How do we get people to care about climate change?
How do we get people to care about climate change? This is a difficult question. But we can answer simpler questions. How do we get people to understand the problem? This is a question of educating. But is that the goal? Does understanding necessitate caring? Not necessarily. What does it mean to care? It has something to do with an emotional connection. A feeling as much of the heart than of the brain, if not more so. So a program committed to caring must educate, but more importantly it must engender an emotional connection.
And so, the idea. An outreach program focused on young students, in the middle school age range (11-13), that asks them to create a piece of art, any piece of creative work, that describes how climate change makes them feel, and then asks the more objective question of how they think climate change will affect them in their neighbourhood. The top five submissions would receive a prize of $50 to spend at a local mall. Middle school students were selected because most students at this age are far from the stresses and demands of citizenship, and so are perhaps most open to caring about climate change and invoking that care in their future personal and political decision making. A creative work because art can foster emotional connection, especially by the person doing the creating. It is one thing to write about the consequences of climate change, but it is wholly another thing to draw a picture which captures the consequences of climate change. And of course, the program must be fun if we want participation, and more often that not, creating art is fun!