“Climate change is the most pressing and threatening issue to modern-day society. Through lack of understanding from generations before us, we are having to fix it. And how can we do this without education?”
15 year old Esha Marhawa from West London wrote a petition to keep climate change in the national curriculum for children in England. She’s outraged that the newly proposed curriculum vastly scales back on teaching climate change.
“Geography… inspired me enough to realise that not only is the earth a beautiful place, but one that is in desperate need of our help. More importantly, it inspired me to get out there and do as much as I could.”
What are our standards for teaching climate change science in the U.S.A., anyway?
In December, I offered my climate change slideshow to a 7th grade Science class. They were just wrapping up their unit on Climate, so the timing was Perfect. I started by asking students a rhetorical question, “Who here knows about climate change?” 3 hands went up out of 27 students.”Do you know about greenhouse gasses?” 2 hands went up. The teacher smiled politely. And that’s when it hit me.
It turns out “Climate” in our public schools is tornadoes, weather systems, earthquakes, and you know… “Climate.” “Change” is something else. I looked back at the students, my jaw on the floor.
Halfway through my talk I show a graph of today’s level of CO2. A 12 year old shot up out of his seat and shouted, “How long has this been happening? Why hasn’t anyone done anything about this?”
He was terrified and angry. And he was right to be. I assured him, “I’m getting to that now.” He sat down again quietly and the class listened for 45 minutes barely breathing. The end of the talk is an inspiring call to action using examples of youth leaders who are changing the world.
I asked the 7th graders to write down their immediate reaction to the new coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point, WA. I took their written comments to the public hearing in Downtown Seattle that very night.
I shared their dismay, their horror, their sense of what is right and good in the public record. These 12-year-old kids who learned of global warming that day added their voices to the growing chorus demanding an end to the madness destroying their planet.
2,500 Washingtonians had crowded into the Convention Center to oppose the coal export terminal. The wildest, loudest cheers of the night ( in fact the only cheers permitted in the hall) shook the rafters as children spoke up courageously, with absolute moral authority, to teach us grownups what is right and good, and what is madness. You can watch the video online.
Back to Esha’s petition:
“Our government, part of the generation who bear much of the responsibility for this problem, intends to not only fail to act on climate change themselves but to obscure the truth from children and young people. It is outrageous that Michael Gove can even consider the elimination of climate change education for under-14s. We must keep climate change in the curriculum in order for young people to take on this challenge of tackling the threat posed by our changing climate.”
Here in the U.S., the fossil fuel friendly Heartland Institute “think tank” has written new science curriculum. Video: Heartland Dept of Education
Kinda makes you want to start a petition doesn’t it?