The time to act is now.
Marginalized and frontline communities across the globe are already experiencing the swept of climate change havoc caused by overexploited capitalistic interest, pushing individuals from the comfort and security of their home bases into refugee camps and foreign lands intolerant of newcomers, destabilizing entire countries economic and political systems. Western nations, many of which are complicit in the ruins of these communities, continue to reside in the privilege and silence of inaction. Students across the world are saying: no more.
But, in the face of this crisis, the next generation of unwavering all-class revolutionaries are emerging, fighting for freedom and liberty to live in a climate-stable world. Nothing will dictate the upcoming events of the 21st century more than the consequences of climate change. This generation will require that the system of education adjust to reflect the needs and demands of the leading future.
The education system of the United States has not properly acknowledged the disparity and chaps that climate change will have on the existence and state of humanity and despite the urgency of the crisis, our education system has remained unwilling to tailor its curriculum. May youth believe that this crisis will consume the entirety of our future, and a lack of education prevents those concerned from having the knowledge to act. Students have chosen to strike school, not because they are in opposition to the values and ideals of education, but because of the hypocrisy that school symbolizes with regards to the current crisis. As elected officials continue to place climate issues on hold, their youth constituents understand that it’s time to take significant action, starting in the schools and amplifying globally.
In the state of California, “Climate change falls under the core ideas for middle and high school students in the Next Generation Science Standards, new standards adopted by the state in 2013” (EdSource, Sydney Johnson). These state-wide efforts to centralize the importance of climate change exposure to the youth is the commencement of climate change education reforms. These efforts are just the beginning. In the state of Massachusetts, “Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed a bill into law that promotes nonpartisan civic engagement in public schools” (Education Week, Eben Bein). The education system is in a unique position to harness the energy and devotion demonstrated by students and climate activists by integrating climate change into the national curriculums across subjects. We need to expand beyond discussing climate change in a purely scientific context when it will definitely impact the way we organize our economies, political systems, and social institutions. As our society prepares to take sweeping action on this destructive issue, our education system must take equally decisive action to educate the next generation.
Schools nationwide must be willing to make the necessary amendments to educate students on the climate crisis instead of feeding into climate inaction of our government. Setting specific, climate change-related state and national standards will allow for students to utilize their commitment to the climate change movement within the classroom, without having to compromise between education and activism. A nation without climate change education will be a nation in shambles: unguided frustration and anger will cause for unprecedented violence to arise and for misguided hatred and blame to manifest, education has the power to change the future’s narrative.
Currently, our generation is being failed.
Failed by our global politicians with empty promises and weak plans that prioritize the maintenance of our economies rather than the risk of our future, this crisis is not being taken with the weight that it deserves, yet our country continues to demand the youth to learn, to remain in school and develop into educated, prepared citizens of the world.
I ask you, what is there that’s more important to prepare us for, than climate change?