Do Teachers Have A Responsibility To Teach Their Students About Climate Change?

school girlTeachers are paid by the government to educate students to prepare for their futures. By obtaining your degree and practicing as a teacher, you are committing to improve the quality of life of future generations.

Scientists have learned that the presence of carbon dioxide, methane gas, CFCs and nitrous oxide have increased dramatically in the last two centuries. They deduce that the earth’s climate will get even warm if these greenhouse gases continue to increase. Students should be made aware of conclusions that scientists have arrived at by observing actual recorded data.

The youngest students can learn that changes can be observed. They can see the changes in weather and the seasons. However, they also need to learn the more subtle changes taking place because of climate change. Teachers can find many resources to teach about stronger storms, more droughts, changing precipitation patterns, warmer oceans and melting glaciers. They can understand what is happening to animals like polar bears and other endangered animals due to climate change.

A simulation game demonstrates the plight of the polar bear. The teacher can cut out blocks of white paper to put in the gym or outdoors on the playground. The children are polar bears, and must leap from ice chunk to ice chunk to fish for food. As the ice chunks get further apart, the polar bears must work harder and harder. The youngest students will understand that ice melts in warmer temperatures. They can also understand that the polar bears and other Arctic animals grow hungrier and weaker when the ice chunks float far apart.

Older students can investigate, analyze and compare data that scientists have documented. Data exists showing the amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases in the atmosphere from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until today. They can conduct investigations to predict what the CO2 atmospheric concentrations will be should we continue to depend on renewable energy sources.

Teachers have an obligation to make sure that students see global climate change as one of humanity’s most profound challenges. Students need to be aware that it is a problem that is being passed down to them, and that they must be meaningfully engaged in the challenge as it continues into the future. They need to learn from us to modify our own personal behaviors to slow the rate of climate change. They must learn ways to minimize the impact of global warming on society and its ecosystems.

Teachers should involve students in the study of renewable energy sources. Students can learn how solar panels and wind turbines can be solutions to nonrenewable energy. They should be aware that scientists still have much to learn about climate change. As the next generation, they will become responsible for continuing the investigation of climate change.

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