The Climate Change crisis and our students
September 8, 2023

The Climate Change crisis and our students

As our children and students embark on a new school year, it cannot be encouraging for them to awaken each morning to a host of depressing news. There are the suicidal wars in the Ukraine and Sudan for instance, military coups in several African states and severe repression and denial of the human rights of millions of people in Palestine, south-east Asia and Latin America for instance.

But, distressing as these are, particularly as they arise from human activity and decisions without regard to human life, the news of what is happening to our planet is even more painful to bear. These are but snippets of reports: ‘Destructive floods in Greece following unprecedented drought and wildfires’; ‘Recent massive wildfires in northern Canada’; ‘Snow in south-east Australia even as autumn and cold should be prevailing’.

There are many other instances of this which has caused the World Meteorological Organization to conclude on Wednesday of this week that August was the hottest ever for that month in human records and second only to July. Even surface temperatures for the oceans were higher than ever before. Chillingly, the weather experts analyzed that these destructive phenomena were being caused by human activity, especially the continued burning of fossil fuels.

Yet our schools begin their new school year looking forward to careers in a world which may no longer exist as they know it. To what extent does the education which we offer to our younger ones dwell on prospects for human development and even survival? How do we prepare our students for life in a world increasingly threatened with self-destruction? How can we make our educational thrust reflective of the climate changes before us?

It is difficult in an environment where the educational curricula are not solely of our own choosing, there are external examinations to be faced. But surely, there must be efforts that we can make on our own to prepare our students for the real world. We talk a lot about climate change but not enough is done to foster a greater understanding of it, beginning with the youngest ones. Can we find innovative ways to give our students at all levels, and the wider population for that matter, a better grasp of the threat we face and the need for measures to combat this threat?

Our education system must respond with practical initiatives, such as field trips, visual demonstrations etc. We can also use the normal discussions, debates, public speaking events and so on to focus on what is the greatest threat to humanity and invite climate specialists to engage with our students.

The scale of the threat calls for such approaches. It can be postponed no longer.