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February 17, 2022

Activities For Teaching Young People About Global Warming & What We Can Do About It

Post telling you everything you already know about global warming and why it is urgent to act on it, you will find here a few super cool and accessible activities to help you share this knowledge with the next generation.

This is where the change will come from. Any social change starts from education… And the best way to learn is through fun and play.

Read on.

With increasingly toxic air, shorter winters, the Gulf Stream slowing (if it reverses, we are…), water-giving glaciers disappearing for billions, crop failures…It’s time we act, urgently, now. Our habits will be the death of us, and our children.

Climate change isn’t someone else’s problem. It’s ours. We are the change, or not. Everything we’ve ever cared about is on the line in this single wrinkle in time.

Scientists say that if we won’t make drastic changes and become carbon negative by 2030 we may reach a state where global warming and all of its disastrous environmental effects will become irreversible.

It is amazing how we all, nations and individuals, took part in a global action to stop the COVID pandemic while doing nearly nothing about the environmental change happening, changes that are becoming irreversible unless we take immediate action, and that are detrimental to humans and other species on earth.

As humans, every aspect of our life is reliant on the natural environment. This includes the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the clothes we wear and the products that are made and sold to create jobs and drive the economy.

A healthy and stable climate is our most precious natural resource.

Just a few years ago, governments such as Australia and the USA claimed that they simply can’t stop the economy for anything, including the environment. But with COVID, we have seen now that they are more than able to do just that and pour a lot of money into supporting those who struggle as a result.

Global warming stresses ecosystems through temperature rises, water shortages, increased fire threats, drought, weed and pest invasions, intense storm damage and salt invasion, just to name a few. One in six species is at risk of extinction because of climate change.

Why is it still allowed to produce plastic? We all know how harmful it is for the earth and all animals. We can make the same products from plant starch.

Why are we still allowing for fossil fuels to be used? The technology to efficiently and cleanly replace this is already here.

Why are we still growing billions of methane-producing animals a year for human consumption? We know that it is wrong on the moral and environmental levels and alternatives that don’t scream are abundant.

We know of so many beautiful ways to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere (such as planting trees, propagating seaweed in the oceans, and even some clean machines), but governments are still putting their money to fund wars. Why? Why? Why?

I don’t know why… Maybe we are all too oblivious. Maybe we are all sleepwalking being led like sheep to the slaughter.

Oh! We need to wake up! We need to wake up our brothers and sisters, our communities, our governments, the united nations…

Some recent polls show that over 50% of young people believe that there is nothing they can do to improve the state of the environment, the one our generation has created.

So yes… We need to wake up the next generation too!

We need to join hands and hearts and voices and speak up together for this urgent change that is desperately (really) needed.

Are you with me?

Now let’s take this serious topic and see how we can share it with young people through experiential learning, yoga and mindfulness:

Connecting to the Environment

Walk around the room as if for the first time and get familiar with your new environment.

Look at things up high, look at things down low. Look at big things and look at small things. Look at obvious things, and look at things that you need to look hard to actually find and see…

Check all of the hazards, the switches, the doors…

See things for the first time, with excitement and childlike wonder. Wow!

Be excited about things like a child; everything is made out of sunshine (think about photosynthesis)! Wow!

Now feel your environment with your hands… Take some time to do this. Maybe try the back of your hand so that you can feel it differently from how you usually do and get a fresh perspective here…

Now feel your surroundings with your feet… Now try to feel it all with your cheek… Try with other body parts… Try listening to it by putting your ear against different parts of your environment!

5 Minutes… And continue straight to the Meeting Game.

Meeting Game

We are a part of the environment too, we all are.

Did you know that humans are animals, just like any other mammal, bird, reptile or fish?

We all feel, and we are all impacted by our environment and the changes that are happening in it.

Put some music on and guide your family/group/class to:

  • First just quietly walk around the room
  • Be Aware of your steps
  • Explore the environment we are in
  • Now be aware of the other people in the room
  • Meet them with your eyes
  • Meet them with your Feet/Elbows/ Shoulders/Ears/Bums

5 Minutes

What is Global Warming?

Today’s class is about the environment and about global warming.

Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are elements that occur naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, since the Industrial Revolution in early 1800, human activity has caused more and more greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere as pollution.

