Understanding Our Planet May Require a Climate Crash Course

Image: California Wildfires

Evacuees of a CA wildfire Image: Randy Pench / The Sacramento Bee

The California wildfires that have been ravaging communities throughout the state this week have been a vivid example of how unprepared we are for climate change. Many residents and evacuees have been left wondering how the current state of wildfires came to be, as it wasn’t always this way. While we may often read that climate change is making wildfires more deadly and more frequent, we’re woefully unprepared to deal with or even understand the consequences of our warming planet.

This is only the beginning,” former California Gov. Jerry Brown told Politico, and he’s right. However, since we’re now experiencing a world that’s rapidly changing as a result of climate change we must do a far better job of educating ourselves and our children about the forces at play.

Where We Stand: Four out of 5 teachers don’t teach about climate change and while parents are dissatisfied with this stat there’s no telling that they have a solid understanding of the issue themselves. Most Americans do not see climate change as a crisis which indicates that their climate education had failed to convey an accurate image of reality (as climate change most definitely IS a crisis!).

Talk About It: Addressing climate and the environment should be ingrained in more of our interactions and community events. We also need far more resources for young people to learn how to become advocates for environmental protection. The point isn’t to spread doom and gloom but instead to demonstrate that we’re all in this together and it will take all of our collective action to push for a healthy planet.

  • An example of a recent community event that works to inspire conservation is the annual Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources-sponsored Coast Fest that brings together 12,500 people to experience wildlife, cultural history, and to learn about coastal habitat restoration (where our friends at St. Simons Land Trust were an educator).
  • Coast Fest creates young ambassadors who stay curious about coastal ecosystems and learn what it takes to conserve ecosystems and the animals that call them home.

Children engaged in activities at Coast Fest. Image: SSLT

Why This Matters: While not every state is experiencing the climate crisis in the same way that California is, we must take the opportunity to better understand how it will affect our respective states and communities. We must also learn how to talk to our kids about climate change and instill in them a love of nature so that they grasp why it’s important to fight for it. There are many gaps in our conversation around climate change that we can’t easily control, but we have to begin talking more about the issue as its one of the most important things we can do to fight the climate crisis.

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