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Youth Book Corner: Climate Education Week

April 22 was Earth Day and today marks the last day of Climate Education Week. This week aims to mobilize students by educating them about how they can contribute towards taking positive steps to protect the environment. Our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai shares highlights about the history of Earth Day and the student-led goals and activities for Climate Education Week.

  • What is Earth Day? Earth Day is an acknowledgment that climate change and environmental issues are manmade and continue to be the biggest threat to the sustenance of the planet. It is a day dedicated to talking about the environment and how citizens can be mobilized to take action.
  • The first Earth Day took place in 1970 in the US and was a direct response to oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife.
  • The efforts taken by activists in 1970 led to historical changes, mainly the establishment of environmental laws, which included the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
  • “Global warming” and “clean energy” became buzzwords and attracted worldwide attention, thanks to the work of Earth Day 2000 activists.
  • In 1990, Earth Day went global and saw the participation of 200 million people in 141 countries. Today, Earth Day engages more than 1 billion people in 193 countries every year and as such, is the largest secular observance in the world.
  • The theme of Earth Day in Canada in ‘Take Care of the Planet,’ which hopes to raise awareness among Canadians about the urgency of taking action for the environment.
  • Earth Day Canada has also launched an initiative called ‘EcoHack-a-city,’ as part of which five regions in Canada will focus on five different environmental themes and organize a series of events related to those themes. In BC, North Vancouver is the participating city and is working around the theme ‘Towards a Zero Waste Industrial Sector.’
  • Climate Education Week, launched by EarthDay.org, is working around the theme ‘Restore Our Earth’ and includes a toolkit for students of all grade levels. It includes activities on ecosystem services, the carbon cycle, food sustainability, ecosystem restoration and civic engagement. The initiative also includes lesson plans on air quality, plastic pollution, and insects.
  • So how can students help? As part of Climate Education Week, these are some of the actions and activities recommended by EarthDay.org. For comprehensive information on the subject, please visit the Climate Education Week toolkit page:
    • Ask your classroom teachers how to be more sustainable when working on group projects or how to reduce the use of single-use and disposable supplies.
    • To protect our old-growth forests, use reusable bags, containers and cutlery to limit the use of paper products
    • Request your parents and teachers to stop using single-use plastic items. That is the number one way to lessen plastic pollution.
    • Start an environmental advocacy club at your school and post infographics to social media on the importance of climate literacy.
    • Ensure that you are properly separating your trash from your recyclables, and disposing of both types properly to prevent litter from entering freshwater systems.
    • Gather a group of friends to clean and clear litter next to storm drains, so that they can provide flood control during heavy rainfall.
    • Join adults for a stream cleanup activity.
    • Participate in a tree-planting drive to restore native tree cover in your area. Similarly, take part in or initiate a plastic cleanup activity on a beach or a park.
    • To learn about the importance of composting, participate in a decomposition activity to examine the process of decomposition and how living and once-living materials decompose to become part of soil.
    • Request your school and parents to give you more plant-based meals to reduce the impact of animal agriculture on the planet.
    • Do not participate in any activity that involves the burning of leaves, trash and other materials as that emits carbon and chemicals that pollute the air.
    • Ask your teacher to invite an Indigenous storyteller to class to talk about how Indigenous people have been working towards environmental stewardship.
    • Calculate your ecological footprint to understand your carbon footprint and your personal impact on the planet.
    • If you and your parents would like to do more, on the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, the organization has listed 51 actions and tips you can follow to make a change.

Author

Leena Desai