10 January 2010

Can we achieve climate literacy?

This is a challenge for every educator, and every citizen: the next generation must be more climate literate. Political decisions will still be difficult, but personal decisions will be easier if people have at least a rudimentary understanding of why climate issues matter, and how our actions affect climate. Here is a resource that will help.

Teachers and schools are vitally important. If they can convey most of the information in this highly valuable overview of climate wisdom, prepared by the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program, they will have done well.

I would not urge anybody to wast time trying to improve climate literacy in anyone over 60. They are too set in their ways, and even if they change their attitudes and behaviors they will not be playing a role much longer anyway. Nor is it necessarily a good idea for parents to try to teach their children, except by example. Children will grow up to do just what they please, often despite their parents wishes or suggestions. But they do emulate their parents in many basic attitudes, so parents who show they respect science and care about the environment will have an impact (as will those who denigrate sceince and use the Earth as a giant rubbish tip). But climate literacy among young people is vitally important.

Samuel Clemens said "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." While there is a big difference between weather and climate, it is important for future inhabitants of this planet to be aware that they are doing something about the climate, for good or ill, and whether they mean to or not.