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Climate Change Treasure Hunt

Originally appears in the Winter 2010-2011 issue

There is no longer any doubt that the Earth is becoming warmer and that temperatures are likely to increase by between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. The consequences of such a temperature rise will affect millions of people from all parts of the world in a myriad of ways: flooding, droughts, increasing storms, famines, mass migrations, as well as bringing about a huge loss in biodiversity. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the extent of this threat, as, unlike any other environmental problem we have faced before, climate change does not have a single remedy and knows no boundaries. Though it may already be too late to avoid its impacts, as educators we can still attempt to introduce students to many of the ways they can help slow down the process of global warming, and at the same time teach about the causes and possible impacts which are now almost inevitable. Even if the future environmental consequences of our daily lifestyles are ominous, we can at least offer a sense of optimism and some degree of empowerment to our students by making the way they learn about climate change as creative and meaningful as possible.

As an environmental educator, I am continually trying to find creative ways to have students look again and again at the familiar in their lives, each time with a wider and deeper level of ecological awareness. In this way, students view with an ever-growing understanding of their environmental impact, more and more of the objects they use, or are surrounded by.

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Chris Summerville is a global and environmental educator who has spent most of the last twenty-five years learning how to teach and live his concerns in the enigmatic country of Japan. He currently teaches English at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. Learn more about his work at www.environment-ed.com.