San Francisco is an impressive city for their wide array of startups. They also have an equally impressive number of educational initiatives being carried out to link climate change back to the local community.
Climate change is a complex issue which presents a challenge in how it should be communicated so that people understand what it will mean on a day-to-day basis. The importance of being able to relate global issues to the everyday is imperative for catalytic action.
The Aquarium of the Bay, one example that exists in San Francisco, promotes the protection and conservation of the area. The Aquarium has a number of exhibits that demonstrate how climate change is affecting local animals, and what patrons can do to reduce their personal impact on the environment. It is all specific to the Bay Area.
Climate change has direct and indirect linkages to our daily lives that people are not aware of. The stories in the media about ice caps melting or the climate negotiations often don’t relate back to the individual. But imagine if, at the supermarket, people could see both the carbon footprint of the produce they were buying, as well as find out about the potential effects on agriculture brought on by the changing climate system. Knowing about how our food is supplied may bring individuals one step closer to realising that if business was to continue as usual, there could be disastrous ramifications.
If popular education initiatives were extended to every aspect of our daily lives, people could understand the full impact of climate change and make informed decisions. People would feel empowered rather than confused and frustrated by the back and forth discussions over carbon markets or coral reefs dying.
Education is a powerful tool, one that we must take beyond climate science in school and into the everyday. Popular education has the potential to change the discourse and engage the general population.
By Andrés Fuentes, photo by Linh Do.