Climate change implications for education in Marlborough

Updated 9/10/2017.

Climate change is here.

The National Intelligence Council (2017) demonstrated that climate change is a challenging global trend facing humanity. The earth is heating up and so are the ramifications. For, instance, extreme weather conditions will challenge agriculture, bring famine and force populations to migrate in search of food and water.

Why climate change?

My connection to the environment is fundamental to my identity. From an early age, my grandmother taught me how to fish in the estuary of Kāwhia. I want future generations to be able to have a similar experience.

What relevancy does the trend have to my practice?

During a meeting three years ago, a teacher proposed a Sustainability course. The purpose was to produce environmentally aware students with skills to become future decision makers. Yet, because it blended Science and Social Science, two separate silos, it was resisted. Within a year, Sustainability disappeared from the curriculum.

Education is a catalyst towards a collaborative and sustainable future, but this story about a forward-thinking colleague presents a reluctance to adapt. Embracing cross-curricular opportunities to address long-term issues like climate change is important.

In a rush to be seen to be doing 21st century teaching and learning, an authentic concern about climate change has been missed at my school. Our vision features ‘resilience’ and ‘collaboration’. Yet, these values aren’t applied to real-world issues consistently enough to instil in students.

Unless educators prepare students for climate change issues, Marlborough will suffer because the region’s economy is dependent upon the wine industry, which employs 10% of Marlburians and attracts tourism (NZIER, 2015).

What impact will climate change have on Marlborough?

Climate change is predicted to have mixed outcomes in Marlborough.

The Royal Society NZ stated, “Rising sea levels will lead to inundation of low-lying coastal areas, rising water tables and salination of fresh water.”

The MOE (2016) stated that while warmer temperatures in the future could result in longer growing seasons and fewer frosts, which bodes well for our viticulture industry, these opportunities could be challenged by the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather (i.e. drought) and biosecurity threats.

How can the community respond?

To tackle climate change issues in Marlborough, a coordinated effort between schools and the wine industry is required. Waters and Diezmann (2010) found that partnerships between schools and community groups foster innovation in students. Furthermore, Rahm et al. (2003) showed that successful school-community connections enabled students to work with industry experts to solve authentic problems. The wine industry is the economic backbone of Marlborough. Its agricultural nature means climate change will impact the way grapes are farmed in future. By working with schools, the wine industry could benefit from the innovative thinking of students in dealing with issues like rising water tables, while simultaneously providing students with real-world learning contexts that help prepare them for their future.

References

Ministry of the Environment. (2016). Climate change projections for the Marlborough region. Retrieved from http://www.mfe.govt.nz/climate-change/how-climate-change-affects-nz/how-might-climate-change-affect-my-region/marlborough

NZIER. (2015). Economic contribution of the wine sector. Retrieved from http://www.wine-marlborough.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Economic-contribution-of-the-wine-sector-2015.pdf

The Royal Society of New Zealand. (2016). Climate change implications for New Zealand. Retrieved from https://royalsociety.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Climate-change-implications-for-NZ-2016-report-web.pdf

Treverton, G. F. (2017). Global trends: paradox of progress. National Intelligence Council, Washington, United States.

Rahm, J., Miller, H. C., Hartley, L., & Moore, J. C. (2003). The value of an emergent notion of authenticity: Examples from two student/teacher–scientist partnership programs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching40(8), 737-756.

Watters, J. J., & Diezmann, C. M. (2013). Community partnerships for fostering student interest and engagement in STEM. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research14(2), 47.

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