too darn hot

I will never complain about the heat. It is nature’s gift to all of us who have ever shovelled snow, skidded through a stop sign on a snow covered road or slipped on an icy walkway. I have never had to shovel heat nor purchase special footwear to protect my feet from freezing because of it while on duty at school.

I have never booked a tropical getaway to the Arctic Circle nor plan to in order to feel the warmth of our nearest star either. There is nothing like sitting by a pool in the shade on a hot day and reading. And by reading, I mean napping. The heat is what keeps my coffee and lunch at optimal temperatures. It is the gift that can’t stop giving.

If you’ve managed to read this far, you know what is coming next.

The heat is all well and good in its place and proportion, but the structures that we occupy and serve our students are not collectively constructed by any means close to supporting those on the inside. It’s too darn hot. 

Call it what you will; climate crisis, climate change, global warming, astronomical juxtaposition, weather shift (I made that one up). etc, there is a problem with most of the buildings where K to 8 students are being taught. So when temperatures rise to near historical highs for several days in a row, everyone feels the heat. Except for those who have deemed it acceptable that these learning conditions exist. 

I have yet to walk into a secondary school that wasn’t climate controlled. I have yet to walk into a board office that wasn’t climate controlled. I have yet to walk into a government building that wasn’t climate controlled. Why would I, that would make it hard on the students and the workers? Yet, there seems to be countless elementary schools where classroom temperatures are regularly above a reasonable 22 degrees Celsius. 

So why does it seem acceptable to decision makers to maintain such a scorching status quo?
This recent round of heat has once again revealed the resilience of students and educators (including principals) in the face of a system that seems more apathetic than unreliable. Why does it feel that we are being let down here?

Adapting to the situation again

In times like these, we have all needed to adapt our days to the weather: indoor recesses, less vigorous activities, more water breaks, lights off and blinds closed for the appearance of a cooler room, fan(s) whirring not so silently across seated students clambering for a brief breeze. And then there is managing students who have already begun their summer vacation a touch earlier than scheduled. It’s not like we can even go outside for a nature walk when the humidex is 40 degrees C and there are threats of severe pop up thunder/lightning storms.

Unlike the cold, the heat is a disruptor in our spaces. Sure there are inclement winter weather days, yet never a hardship due to heat and humidex day. Even if we could cram entire student populations into the few climate controlled spaces found in elementary school buildings, those spaces would heat up due to the sheer numbers alone and the problem begins all over again. 

If that wasn’t enough

I have found that the attention span of the average learner decreases as the temperatures increase. Lessons have been shortened. In the past week, I have incorporated more engineering and collaborative work as well as a longer, more in-depth art project. We have shared lessons and reflections on Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples Day. In between more structured lessons, there have been several Genius Hour projects where students are asked to learn about something new and share it. So far we have learned about CPUs, horticulture, glass blowing, hair types, how to fold paper into boxes, and much more. 

We also took time to discuss our growth as a classroom community and what they would like for me to do better for my students next year. Talk about feeling the heat. 

What I came away from this week of elevated temperatures was that there were some struggles happening because of the heat that required more attention. It meant looking after the physical well being of students in order to maintain their mental well being.

And then there is the time when students are not at school. All of this has me thinking that many of our students may not have any respite from the heat once they leave school. How much is that affecting them and their families? This now becomes a broader social issue that goes far beyond the scope of ensuring that students are afforded the climate controlled comfort they need.

Our Beloved Earth

O Earth!
A marvel of nature’s wonders.
A cradle of life, a treasure so rare,
Teeming with beauty beyond compare.

From verdant forests to deserts so dry,
Mountains majestic that reach the sky,
Rivers that meander in a graceful flow,
Oceans vast, where mysteries lay below.

Home to creatures, both great and small,
From soaring eagles to creatures that crawl,
From buzzing bees to the mighty blue whale,
Each part of a delicate, interconnected tale.

The seasons dance in perfect rhythm,
With nature’s cycles, a thrilling symphony.
A symphony of colours, a sensory delight,
Nature’s artwork a captivating sight.

