Whether you’re someone who’s just starting to learn about climate change or someone who’s trying to specialize in the topic, the amount of information that we’re exposed to can be overwhelming. That’s also one of the reasons why some people don’t want to learn about it in the first place: it’s just too much work. Unfortunately, it’s not really up to us to decide if we want to be involved in it or not, because we already all are, simply by living on planet Earth. The very first step to tackle this issue is educating ourselves and spreading awareness. We owe it to ourselves, but most of all, we owe it to the future generations.
What is Conservation Education?
Educating yourself about conservation means understanding the value of our natural resources, and gathering information in order to limit our negative impact on the planet. Education and awareness are, in fact, the first steps for a more conscious and sustainable life. The ultimate goal is to preserve natural resources and give future generations the opportunity to live in a more habitable world.
Negationism, Misinformation & Politics
Climate change has been a highly discussed topic in recent years. Political parties have taken their stand in relation to this topic, and consequently, the population has been divided in different groups with different “beliefs”. Of course, the word “belief” in this case can hardly apply (since we’re talking about scientific facts, not religion), but somehow we’ve come to a point where science itself is a source of disagreement and personal interpretation.
According to two polls conducted by CBS News and The Washington Post, about 75% of Americans believe that human activity is fueling climate change, while only around half believe that it should be considered a “crisis” or that humans should act on climate change “right now.”
This division of the population is caused by the lack of awareness and reliable information that we’re exposed to. A big factor in this regard is the amount of misinformation circulating on social media. In the US, it was found that adverts on Facebook denying the reality of the climate crisis or the need for action were viewed at least 8 million times in the first half of 2020. The 51 climate disinformation ads identified included ones stating that climate change is a “hoax” and that fossil fuels are not an existential threat.
Now, the reason behind this appears clear when considering the interests of the fossil fuels industry: climate change is an uncomfortable reality for business, so the easiest thing to do is denying its existence. The latest estimate is that the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200 million a year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate policy.
But the question is: why do people follow their lead? What’s in it for the average citizen who has nothing to do with those companies?
Believing in climate change or not shouldn’t stop people from taking care of the planet we all live on. Sustainability should be an essential part of all our lives, regardless of our political beliefs. It can only do good for us!
Why Should We Educate Ourselves?
Staying well educated shields us from all the unreliable information that we’re exposed to, it keeps us grounded to reality. It’s fundamental to stay focused on what’s really important, which is protecting our planet, protecting our home.
Reading and gathering reliable information takes effort, and unfortunately, human beings are often discouraged to make the effort when they don’t see the benefits they can gain from it. That’s simply the way we’re wired, we have a tendency to maintain the status quo rather than taking action and changing our negative habits.
The status quo so far has been the belief that natural resources are unlimited, and that our impact on the environment will never be significant enough to cause irreversible damage. It’s a very comfortable reality: we have what we need, whenever we want.
Unfortunately, we’ve come to a point where that’s simply not true anymore, and we’re realizing it when it’s almost too late. Our CO2 emissions are damaging the atmosphere that allows us to breathe and protects us from the direct light that comes from the Sun; the temperatures are rising, both on land and underwater, causing desertification, coral bleaching, death of entire ecosystems, climate irregularities, polar ice melting, ocean water rising, new species on the brink of extinction, and other consequences created by this ripple effect we brought upon ourselves.
Facts on Climate Change
- The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century. While temperatures shifting and climate irregularities are a constant in the history of our planet, the current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming. That also implies that carbon dioxide from human activity is increasing more than 250 times faster than it did from natural sources after the last Ice Age.
- The top 100 meters (about 328 feet) of the ocean has warmed more than 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.33 degrees Celsius) since 1969. The ocean is the biggest storage area of carbon dioxide of the planet. The increasing temperatures have caused significant imbalances in the marine ecosystem, the main issue being coral bleaching and the death of the entire ecosystems that corals support. We have in fact already lost around 50% of the Great Barrier Reef since 1995.
- Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2019, while Antarctica lost about 148 billion tons of ice per year. Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world – including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska, and Africa. Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades. Additionally, the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and the snow is melting earlier. As a consequence, global sea level has risen about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in the last century. The rate in the last two decades is nearly double that of the last century and accelerating every year.
How Can We Educate Ourselves?
Easy access to education is key in order to spread awareness and build strong supporting communities with similar values. Sustainability and respect towards the environment should be the values we all share as a species, simply because they are the path for our survival. If we want to build a more sustainable future, we need to teach these values to children from a young age, as parents, as relatives, as friends, as teachers in school. This way, future generations can lead the way in the climate movement.
But first, we need to inform ourselves and be open to learning something new about our planet and the impact we have on it. A bit of advice to start…
- Read and check your sources. To make sure you’re reading truthful information, double check the source. Who’s writing? Who do they work for? Are they an expert in the matter? If yes, how so? Which references are they using? Which platform are they using? What goal are they trying to achieve? And so on. Here are some reliable sources you can read from: NASA, National Geographic, ecomadic, Mission Blue, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Greenpeace, WWF, Green is the New Black and many others. Find more by checking out this list.
- If you don’t feel like reading, watch documentaries! Some great options you can find on Netflix: Our Planet, Mission Blue, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, Explained, and many others. Find an extensive list here.
- Have uncomfortable conversations. Challenge your knowledge by talking with someone who knows more than you on the topic. Once you feel comfortable enough, talk with people who have a different opinion, it’s important to have tough conversations and spread awareness (as long as it’s done respectfully).
ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.
Want to learn more?
3 Ways to Educate Your Community on Conservation – PerfectMind
What is Global Warming, Explained – National Geographic