Saturday, November 07, 2009

How to tell your child about global warming

I've been grappling with how and when to tell my six years old about man-made global warming, its claimed effect on his climate, and the implications for his world when he is my age.

He has natural interest in weather events, and can tell me the geographic differences between tornadoes, cyclones and hurricanes, for example. Knowing he has gleaned all this under his own steam, driven by his own curiosity, I feel it won't be long before the asking interesting questions, so I'm inclined to wait and see where this will go, naturally.

Media talk about global warming makes kids anxious, so some reports say. I don't want my boy to get the notion the world is not a benign place, but it's hard to argue it mostly is, when something so fundamental as the climate that sustains us, is amiss.

As he gains more understanding, so he does not become overwhelmed, I want to couple that with teaching him actions and behaviours that empower him. This is why we recycle, that's why we switch of lights, let's walk to the shops, not drive, etc.


Yello Bean said...

Yes my heart goes out to all the myriad of children that I know and love (your son included). What do you say? You say this. You are the teachers now. They were born into this damaged world and know nothing different. Our generation one below and many above are the ones that benefited from living without worry but did we really? Now racked with guilt, we are the ones that must forgive ourselves and move on by learning from these children that know nothing different than what we call buzz words for the environment - carbon footprints, recycling, ozone depletion, ice-caps melting. They are born aware, they are born to save. Let's keep the faith hey? Just because the world we knew is disappearing, does not mean it cannot be salvaged by these clever children and resurrected again in a new form. We are now the students, the children and we must listen to what they say.

VangelV said...

Why not just tell the child the truth? The Earth has gone through warm and cool periods throughout its history as various natural factors have changed the amount of the sun's energy that gets absorbed by the planet. On a global scale warm periods have been great for plants and the animals that depend on them because the warming allowed growing seasons to be lengthened and growing areas to expand.

History shows us that warm periods have allowed human populations to expand and civilizations to grow. It shows that cooling periods have caused a collapse in population and civilizations to fall as food production was unable to feed populations. In extreme cases excess cold made much of the planet unsuitable for life as the cold led to massive ice sheets to cover much of the land and produced a much drier world that could not support as much life even in the warmer areas.

Anonymous said...

You might also mention that it's not just Earth that experiences these climatic swings back and forth.

The Mars ice caps have been melting. Perhaps you can explain to your son how that shows that yes, his walking not driving is so important that it affects not just our climate, but that of Mars.

For instance: "In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row." National Geographic, 2/28/07.

Perhaps your son had better walk a little faster. He needs to get there before Mars disappears in a ball of fire--which HE could have prevented, --->>>if only he had walked.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know why people are so resistant to teaching the propaganda of the global warming theory…why not research the other side before believing the first thing that “sounds good.” After all, doesn't your kid deserve to be educated about both sides of the story?

Start here for the other side of Al Gore’s film. You will find top scientists from Greenpeace (the co-founder of Greenpeace), Harvard, Oxford, etc.

Remember that someone who doesn’t buy the human caused global warming doesn’t mean they don’t care about the environment. I still want to see cleaner energy, less pollution, and sustainable living. But, we shouldn’t have to “demonize” mankind to take this sort of responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Let him know gently that even scientists get things wrong, and some of them are so easily scared by bad dreams that they try to scare everyone else in the hope that that will help them. Let him know that better, stronger men and women through the ages have helped such nervous people cope, or have simply provided enough leadership that the scaredy-cats don't have much influence. Let him know that the climate system, like nature in general, is not in a steady-state, and that it has always changed and always will. When he gets older, let him know that there is no evidence, none at all, that CO2 is an important driver of climate. And when he gets older still, warn him that there are those who will seek to gain power over him by shameless scaremongering. Tell him to keep his own counsel.