Climate change is Hard to Talk About.
Did you know that most people believe climate change is happening, and accept that it is caused by humans? Or that even more people support regulating carbon dioxide as an air pollutant? And that public support for renewable energy is nearly unilateral? And yet, for years, any action on climate change has floundered.
This gap between knowledge about climate change and action on it is called the “knowledge-action gap” and it has existed for the thirty years that there has been public knowledge about climate change. What causes this?
“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”
–Gus Speth, co-founder, Natural Resources Defense Council
We Need New Strategies.
Understanding the knowledge-action gap is complex. However, there is one thing that we do know: information alone doesn’t help. Simply telling people about climate change doesn’t inspire action. The ineffectiveness of this strategy is perhaps as widely documented as the gap itself.
Instead, people need opportunities to make sense out of climate change. What does it mean to them? What is at stake personally? And most importantly, what can they do? This is what climate engagement is, and it is how people actually move from understanding to action.
ClimateSpeak works towards climate engagement. We provide services and programming to help youth and communities make sense of climate change. We partner with schools and community organizations to design strategies to fit their educational context.
Climate Change in Schools.
As climate change exacerbates in the future, youth will inherit the worst it has to bring. In even the best-case scenario of 1.5-2°C of global warming, they will face environmental destruction, rising tides and food shortages. Yes, it is bleak, and it is easy to look away. But we educators have an important opportunity: to give youth the tools to forge bright futures in the face of climate change.
Unfortunately, research shows that most teachers are not doing this. While 86% support teaching climate change in schools, only 42% of them even address the topic. And, when it does come up, it is often ineffective: most educational efforts focus on simply informing youth about climate change, giving them no way to take action. This focus on information misses an important opportunity to empower youth, and has the potential to sow fear and hopelessness.
ClimateSpeak helps teachers and schools overcome this. Through consulting, workshops and collaborative curriculum design, we help teachers adopt strategies that don’t just inform youth about climate change, but engage them with it. We use research-informed best practices to support educators in presenting climate change in a way that inspires and empowers students. We also help them work through their concerns about teaching the subject. We emphasize project-based and social/emotional learning.
Through our services, we foster hope and empower among youth on the most pressing global issue they will face.
“No, climate change isn’t our fault. It’s not our responsibility. But we youth are going to make a better world for ourselves.”