Action Aid Teach Climate Action – 1

Am on the train home from Victoria with my head spinning with possibilities. The cause of which is an excellent and inspirational gathering of academics, NGO’s and teachers organised by Dan R-E of Action Aid. During the day 12 fifteen minute presentations were given from a broad cross section of the academic community, from Art to Psychology and the NEF to Feminism. The core theme was how education can tackle the issue of Climate Change from different perspectives. I hope that this will be the first post of a number based upon my thoughts and ideas.

This post is a raw idea and I’d welcome feedback – especially if it’s not particularly original!

The idea is based upon Ian Roberts’ (from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) presentation about health and energy/climate change. He argued that by dealing with climate change by reducing carbon emissions there would be revolutionary, knock,on health benefits. He also argued that our dependence on fossil fuels leads to traffic deaths, unpleasant environments, higher average BMI and conflict over resources.

So, imagine a lesson:

Start with this:


Tell pupils that the planet has an infection of humans. The only way to save the planet is to change their behaviour. The only way to save the planet is to reduce carbon emissions as the virus is climate change / carbon emissions. There’s lots of room to link into the economy here also. What if there were no cars? Better health. Less people getting killed. Less wars over energy supplies. Cleaner streets and air.

This leads to a nice cross-curricular link with History ( I also think that a some post-apocalyptic imagery of Fallout 3 could be worked in here also!) all about rationing.

In a nutshell, pupils will create a ration book / system for a cleaner, greener world to get rid of the virus. Research the impacts of various activities that could reduce carbon emissions. For example, eating meat, using hot water, driving a car. The key message is how to get across to pupils that as well as individual change, there needs to be structural change where organisations, institutions and government encourage change. This introduces scenario where people are forced to change their lifestyles for the greater good, a change enforced by government.

Linked together with the Carbon Footprint Project this series of lessons would get over the message that:

  • Individual actions are important, but that for real change larger bodies need to endorse and initiate change
  • Carbon rationing could lead to a number of benefits for society such as fewer wars, less obesity and a reduction in chronic illnesses whose underlying cause is our dependence on fossil fuel.

Image by Flicr user freeparking and used under a Creative Commons Licence.

4 Responses

  1. Very nice Mr. R and good to hear that the event went so well. Dan deserved it to be a success after the effort he put into it…
    I like the ration book idea very much…

  2. It was a great day,I really like your idea, I'm wondering about a gis application, there's a conference at leeds uni tommorrow. Graham Clarke is dealing with health inequality in uk, and using gis, I feel there is a way to put this health/climate change relationship together in the class room using gis – although unsure how ?

  3. Vicky – I like the GIS angle, something worth thinking about carefully.

    LindyM many thanks

    Alan – the day was structured in a refreshing way which is great for someone like me who has the concentration span of a gold fish!

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