Hi Harriet, Welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum (or dad) should have to do everything herself, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! We love you have upgraded your life by stating to tackling climate change and encouraging others to do the same.
Can you tell us what climate change and global warming mean?
Simply put, GLOBAL WARMING is the increase of the Earth’s average surface temperature, due to a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
CLIMATE CHANGE is a broad term that refers to long-term changes in climate, including average temperature and precipitation.
Here’s a little more detail to help explain why a buildup of greenhouse gases is important to understand. Greenhouse gases do occur naturally. There are many types of greenhouse gases, some of the most common are nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapor. These gases aren’t “bad” and in fact serve to keep our planet at a very hospitable temperature that supports all kinds of life, including our own. However, as we increase the amount of these gases in the atmosphere thorough human or anthropogenic ways – anthropogenic is just a technical term for human caused – we are making our atmosphere thicker, trapping the suns radiation and heating up the planet. It’s kind of like putting a warm blanket around you; this blanket traps your body heat, making it warmer under the blanket than it would have been without it.
Climate change is really big when a family looks at their impact, how do we even start addressing this without getting overwhelmed?
So true, in fact it definitely seems like at times it would be easier to just close our eyes to the realities in front of us than acknowledge the emergency we face. But once we do acknowledge what’s in front of us, what is that driving force that won’t let you look away? This too, I believe needs to be addressed as a parent, before we bring in our kids to the conversation. Have we dealt with the grief, our hope, or how we plan to build resolve? I think it is important to examine all three. Validating your feelings so you can move to the next stage, action. This means allowing yourself to feel the immense grief that comes with the understanding of what is happening to us and our children now. Then, by taking climate action that builds solutions, we are showing our children that even if it’s hard work, there are ways to move forward; all is not lost, we cannot nor will we give up. Sharing opportunities and paths they can take, stories of success, creative and positive actions, all will build active hope and shore up our resolve and our chidrens to keep moving forward.
How do we have this conversation with our kids so they understand the enormity but are not afraid?
Our motto at ClimateMama is: “Tell the truth, actions speak louder than words, and don’t be afraid.” These are things we can teach our children from a very young age and things our parents probably taught us. With our climate crisis, it’s important to be age appropriate in our discussions, but also to tell the truth. To say we’ve “got this” isn’t factually correct, but to say that we as parents, and many other people around the world, including many young people, scientists, business folks etc, are working on ways to address the crisis, is absolutely true. Show your children examples of other kids working on creating awareness; if it’s something they are interested in doing, help them have their voices heard. This can be through writing letters, visiting elected officials, working on projects at home or at school, and attending protests, rallies and demonstrations. Active hope through action is a way forward and away to stem the fear that is there for all of us.
Are there any children’s books that you recommend that support this conversation with our children?
Yes! Here are some of my favorites:
Preschool and Lower Elementary
When the Wind Blows, Stacy Clark 2015
Mom, What Can Be Done? Lori Nunn/Jason Leo Bantle 2015
Oh Say Can You Seed? Bonny Worth/Aristides Ruiz 2011
Upper Elementary & Middle School:
How We know What WE Know About our Changing Climate, Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming, By Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch, 2008
What Are Global Warming and Climate Change, Chuck McCutcheon 2010
For Parents and Teachers:
A Peoples Curriculum For the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and The Environmental Crisis
Can you give us some core starting points to make our family life more sustainable?
- Do you have regular family meetings? How about organizing one of these to establish a “family climate plan?”
- Find a calculator that works for your family and work through your “ecological footprint/Carbon footprint.” Consider both a local plan of action, what can you do to reduce your family carbon footprint ie reduce your energy consumption, consume less, engage local leaders on climate solutions topics; and also what is your climate emergency plan; are you in a forest fire zone, close to the ocean, do you have an emergency supplies on hand to deal with extreme weather events? Discuss with your kids, get their perspectives on both.
Any other advice you can give to parents that want to upgrade their environmental impact.
“If you see something, say something.” Whether you are at home, at work, at school, a club, the store or your children’s school. Are you noticing ways that energy is being wasted, policies that don’t address our climate crisis or ones that do so? Call them out, share them. We all need to speak out on our climate emergency, to help others become more aware of the realities and the facts. Are you hearing people downplay our climate emergency or out right deny or ignore it? Speak out; your children are listening. It’s important your children hear you speak the truth. There are things we can each do, and things that our elected officials and business and communities leaders can do. Those that can “co big” must and the rest of us must do what we can. We will be living our climate crisis for the rest of our lives; we need to have our eyes wide open.
You can read more from ClimateMama on her website www.climatemama.com, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Link to the new book, coming out on June 9th. How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change: Transitioning from Angst to Action