The subject of climate change has rarely been covered in school curriculums at a level that matches the degree of urgency of the topic, but New Jersey is the first state deciding to change that. New Jersey public schools will now be required to include climate change in the curriculum for grades K-12 starting in 2021.

In the new curriculum, students will now learn how climate change is caused, how it can impact personal and public health, and how to use art to address climate change and other universal themes.

Climate change will not be a subject on its own, but rather it will be integrated into the pre-existing seven subjects; 21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages.

Tammy Murphy, NJ Governor Phil Murphy's wife, has been a huge advocate for including climate change in school learning. After the Board of Education passed this addition to the curriculum, she said, “The adoption of these standards is much more than an added educational requirement; it is a symbol of a partnership between generations." Environmental concerns have been a high priority of Governor Murphy and his wife.

Murphy said in a statement: "Decades of short-sighted decision-making has fueled this crisis and now we must do all we can to help our children solve it. This generation of students will feel the effects of climate change more than any other, and it is critical that every student is provided an opportunity to study and understand the climate crisis through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary lens.”

It seems like younger generations are prioritizing climate change the most, especially with Gen-Z figures like 17-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg setting the example.

One person impressed by New Jery's latest initiative is former Vice President Al Gore who has long been a vocal environmentalist with the release of 2006's An Inconvenient Truth: “I am incredibly proud that New Jersey is the first state in the nation to fully integrate climate education in their K-12 curricula,” said Gore.

Eating more plant-based foods will reduce your carbon footprint 

We can only hope that the topic of eating more plant-based will be brought up when teachers address the connection between personal health and the climate crisis, as eating a diet rich in vegetables and free of meat and dairy has been shown to be more eco-friendly. Reducing your own carbon footprint by adopting a more plant-heavy diet is one way you can do your part in positively helping the environment.
Swapping just one meal a day from animal products to plant-based foods has the same impact on carbon emissions as not driving 3,000 miles, or the distance from LA to New York, according to One Meal a Day

Going mostly plant-based has significant benefits for both the environment and your health. A whole-food plant-based diet can help you lose weight, increase your energy and lower your risk of diseases and cancer.

We hope to see more schools in other states follow in New Jersy's lead. By giving kids the awareness and tools they need to help fight against climate change, we are planting the seeds for a brighter future.