Who do we love more than our kids? Who could lay claim to our hearts the way our beloved children do, even as they try our patience?
If your children’s lives were in danger, wouldn’t you leap tall buildings, run into a flaming house, brave drowning or being run over by a car to save them?
I imagine you would. Family is all about love. Love is about caring. And when we care, we take action to protect those we love. We step up and make a difference.
Right now, our world needs us to step up and make a difference. Each and every one of us, in whatever small and not-so-small ways we can imagine. As the news spotlight moves from issue to issue, from bullying to sexism to racism to human trafficking to—you name it, we’re confronted with enough issues to make our heads swim.
The Two Greatest Threats of Our Times, Other than War
Other than the threat of war, the two issues most threatening to our childrens’ lives (and our own) are Climate Change and the ongoing mismanagement of Nuclear Waste. These two mega-issues put us all in greater danger than mankind has ever known, threatening to obliterate most, if not all, life on Earth within a few generations—unless we take active steps to change that.
Climate Change News and Global Warming Facts
There are those who call global warming a hoax, among them some Southern Baptists and the most evangelical Protestant Christian sects. But the scientific evidence is clear. Others say the climate change news is real, a natural cycle, not the result of human activity, but again, the evidence makes a strong statement to the contrary.
Some conservative Christian groups claim environmentalism is the enemy of God. Still others come up with multitudes of explanations for climate change that absolve humanity of responsibility. Yet the scientific evidence against all of them is strong.
Time is short. In September of 2019, UN biodiversity experts issued a strong statement to the effect that nearly a million species risk extinction within decades, “while current efforts to conserve earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action.” Unless we step up and demand real solutions, all the other issues and challenges we face will soon be moot.
The point is not to panic, but rather to come together as a family and take constructive action.
Your kids and mine, not to mention any offspring they may produce, will suffer immensely.
Is there still time to turn things around? The Paris Accord set 2030 as the date by which we must take the necessary steps to guarantee a maximum global temperature increase of 1.5-degree Centigrade. We’re already at one degree. The odds of keeping it to 1.5 degrees are short. Having been put on notice that “current efforts to conserve earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action,” we must increase the effort.
Nuclear Waste Mismanagement
Nuclear waste is grossly mismanaged all across the United States. Unlike most of the other countries of the world, we store nearly all our radioactive waste in cooling pools until it’s cool enough to be moved into stainless steel containers. Those containers are so thin they must be welded shut, thus they cannot be opened, inspected or repaired.
Where do we store those cans? From Maine’s Yankee Nuclear Power Plant to California’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, they’re all stored next to a lake, a river, or an ocean beach.
Why? Because the cooling pools (in which the waste was stored before it was transferred into the cans) require a constant source of cold water. And once the waste is transferred into the cans and the cans are welded shut, they can’t be opened for inspection—and, for safety reasons, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires inspection prior to transporting the cans away from their point of origin. So the cans remain there, close to the water.
What’s wrong with this arrangement? Water is a powerful erosive agent.
Everyone cries out for the waste to be moved away from the water, bemoaning the fact that so far, the federal government has not found a satisfactory location for a central nuclear waste dump. Yucca Mountain in Nevada was supposed to be it, but Nevada’s citizens don’t want it in their backyard.
Yet that is a moot point, since by law the uninspectable canisters cannot be moved to Yucca Mountain or any other such location.
There is a simple solution: Replace those cans with the thick-walled casks used my most other countries, where greed isn’t always the deciding factor.
It’s not a forever solution, but it will buy us time. Holtec International, the company that makes the dry-storage canisters used at nearly all US nuclear waste stations, also makes the much-thicker-walled casks. The only reason we don’t use them, says Charles Langley, Director of PublicWatchdogs.org, is that the utility companies are pleasing their shareholders by buying the cheaper, thin-walled cans.
Follow the money!
It’s Up to Us
If we want the powers that be (the utility companies and/or our federal government) to invest in thick-walled casks, we are going to have to turn up the fire under them.
And once the casks are purchased, it will be up to us to make sure the waste gets transferred into them!
President Trump isn’t going to force the issue for us, nor is he likely to take any positive steps on the climate change front. Just the opposite, in fact. He has rejected the Paris Accord, he’s encouraging fracking and coal mining at all costs, he’s doing everything he can to destroy the solar industry, he’s calling on the Bureau of Land Management to end the moratorium on leasing public lands out for coal mining, and more.
