Getting adults to care

April 20, 2007 at 7:58 am | Posted in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Answer, Child, Children, Climate awareness, Climate change, Environment, Global warming, IPCC | 4 Comments

Re: “stoking children’s fears” of global warming.

I agree kids can be overwhelmed, especially if they do not have an adult to turn to when they have a question about a big issue such as global warming.

Kids can be confused by some adults’ actions which appear to be thoughtless with regard to the environment. Children often see the world more clearly than “groan-ups”. (Kids have less baggage …)

On the topic of bags, there are some great short videos over at treehugger that kids might enjoy, such as this one. You can see the ten winning entries in the contest.

I would encourage parents to get kids to focus on one thing they can do often until it is habitual, and makes them feel like they are contributing to the effort to combat climate change.

Now I am going to walk to school to collect my three, as we agreed that we would walk instead of drive whenever possible 😉

To answer the question:

What do childen need to know about climate change?

Children need:

  • to know the truth about global warming
  • to know that there is controversy because some people do not appreciate the truth (it is inconvenient to change our habits …)
  • to know that many adults are doing all we can to minimise the impact of climate change, and kids can help in these ways . . .
  • to be reassured that the most extreme potential consequences are not likely, but help sell newspapers, and may indeed jolt some people into action, while depressing others into inactive defeatism (e.g. “FINAL WARNING … +6.4° => MOST OF LIFE IS EXTERMINATED” was the final doomsday column in a front page declaration on a British newspaper my 8th grade daughter took to school for her Geography project on global warming.)
  • to know that there are a few good IPCC graphs that can help them picture what adults are talking about. (My own three middle school age children have looked at these, and think it is helpful to see pictures even though it is clear they understand the basic ideas at their own particular comprehension levels.)

    SPM WGI AR4 Changes in Greenhouse Gases from ice-Core and Modern Data

    FIGURE SPM-1. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide over the last 10,000 years (large panels) and since 1750 (inset panels).

    SPM WGI AR4 Radiative Forcing Components

    FIGURE SPM-2. Radiative forcing estimates in 2005 for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and other important agents and mechanisms.

    SPM WGI AR4 Changes in Temperature, Sea Level and Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover

    FIGURE SPM-3. Observed changes in temperature, sea level rise and snow cover for March-April, relative to corresponding averages for the period 1961-1990.

    SPM WGI AR4 Global and Continental Temperature Change

    FIGURE SPM-4. Compares observed changes in temperature with results simulated by climate models using natural and man-made forcings. Decadal averages (black line) are relative to the corresponding average for 1901–1950. Blue shaded bands show the 5–95% range for 19 simulations from 5 climate models using only the natural forcings due to solar activity and volcanoes. Red shaded bands show the 5–95% range for 58 simulations from 14 climate models using both natural and anthropogenic (man-made) forcings.



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  1. This post really got me thinking about how the world our children will inherit may not be the beautiful green eden we grew up with. It also made me aware of how *important* it is that we tell them the real truth. They’ll have to bear the brunt of the damage, and prepare *their* kids for possible greater consequences. It almost made me cry.

    What you’re doing for your own kids, and for others, is tremendous. The best hope for the future is awareness and action, born of the resolve of kids like yours — and they got it from you.

    For their sake, and ours, don’t stop.

  2. *echoes tamino* – because whether future leaders are considerate or as careless as their forebears depends on what they learn now; and lessons are better learned from good teachers with foresight than from harsh reality.

  3. […] to ask you about this when we meet. This is an example of what a recent visitor saw translated from here and […]

  4. What a valid post. I enjoy reading the posts on this site and will be sure to return on a regular basis.

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