All this extra human-made pollution creates a greenhouse effect around the Earth, which traps heat from the sun and warms the planet’s surface and oceans – This is known as global warming. This global warming causes changes to the Earth’s climate patterns, which has big impacts on our climate, oceans and ecosystems.

In 2015, the Earth’s temperature had already warmed by 1°C compared to pre-industrial levels. If global warming continues at its current rate, the world will be on track to warm between at least 3°C and 4°C by the end of the century, with devastating impacts on the people and places we love.

The sun gives us heat and energy. The atmosphere (made of gasses) helps us to keep that heat in. Without it, our planet would be too cold.

But like anything else, when there is too much of something it becomes bad. In this case, to much of the heat-trapping gasses, will cause the planet to overheat risking the very existence of humans and all other animals.

Shield & The Sun – I like introducing this game gradually because it makes it clearer and easier to play when we finally get to the full version of it.

  1. Secretly choose one person in the room, don’t change it. Walking around the room, be as far from that person as you can. Follow someone without them knowing… After a minute, be as close to that person as you possibly can.
  2. Secretly choose 2 people. Walking around the room, try and keep both of them as far as you can from you… After a few minutes, try to stay as close as you can to both of them.
  3. And now the full Sun & Shield: Each child secretly chooses two others, one to be the shield and the other the sun. Once the game starts and everyone starts to move around the space, the goal is to keep the shield between yourself and the sun at all times. The sun is too bright, so you always need to keep the shield person between you and the sun person.

The game ends when everyone comes to a stop or when time is up.

It is quite amazing to see everyone moving around the room trying to find the right place to strike the perfect balance for the game to come to a pause. It always reminds me of stars and planets all magically moving around in the universe!

5 Minutes

Environmental This or That

This or That is a game that asks players to choose between two related options. The point of the exercise is to share preferences and find common ground. Plus, sometimes a player must make a difficult decision.

Here are some environmental This or That questions:

  • Rain or Sun?
  • Walk or Bike?
  • Land or Sea?
  • Mountain or Ocean?
  • Fields or Woods?
  • Winter or Summer?
  • Spring or Fall?
  • Birds or Reptiles?
  • Fruits or Vegetables?
  • Dolphins or Sharks?
  • Penguins or Polar Bears?
  • Lions or Tigers?
  • Panda Bear or Koala Bear?
  • Garden or Meadow?
  • Recycle or Compost?
  • Rainforest or Jungle?
  • Local or Fair Trade?
  • Solar Power or Electric?
  • Trees or Flowers?
  • Hiking or Cloud Gazing?
  • Tofu or lab-made meat?

Ask the group each of these questions and let them all reply in a Pop-Corn fashion, speaking freely their sort responses into the circle.

5 Minutes

What are greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases are gases in Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. The main greenhouse gases are:

  • Water vapour
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Ozone
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Chlorofluorocarbons

Greenhouse gases are gases that can trap heat. They get their name from greenhouses. A greenhouse is full of windows that let in sunlight. That sunlight creates warmth. The big trick of a greenhouse is that it doesn’t let that warmth escape.

That’s exactly how greenhouse gases act. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. Overall, greenhouse gases are a good thing. Without them, our planet would be too cold, and life as we know it would not exist. But there can be too much of a good thing. Scientists are worried that human activities are adding too much of these gases to the atmosphere.

GreenHouse Effect – Trust Circle – Standing up, gathering in circles of 6-10 people. One person stands in the middle with arms crossed over their chest. The people in the circle take one leg back into a Warrior 1 Pose and have their hands ready to catch the person in the middle. You want the circle to be pretty tight to start with.

With children under the age of 10, I would recommend having an adult with each circle ready to catch the person in the middle at any time with their long grown-up arms.

Now, the person in the middle closes their eyes and falls while the circle catches them and even pushes them around – It is even more fun if everyone in the circle makes tribal and jungle animal noises while at it!

After a minute or so, help the person in the middle find their centre and switch roles.

5 Minutes

The World Is Upside Down

In December 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted by 195 countries to prevent the worst impacts of global warming. The long-term goal is to keep global warming well below 2°C by the end of the century and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

As part of the Paris Agreement, each country needs to implement measures to meet these goals:

  • Net zero carbon pollution before 2050.