And since corporations are constrained by law(!) to favor their shareholders over the public good, we can’t expect help from them, either.
In the absence of governmental or corporate leadership or even cooperation, and knowing that millions of Americans still consider climate change a hoax, what conclusion is a thinking person to draw?
Only one: that keeping Earth a safe habitat for living things is up to us, those who understand the threat and who care. It’s up to You and Me. And our kids, since they’re the ones who will be most affected.
Can we do it?
To quote Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
One thing we know for sure: If we fail to make the effort, our chances of success are Z-e-r–o. Throwing up our hands in despair and anticipation of defeat would be our worst possible choice. If you don’t know where to start, you’ll find lots of ideas here and here.
Why Families? Why Involve Our Kids?
Why turn to the family to make the difference? Because the family is the core of American society, the haven in which values are formed and nurtured.
The American lifestyle is putting our kids’ and our grandkids’ futures at risk. Unless we take visible and effective steps to change that, our kids will soon be blaming us for contributing to the death of their world. And they won’t be wrong.
What they may not want to consider, however, is that they too have enjoyed the fruits of this lifestyle.
To make lasting change, we must involve our children, make them aware that they share in the responsibility, prepare them to be action takers for life. Show them by example, yes, but also by getting them actively involved.
And they will want to be involved. Action is power! And kids love power. So why not raise them to be powerful contributors to a new, sustainable lifestyle? They’ve gotten a taste of it watching Greta Thunberg holding her own at the UN. What a role model for courage!
Now, let’s inspire them not only to speak out and be heard, but to take action to be more climate-conscious in their own lives, to inspire others, and to make it impossible for corporations and governments to continue with business as usual.
Vital Steps Parents Should Consider Taking
That’s why it’s vital that we include them in our activism. We have the opportunity to:
- Get informed. Harken to the saying, “Follow the money.” Where there is evil, there is a payoff. We must seek out the real motives behind the messages we’re being fed. To do that, we can support and subscribe to non-advertising-funded news sources, where the news hasn’t been edited to suit the moneymen.
- Invite our kids to discuss the scary issues with us. If we take a deep breath and ask them what they know, ask them how they feel about it, we may be amazed!. We can suggest topics for investigation. It won’t work to soft-pedal the issues; kids are good at recognizing blarney. They may know more than we do, so we should be prepared to learn from them, too.
- Protect our kids against depression and resentment by empowering them with the only truly viable antidote, other than prayer: Action.
- Strengthen our family bonds by working (and praying, if that’s your way) together to raise awareness and demand solutions. In many cases, the solutions are available—the only impediments to implementing them are habit and resistance to change.
- Join with other families to have a bigger impact than one family could hope to have.
- Give our children a working sense of the importance of teamwork and the results that can be achieved by working together.
Family Activism Can Be Fun!
If we try to impose activism on our children, they will resent it and we will have defeated the goal of preparing them for a lifetime of responsible citizenship. Instead, we can choose projects that let us have fun with our kids! Like:
- Making signs together and then carrying them in marches. Guaranteed, the little girl in this picture had a great time making her sign. And she enjoyed the march, too!
- Writing activist songs and singing them together in viral videos on the Internet.
- Writing Letters to the Editor together—Write individual letters and combine the best parts. Imagine your children’s pride when they see their letters in print!
- Attending City Council meetings together and standing up for the issues we’ve agreed in advance are important. This is a wonderful way to teach kids about local civic responsibility. Imagine the wonderful discussions you can have on the way home!
- Buying or building bird houses or bird feeders and installing them in your yard. This can be an exciting project, made even more delightful as the birds congregate and entertain you with their antics. Many birds are endangered, and providing them proper food can help to preserve threatened species. Brits have had wonderful successes with this.
Owl box (top), wire mesh box of dryer lint for nest building (lower left) and small birdhouse with liftable wall for easy cleaning, all made by Ray Collier of Vista, CA, 760-505-0281, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Creating online audio or video podcasts or a blog together to show people what they can do about rainforest destruction. Educational family projects like this can have a big impact on readers and viewers as they help save valuable rainforests.
- Setting your kids to work on the Internet researching plant-based alternatives to plastic wrap and paper towels. Then buy and try. Many are excellent!
These are just of few of the many available options for getting your family involved in making a meaningful difference in the climate change crisis.
It is our duty as loving parents to make sure we don’t pass the illness that has led us into this deplorable situation on to our children! Join us in taking action today, as families who care about our children’s and grandchildren’s future.