Ecocommunication for citizens
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Elena González-Burgos (Faculty of Pharmacy, Complutense University of Madrid)
Francisco J. García Tartera (Faculty of Education, Complutense University of Madrid)
Climate change is one of the most challenging current issues around the world. Mediterranean countries share a greater exposure to the negative consequences of climate change. Thus, in the Mediterranean area, there will be more significant and lasting heat waves, sea level will rise to produce floods in cities and salinizing soils destined for agriculture, many ecosystems will be threatened and the number of respiratory, cardiovascular, and deaths related to climate change will increase (Cramer et al., 2018).
Universities must play a key role in the fight against climate change, creating and disseminating knowledge and training students and teaching staff for social and professional performance. Today, universities around the world offer knowledge about climate change through a scientific-technical, economic, or philosophical approach. However, in higher education, there is a lack of a multidisciplinary approach to address the problem of climate change (Bellido, 2017; Roldán et al., 2017). That is, in view of the insufficient awareness of citizens in general, and in particular of university students (Acebal, 2010), it is necessary and imperative to standardize in higher education an objective training in environmental matters since the degradation of the planet advances at an inexorable pace (BBC, 2019).
The dissemination of information in universities on global warming, the environment, the consequences of climate change..., or the organization of seminars, training courses, workshops on these subjects, have not managed to raise awareness among students (read "the population") sufficiently, although they have contributed greatly to raising awareness of a vital issue and survival of life on the planet in the medium term (IPBES, 2019), it is not enough since dimension the problem is everyone's business. Either there is the unity of action on all fronts – and urgently – or the living conditions on the planet will worsen badly for everyone.
Just as in any university career we find a common core regarding the contents included in it and that are taught basically identical in any university in the world, although another issue is how they are taught, in environmental matters it would be possible to proceed in the same way and standardize some consensual contents that would be an indisputable part of the basic training of any university career as one more subject, of which it would be necessary to demonstrate their mastery and understanding in equal importance to that of any other of the specific ones of the career. In addition, the environmental issue covers such an extraordinarily broad field that it can be specialized (Sosa and Rivero, 2018) in parallel with the main objective of any university discipline, since from any branch of Engineering to Philosophy, through Journalism, Psychology, Philology or any other higher education, the environment can focus as a specific subject of that discipline and undertake particular concepts and contents that are from the exclusive field of it.
The objective of CTwoSEAS (Climate Change: Science, Ethics and Society) is to develop a transversal subject in higher education to strengthen European policies against climate change by providing a scientific, ethical-social, philosophical, and economic global vision.
Participating countries: CTwoSEAS is made up of a total of 5 countries in the Mediterranean area. The Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), which leads this team, and the partners Polytechnic Institute of Braganza (Portugal), the Institute of Industrial and Business Education and Training (Greece), the University of Akdeniz (Turkey), and the University of Basilicata (Italy).
Intellectual products: Four intellectual products will be developed. IO1: Training course and methodological guide on climate change. IO2: Didactic guide aimed at teachers to introduce the transversal subject in their universities. IO3: Design and implementation of an e-learning platform to connect the entire university community concerned about climate change. IO4: web platform.
The CTwoSEAS (Climate Change: Science, Ethics and Society) project is in its infancy. We are currently immersed in the development of the project logo and in the elaboration of the methodological guide.
The methodological guide has been structured in five sections: masterclasses, case studies, Flipped learning, tutorials and study and group, work.
The masterclasses will be used to present basic contents on climate change, explain the relationship between phenomena and the cause-effect relationship in all its dimensions, demonstrate hypotheses and argumentative and denialist theories of climate change, and, finally, present experiments and practical evidence that illustrate the theoretical explanation.
The case studies aim to delve into various aspects of climate change through exchanges of experience, use of critical thinking, and the implementation of communicative processes.
The Flipped learning methodology aims, through dynamic and interactive learning, to make students protagonists of their own learning on the problem of climate change.
Tutorials are a fundamental educational resource in any subject to identify and help solve problems in learning and, promote the autonomous study and the responsibility of the student towards their own work and favor the deepening in the subject.
