The More Educated We Are About Climate Change, The Better We'll Adapt

Climate change is inevitable. We all know that. Which is exactly why we should keep looking for new ways to help slow its progress like the UK's "poop bus," for example.

It may be more effective, however, to change our focus. Instead of pooling all of our efforts into engineering projects, we should be investing more time and money in education about climate change.

According to a recent study, the best way to adapt to climate change is to learn about the extent of its effects, first. The study, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) published in the journal Science, says that education makes people less vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods and landslides, and those crazy storms that are expected to intensify with climate change.

The researchers compared the influence that economic growth and education have on the number of deaths, from various natural disasters in 167 countries around the world. They used Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person as an indicator of economic growth, and the number of women completing at least secondary school education as an indicator for education. And finally, they cross-referenced these findings with a database of climate-related disasters.

The conclusions of the study suggested that in many cases — predominately where the specific consequences of climate change are still in doubt — educational expansion could be a better investment in protecting people from natural disasters, than conventional investments such as building protective infrastructures like dams.

In a press release, IIASA researcher Raya Muttarak said:

Our research shows that education is more important than GDP in reducing mortality from natural disasters. We also demonstrated that under rapid development and educational expansion across the globe, disaster fatalities will be reduced substantially. [In regard to climate change adaption], Education directly improves knowledge, the ability to understand and process information, and risk perception. It also indirectly enhances socioeconomic status and social capital. These are qualities and skills useful for surviving and coping with disasters.

Along with other leading global change research institutes, IIASA researchers also developed a new generation of climate-related scenarios, the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), to determine future socioeconomic challenges for climate change adaptation. Using these SSPs, the new study shows how educational expansion could decrease the number of expected deaths due to climate change.

According to the researchers, $100 billion is currently pledged per year for climate funding through the Green Climate Fund, a global organization that helps developing countries mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. But where will the money have the greatest impact? While engineering projects and agricultural strategies are vital, we also need to accept our fate and inform the global population to the best of our ability.

Instead of relying on others to figure out some sort of solution to climate change, it's important that we prepare ourselves for it. The more we understand it now, the better we can deal with it in the future.

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