Penguins in your fridge? These 7-year-olds have climate solutions. (2023)


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New Jersey is the first state to require teaching about climate change at all school levels. The emphasis is on problem solving, not doom and gloom.

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Penguins in your fridge? These 7-year-olds have climate solutions. (1)

WithKara Buckley

One afternoon in June, Michelle Liwacz, standing in front of her classroom at Slackwood Elementary School north of Trenton, New Jersey, asked her first-graders to consider a problem: Antarctica is warming. What can the penguins who live there do to adapt?

The children, mostly 7 years old, purred excitedly. One boy said the birds could cool off in the water, but changed his mind after remembering all the hungry orcs waiting for them there. "Maybe they could migrate to some other cold place, like the United States in the winter?" asked a boy named Noah. A girl named Aliya suggested that people give them floats. Gabby thought the penguins would build an igloo. Some of them, Gabby added, could live in her refrigerator.

As the school year draws to a close, New Jersey has the distinction of being the first and so far the only state to require climate change instruction for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The issue is intertwinedlesson plans for most subjectseven physical education classes.

The standards are based on a striking premise: Even as storms batter the New Jersey coast, snow days become obsolete, and wildfire smoke poisons the air outside, younger students can learn about climate change without freaking out.

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Tammy Murphy, wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, was the driving force behind the new standards. He said climate change education is essential to help students tune in to the health of the planet, prepare for the new green energy economy and adapt to climate change that promises to intensify as this generation of children comes of age.

But the state's method of teaching younger students about climate change probably has something deeper: Instead of focusing on doom and gloom, the standards are designed to help kids connect with what's happening in the natural world around them. and, most importantly, learn to solve problems.

"It's seen as a heavy topic, something that should wait until they're older," said Lauren Madden, a professor of elementary science education at The College of New Jersey, who researches and offers guidance on implementing the standards.


"When we shield them from so many things, they're not ready to unpack that when they find out, and it becomes scarier than when they realize they're in a situation where they can actively think about solutions." - Dr. Madden he said. "When you take kids seriously in that way and trust them by giving them that information, you can let them feel empowered to create local solutions."

Ms. Murphy, who also sits on the board of former Vice President Al Gore's Climate Reality program, began meeting with more than 100 educators in 2019 to discuss creating new standards. In June 2020, the state board of education voted to require teaching about climate change in seven of nine subjects, including social studies and world languages. The board is expected to vote this summer on whether to require the expansion of climate change in the other two areas, English language arts and math.

There were voices of opposition to this decision. At a public hearing in May, critics booeddisproved negative climate theoriesalso to be taught and to say that the teaching of climatology was a form of "indoctrination.One speaker said that using the term "global" in the standards would make children feel uncomfortable calling themselves American.

Butresearch conducted in May by Fairleigh Dickinson Universityin Madison, New Jersey, found that 70 percent of the state's residents support teaching about climate change in schools. Dan Cassino, the professor who led the research, said it may be one of the Murphy administration's most popular policies. This support reflects national findings that show thisThe vast majorityAmericans on both sides of the political divide want their children to learn about climate change.

At Slackwood Elementary, a public school serving about 250 students in kindergarten through third grade, several parents said they were excited about the climate lessons. They said it relieved them of the burden of explaining climate change and extreme weather and tapped into children's instinctive curiosity about animals and nature.

"If they respect the environment more, they will be good people," said Niral Sheth, whose youngest daughter, Navya, attends Mrs. Liwacz's first grade. "They have to know what they can do. I don't want them to be left behind."



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Many students at Slackwood learn English, with one teacher counting 17 languages. More than half of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. the school has a pop-up pantry that sends bags of food to the homes of families in need.

Outside, in the corner of the playground, there is a fenced butterfly house, a composter and soil where the children tested what kind of fertilizer, chemical commercial variety or natural mix works best for the plants (natural came out ahead).

On a recent morning at school, Ms. Liwacz showed a video that led the first-graders, huddled on the carpet, tosinging along.

"Our Earth is a very, very, very big place," sang two dozen tiny voices, more or less in unison. “It is covered with water and earth. It has five huge oceans that we can swim in. And seven continents to stand on. The song went on to describe how North America was the home of the United States, so Navya, who is 6, did some high-profile commercials.

"Navia, what's your problem with part of North America?" Mrs. Liwacz asked when the song ended.

"Because he doesn't talk about Canada and Mexico," Navya replied. "So I have to change my last words to Canada and Mexico."

– We cannot forget our neighbors – said Mrs. Liwacz. "It bothered her from day one."

At Slackwood, children learn that human activities such as transportation, heating and animal husbandry are overheating the planet, as one textbook says, "making the Earth feel bad."

