by Courtney Cohen
Society has made great strides to improve modern medicine, communication, and technology, but in the process, we have lost our innate connection with the natural world. Early environmentalists like Thoreau and Pinchot warned society that they were falling prey to capitalism and industrialization, and that we must preserve the fragile bond between humankind and nature. But we have lost this connection. Instead, we are neglecting to take responsibility for our actions that are destroying our only home. Many of us are acting as a separate entity from nature, which has led the public to become ignorant of the problems currently plaguing the environment. This ignorance has resulted in a public misconception that climate change is not a serious threat, which can only be clarified if people receive a proper education.
We are running out of time to stop global warming.
We predicted climate change, and we could have prevented climate change, but now it is too late for one person or nation to solve the problem. The environment is rapidly deteriorating, and each new generation adopts the burden and the question of how do we save it. Within my lifetime, I have observed the rise of global temperatures, the thinning of ice caps, and some of the world’s most destructive natural disasters. I recognize that dozens of ecosystems are struggling to survive, and some of the damage is already irreversible. However, it is essential for all of society to come to this same realization, and this can only occur if everyone has an opportunity to be educated on the causes and effects of global warming.
Climate change is one of the world’s most significant threats, and we should mandate that climate change be taught in every school worldwide. Children need the opportunity to learn about the environment in all of their courses. Moreover, environmental science should not just be an elective offered to students in high school since the topics fit into a variety of subjects. Students in English courses can learn about the environment by reading Rachel Carson or Aldo Leopold or even reading The Lorax can benefit younger students by inspiring them to create a more sustainable future. Art classes have the option of bringing their students outside to help them reestablish their connection with the natural world. Early exposure can help children develop more eco-friendly habits as well as motivate them to restore society’s connection with nature.
Teachers can implement a variety of environmental topics into their classes. Climate change is a global problem that we have created, so it needs a unique and interdisciplinary approach. However, it is not just the youth who need to be informed. It is imperative to educate the general public on the consequences of their actions. All of society needs to realize that we are running out of time to stop global warming and that without our intervention there may not be a planet left to save. Everyone needs to realize that climate change is not just a problem for future generations, but that its effects are happening now. In the past decade, there has been an increase in mosquito-borne diseases, beach erosion, inundation of cities, and there are numerous other consequences. Environmental studies is still a relatively new field, and so a significant portion of our society does not realize the genuine danger our environment is facing. So, holding classes at local community centers such as the YMCA or JCC to educate the public can help them learn about the severity of climate change and what measures they can take to help the planet. Furthermore, advertising climate change on public transportation, television, billboards, or even by celebrity endorsement allows the populace to comprehend its magnitude. The media plays a tremendous role in controlling the information distributed to the public, so they need to address climate change as a legitimate threat that is just as serious as government corruption or terrorism. They need to stop treating global warming like a work of science fiction, but rather help educate the public on how to slow down its destructive effects.
Enhancing publicity and the educational opportunities offered to the public will create more environmental advocates who can demand political change. It is time for our world’s leaders to recognize that climate change is a threat to national security and to combat it we must become proactive instead of reactive. However, the only way we can accomplish this is by raising public awareness and ensuring that the populace remains well-informed. The public needs to be able to understand the underlying science behind global warming as well as how to implement eco-friendly methods into their daily lives. Education is a crucial component to saving the planet, and we already possess the science and technology required to stall climate change. Nevertheless, to implement it, we first must alter public opinion by providing them with the education needed to understand why the environment needs us to reduce carbon emissions and preserve its remaining ecosystems.
by Courtney Cohen
Courtney Cohen, a sophomore at Lafayette College, is majoring in history and environmental studies.
(Essays express the ideas of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Alliance.)
More Voices of the Valley from Sustainable Lehigh Valley.