Climate change is (finally) a big topic of conversation amongst world leaders. It is the biggest threat to our planet and the biggest environmental challenge our generation has ever seen.
It comes with the additional battle of trying to teach older generations about the impact and the changes we need to make in our daily lives to ensure global warming is kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which will massively worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
We’ve seen from the likes of Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg who launched a student movement to force adults to take action on climate change, that we need to empower the younger generations and ourselves to get the message across.
Greta has boycotted attending school on Fridays to protest in front of the Swedish parliament with a sign reading: “School Strike for Climate.” Students in more than 70 countries have since followed suit and worldwide climate emergency protests have been taking place.
But before she started trying to convince the world to take action, Thunberg aimed to convince her parents. She gave them the facts and showed them documentaries. “After a while, they started listening to what I actually said,” she told The Guardian. “That’s when I realised I could make a difference.” Convincing our parents who’ve grown up without any of these concerns being broadcast in the news or the repercussions of climate change directly affecting them can be a difficult feat if you try the activism route first.
A new study from North Carolina State University found that educating children about climate change increased their parents' concerns about climate change. “We also found that the results were most pronounced for three groups: conservative parents, parents of daughters, and fathers," said Danielle Lawson, lead author of a paper on the work and a Ph.D. student at NC State. This was interesting as previous studies have found that conservatives and men are typically among the least concerned about climate change.
The study suggests that the best way to get unconcerned adults to care about climate is to educate them through their kids. “This is about education, not activism, and children are great educators,” co-author Kathryn Stevenson also of NC State says in a press release. "They seem to help people critically consider ways in which being concerned about climate change may be in line with their values.”
So if we really want to change the world, the first thing we need to do is educate. We need to educate our children, educate ourselves and educate the older generations and climate change sceptics into understanding the real threat we’re under. A great place to start is by watching the below documentaries:
Before the Flood (2016)
Our Planet (2019)
Chasing Ice (2012)
Racing Extinction (2015)
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)
Once we’ve a good understanding ourselves of our current global threat, it will be easier to educate the climate change sceptic individuals and influential people in our societies.