Earth Day 2015 – it’s our turn to lead

On this Earth Day 2015, we look forward with great anticipation to what this year will bring for the protection of our world. Today millions of people around the world are celebrating our unique (as far as we know) planet.

What do you think about on Earth Day?

All over the media there is a plethora of blogs, lists, photo stories featuring the eye-watering beauty of our diverse animals, plants and landscapes, but does that make it easier to turn a blind eye to the ugliness? The bleached coral, the melting polar ice caps, the extreme floods, droughts and storms brought about by global warming?

Yes, we live on a wonderful planet with our incredible diversity of life, but while it is great to celebrate our Earth, it is even greater to protect it.  

Global warming is the greatest threat to life on Earth.

While this fact is frightening and can make us feel powerless, many scientists believe that it is possible to reduce further global warming and slow the pace of climate change.

If we change our lifestyle and behavior, even just a bit, we can be part of the solution.

On this Earth Day 2015, we look forward with great anticipation to what this year will bring for the protection of our world. This year will see world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty, citizens and big organizations seek alternatives to fossil fuels and, above all, we hope to see a shift in leadership – it’s our turn to lead.

At IFAW, we believe young people can be our greatest leaders, with the power to influence not only their families, but communities and governments. In fact we see the power children have frequently through our Animal Action Education (AAE) Program:

When world leaders came together in St. Petersburg, Russia to agree on a strategy for saving tigers from extinction, IFAW made sure that the youth of the world were there to greet them with these creative messages and calls for action to save the last wild tigers.

The commonly held view is that we teach our children, establishing their knowledge, values and beliefs. But there is growing evidence of the influence children have on their parents and communities.

One of the foundations of IFAW’s Animal Action Education Program is the belief that children are powerful change agents. Actively involving young people in solving local environmental problems (reducing energy consumption, saving water, recycling etc) encourages them to become active at a more global level.

When children see the impact they can have in their home, school yard, or community it empowers them further, and especially when they engage their families.

Our Animal Action Education kits are designed to give children the knowledge and motivation to take action and spark important conversations at home. By increasing understanding of climate change and its impacts we help take away the fear of global warming and replace feelings of powerlessness with empowerment – that is the goal of our Climate Change and Animals education packs.   

Young people are gifted with innate optimism and the belief that they can make a difference – something many adults need to remember. Global warming is not insurmountable, we just need strong leadership and instead of waiting for heads of government to do something about it we can take the lead.

So today, let’s do it, it’s our turn to lead, for ourselves and future generations. Make a commitment to start today - turn down the power and take action on global warming.

Here are a five things you can do to help combat climate change (and save money!):

  • Turn down your heating a degree or two or turn up your air-conditioning a degree or two, you will hardly notice the difference but you will be helping to reduce your carbon output
  • Turn lights off that you don’t need – one of my colleagues had the great idea to stick images of polar bears near light switches to remind her and her family to switch them off when they don’t need them
  • Switch off your screen – don’t leave your laptop or TV on standby as it still sucks power
  • Refuse, reduce, reuse then recycle – think about what you buy – take your own bags, reuse lunch boxes and water bottles, avoid individually packaged items
  • Use a bike, your legs or public transport instead of using your car.

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Learn more about IFAW Animal Action Education efforts on our program page.

References:

DamerellChild-orientated environmental education influences adult knowledge and household behavior. Environmental Research Letters, 8, 015016 (7pp)

MandelChildren as Change Agents: The Influence of Integrating Environmental Education into Home Learning Projects on Families and Community Members. Digital Commons. Florida International University, USA.

StuhmckeChildren as Change Agents for Sustainability: An Action Research Case Study in a Kindergarten. Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. 

Experts

Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project