Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Willie Soon – What do climate activists do if they can’t convince adults to support their hardline green policies?
Children’s books can do more to inspire the new generation of Earth warriors
June 4, 2018 9.59pm AEST
SEI Associate, Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York
A changing climate means the frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, flooding, hurricanes and wildfires has become a common occurrence. Temperatures are increasing on the land and in the ocean, the sea level is rising and amounts of snow and ice are diminishing, as greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations have increased. Unfortunately, children and young people are taking the brunt of climate changeand this will continue into the future.
Doctors are seeing the serious effects of global warming on children’s health and are concerned that it could reverse the progress made over the past 25 years in reducing global child deaths. Not only that, children are at risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety due to natural disasters caused by climate change.
Given the enormity of the climate challenge, it is surprising how limited coverage of our changing climate receives in current children’s fiction. The children’s publishing sector is booming. UK sales of children’s books rose by 16% in 2016 with sales totalling £365m. Globally, children’s book sales have risen steadily across all age categories.
Some picture books do explain climate change (such as The Magic School Bus and Climate Change by Joanne Cole and Bruce Degen). And there are plenty of young adult novels that feature dystopian climate futures (such as Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd). But few fiction books for eight to 11-year-olds discuss the issue.
We need children to care about the planet if they are to the tackle climate challenge that lies ahead. Storytelling can play a part in raising awareness and inspiring children and young adults to take action and become the next generation of Earth warriors.
Michael Mann endorses the child “Earth Warrior” initiative.
— Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) June 4, 2018
As a father I’m rather glad about the shortage of “dystopian” children’s stories. Young children experience enough nightmares without deliberately force feeding them nasty apocalyptic visions of how painful, empty and pointless their future will be.