Spring’s blossoms burst with vibrant hues,
Summer’s warmth brings adventure anew.
Autumn’s leaves paint a fiery scene,
Winter’s frost creates a wonderland as you’ve never seen.

O Earth!

So pure and true,
Threatened by our actions, it’s sadly true.
Pollution, deforestation, and climate change,
A legacy, so harsh, so strange.

Let’s heal the wounds we’ve caused thus far,
Embrace restorative ways and let them grow.
Reduce, reuse, recycle with care,
And show our Earth the love we swear.

For here is our only home in the vast expanse,
A treasure to treasure, a gift so divine,
To live in harmony with nature’s grace,
And ensure a sustainable, thriving place.


Photos by Iyanuoluwa Akinrinola

Scratching the Pollution in Our Oceans

Last year I blogged about a new book – The Global Ocean. This past month we were lucky to have a virtual visit with the author, Rochelle Strauss. Rochelle gave students context on the importance of her book and read passages in order to support students in understanding the need for immediate actions for change. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how the actions of each of us can have a significant impact on the environment, and ultimately our world.  There we a number of students who had questions and based on our visit, one student said that he was inspired to think about his passions and how he might use writing to share that with the world. It was a great visit and our learning didn’t stop there.

During our visit, students learned more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and were eager to find out how that much garbage got into the oceans in the first place. Students researched about causes and also learned about the work being done to clean up the oceans. During our visit, we learned about the Turtle Extruder and one student was particularly interested in how people who fish might use different kinds of nets so as to be more responsible when fishing. 

This term, students are furthering their knowledge of coding and are specifically learning to use Scratch. As part of our action to raise greater awareness, students were tasked with creating a story, PSA, or game in Scratch that they could share with others about what they learned. Some students were excited to remix an existing catch game, changing the sprites and adding additional text to share their learning. Other students were excited to use the program to create stories to inspire others to learn in an interactive way.  Projects were due last week and yet there are still some students who are eagerly wanting to add more information to their projects, so their work is ongoing. 

This entire experience reminded me of the importance of purposeful uses of technology. While we could have spent time learning about the different blocks in Scratch, I think this activity allowed students to learn how to use blocks in an authentic way. If they wanted their sprite to do something specifically, they learned about how they might use specific blocks to achieve the task.  Students learned how to effectively use the blocks in their code because they had a purpose for learning how to use them. They were also able to share how they used the code to perform different tasks with others, allowing them to be “the experts” in the room. 

Last year I found a great picture book that spoke to the urgency of protecting our oceans. Little did I know that a year later, students would have the opportunity to hear from the author, get inspired, and then share their learning with others in a creative way. What a great journey!

World Oceans Day

Did you know that World Oceans Day is June 8th? Neither did I! That is until I read Rochelle Strauss’ new book, The Global Ocean. As a long-time fan of Rochelle’s other books – Tree of Life and One Well – I was overjoyed to hear that she was writing a new book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. In this post, I write about my new learnings as I consider ways to use this book with students. 

The Global Ocean? I Thought There Were 5 Oceans!

Situated in different parts of the world, I always thought of oceans and their wildlife as being separate and unique, without thinking of the interconnectedness of the different bodies of water. Sure, I understood that one body of water flowed into the next but I compartmentalized them thinking of the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the east. Distinct and separate, mainly due to geography and/or climate. Page 7 of the book brought home the reality of a Global Ocean in sharing about the 1992 cargo ship that fell overboard, spilling nearly 28 000 animal bath toys into the ocean. Over the next 20 years, tracking the rubber ducks was an incredible real-time science experiment on how all of the ocean basins are connected. The results and hearing this blew my mind!


For years I’ve shared about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and had conversations with students about actions we can take to ensure that we aren’t contributing additional waste into our waterways. We’ve talked about plastic bags, straws and can holders and how they impact wildlife when they enter oceans. Years ago, we also had lots of conversations around products that contained microplastics that were used as exfoliants. I hadn’t realized that there are plastics found in many common human-made fabrics. What blew my mind when reading about plastics was the fact that “with every load [of laundry], as many as 17 million tiny plastic fibres get washed down the drain” (pg. 21). What?!?! I got out the calculator and further realized the impact of my actions and have made a commitment to change by being cautious about what I purchase. Tips are peppered throughout this incredible book but I have to say that pages 26 to 35 really offer some fantastic ways to bring about tangible change. 

