June 5th is World Environment Day, kickstarting this month with a worldwide initiative to raise…
The Earth has warmed up steadily since the Industrial Revolution. A study conducted by Nature shows that various regions in the world have been heating up since the 1830s. According to a report by Carbon Brief, greenhouse gas emissions and human-induced activities have had long term effects on global warming since the 1850s. Today, the impact of climate change can be felt throughout the globe. Like it or not, we all play a part in the heating of the world and are also facing adverse impacts. Oceans are heating up, huge tracts of land are on fire, clean water is becoming a rarity, and animals are facing extinction.
Today’s young generations are going to be most affected by the impacts of climate change. However, every person can become a change maker and change the environment for the better, creating a more hopeful future for the subsequent generations.
Climate change education is central in making people sensitive to the global epidemic currently underway. Termed ‘climate literacy’, it helps foster an understanding of climate change and awareness to the current state of the world. UNESCO has built frameworks that transform climate change programs into reality. The climate literacy framework guides the governments affiliated to the United Nations on how to introduce climate change and sustainable development goals in education curricula. Several schools in Europe and The US have already started this great initiative.
Climate literacy requires a practical education. This, in turn, needs ample resources and coordination among different teachers in schools and universities. Teachers must be trained in climate awareness first, so they can impart awareness to their students.
Changing the Way Schools Teach Environmental Studies
Unfortunately, according to a report by The Guardian, climate change education is directed towards spreading fear and anxiety in children. The news today is filled with reports of hurricanes, wildfires, and threatening weather patterns that strike fear in a child’s heart. Even in school, teachers rely more on ‘scare tactics’, as compared to practical knowledge and viable solutions.
Today’s students are well-aware of all that is happening in the world, and demand strict action against the perpetrators of climate change.The environment is changing at a rapid pace right now. Children are taking the lead and doing their part for the environment. They have become the voice of the planet, engaging in discussions with like-minded people and enabling others to make a change. Schools can assist their students by creating a sustainable learning environment that focuses more on pragmatic solutions rather than theoretical lessons. Students today have an increased sensitization towards the happenings in the world, and schools can encourage this behavior by imparting practical knowledge in children.
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist, is a shining example of what children and teenagers can achieve if they shift focus towards issues affecting the environment. She works to raise awareness on climate issues and challenges the governments, institutions, and corporations that place lucrative advantages over environmental sustenance. Their apathy today will result in the suffering of tomorrow’s children. Global warming is not a looming threat anymore, or simply a speck in the distance. It is here, and it is too large to ignore. Today’s children are speaking up, making their voices heard, and demanding action. In the words of Thunberg herself, “You are never too small to make a difference.”
Environmental-Friendly Technological Solutions
Children today will become the leaders of tomorrow. They will be growing up in a world where sustaining the environment will be as important as making headways in technological developments. Jobs that require a background in science and technology are already on the rise. Keeping this in consideration, there is no doubt that the world tomorrow will herald technological innovations that we cannot imagine today, just as no one envisioned smartphones merely 50 years ago.
Single-use commercial products such as plastic and styrofoam have started to be replaced by jute and paper products. Governments have started banning single-use plastic bags, deemed to be one of the world’s major pollutants. More companies have started recycling plastic than ever before.
Self-powered buildings are the latest addition to sustainable technologies. These buildings are able to generate power on their own through the help of solar panels or wind turbines installed on their rooftops. Surplus energy is directed back to the power grids, thus creating a viable and energy-efficient power source.
Sustainable Development Goals
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is an important part of a child’s learning. It helps develop the knowledge, understanding, skills, and values that children require for economic prosperity along with environmental protection. Sure, children should learn ample life skills that will help them attain good livelihoods. But according to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, children can only explore who they really are once they have become free from the shackles of poverty, ill-health, and gender disparity, among others. Sustainable Development Goals are an urgent call for action from all 193 countries affiliated to the United Nations to improve education, economic growth and prosperity, and general health—all while working to preserve forests and oceans.
Education is key for the pursuit and success of the SDGs. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development clearly states the importance of education in fostering empathy for the environment by listing it as its own goal – Sustainable Development Goal 4. Neutralizing the effects of climate change requires people to transform their lifestyle and learn new values that can lead to a more sustainable world. Children who instill these values from a young age will impulsively include sustainability practices in their daily lives.
How Will Education Preserve the Environment?
Children are already becoming conscious consumers. Though schools now are playing their part in teaching students about sustainable development goals, the education imparted by parents is as important, playing a big role in the way their child influences the environment.
Children learn by imitating adults around them. They believe what their parents do is right, and reflect those behaviors until they are at an age where they can ponder whether the habits were right or wrong. Instilling environmentally conscious habits in children from a very young age makes them feel like those behaviors are normal, and they will continue those habits even as an adult. As an added advantage, adults too make a habit of these activities, thus creating an environmentally-friendly atmosphere for the whole family.
Conversely, children can teach a lot to their parents about preserving the environment. If a child comes home from school one day after learning about the effects of recycling, they may stem a positive ripple by insisting their parents reuse waste. The whole family now starts benefiting the environment in their own way. Simple steps in a family can go a long way, such as:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Turning the lights off when they don’t need it
- Turning off the water when brushing their teeth and not taking long showers
- Carrying reusable bags for grocery shopping
- Creating empathy for all living beings
Each one of us has the potential to become changemakers and help turn the environment around for the better. As the younger generation became more conscious of the environment, The School Strike for the Climate rose to international prominence. The brainchild of Greta Thunberg is a movement where students take leave from their classes every Friday to protest against climate change, as they believe raising a voice for the environment is as important as the education received in school. The movement has spread to over 150 countries, and boasts of holding about 2200 protests weekly.
Today, the world is focused on finding viable solutions that will impact the planet for the better. While children in school protest, millennials are asking for or developing solutions that will decrease their carbon footprint. They demand action and want the people in power to hear their voices. This is a movement that will not perish.