I’m fully aware of the effects of climate change. If you aren’t, I hope this introductory guide will be helpful. This topic is crucial.
Students can approach the effects on three levels.
The written word is the first, which increases their knowledge about what is going on. The most recent release a 3,000 page reportBased on research by 234 scientists worldwide, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been created. It describes climate change as a “code red” for humanity. A summary should be read by every parent, teacher, and student.
Earth is becoming so hot that in a decade temperatures will likely exceed the level of warming world leaders have tried to prevent. “It’s just guaranteed that it’s going to get worse,” said co-author Linda Mearns, a senior climate scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
In three scenarios, the world will also likely rise more than 3.6 degrees over pre-industrial times — with far worse heat waves, droughts and flood-inducing downpours — unless there are deep emissions cuts.
Then there is the extinction of wildlife species. This is a devastating process. Globally, 902 species have been declared extinct. The U.S. government recently declared 22 more species extinct, including fish and birds. Many scientists warn the earth is in an “extinction crisis” with flora and fauna now disappearing at 1,000 times the historical rate.
It is crucial to understand the connection between extinction and the destruction of our natural environment. The rate is accelerating, moving an estimated 1,000 times faster than natural rates before humans emerged.
Nearly 3 billion birds have been lost in North America since 1970, diminishing the pollination of food crops. In India, thousands of people have died from rabies because the population of vultures that feed on garbage is rapidly falling, resulting in a huge increase in feral dogs that eat the food scraps in the birds’ absence.
We are a complex ecosystem in which our species’ survival depends on the whole system working. All species, animals and plants are vital for our survival. Already, we are paying the price.
In her novel, “Once There Were Wolves,” Charlotte McConaghy describes how part of the Scottish Highlands was burned to eliminate wolves. This caused a rise in deer that ate grass as it was presented and upset the balance of nature, leading to the loss other wildlife and plants.
The documentary film “Coextinction” powerfully captures how this is playing out in our oceans and the website contains a helpful “Take Action”Section.
The second way teens can understand the impact of climate changes is to experience it firsthand. This includes being affected by forest fires, being hit by a hurricane, or suffering the devastating effects from drought.
Indirect experience, the third method, is also very effective. Although you can inform students about the effects plastics have on our oceans and give them examples, it is not enough. “The Story of Plastics”Documentary, available streaming on a large scale, brings the threat to life.
The film follows the plastic’s entire life cycle from its extraction to its disposal as oil and gas. It shows how global industry have systematically marketed plastic that the world cannot handle or process into anything useful. It has many ideas to help teachers share it with students.
This educational combo, which includes a visit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a whale watching trip, or a visit in one of our wildlife rich national park parks, brings this home on an emotional level. It’s natural to feel deeply saddened experiencing both the beauty of wildlife and the increasing man-made extinctions.
Feeling the impact is a crucial step for everyone, not just teens. It’s better than thinking about it. It’s happening now, not in some imagined future.
This is a difficult piece to write, so I can sympathize with the anxiety and despair. Next month, I look forward writing about exciting attempts to combat it.
I am encouraged by the rising climate activism of young people.