Why Students?

Sections of this book share about the actions of young people who are making a difference. Individuals speaking out. Groups creating projects. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, children really are the most incredible people on the planet. When they learn of injustice or see something that needs to be made right, they are eager and get creative to bring about change. Much like the interconnectedness of the oceans, when students learn about how their individual actions can have a global impact, they get excited and want to do more.  Inherently, children like to know that their actions can change the world and add to the greater good. I love that this book makes learning approachable and I am seeing so many uses for it within the classroom. Students are eager to act. How might we support them in learning and in turn using this eagerness to bring about change in our world?

This is seriously an incredible book that I think every educator should read, for their own learning and also help students in understanding the importance of our actions on the environment. Students are open and ready to make changes that will result in a better world for everyone. Through incredible texts like these, there’s so much learning and inspiration that can happen, that will lead to much-needed action, and ultimately change. June 8th is World Oceans Day. What action will you take?

Climate Change

Climate change is real and our students know it. In a very real way, they are seeing the impacts. Conversations are taking place in classrooms around the impact of our actions on the environment and students are stepping up, trying to effect change. This past weekend was Earth Hour and there were so many posts online of different commitments people were taking in hopes of tackling this very real problem. While there is no simple one act that we can take, if we all do something, we can hopefully slow its progression.

ETFO’s Climate Change Primer defines climate change as, “Extreme changes in weather patterns that are brought on by human activities such as the emission of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane) and land usage in the form of industrial agriculture”. The 2020 resource was developed to help members learn and consider how themes such as environmental racism, colonization and migration intersect with climate change. It’s a great resource for educators to learn and consider diverse perspectives, prior to engaging in conversations around climate change in the classroom. 

One theme from the Climate Change Primer was access to water, which got me thinking about the use of water in agriculture. In the past, I’ve shared infographics like this one on how much water it takes to produce different items. Students are always stunned when they realize just how much water it takes to make some of the everyday items we consume and/or use. Visuals are powerful tools to spark conversations and allow us and students to be better informed. With information, this helps us gain a deeper understanding that the items we have at our disposal, often come with a high cost to the environment. 

Excitingly, this year’s Minecraft Education Edition’s new challenge – Climate Futures: The Farm – allows students to explore the impact of agriculture on climate change. With a Teacher Guide and Powerpoint presentation, students can walk away from the experience having had discussions around the following key questions:

  1. Why is food production important to humanity?
  2. With a growing population in the world, how might agricultural practices impact the climate?
  3. What alternative ways are there to increase food production without further damage to the environment?
  4. Is there a link between deforestation, transport and agriculture? 
  5. What can we do individually, locally, nationally and globally to address the problem of mass farming and food production and its impact on the climate?

While I haven’t tried this activity with students yet this year, I know that last year’s Minecraft challenge around social justice sparked many meaningful conversations within the classroom and saw students making some commitments to action. If you give this year’s challenge a try, please let me know how it goes!

As I have stated before, climate change is real. In what ways might we inspire our students to learn and gain a deeper understanding of the actions they can take to bring about change?

Bumps, bruises, and other lessons from play and weather

It’s been Spring for nearly 2 months and I can say that most of the snowsuits in our school have been taken home. Most of them.

It’s also safe to say that our weather readiness has been scaled back from red alert to a beautiful shade of green as the sunshine and warmth arrives. Once again, we have survived Winter’s worst – albeit still recovering.

With the exception of below seasonal average cold days and relentless rain the above statement is true. Well, partially true because it is still very grey out below the constand clouds overhead. Literary scholars might label this as pathetic fallacy. Regardless of location, the weather plays a significant part in everyone’s lives and learning, especially in school.

As of May 22, 2019 we are still dealing with pavement only recesses due to our grass fields still in a wet and muddy state from recent(incessant) Spring Showers. To add to the fun, indoor recesses. When you add it all up, it has meant students are missing out on some crucial time outside. A teacher shared that he knew there had been too many indoor recesses when a student called him dad.

