Parents Turn Blind Eye to Climate Change, Royally Screw Up Kids' Future

Discussions about climate change can sometimes get bogged down in rather wonky facts and figures, and the arguments between believers versus deniers. So it was interesting to come across a straightforward appeal this week from Mark Hertsgaard, author of the book Hot.

Do it for the kids.

Writing in The Daily Beast, Hertsgaard says, “Beyond the distress and discomfort, the record-breaking heat raises a puzzling question for anyone who cares about the future of our young people. The laws of physics and chemistry—the fact that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for decades after being emitted—mean that man-made global warming is just getting started on this planet.”

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And he observes that his young daughter and “millions of other youth around the world are now fated to spend the rest of their lives coping with the hottest, most volatile climate in our civilization’s 10,000-year history. Think of them as Generation Hot.”

Hertsgaard and some other parents are putting some muscle behind their words by launching the “group Climate Parents, because we believe that taking action on climate change has become part of every parent’s job description, just like providing proper food, clothing, and shelter.” 

Getting the public to pay attention and take action is indeed an uphill battle. Earlier this week, The Energy Collective observed that many people don’t expect “to see harsh [climate] changes in their lifetime and as a result lose any sense of urgency. Others may have an alarmist or fatalistic reaction that makes them want to give up and go party. These groups tend to prefer reducing the focus on harsh realities in favor of solutions, preferably those they already believe in or are attracted by.”

And they’re not helped about by many in the media who “quote those who disagree with the best understanding of scientists on climate change and nuclear power, no matter how odd their opinions or how few agree with them. The media feel that they are covering the political controversy, but readers assume they are covering the scientific controversy, giving credence to both sides.”

There’s also the problem of what future generations will eat and how much they’ll pay for their food.

In a commentary for The Globe and Mail, Thomas Homer-Dixon writes, “The sooner we get serious about climate change, the better our chances of keeping temperatures from rising too high. The drought and heat wave have already led to record corn prices . . . People may not care much about climate change, but most do care about the price of food because it affects their everyday lives. Fears about imperiled food security may be our best hope for breaking through widespread climate-change denial and generating the political pressure to do something, finally, about the problem.”

In other words, do it for the kids.

Hey parents, have you ever discussed climate change with your kids? Tell us in the comments.

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Lawrence Karol is a freelance writer and editor who lives in New York City in a mid-century-modern-inspired apartment with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet editor, who enjoys writing about design, food, and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence |