Climate Change & Education The Climate Change Challenge
Climate Change is real. These days it’s easy to be pessimistic on climate change and global warming, but there is cause for hope. Let’s think about it, the earth’s surface changes all the time. While the earth is constantly building mountains and landmasses, it is also constantly broken down by weathering and erosion. Earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago, approximately one-third the age of the universe, so the likelihood of frequent climate change is plausible! In main difference, in my humble opinion, is that man is more-than-likely to blame this time…
Some 73 percent of Americans polled late last year (2018) said that global warming was happening, a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015 and three points since last March.
The rise in the number of Americans who say global warming is personally important to them was even sharper, jumping nine percentage points since March to 72 percent, another record over the past decade (New York Times Article).
According to a report on climate change released in December 2018 by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, the latest national survey finds that a large majority of Americans think global warming is happening, outnumbering those who don’t by more than 5 to 1. Americans are also growing more certain that global warming is happening and more aware that it is caused by human activities. Certainty has increased 14 percentage points since March 2015, with 51% of the public now “extremely” or “very sure” that global warming is happening.
Sixty-two percent of the public now understands that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 10 points over that same time period.
The complexity of climate science combined with the complicated political and cultural context in which people live makes climate change a particularly challenging topic to approach no matter what the educational setting.
According to Yuval Noah Harari in his book Homo Deus, despite all the talk of pollution, global warming and climate change, most countries have yet to make any serious economic or political sacrifices to improve the situation. When the moment comes to choose between economic growth and ecological stability, politicians, CEOs and voters almost always prefer growth. In the twenty-first century, we shall have to do better if we are to avoid catastrophe.
Is enough being done to achieve the goal of environmental education to instill pro-environmental behaviors, foster collective environmental action, and/or developing healthy and productive citizens? No.
As a resident of Louisiana, coastal erosion, habitat restoration and climate change is a topic very dear to me. The Louisiana business community has a desire to transform New Orleans and Baton Rouge into ‘tech hubs’… the Silicon Valley of the South (together with other southern cities like Birmingham Alabama and Memphis Tennessee.) Which is all good-and-well, personally, I believe the business and startup focus should be more on environmental issues. The good news is a focus on various environmental issues through organizations like the Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans and the Master Gardeners of Greater New Orleans and, of course faculties at UNO, LSU & Tulane in addition to other State and Federal institutions. Let’s get the private sector more involved!
Greenhouse Gasses Explained
Certain gasses, like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and others, trap heat in the atmosphere. The GREENHOUSE EFFECT is the warming of the atmosphere by gases that trap heat. On one hand, greenhouse gases are essential because they trap heat and allow plants and animals to survive (such as at night when its colder). The CARBON CYCLE, like the water cycle (moisture/rainfall), has kept the amount of carbon in our global ecosystem fairly constant over a long period of time. Processes such as forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and the respiration of organisms have all added to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, absorption by plants and the oceans have taken carbon out of it.
This increase in greenhouse gases is changing our climate. The earth’s average climate has been warming at a scary rate, and some effects are:
- Ice caps melting
- Forest fires
- Sea levels rising
- Habitat changes
- Extreme weather events and patterns (powerful and more frequent hurricanes/tornadoes)
How to get involved As concerned and passionate citizens, there are several ways to get involved:
Discover the Forest is a public service campaign and it’s an effort to re-connect kids with nature. The program encourages kids to start their own nature adventures. The forest and the outdoors are a place for adventure, learning, fun, and discovery. The program offers games and activities that makes learning fun. They also run public service announcements (PSA) and ads with the objective of raising awareness.
SciStarter is the place to find, join, and contribute to science through providing people access to more than 2,700 searchable formal and informal research projects and events. But more than just a project directory, SciStarter also offers a coordinated place to record contributions and access the tools and instruments needed to participate in citizen science projects like Earth Challenge 2020. Over 100,000 global citizen scientists are part of the SciStarter community.
Nature’s Notebook gathers information on plant and animal phenology across the U.S. to be used for decision-making on local, national and global scales to ensure the continued vitality of our environment. Scientists alone cannot collect enough data: They need help. You can join more than 15,000 other naturalists across the nation in taking the pulse of our planet. You’ll use scientifically-vetted observation guidelines, developed for over 1,000 species, to ensure data are useful to researchers and decision-makers.
I was very excited to come across this local New Orleans startup. Julia Kumari Drapkin is the CEO and founder and is striving to connecting communities to each other and their changing environment. ISeeChange is dedicated to empowering citizens to document and understand their environment, weather and climate in order to increase resilience. Their platform, tools, and investigations provide equitable, iterative ways for residents to personalize, measure, and track climate change impacts and better participate in community adaptation decisions.
About the Author Eugene Brill
Eugene Brill does not hold a PhD in Environmental Science, Botany or another scientific field. He earned an MBA in business/marketing and is a mentor to startup entrepreneurs… but he’s a dedicated Wannabe Naturalist, an avid gardener and an amateur nature photographer. He does not ‘speak’ in taxonomic groupings, species and genera; but can communicate clearly with ‘Joe Public’ in language everyone understands. Eugene is constantly improving his ability to translate science into plain English. He loves to share knowledge, believe that Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) is real, agrees that ‘forest bathing’ (fully clothed… ?) makes us happier, healthier and more creative, and he subscribes to the teachings of Edward O. Wilson and the Biophilia Hypothesis.