Has the current trend in weather now become a climate crisis issue or a prolonged meteorological anomaly? As it is, the timing of our seasons appears to have shifted slightly and that it feels like Winter and the others are running a month behind schedule? It might make a great Science project to find out.

This is tough because Spring is traditionally a time where we all burst forth with energy and vigour to shake off the wait/weight of Winter to get outdoors, breathe fresh air, ambulate, and soak up some overdue sunshine. However, it has yet full bloom has yet to happen and it is taking its toll.

Like most schools, the outdoor space limits are unable to accomodate numbers. Recent weather has dictated that students be limited to a smaller space(pavement only) if and when they are allowed to go out for recess. This has necessitated some creative ways to schedule, manage, and safely supervise them during these times – emphasis on safely.

Despite splitting the time between Grades 2 to 5 and 6 to 8, students are still arriving in the office with a surprising amount of injuries. These range from cuts, scrapes, sprains, breaks, and bumps. Our office resembles a triage unit somedays and in order to ensure concussion protocols are followed, a team approach is vital.

Our school does this very well. When I 1st arrived at ACPS in 2017, there was already a strong communication infrastructure in place. Staff were expected to carry walkie-talkies while they were on the yard for supervision and or outside for DPA or instruction. This was new for me, but I quickly came to appreciate the connectivity.

That said, there are still numerous injuries that take place on a daily basis in schools. These can range from jammed fingers from basketball, an errant dodgeball(gator) to the face in PE, a fall from the outdoor play structures, slips/trips on the pavement, or bumps to the head.

An ice pack, a kind word, and a bandage is usually all that is required for most school injuries. However, there are still occasions when more attention is required. This usually happens in two places, the gymnasium and outdoors during unstructered time.

When a child incurs more serious injuries, the office is radioed in advance to alert available members from the 1st Aid team of impending arrival(s). In these instances, gloves are on and ready to avoid contact with blood and other bodily fluids(yes, children come to school with the flu). It can often be very loud as students are in heightened states of distress.

Last week a child received quite a gash on their forehead and there was a lot of blood, their sustained scream could be heard throughout the entire school(I think hearing protection might be required when the gloves go on too). This is where having good calming strategies in place is crucial. With some time and focused breathing, all subsided and we were able to provide First Aid.

Most schools have 4 or 5 staff who are trained in 1st Aid, but I highly recommend getting the training whenever it is offered. The peace of mind in being able to promptly and properly care for an injured student or adult is worth the time and effort. The more hands on deck the better. As I mentioned before, most to all injuries are superficial, thankfully.

The bumps and bruises of play also hold lessons for our students. It is never a bad idea to remind them that they are subjects in and subject to the laws of nature. Whether they know it or not, students naturally and opportunely learn most of the concepts of Physics long before they are ever formally taught:

Gravity, objects in motion, centripedal force, centrifugal force, torque, inertia, balance, rotation, angular momentum, acceleration, deceleration, launch angle, and many others all happen when students are in various states of play. So no wonder, they get hurt sometimes. Students also learn their own limits, how to get up after a fall, how to get mud out of clothes, and about pain.

I’d say some of my best learning came from moments at play where I began to understand my limitations as well as potential. Falling out of a tree or jungle gym Our students are learning this way too when given the time, space, and when weather co-operates. How we frame all of this may help learners appreciate the value of play and the weather and the impact the latter has on the former. Let me break it down.

Here’s what the weather teaches us all:

  1. Be prepared.
  2. Plan for the best, but expect the worst.
  3. Things change without warning.
  4. You often do not get what is advertised in the forecast.
  5. Meteorology is a science that involves observing, gathering, and interpreting massive amounts of data. #ScienceForTheWin
  6. Snow days are fun for students and few others who must still drive to school.
  7. Elementary schools are not, but high schools are air-conditioned.
  8. Always have dry clothes to change into after arrival or dismissal duty during a rain storm.
  9. Snow suits are never meant to be worn after April 30th.
  10. Shh = Sunblock, hats, and hydration when spending time outdoors or see 1. above.

We have all gained first hand life lessons from the above, and am sure there are many more, not mentioned. It means that there is always a lesson, to be found in every situation. That’s what makes teaching so fun and meaningful. Stay safe, active, constantly learning…and dry.