This means that the amount of greenhouse gas pollution emitted is equal to or less than the amount absorbed, captured or offset.

  • 100% renewable energy before 2050, including 100% renewable electricity before 2035.

This means moving away from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to generate energy, and instead of increasing the use of clean renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

We are 7 years after those agreements were made, with no substantial change made yet by either individuals or governments.

So yes, the world is a bit upside down… Too often, we care about the wrong things… People are putting comfort before kindness and consideration, companies are putting profit before social responsibility and governments are putting wars and protecting oil interests before peace and conservation.

NOW is the time to focus on the most urgent biome for our survival – The world! Without it none of us would exist.

This is exactly why we need to stand on our heads! It helps us see things a bit straighter and reorganize our priorities!!!

The Rainbow Yoga Protective Circle – In groups of three, two students are the Mini Teachers and they create a wall by holding each other wrists while the third student comes up to a Headstand. The Mini Teachers can assist in going up by holding the third student’s ankles. Once they are up, the Mini Teachers close the protective circle. This creates a safe space for the third student to fall in until they find their own balance.

When we hold our students in a balancing pose, they will never find their own balance. By allowing them the space to explore their balance they will find a way to do it much faster.

What Causes Global Warming & What Can We Do About It?

In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.

David Suzuki

Global warming is an aspect of climate change, referring to the long-term rise of the planet’s temperatures. It is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human activities such as burning fossil fuels, and farming.

1. Burning fossil fuels – When we burn fossil fuels like coal, and gas to create electricity or power our cars, we release CO2 pollution into the atmosphere.

Solutions: Reducing the amount of electricity generated from coal and gas and increasing the amount of electricity from clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind. And shifting as much as possible to transportation that uses less fossil fuels.

Environmental Machines Yoga Creation – The players place themselves one after the other in a moving yoga pose. The whole pose can move back and forth, just one part of the body can move, or you can move between two different poses, but the same movement continues unchanged.

This requires a group effort, so make your movements compliment your friend’s movements to create a Yoga Machine that works better.

2. Deforestation & Tree-Clearing Plants and trees play an important role in regulating the climate because they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen back into it. Forests and bushland act as carbon sinks and are a valuable means of keeping global warming to 1.5°C or under.But humans clear vast areas of vegetation around the world for farming, urban and infrastructure development or to sell tree products such as timber and palm oil. When vegetation is removed or burnt, the stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming.

Up to one-fifth of global greenhouse gas pollution comes from deforestation and forest degradation.

Cutting Trees & Rolling On Logs –  Everyone in the circle balances in Tree Pose. You go around “chopping down” all of the trees making a fuss of cutting their leg off 🙂

So all the trees fell down on the ground… Lie down on the floor, hands alongside your body or straight over your head, and roll in one direction. Try not to hit other logs… hmm… or maybe try to hit other logs, it’s much more fun!

Now a few (at least three) children or parents lie down like logs close to each other. One child lies on top of them and lets herself be moved forward as the logs roll in the same direction.

Solutions: Plant Tees – It Solves Everything!

  • The trees hold the water in the soil with their roots.
  • The forest keeps the surrounding area cool with its shade.
  • The forest provides homes for many animals.
  • Forests clean and enrich the air we breathe. Their leaves and needles take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen through the tree’s bark.

In pairs, one partner is a seed in Child Pose and the other partner is the gardener. Using their imagination, the Gardener waters the Seed and care for the soil. The Seed Person stays relaxed now as the Gardner sculpt them gradually to sprout and grow first into a small plant and then gradually into a tree. The Seed does not help, they simply stay in the pose that the Gardner moves them into. The Gardners can continue to help stabilize the trees by pressing their foot into the earth (this helps in finding more stability in the Tree Pose). Switch roles!

Shop sustainably – Eco Yoga Shopping Game – Standing in the circle, the first participant says “I went to the shop and I bought ______ (fill in the blank with a sustainable choice)” and makes a yoga pose for it.

The second participant also says “I went to the shop and I bought…” first saying and acting in a yoga pose what the person before them did and then adding their own.

The game continues as each participant in their turn repeats all the items and poses that were said before and adds their own.

