) that our most heartfelt appeals remain ineffective? Is it an inability to understand the true threat to our children? If we truly perceived the ability of humanity to survive as linked to the ecological integrity of our surroundings, would the human response to these cries of alarm be different? What roles do love and caring play?
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Burgess, Donald J. and Johannessen, Tracie, "The Heart of Sustainability: Big Ideas from the Field of Environmental Education and their Relationship to Sustainability Education or What's Love Got to Do with It?" (2010). Secondary Education. 5.
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