Courtesy: Schools for Climate Action

“Who cares? We’re all going to die before we hit 30 anyway.”

Sardonic comments like these are not uncommon among my peers. From dark satires like “Don’t Look Up” to feelings of defeat after watching climate activists slowly fade from the limelight time after time (even after we claim to have changed), there’s a pattern that arises regarding the environment: We’ve lost all hope.

In a global survey conducted by the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, more than 50% of 10,000 youth felt sad, anxious or hopeless due to climate change, adversely influencing their daily lives and outlook.

This eco-anxiety, according to a report by the American Psychological Association, decreases individuals’ motivation to better themselves, morphing into the stagnation — or deterioration — of communities, then states, then countries and, before you know it, the world.

As we become adults, our anxieties will worsen, and we won’t be prepared to combat one of the biggest issues humanity has faced. The death toll and displacement of environmental refugees will rise as climate-related disasters increase. Essentially, people are going to die if our attitudes don’t change. So, what do we do now?

Here’s a solution: standardizing climate literacy statewide. Nicole Howard, a public schoolteacher and sociologist, claims that comprehensive climate education will “empower students to take personal responsibility” and “cultivate resilience.”

This is already evident in New Jersey, where a mandated climate curriculum has provided students with tools to fight against our climate crisis. And it was apparent for me. When I learned about possible solutions for the climate emergency from my family, my helplessness transformed into motivation, and I began to participate in climate education advocacy and lobby for local, state, and federal initiatives.

Many districts across California — Fremont Unified School District, Berkeley USD, Los Angeles USD, and more — have realized the importance of climate education. The state should follow their interdisciplinary and timely approach.

But why? Think about the progress that can be made if all students in California received a proper climate education: It would encourage us to rally for the multifaceted challenges climate change brings and equip us to make informed decisions that will influence our entire lives, including which higher education and career pathway to follow and which candidates and policies to support.

Thorough climate literacy can act as a bridge between our current collectively felt defeat and newfound hope. Not only will we be able to achieve the bare minimum and secure our home for future generations, but we’ll also be able to address other environmental and intersectional injustices.

More than ever before, we are being summoned to show up as our best selves. But this time, as a civilization. The stakes have never been higher. The time is now to raise up our weapons — not swords, but our drive to fight and keep the only home we’ve ever known.


Kennesha Garg is a high school student at American High School in Fremont and leads and participates in climate education initiatives in Sierra Club’s Climate Literacy Committee.

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