It’s a memory game where you get to do lots of yoga along the way!

If it is a small group, you can do a few rounds, adding more and more items and poses to your list.

You can also play where everyone repeats all of the items and poses together. Less memory is needed here by each individual and everyone gets to do more poses. Yay!

Call on our leaders to introduce stronger laws to stop excessive tree-clearing – Yoga Cheerleading – Using real pom-poms or imaginary ones, the teacher leads the players in a cheer to that word asking them to mimic you as you jump and cheer through many yoga poses – Choose words advocating for the environment of course!

For Example:

  • Give me a “Y”! – “Y”! (And players all do “Y” with their bodies)
  • Give me an “O”! – “O”!
  • Give me a “G”! – “G”!
  • Give me an “A”! – “A”!
  • What did we spell? – “YOGA” (participants line up to spell it with their bodies)
  • I can’t hear you.  What did we get? – “YOGA”

3. Agriculture & Farming – Animals, livestock like sheep and cattle, produce methane, a greenhouse gas. When livestock graze at a large scale the amount of methane produced is a big contributor to global warming.

Methane is a much more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2 as it traps heat much more efficiently.

Some that farmers use also release nitrous oxide, which is another greenhouse gas.

Most of the forests cut, including the Amazon, are cleared for grazing farm animals.

Solutions: Go Vegan!

Yoga Fruit Salad – Let all the players stand in the middle of the classroom. When the music stops, the teacher will announce the names of either a fruit or a vegetable.

When the teacher says any fruit name everybody has to run towards the left side of the room or the screen and when they say the name of any vegetable everybody has to run towards the right side of the room or the screen.

The one who runs towards the wrong side will need to freeze in their favourite fruit Pose. We will play until everyone is frozen in this pose in the middle of the classroom or the middle of their screens.

It gets confusing because avocados and tomatoes are actually fruit…

About 15-20 Minutes for this whole section

Use Your Voice & Social Media To Advocate

From Greta Thunberg to Extinction Rebellion, climate change activists have used social media to make their campaigns go global.

But you don’t need to be part of a group to advocate for climate change.

In terms of what to share on your social media channels, it’s helpful to point out the consequences of climate change. It’s important to show people that climate change isn’t just some abstract notion, these extreme weather events are literally killing people.

Joining environmental campaign groups, charities and protests can be very helpful in reminding both individuals and those in power of their responsibilities for the climate.

You can write to your MP and local councillors to find out more about what is being done where you live and pressure them to do more.

We have more power than we realize to demand measures from governments to raise global awareness of the global warming problem.

Think globally, act locally. Your actions are needed in the fight against climate change. Can you think of any other things to do? Share them with us and everyone!

Salutation To The Earth – Divide the class into 1 or a few groups depending on the size of your class, and have each group create a group yoga sequence that represents love and adoration and hope for the earth.

Film it! And if everyone agrees, let them share it on their social media with them writing about what feels so urgent to them with climate change.

5 Minutes to create, 5 to perform.

Future Wheel

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

As an aid to thinking about the many interconnections of this topic, we are going to use this technique involving starting with a “What if……?” and responding with as many consequences as possible.

These are arranged around the original “What if….?” and connected to it through consecutive circles radiating out from the centre. The primary consequences themselves have secondary consequences in the next circle out, etc.

You can do it verbally or if you can, make it visual on the whiteboard or on paper.

Example scenarios might be:

The temperature rises → Icecaps melt → Sea level rises → Coastal flooding → Coastal Cities destroyed  → Millions of people die

We stop using fossil fuel and we all go vegan → Temperature stabilize  → Global warming stops  → Massive extinction of species stops → Humans are saved too → We keep making better choices and we all live happily ever after

Out Of This World Meditation

Something happened and you died, no pain. Watch yourself leave your body, leave the world, it will keep spinning without you.

While you float up there 3 questions are being presented to you:

  1. What did you love about your life?
  2. What regrets do you have?
  3. Given another chance, what would you do differently?

All of a sudden you feel a pullback towards the earth, towards your body!

Drift back to the world, but hold your breath for as long as you can… Take a full breath as if breathing for the first time… Breath new life… What will you do with the new life you were given?

5 Minutes

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

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