Last week, Twig Science Reporter ran a climate change special to commemorate the COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, with stories about the impacts of rising global temperatures and how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As a follow-up, in this blog post, we’re looking at seven ways you can help to prepare your students for the effects of climate change that are going to play a big part in their lives.
1. Look at Climate Change Across the Curriculum
Rather than treating climate change as a topic to be covered primarily in science or geography lessons, it can be threaded through all subjects. Issues of sustainability, climate, human impacts, and technological and social solutions can easily be weaved into economics, history, social studies, media, arts, and food technology.
2. Help Students to Believe They Can Make a Difference
Research indicates that empowering students through education to believe they can make a difference, rather than just looking on helplessly, could actually lead to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. When students see themselves as participants in the process, it has a big impact on their engagement levels and stops them from becoming too anxious and switching off.
3. Empower Students to Take Hands-On Action
Another way of empowering students is to encourage them to take part in hands-on activities. Get students to campaign for ways the school could make a difference—e.g. turning off heating one day a week, or buying an electric school bus, or having meat-free days in the canteen.
4. Make Climate Change Issues Relevant
Some students are less interested in these issues than others. Many 12–15-year-olds don’t like the issue of climate change being shoved down their throats—they like to come to their own conclusions about it. To address this, teachers should work to make climate change issues relevant to specific groups of students. For example, for students who are really into computer games, you might discuss with them how a game could help people consider the environment.
5. Avoid “Apocalypse Fatigue”
Catastrophic images of flooding coastlines, extreme weather, destructive fires, and widespread extinctions can lead to what is known as “apocalypse fatigue”—where students don’t even want to think about the issues because of anxiety. One way of dealing with this is to focus on climate change issues less in terms of disasters, and instead speaking about opportunities for new ways of living: new kinds of towns and cities, smarter buildings, new and localized food sources, more efficient energy systems and transportation systems.
6. Engage with Climate Literacy
As climate issues become so central to the world our students are going to grow into, it’s important to educate them in climate literacy much like we would in English literacy. Climate literacy is all about understanding our influence as humans on the climate and climate’s influence on us—an important tool for students to understand, analyze, and question often complex science and policy. Climate-literate students will be better prepared to assess information about climate and make informed and responsible decisions. with regard to actions that may affect climate.
7. Prepare for the Rise of Climate Tech
Whenever we talk about solutions to the climate crisis, we can’t avoid looking at climate tech. We’re going to see a huge amount of development in this field—experts believe it’s going to be a much bigger industry than the internet even. Right now, there’s only one climate tech company—Tesla—that might be considered a household name. But this is going to change rapidly. There will be huge opportunities in climate tech for today’s students, so empowering pupils through learning about science and entrepreneurship will reap dividends.