Kate Burchenal's action
According to Mary Lou Finley in her Ignition chapter on “Shaping the Movement”, as of 2007, we are now in the “Building Majority Public Support” phase of the global warming movement. While there has been a massive effort to spread the word to every demographic, I believe have that we have largely overlooked one significant group: today’s children. It is true that children are not currently playing a large role in the political scene and you probably won’t find too many children among leading activists, but this is still very much their problem. It has been said over and over again that the problem of global warming rests mainly with our generation – those of us in our late teens through thirties. True, our generation will experience the height of the problems – both with respect to politics and the actual effects of global warming. But it is also true that every generation after ours will be greatly affected as well. We must start educating our children now to get them interested in and excited about the issue at hand.
The question now becomes “How do we reach kids with our message?” Children will not be concerned with numbers and statistics about carbon dioxide emissions and kilowatt-hours of clean energy. We are faced with an international problem, the severity of which many adults cannot grasp, let alone school-aged children. We must bring the issue down to a level that they can both understand and be interested in. And what is one almost-universal interest among children? Animals, of course!
I propose that participants of the 100 Days of Action Campaign organize tables and informational booths at local elementary and middle schools concerning the extinction of animals and the destruction of their natural habitats. Displays of stuffed animals and bright, colorful pictures of endangered animals will grab children’s attention and spark their interest. I believe that children will be very concerned with the prospect – in fact the reality – of adorable and fascinating animals being harmed by our own wasteful consumption.
We can’t really expect children to take this information and march off to Washington demanding change. However, it would bring us one step closer to having an American population that is completely knowledgeable concerning the issues of global warming and climate change starting at a very young age. This is an opportunity to make awareness a foundation of our society. If children learn the truth early and realize the effect that we have on our delicate world, there will be less room for hesitation and doubt when it comes time for them to take up positions of power.
Children also tend to have a lot of sway with their parents. Seeing their kids upset about the prospects of global warming could potentially have a very big impact on parents. No parent wishes to see their child grow up in a world in which natural beauty is constantly on the decline and natural disasters on the rise. This project could inadvertently impact two very different groups of people and produce two equally distinctive outcomes: 1) inspire our children for what lays ahead, and 2) on a more subtle level, get parents concerned with what legacy they are leaving for their children.
Implementation of this day of action would be relatively simple; make bright, decorative posters, set up a booth at your local school and talk to kids about the issue at hand. You could even make some suggestions to them about how to do their part (turn off the lights when they leave a room, take quick showers, ride their bikes to school, etc) so they can feel involved in the movement. And although we cannot expect to see the results of this action immediately, education of the youth is a necessary step to insure success in the long run, so why not start now?