Global Warming: “Our Kids are Going to be So Angry with Us”

January 10th, 2009

It’s been five months since I read those words from Thomas L. Friedman, and yet they’ve stayed with me. They hit my gut as a warning that each of us will be held accountable for what we did – or didn’t – do to stop the disasterous affects of climate change. It surprised me that Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer prize winner and New York Times columnist with all the resources in the world at his disposal, chose to frame the battle against climate change in the context of a generational reckoning with our kids.

Here’s an excerpt from his August 5th New York Times column:
“ trip with Denmark’s minister of climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard, to see the effects of climate change on Greenland’s ice sheet leaves me with a very strong opinion: Our kids are going to be so angry with us one day.

We’ve charged their future on our Visa cards. We’ve added so many greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, for our generation’s growth, that our kids are likely going to spend a good part of their adulthood, maybe all of it, just dealing with the climate implications of our profligacy…”

Much has changed since those words were published five months ago. We’ve elected Barack Obama, someone whom we can count on to take action against global warming.

That’s great news, but we can’t leave it all to him.

As a mother who doesn’t want to face that angry reckoning with my own kids, I’m concerned. (Of course, I’ve already had angry exchanges with them about the need to fight global warming – like this one).

I see too many parents relaxing just a bit. “Oh, the new energy bill will take are of things,” they say. “We’ll finally have an EPA with some teeth,” they remark.

We can only count on Washington for so much. At the end of the day, the fight against global warming will be waged by Mothers who choose to stuff their kids into Priuses and the like instead of Chevy Suburbans, and who tell their kids that no, they’re not going to drive them to the corner store, they’ll need to walk. It will be waged by husbands who realize that an 8,000 square foot “green” house is not really green, no matter how many fuel efficient systems are crammed into the new construction.

Many of my “Green Mom” friends are joining in to raise awareness of the need to continue the fight against climate change. Their posts will be featured at the January Green Moms Carnival over at Not Quite Crunchy Parent.

Please check the posts out, and leave your thoughts below.

God knows we don’t need angry kids, right?

— Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

15 Responses to “Global Warming: “Our Kids are Going to be So Angry with Us””

  1. Mindful Momma on January 10, 2009 3:15 pm

    That article struck a chord with me too. I couldn’t help but post about it immediately after reading it. ( )
    Let’s all get inspired to make any changes we can – big and small!

    Wow – between this and ToysRUs, we seem to be on a parallel course, don’t we? :) Thanks for stopping by and giving me the link, Micaela! — Lynn

  2. JessTrev on January 10, 2009 4:44 pm

    Um, no, don’t need any more irate small ones in my world! But seriously, yes, our children are going to be mightily annoyed, as are developing nations when we try to explain why it is that they can’t pollute like crazy just like we did during the Industrial Revolution and beyond. Going to be tricky enough to navigate now that politicians are focused on it. Great post!

  3. Anna (Green Talk) on January 10, 2009 5:16 pm

    It always strikes a cord with people when you remind them of the legacy that we will be leaving for our children and their children. Think about it. In the science books of our grandchildren could be pictures of all the extinct animals that we caused. Is this something that our generation wants to be remembered for?

    Change has to come from within not waiting for the President to do it for us.

    Exactly, Anna. And you already see it when you go places like The National Zoo and see what used to be common species of frogs on display! It is heartbreaking to see. — Lynn

  4. Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish on January 10, 2009 6:31 pm

    Here! Here! Conservation is not something we do so that we can continue to consume as usual. It’s changing the way we view life and our place on the planet itself. If change doesn’t come from within, any solutions that the government imposes run the risk of being undermined by the next administration.

    Absolutely, Beth! Thanks for stopping by! — Lynn

  5. Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama on January 10, 2009 9:53 pm

    Yes. Halting global warming isn’t about those energy companies doing it, or about our President coming up with a solution. It isn’t about them. It is about us. Each and every one of us must make choices that preserve the future.

    Simple and well put, but what else would I expect from The Smart Mama? Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer! — Lynn

  6. Mary Hunt on January 11, 2009 9:54 am

    Tom starts a lot of conversations, but when women put their concerns in writing online, that’s when capitalism takes it’s que from citizen action.

    Amen, sister! — Lynn

  7. Diane MacEachern on January 11, 2009 3:57 pm

    Actually, the more fuss our kids raise the better! Especially when they see their parents starting to buy SUVs and trucks again because the price of gas has temporarily dropped. But kids have to do their part, too: how many of us are struggling to control our kids’ desire for the latest design, latest toy, latest tech development? Let’s all do our part. If we’re in this as a whole family, making change will be much easier than if any one of us is bucking the trends.

