Earth Day 2012: How to talk to kids about climate change

Earth Day 2012 is a time  parents might wonder how to talk to kids about climate change and global warming. An interview with the man who wrote the book on it.

Earth Day 2012 is an occasion for parents ask how to talk to kids about climate change and global warming. Here school children hold umbrellas during an awareness campaign to protect the ozone layer as part of the International Ozone Day in Hyderabad, India, September 2008.
Courtesy of Chuck McCutcheon
Earth Day 2012: Wondering how to talk to kids about climate change? Chuck McCutcheon's book, "What are Global Warming and Climate Change? Answers for Young Readers," helps.

Earth Day is a time parents might be asking themselves how to teach their kids about global warming and climate change. ClimateMama interviewed Chuck McCutcheon, author of the book "What are Global Warming and Climate Change? Answers for Young Readers" Excerpts of the interview follow:

As a parent, how can I use your book to empower my own children?
My book is unique among ones on this subject in that I use a question-and-answer format to cover all the issues – the science, the politics, the potential solutions and what people can do to reduce their carbon footprint. I spent a great deal of time working with scientists, students, and teachers to ensure the material was readable and accurate. So parents who read my book can ask their children questions, then discuss the answers. I also include several separate activities to enhance their understanding of the issue.

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What is the key message/point you see that I can give my children about the following:

The seriousness of the crisis we face:

There should be no doubt by now that the earth is getting warmer at a much faster rate than in the past, and that humans are responsible. This isn’t a liberal or conservative view; it’s the scientific reality. Parts of the world already are being affected – in March 2012, leaders of the Pacific island nation of Kirbati said they were considering moving their entire nation’s population to Fiji because of the threat of rising sea levels blamed on climate change.

Our ability as individuals and as a nation to tackle it:

This isn’t something that should be left to politicians or experts to solve. Other positive societal changes have happened and become ingrained in everyday life because people took an interest and then took proactive action. The recycling movement is just one example. I’d like to think it’s incumbent especially on children to take an interest in climate change. It affects everyone. And as one student told me, “This is our generation’s issue. We’re going to be the ones who are paying for it.”

Steps we can take as a family:

I devote a whole chapter of my book to what families and kids can do. They range from always filling the dishwasher with full loads to planting trees, bicycling instead of driving, and making sure they buy energy-efficient appliances.

 Empowerment tools for kids:

Several students I spoke with for the book became empowered through joining global warming clubs. Others were empowered by watching “An Inconvenient Truth.” But there are other ways. Above all else, I think it’s empowering for kids to learn as much as they can – my book includes a list of other books as well as a variety of websites devoted to climate change.

Empowerment tools for parents:

All those same suggestions apply for adults. Ideally, my book and others like it will motivate them to teach their children how important this is. I welcome any questions or feedback that parents might have. Visit my Website and Facebook page from more information and details!


Around the country, so many positive companies, organizations and individuals (like Chuck!) are working on climate change education, mitigation and adaptation; this is what keeps us at ClimateMama motivated, empowered and hopeful. Yet, we continue to be confronted by “loud voices” that want to deny the reality of climate change, and put roadblocks in our progress to steam the worst of the impacts of the changes that are already with us. This often come to us from unlikely and unsuspecting sources, including politicians and “think tanks.”

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Grab the kids in your life, and show them two easy ways you can fight for Reality on Climate Change together today:

1. Urge Tennessee governor Halsam to support sound science on climate change and veto House Bill 368.
2. Sign the Climate Reality Petition, and keep climate denialism out of the classroom!

2. Sign the Climate Reality Petition, and keep climate denialism out of the classroom!

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