“The Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity.” - Benjamin Disraeli22 December 2017
Ray McGrath, UCD, on the publication of the IAP Climate Change and Education Statement.
(Blog post content and statements are proprietary to the authors. Each author represents only themself and their own opinion.)
Human exhalation of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is warming the planet: true or false? As the combined output from humanity is about 3 billion tons of the gas per year surely it must have a significant impact? Right? Wrong? Maybe?
If you are unfamiliar with the science you could pop the question into an Internet search engine. But how can you be sure the returned information is scientifically sound and not based on ‘fake science’?
Unfortunately, our media-savvy youth, often depending on the Internet as the first port of call for information, may not be particularly discerning on the integrity of the answers. It’s an important issue as climate change will have a long reach and it’s highly desirable that future policymakers, who will be drawn from today’s youth, be accurately informed on the science when devising strategies for tackling the problem.
It is clear that education is the key, but how do we go about it? How do you ensure the communicated information is authoritative? How do you motivate the youth, and their teachers?
At present, climate change education in Irish schools is taught on an ad-hoc basis and its inclusion in the curriculum is at the prerogative of the schools and teachers. Some initiatives are being implemented such as the An Taisce Green Schools Initiative but this is an optional intiative.
In response to this critical question, the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), of which the Royal Irish Academy is a partner, has released a Statement on Climate Change and Education with a series of recommendations.
The Statement assesses how effective climate change education can be promoted in schools around the world, including by using the periodic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ‘Assessment Reports’ and accompanying ‘Summaries for Policy Makers’ as the basis for producing ‘Resources & Tools for Teachers’.
It is the hope of the authors, the IAP and the member academies that these recommendations are widely adopted and prove useful in teaching the next generation of policymakers and politicians to identify, and interpret, trustworthy sources of science.
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