How To Teach Your Kids About Climate Change
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A Changing World
The planet is undergoing significant changes as a result of human activity, and we are all going to feel the increasing effects. Our over-dependence on fossil fuels, and obsession with short-term financial gain, have compromised the earth’s ecological systems.
Carbon dioxide emissions, the main perpetrator of global warming, are once again on the rise and it will take centuries to somehow get rid off all the greenhouse gases that we have already accumulated over the course of human industrialization.
Falling on Young Shoulders
The world’s leading climate scientists have painted a pretty grim picture of what is yet to come (see Running Low On Time), and the majority of global governments have yet to demonstrate the political will to take serious and radical action in this time of crisis.
Consequently, it is future generations who will be bearing the considerable brunt of this present mismanagement. As a result, we must do everything in our power to prepare them for it. The ideal of course would be to exercise the changes we need to make now, but given the enormity of the task, it makes sense that our children know more about the world that they will inherit.
On The Same Page
Perhaps they are already hearing about it. Either at school, from friends, or maybe the tv. If they did, they doubtlessly have questions! It certainly is a complex issue and will require discussion, instruction, and assistance. Luckily, there’s help!
Below I’ve listed 10 websites that offer some great support for learning and instruction. This list is by no means complete, and I would certainly welcome any further suggestions, as well as any additional tips for how to talk about climate change with kids.
Children really do have incredible minds and can understand a great deal. At the same time, I understand that we don’t want to traumatize them, and break down their hope for a better future. We need to find a healthy balance where we can stimulate their curiosity and concern without overwhelming them with all the wretchedness.
One Child’s Reaction to People Mistreating the Environment
Thankfully, children’s empathy and desire to do good will be an amazingly powerful force towards realizing the changes we need to make to protect human civilization. The human part is key. Without a doubt, the planet will endure dramatic climate change, as it has in the past. Rather, it is all the life on earth that is threatened by our destructive tendencies. Millions are already suffering from it, and millions more are in danger every year.
We have brought this on ourselves. Decades of fossil fuels extraction and consumption, combined with the industrialization of our food sources and the the immense destruction of our forests have all contributed to this imbalance.
Yes, we are the cause, but we can also be part of the solution! We can take action to limit the amount of fossil fuels being used, and do more to protect the forests that help soak up all the carbon. It can be done, but it will require greater social and political will.
Remarkably, we are already witnessing the rise of youth activism in response to the impending threat. Kids from all parts of the globe are taking interest and expressing concern with what the scientists are telling us. We have to act, and quickly.
Our Most Precious Resource
Children understand this! Although it didn’t have to turn out this way, their current reality is such that they will have to face an increasingly turbulent world. That is on us, and the previous generations who should have known better. While children carry the least blame for human-generated climate change, they bear the greatest burden.
Let us then help them understand what they’re up against! Teach them what you can about the environment. Focus on the incredible beauty and wonder of the earth, and help them channel their energy and concern towards what actions they can take.
We certainly need to do everything we can to try and help them usher in a better and brighter future than the one predicted. Share what you have discovered, and support them on their journey. Take the time, children are listening.
- National Center for Science Education
- National Geographic
- NASA Global Climate Change
- OXFAM Education
- The Alliance for Climate Education
- Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN)
- UNESCO – Climate Change Education & Awareness
- The Climate Reality Project
- The Rainforest Alliance – Curriculum
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF)