WHY EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN
ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT
IS SO IMPORTANT
The atmosphere on planet earth performs several vital planetary functions; one of which is climate maintenance. Over time, the amount of human generated greenhouse gases that we emit has exceeded the atmosphere’s capacity to safely absorb them. This behavior is disturbing these vital planetary functions and affecting the entire planet. NASA’s top climate scientist, James Hansen, said that we have at most a decade to turn the tide on climate change. If we do not take action now, he went on to say, all bets are off; temperature rises will “produce a different planet.”
While recent discussions between world leaders at global climate summits have recognized the need to reduce global emissions, no legally binding agreement has been reached beyond what was adopted in Kytoto, Japan. Without legal precedent it is harder for us, as individuals, to take action however, we are all responsible, and everyone can and should do their bit to help sustain our planet.
By educating our children, the next generation will better understand the importance of protecting our planet. They will know from a young age what a carbon footprint is and why it is important to keep it as low as possible, even offsetting it to become carbon neutral. They will appreciate why recycling is key to reducing the amount of waste we produce and the quantity of natural resources we take from our planet, as well as the importance of developing and producing renewable energy.
On April 22 1970, former Governor of Wisconsin Gaylord Nelson launched the first Earth Day. As the principal founder, he saw the importance of educating the younger generation and chose students as the major catalyst for the Earth Day movement. As part of the first Earth Day, Nelson held a “teach-in” to bring awareness to the environment and the steps we need to take to protect the planet. Seeking to put the environment within the political mainstream, the teach-in was modeled around anti-war discussions that had been successful in the 1960’s, as teachers on college campuses discussed environmental issues. “Earth Day worked because of the response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated ,” said Nelson. (http://earthday.envirolink.org/history.html).
Each year on April 22, Earth Day is still celebrated in many countries and communicates across the world. It is important that terms like carbon neutral, carbon offsetting and renewable energy are ingrained into our children from a very early age. These words and phrases they are not something they should think about every now and then; they should be key factors that affect the way our children go about their daily lives.
I firmly believe introducing green teaching programs in the classroom from a very early age is vital to achieving this goal. Green lesson plans, environmentally-themed experiments, and green classroom activities on topics like the carbon cycle, saving energy, recycling, and endangered animals are all ways to introduce and reinforce these concepts to our young people.
Our young people are becoming increasingly involved and concerned about the environment; they have not lost hope and it is not too late. It is important for us to do all we can to ensure the next generation is aware of the challenges that face them in sustaining and protecting our planet, and to provide them with the knowledge and tools to make this happen.
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