Celebrating 50 Years of Protecting the Marine Environment January 9, 2023— This year marks 50…
The value of climate literacy in public schools…a unique approach
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and thawing permafrost have all become familiar terms and when heard, most likely lead us to think about the changing climate. When we talk about climate change, we need to understand that we are talking about long–term changes that have a broad scope of observed effects. These changes have now infiltrated all parts of our lives. Climate change education has now become essential because moving forward we will not win the battle without it.
Science and technology are now more than ever focusing on climate change mitigation, reduction, and efficiency thus in the coming years will create a multitude of careers in all industries. With more than 80% of the public supporting (agreeing with) the need to implement climate literacy programs, we have reached the critical time when the nation needs to become more serious about climate literacy education and pair it with the related job and career development.
With the new Administration rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, the United States will soon need to take a more serious look at implementing climate change curriculum in public schools. Providing students with an educational overview of the topic is no longer a sufficient solution. Climate change education is not well developed in the United States and with many large–scale changes ahead in transportation and vehicles, energy production, manufacturing, food production, supply chains and more we need to significantly consider the requirements for a well–versed workforce to implement the solutions we so badly need.
A shift in the way we look at these changes could be the answer. Looking at the implementation of climate literacy through the lens of human resource development via education and training to gain the long–term success we desperately require.
To understand the scope of the issue, we must understand two parts:
- New regulations, legislation and technology arises every day that can mitigate, stop and even reverse climate change.
- Without a human understanding, the skill and preparation necessary will not be supported in the workforce.
We must ramp up climate education and training programs nationwide to deliver a workforce with the training and skills that complement the technology.
Climate change is not specific to coastal zones where sea level rise may be evident or arctic zones where we can measure the decrease in sea ice and permafrost. Climate change has, and will continue to, affect everyone in all parts of the world. So, what do we do? We start with making changes, educating, and empowering our youth. This will be done with two avenues taught with a linear approach, integrating climate literacy in the existing curriculum as well as teaching-related career development avenues and training.
There is not one area of science that climate change cannot be implemented: healthcare, food and agriculture, digital technology, forestry, oceanography, coastal erosion and mitigation, meteorology, the maritime industry…. Teaching climate literacy through the human resource lens means more than just an academic familiarity of the topic. There is a need to teach the highly complex subject and include the systematic understanding that the consumers’ decisions, their associated greenhouse gas impacts, and new technologies will lead to a demand for thousands of entrepreneurs, millions of skilled technicians, planners, engineers, architects, and educators.
The conversations are happening, and organizations are coming together to propose the avenues that could best serve the industries i.e., creating the frameworks necessary to implement both the in-depth curriculum and the workplace development (and related job training). While there are many ideas and proposals out there, the one thing that remains constant is the need for a well–developed approach that will benefit the student, the schools, and the nation.
In our commitment to educating seafarers and the public, NAMEPA launched a new online curriculum (P.O.D.S.)that focuses on climate change and ocean literacy. This multipart series provides added value in the public schools and in after-school programs highlighting climate changes across many grade levels. Furthermore, NAMEPA’s summer outreach program aims to increase ocean literacy through an 8-week program enhancing the knowledge and skills of participants in the Marine Environment Protectors Program.
And lastly, we at NAMEPA, are proud to be the secretariat for The Maritime Primary and Secondary Education Coalition (MPSEC). The goal and focus is to advance the development of maritime education in our nation’s primary and secondary schools. This will include not only the curriculum but the workforce development piece throughout the maritime and transportation industries. NAMEPA has seen the need for workforce development and as always is in full support of designing a plan that will incorporate knowledge, training, and skill development.