Why is climate change education important to our health?

“Even if climate change isn’t real [but we know it is], aren’t the benefits of cleaner air, water and land worth all the effort put towards cleaner energy, reduced resource use and all general “green” practices?”  I can’t remember where I first heard this, or the exact quote, but it makes one think.  As much as this concern is about nature and ecology, it also has direct and indirect consequences on human health, as well.


Let me count the ways…

The following resources are just a few that describe how climate change will affect our health, and the fourth contains interviews with people around the world about how the changing climate has affected them.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health

World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organization (Especially if you like maps and charts)

Practical Action (Global climate change interviews)

In summary, the above links break down into direct and indirect consequences of climate change, including diseases (malaria and cholera), extreme weather events (storms and heat waves), pollution of air and water (ground level ozone), and food security.

The World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organizations co-published a report on how change will affect human health.

The World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organization co-published a report on how climate change will affect human health.


Where does it fit?

At great risk of contradicting what I wrote in a previous post, Rolling your eyes at climate change education, I see this as a subject that fits well into a number of standard middle school (ages 11-14) and high school (ages 14-18) level classes — in addition to earth science, health and biology seem obvious fits.  However, any climate change education in formal or informal environments needs to be to the point, and not overbearing, as many students are already exposed to climate change on a regular basis.  For teachers it may be too much to continue adding content to an already bursting-at-the-seems curriculum, so don’t be surprised if you don’t find this topic in every district.

If it doesn’t make its way into school, where else does it fit?  As hot a topic as it is, news outlets provide pieces here and there, as do educational networks such as Discovery Channel or National Geographic, with entire specials dedicated to climate change.  It’s hard to hide from climate change education, formally or informally.


Why do we learn about climate change?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if climate change education is making a difference.  Greenhouse gas emissions keep rising despite advances in technology, and we regularly witness, and sometimes participate in, practices that are not the most environmentally friendly.

Albeit many people do make conscious decisions to mitigate climate change in a small, personal way, but if not to “fix” climate change, are we only learning about how it will affect our health in order to prepare for the changes ahead?  Malaria in new areas, more super-storms, drought and heat waves, floods, food security threats – just a sample of what is in store for us in the future.  Scientists are predicting which areas and populations will be greatest affected in the near and far off future.  The most well known, and one of the earliest, of these predictions is probably forecasting which cities or states are going to become underwater with sea level rise.  And most people are at least somewhat aware of more frequent heat waves.

The maps show the number of days per year with peak temperatures above 90°F from 1961 to 1979 and projected for 2080 to 2099. By 2100, north Florida is projected to experience more than 165 days per year (over six months) over 90°F. Source: USGCRP (2009)

The maps show the number of days per year with peak temperatures above 90°F from 1961 to 1979 and projected for 2080 to 2099. By 2100, north Florida is projected to experience more than 165 days per year (over six months) over 90°F.  Source: USGCRP (2009)


The fruit of our efforts is still to come

The bright side is knowing that climate change education as we know it is less than 10 years old.  I never learned about it in school (I graduated high school in 2000) and I would presume that nearly all adults about my age and older did not grow up with climate change as part of their upbringing – and we’re the ones driving the world right now.  In another 15 or 25 years I would expect that those becoming young adults and professionals will finally be able to act upon all of their years of climate education and realize that their actions have consequences, whether they affect them directly or indirectly.  Then we will see if we are only learning about climate change to prepare, or to “fix” it, too.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This entry was posted in Science teaching, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Why is climate change education important to our health?

  1. Pingback: Weekly Science Picks - Australian Science

  2. Pingback: Why is climate change education important to our health? | Azul+Verde ECoNoticias

  3. Pingback: NYC's Mouse Corps Gives Students Tech Design Boost | Innovative Experts and Business Leaders

  4. Pingback: Why is climate change education important to ou...

  5. NeuroJo says:

    I learnt about climate change at school in the UK around age 13-15 (I’m 36 now so this was some time ago). It was part of our Geography course and I didn’t think it incongruous.

    As you can imagine I was quite shocked when I moved to the US and people were talking about climate change as if it was some recently discovered phenomenon.

  6. Berthold Klein says:

    A carbon tax will do nothing to control temperature changes, global warming, or climate because the “Greenhouse gas effect” is a total hoax. The Hypotheses has never been proven by credible experiment it is a fairy-tale. Even a lead author from the IPCC has stated that CO2 does not cause atmospheric temperature changes . Look up the recent statements by Dr. Vincent Gray.
    There is an experiment that proves that the Greenhouse gas effect does not exist. This experiment which has been technologically reviewed by Ph.D physicists (at least 4). Ph.D. Chemical engineers (at least 2 at last count) and others Ph. D’s in other fields The experiment is found on the web-site http:// http://www.slayingtheskydragon.com click on the blog tab then on page 3 of 12. . It is titled “The Experiment that failed which can save the world trillions-Proving the greenhouse gas effect does not exist”

    The Greenhouse Effect Explored
    Written by Carl Brehmer | 26 May 2012
    Is “Water Vapor Feedback” Positive or Negative?
    Exploiting the medium of Youtube Carl Brehmer is drawing wider attention to a fascinating experiment he performed to test the climatic impacts of water in our atmosphere.
    Carl explains, “An essential element of the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is the positive “water vapor feedback” hypothesis. That is, if something causes an increase in the temperature this will cause an increase in the evaporation of water into water vapor.”

    Another important website is www. The Great Climate Clash.com -G3 The Greenhouse gas effect does not exist.

  7. mememine69 says:

    Stop this neocon like fear mongering of climate blame please!!!!!
    If 28 years of “maybe” a crisis is good enough to condemn your own kids…..
    Not one IPCC warning says anything more than “could be” a crisis and has never issued a warning not swimming in “maybe” and “could be” and “might be” and….”Help my house could be on fire maybe?”
    Science will end this costly debate when they start to agree it WILL be a crisis not just agree it could be and might be a crisis. Science has never said their own comet hit of a climate crisis was as real and eventual and inevitable as they love to say comet hits are.
    What has to happen for science to stop saying “maybe” a crisis, complete unstoppable warming?

  8. Roger Streit says:

    Adam, as you say “many people do make conscious decisions to mitigate climate change in a small, personal way, but .. it will not ‘fix’ climate change.” We need to do more than change light bulbs; we need to change laws. And we can’t wait 10 or 15 years.

    Let’s examine why many liberal and conservative economists endorse a revenue-neutral carbon tax and dividend plan. It will not increase the size of government. It relies on market forces to nudge consumers and producers to reduce greenhouse emissions and to create green jobs. Putting a price on carbon creates incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Done well, it would gradually shift consumer demand, production methods, new investment, and technology development towards less emissions-intensive goods and services without unduly burdening poor households. With a tax and refund policy about 2/3 of households will be better off or the same economically.

    One grassroots, nonpartisan organization, Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is building the political will for this solution. To learn more go to http://citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-tax/

    A video of CCL’s conference in Washington, DC. shows how preparation and lobbying can make a difference http://vimeo.com/69589362

    There are many ways to participate, both for teachers and for students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>