Climate Education

Can Climate Education Save Our Planet? 

I have vivid memories of sitting in my 7th grade Computer Skills class and typing away. The school had purchased licenses for the latest typing program which allowed students to practice our skills with typing races, word munchers, the Oregon Trail game, and countless other games and programs that refined our computer literacy skills.   

There were also assignments to help us apply the skills we acquired, such as using the latest word processor to type up an essay about our summer vacation plans or creating a visually appealing and informative slide show of our favorite animal in PowerPoint.  

Looking back at 12-year-old me choosing between different font styles to type “wolf” in or how to correctly resize an image of said wolf I found on ClipArt, I realize how those skills are part of a decades long mission to teach computer literacy in public schools across the United States.  

The computer literacy classes I took as a child gave me the skills needed to succeed in today’s workplace. In a similar vein, just as we adapted our educational approaches to cater to the demands of the digital age, we must now employ the same innovative thinking to foster a our students for the green economy.  

The reality is, our collective survival hinges on a decisive shift towards a more sustainable future. Regrettably, we are currently failing to adequately prepare our future leaders for this imminent environmental transition.  

To secure a brighter tomorrow, we must instill in students the knowledge and skills essential for navigating and thriving in an eco-friendly world. This underscores the importance of green muscle memory and implementing climate literacy initiatives in K-12 curricula. 

This is particularly crucial because, unfortunately, we are not preparing today’s students for the green economy of the future. Currently only two states, New Jersey and Washington, have passed legislation to incorporate comprehensive climate education across all grade levels and subject areas.  

Some states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), but these standards are not mandated and therefore not tested. Looking at the present situation of climate education across the country, there is a lack of standardization as well as funding. Not to mention, for every state like New Jersey and Washington at the forefront of advancing climate education, there are others impeding the progress. Texas is attempting to pass legislation requiring schools to show the benefits of the fossil fuel industry. In fact, they want to promote the myth of our current climate crisis being natural, not exasperated by humans.  

In Florida, one of the states most heavily suffering from the consequences of climate change, there are approved videos denying this crisis is caused by human activity. PragerU, a right leaning organization, is being used across the state of Florida in an attempt to “both sides” the issue of climate change with videos titled “Fossil Fuels: The Greenest Energy.”

This is a disservice to students who will not be ready for the green jobs of tomorrow. In the coming decades, the Department of Energy estimates millions of new green jobs will be added to the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the demand for jobs like environmental engineers or wind turbine technicians will continue to increase.  

It is already estimated the number of green jobs has increased by 50% since 2019 and will continue to grow. In order to prepare students of today to lead the green economy of tomorrow, we need to teach them the green skills necessary for them to succeed today. 

As I reflect on the strides made in computer literacy, it is evident a similar commitment is needed to prepare our students for the green economy. Society’s shift towards a sustainable future requires a united effort from educational institutions, communities, and policymakers.  

By integrating green education seamlessly into the curriculum, fostering essential green skills, and embracing collaborative solutions, we can empower the next generation to lead the charge towards a more eco-friendly and resilient future.

Computer literacy programs in the United States have allowed millions of students to learn the knowledge and skills needed to benefit and grow the economy. Climate education can do the same. The only difference between computer literacy in the 90’s and climate education today is the world is burning. We are suffering from wildfires, flooding, massive biodiversity loss, and so many more climate crises. Our students cannot wait any longer for climate education and neither can our planet.