What keeps me awake at night

We are all sleepwalking towards annihilation

Martyn Steiner

Another year, another Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, another set of empty promises to do something about global warming. We are sleepwalking towards self-destruction. Lying awake at night, I find myself wondering when we will collectively wake up to the major existential threat that humanity faces from intensifying ecological destruction.

I genuinely fear that everything we have built for our children will turn to dust if we fail to heal the deep wounds that we have inflicted on their planet. Like muddled moths lusting for a flame, mankind has flown ever closer to the petroleum furnaces. The Earth gets hotter and we are blinded by its bright burn. We cannot overplay this threat, yet we are paralysed. The truth is so terrible that stating it seems like alarmist fearmongering.

Of course, we are all sleeping soundly now. The worst and most terrifying effects of climate change remain outside our lived experience. But can we be sure that the same will be true for our children?

Teachers have a responsibility to shatter the status quo and let the next generation know that we have committed a shameful act: we have plundered Eden and left a wasteland. Students must force us to stop what we are doing to the planet, and then they must make us clear up our mess.

Schooling must first and foremost be about ensuring our survival by stirring the youth to action. A wartime spirit of muddling through will not do. I am kept awake by the fear that what we are doing now - a "green" lesson here and there - is a sick joke, an attempt at appeasement doomed to come back to haunt us. Nothing else matters if we fail in this duty.

Martyn Steiner is a science teacher for Oxford Montessori Schools

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Martyn Steiner

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