Here’s the full text of the letter sent by Teachers for Climate Truth (part of XR) to the DfE:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told us last October that we have 12 years to radically change every aspect of society if we are to avoid disaster. Highly regarded scientists, like Peter Wadhams, have highlighted the political restrictedness of the IPCC and the glaring omissions and over-simplifications of its report. We must accept the likelihood that 12 years is a vastly over- generous window of opportunity. We have killed 60% of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish since 1970. Insect populations are collapsing, coral reefs are bleached and dead, natural disasters are worsening, crops are failing, forests are being felled or burning and forced migration is beginning.
If we keep this information out of the public domain – out of schools, for example – perhaps we might avoid some awkward conversations in the years to come. We could say we never knew. After all, who wants to tell a child that, unless we make unprecedented changes to how we live, we are heading for societal collapse, famine, war and the increasing likelihood of human extinction? Telling the truth exposes us to the responsibility of facing it ourselves. Which is exactly why we must tell our children: not simply to inform them (many are far better informed than older generations) but also so that we can be held to account for our own actions. We must follow the example of the brave young people who will, on coming Fridays, be striking from school to demand truth and action.
When we have had the evidence for decades, why does it amount to little more than a footnote in our national curriculum – a vague and marginal concern? Geography lessons cover the basic theory but in the national curriculum for Science the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is described as ‘uncertain’. The issue could be mentioned in as few as four Science lessons in the entire course of secondary education. In academies there may be no mention at all. If not in schools, where should the public learn about where our way of life is taking us? Power knows the value of ignorance. Our Government is increasing subsidies for fossil fuels while presiding over an educational system that effectively denies the consequences of such a policy.
Imagine if we had the courage to make our schools places where students learned how to repair the damage we have caused. If we have the courage to act now they could be the ones to revive our dying soil, regenerate biodiversity and rebuild the ecosystems that sustain us. But we must act now. We must teach students more than just how to pass tests. We must give them the opportunity to discover what is wonderful and life-giving. And we must urgently equip them with the skills, insight and courage to face what is coming. To do otherwise is an act of criminal negligence.
The evidence tells us that any imagined future for which we are currently preparing our young people is a dream that will never be realised. The lives of every one of our children will be defined by the effects of climate and ecological breakdown. We therefore make the following demands:
1. The ecological and climate crisis is immediately announced as an educational priority.2. Well-founded and evidence-based training is provided for teachers to convey this message,including the scientific and economic causes of the crisis, what governments and society need todo about it and also on how to support young people when taking on this information. Thisshould be implemented by no later than September 2019.3. An immediate overhaul of the current curriculum, in the light of scientific evidence and withoutpolitical interference, aimed at preparing children for the realities of their future on this planet.
Please – because we love our children so much – let’s teach them the truth.
We await your response with due impatience and loving rage: firstname.lastname@example.org”