Communicating science to a broad audience is more important than ever as we need collaborative action to address the devastating effects of climate change. During the PEI 2019 UK Conference in Cambridge one session addressed the art of storytelling. Connecting others emotionally through a narrative can serve many purposes. Scientific research becomes accessible to all through storytelling. Stories provide an eyewitness account to what is happening in the Polar Regions and in local communities. Personal storytelling can shift the climate conversation by putting the scientific data into context. When people get out of their heads and into their hearts they start to make a connection and find a common ground for moving forward and concentrating on the solutions phase of dealing with climate change. Josthna Harris from Climate Generation provided our keynote on this topic that was followed up with a working session.
During the working session, participants from different parts of the globe worked in pairs to develop a personal narrative around the discussion questions of:
- What is your experience of climate change?
- How have you been impacted, what observations you noticed?
- How have you been thinking about climate change lately?
- What have you heard recently, what aspect resonates personally?
During the group discussion one of the themes that resonated was that of social justice. Vulnerability to the day-to-day effects of climate change is directly related to socio-economic standing. This shifts slightly when dealing with catastrophic events like extreme storm and weather events, and wildfires. However, a higher social-economic status increases resiliency to such events. Through storytelling we can find common values and work together to develop and implement solutions that benefit everyone.
Younger and future generations will be affected more than we are now and are a big piece of the social justice picture. The day following the conference, Cambridge youth marched through town demanding climate action now. We as educators have a duty to serve these youth in a variety of ways.
- Help students build their systems and critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity skills.
- Foster science, polar, climate, and geographical literacy.
- Grow students’ interpersonal competencies.
- Provide opportunities for students to implement actions that matter to them;
- Improve the dialogue and actions today by connecting to your community both locally and globally.
By understanding your own climate story, you can start your journey to working with others. Your actions count now.
Betsy Wilkening, educator and PEI Ex-Comm Member from Tucson, Arizona, USA. We are the third fastest warming city in the U.S., and I’m committed to acting in my personal and professional life to combat climate change.