However, the emphasis is on awareness and problem solving. Preschoolers learn how everything is connected and how important pollinators are. This helped the children see bees as friends rather than scary enemies, director Jeanne Muzi said. First graders learn about composting, recycling and hydroponic gardening, and second graders explore pollution and plastics. After learning about floating litter, a second-grader said the first thing he had to do was prevent plastic from entering waterways, Ms Muzi said.

“She is 7 years old,” said Mrs. Muzi."And talking to him, I thought, wow, that's a great idea.


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One morning in late May, Mrs. Liwacz announced that the first graders would be talking about cause and effect, and today's story was about what would happen if sharks disappeared.

The Navy's hand went up. "I learned, well, fish eat shark poop," he said.

"Well, they have," Ms. Liwacz replied, eliciting a few laughs. “And the fish need it, don't they? Why?"

Navya had a ready answer. "Because all animals need food and water to survive, and fish eat shark feces to survive," he said.

"What if sharks became extinct?" said Mrs. Liwacz.

“That would be bad for the fish,” Navya said.

Ms. Liwacz then read a story detailing the role of sharks in keeping ocean waters clean and ecosystems balanced, which in turn benefits land mammals. She then paired the students to discuss what would happen if sharks disappeared, sparking more discussion about the meaning of poop.

A little later, at snack time, Ms. Liwacz showed a film about Eugenia Clark, a shark researcher and marine conservation activist. The school focuses on learning for scientists and others working on climate solutions, as well as how to deal with extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change.

Last week, as dangerous smoke covered the sky, Ms. Liwacz and the first-graders talked about how while the wildfires in Canada were horrific, they managed to stay safe indoors and that the smoke would eventually subside.

"It makes them feel a part of what's going on outside of school in the real world," Liwacz said. "Of course, not all problems will be solved. But it makes them think: How can I fix this? How can I change it? What can I do with myself, friends or community to change what I see or observe?'

The United Nations has underlined this idea by saying that education is critical to tackling global warming because it has the power to change students' attitudes and consumption habits, helps them distinguish fact from fiction and encourages them to take action .


But across the country, climate change teaching is patchy and often anemic. AND2016 studyfound that while three-quarters of public school science teachers taught climate issues, many students received less than two hours of climate education per year.

There is strong resistance in some states to integrating climate science into classroom instruction. According to Glenn Branch, its associate directorNational Center for Science Education, some states are misrepresenting climate science as a matter of debate. This spring, the Texas State Board of Education issued guidelines that students must learn the languagethe "positive" side of fossil fuels.

At a recent conference in New Jersey on incorporating climate standards into elementary schools, several teachers said they were discouraged from adding climate science to their lesson plans, especially given the educational setbacks their students faced during the pandemic.

They also said they needed more guidance. The state has committed $5 million to climate change education grants, attracting applications from nearly half of New Jersey's school districts.

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However, in a recent small survey of teachers, Dr. Madden, an early childhood education expert, found that more than three-quarters fear climate change may not be a priority in their district because of a lack of knowledge about the issue. Controversy concerns have also increased - the proportion of teachers who said teachers could avoid them because it was politically sensitive almost doubled to 17% between June 2022 and December 2022.

But educators at the conference agreed that climate change needs to be taught to give students a sense of empowerment that could ease the climate anxiety that is particularly high among young people around the world.

When asked if learning about climate change could be scary for kids, Monica Nardone, a third-grade teacher in Trenton, almost rolled her eyes.

"We have lockdown drills" to prepare for school shootings, he said. "Seriously; How much longer will we scare them?

Cara Buckley is a climate reporter focusing on people working on solutions and off-the-beaten-path stories about responses to the crisis. He joined the Times in 2006 and was part of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning team for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace. @NEWS about drugs Facebook


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What is the 3 solution of climate change? ›

Reducing car use, switching to electric vehicles and minimising plane travel will not only help stop climate change, it will reduce air pollution too. Help us keep our homes cosy.

What is the best solution for climate change? ›

Cutting carbon is the only long-term solution for avoiding climate impacts. In the short-term, we need to adapt. That means everything from discouraging development in high-risk areas, to planning for water scarcity, to building more resilient cities and communities.

How can we solve the problems brought by climate change? ›

What Are the Solutions to Climate Change?
  1. Ending Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels.
  2. Greater Energy Efficiency.
  3. Renewable Energy.
  4. Sustainable Transportation.
  5. Sustainable Buildings.
  6. Better Forestry Management and Sustainable Agriculture.
  7. Conservation-Based Solutions.
  8. Industrial Solutions.
Dec 13, 2022

What are 5 solutions to global warming? ›

10 Ways to Stop Global Warming
  • Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Drive less. ...
  • Recycle more. ...
  • Check your tires. ...
  • Use less hot water. ...
  • Avoid products with a lot of packaging. ...
  • Adjust your thermostat. ...
  • Plant a tree.

