We need to know how to act in case of extreme events, interpret what nature is indicating. It’s a question of survival in times of climate crisis!
I don’t know what’s more touching: watching the stories on TV news of those who managed to survive the flood, seeing desperate people looking for their missing family members or feeling how far behind governments are in tackling the climate crisis. It’s a feeling of helplessness, mixed with indignation. Difficult to name. It’s horrible to see so much destruction in the Taquari Valley. It’s complicated to know that all this water will flow into Guaíba and that there are still people who defend the occupation of Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), such as riverbanks.
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To avoid further damage there or in other areas of the state, we need to demand knowledge, awareness of what the geographic location of Rio Grande do Sul means. This requires climate literacy! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard scientists warn that the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina are the ones that will suffer most from the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events due to the worsening climate crisis. And I don’t even know how many times I wrote about it anymore. Click here to check it out. In 2019 and 2020, I organized courses for journalists on the role of the press in the face of the climate crisis. It is very exhausting to follow what Science points out and see how governments and decision makers are going in the opposite direction.
Not long ago, the occurrence of cyclones, devastating storms, was not so common. But this year, how many episodes have already occurred in the State? And if it is becoming commonplace, it is urgent to implement public policies to combat and adapt to climate change. This year’s IPCC report addressed this, see the main considerations here.
Pressure due to lack of control
In recent years, the pressure against the preservation of the environment, through the attack on the environmental protection systems themselves, has become something institutionalized (dismantling of the State Environmental Code, lack of employees for inspection, lack of political interest in environmental control, etc). This only makes the scenario worse given the challenges of the worsening climate crisis. This may have started with the campaign to weaken the Forest Code (pressure from agriculture since the Dilma government). The fact is that what scientists were drawing attention to would happen in a few years is already happening now.
Event to enlighten the community
On Saturday, September 2nd, I was present at an event promoted by the Private Education Teachers Union (Sinpro/RS) about climate change. It is worth checking out what scientists Carlos Nobre and Francisco Aquino have been explaining about the effects of “climate ebullition,” click here.
The questions I asked the researchers, they didn’t answer. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. Because the more we stay on top of the subject, the more we realize how much there is a lack of answers. I asked how the Ministry of Education and universities would be including content about the climate crisis in the curricula of courses such as engineering and architecture. Another question was whether governments seek out researchers to find out about the climate context. Porto Alegre brings together a good number of researchers on the subject, as it is where the UFRGS Polar and Climate Center is located. However, despite this, neither city halls nor the state government take advantage of the opportunity to be close to so much knowledge production.
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Carlos Nobre, one of the most renowned climate scientists in the country, only cited the need to work better on the agenda in high school. And then another problem arises: who is going to train teachers for this?
We can’t just keep complaining and pointing out culprits in the face of facts. People need to turn around, learn how to act in case of extreme events. Hard to imagine the desperation of those who were inside a house where the water was rising, when would they have needed to leave? That’s what happened in Muçum. More than manuals, booklets, SMS warnings, it is necessary to guide the population on how to proceed in cases of extreme events! We need to learn from countries where hurricanes are common. See what the Civil Defense page in RS brings.
Education for the biggest challenge in history
On the Porvir website, there is content on how to approach this thorny topic. Because, often, governments, the media, society, only worry about this after a lot of destruction, deaths, public calamities. The climate crisis affects everything: economy, behavior, health, simply everything.
I really liked the article written by Edson Grandisoli, from January 2021. He defends how a curriculum that encourages interdisciplinarity and the development of skills can transform into a hub for creativity and the construction of new knowledge about changes on the planet.
For Grandisoli, it is essential to structure a curriculum through a horizontal logic (which encourages interdisciplinarity) and a vertical logic (aiming at logical and complex progression). All of this needs to consider four fundamental points:
Information: appreciation of the role of science, of scientists, and of the ways of building this knowledge based on investigation and search for evidence.
Adaptation: understanding the impacts, vulnerabilities and the importance of local and global actions based on disaster risk reduction and life preservation mechanisms.
Mitigation: search for new civilization models that reduce dependence on fossil fuels and establish new life purposes.
Communication: dissemination of innovative practices, expanding the circle of co-responsibility in the search for solutions to climate change.
In other words, we have a long, winding and rocky path ahead of us. We need climate literacy. It is not possible to expect literacy only through schools. A path can start with you. Have you asked the people you hang out with what they know about it? This also needs to reach parliaments, governments. In the middle of the 21st century, being in the hands of environmental illiterates is too hard. It could mean our survival.
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Because we already have research, studies that warn about the risks we run. Do you know Cemaden? By the way, did you know that days before the flood Metsul had warned about the volume of rain in the Taquari valley region? That is, we are facing a civilizing crossroads and people are believing in what they want. Governments too. It is up to those who have discernment to look for reliable information, because if among Homo sapiens there are many “interests”, in the functioning of nature, laws of physics and chemistry are behind them. And no one should discuss whether there is a law of gravity, right?
* Journalist, artivist and participates in collectives and networks where he seeks to articulate actions and disseminate information about how communication relates to sustainability. He has worked in the environmental area since 1993 and provides services to organizations throughout Brazil. Article originally posted in his column on Sler – Social Network for Reading and Writing.
** This is an opinion article. The author’s view does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato.
Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Editing: Katia Marko