Wondering how to teach your kids more about climate change and to inspire them to become youth climate leaders?
The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) can help. The nonprofit group has created a network of young Americans 200,000+ strong and is teaching them about climate science as well as leadership. I caught up with Rebecca Anderson, ACE’s Director of Education, to find out how her group is helping climate-focused parents and young people learn about and advocate for equitable climate solutions.
Rebecca seems like the perfect person for the job. She has a 10-year-old son, himself a budding activist who participated in his school’s climate strike last fall. She’s been the host of ACE’s weekly virtual climate assemblies for the last four weeks, and her son often sits with her and watches along.
She knows the science too. As a grad student, Rebecca studied paleoclimate in the Arctic. “My research project focused on some small ice caps in Baffin Island in northern Canada, most of which are probably gone today. This is when I really realized that the science of climate change was well established and understood, by scientists at least, and that it was the education that was missing. This is what ultimately led me on my pathway to ACE.”
Here’s more from my interview with Rebecca Anderson:
The Alliance for Climate Education uniquely focuses on “young people” aged 13-25. Why them?
We consider this age group … the pivotal time when young people are finding their passions and interests and developing their identities.
How do kids view climate change these days? Are they depressed, concerned, optimistic, angry?
There’s been some great polling lately showing that a majority of young people are worried about climate change but also motivated to take action. One in four young people has taken an action on climate in the last year, which is so heartening!
How have school closings changed how you bring climate education to kids?
ACE has both in-person field programs and digital programs. Due to COVID, we haven’t been able to bring our in-school education program, Our Climate Our Future LIVE, into schools last spring. Instead, we switched to giving “virtual assemblies” on Zoom over the month of May that had several thousand students join. We also engage our youth network via texting. This has been a great way to give youths opportunities to take action from their own homes.
How have people like Greta Thunberg influenced the work of your organization and the people you’re educating?
Greta has done an amazing job drawing the world’s attention to a youth climate movement that has been alive and flourishing for many years. She is such a source of inspiration to so many young people! At the same time, there are so many other youth climate leaders who deserve just as much attention as Greta gets. One of them is ACE’s own Vic Barrett!
Will ACE have any particular focus on the upcoming elections, either in Get Out the Vote efforts or voter registration?
Yes, indeed! Exercising your civic duty to vote and to talk with friends and family about the importance of voting is one of the most important climate actions you can take. ACE has put a form on our website to make it easier for youths to register to vote. We’re working with a coalition of partners this year on a voter engagement campaign. Young people have had enough lies and inaction on climate change. We’ll be teaching them how to create “outreach circles” of their friends and family to talk to them about the importance of voting.
What role can parents play in supporting your work to educate youths about climate change?
NOTE: The Our Climate Our Future videos are fun, short animations parents and kids can watch together or kids can watch on their own. They explain topics like “Fossil Fuels and CO2,” “CO2 and Climate Change,” “The Big Picture,” And “It’s Up to You.”
As the ACE intro video so aptly points out for America’s youth, “We didn’t start it. We don’t want it. But it’s young people who have to make the choice to stop it.”
Image via Alliance for Climate Education.