What are the 3 main causes of climate change? ›

Burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and farming livestock are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth's temperature.

What are two solutions to climate? ›

Responding to climate change involves two possible approaches: reducing and stabilizing the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (“mitigation”) and adapting to the climate change already in the pipeline (“adaptation”).

What are 5 effects of climate change? ›

Effects of Climate Change
  • Hotter temperatures. As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. ...
  • More severe storms. ...
  • Increased drought. ...
  • A warming, rising ocean. ...
  • Loss of species. ...
  • Not enough food. ...
  • More health risks. ...
  • Poverty and displacement.

What are examples of climate change? ›

“Climate change” encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet, including rising sea levels; shrinking mountain glaciers; accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic; and shifts in flower/plant blooming times.

What is the conclusion of climate change? ›

In conclusion, climate change is the most significant problem facing the world. Global warming is increasing day by day. If we cannot prevent it as soon as possible, our world will face undesirable consequences.

What is the biggest problem caused by climate change? ›

The main threats of climate change, stemming from the rising temperature of Earth's atmosphere include rising sea levels, ecosystem collapse and more frequent and severe weather. Rising temperatures from human-caused greenhouse gas emissions affects planet-wide systems in various ways.

Why do we need to stop climate change? ›

A warmer climate increases public health challenges like heat aggravated illnesses, increases in vector borne diseases, and decreased access to safe water and food. Cutting short-lived climate pollutants can slow the rate of warming and lower public health risks.

What are 10 ways to stop climate change? ›

The possibilities for action are many – and add up fast.
  • Save energy at home. ...
  • Change your home's source of energy. ...
  • Walk, bike or take public transport. ...
  • Switch to an electric vehicle. ...
  • Consider your travel. ...
  • Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle. ...
  • Eat more vegetables. ...
  • Throw away less food.

What are the 5 main natural causes of global warming? ›

Causes of Climate Change
  • Heat-trapping Greenhouse Gases And The Earth's Climate. ...
  • Greenhouse Gases. ...
  • Reflectivity or Absorption of the Sun's Energy. ...
  • Changes in the Earth's Orbit and Rotation. ...
  • Variations in Solar Activity. ...
  • Changes in the Earth's Reflectivity. ...
  • Volcanic Activity.
Apr 25, 2023

How can we stop global warming for kids? ›

1. Conserve energy in your everyday life.
  1. Turn off the lights.
  2. Close doors immediately so heat does not escape.
  3. Take short showers.
  4. Walk or bike if you can (instead of having your parents drive you).
  5. Turn off your computer when not in use (don't leave it on just to keep Facebook or Myspace active).

How does climate change affect humans? ›

The health effects of climate change include respiratory and heart diseases, pest-related diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, water- and food-related illnesses, and injuries and deaths. Climate change has also been linked to increases in violent crime and overall poor mental health.

What are the top two causes of climate change? ›

Of these, the two factors relevant on timescales of contemporary climate change are changes in volcanic activity and changes in solar radiation. In terms of the Earth's energy balance, these factors primarily influence the amount of incoming energy.

When did climate change start? ›

The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities.

What is an example of climate solution? ›

Examples include allowing forests to regrow, restoring coastal wetlands, and switching to restorative agricultural practices, such as cover crop rotation, that support healthy soils. These ecosystems reduce climate change by capturing CO2 from the air and sequestering it in plants, soils, and sediments.

What are the two main things that affect climate? ›

The two most important factors in the climate of an area are temperature and precipitation.

What are some natural climate solutions? ›

Conservation agriculture, improved grazing practices, and improved rice cultivation reduce agricultural water demands. Trees in croplands can provide water recharge. Improved nutrient management can reduce nitric oxide and other emissions into the air we breathe.

Where is climate change the worst? ›

Chad. Chad ranks as the world's most climate-vulnerable country on the Notre Dame-Global Adaptation Initiative Index, which examines a country's exposure, sensitivity and capacity to adapt to the negative effects of climate change.

Why is climate change a threat? ›

Humans and wild animals face new challenges for survival because of climate change. More frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans can directly harm animals, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people's livelihoods and communities.

How to live with climate change? ›

  1. Look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances.
  2. Winterize your home to prevent heat from escaping and try to keep it cool in the summer without an air conditioner.
  3. Change to energy-efficient light bulbs.
  4. Get a home or workplace energy audit to identify where you can make the most energy-saving gains.

What is climate change for kids? ›

Climate change refers to the long-term changes in global temperatures and other characteristics of the atmosphere. Climate has changed throughout Earth's long history, but this time it's different. Human activity is causing worldwide temperatures to rise higher and faster than any time we know of in the past.

What is an example of climate change for kids? ›

More water in the oceans makes sea level higher. Also, water expands as it gets warmer. So, warm water takes up more room in our oceans – making sea levels higher. The properties of ocean water are also changing.

