Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The future of America's favorite pasttime

Update: Many thanks to Lynn at Organic Mania for organizing the Green Moms Carnival where this post on global warming will be featured with all the other great green moms doing their part each and every day to make our world a better place. Thanks Lynn! You can read her awesome carnival post and find more great posts on global warming by clicking on our carnival button: Middle school aged boys won't sit still for long, unless something grabs their attention - and FAST. If it's not riveting, you will find them dividing their attention between the TV, their iPods, playing PSP or surfing the internet, sometimes all at the same time. So, I wondered how it would go when my Dad sat my three oldest boys down to watch Inconvenient Truth.

No action scenes, no swearing, no car crashing, no wicked-cool sound tracks or celebrity icons they would easily recognize. So, when they sat still, I was surprised. They knew who Al Gore was, they even "sorta remembered" when he was almost president. They were saddened by the plight of the polar bears and surprised by the peaks and valleys of the temperatures over history. They were amazed at how large the ice caps look on a map and how huge the chunks of ice are that are dropping into the sea at an alarming rate. But that's not what stuck with them.

A couple of months after the movie, what they most remember is the interactive graphic showing what will happen to our coastline as the ice caps melt. They debate on how Major League Baseball will restructure all of the teams on the coasts. Red Sox, Padres, Giants, Mets, Yankees, Nationals, Angels, Athletics, Devil Rays, Dodgers and maybe even the Braves would all be affected as the water level rises. WHEW - our Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs would be safe. But, that's still a lot of teams that would need to be moved all because of one thing.

Global warming. My boys don't think in terms of Almanacs and temperatures. They don't rationalize pollution from factories they don't work at or carbon emissions from cars they aren't yet allowed to drive. They think about global warming as it would affect them today. Players they idolize, rivalries they enjoy, the home team they love and other teams they proudly wore on their back during the last 8 seasons of Little League play.

Many people tell me they don't want to discuss the gloom and doom of global warming, war, poverty, hunger or economy with their kids. I don't want to scare them, they say, they have enough to worry about already. That's funny, I think, my kids aren't scared. Why, I wonder?

I believe it's because we DO discuss it, we talk about how we live on this planet, how everthing is interconnected, how we are taking the small steps to protect our planet and what will happen if we don't. We then talk about how the world will change as the temperature rises and the ice falls. No more baseball as we see it played today and what that will mean to my boys as they raise their sons and daughters to love the game that means childhood to them. Global warming is a tricky topic, especially for kids, but take time to talk to them about it. They do understand and they can relate - even if it's only about baseball.


Green Bean said...

You know I absolutely love it when you write about parenting. And I don't think it's just because you and I both have boys - though that helps. You offer a really valuable insight into how to raise your children in a respectful, honest way. I appreciate that.

I think you are right. If we don't talk to children about it, global warming seems even scarier. As an adult, I felt more empowered just by taking small steps even if I knew those steps wouldn't save the world. At least I was doing SOMETHING.

Joyce said...

I think it's so cool that they actaully thought of a consequence that most people haven't put into the equation! Obviously, if those big cities go under water, there are going to have to be LOTS of adjustments. I always think of the national monuments in the Potomoc Basin. Must be the history buff in me.

Wendy said...

I think you've hit it on the head - empowerment is a huge factor in the elimination of fear. If one believes one has some control over a scary situation rather than just riding the wave, it's not so scary afterall ;). You've given that to your sons.

Me, too. We grow a garden and raise chickens and try to live frugally, and in doing so, we're exercising some control over what might end up being a really horrible situation. We live right near the coast, too, and sometimes we talk about the places in our town that might be affected by the rising tides.

By the way, I don't think ALL of Boston will end up under water, and so our beloved Red Sox will probably be just fine :).

arduous said...

I think the major cities will probably be fine: New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco. They'll shell out the big bucks for levees and what not. Unfortunately it will be the small towns that dot the coast that can't afford such things that will have a problem. And it will be even worse for the third world. Sigh.

But I too love the stories you tell about your boys. I can already see the politically engaged and intelligent men they will grow up to be. It must be so exciting to see these kids grow and blossom before your eyes!

Melissa said...

I think you've described a lesson that could be useful for adults too, and that is framing messages in terms that the listener can relate too. Boys relate to baseball. So maybe for those who aren't "getting it" we need to think about how we are framing our "save the earth" messages and modify them according to the audience.

Wendy, I too think the Red Sox will be ok. :)

eco 'burban mom said...

Green Bean - I agree, we have to talk to children and adults alike. Pretending it's not happening is worse than knowing. My boys feel like they are helping with all the little things they do, but it also gives them a sense of understanding why we might choose a certain vacation, car, product or food item. Less "why" questions too - UGH.

Joyce - I thought it was funny too that while I thought in terms cities, the museums and parks, my kids thing baseball. What ever works, right!

Wendy - I find the "live frugally" part is the hardest to teach my boys here in the 'burbs where they see their friends with brand name clothes, new iPods (When the old one was perfectly find), big houses and parents driving Escalades. Maybe I ought to write a post on that topic! It's my biggest challenge. And, I agree I think the Red Sox would be fine, but my kids (with still a basic sense of geography) imagine the Sox are right on the coast! Besides, I think the large cities will all be fine anyhow.

Arduous - I know, the big cities will have the cash to make it all OK, while the little fishing towns, tourist towns and villages will disappear. Sad, sad, but I know it will be true.

Melissa - that would be an interesting idea for lessons on the environment. Base the lesson by age group and general interest. Baseball, shopping, culture, nightlife, wildlife, farming etc. That might make people take a second look when they see that 10 of their favorite 14 museums could disappear. One of the other things I also pointed out to the boys was the fact baseball is a summer game and with the temperatures on the rise, lovely outdoor fields may end up becoming domes!

Cindy said...

Kudos for talking to your kids about global warming. It's all about how you present the facts and how you empower the kids to do something about it.

I remember as a 8 year old I was utterly dismayed about all the childhood infectious diseases that I might contract over my life time. I wondered how I could live to see my adulthood.

It was because I only heard a part of the story. The other part was that through vacination, most of the childhood diseases would not affect me in a bad way. After learning that, I was quite relieved.

Anyway, it is also so cute that your kids consider redistricting baseball teams. Love kids and their minds.

Greener Grass Notes, Inc. said...

What a cool post. You know as much as our world changes around us, kids remain the same to some extent. You still can get them to care about things if they can quantify it in their own terms, like baseball. And why not approach it in terms they can relate to in some way or another. I never watched the Inconvenient Truth even though my sister-in-law dropped it at my door. I run an Eco-Friendly business, write an Eco-Friendly blog and practice what I preach at home and away. I never even let up on vacation. Somehow, I could never bare to see that film. It would have been too much for me.

Cranky Mom said...

Great post! I think it would be really interesting to develop an educational program based on ages/interests. I finally got my daughter (she's 3) going when we talked about the plight of horses in a hotter environment - particularly the ponies on the island that I can't spell. . . now she is totally gung ho. My son - he got it more when I mentioned that Santa wouldn't have much of a home at the North Pole.