Finally, individual work is as important as teamwork to fight against climate change. Therefore, the methodological guide includes the study and group work focused both from the collaborative and cooperative point of view.
5. Discussion and conclusions
It's not all said about climate change. Moreover, there is a mixture of scientific data with others from the most elementary populism that do nothing but distort reality and the true causes of the deterioration process of this planet called Earth (López-Rabadán and Doménech-Fabregat, 2016).
To create true citizens aware of the critical moment we have reached in relation to the conservation of the environment, we must disseminate truthful information and distribute it in a credible format (Stern, 2007). For many people, simple but logical reasoning is enough. For example, if we talked about greenhouse gases and pointed them out as the real culprits of everything (something that circulates by word of mouth frequently), we would be distorting reality and creating bad consciences that, at some point, will discover that they have been manipulated and may become, as a result, passive citizens and indifferent to what is already a tragedy for the planet (Andrade, 2008).
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) have always been there, at least the main cause of the effect, which is CO2, that is, carbon dioxide. Moreover, thanks to these GHGs the Earth maintains a temperature that allows life as we know it. If they were not there, the temperature would drop to 20º below zero or much more. The problem is that in the last 200 years GHGs have more than doubled in the atmosphere, and this increase has been caused almost exclusively by man: power generation (coal), transport (fossil fuel), etc. This increase in GHGs has also resulted in an increase in ambient temperature worldwide, since the increase in GHGs makes it much more difficult for the sun's radiation reflected on earth to escape from the atmosphere and, by remaining inside it, they raise the temperature inside it, that is, they cause global warming (Ballesteros and Aristizábal, 2007).
Therefore, the fight against climate change is largely against the emission ofCO2. However, it is not the only one that we must maintain, although it is the one that has the greatest importance in the final result. We should also highlight the overpopulation, since the planet is already approaching the 7,700 million human beings who eat every day and who, therefore, must get or generate their food by the method they consider appropriate. The generation of food usually involves the generation of CO2, since it is usual to heat the food or cook it using some system that generates CO2 directly or indirectly.
The production of food for so many people (regardless of the existing inequalities) constitutes a source ofCO2 generation that is increasing since the population continues to grow inexorably. The same happens with other living beings such as domestic animals that humanity uses for food, such as pigs and cows. The former produces highly polluting debris that is not suitable as fertilizer. They are a serious problem. The latter is suitable for fertilization, but their suckers are considered worrying in relation to the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere (and no, it is not a joke, but something so serious that scientists are already guiding on changes in the human diet that do not include the consumption of beef or even no meat) (González, Padrino, Ramírez and García, 2005).
In short, we must talk about the carbon footprint that each person leaves. Not by going by public transport, we generate a lower carbon footprint. There are multiple variables that we have to take into account so that, throughout the day, we can compare and see that our carbon footprint is within the limits recommended by certain international organizations that already work on these issues.
At this point, it is easily deduced that talking about climate change is much more than talking about CO2. Zubero (2015) relates world overpopulation and consumption, but we have just seen that other concepts such as meat consumption are other variables that, without remedy, will lead humanity to the field of ethics to elucidate what to do in the face of the drastic changes that we are about to see, and what decisions are appropriate in each case so that they are morally assumable by the majority of citizens (Castilla, 2015).
Education is the main weapon to fight against climate change because it is people who must become aware of the delicate situation in which we find ourselves and what each one is contributing to global warming with its carbon footprint. Only education, based on clear, deep, real, and verifiable information, can change the mentality of the human being, the main protagonist of the generation of greenhouse gases that cause the increase in temperature on the planet (Guevara, 2017).
Penalties, prohibitions, controls... they do not solve the problem, except in a timely and circumstantial manner. However, education means awareness and knowledge of a common problem that affects us all and to which we must all contribute so that our world remains our home.
At present, no one should finish university studies without having acquired a minimum competence in everything that concerns climate change and how to act to restore our planet to balance. And it should be the world standard because we all depend on everyone. If someone does not comply with their part, we will all be affected, so that education is the only guarantee that people acquire the necessary knowledge and the essential awareness to act in the same direction as any other citizen of the Earth.
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