The injustice experienced through educational institutions
According to Rosalie Thibault, student at McGill University
Experiencing a sense of responsibility for the climate crisis, Rosalie is committed to finding a way to ensure a fair transition. A student in both environmental science and economics at McGill, Rosalie founded her university’s chapter of La Planète s'invite à l'université. She is currently developing an electoral strategy to ensure the recommendations of Climate Strike Canada and La planète s'invite à l'université are heard at the national level.
It’s often said that educational and vocational institutions are places where knowledge is acquired and created. If so, these institutions should serve to broaden young people’s critical thinking, refine their opinions, and carry the standard of the next generation’s ideals.
Yet, the education young people receive is inconsistent with the reality of our contemporary society; an inconsistency stemming from the fact that increasingly, education is responding to labour market needs rather than seeking to inform young people on current issues.
We know fossil fuel exploration and consumption cannot continue as in the past. We know the economy must achieve balance rather than strive for endless growth. We know we must move away from certain work models and opt for new techniques; however, university curricula are naively preserving the pedagogical status quo, despite the fact we are in a critical transition period.
If certain jobs are abolished and other created through market forces, it seems logical to stop training students in obsolete trades.
FUTILY FEEDING THE BROKEN ENGINE THAT OUR CURRENT ECONOMY HAS BECOME
Most trade unions are now clear on the need for a systemic restructuring, a process that would affect the majority of workers. The proof is in their recent coalition La Planète s’invite au travail as well as memoranda in a number of trade union centres. We should be equally concerned for the next generation of workers. Even for emerging employers, a number of sustainable business programs have been developed; but what about other students in finance and management who have not been educated on environmental issues?
The climate crisis goes well beyond simple biology – we are headed toward a complete overhaul of our production and consumption models. If, at the outset, we told students in every field that Anthropocene-generated climate change was an all-encompassing issue, perhaps the next entrepreneur would reconsider his business plan, or some engineers would modify their approach. We are training young people for positions which will soon be permanently vacated, thus futilely feeding the broken engine that our current economy has become.
THE WORKER PROTECTION AUTHORITIES ALREADY BEAR A HEAVY BURDEN
In a workplace restructuring process, trade unions will want to preserve social justice by providing training to redirect jobs that have been changed or abolished outright. They will therefore try to identify similar specializations (in salary and responsibility) for those already employed. Obviously, employers will no longer hire recent graduates trained for recently-transformed jobs. Will these young people obtain help from the trade unions?
These worker protection authorities already bear a heavy burden, and current resources will not be able to support those who do not pay dues. I can already see the future: a horde of graduates, ready to work to buy a home and live “the American Dream” who instead will need to go further into debt, return to school, and specialize in areas better suited to the realities of the labour market.
A FINANCIAL CRISIS GENERATED BY THE CLIMATE CATACLYSM
Global warming predictions have jeopardized the basic needs for humanity’s survival. Although this statement can seem alarmist, the facts do not lie. It’s clear that if we do not immediately, drastically reduce our CO2 emissions and manage our resources sustainably, the repercussions will be grave: temperatures so high they are unbearable without air conditioning; droughts leading to food shortages; cities with hyper-dense populations engulfed by the ocean.
The origin of this crisis is intrinsically linked to the fact that we have always outsourced the social and environmental costs of our economic activities. We are headed for financial collapse; it’s only by changing the “why” and “how” of our transactions that we can avoid the worst of it.
Posted on September 4th, 2019