If you have a First Aid or a weather related story, please take time to share in the comments.

It’s Spring! Let’s Talk About the Environment!

  It’s spring! As a classroom teacher, who taught grade 4 for a number of years, it was always my favourite time to teach our unit on habitats and communities. As nature comes back to life after a long winter of hibernation, I’ve always found it to be the best time to be outdoors, observing changes that are happening and having the opportunity to wonder. For this post, I’m writing about the great opportunity that we have as educators to teach about the environment and climate change.

With Earth Hour upon us and Earth Day coming up, there’s so much already being said about our environment and the classroom is a great way to have students consider their role in being great stewards of the earth. In my quest to find resources to share – and there are numerous – I happened upon some great resources on the ETFO website.  I’ve taken some time to dig into 3 that I liked and would absolutely use in my classroom.

World Water Day 2019

Screenshot 2019-03-31 at 5.18.14 PMMarch 22nd, 2019 was World Water Day. The theme for this year was Leaving no one behind which speaks directly to the UN’s Sustainable Goal #6 – Water for all by 2030. The goal was for everyone to be thinking about tackling the water crisis and considering reasons why so many people – mainly marginalized groups – are being left behind.  There I found a link to a great fact sheet that I think would be a great tool to get the conversation going in many classrooms. Used as an informative texts, groups of students could engage in finding out some of the reasons why equitable access to water is something that we all need to be fighting for. With calls to action at the end of the fact sheet, I could see students engaging in activities to bring awareness and even thinking about potential solutions to problems in their local, national and global communities. With print resources and short videos, there are so many different ways in which we can help students understand the disparity that exists and create our own calls to action as we think about our impact.

Green 2 Go Project

Screenshot 2019-03-31 at 5.18.46 PMThis project reminds me of a great investigation that the students in Barbara Robson’s Class. A truly inspiring educator who worked with her students around issues of environmental concern, particularly in the area of recycling.

This project, The collaborative Green 2 Go Project, aims to assist Vancouver in its goal of reducing landfill-bound solid waste by working with city restaurants and the public in dialogue and support in reducing take-out container waste. With engaging infographics created to share powerful research, I can see great connections that can be made in both Math, Science and Language. While the information speaks to what’s happening in Vancouver, it might be nice for students to be able to use some of these ideas to see what’s happening right here in different communities in Ontario. The information on this site has changed some of my views on dining in locations where containers with black plastics are used, I wonder how this information, in the hands of our students, might bring about even more change.

Earth Hour Kit

Screenshot 2019-03-31 at 5.18.24 PMEarth Hour is an international event usually held on the last Saturday of March between 8:30-9:30pm. During this hour, citizens around the world turn off their lights in support of addressing climate change. Schools typically participate on the Friday prior to the official Earth Hour by turning off all non-essential electricity for one hour during the school day. Yesterday was Earth Hour and it’s always so much fun seeing great tweets about how people are working to do their part for the environment. It’s also fantastic to see big cities all around the world, turning off the lights on prominent buildings, showing that their citizens aren’t alone in the fight but that government also has a role to play.  

This Earth Hour Kit has great ideas for activities both in the classroom and school-wide. I like that there are a variety of grades represented in the lessons and it appears as though some have been written by or adapted from the work of educators. I also really like some of the ideas laid out in the letter to parents.

These are just 3 great resources available as you consider working with students around themes of environmental importance. What will you try?

The breaks when the weather puts the brakes on bussing.

It’s another day when many school boards have made the decision to cancel buses because of imminently deteriorating weather conditions. While this morning appeared calm and the roads dry and clear on my commute, a massive weather event approached that was significant enough to set a flurry of board contingency plans into action. With first tweets chirping around 6 am, the news outlets began to spread the word.

As I sit at my desk and share this post, I know that families are scrambling to make arrangements to make sure their children are safe whether at home, in transit, and during the 6.5 hours from first bell to pick-up at school.

Cue the blizzard of retorts on social media. Today is the 5th cancellation of transportation this year and my school board(YRDSB et al) will undoubtedly see the comments pile up like the flakes outside.

Without sharing the Twitter handles here is a sampling pulled from today’s tweets to some GTA school boards:

Beating the winter blahs

Brrrr! If my teeth weren’t chattering so much I’d be able to truly describe how b-b-b-barbarically c-c-c-cold it is outside right n-n-n-now. Not surprisingly, with such brutally un-balmy temps comes some interesting behaviour at school. Perhaps it’s a function of daylight hours(or lack thereof) or our proximity to one another as we cocoon indoors(achoo), or maybe due to the fact that we are all putting on a few pounds(of extra clothing each day). Whatever the reason(s), my demeanour is in direct dispute with my daily sunny disposition due to a lack of warm temperatures and sunlight in my life.

All this to let you know, the winter blahs have arrived. Yes, I am aware that this is what we all expect and get for living in Canada. Times like this make us tougher as a people and that living in colder climates is statistically proven to increase life spans of inhabitants. For what, so we can suffer the cold longer?

Just because we are polite Canadians does not mean we can’t be miserable about the weather(dangerous drives, snow days, bus cancellations) once in a while as an act of national unity. So winter has officially slapped us all in the face with frosty windows and frigid temperatures I thought it would be a good time to talk about how we can overcome this recurring seasonal challenge that affects staff and students alike.

Recent dips in temperatures have necessitated some strategic planning on many schools supervision staff when it comes to bus duty before and after school. Snow pants, heavy duty boots, layers of clothes(including longjohns), toques, parkas, and mittens all called in for active service when the sleet, ice, blizzards, and wind chills come.

There’s a Norwegian saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. Recently, on a particularly cold morning I could feel my eye sockets freezing and I was angry for second guessing the decision not to bring ski goggles to school for bus duty because everything else was comfy and warm.

The cold weather also means that students have not been outside for much needed fresh air. This can compound itself in a number of behaviour issues especially when they are limited to quiet indoor games within the confines of classrooms. On occasion, I have seen the gyms at my old schools opened up for the JK/SK students who are able to work out a few wiggles, but this space can only safely accomodate so many students at once. Often it falls on teachers to up the amount of DPA on days like this to get the heart rates and minds going. Go Noodle is a great way to get everyone moving.

For the older students, staying inside is like a windfall because many in the Junior/Intermediate Divisions are happy to avoid going outside. It’s not so bad if it happens infrequently, however it becomes an issue when students are unable to understand the advantages of a break and some fresh air.

All of this time indoors takes its toll on the mood of a building. It’s as if the cold challenges us to use all of our energy to keep our emotional well-being fires burning. Here are some sure fire ways to keep mind and body stoked while making sure behaviour doesn’t burn out of control;

1. Have students be part of the decision making process well in advance of rough winter days. Let them create the standards and expectations for class behaviour and activities. They are usually more strict than you and more likely to adhere to rules they had a voice in creating.
2. Be patient. When everyone is cold and tired before the day even starts it is best to take things slowly.
3. Increase movement breaks in every class. Consider building active learning into instruction such as milling to music, yoga, counting in French while doing jumping jacks or vertical Math. Worksheets are not an option.
4. Consider Genius Hour or other ways to incorporate technology, inquiry, and presentation skills. I usually schedule this for Mondays so that students have another reason to look forward to coming to school to start the week.
5. Take time to check in and talk with students/staff. A simple smile and hello and conversation goes a long way. Sometimes a little recognition is all it takes.

All of the above have made whole-school life better for me and students when the winter blahs hit. What is working for you? Please take the time to share in the comments section. Thank you for reading. Keep the fires burning.


Importance of Teaching Climate Change

climate change is a hoax

Most teachers agree that teaching climate change is important … but why is climate change really important? Given humans will be facing impending global climate change, why don’t all people care about climate change?

What climate change is and what it is not.

An important thing students need to know is the difference between climate and weather. Climate is seasonal and regional and weather is daily and local. Just because we have a big snow storm does not mean that climate change is not happening. Scientists look at trends over long periods to document regional and worldwide changes in climate.

Another thing students need to know is that climate change does not cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions but earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can cause climate change. In our recent past, earthquakes and volcanoes have lowered the Earth’s temperature on a short term basis.

