The Ultimate Race on a Warming Planet: Education vs. Catastrophe

Wells: Visionary and cautionary
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe,” said H G Wells, British writer and social activist (1866 – 1946).

This is one of my all time favourite quotes. With amazing economy of words, the author of science fiction classics such as The Time Machine and War of the Worlds has summed up the story of human civilisation.

For much of history, our race has managed to outrun and outsmart an assortment of perils – and sometimes winning with only a wafer thin margin. Individual civilisations that lost the race were doomed to extinction, and now live only in history books and archaeological ruins.

As a whole, however, our species has managed to outlive famines, plagues, ice ages and nuclear weapons. But how are we going to fare with the latest peril – global climate change?

Coping with this phenomenon may well be the Ultimate Race to save our species and our planet. To increase our chances, we need to invest more on education — in its broadest sense.

This is the point I’ve been making in recent weeks, when giving talks about the role of information, education and communication (IEC as its practitioners call it) in preparing communities and societies to live with inevitable climate change. I have addressed diverse groups – from academics and science students to science journalists and civil society activists. Often, my audiences have been multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary.

Fortunately, I didn’t find anyone disagreeing with me – but some were uncertain on methods and means to unleash education on an unprecedented scale.

There are no easy answers or quick fixes. Education for Sustainable Development is an attempt to strengthen humanity’s prospects in the Ultimate Race.

TVE Asia Pacific’s latest Asian TV series, modestly named Saving the Planet, brings some dispatches from the frontier of that race. It shows how some people are working quietly and relentlessly to spread knowledge, understanding and attitudes that inspire action to live in harmony with the planet.

Increase our winning chances in the Ultimate Race!