Do Children Care More About the Environment Than Politicians?

In a new poll conducted by Unicef, the majority of British children reported that they were deeply concerned about how climate change would affect their lives, and the safety of those in developing countries. They also showed a desire for the government to step up and do more to prevent the grave dangers associated with our changing planet. This comes at a time when politicians on both sides of the pond are continuing to minimize the importance of climate change, or even outright deny it.

Politicians in the U.K. made a move last month to take out discussions about sustainable development, the human impact on the environment, and respect for nature from the geography curriculum. The adjustment would mean that climate change would only be mentioned very briefly in chemistry and higher levels of geography. Only about 27% of students take advanced geography.

A 15-year-old student, Esha Marwaha and a geography teacher, Margaret Hunter, organized petitions and delivered them to the Secretary of State of Education’s office. “…yet again, our government — part of the generation who bear more responsibility for this problem intend to not only fail to act on climate change themselves, but to obscure the truth, and any chance we have of acting from children and young people” said Marwaha.

Hunter pointed out that her students regularly ask questions about the changing climate and are interested in everything from conservation to wildlife. It is crucial to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn about these issues, since they are the ones that will be creating the policies and technology that will decide whether we rise to the occasion or create an unlivable planet.

"The challenges man-made climate changes pose to human beings are huge. In my classes, children learn about these challenges and why they are relevant to them. They learn why it is adults tell them to recycle, switch off their computers and close doors to keep the heat in." Hunter noted.

According to the Unicef survey, citizens in the age range that can actually vote and hold office are less worried about climate change than children. Although younger people are becoming more engaged with issues surrounding climate change than ever before, adults are continuing to prevent them from gaining access to crucial information. School is supposed to be a nonpolitical environment, where students can feel confident that they're learning the skills they'll need to survive in the real world. Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity's ability to continue to live on this planet. Sustainability needs to be more fully integrated into every aspect of education, not removed from the few places where it currently resides.

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Laura Merli

Laura Merli is a first year Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management student at the New School.

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