Summertime often brings out joy in people. Darkness doesn’t set in until much later, and people are outside more frequently and for longer. The temperature is more suitable for enjoying ice cream, going swimming, and relaxing at the beach. Students love their carefree vacation without school to go back to on Monday. Yet in recent years, summer has carried a different tone to many California residents. Red skies and unhealthy air quality alerts are no longer events from out of the ordinary. The temperature often reaches uncomfortable, if not deadly, levels. Reduced snowpack levels, drought warnings, and water restrictions fill our news feeds. Whether we want to admit it, climate change has reared its ugly head in the Golden State.
Climate change is also something I think about in my tutoring practice. AJ Biology tutors must be masters of a staggering scope of topics, from how cells allow water to move across their membranes to how different species interact with each other and the environment. To me, Ecology is such a fascinating unit within Biology because it allows students to really think about how everything they have learned in that class fits into a bigger picture. It also is the easiest unit to connect to current events, given how mainstream awareness of climate change has become. As Department Head, however, I have seen many students have questions related to climate change only at the very end of the year, when Ecology is usually taught. Should something that threatens our planet’s biodiversity only be examined during the final unit? Could our students, who will one day inherit the Earth, interact with such a critical topic more frequently throughout the school year?
Now that Cypress College Preparatory has officially opened, our students will find a Biology curriculum that links climate change to every unit. Not only is it essential that students be educated on the impact of humans on the environment, but it will also help them to learn, store, and synthesize the information they learn if it can be tied together with a yearlong, central theme. What students choose to do with this information is up to them; it would be unrealistic to expect everyone to help pioneer innovations that will keep our planet habitable for generations to come. It is my sincere hope, though, that all individuals who take Biology walk away from the conclusion of the course with the knowledge to help spread awareness about climate change. After all, summers should evoke memories of cloudless days at the beach, not smoke clouds over cities.