In honor of Earth Day, I talked to Enviro-spouse about his work on climate change with the Sustainability Institute and how it affects the kids of today and tomorrow.
My questions were: “How do we parent through climate change? How do we prepare our kids for the changes they’ll live through?”
Here’s some of what he said (translated from Geek Speak).
For our kids’ physical health, we need to quickly and steadily reduce fossil-fuel emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change. We’ll need to burn 90 percent less fossil fuels than we do today by the time our 10-year-old turns 50, E-Spouse says.
For our kids’ emotional health, we need to teach them how to save energy and make sure they know we’re doing all that we can to undo climate change (Has anyone else had to console a child saddened by the plight of the polar bears?)
How do we teach our kids how to help “prevent the frak out of climate change,” as E-spouse says?
We show them how to use a solar-and-wind powered clothes dryer (a backyard clothesline to you and me). We tell them to turn off the lights when they leave a room. We point out that the sun warms the pool water where they swim at the YWCA. We explain how the U.S. government is now cooperating with countries around the world to address climate change.
We go camping for vacation instead of flying to Disney World. We show our offspring how to separate the recycling. We tell them how our friends and neighbors stopped the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Woodfin. We eat more locally grown organic foods and less meat.
You know most of this stuff already. But E-spouse’s message is that we have to do more of all of this-much more. He also stresses that as important as teaching prevention is building kids’ resilience and sense of community to help them thrive amidst a changing climate.
Because, sadly, our kids probably will be dealing with the effects of climate change for their entire lives.
But at least you can pat yourself on the back for choosing to live in Asheville and not in an arid, hot, or coastal area.
What are other ways to teach our kids to be resilient and build community, and why is that important?
E-spouse estimates that gasoline will cost more than $10 a gallon (in today’s dollars) in our kids’ lifetimes. Remember last fall, when it was four bucks? People drove less and carpooled more. We need to train our children to master alternatives to the “solo driving in gas guzzler” type travel rampant today.
Planning ahead for times of shortage is part of a future resilience plan. Teach kids to keep extra water and food in storage (remember when the remnants of Hurricane Frances in 2004 wiped out much of Asheville’s water supply for days? One of the primary effects of climate change is more unstable weather).
In the same theme, teaching kids to grow some of their own food and buy from local farmers builds both self-reliance and community. In the future, food shipped from California or Chile will be prohibitively expensive for most.
As resources become scarcer, our kids will become more dependent on webs of family, friends and neighbors. Who will they borrow an egg from when they need it? Who can they catch a ride with? How do they share resources with others in need?
These are basic life lessons that we must mold to dealing with climate change. Saving energy, building community, fostering resilience and self-sufficiency and offering tools to help overcome difficulties are all things we’re already trying to teach our kids, right?
But now we’ve got to increase those lessons times 100, says E-spouse, while trying not to sound like Droopy Dog. We’re not doomed, but the challenges we face will be magnified for our kids.
Happy Earth Day.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.2