In 1816, Indonesia’s Mount Tambora exploded in a massive ash and gas cloud, destroying the city of Tambora and killing about 92000 people. The ash and sulphuric acid cloud was so great it blocked the sun and cooled the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere by 3 degrees. That year, the explosion resulted in summer frosts in North American and widespread crop failures as well as outbreaks of diseases and famines in Europe and Britain (Williams, 2016). In 1816, another eruption caused the Earth to cool 2 degrees due to Mount Krakatau’s volcanic eruption.

Further, we need to know that global warming is caused by the release of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Global climate change is the result of this burning of carbon creating a warming greenhouse effect on the Earth’s atmosphere.

What’s up with the importance of climate change?

When humans face serious hazards like terrorism, flu outbreaks, global market crashes, and the result of large exploding volcanoes, we deal with their short term impacts. These impacts do not have the chance of “ravaging the natural world and collapsing civilization” (Gardner, 2018) like the permanent changes that can happen to global climates. Most people understand and accept that global warming is happening, but they are not immediately and directly impacted by the change in climates as these changes come in increments. Global climate change is not an imminent threat … yet.

As humans, we have challenges understanding the long term abstract probability of climate change. We can understand the short term probability of weather as it is felt and directly experienced – like an 80% chance of a large snowfall and very cold weather. We also can understand local warming when our weather changes over time. Climate change is the probability of weather impacting humans (Gardner, 2018).

Humans don’t get long term risks.

We know that smoking causes cancer but people still smoke (Gardener, 2018). We know that consuming alcohol causes health and social problems but we still consume it (Bishop-Stall, 2018). Humans still build houses in flood plains and are surprised when their houses are periodically flooded – as a Red Cross volunteer, people showed me the flood lines in their basements over a 100 year period but were again surprised at the level of flooding in Calgary in 2013.

It is our human psychology that keeps us distant from the abstract impending consequences. Climate change is complex and abstract and we need to trust scientists to help us understand its impact on the long term of human well being.

Humans have stopped global impacts due to human activities.

In the 1980’s, governments met to put policies in place to limit ozone depletion and acid rain by managing the release of ozone depleting and acid rain causing chemicals into our global atmosphere. This is proof that when humans work together, we can affect change.

Real Impacts of Climate Change

As a human, I have been a witness to the impact of climate change on Canadians. As a Red Cross volunteer, I have listened to the stories of people who have dealt with flooding in Burlington, Ontario, in Gooderham, Ontario, and in Calgary, Alberta. I have listened to the stories shared as a result of the life changing impact fires had on people in Fort McMurray.

At home, I have lost 6 trees due to invasive beetles. I have a 3 year old snow blower that has only been used once. As a former geologist, I know that it took millions and millions and millions of years to capture all the carbon we are now releasing into our environment over 300 years up until today – that’s got to have an impact on our global climate.

People cannot feel the threats measured in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide but we can listen to the stories of others who have been directly impacted by the result of global warming. By making and following policies to limit gases that result in global warming and climate change, we can limit the imminent change in our global climate.

Below are some excellent teacher and student resources.

Have a safe and healthy 2019.

Collaboratively Yours,

Dr. Deb Weston, PhD


Climate Kids Canada- Information, Games, Activities, Advocacy

Climate Kids NASA – Big Questions, Weather & Climate, Atmosphere, Using resources wisely, Clean energy.

National Geographic- Climate Change for Kids

Tiki the Penguin’s Guide to Climate Change

Ecoschools Today

Ecoschools Lesson Plans for Teachers


Climate Change (according to a kid) Video (all grades)

Crash Course in Climate Change Video (Junior/Intermediate)

Climate Change | Educational Video for Kids (Primary/Junior)


Bishop-Stall, S. (December 30, 2018) Drink. Hungover. Repeat. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? The Globe and Mail. Downloaded from

Gardner, D. (December 22, 2018). Why don’t we care about climate change. The Globe and Mail. Downloaded from

Williams, J. (June 10, 2016). The epic volcano eruption that led to the “Year Without a Summer”, The Washington Post, Downloaded from