Education is the key to addressing climate change

Climate change is now back in the UK geography curriculum after indications from education chief Michael Gove it would be left out

Adam Dyster is a first year history undergraduate at University College London and a member of the UK Youth Climate Coalition

Climate change is now back in the UK geography curriculum after indications from education chief Michael Gove it would be left out

It’s been introduced in the US curriculum, and threatened to be removed from the parts of the UK’s. It’s an issue that has sparked much debate, and in the UK’s case, outcry from thousands, particularly from young people and schools (to recent success). So why has education sparked such interest and been considered so vital an issue?

Education is vitally important for several, key reasons. It can deliver the scientific facts about the biggest issue facing young people, something that is being felt by millions worldwide. It equips youth with the skills to help combat climate change, and be part of a green recovering, and positive future.

It also encourages young people to be involved as global citizens, and involves and engages them in an issue that’s impacts will be felt most keenly by those now going through the education system.

We have a responsibility to educate, not only bound by international convention, but by moral and ethical duties. Schools must educate young people about the world around them, so that they are informed with facts and key issues.

Education should keep up to date with science and academic thought. Just as the facts and science of stem cell research or alcohol abuse are taught, because of their relevance and strong scientific foundations, so should climate change and sustainability – indeed, even more so, given the magnitude and impact of environmental issues.

Facts not fiction

Such education must be about facts and science, not treated as the political football as it so often is. Such politicisation mires the issue, and means that the urgency and relevancy of climate change education is often lost amidst political point scoring. This should, as with other relevant science-based issues, be an area of consensus, not party political manoeuvring.

Beyond establishing the facts of the issue, education can have be a great force for good, preparing young people to face, and indeed improve, the world after education has long been completed. How can we expect creative solutions and innovation to combat climate and sustainability issues if we don’t educate the next generation about them?

The UK campaign against the removal of climate change from the Geography curriculum is itself proof of the power of education.

Esha Marwaha, at 15-years-old, was able to write so eloquently on the dangers of removing climate change that her petition gained over 30,000 signatures in a matter of weeks. Yet without education, would we get another Esha, or another generation of activists, or even another generation who care about climate change. Without education, those who want or who’re able to combat climate change will surely be in the minority.

New jobs

This is especially relevant with the need for innovation and sustainable development. Currently the green economy is nascent, its burgeoning growth providing employment and a viable alternative to resource hungry industries and economic models.

But positive growth needs new generations who both understand the need for alternative development and have the passion and desire to act.

Education has a key role in showing young people that not only do they have wider responsibilities, but also that they are entitled to involvement in decisions.

Climate change and sustainability are issues that cut across generations, and the decisions that are made today will have impact not upon the generation that makes them, but generations to come.

Education can help give young people the tools to take part in these decisions, allowing them to enter into the debate.

UN agreements

Finally, there is a legal obligation for many countries to educate about climate change. Under Article 6 of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, signatories are obliged to: ‘Promote and facilitate …the development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects’.

This article is clear and direct, and must not be ignored.

However in many respects this legal obligation is a lesser consideration when compared to the moral obligation each generation has to educate the next about climate change.

Education is the most powerful tool and can engage young people in the debate, prepare them for working with the green economy, and give the definitive science and facts about the biggest issue facing young people. To quote H.G. Wells: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

33 Responses to “Education is the key to addressing climate change”

  1. mememine

    Teaching children to LOVE the planet is the goal, not fear mongering them with our CO2 spear of climate change crisis fear stuck in their backs. We cannot continue to love the planet with fear like witch burners.

  2. Selohesra

    Thick right wingers are not denying the reality of climate change – we all know that it has been changing for eons – in fact it would be unusual not to change. What is in dispute it the extent to which mankind is changing the climate and how much is just down to the same factors that have driven the earth between far greater extremes in the pre-human times

  3. OldLb

    Popper at GCSE – no problem.

    However what is taught at primary level has to be science that has passed the Popper test, otherwise it is indoctrination.

  4. JR

    How about the following for a children’s text book:

    Since the beginning of the 20th century global temperatures have increased quite a lot. A majority of scientists agree that burning coal and gas and driving petrol and diesel cars has contributed to this change.

    A small number of people talk very loudly about the possibility that scientists are wrong about the world getting hotter because of cars and power stations.

    This is a similar type of situation to previous arguments about the ozone layer, tobacco and asbestos (see chapters x, y and z).

  5. OldLb

    Asbestosis – Theory – test – causal link established. eg. Animal expirements.

    Tabacco – Theory – test – bad for the beagle – link established.

    Ozone – Hmmm, bit more dodgy. The hole is a bit smaller that people imagine when you see the percentage ozone graphs, but even here their is a test. Ban CFC’s and watch the drop.

    Global warming. Theory – Predict – Test and fail.

    That’s the crucial diffrence. The first 3 have met the experiment and prediction test.

    GW has failed and so is falsified.

Comments are closed.