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Who is climate change? – Educating the decision makers of tomorrow

Saurabh Dani's picture
My daughter's Climate Change Super Hero
My daughter's Climate Change Super Hero


A couple of days ago, my five year old declared that she wanted to be a Super Hero. From wanting to be a little pony a few months ago, she was moving up the role model chain. She, however, was more interested in finding out which monster she would have to fight. Without giving it much thought, I told her that the biggest monster she would have to fight was Climate Change.
 
“Who is Climate Change?” she asked, suddenly very interested.

The journey of explanations thus began. We then went into the realm of weapons this monster uses. I explained that climate change creates hurricanes and cyclones, flooding and heavy rainfall, snow blizzards, tornadoes and drought, and makes the sea rise. I must say, I have never been more challenged than when explaining these phenomena to my 5 year old.
 
Her next question revolved around what she needed to do in order to fight this monster. We agreed on:

  • Keeping our planet clean by always throwing trash in a bin and recycling as much as possible
  • Saving water by closing the tap after washing her hands or  while brushing her teeth
  • Saving energy by turning off the light when not needed
  • Working on her reading, writing and math (for good measure)
 
She felt excited and ready to take on climate change. I must confess, I learned a lot that evening. My daughter’s kindergarten class will be 20 in 2030 and it is her generation that will have no choice but to be at the forefront in this battle. So it is our responsibility to equip these young ones with the right understanding and tools they will need to face this challenge.
 
While we focus on getting the decision makers of today to act collectively, we need to make sure the next generation is unequivocal in their understanding of climate change and what it will require to address it. To bring about such consciousness and change in attitude and behavior will require a lot of creativity and willingness to integrate climate related issues into our everyday lives.
 
Reports on climate change that are aimed at policy makers can be a starting point. For example, the World Bank’s “Turn Down the Heat” series is made up of three reports. Report Nos. 2 and 3 combined talk about climate extremes and impacts across different regions across the globe. Can an app or game be developed, complementing these reports and using findings from these reports that allow kids to explore different impacts on regions? As an idea, one could develop a “Sim-City” kind of “Sim-World” (each region being a different zone) game that allows kids to explore building a city/country/region. The credits and resources they have started with - get depleted as their world grows with every activity increasing GHG levels and subsequent impacts. The players get additional credits and resources for building sustainable / green / climate change adaptable interventions allowing them to keep growing their “Sim-World” and reducing their GHG footprint while continuing to play.
 
An avenue that can be explored further is the use of movies / short videos / kids programs. An impressive initiative is the “Nature Is Speaking” series from Conservation International. Check it out if you haven’t done already. Another great initiative is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) animation series (5 short videos) focusing on climate change. Though, ideally, I would like to see the day when an animation movie / series gets created with Climate Change as the main villain. If Pixar can map a child’s brain (in the movie Inside Out) surly they can come up with a climate change themed animation product.
 
This fight against climate change is really only now beginning in earnest. It is going to require all our enthusiasm and creativity in making sure our planet stays its course and in getting the next generation to own and embrace this struggle. With all the work we do with the World Bank, the onus is on us as well to use our convening and knowledge power to convince, act, evaluate and critique our work in an innovative way. Indeed, the time to start educating tomorrow’s decision makers is today.