Climate-change education needed
Work on an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions is one of the most recent projects being undertaken by the Jamaican Government, as part of the United Nations' initiative to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.
The inventory being undertaken by the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change is designed to gather data on how emission is produced by different sectors, including industrial, domestic and agricultural, and will form part of the country's report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) later this year.
The UNFCC is an international environmental treaty that aims to stabilise greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to minimise interference with the climate system.
This empirical data, and the analysis that will follow as part of this project, will, hopefully, provide a better understanding of how to address the challenges Jamaica faces in climate change. We applaud these steps, which can only serve to better manage our natural resources for the enrichment of our country and its citizens.
A large body of scientific studies confirms that climate change is real and mostly results from the build-up of greenhouse gases caused by human activities and that the harm being created by this phenomenon will grow unless there is action to reduce greenhouse gases. Extreme floods, tsunamis, droughts, typhoons and intense hurricanes have wreaked havoc on various economies and devastated many lives.
WILL DRASTICALLY AFFECT FARMING
Take farming, for example. It is predicted that as climate change progresses, these extreme events will drastically affect persons who earn a livelihood from farming, fishing and livestock rearing. It is being suggested that farmers need to know much more about genetic resources, which they will eventually need to counter the effects of climate change.
What does the average Jamaican farmer understand about climate change? Does he know how to create mitigation strategies? For the scores of persons who flock to Jamaican beaches each day, do they even care about the consequences of rising sea levels?
It is a fact that most of the persons talking about the subject are scientists and/or academicians. They tend to conduct discourse using technical jargon that is incomprehensible to most people.
If climate change is to become relevant to the man in the street, education has to be a more visible part of the effort. With all due respect, we cannot depend on the scientific community to do that job. So we see education as a vital component of the climate-change response, and we think the Ministry of Education and all institutions of learning need to actively join the campaign to encourage a change in attitudes and behaviours that impact climate change.
The time has come for the Ministry of Education to integrate climate change into its curricula so that from a young age, students can understand the effects of a changing climate. When it is recognised that today's students will have the job of managing and mitigating climate-change issues in the future, it becomes even more critical that their education begin now.
The future depends on how well every Jamaican understands the need for a pragmatic approach to combat climate change.