New Jersey Adopts Climate Change Education Initiative In Wake of Superstorm Destruction

October 18, 2021

New Jersey Adopts Climate Change Education Initiative In Wake of Superstorm Destruction

October 29, 2021, marks the 9th anniversary since New Jersey was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. Making landfall near Atlantic City with hurricane-like winds averaging 90 MPH, the storm caused billions of dollars in damage, two million homes lost power, and thirty-seven NJ residents were killed.  

Sandy started out as a classic hurricane, getting energy from the warm waters of the Caribbean and moving northward along the Gulf Stream. Sandy then took a sharp left turn into the New Jersey coast and collided with a winter-like storm system. As Sandy’s energy source transitioned from the warm ocean water to the atmosphere it morphed into a wintertime cyclone and dramatically increased in size. High winds extended 1,000 miles across bringing record-breaking storm surges to coastal areas and blizzard conditions to the mountains.

Since Sandy, and more recently with Hurricane Ida taking 29 lives just last month, there has been greater awareness on the part of our state on the need for Climate Change education. While we all know that education can flow from the top down, it has also successfully percolated from the bottom up. As a result, the New Jersey State Board of Education has adopted an initiative to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to incorporate climate change across its revised state K-12 learning standards.

“For a long time, many viewed climate change as an abstract problem, but here in New Jersey, we are already experiencing its devastating effects, including extreme flooding from recent storms,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy in a statement. “This generation of students will feel the impact of climate change more than any other, and beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, our students will be the first and only in the nation to have climate change education incorporated at every grade level. By providing these resources to our educators, we are in turn equipping the leaders of tomorrow with the critical tools they will need to face the real-life challenges of climate change.”

The NJDOE’s Climate Change webpage provides resources such as:

  • Instructional resources – such as webinars, instructional strategies, literature, and standards-based lessons – by grade level and by subject;
  • Links, videos, highlights and news stories to innovative lessons on climate change occurring in New Jersey schools;
  • Activities and projects for students in and out of the classroom;
  • Opportunities for students to take part in community engagement;
  • A link to the First Lady’s climate change webpage; and
  • A portal for educators and other stakeholders to share their stories, feedback and resources.

The resources will serve as tools to help students understand how and why climate change occurs, the impact it has on local and global communities, and to respond to climate change with informed and sustainable solutions. New Jersey’s updated academic standards and associated resources provide tools and information on the impacts of climate change. The hopeful result will be an enhanced understanding of how climate change poses a threat to our environment, and actions necessary to mitigate the threat for students and their parents. 

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