Our kids understand that we’re trashing the earth. A 2009 poll revealed that one in three of those aged 6 to 11 fears an apocalypse in their lifetimes.
Rightly so. Over the past few years, my kids have stressed about Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires, miners dying underground, and now, the uncontrolled oil spill off our Gulf coast.
The media tells us that many kids living in the vicinity have been traumatized by the one-two punch of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
I can’t imagine how these children must be feeling — and how their parents must be struggling to help them make sense of what’s happening.
The spill and its repercussions have unnerved my children, and they’re not directly affected. At least not in the obvious ways of actually seeing the rampant environmental and economic damage, which thousands of folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and now Florida, are witnessing.
However, my girl had a panic attack last week when she realized that the oil might at some point ruin the Georgia coast where we vacation, and where, in fact, we are likely to be when you read this column.
She’s 11 years old, the same age as Malia Obama, and she, too, recognizes in some way that this situation — this massive amount of oil pouring into the ocean — sucks.
The President recently told the story of Malia asking the question, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?” His answer, of course, was, “No.” But he admitted in a speech during his most recent visit to the devastated area that he was struck by his daughter’s interest.
Yes indeed, sir. The anger and despair over this growing environmental disaster has spread across our country like a huge staph infection. Yes, it’s infecting our kids. All of them — not just those who are shoveling up tar balls and being told not to swim in the blood-tinged waters; but also those children, like mine and yours, who recognize that this is one more nail in the formaldehyde-laden coffin of their future.
Let’s remember just some of the fossil fuel offenses to our kids over the past few years — Katrina (partially due to climate change), 25 miners killed in West Virginia (coal), the coal ash spill in Tennessee (coal), and elevated pulmonary disease in Asheville (coal and oil).
Yeah, I’m having a dramatic moment, but imagine me, as you read this, gazing out at the sea, watching my kids play in the waves — a beer and book in hand. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? But in reality, I’ll be sitting there fuming. I am, and I will be, pissed off as hell at the devastation I know is happening in the Gulf even as I live my blessed life.
So, thanks BP, Transocean, Cameron International and Halliburton. Thanks for ruining the lives of a whole hell of a lot of people. Thanks for killing innocents. And for choking the life out of dolphins, turtles, birds and plankton. For screwing up the food chain. And thank you very much for piling more emotional baggage on the world’s children.
I can rant all day, but it’s not going to change much. I’m not the President, thank the goddesses. I am, however, a parent, and I’ve talked to both my kids about what we, as individuals, can do so that, maybe, just maybe, this doesn’t happen again.
We need to lose our dependence on oil and coal. No, it’s not going to be easy (yep, we drove to the beach). It’s gonna be slow. But we must do it. We must—the world, the nation — research and invest in alternate energy sources. We must use our hard-earned cash for good — on energy-efficiency and greener living. I don’t always walk this talk. It’s hard. It hurts. Sometimes I drive when I could walk or bike. But I’ve got to stop that. I’ve got to suck it up and sacrifice. I must try to pry a couple of the nails out of the coffin of my and your kids’ futures.
As the Lorax has been saying to our kids (and to us) since 1971: “Because unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”