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4 in 5 Parents Wish Teachers Taught Climate Change – But Most Teachers Aren’t

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Across the political aisle, a majority of American parents support teaching climate change in schools even though most teachers currently do not.


According to a poll conducted by NPR and non-partisan research company Ipsos, nearly four-in-five Americans — children or not — support teaching climate change in schools, two-thirds of which are Republicans and 9-in-10 Democrats. Despite such support, more than half of teachers say they don't actually cover climate change in their schools — or even talk about it, for that matter.

"You cannot explain the story of the Earth without it, and you cannot talk about most natural sciences without it," Patrick McCormick, a former middle school science teacher in Alaska, told EcoWatch.

The survey is the first to gauge both public and teacher opinion on how climate change should be taught, reports NPR. Conducted between March 21 and 22, the poll asked more than 1,000 adults ranging from adults to millennials from the continental U.S. questions about whether schools should teach about climate change and its impacts on the environment, economy and society or to rate the threat global warming or climate change poses to the U.S.

Almost three-quarters of Americans (71 percent) surveyed believe climate change poses a threat to the country and though most agree that it should be taught in schools, one-third do not think impacts on the environment, economy or society need to be addressed in the classroom.

Even though most states have classroom standards that require at least mentioning human-caused climate change, most teachers aren't doing so and less than half of parents are talking about it with their children.

"I think it's important to talk about [climate change] in the context of certain classes, but the way high school is modeled, it would be tough to teach really effectively — especially in required classes," said McCormick. "Unfortunately, curriculum hasn't really changed in most high school classes. I read the same books in literature that my teachers did, and the kids now get taught that same thing."

A separate poll of 500 teachers found that 86 percent want climate change to be taught in schools, but two-thirds suggest it is out of their subject area. Additionally, teachers are often overworked and underpaid and prioritize other curriculum, such as science, math, basic literacy and financial education, over teaching climate change. Nearly one third of parents say they worry about parental complains and McCormick agrees, adding that he doesn't think most parents in Alaska would be receptive to their kids learning about climate change even though it is critical to understanding how the planet works and what its future might look like.

"In terms of teaching climate change, we could adequately fund education. In terms of society, we have to pass radical legislation to force people to act in the best interests of the planet," said McCormick.

Other obstacles face teachers in their desire to teach climate change; 17 percent of respondents said they don't have the materials or that the subject matter is beyond their scope of expertise, while 4 percent said their school did not allow climate change to be taught.


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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

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"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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