By JR on Saturday, July 09, 2011
PRIMARY school children are being terrified by lessons claiming climate change will bring "death, injury and destruction" to the world unless they take action.
On the eve of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's carbon tax package announcement, psychologists and scientists said the lessons were alarmist, created unneeded anxiety among school children and endangered their mental health.
Climate change as a "Doomsday scenario" is being taught in classrooms across Australia. Resource material produced by the Gillard government for primary school teachers and students states climate change will cause "devastating disasters".
Australian National University's Centre for the Public Awareness of Science director Dr Sue Stocklmayer said climate change had been portrayed as "Doomsday scenarios with no way out".
Dr Stocklmayer said she was not a climate-change sceptic but worried that "too much time was spent presenting scary scenarios, especially to young people". "(Children) feel incredibly despondent and helpless in the face of all this negative information," she said. "To put all of this before our children ... is one of the most appalling things we can do to (them).
Child psychologist Kimberley O'Brien also said the language of climate change should be "toned down". "(Educators) should stick to the facts," she said. "They should be aware that kids do have nightmares."
Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg called on educators to be "more circumspect and present both sides (of the climate-change debate)". "When you repeat things over and over to young people who don't have the cognitive maturity and emotional maturity to process this stuff, you end up creating unnecessary anxiety," he said.
Federal Schools Minister Peter Garrett said the government would not stop the teaching of climate science, despite moves in Britain for the subject to be withdrawn.
In a video on climate change funded by the state government, one teacher from a public school in Sydney's southwest explained: "Students are being bombarded from all sides about climate change ... it can be a very scary thing (for) a child."
The school activities are championed by the Federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.