As the most vulnerable members of our societies, environmental destruction impacts children first and foremost. Children are also those who are most likely to endure the impacts of a polluted environment over the longest period. Climate change is already killing one thousand children every day. The importance of educating children about the environment was addressed at the Rio+ conference. There are some basic sustainability issues that must be addressed. Things like clean water and clean air are basic concerns that are fundamentally important to many children all around the world.
In the world today there are 2.6 billion people are without access to basic sanitation; 67 million children of primary school age are out of school. A lack water and sanitation services which is a leading cause of mortality for both children and their mothers. Indoor air pollution from particulate matter is responsible for 900,000 deaths in children under the age of five.
An environmental education is important to children because they will be called upon to solve unimaginable challenges in their lifetime. They will desperately need the knowledge and tools necessary for survival in the 21st Century.
That is why education is crucial to our children’s future and the future of the Earth. However, more than providing accurate science derived information we must counter those who are intent on misinforming our children.
President Obama has frequently addressed the importance of children. In his first term the President emphasized education and greener schools. As Obama said in his 2010 address from the oval office, “We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean-energy future is now.”
Part of our responsibility involves the construction of school buildings that are not toxic to our kids.
Our schools house our most precious resource, yet many expose children to off-gasing toxins, artificial light and poor air quality. Conversely, green schools contribute to the health and well being of our children.
In addition to reducing environmentally destructive properties of schools that harm their health, greener schools also contribute to a better education. There are a lot of things we can do to green our schools that both help our children and benefit the environment. For example, something as simple as natural lighting is reported to have a positive effect on health and on rates of achievement.
Education is key to a healthy future. There are a number of free resources that help kids to understand the key issues involved in sustainability. UNESCO has something called the Young Masters Programme (YMP), this free online initiative helps kids and their teachers around the world to not only understand sustainable development but to get directly involved through local sustainable development programs.
Teachers are providing environmental education for children using videos. Videos from sites such as Green Energy TV foster awareness about what kids can do. Other helpful green education organizations include groups like GEF.
With a science based education , young people can be passionate environmental advocates. However, if we care about our children’s future there is much that we must do today. As explained by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today.”
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
If We Want to Protect our Children from Gun Violence Shouldn’t We Also Want to Protect them from Deadly Pollution?
Climate Change is Already Killing 1000 Children Every Day
World Water Week 2011: The Importance of Clean Water for Children
World Bank Climate Change Warning
Key Findings of GEO 5
Breaking the Cycle of Famine
The Need for Global Environmental Education
Sustainable Education is Key to Accessing the Green Economy
Education References at the Rio+ Conference in 2012
Green School Buildings Serve our Collective Best Interest
Green School Buildings: The Many Benefits of Natural Lighting
The Green Education Foundation for K-12 Students
Obama’s Jobs Plan Emphasizes Education and Greener Schools
Excerpts of President Obama’s Address from the Oval Office
EPA Limits GHGs from Power Plants Benefits Kids
Sustainable Development is Important for Children
Youth Advocacy for Environmental Action