What is a short summary of climate change? ›

The Short Answer: Climate change describes a change in the average conditions — such as temperature and rainfall — in a region over a long period of time. NASA scientists have observed Earth's surface is warming, and many of the warmest years on record have happened in the past 20 years.

What is the main idea of climate change? ›

Climate change is a long-term shift in the average weather conditions of a region, such as its typical temperature, rainfall, and windiness. Climate change means that the range of conditions expected in many regions will change over the coming decades. This means that there will also be changes in extreme conditions.

What is the best summary of climate change? ›

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Such shifts can be natural, due to changes in the sun's activity or large volcanic eruptions.

Who is the biggest threat to the world? ›

Climate change the greatest threat the world has ever faced, UN expert warns.

Is it too late to stop global warming? ›

While the effects of human activities on Earth's climate to date are irreversible on the timescale of humans alive today, every little bit of avoided future temperature increases results in less warming that would otherwise persist for essentially forever.

Which people are particularly at risk due to increasing climate change? ›

For example, people living on floodplains, coastlines, or in areas prone to severe storms are more vulnerable to extreme weather. Those living in poverty may be less able to prepare for or respond to extreme events. As a result, these individuals are expected to have greater impacts from climate-related hazards.

What are the 4 natural causes of climate change? ›

Natural Causes of Climate Change

Over the course of Earth's existence, volcanic eruptions, fluctuations in solar radiation, tectonic shifts, and even small changes in our orbit have all had observable effects on planetary warming and cooling patterns.

What will happen if we don't reduce climate change? ›

Scientists have predicted that long-term effects of climate change will include a decrease in sea ice and an increase in permafrost thawing, an increase in heat waves and heavy precipitation, and decreased water resources in semi-arid regions.

What will the world look like in 2050? ›

According to a US report, the sea level will increase by 2050. Due to which many cities and islands situated on the shores of the sea will get absorbed in the water. By 2050, 50% of jobs will also be lost because robots will be doing most of the work at that time. Let us tell you that 2050 will be a challenge to death.

How much time is left for climate change? ›

The Clock's Deadline tells us that, at current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, we have less than eight years left in our global “carbon budget” that gives two-thirds chance of staying under the critical threshold of 1.5°C of global warming.

How can we stop the climate change essay? ›

How To Prevent Climate Change Essay
  1. Make policies and agreements on climate change.
  2. Implement projects on clean energy.
  3. Create social awareness on climate change.
  4. Prohibit deforestation and cutting down trees.
  5. Conduct capacity building programs on climate change.
  6. Keep the surroundings clean.

What are 10 reasons to fight climate change? ›

10 reasons why climate change is important
  • Because snow leopards, turtles and polar bears are awesome. ...
  • Because you need your morning coffee fix. ...
  • Because coral reefs are amazing. ...
  • Because we all need clean water. ...
  • Because we all hate the sight of politicians in wellies. ...
  • Because rainforests are incredible.

What is the difference between weather and climate? ›

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time.

What is the main cause of global warming for kids? ›

The primary cause of climate change is human activities – like driving cars, creating electricity, and cutting down forests – not natural changes in the climate. These human activities release gases into the atmosphere called greenhouse gases, which slowly warm the planet, creating climate change.

How can we save the earth for kids? ›

Plant a tree to stop soil erosion, give you shade and give birds a home. Quit buying products that have a lot of packaging wrappings. Reduce the amount of water you use to keep clean. Take showers, not baths.

Is global warming going to get better? ›

Is climate change getting better or worse? If greenhouse gas emissions are increasing — which they are, according to NPR — then technically, climate change is getting worse. But before you lose hope and fall victim to climate doom, it's important to remember that our situation is still very complex.

What will happen to Earth in 2030? ›

India will overtake China as the most populated country on Earth. Nigeria will overtake the US as the third most populous country in the world. The fastest-growing demographic will be the elderly: 65+ people will hit one billion by 2030. We will need to figure out ways of how to accommodate 100+ people at work.

Will global warming get worse in the next 50 years? ›

With world temperatures set to rise more over the next 50 years than they have in the previous 6,000, scientists agree that far worse is still to come. Today, just one percent of the planet falls within so-called “barely liveable” hot zones: by 2050, the ratio could rise to almost twenty percent.

How many years do we have left to save the Earth? ›

We Have 10 Years Left to Save the World, Says Climate Expert.

How hot will the earth be in 2050? ›

Global temperature is projected to warm by about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7° degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050 and 2-4 degrees Celsius (3.6-7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.

How bad will climate change be in 2030? ›

It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s,” as humans continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas.

How bad will climate change be in 2050? ›

Under a 2050 climate scenario developed by NASA, continuing growth of the greenhouse emission at today's rate could lead to additional global warming of about 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.


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