Facilitator introduces the theme of the day, Environmental Justice – this means that students will learn that everyone, no matter their race or economic position, deserves to live in a safe and clean environment.
- Next, watch the movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” Facilitate a discussion about the themes of the movie and the importance of helping others. Ask:
- What is global warming?
- Explain the climate crisis and it came to be.
- Describe various ways that people pollute the environment.
- What are the effects of climate change locally, nationally, and globally?
- What can people do now to save the planet?
- (Optional) Download the educational guide for more discussion questions and ideas: http://www.takepart.com/downloads/aninconvenienttruth_studyguide.pdf
- Discuss the effects of environmental (in)justice with students. Use the information below:
- What is Environmental (In)justice?
Environmental justice is the right of all people to equally share in the benefits and burdens of the environment. Environmental injustice occurs when certain groups carry a greater share of environmental risks and hazards and lack the power to influence decisions about the environment.
This includes dumping in hazardous waste sites, landfills and incinerators in communities with large minority and poor populations.
Environmental injustice can also exist on an international scale. A major form of injustice occurs when developed countries produce dangerous chemicals and export them to developing countries with relaxed environmental laws.
- Distribute print copies or read aloud the two examples below and hold a class discussion using these questions: How is each one an example of environmental injustice? What are possible ways to stop this type of injustice? What are some examples of environmental injustice that you see in your community? What are some steps you can take to combat this injustice?
Example 1: On May 17, 2005, French aircraft carrier Clemenceau returned to France after being prohibited from entering a shipyard in India. Earlier in the year, a French shipping agency had signed a deal with the French navy to remove asbestos material from the ship before it could be sold. The shipping company claimed to remove all but 45 tons of asbestos. However, further investigation by various environmental groups found that between 500 and 1000 tons of asbestos remained in the ship. When the Indian government refused to allow the ship to dock, due to a lack of clear documentation about its toxic contents, the French President was forced to recall the ship back to France.
Example 2: The poor, rural, rice-growing community of Guiyu in China has been transformed into a booming electronic waste processing center. Laborers at an electronic waste disposal site regularly burn circuit boards and plastics from old computers. They pour acid on electronic parts to extract silver, gold and other valuable metals. According to reports, nearly 80 percent of the children in Guiyu suffer from lead poisoning.
- Compare Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy of service to the themes of “An Inconvenient Truth.” Ask:
- How did both Dr. King and Al Gore encourage others to serve?
- What message would both of them convey to youth to get them interested in service?
- What will you do to continue their message of service?
- Remind students that in learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., they learned about how one person can make a difference through service. In “An Inconvenient Truth,” they learned that it is everyone’s responsibility to help address global issues. Just as Dr. King and Al Gore have demonstrated their dedication to help others through social activism, students will demonstrate service by caring for teh environment - environmental stewardship.
- Review the concept of philanthropy - giving time, talent and treasure for the common good - and ask students to brainstorm examples from their own lives or the lives of others. Brainstorm ideas for a class project for an environmental stewardship service project, locally or globally. Ask the students to think of activities that exhibit care for the Earth we share and demonstrate to others that stewardship of the Earth benefits everyone and is everyone's responsibility. Suggest to the students that a simple first step would be to clean up a local commons area to address the issue of pollution, but allow students to make a decision about what environmental project they would like to do.
- If the choice is a clean-up project, group the class into two or three teams, and give each team a garbage bag.
- Make sure that each student has a pair of non-latex gloves. Explain that the class will clean up a local area of their choice by picking up trash and litter. Students should pick up trash and place in their respective team’s garbage bag. (Remind students that they must not pick up glass or other sharp objects—the teacher will collect these items. Also, review the boundaries, and remind students of ways that they can work together as a team.)
- Optional: Give students a separate bag for recyclable items and encourage them to separate the trash that they pick up and put it in its appropriate place.
- Reflection is a key component of service-learning that adds meaning to the experience. Ask students how they felt about cleaning up the park and how they think others will feel about their act of service. Discuss with students why doing this project was important.
Have students complete the following statement: Today I hope__________________________________________________.