education and climate change

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but this year there will be no marches or protests, no parties or pot-lucks, no groups or gatherings. The silver lining of this deep pause of human activity has given Mother Earth a chance to renew resources and recover in ways never seen in our lifetime.

Air pollution is down in most major cities across the globe, urban dwellers in Los Angeles, Paris, and New Delhi are breathing cleaner air. For the first time in decades, the Himalayas are visible from miles away. As waterways clear, aquatic creatures are returning. Wildlife thrives in the quiet spaces absent of human visitors, like Bears in Yosemite. Sea turtles are experiencing a resurgence, nesting safely on empty beaches, while lions lounge on roads in South Africa and mountain goats wander into quiet Welsh villages.

Girls, Education and the Environmental Movement
Many of you have written about your admiration for Greta Thunberg, youth climate activist and Malala Yousafzai, the girl’s education advocate who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban to emerge as a world leader, and the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, at age 17.
This year, Malala and Greta Thunberg met for the first time. Imagine the impact their combined activism, innovation and leadership might look like 20 years from now!

As Earth Day activities and Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future efforts moved online (see ‪‬), these two young female leaders continue to expand their influence.

The bestselling author of I Am Malala (2013), Malala founded The Malala Fund, with a mission to educate girls worldwide, including programs in refugee camps. The Malala Fund raised over 13 million in 2017, and in 2018, helped secure a $2.9 billion commitment for girls’ education from G7 countries and the World Bank. Now pursuing studies at Oxford, Malala continues to tirelessly expand her efforts for children’s education across the globe.
Her positivity is infectious:
“I believe we will see every girl in school in my lifetime.” — Malala
As demonstrated in this 2017 article in Quartz, investment in girls’ education provides significant community benefits: Education is the Best Investment to Grow World Economies (Links to an external site.).
Here are some key facts:
* If all girls went to school for 12 years, low- and middle-income countries could add $92 billion per year to their economies.
* Educated girls are less likely to marry young or contract HIV — and more likely to have healthy, educated children.
* The Brookings Institution calls secondary schooling for girls the best and most cost-effective investment against climate change.
* When a country gives all its children secondary education, it cuts its risk of war in half
According to Drawdown (Links to an external site.), a book and collaborative project initiated by Paul Hawken, schooling for girls (Links to an external site.) has been spotlit as one of the top ten scalable solutions to global warming outlined in the book.

This video from The Girl Effect (Links to an external site.), visualizes the situation for girls in developing countries and why their education is so crucial.
Unesco estimates over 160 million girls worldwide are not educated due to refugee status, war relocation, poverty and gender preference. What would the world look like if all girls were educated? What impact do you think educating girls will have on climate change?

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