Journey to the Sinking Lands

A witness to the world's first evacuation of an entire people due to climate change

School day blues

clearwell_school_photo-small2Off to Clearwell primary school this morning to do an assembly to the kids about this journey.

Goddamit, why am I nervous about an audience of four-year-olds? Dunno, but I am…

Postscript: Of course there was no reason to be nervous. It was great – maybe I went on a bit and maybe I underestimated just how much the kids would understand, but really good fun. Seeing the little ones scrabbling for the atlas and the globe afterwards to find the Carteret Islands was really nice. As was the girl who told me that she had got her Global Warming badge at Cubs. I didn’t even know they had a badge for this.

The presentation was a mix of Powerpoint, Google Maps (set up in advance so you could click and see a photo of their school and another of the islands), and pre-salted apple pieces that I gave to volunteers to show them what happened when your crops get flooded by salt water. Below are a few of the slides used. I’ve had a chat with one of the teachers about what I could do better and am going in to another school on Monday (in fact, my old primary school) to give it another go.

screenshot-11The basic idea was to use a few simple but striking images to spark a bit of question-and-answer with the kids. I thought I might have difficulty getting them to speak up, but I was wrong. A forest of hands went up each time I asked a question. And often when I didn’t.


screenshot-2This Google Map, showing a photo of their school, went down very well. I hoped using it would make the idea of the journey, the islands and climate change seem less abstract to the kids – that there was a direct connection to their lives too.


screenshot-3Similarly this photo of a smoky power station (beneath the words ‘Why is the sea rising?’) is actually the power station just down from the school I’m talking at on Monday. I also used photos of local floods in places the kids would recognise, to encourage some empathy with those suffering from floods elsewhere. Most of the kids had a flood story it turned out – one remembered delivering bottled water to neighbours who had been cut off a few years ago.  

screenshot-4Finally, I tried to end it on a positive note – that there is something you can do. And I’ll take any excuse to get out this picture of Kitchener.


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