In April 2016, representatives from around the world came together in Paris to discuss and reach the landmark ratification of The Paris Agreement. At the time, I was not following current events as much as I do today. Nonetheless, I knew that addressing climate change was at a critical turning point. Fight now, or it will be too late for Homo sapiens as we know them. Now, day to day, I see positive news about countries banning gas-powered cars by 2040 and the State of California considering a similar measure. This is all well and good, but sometimes I do think we are already too late.
Nonetheless, I was inspired to do a mock climate change conference with my students. The purpose is to engage students in both the science and dangers of climate change along with the policies involved in mitigating the effects. Hence was born The Climate Change Agreement project (click the link for more info on TeachersPayTeachers).
Students are asked to interact with the actual, legal text of The Paris Agreement. They respond to various questions to understand the purpose of each of the 29 articles written in the agreement. From there, students are assigned a role as a representative of a country. They are required to think from the perspective of this role to understand the current effects of climate change seen within their country. These effects include economic, social, political, and environmental aspects. Following extensive research, a climate change conference is simulated in which all representative parties must unanimously agree on a given number of guidelines and goals. These goals are then written in a formal document by each individual student as the form of assessment.
This has been one of my most achieving moments as a teacher. I felt like I was truly empowering and engaging the kids in an incredibly meaningful and increasingly important discussion about a scientific topic that is crucial for social and economic survival. It engages students who may not be into the political side of current events, but immerse themselves easily in science. It works the other way around, as well. Students who do not normally naturally engage themselves in science can be involved through the political aspects of the project.
Whether you use this project or not, consider these lifestyle changes below that make a positive impact on your global environment.
11/7/2017 UPDATE: Within the last few weeks, both Nicaragua and Syria have pledged to sign The Paris Agreement. This leaves the United States as the lone outlier in the entire world to not be committed to the respective climate change goals.