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!

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Race on a Warming Planet: Education vs. Catastrophe”

  1. Considering that it is educated and well trained people who have created the ecological mess today, <i cant agree that education can now get us out of it. <maybe it can help, but a lot more is going to be needed than just filling peoples heads with facts and informatrion.

  2. No problem is unbeatable. The world world said SriLanka’s ruthless Tamil terrorists cannot be beaten, but the courageous Sinhala Buddhist government proved them wrong. There is so much negativity about climate change. We need a can-do attitude. We need to declare war against climate change. If west cant do it we can take over.

  3. @21st Century Fox:

    I thought its the “Sri Lankan government” lead by HE. MR that won the war. Nice to hear its some “Sinhala Buddhist government”…!!!

  4. Foxes should be careful to dabble in matters where they at least have a semblance of understanding.

    Where climate change is concerned, what is at work is laws of physics and forces of Nature. Bending or bypassing these is not possible, as arrogant regimes sometimes do with the laws and ethics of humans.

    Try outlawing the greenhouse effect, or declaring mosquitoes as anti-national western agents, and see if that makes the slightest difference…

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