Are we finally waking up to the critical need for climate change action? Is it too late? As we finalized the articles for this issue, Australia was literally on fire, suffering devastating and possibly irreversible losses to habitat and wildlife, not to mention loss of human life and thousands of homes. And this is only one of several ecological debts that are coming past due.
If young people are worried and angry about the crisis that lies ahead for them, they have every right to be. They’ve been left holding the bag, and they know it. So how do we equip them to address these challenges in a positive way that doesn’t just create more anxiety and fear?
Environmental educators know that real action that has a real impact is the strongest antidote to feelings of helplessness and despair. That’s why, in this issue on environmental education, we wanted to stress approaches that involve students in action projects to mitigate environmental damage, and schools that “walk the walk” by reducing their own carbon footprint. We were interested in how schools are “greening up” through both education andaction.
There is plenty in this issue to inspire educators to take up the green torch. But what has stayed with me is a finding from the survey conducted by Lakehead University and Learning for a Sustainable Future, reported on in “Climate Change Education and the Canadian Classroom: Nearly half of Canadian students do not believe that human action will be effective in mitigating climate change. That’s a heavy weight for kids to carry. The authors say, “It is critically important, therefore, to target this group with climate change education that is action- and solutions-oriented to combat eco-anxiety and hopelessness.”
The articles in this issue show just what can be done when students are energized to act and school and board administrations are willing to step up and support them. From the EcoSchools Program that began in Toronto and is spreading across the country, to the eco-projects initiated and led by the students profiled by Alex Mlynek (web exclusive), to the work done by Brilliant Labs in Atlantic Canada to facilitate students’ innovative tech solutions supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, there is no shortage of green ideas in our schools. It is not such a big stretch to imagine that Canadian schools could join the ranks of those leading the way in sustainable living and environmental stewardship.
Photo: courtesy Laryssa Gorecki
First published in Education Canada, March 2020
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