Kids today are more well-informed and resilient than ever, and the world is going to depend on them to tackle some challenging issues ahead. One of these challenges, as we all know, is climate change, which is already affecting many parts of our lives.
The Climate Action Tracker predicts that current emission levels will lead to a global temperature increase of 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
While such a drastic escalation will undoubtedly have significant impacts on the next generation, the good news is that by starting conversations with our kids now, they can learn more about the issues and what steps they can take to help our environment.
Cover the causes
The goal of talking to kids about climate change is to educate and inform, not to overwhelm them. It's a big topic, especially for the younger crowd, so keep explanations straightforward. Start by looking together at a visual of the planet - a globe or a handmade drawing should work. Ask kids to point out everything they recognize and focus on land masses, forests, and water sources.
Mention how scientists have been paying attention for a while and through their research have concluded that the entire earth is getting warmer. Gently bring up some of the resulting issues, like ice melting at the North and South poles and plant and animal habitats being affected in the Amazon rainforest and Great Barrier Reef.
Breaking down global warming
Explain how climate change occurs step-by-step:
- Humans burn fossil fuels, including oil and coal, to make things like plastic for our toys, gasoline for our cars and power air conditioning units for our houses.
- When these fossil fuels burn, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
- These gases get trapped in the earth's atmosphere and cause the temperature of our planet to rise.
- As the earth gets warmer, different kinds of challenges can occur, such as the sea levels getting higher, animals losing their homes, and coral reefs dying.
- The planet getting hotter is called global warming, which leads to climate change.
Remind kids that just because this is the current situation, there is still time to help reverse damage from global warming. Here are six immersive ways to help kids take action against climate change:
Go for a walk The most accessible place to start talking about climate change is in nature. Put on your walking shoes, grab some water and head to a local park or preserve.
As you hike around, ask kids about the plants they see and any animals scurrying about. Noticing small details like these can lead to organic discussions about why trees are essential and how global warming can affect an ecosystem.
Read a book Books offer an avenue for kids to learn about climate change gently, with stories and pictures that help make the concept feel accessible. We've rounded up our top picks for children of all ages.
Check out a map In this age of technology, kids don't see artifacts like paper maps and globes nearly as often as in times past. Bringing out these tools offers a new way to approach hands-on learning about the environment at home.
Maps provide an excellent visual to demonstrate the different types of landscapes across the world and can lead to discussions about the impact of fuels during long-distance travel.
Globes offer a way to view the correct size and shape of the earth and discuss the makeup of the planet's surface and how global warming influences different changes.
Listen to a podcast Podcasts have a unique way of making any topic sound more interesting. There are a variety of shows available that discuss climate change and global warming in kid-friendly terms.
Attend a rally Kids worldwide have staged rallies and walkouts to bring awareness to global warming, and people notice. A peaceful demonstration can be a powerful catalyst for change, and kids interested in getting involved on this level have different options.
Encourage responsible activism, where the focus is the issue, not media attention or other outside noise. This may take the form of making protest signs as a family or marching with like-minded friends in your neighborhood.
Volunteer in your community Search in your community or school district for opportunities your family can get involved with. These may include litter clean-ups, recycling drives, tree planting, or volunteering at a wildlife rescue center.
Simple steps to change
As a family, you can brainstorm ways to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. Be sure to ask kids for their thoughts, as they will likely come up with creative ideas to try.
Some simple steps that you can start implementing today include:
- Avoid the car and walk or bike whenever possible.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can.
- Eat lots of fresh, locally grown produce to cut back on meat and dairy products.
- Reserve the air conditioner for only sweltering days, and keep it turned off at night.
- Make a habit of turning off lights and unplugging electronics when they aren't being used.
There is a tremendous amount to learn about climate change, and teaching our children why it’s important while they’re young is critical for their generation and those to come. One way to help address climate change is by signing up for a 100% clean energy supply plan for your home.
To get started, visit our homepage and enter your address and/or ZIP Code. If Inspire’s clean energy supply plans are available in your area, you can proceed with linking your utility and discover the beginning of consistent and predictable monthly energy bills.
Don't worry about climate change— do something about it.
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