Education Required To Fight Climate Emergency

A vulnerable species is the White Bellied Sea Eagle soaring over the sea. Photo: Marian Sampson.


COASTAL townships, communities living on flood plains and Australia’s regions are bearing the brunt of climate change with extreme weather causing erosion, floods, bush fires and rising sea levels.

A new study has found that greater investment and innovation in educating children about environmental issues is needed to help future generations respond to the climate emergency.

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An international group of researchers from Monash University, Exeter University, University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Stanford University, have identified that education is a cornerstone in supporting the necessary behavioural changes that are needed to address climate change.

Their findings were that education, particularly within the areas of humanities, arts and social sciences, is the only way to gain unified support to promote lasting social and environmental change.

Professor Alan Reid, from the Faculty of Education at Monash University, said environmental and science education helps people to identify fake information and ideologies, and understand and respond appropriately to warnings about the climate emergency.

“The deepening environmental crisis will continue to worsen if there is not significant support and investment in environmental and science education,” Professor Reid said.

“Governments and other organisations need to direct more funding to education innovation to help young people address the complex, interlinked trends in the deteriorating state of ecosystems, biodiversity and climate, amongst other environmental issues.”

The experts add that consensus on our current environmental predicaments must also be supported by those in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, and wider society.

Professor Jo-Anne Ferreira from USQ, said the research identifies the importance of a whole-school approach as opposed to quick curriculum fixes for addressing the climate emergency.

“We also need to look at investment and innovation in lifelong learning and non school-based provision, alongside examining the focus of current initial teacher education and continuing professional development,” Professor Ferreira said.

“Global leaders should be discussing how to reimagine, recreate and restore environmental education to reduce the consequences of the environmental crisis.

“Countries should embed environmental and science education throughout society in ways that make sense locally,” added Professor Justin Dillon from the University of Exeter.

The research paper highlights international surveys that show many governments continue to fail to support and invest enough in environmental and sustainability education across pre-school, school, college and university settings.

The researchers conclude that as a collective we must consider the role of education both critically and creatively in influencing and shaping any of our individual and collective behaviours.

Locally the climate emergency is impacting species. tells us, “Rising temperatures and sea levels, less rain and more droughts.

“By 2100, an estimated 50% of all the world’s species could go extinct because of climate change.

“Oceanic bird species are directly threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change.

“Sharks have difficulty hunting and a higher embryo mortality rate as ocean temperature and acidity rise worldwide.”

Coral reefs like the one at Fly Point are endangered due to rising sea temperatures and this reef was also adversely impacted by the March 2021 extreme weather event.




A koala in the wild, something experts fear may be lost to the climate emergency. Photo: Marian Sampson.

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