Climate Change, Mother Tongue and Literature
Climate change affects human activities and natural environments now and particularly in the future. Our own mother tongue is a tool to express our views on climate change in fresh and creative ways through different channels. Media education, reading, writing, speaking, argumentation and skills of expressing one’s own emotions clearly and effectively play an important role in environmental education, understanding climate change in-depth and building a climate-friendly world.
Media Education as a Tool for Climate Change EducationCritical media literacy is essential in understanding climate change issues because the media is the most important source of information about the topic. Climate change can be seen as a scientific phenomenon but it is also linked to politics and power struggles. The media often presents different technological and social solutions and give insight into climate change through real-life stories. It is important to look at these stories with a critical eye and examine the strategies they use, values they reflect and emotions they attract.
Changing the World through Science Communication
To enable social change, it is crucial that scientific knowledge is brought from academia to public debate and the basis of decision-making. Scientific articles cannot by themselves change the world, but science communication can make a difference.
Science communication, or science popularization, refers to public communication presenting science-related topics and the latest scientific knowledge in a popularized way to the public or defined target group, such as young people. Science communicators are interpreters between scientists and the general public. In addition, science communication may generate support for scientific research, study or decision-making. Science communicators can use lecturing, social media or other mainstream channels.
Challenges of Climate Change Communication can be Overcome
Although climate change has major impacts on natural environments, it is above all a social issue. Humans have caused climate change and therefore taking action together is the only way to solve the problem. Individual consumer choices matter to a certain extent, but decisions on things like energy generation and urban planning are more significant.
Climate change has been a topic not only of scientific texts, news and documentaries, but also of blogs, letters to the editor, movies, advertisements, theatre plays and fiction.
In addition to media literacy and critical reading, fluent writing skills play an important part in climate change communications. Writing may include content for social media, letters to the editor, citizen initiatives, speeches and campaign texts. Also, videos combining texts, moving image and music are crucial in climate communication today.
Presentation and interaction skills are essential. Questions such as: How to express yourself in a meeting or debate in a calm and comprehensive manner? How to give an evocative speech or a lecture? along with others should be asked. One’s own mother tongue in companion with literature classes make for a great opportunity to learn and practice skills necessary in climate change mitigation.
Fiction as a Driver of Change
Language is interaction. It is a key to communicating ideas, values, emotions and involvement. Literature is a powerful tool to change the world. Although the changes are not always straightforward and immediately obvious, great stories of literature have potential to make a difference.
One of the most important environmental science books is the classic, Silent Spring, by American biologist Rachel Carson published in 1962. It is credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Also, the impact of fiction can be substantial. Consider the nature stories we read at a young age and how they can influence our relationship with nature.