Tag Archive for 'global warning'

Global Warming Warning??!

If there is one issue more than any other that I see being explored in schools this year, it just has to be the Global Warming scene. Endless debates full of the proverbial hot air ring around the hallowed halls, I assure you.

So where do you stand on it all? Perhaps you’re not sure whether it’s really occurring? Maybe you’re uncertain about the scientific basis for many of the claims? Or then again, you may even be a convert who is convinced that the world will end within the next 5 years.

Like most other people who have a significant interest in the world being around for a long time, I’ve spent some time sifting through the endless research. And so, here are a few perspectives that you may consider offering to your class/es:

1. Greg Craven is a Science teacher in the US (see the video up above). His perspective is truly worth a look. An interesting 7 min challenge to offer to a switched-on class. See if you can find any flaws in his argument, and his justification on why we must take it all pretty seriously.

2. Yes, the world is warming up… and it’s at a faster rate than that of earlier warmings in human history. However, the evidence on the contribution to this warming from human activity is clouded in controversy. It’s basically because of the complexities involved in proving that our polluting interventions have directly affected world temperatures. Unfortunately (and in using that word, I’m displaying my own perspectives), this gives some credence to the right-wingers who wish to go on polluting to their heart’s content.

4. Regardless of whether or not we are contributing to ‘global warming’, we are overconsuming the earth’s resources (and the statistics support this very strongly). Again, a precise figure is difficult to establish; however, in mid-2008, the planet is consuming somewhere between 125% and 140% of its available resources. In other words, we’re existing beyond our capacities. If you earn $1000 a week, and spend $1400 a week, you will soon need to rein in your lifestyle.

Now, this is where I struggle with those who want to continue with our present overconsumption rates, by claiming that we’re not affecting global warming. I’d like to ask: What about the rates of consumption? How can they be justified, given that it will create shortages in the years ahead (as partly evidenced by present food shortages around the world ……what, you didn’t know about that?? Ah, you must live in a Western country then)

And what about the pollution being created? I’ve visited China twice, and I can assure you that the air pollution in the major cities is a bit scary. After 2 or 3 days, you feel quite sick simply from breathing. Interestingly, it will become all too apparent during the Beijing Olympics, and may even become a small but significant turning point in the world’s collective response to air pollution at least.

5. OK, say the global warming skeptics. Maybe it’s happening; maybe it’s not. But what’s the use of doing anything about it anyway, they say? India and China are now causing most of it, so we’re not going to make much difference if we cut our consumption.

I find this an astonishingly ignorant argument, and one that demonstrates very little collective concern for the planet. If we let that argument gain any credence, then we really are in trouble.

All change needs to begin somewhere. Small efforts can easily magnify, and create positive changes far beyond our initial efforts. Einstein’s theories on ‘critical mass’ indicate that just 2% of the world’s population can eventually influence the other 98%.

All through human history, we find that special individuals and groups decided to create change… and they did. William Wilberforce with the abolition of slavery. Nelson Mandela with South African apartheid. And soon…. you and I and everyone else with the overconsumption on our planet.

6. So what really do we each do?? Here are a few final possibilities:

* Cut your consumption of everything by 10%. It won’t deimate the economy, yet it will make a statistically significant difference to our consumption patterns. Just give it a go sometime. 10% less water. 10% less electricity (just turn off your switches at the wall). 10% less petrol (it’s called a bus. Or find the occasional share-ride). 10% less food (oh yes, it’s very possible. Simply eat what you need, rather than what you want).

* If you teach, or you’re a parent, then motivate young ones to take action. Many of them want to anyway. After all, they’ll need to live in whatever world we all create up ahead. Just don’t do the fear-based approach. It paralyses kids. Continually talk about what CAN be done. Set up an inquiry-based unit, and explore questions such as:

Q. What’s the scientific basis to both sides of the argument?
Q. Whose purposes are served by minimising or maximising the focus on ‘global warning’?
Q. 2050 will be a fantastic time on planet Earth. What must be done NOW to guarantee this?

And so, some final questions. I know that you’d already be doing lots of important things (especially if you teach), so can I just clarify: What are you doing right now? Here today?