No Age Requirement for Climate Action
In actively working to avert the climate crisis could be the most noble thing you will ever do. And there’s so much to do in so little time, as we pointed out in our previous blog post.
The big question with so little time left, how do we make individual climate action really, really count? Educators (bless them) have a forthright answer to that: “Start ‘em young!”
Educating the Future
Evidence of the interminable link between humans and our environment is not limited to adults, and there’s no age requirement to act against climate change. Children – yes, the world’s future – grasp these concepts probably better than most adults (and, certainly better than many politicians). Education is key, always.
Clear, unequivocal science, engages children to study and identify how they can bring the knowledge they acquire to improve their own lives. Like free-flowing water, information seeps into their young minds and stay there for a long, long time. The information we feed them influences their behavior and actions.
In today’s world, what information have we fed children regarding the environment, the interconnectedness of things, and sustainability? Sadly, few schools have made it a point to update the educational system to address present-day needs and challenges, especially those having to do with environmental sustainability. In Australia and countries in Europe, primary school curriculum integrates sustainability into every lesson. Hopefully, other schools will follow their example.
Teaching Sustainable Management Systems
Planting such positive values must start at a very young age. This is the reason we put so much of a premium on primary education – it directly impacts the adult they become.
In other words, if we want to raise children who value life and nature, who appreciate that every living thing on Earth is precious and thus, must be preserved, we need to step back, review and update our educational system.
Teaching sustainability and sustainable management must be integrated into the educational system. Lessons in science for grade schoolers could be enhanced by discussing issues such as GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and air emission calculations with more prominence. Children as young as six can be taught how to utilize a carbon equivalent calculator and learn to calculate carbon footprints as part their routine.
Trend-conscious teenagers can be given lessons on sustainable lifestyles, starting with responsible travelling and buying eco-friendly products. Preferring ecotourism companies that are committed to responsible travelling and sustainable lifestyles are some of the individual climate actions that are doable both by kids and adults.
Stewardship as a Profession
The path to good, positive education is not easy. In many ways, it is full challenges and risks. But educators should always point to the light at the end of the tunnel – a brighter more sustainable future for the next generation.
Don’t forget, though, that the next generation of 30 years ago is today’s professional class. And look where we are now – so near to having runaway climate change! Indeed, before we teach children about responsibility to the planet, there’s a need to accept the fact that the old educational system failed to instill the consequences of destroying ecosystems into the young minds of the past generation. Engineers, architects, entrepreneurs, politicians and other professionals of today – all believers of economic development regardless of environmental cost and each one a product of the old educational system – are the ones largely responsible for destructive human activities and its effects. We obviously must change that. This new sustainability-oriented generation can even teach their parents (the professional class) of the pressing nature of climate change and the need for urgent independent action.
Now is our chance to change how our children hone their potential as stewards of the Earth – from destruction to preservation, from exploitation to conservation.
Challenges to the education sector
Primary education, even as early as kindergarten, needs to integrate stewardship and sustainability if it is to change mindsets. We need to produce professionals who, from the time they learn to read and write up to their graduation, are committed to protecting the planet.
Professionals from ecotourism companies already have a deeper appreciation of environmental issues and will thus nurture employees that show interest in environmentalism. But other companies which are less likely to appreciate sustainable management systems will hire anyone that works within its capitalist framework.
The challenge is convincing kids to choose careers and work in companies that preserve and conserve the environment. When the education sector finally updates its framework for educating the children and youth of today about climate change and sustainability, that’s when we will know there’s hope for the planet in the immediate future.
Climate action has no age limit, everyone’s welcome to join! That’s because every citizen of the planet, regardless of sex, age, or ethnicity, has the responsibility to preserve life on Earth. Climate action can start with every kindergartener, it’s time to ‘radicalize’ them to change the course of our future.