Earth.com, May 28, 2023, Charlie Fletcher
Education can make a difference in the fight against climate change. Recent surveys show that people with more education were more likely to view climate change as a threat and that, today, most people see climate change as a major threat to our planet.
However, promoting environmental education in schools can be tricky. Climate change is seen as a bipartisan “political” issue in some countries, and many educational bodies push against climate education entirely.
More must be done to ensure that young people have access to environmental education. Robust climate education will give the decision-makers of tomorrow the skills they need to advocate for nature, protect vulnerable environments, and mitigate the effects of global warming.
The Importance of Environmental Education
Education is often overlooked in the fight against climate change. While policy changes and global commitments are necessary to prevent global warming from further worsening, improved education is the first step toward achieving our goals.
Environmental education can help alleviate climate anxiety, too. This is broadly defined as a “chronic fear of environmental doom” and may be exacerbated by a lack of understanding. Educational resources that clearly explain the mechanisms behind global warming equip students with the knowledge they need to do something about climate change. This can help them feel empowered and foster a greater appreciation for the planet’s resources.
Environmental education can also promote critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. This is particularly important today, as students need to be able to evaluate the long-term impact of social, economic, and ecological policies. Combating climate change effectively requires a global effort and activism often relies heavily on a thorough understanding of the issue and the ability to persuade others that something must be done.
Improvements in public education may also promote a sense of stewardship and aid conservation efforts. In particular, environmental education programming can make a real difference to researchers who are advocating for policy changes.
For example, recent public programmes like the BBC’s Planet Earth II and Wild Isles appear to have significantly impacted researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Reflecting on the public program, Professor Callum Roberts states that the “UK must now deliver genuine protection for wildlife,” and should focus on building resilience against climate change.
Connecting Students with High-Quality, Reliable Resources
Environmental education can empower the decision-makers of tomorrow and improve the public understanding of climate change. However, connecting students with the resources they need to understand global warming can be difficult – particularly if students live in a nation like the US, where climate change is seen as a partisan “political” issue.
Climate-aware parents can introduce their children to climate change with outdoor play in natural environments. Natural playgrounds, like those built from sustainable materials and found objects, are the perfect place to discuss environmental protection and the importance of stewardship over the Earth’s resources.
Living a sustainable lifestyle at home can be an important part of children’s environmental education. Parents can help their kids understand the importance of sustainability by reducing their home’s carbon footprint together, by implementing and practicing environmentally friendly habits in the home. Simple sustainable activities — such as upcycling furniture and composting leftover food scraps as well as teaching children how to recycle – help reduce our own emissions and promote a sense of responsibility for the environment.