What kids learn at school gets shared at home and in social media. Inspire our youth, see change spread at warp speed!
Creating change on a global scale is a tremendous challenge to implement. Many individuals have the sentiment that their small contributions have no impact globally, so why even bother? Most have grown accustomed to their current lifestyle. With so many emails to check, TV shows to watch, news to catch, who has time to even contemplate simple changes that can make a big difference in our environment? There is one way to change the culture - start with our youth!
The children in our school systems are developing, forming their own opinions, creating their own culture to live within. Efforts to change overall cultural behavior must start with encouraging young students and demonstrating to them simple and fun environmentally friendly activities. Many school buildings have flat roofs - why not add a rooftop garden? We'll increase the thermal insulation, reducing heating loads in the winter and cooling loads in summer, while providing an educational opportunity on ecology, nutrition, plant biology, etc. Lessons learned in the classroom can come alive outdoors. Develop projects within the science curriculum to manage water use at schools. Simple rain recovery systems can be designed by students and implemented, reusing rain for non-potable water within the building. Discuss energy efficiency initiatives with students and let their imagination run wild with story writing or art depicting the future world. Track and monitor energy use within each classroom; create school wide competitions for which class uses the least energy (open windows for passive ventilation, reduce use of lights, turn off computers when not in use).
Any activities that engage the students and let them be creative will be shared with mom and dad. They'll bring the classroom home and change our world, one home at a time. As they enter college and embark on their own careers, they'll already have the foundation, ideas, and motivation to lead our world in the right direction!
Category of the action
Changing public perceptions on climate change
What actions do you propose?
Adjust school curriculums to focus on engaging environmentally friendly activities to teach our youth habits that will spread to change the world.
- Develop rooftop gardens in support of classroom lessons on ecology, ecosystems, plant biology, thermal insulation, HVAC/Building loads
- School wide competitions for the most energy efficient class (measure and track energy usage from heating/cooling, lights, computers; implement scientific method by first establishing a baseline early in the school year, then experiment with keeping certain lights off, or computers off when not in use. What is the difference? How much energy was saved?)
- Another school competition for classroom with the least waste disposal and most recycling. How much paper can be conserved? How many materials can be re-used?
- Have students design and manage rain water collection systems. What uses of non-potable water can they think of? Washing chalk board, watering roof top garden, watering school yards/playgrounds, etc. Can their systems utilize materials already on the school premises?
- Let students' imagination run wild with story writing or depictions in art of what the future holds. How would they change the world? What will our power generation look like (wind mills, turbines, nuclear power plants)?
- Create a student project for them to implement an environmentally friendly change at home. Have them track progress for a month.
There are plenty of ideas, many more than I've expressed here. The key is to engage students with fun activities where they learn and develop environmentally friendly habits. When sharing at home, or with social media, their ideas and lessons learned will spread, creating a lasting and sustainable change in our world.
Who will take these actions?
Schools - set the curriculum
Students - share what they've learned and the habits they've developed at home and with friends
Parents - Support children, take what children learn at school and let them implement ideas at home
Corporate businesses - years from now, when students enter the workforce, accept their new ideas and enthusiasm to bring a new environmentally friendly culture to the corporate workforce
Where will these actions be taken?
Any school system
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
Residential buildings account for about 10% of GHG emissions. Over years, the behavioral change is difficult to quantify the reduction in emissions without further research. Once ideas start spreading at homes, those ideas can continue to spread to offices and have a larger impact.
What are other key benefits?
Our children are our future. Cleaning the environment won't affect the current workforce as much as it will affect future generations. Instilling the foundations for environmentally friendly habits within our youth is the key to create widespread change in our culture. Foundations from the classroom will spread to the home, and from the classroom and home to our colleges, and from colleges, the young, motivated graduates will bring the foundations to the workforce.
What are the proposal’s costs?
The cost is minimal. Many classroom initiatives can be implemented with just a change in curriculum. Some minimal material costs may be necessary for a garden or to start monitoring classroom energy usage. Many upfront costs will be budget neutral from energy savings.
- Short term - Implement revised curriculums in classrooms. Students will begin sharing at home and reducing residential energy use and implementing environmentally friendly ideas.
- Medium term - Students who have grown within an environmentally friendly culture will graduate from college, and bring their foundations to the workforce.
- Long term - All generations have a new culture of energy efficiency and environmentally friendly conscience. There are few obstacles (social/political) to implementing new ideas to improve our planet.
At this point, this proposal is an idea with little research. A quick google search found the following similar ideas: