The Generation of Climate Consequences is Ours, but Are We Prepared?
BY MEI SHAO '25
Climate change has been put on the back burner since the pandemic began, but it’s no less important. Recent events such as extreme weather patterns have brought it back into the public’s eye. Legislators and private companies continue to drag their feet--it’s absurd to expect them to take global warming seriously. Thus, climate change’s repercussions are now the public’s burden, but even we aren’t being taught the proper facts.
Before we talk about this issue, we must clearly establish that 97% of climate scientists believe that climate change is real, is caused by humans, and will threaten humans in the future. However, the word “future” is ambiguous--it could mean in a hundred years or tomorrow. The recent floods and heatwaves in our area that caused school to close last summer signify that we are already running out of time. Although bills are in the works, they are designed to improve infrastructure for climate mitigation rather than to decrease carbon emissions. Many senators, who play a crucial role in the climate legislation process, also hold valuable stock in fossil fuel, which creates a conflict of interest. Additionally, many companies made pledges to lower their carbon emissions level by 2020, yet have come nowhere near their goals.
What does this mean for us, the next generation? It’s not only intuitive, but scientifically proven that teaching a subject in schools increases awareness and action. However, the undercoverage of climate change in school curriculums is a complex issue. Firstly, the topic’s highly politicized nature makes it difficult to teach in American schools, as lawsuits have arisen over “schools imposing political beliefs on students.” Even when climate change is taught, the discussion is usually shallow and gets footnoted in favor of less controversial topics. Though there has been an initiative to include climate change in the Common Core curriculum, various Republican states have resisted this change. Additionally, many teachers lack confidence in their ability to teach this issue: climate change is not only a polarizing issue, but an existential one. After all, scientists project a near apocalyptic future, yet some dismiss the threat and others fall into apathy. How can a teacher deliver such somber news to their young and impressionable students? Thus the vicious cycle of negligence continues, leaving future generations unprepared to curtail the impacts of global warming.
So, what can we do? Unfortunately, it’s out of our hands. Any solution to this problem would require a well-funded and large-scale campaign to train teachers and inform the public about climate change. In the meantime, if you feel responsible for taking care of this planet, take it upon yourself to research climate change and find causes to support. Educate yourself and voice your opinions to others. Small actions like reusing paper or turning off the lights before leaving a room may seem insignificant, but taken together, they will make an impact.