The Environment Is Not For Kids

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I was recently asked, as I have been for many years, to talk to children about environmentalism. I’ve even been advised to refocus So Fresh and So Green on children. I have always been against this and the idea that environmentalism is for or about children for a few reasons.

What about the responsibility that adults have? Children don’t vote or allow fossil fuel fertilizer runoff to pollute rivers or write laws that lift bans on fracking and oil drilling. Adults do. Why not teach adults then?

Children will have more of an education in environmentalism than older people. From curbside and street corner recycling to reusable shopping bags at your local store to widely available CFL lightbulbs to fuel-efficient cars, “going green” is mainstream in many ways it wasn’t a few decades ago. They may even take an environmental studies class in school. Children now don’t have the same needs for this education or information that adults seem to.
When you value the environment, not just for yourself but for all, you’ll share those values with your children anyway.

And finally, associating environmentalism with children puts the discussion, and by extension the action, in the future not the present. People find climate change’s future effects abstract and too horrifying to think about. If you can’t think about a situation you can’t take positive action to make things better.

That’s the most dangerous part. The effects of climate change are happening NOW. The worst effects aren’t felt in the industrialized countries that contributed the most to climate change. In the U.S. we are often afforded the luxury of continuing a debate based on manufactured doubt instead of taking drastic action to reduce our negative impact on the world. That action needs to be taken by adults.

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