Information for schools
MESSAGE TO TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS
Environmental degradation and climate change are the biggest challenges mankind has ever faced. Humans have altered the face of the earth more than any other species and the pace with which this change is progressing is threatening the health, well-being, and even the existence of all living beings.
If human practices remain basically the same as they are today, the impacts will have disastrous repercussions for our youth, including the students you are teaching, and future generations. They could face a world where their human rights and integrity of life will be compromised; a world with food and water shortages and mass extinction of species; a world where they will not be able to achieve their full potential as human beings.
In a world that is rapidly becoming overpopulated, we are in an emergency situation. We have a very short period of time to tackle our major environmental problems before many of them become irreversible and out of control. We need to preserve our depleting ecosystems & natural habitats and reduce our emission of greenhouse gases to prevent catastrophic changes in the Earth’s environment and climate.
One of the biggest challenges in tackling these issues is overcoming the lack of education and awareness. Education provides students with the knowledge and tools to make positive contributions to implementing the changes necessary to ensure that they can sustain quality of life for themselves and for other living beings.
While there are many environmental issues in today’s world, the presentations on this website concentrate on the degradations that our oceans are facing. The oceans provide many earth system functions including the regulation of climate and the hydrological cycle, habitat for an immense diversity of organisms, transportation, abundant food and half of our oxygen. However, the oceanic environment is faced with increasing threats to its long-term integrity, including: acidification from global warming, overfishing, and land- and marine-based pollution. Plastic in the oceans now ranks as one of the biggest threats facing our planet.
We need our oceans to survive, and it is vitally important that humans take actions to reverse the damage they are doing to our oceans. Therefore, it is vitally important that our youth learn about this major environmental issue. It is our generation who is responsible for the degradation, so we have the responsibility to at least raise the level of awareness in our students.
FOCUS: The immense problem of plastic in our oceans, with a substantial understanding of the implications of the major human-induced threats to our oceans.
AUDIENCE: Upper grade high school students (preferably at the beginning of the school year to allow time during the school year to potentially work on projects related to these presentations) and first year university students.
DESCRIPTION OF PRESENTATION CONTENT:
The INTRODUCTION presentation provides an understanding of the importance of our oceans.
The STATE OF OUR OCEANS presentations provide an overall understanding of the major perils facing our oceans – marine pollution, overfishing, and climate change.
OUR OCEANS AND THE IMPACTS OF PLASTIC DEBRIS provides an understanding of the effects and magnitude of plastic in our oceans and the impact this plastic debris is having on life in the oceans.
CLASS TIME INVOLVED:
APPROXIMATELY FOUR HOURS OF CLASSROOM TIME IS REQUIRED TO PRESENT AND DISCUSS ALL OF THE PRESENTATIONS.
If the students/class decides to undertake one or more follow-up projects, further time (possibly outside of regular school hours) will be required for project planning, discussion, and implementation.
IF LESS CLASS TIME IS AVAILABLE:
If the aim is to teach students about PLASTIC IN THE OCEANS, even though The State of the Oceans Presentations provide good background information for this, OUR OCEANS AND THE IMPACTS OF PLASTIC DEBRIS can be presented following the INTRODUCTION presentation.
Should the instructor want to focus on the material in THE STATE OF OUR OCEANS presentations, it can also be presented independently, following the INTRODUCTION presentation. As well, any of the individual presentations – MARINE POLLUTION, OVERFISHING, CLIMATE CHANGE – can be utilized independently. (The presentation on climate change covers both ocean and land impacts.)
If interested, the students can undertake a project to reduce the use and improper disposal of plastic and/or increase sustainability in their school, in their community, or even on a broader scale, such as at the local, state, or federal government level.
For ideas on projects that students could undertake to reduce the amount of plastic going into our oceans and to improve the sustainability of our environment, see:
Please note that these project examples are more pertinent to Latin America countries.