Climate Education in Schools Is a Necessity

Katie Schwartz, Staff Writer


Behind China, the United States is the second largest contributor to climate change in the world. Therefore, climate education is a necessity for the next generation of Americans, who have the future of the planet in their hands. Story Maps states that both Ghana and Finland have already implemented environmental education programs in schools for 13-19 year olds, supported by their respective EPAs. As progessive as that is, those countries have much less need for climate education because they don’t have the same potential to contribute to the issue as the U.S. does.

I do think every country should teach this subject sooner or later, but the U.S. should really be close to first, especially because we have the resources for it. Advents such as online shopping (Amazon specifically), DoorDash, increasing materialism and thus consumerism in society, and the ever-present greenhouse gas emissions have led us past what scientists of the Yale Environmental Review deemed the point of no return. Education is such a huge factor in slowing the onset of climate change because it makes our young, future leaders aware.

The science of climate change is airtight. So, there really is no denying it, according to The Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore (2006), where he used known patterns to predict these disasters years before they occurred. People were so set in their ways that Gore’s powerful documentary had little effect, further underscoring the idea that we need this information to be shown to kids whose brains are malleable before they’ve established habits, beliefs, and lifestyle patterns which are difficult to change.

However, Michael Shellenberger of Forbes News sees more bad than good coming from implementing climate education. He says climate change should not be discussed in the presence of children because it can cause anxiety, and he feels that attention should be turned to issues in which we have more control instead. As stated by dozens – if not hundreds – of sources, climate change is most certainly apocalyptic, and if kids are anxious about it, that means not only are they listening and understanding, but are thus more likely to take action. If the next generation does not learn why and how to take said action, they will no doubt die by 2030, according to Nobel Prize nominee Greta Thunberg. There are essentially two options: teach kids about their potential future, using factual evidence and statistics, and hope they try to save the planet, even if it scares them, or let them be ignorant and die before they even become teenagers, never having the opportunity to be the change.

Shellenberger’s second rebuttal is that climate change is already out of human control, so why worry about it? America should use our resources to combat easier problems, whilst letting climate change gradually increase in destructiveness. This is a bad idea. We need to focus on the impending doom heading our way, because neglecting this problem is what pushed us past the point of no return in the first place. It’s only going to get less manageable, so we need to take any control and mitigation measures we can, now.

The last common argument I want to debunk is the incorrect idea that without fossil fuels, the economy will tank, so teaching the next generation to avoid greenhouse gasses is encouraging them to bring about an economic collapse. That claim is false because there is money to be made in the renewable resource department. On top of that, fossil fuel extraction costs are rising, and supplies are depleting, so now more than ever is the time to start using renewables.

According to Stanford, the climate education programs that would be implemented in the U.S. are strong: “Climate scientists and education specialists collaborated to develop a curriculum for middle and high school science classrooms. It addresses the fundamental issues of climate science, the impacts of climate change on society and on global resources, mitigation, and adaptation strategies.” Therefore, it’s a trusted curriculum, with help in creation from teachers to make sure it’s fit for children and by climate efficiantos to ensure its accuracy. There is no reason environmental education should be left out of a middle or high school’s curriculum when the crisis is so dire, and can be slowed with the help of future generations, for everyone’s good.