Earlier this year I visited an empty school in an affluent part of New Jersey. During Hurricane Ida in the summer of 2021, floodwaters had poured into vents set inches above ground level. The water turned the auditorium into “an aquarium,” in the words of one teacher, and destroyed the heating and cooling systems, along with millions of dollars’ worth of computers and audiovisual equipment. The building was still unusable seven months later, with Covid-weary students having passed yet another year attending only part-time in person, in spaces borrowed from local churches.

The struggles of that one school community are being repeated right now on a massive scale in developing countries like Pakistan, where schools serving more than 2 million children have been destroyed this year by catastrophic flooding.

Schools clearly aren’t ready for the changes to the climate that are already here. And it’s time they got ready, because our schools aren’t just threatened by climate — they’re also a key part of the solution. This month’s Conference of the Parties, or COP 27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the United Nations’ annual “let’s not burn the planet” gathering, has a brand-new focus on education. The goal: making pre-K through higher education all around the world climate-ready — the buildings, yes, but also the curricula, the teachers and, of course, the students.

For the first time, this COP, which runs through Nov. 18, is holding in-person and virtual events at a “Climate Education Hub.” “We need to equip people with the knowledge and attitudes and values to solve the climate crisis, and the best way to do that is through education spaces,” saidMatthew Aruch, the global education director of the organization EarthDay.org, which is hosting the Climate Education Hub. He spoke with me via Zoom from Egypt.

In fact, we can’t achieve the world’s climate goals without education, Aruch said:

“None of these implementations that are being discussed [at COP] are attainable without making investments in providing high-quality education opportunities for learning all throughout the life span.”

Read the full article about climate education by Anya Kamenetz at The Hechinger Report.