Two Cute Videos Teach Kids About Climate Change and Smog

CC BY 2.0. Molly Adams

Explaining climate science to kids is challenging, which is why clever animated videos can help.

Talking to kids about climate change and pollution can be tough. First of all, it's depressing, and no parent wants their kid to have a negative view of the future. Second, it's complicated. Kids always want to know "why?" and trying to explain the science behind global warming, rising sea levels, and smog creation can be difficult. So what's a non-scientist parent supposed to do?

Fortunately, cute animated videos can help -- specifically, two videos from a new series launched last week by the UK's Hay Festival. The videos are part of a series called Trans.MISSION and are jointly supported by the National Environment Research Council. They do a great job at simplifying serious concepts without dumbing them down too much. They also offer hopeful notes at the end, which kids need to hear.

The first video, which I liked best, is called "Message from Antarctica." It was made by Emily Shuckburgh, an oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey, and Chris Haughton, an award-winning designer and illustrator, and features penguins, a walrus, and cozily-dressed scientists taking ice core samples. As Earther explains:

"The science can be a little tricky to explain, but this video makes it easy to digest: Little bubbles in ice tell us how much carbon dioxide existed in the atmosphere in years past. The video goes on to explain how scientists have used this information to show that carbon emissions today are off the charts—and what that means for the world around us."

The second video is titled "Clean Air Starts at Home," and illustrates an issue that's close to my heart -- the impact of chemical-laden household products on air quality. Even the most seemingly nice-smelling products, like shampoo and air fresheners and perfume, emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which then react with sunlight to create smog that harms everyone. We need to clean up our beauty routines, our homes, and our air by choosing all-natural products and using fewer overall.

Art is an effective way to start conversations with kids about big issues, and it's great to see the Hay Festival prioritizing it with these fine videos.