Save the planet—if not for ourselves, then do it for the children. Think of the children, dammit, the children!
So goes the oldest and perhaps most cliched environmentalist plea ever enunciated by the do-gooding cohort; the line has barely changed since its inception. It used to provoke empathy regarding the dangers of pollution and resource depletion and nuclear power, and now it's all of those things plus climate change.
But the thing is, it should work, right? I mean, it's based on fundamentally sound logic. The nation's foremost climatologist, Dr. Hansen, wrote Storms of my Grandchildren, playing up this angle. I routinely hear climate advocates say they'll never be able to look their children or grandchildren in the eye if they don't do anything about climate change. Yet most Americans continue to be apathetic towards climate change, despite the sweltering temps and flooded coastlines their children are going to inherit.
Journalist Mark Hertsgaard thinks environmentalists should again begin hitting this angle harder and more overtly to involve more parents (and grandparents) in the effort to get our leaders to heed to address global warming. He writes in Newsweek:
It’s time for parents everywhere to ... wake up to the realities of climate change, shake off the paralysis of despair, and help their children live through this unavoidable challenge. Make no mistake: we know how to solve this problem, and many of the solutions will actually make money and create jobs. For example, in more than a dozen states now, you can lease a rooftop solar-energy system at no money down, with guaranteed savings on your monthly electric bill ...So it's a twist: Organize, educate, and vote—for the children, dammit.
At the moment, parents are the singlemost unorganized constituency on climate change, but some of us hope to change that. We’re launching a group that aims to mobilize parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, and anyone else who cares about young people. This means you too, President Obama and Governor Romney. You’re both parents and you need to start acting like it with respect to climate change.
For now, we’re calling our 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.
For more info on the project, check out ClimateParents.org.