Guest post by Ben Swift, Network Engagement Manager at the Alliance for Climate Education
When did you first begin to care about the environment? Do you remember what inspired you?
Today we face our greatest challenge as a world in addressing climate change. However, there’s a hopeful sign: recent polls have shown that young people, those who have the most at stake, are committed to lowering our carbon footprint and working for a fossil fuel-free future. That’s where the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) comes in.
ACE recognizes that young people have the most to lose when it comes to climate change, and the most to gain by fighting it. ACE teaches them how to take control of their future.
First, ACE teaches climate science that puts teenagers at the center of the story with live in-school assemblies that combine airtight science with pop-culture entertainment.
Second, ACE gives every student a chance to take action. For some, it’s a small lifestyle change like recycling or turning off lights. For others, it’s hands-on preparation for a lifetime of leadership.
This program model has proven effective. A study published in the journal Climatic Change showed a 27% increase in understanding on climate science after viewing the assembly. Also, 38% of students became more engaged on the issue of climate change and the number of students who talked to parents or peers about climate change more than doubled.
ACE students have gone on to testify before lawmakers, push their schools to cut carbon and take thousands of individual actions to limit their footprints.
In 2014 alone, ACE students advocated for a New York City climate education mandate, pushed for school districts to cut carbon in Nevada, and partnered with policy-makers to promote climate education.
Since 2009, ACE has brought its program to over 5,000 schools and presented to over 1.9 million students across the country. Now, ACE's new Action Fellowship program will provide an opportunity for high school students and recent ACE graduates to gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be lifelong climate leaders. As ACE Action Fellows, students will take action on local climate solutions and raise their voices for climate action.
While Congress and the media continue to debate the science of climate change, ACE and their student leaders are acting for a safer and cleaner future.