In order to be effective eco-advocates, we must know a thing or two about the climate issues we wish to impact. Whether it’s so we can speak about climate topics, learn the best ways to make a difference, or simply develop our why for keeping up the good fight, learning about our environment is an important part of the journey to take further action.
Luckily, we don’t need a PhD to be effective! We just need to spend some time learning and to stay abreast of news and resources to learn more.
Use this guide to explore many resources to learn about our climate. Plus, utilize the take action ideas to start (or continue) your learning journey.
Ways to Learn About the Climate
Take Classes. If you have the option to take a class related to climate change or environmental studies, it’s well worth the time to do so. I took an intro to environmental science class at a community college a few years ago, and it was fascinating. Not to mention I was reminded of key climate science facts and how to determine if a source was a primary source or not (an important thing to know for qualifying news sources!). Even if an official course is out of the question, there are many casual class options available: adult learning schools, online platforms like Udemy and edX, and classes/workshops led by organizations. Search “climate science class” or “environmental science class” to see what comes up to start.
Volunteer. I can’t say enough good things about volunteering, because in addition to making a difference, you’re also helping yourself develop skills and learning a bunch along the way. By volunteering over the years, I’ve become an advocate for my organizations and their causes. Example: when I volunteered for a cleanup group, I learned how to communicate about stormwater pollution and plastic pollution. Find an organization you want to support and either directly volunteer for them or indirectly volunteer by becoming an advocate for them. Then, you’ll help out that organization, bring awareness to the great things they’re doing, and learn a thing or two.
Read/Watch/Listen. We’re living in the information age, for good and for bad. There are seemingly unlimited articles, blogs, books, documentaries, YouTube series, podcasts, and more on climate-related topics, and most are available with the click of the mouse. That’s great for us to learn on the cheap! For books, search your library or bookstore for environmental books. For documentaries, check out the options on your streaming services. For podcasts, search “climate” or search a topic you’d love to learn more about. For articles and blogs, check your favorite organizations (most have a blog they update regularly and share relevant articles in the news on their Facebook Pages) or follow bloggers who contribute to the conversation. I love Feedly to keep all the blogs and news sources I follow in one place.
Resources. Check out the resources below. Many different organizations and other governmental entities have resources to teach us about climate change in fun and interesting ways. Plus, there’s so many resources out there for teachers to bring climate education to their classrooms (and these are great resources for all of us).
Take Action to Learn About Climate
There’s a lot of information and resources available, so it can make it hard to figure out where to start. Here are simple ways to take action now, if you have 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour:
- Follow Grist on your social platform of choice or subscribe to one of their newsletters.
- Search your library catalog and request a book.
- Pick one resource below and check it out.
- Think about a few of the organizations you follow on Facebook and change to “see first” so you’ll always see their posts.
- Look up an organization you love on Instagram (or if you’re not sure who to look up, look up Greenpeace USA or IPCC) and read some of their most recent posts.
- Search your podcast app and listen to a new climate-related podcast.
- Find your local 350 chapter here, browse your local chapter’s website, then sign up for a volunteer committee.
- Look up an organization you love and scan their website for resources.
- Look up eco-courses on Udemy and sign up for one.
- Watch The Story of Stuff.
- Start a documentary on Netflix. A good one: Chasing Coral.
- Look to see if your city has a climate action plan and read it. Search “climate plan” and your city.
- Start an online course.
- Look through more of the resources below and pick one to read in depth.
Resources for All Ages to Learn About Climate
- American Association for the Advancement of Science’s WeatherSchool tool lets you explore how different factors affect weather with real data.
- Climate Generation has climate change curriculum, trainings, and more for kids and adults. This working document is a great resource for learning how we can make the connection between COVID-19 and climate change, plus communicate on this topic.
- Cornell University compiled a bunch of climate change education resources and curriculum for educators.
- Grist prepared Climate 101 resources and activities for kids (and adults!).
- National Center for Science Education has lesson plans on climate change.
- National Education Association has a great list of climate change education resources.
- National Environmental Education Foundation has resources to learn about environmental education.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides climate science education guides and tools for teachers.
- NASA and PBS put a great resource together on Earth’s changing climate.
- SF Environment has resources to learn and take action in San Francisco and beyond.
- SciStarter has citizen science projects anyone can participate in. A great way to learn and get connected to the world around you. They even have some ideas you can do right now.
- Slow Food USA provides free sessions on topics related to the slow food movement. In addition to signing up for live virtual workshops, you can watch the sessions they’ve already hosted on their YouTube channel.
- Story of Stuff Project has documentaries, short films, learning tools, and more.
- Stanford University has many resources to learn more about environmental education topics.
- Sunrise School from Sunrise Movement has online trainings to build skills and connections for the Green New Deal. It’s the perfect way to get involved, especially for teens and young adults.
Resources for Kids to Learn About Climate
- Climate Kids from NASA is a great educational tool for kids (and adults too…I love it).
- Climate Generation focuses much of their work on helping teachers teach about climate, as well as provides some great programs for kids to learn, connect, and take action.
- National Environmental Education Foundation complied an extensive list of at-home lessons, activities, and more for teachers and students.
- Resources to talk to kids about climate change from NOAA.
- Book ideas for teaching kids about climate change from Yale Climate Connections.
- Learn about food waste from the World Wildlife Fund.