    Good perspective, Diane. I especially appreciate it as I know your eldest is off to college and you’re well past the early years I’m grappling with. I will say that peer pressure is intense, even in early elementary school. I understand why so many “crunchy” parents opt for alternative settings like Waldorf or Montessori…it just makes this type of thing much easier than in a conventional public school or private school setting. Thanks for your comment, Diane! — Lynn

  8. Steph @ Greening Families on January 12, 2009 9:53 am

    The holidays provided the opportunity for us to have more playdates than usual so I’ve had several in-depth conversations with other parents. I was so heartened when these conversations turned into discussions about climate change, recycling, and other green issues. More and more people seem to be realizing that there is a growing problem.

    I simply love that kids are speaking out since parents are often willing to do things for their kids that they won’t do for any other reason. While an increasing number of people are aware of the issues, many more are needed to join the effort in order to cause a significant shift. The more paths there are to that decision point, the better!

    I was reminded of an article several months back in The New York Times called Pint-Sized Eco-Police so wanted to share that link as well. (I hope the hotlink works – if not, a search of the title on the NYT site brings it right up.)

    Hi Steph, thanks for your great comment, and I appreciate the link! — Lynn

  9. Jenn (The Green Parent) on January 12, 2009 12:38 pm

    Well said Lynn. One of the main reasons that I started writing The Green Parent was because I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye when they got older and tell them, “these are the things that I tried to do to take care of the planet.” Honestly, the last thing I need to worry about is facing the wrath of my daughters if they are dealing with a screwed up planet and thinking it is all MY fault!!

    Exactly! We Moms do enough things WRONG anyway, don’t we?! And I know it will just get worse as they age…! BTW, I LOVED your post for the carnival! Thanks so much for participating! — Lynn

  10. mother earth aka karen hanrahan on January 13, 2009 2:31 pm

    having two teenagers they see their part in this mess we call our planet…i personally find the youth to be determined and inspired by it…admirable actually – i experience a bring it on – together we can …

    we could be mad at our parents…they started all of this …

  11. Christine on January 13, 2009 3:47 pm

    Lynn – your message above entirely resonated with me. I began to make significant changes in our family’s lifestyle when I finally understood what a tragic legacy we are currently planning to leave for our children.

    As I just listened to Senator John Kerry describe on NPR radio today, the situation is far more dire than any previous calculation or expectation has warned. It is essential that rather than relaxing, we ramp up our efforts each and every day.

    It’s time to be thoughtful, purposeful and focused on the future. It’s an opportunity to show our kids what leadership looks like and empower them to make a difference when time comes for them to step up as well.

  12. Stephanie - Green SAHM on January 13, 2009 4:18 pm

    Great points. It’s not just government and industry that needs to make a difference; we all do.

    My daughter sometimes gets upset about us walking to school, even though it’s a very short distance. She just knows that all her friends get rides. She has gotten more accepting over time, but once in a while it’s rough.

    No doubt it will be worse as we figure out what to do when she goes to middle school. We have a few years yet, as she’s only in first grade, but the neighbors tell me the school district charges for school bus service, yet it’s too far for the kids to walk. One of these days I will have to get the definition of “too far”, since I walked 2 miles home from middle school growing up. I actually don’t know where my local middle school is, quite.

    But I love making green a habit. We garden a lot, and shop as little as possible. Still have to cope with gifts from grandparents and such, but it saves us from needing to buy a lot of stuff.

  13. Green Bean on January 13, 2009 11:01 pm

    Hear, hear! We need to continue fighting and not just expect that now that we’ve elected Obama, everything’s a-okay.

  14. arduous on January 14, 2009 10:27 am

    Awesome post! We need to keep President Obama on his toes and make sure he answers to us!! But can I also say that it’s so nice to know that we have less than a week left of the last guy? 😉

  15. Sue on January 15, 2009 7:22 pm

    Great Post!

    It’s wonderful to see the energy and excitement build as we draw near to Obama’s Inaugural. We’re in dire need of stronger leadership, to become a caretaker of our environment, our economy and so much more. However, he can’t do it alone and so I urge you to keep your elected representation in the House and the Senate aware of your views on these all important issues. Building change from the bottom up is great and I applaud all our efforts in going and keeping green. Its a great time to bring these issues to the forefront of our political discussions.

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