Children may despair and teenagers become saddened or moody when they learn the devastating news of yet another species becoming extinct. For instance, lemurs reside exclusively in Madagascar. Ninety percent of the vegetation which they eat is gone. The mountain gorilla is critically endangered.
The list is too long and scary to study. It may make children frightened when they learn that the endangered list is increasing daily.
Recently, I interviewed children about the environment. Mason Holstein, only eight years of age of New Harmony, Indiana thinks that litter is bad. The Chevalier children, also of New Harmony, listen to their parents and take heed of the world around them. Remy, who is ten years of age, said that we need to stop cutting so many trees. He looked out the window at the backwater in the field behind the Roofless Church and said, “Climate change is also causing a lot of flooding.” Remy’s sister, Senna, seven years old, told me, “Litter is awful. It gets caught in what people plant.” And the smallest one of the family, Dax, five years old, said, “Farm chemical runoff gets into our water.” I was somewhat astounded at their insight.
Eighty-one percent of 13 to 24 year-olds surveyed about global warming say that, “immediate action is necessary!” The internet has stories about children environmentalists who have changed the world with activism and ideas.
What we can do as adults is empower children. Start small. With youngsters, showing them the harm and ugliness of litter is important and helps them understand the need for recycling. If a child knows he/she is saving trees by recycling paper or lessening energy consumption and CO2 emissions by returning cans and bottles, these items are less likely to adorn the roadside. Being active rewards the child/teenager with a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling that they are helping, even in a small way.
Making a solar cooker with your child may be a fun project. With the heat of the summer barreling down upon us, this may be a perfect endeavor. Plans for home-made solar cooker can be found on the internet. Or, email me and I will send you directions for the one a class built.
When I was teaching middle school gifted in Maine, a class studying energy made a solar cooker. We made English muffin pizzas and sat the oven outside in the snow in February. Before class had ended the cheese had melted and we feasted. For the rest of the week, I was besieged with the children bringing food from home to cook in the oven. A cloudy day was welcomed! I often wonder if the children remember these lessons about using solar energy.
Whatever you can do to promote your child’s understanding of this changing world of climate chaos, animal extinction, and limited natural resources (almost all the helium is gone from the world) and the role he/she can take to help make the world a healthier place will benefit your child, you and our home, Earth. We can show our children we care and there is a future but it will take dedication, commitment and work. Children are naturally “green.” Please help them stay that way.
©Ann Rains May, 2019
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