What does climate change mean to you?

Using education to move beyond the typical narratives about climate change

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 want to regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant?  And that public support for renewable energy is nearly universal? Despite the common narrative, most of us know about climate change and want to fix it. And yet, for years, little has been done to address climate change.

This gap between knowing about climate change and doing something about it is called the “awareness-action gap” and it has existed for the thirty years that there has been public knowledge about climate change. What causes this? 

We Need New Strategies

Understanding the awareness-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 lead them to do much about it. 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 about it? 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 climate engagement strategies to fit their educational context. 

Climate Change in Schools

The worst effects of climate change will unfortunately fall on younger generations. In even the best-case scenario of 1.5-2°C of global warming, the world will face environmental destruction, rising tides and food shortages by mid-century. Yes, it is bleak, and it is tempting to look away. But we educators have an important opportunity: to give students the tools to forge bright futures in the face of climate change.

Unfortunately, research shows that most schooling is not doing this. While 86% of teachers support climate change in schools, only 42% of them even address the topic. And, when climate change does come up, the approaches are often ineffective: most educational efforts focus on simply informing students about climate change about things like the greenhouse gas effect. This approach leaves them feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, and can lead to despair and anxiety about their future. It also misses the important opportunity to inspire youth around a pressing real-world problem.

This is what ClimateSpeak helps teachers and schools do. We specialize in bringing climate engagement into the school context. We give educators tools to teach climate change in a way that engages and empowers students. Services include consulting, teacher workshops, in-class presentations and collaborative curriculum design. We use best practices derived from 30 years of climate communication and environmental education research. Our work emphasizes project-based and social-emotional learning. ClimateSpeak works in a variety of disciplines, with a speciality in arts and humanities classes. 

We use education to foster hope and empowerment on climate change.

“No, climate change isn’t our fault. It’s not our responsibility. But we youth are going to make a better world for ourselves.”

–ClimateSpeak participant

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