I’ve talked before on this blog about the danger of teaching a Global Studies course as an introduction to global problems. Why would anyone want to study a field that consists of a long-list of overwhelming challenges? For this reason, I’m always careful to provide examples of people making a difference, alternative pathways, and positive information, even when discussing difficult topics. This approach, however, is increasingly infeasible for me when it comes to the question of climate change.
Crawford Kilian is a Canadian author who writes frequently for the left-wing online newspaper, The Tyee, which is located in British Columbia, Canada. Most of his posts address science or policy questions. On August 15, 2018 he had an article, “If we can’t stop hothouse Earth, we’d better learn to live on it.” In the piece, Kilian examined two recent science articles, which both depict a catastrophic future for the planet, in which vast areas of heavily populated land become uninhabitable, while the coasts face astounding degrees of sea level rise. Of course, two articles do not on their own provide a definitive view of the future. But I do think that Kilian’s piece bears reading. the question is, if this information is accurate, how should this change our teaching in the field? How do have students think critically about these issues in our classes, without shutting down emotionally, or retreating into denial? Given the primacy of this issue in our children’s futures, how should this reshape our courses?