Green Alliance: “Pingu will die”

This article by Kayleigh McGrath at Green Alliance is worth reflecting on. She interviewed 70 year 9 pupils (age 13-14) to find out what they thought about climate change and where they got the information from. “Generally concerned but confused” is a fair summary, and for many the prime source of information was TV and newspapers, not school.

It’s positive that children seem to care about the future and about the planet. But rather worrying that they don’t know what to do with this concern, both in terms of action that will or will not be taken, and in terms of their own psychological health. McGrath draws some of the obvious conclusions about improved education. I wonder whether the problem might be a more fundamental one. We’re teaching kids to make up their own minds from the evidence, but are we giving them the tools to interpret the evidence correctly, or the humility to realise they don’t yet (and in many cases might never) understand all the science adequately? And that the correct conclusion in such circumstances is to be cautious.

I don’t think things necessarily get better with older young people. I’ve certainly spoken to someone who came out of a Geography degree more confused than they started, undoubtedly influenced by a “denier” in the department with a strong personality.

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