NOT a Natural Disaster

The climate crisis is not in some distant future. It is being felt around the world with heatwaves, floods, and most dramatically with the wildfires in Hawaiʻi. Our hearts go out to the people of Maui, who face the tragic loss of lives, homes, and entire communities.

Kaniela Ing, national director of the Green New Deal Network and Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), spoke on Democracy Now! about the devastating impact of the wildfires in Maui and their relationship to climate change.

Lahaina was actually a wetland.

You could have boats circulating the Waiola Church back in the day.

But, because they needed water for their corporate ventures, like golf courses and hotels and monocropping, that has ended.

So the natural form of Lahaina would have never caught on fire.

These disasters are anything but natural.

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More Democracy Now! stories on fires in Maui.

#TeachClimateJustice: Invite students to listen to this interview and come up with their own terms for the disaster, such as “fossil-fueled disaster” or “climate change disaster.” They can contact local and national media outlets to insist that the media stop using the incorrect term “natural disaster.”

Green New Deal Lesson for Middle and High School Students

As we rebuild, we must restore the Green New Deal promise of public land and water use.  — Kaniela Ing, Green New Deal Network

From “A Message from the Future,” illustrated by Molly Crabapple.

We offer a free lesson on the New Deal of the 1930s, which opens students’ minds to the possibilities of a Green New Deal today. The lesson, “From the New Deal to the Green New Deal: Stories of Crisis and Possibility,” is by Suzanna Kassouf, Matt Reed, Tim Swinehart, Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, and Bill Bigelow.

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Teaching Guide

A People’s Curriculum for the Earth is a collection of articles, lessons, stories, poems, and graphics to breathe life into teaching for environmental justice.

The book features some of the best articles from Rethinking Schools magazine, alongside classroom-friendly readings on climate change, energy, water, food, and pollution — as well as on people working to make things better.

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#TeachTruth About the Climate Crisis

drawing of a protester being erased from a chalkboard.

Illustrated by Erik Ruin. More of his work can be seen at and

Legislators in at least 44 states have passed laws — or are attempting to pass laws — to prohibit teachers from putting racism at the center of their classroom inquiry about the nature of U.S. society. It is now a crime for a teacher in Iowa, for example, to suggest that the United States is “fundamentally or systematically” racist.

But the hailstorm of legislation attacking anti-racist education has a less obvious target: teaching about the environment and about climate change.

Continue reading this Rethinking Schools article by Bill Bigelow.

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Share Your Story

We want to hear from teachers who have used Zinn Education Project resources to teach about climate change in any subject.

Thanks to a donation by the author, we will send you a copy of Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes in appreciation for your teaching story.

Share a story, question, or resource from your classroom.

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