Now's the Time for Education to Lead the Climate Change Fight

Feb 5, 2018

Education has become the basis of all revolutions and evolutions of both the national and global community. With the human disruption of our ecosystems and earth’s cyclic pattern, education needs to take a central role in preparing for and formulating our future.

Every generation needs to take a prominent role in political and social action against measures that can be detrimental to our planet. In a state that so heavily relies on its pristine ecosystems, Maine needs to take a role in educating its residents on how to best prevent disruptions to its ecosystems and a national role in fighting for legislation that restricts these disruptions and raises awareness on the effects of these disruptions. For states like Maine, this is not only a moral argument, but an economic necessity. 

Living in Maine, I am constantly surrounded by the natural beauty this state provides. In the summers, lakes and beaches fill with people swimming, while mountains and hills are trekked. The environments we inhabit become our classrooms; field trips have taken me all over, from the Kenduskeag to an island off Bar Harbor, and the environment has been brought inside as I grew monarch butterflies in kindergarten and identified types of algae just this year. 

In Maine, it is truly difficult to grow up without an appreciation for the environment around you. At the same time, it is impossible to say that the effects of human pollution are invisible in this state. The Gulf of Maine has one of the most rapidly warming coasts.  Our coast has been prone to red tides, or algal blooms, and our gulf is most literally browning

Our world is rapidly changing, as what we once called the future becomes the present. Rapid communication has never been easier, and access to technology has never been this accessible. However, we have failed to deal with the waste we have created. Our industrial “advancement” has made life more efficient and accessible, but many of these advancements are not sustainable. 

For instance, if we are to continue exploiting our fossil fuels for the sake of efficiency, can it truly be called advancement when none are left; when it disrupts our ecosystems and pollutes our environments? 

Earth’s future has been depicted going in one of two directions; either earth turns into a manmade wasteland or it is transformed into a sustainable society that thrives through technological advancements. The truth is, the window for choosing our fate seems to be ominously drawing to a close. NOAA shows that our oceans are covered in debris with 1.4 billion pounds entering aquatic systems per year. They also record how this pollution not only affects the ecosystems, but also the seafood we eat

NASA has acknowledged the direct relationship between burning fossil fuels and the rise of CO2 levels in our atmosphere as levels surpassed 400 ppm in 2013. These are dangerous and unprecedented levels. NOAA has further stated that in the past two years the rise of these levels have been astonishingly high. These levels have a very dangerous potential; they are an unnatural and unparalleled jolt to our planet. Our effect on earth is something that should have been studied and dealt with since the first industrial revolution, but now the situation is becoming grave. Action and education is more important than ever ever. 

Education is a catalyst of change. It is unequivocally of value and has become the basis of the progression of the human race. The need for our state, nation, and world to educate itself and each other on how to best take care of our planet is urgent. It has to become on par with core academics such as STEM and the humanities. 

Our education system needs to address these changes and prepare students to live with these changes. Every class should make a point to address how everyday actions can help not worsen the issue. Moreover, we need to bring this education outside of the classroom and to businesses and homes. 

Promoting sustainability everywhere, along with learning about it, is urgent. Making the goal to create a sustainable future not for just our grandchildren, but for ourselves is now the only way to live in the future. The time to revert alterations to our planet is fleeting; the future we build is one that will directly affect us not just our successors. This knowledge should drive us to change course and steer from a short term efficiency into a long term sustainability.

Andrea Grossmann is a regular contributor for Raise Your Voice. She is a student at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor.