Nov 20, 2018
This Global Education Week, teacher and writer Meryl Batchelder has penned a letter to a year 5 class. She reflects on how the World is changing and our responsibility to take action now and alter our own behaviour.
Dear Class 5B,
This week is Global Education Week and the theme is ‘reflections’. Reflecting back on 1984 when I was just a couple of years older than you are now my geography teacher, Dr Sidwell, taught me about global warming. Scientists knew that burning fossil fuels released CO2 which would raise temperatures, melting ice caps and causing sea level rise. I was naive. I thought world leaders in government and industry would protect us. They knew the facts. We had time to change.
The world was changing but we didn't change. Humans seem driven to make profit. Industry increased the rate of extraction and burning of fossil fuels. Farmers developed more intensive farming: more cows releasing methane and more forests destroyed. Ecosystems decimated. The United Nations have recently announced that unless we take radical action we now have just 12 years before catastrophic climate collapse. If we are able to adapt that means you will have to face some serious changes.
When you are 21 in 2030 those 12 short years will be up. Your futures are uncertain. Mine was easy. GCSEs, A'levels, University, travel to exotic locations, marriage, kids. Yours will be different. It might include high taxes on meat, limited air travel, expensive energy and a huge reduction in the use of plastics. It won't be much of a consolation but in the UK your future you should be a little more protected from the full impact of climate change than kids your age in parts of India and Africa. However, we are one small planet and these are global issues. We must all change and work together in partnership.
I've always taught the truth. Now I'm not sure I can teach you the real tragedy that could happen to our planet and its global citizens if we don’t change. We are still polluting our air through burning fossil fuels. We are polluting our groundwater through fracking to burn more fossil fuels. We are polluting our oceans with from plastic made from (you guessed it) fossil fuels. I'm not supposed to politicise you but it's difficult when water, energy and environmental protection have become political issues. You are not snowflakes. You are the future but you will need to change.
Although I'm hugely concerned for your mental health and your well being with so much media attention on the troubles ahead there can be a bright future. You are loved. My generation do care. Internationally organisations are making a stand. The UN has written 17 sustainability goals to work towards for 2030: from preventing hunger to providing water; from removing inequalities to protecting our land and oceans; from building sustainable cities to reducing waste. So, in addition to everything the government tells me I have to teach, I will also teach you this template for the future, the road we can travel and that there is always hope.
When you reflect back to your childhood and your education know that I truly believed that you can change the world,