Teaching Our Children About Climate Change and Petroleum

Representatives of countries around the world when they met in Paris seemed to be united in acknowledging the perils of a continuing rise in carbon dioxide emissions. Although we are beginning to feel the consequences of higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, next generations are much more likely to face the new challenges climate change brings. How we teach young children regarding this issue is therefore an important task to address. Victoria Hermann in US News offers some advice: "Doomsday narratives about climate change don't work."

Above copied from US News

Hermann is responding to a New York Magazine article by David Wallace-Wells:

Above copied from New York Magazine
Hermann cites a study by Haeffel and coworkers that links hopelessness to a decrease in goal-directed behavior. In this work, depression is shown to correlate with a decrease in our desire to find solutions and make decisions. This is basically what hopelessness entails. Hermann therefore suggests that we focus on positive stories as related by the photo (shown above, Fishermen planting mangroves in Aceh Indonesia to reduce coastal abrasion) that accompanies her article. We can still do something about it. We like happy endings.

We probably should learn a thing or two from the petroleum industry. Children in Oklahoma are provided science lessons sponsored by the oil industry. There are books for young children. One example is Petro Pete's Big Bad Dream. 

Above copied from OERB
This story centers on a young boy's dream of what might happen if there was no petroleum industry: No clothes to wear, no toothbrush, no school bus, no tires on a bicycle, and no soccer ball to play with. The story ends with Pete waking up and realizing that it was only a dream. All the petroleum-based products were back. It was such a happy ending.

We need stories of hope if we want to teach our children. Perhaps, Hermann does have a point:
"We are at a point today where every decision we make counts in deciding what America’s climate change story will be – including the fundamental decision of how we tell climate change stories. Let’s start telling stories of hope and heroes."