For some people, writing a letter to an elected official can be intimidating. Formal correspondence is not a regular part of life for most of us, and sometimes our politicians seem so out of touch that it’s hard to believe they have any interest in what we have to say. But elected officials do take notice when their constituents reach out to them. If enough voters contact them on a specific issue, it can affect their position on the topic or spur them to take action.
To honor 52 years of action inspired by Earth Day, Earth911 is presenting 52 Actions for the Earth. Each week from Earth Day 2022 to Earth Day 2023, we will share an action you can take to invest in the Earth and make your own life more sustainable.
This week, you can invest in the Earth by writing a letter to an elected official to support climate literacy.
Action: Write to an Official in Support of Climate Literacy
Basically, climate literacy means understanding your influence on climate and climate’s influence on you and your society, and that understanding is a prerequisite to developing a sustainable green economy. That’s why EarthDay.org is campaigning for universal climate education. But right now, our schools are not equipped to prepare the next generation with the knowledge of climate science they need to participate in a green economy.
In the U.S., K-12 curriculum standards are determined at the state level. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have science standards that include human-caused climate change. Fifteen states require climate change but don’t specify its cause. Five states only require climate change to be addressed in elective high school science courses. Pennsylvania’s standards do not address climate change at all.
Directing Your Letter
This week, let an official in your state know that you value climate literacy and believe that climate science should be a universal requirement for K-12 education. If you don’t already know, use this online resource for finding the names and contact information of your state-level elected representatives. You could also choose to reach out to your state’s superintendent of education (who may not be an elected official) or members of your local school board (who are elected).
Your Literacy Letter
You can express your support for universal climate education however you like. But if you struggle to know what to say, you can copy EarthDay.org’s template letter, or just use it for inspiration. Your letter does not have to be a work of art, nor does it have to be lengthy – in fact, it’s better to stay simple and to the point. Just make sure that you identify yourself as a constituent, mention specific legislation if possible, and make a specific request for action. It’s better to be factual than emotional, and always be courteous.
You can send the letter by email, but because they are less common, a printed, mailed letter might receive more attention. Whatever format you use, be sure to proofread your letter before you send it.
This week we are writing to state officials about climate literacy, but the template format and style guidelines for writing to an official are consistent and can be applied whenever you write to any official on any topic. After you’ve written one letter, you’re prepared to communicate with your representatives regularly on any issue that you care about.