Climate Change Pathway
Our natural world is a complex system. Climate has changed throughout history and is one of the things that make our planet so unique and beautiful. Man-made climate change threatens the delicate balance that keeps the Earth systems intact.
What is Climate Change?
NWF's Eco-Schools USA defines climate change following leads from NOAA and the EPA. Climate change refers to any significant change lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer.
Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth's surface. It is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is causing climate patterns to change. However, global warming itself represents only one aspect of climate change.
Why Should Our School Address Climate Change?
The Earth's climate is changing. Average temperatures are rising in most places around the world, and the warming trend is the result of human activities. Burning fossil fuels - for transportation, manufacturing, heating, cooling, and electricity generation - releases greenhouse gases into the air. Levels of these heat-trapping gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), are increasing at a faster rate than at any other time on record. The consequences of this unprecedented change in the atmosphere are both uncertain and likely to be extreme.
The time to act is now. At the same time, we must think about the future. Today's youth will inherit whatever climate change brings, and we owe it to them to make sure they are both knowledgeable about this complex issue and empowered to work for solutions.
June 2014: 401.14 ppm June 2013: 398.58 ppm
What Can Schools Do About Climate Change?
Schools across the country and around the world are joining the movement to solve this urgent environmental issue. Students, educators and school administrators can play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as they seek to shrink their "carbon footprints." In doing so, they can also explore key science, math, technology and social science skills.
Teaching about climate change is challenging, particularly when students are young. It is a complicated topic, and also a frightening one. National Wildlife Federation's Climate Classroom is a comprehensive resource for age-appropriate information and activities for both middle school and high school and provides educators with the tools they need to engage students in learning about and acting on the climate change issue. For younger students, look to NWF's Climate Classroom Kids. To better understand how to discuss and teach climate change at various grade levels, look to NAAEE and NWF's joint guidelines for K12 Global Climate Change Education.
Has your school developed a great way to reduce your carbon footprint or teach about climate change? If so, why not share it with everyone on our Facebook page?