Preaching to the Choir

While I have compliments and criticisms for all the things we read and watched this week, these comments are mostly stylistic. I am fully supportive of what these works are fundamentally representing: climate change is happening, it is our fault and we need to do something about it. As a class, we learned a lot from the works we interacted with in class, but everyday we are are preaching to choir. It would benefit the United States at large if our citizens would read and discuss any of these works. Sadly, this currently cannot happen.

1 in 4 of Americans are skeptical of global warming according to a 2014 Gallup poll, despite 97% of climate scientists saying that global warming is real and a problem! Public schools are part of the blame for this flawed thought and are also the best way to change this flawed thinking. Public schools have very specific guidelines, from local and state government, for what they can teach since these schools receive their budget from taxes. This has led to public schools in South Dakota receiving a “balanced teaching of global warming,” which means teachers must say that global warming is theory rather than a proven fact. Teachers must present both “sides” when discussing global warming in Texas and teachers in Kentucky must “discuss the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories [global warming].” Public schools can not show the kinds of material that we look at class and that is a waste of an opportunity.

50.4 million children attended some form of public education (K-12) in 2016. That is 50.4 million Americans who will have the ability to VOTE. They are not being taught what they need to in order to become a fully-informed voter because of their state’s political agendas. These children need to wrestle with various kinds of environmental material. Some teachers who want to teach their classes about climate change can not because they also did not receive any education on the subject matter while in school. This has led to the majority of teachers who do discuss climate change, not doing so for more than an hour or two a school year. This also has led to more troublesome outcomes. 30% of teachers teach that humans have a small role in global warming and 10% of teachers deny the very existence of global warming to their students.

Despite the fact that the United States’s Department of Defense has announced that climate change is the number one threat to our country, state governments still disagree! in 2015, Florida’s government banned all of its employees from using the word “climate change.” Donald Trump’s presidency will likely do not thing to address the fact that our local governments are preventing our children from receiving the appropriate education to understand global warming.

However, there is hope! People can pressure their local governments to allow climate change education in schools. The Portland School Board just recently prohibited any material that is skeptical of global warming from being used in schools because of a push by a coalition of environmentalists, parents and students. We all need to pressure our local governments to create a syllabus that public schools will have to use when teaching their students about global warming. Short stories, interactive timelines and Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentaries are all easy, useful and attractive means of getting the climate change message across to young people. These all are great examples of what should be on a state-mandated curriculum.

But I guess I am still preaching to the choir.


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