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Home » Climate change is sabotaging education for American students – and it’s only getting worse

Climate change is sabotaging education for American students – and it’s only getting worse

Climate change is sabotaging education for American students – and it’s only getting worse

The wildfires that ripped through California towns torched school buildings and postponed the start of school as students and teachers were left homeless. A deadly deluge in Tennessee flooded schools and delayed classes as rescue teams searched for dozens of people who’d gone missing. Students around the country were dismissed early due to heat waves and Hurricane Ida, while smoke settled over towns and cities as far east as Philadelphia, sending kids inside for recess.

This summer brought not only a resurgence of the coronavirus but also some of the starkest evidence yet of the devastating toll that climate change will take on the planet – and on the lives and learning of children. As humans continue to unleash greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, fires, hurricanes, floods, droughts and heat waves are intensifying, in some cases forcing kids to flee their homes and classrooms and shattering their sense of security.

School buildings and budgets aren’t up to the task of weathering climate disasters and the experience of living through these calamities is adding to the mental health strains on students already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Extreme weather is going to increasingly impact and disrupt learning,” said Laura Schifter, senior fellow at the Aspen Institute where she leads K12 Climate Action, an initiative to foster climate-friendly practices within education. “That is something that school leaders and administrators are going to have to grapple with and start to better plan for.”

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