(Editor’s note: This article has been updated as of August 25, 2021)
It’s a tough time for all of us as we cope with the challenges of the CoViD-19 pandemic, but it’s even tougher for children.
As the father of a teenage girl who is entering college this year, I’m proud of how she has shown resilience in the face of all these changes. It’s not easy for this batch of students. They are the first batch to experience attending a virtual high school graduation ceremony. Instead of enjoying the summer break, they have been cooped up in their homes. And now they won’t even experience a “normal” college life as they will reach this milestone virtually—at least for this year.
I admit to being incredibly sad and angry that my daughter’s generation has to experience this. But the reality is that even before the CoViD-19 pandemic, their generation has been handed a raw deal. Thanks to the actions—and inaction—of our generation and generations before us, our children and our children’s children are inheriting a broken Earth.
No wonder, like Greta Thunberg, they are angry at being robbed of their future. No wonder they are protesting and taking action to protect the Earth. And no wonder we all need to simultaneously fight the climate crisis and the CoViD-19 pandemic, as Thunberg emphasized.
“If one virus can wipe out the entire economy in a matter of weeks and shut down societies, then that is a proof that our societies are not very resilient. It also shows that once we are in an emergency, we can act and we can change our behavior quickly,” she said in this New Scientist article.
Taking action also means teaching kids from the start that Earth is the only home we have and that we must do everything we can to protect it. Recognizing that this is a tough time for children, the Earth Day Network has developed the first summer edition of its Climate Education Week Toolkit.
“In response to the global pandemic, summer camp and many other typical comforts will be drastically different. We wanted to support educators and parents around the world in supplying high-quality, reliable education materials to keep students engaged, safe and learning over the summer months.
“This toolkit is designed for educators, parents or motivated students who want to explore ways to learn more about the local impacts of climate change and what it means to be an active participant in community civic action. This resource is very flexible to best suit your needs: The activities can be done all together or spread out over time for year-round climate exploration.
“Activities in this toolkit have a week’s worth of activities and lessons for learners ages 8-18 and beyond.”
Among the topics this toolkit tackles are plastic pollution, biodiversity, climate equity and environment justice, air pollution, and food sustainability.
Apart from providing information and suggested activities, the toolkit also includes a reading guide to help children critically analyze these articles.
Earth Day Network is the organization behind Earth Day, which is celebrated every April 22. This year’s Earth Day was even more special, not only because it was the 50th anniversary, but also because Earth Day 2020 went digital in response to the global pandemic.
It will be a tragedy if we don’t learn anything from this global pandemic. CoViD-19 is causing untold suffering and massive economic disruption, but it is also giving us the opportunity to create a better world and use technology for good—if we choose.
Let every day be Earth Day. Our children and our children’s children deserve a better world.
This informative AV from the American Museum of Natural History, titled “Earth Day 2021: Road to Recovery”, shows the silver (or green) lining in this pandemic, and how the drastic changes at this time could be the springboard for genuine long-term effects in Earth’s favor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS0rZlV7_EQ