MANY teachers regard humans as being above and apart from nature, which they should be able to exploit for their benefit, according to a survey. About 40 per cent of 889 secondary school teachers throughout the territory agreed with the statements that 'mankind was created to rule over the rest of nature', and 'humans have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs', the survey showed. Their environmental concern was only on par with views in the United States 20 years ago, the study found. Activists Green Power said the results were disappointing because environmental awareness would not improve if teachers did not pass it on. 'Teachers' knowledge affects the level of education and awareness,' said co-author of the survey, Baptist University associate professor Dr Wong Koon-kwai. Results among students were even more marked, with youngsters rating lower on environmental concern than the general public, he said. 'What they learn still emphasises growth and prosperity, and they may not associate economic development with degradation of the environment,' he said. The preliminary results were released yesterday at a regional environmental seminar organised by Green Power, the Conservancy Association, Friends of the Earth and World Wide Fund for Nature. Dr Wong and co-author, Green Power executive secretary Alexander Yan Wing-lok, said teachers lacked interest in teaching the topic or finding out about it. 'Some teachers said they had lost interest in environmental activities because all results are now measured by academic results,' Mr Yan said. They branded the Education Department's 1992 guidelines on environmental education a failure. 'A guideline is just a guideline,' said Dr Wong. 'If some teachers are interested principals may support it, but if no one is interested they may just put them on file.' The report also said that when teachers are confronted by issues that affected their direct economic interest, their support for slowing down economic growth was weakened at the expense of the environment.