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EDITORIAL: More education needed about climate change

As various levels of government begin to take the threat of climate change and sea level rise more seriously than before, it has to be a little disheartening to learn Nova Scotia ranks so low in climate change education.

A study, conducted in 2015 and published July 18 in PLOS ONE, found this province is behind others in how Canada’s provinces treat climate change in official high school curriculum. Researchers analyzed curricula and text books in secondary schools across the country and followed that up with interviews of the people who wrote the curriculum documents.

It found New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – two of Canada’s provinces facing the highest risk from climate change and rising sea levels – have the least comprehensive official curricula in areas such as climate, the earth is warming, it’s because of us, experts agree, it’s bad and we can fix it.

Sitting at the head of the Bay of Fundy, the Tantramar Marsh between Amherst and Sackville, N.B. is among the most at-risk areas in Canada, if not North America. It wasn’t that long ago that a United Nations study said the marsh and New Orleans are two areas of North America that could be most endangered by sea level rise brought on by climate change.

It’s something that has not gone unnoticed by Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey and his counterpart in Beausejour, Dominic LeBlanc, as well as the mayors of Amherst and Sackville, N.B. and the warden of Cumberland County.

The five came together more than a year to issue a call to the provincial and federal governments to do something now to prepare should a storm surge or rising sea levels cause a breach in the dikes protecting these communities on both sides of the provincial border and threaten the rail line connecting Nova Scotia, and the Port of Halifax, to the rest of North America as well as the Trans-Canada Highway and agricultural land worth millions.

It’s also why members of Amherst Youth Town Council worked with the elected town council to declare a climate emergency in Amherst in June and set a plan in motion to determine how the town is going reduce its carbon footprint and act in more environmentally-responsible way.

As much as we have turned to our elected leadership to lead the charge, more needs to be done to educate today’s young people and future generations about the importance of change. There are educators out there doing wonderful things to make young people more aware of our changing climate and how it’s everyone’s responsibility to do things differently. Now, we need to make it part of the curriculum, so all educators are singing from the same song sheet when it comes to creating a more environmentally conscious community.

At the same time, it’s not too late for the older generation to accept that things aren’t the same as they were two, three or more decades ago. The risk our communities face is real, and we must make change.

Essentially, the time for sticking our heads in the sand and denying things are changing is gone, and the steps we take today to educate ourselves about tomorrow – and what could potentially come – will go a long way toward preparing ourselves for when it does.

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