EDITORIAL: Youth need hope to face climate change doom and gloom

“It’s too much sometimes. I know we have to talk about it — do something about it — but sometimes all the bad news makes me want to tune it out. It’s really depressing.”

It was game night at our house and our teenagers and family friends were chatting about everything from the video app Tik Tok to climate change and how being inundated with rapid-fire, doom-and-gloom news about our planet’s future — combined with adults putting a great deal of the “so what are you going to do about it?” onto the youngest generations — is overwhelming our children.

And no wonder. Just look at the headlines about climate change on any given day and tell me you don’t feel like hiding under the covers.

“Stronger Hurricanes Could Decimate Forests and Accelerate Climate Change, Study Warns,” reads a March 25 CNN article. “Climate Change May Destroy a Barrier That Protects the U.S. From Hurricanes,” the World Economic Forum predicted in May.

Other stories warn that we will soon lose 1 million species due to climate change, that the world’s food security is at risk, that oceans are in danger, that huge swaths of desert land will soon be too hot for human inhabitants and that the ability of humans to just “adapt” to climate change is not much of a solution.

It’s understandable that our children want to tune it all out. But, at the same time, they know they’re in charge of dealing with it. They’ve watched adults drop the ball over and over again. And then they see those same adults praise the youth climate movement leaders and put the burden of changing the world on the shoulders of kids that are just a few years out of elementary school.

We need to take responsibility for our failures as adults. Not just by paying attention to climate change and making some big changes in our own lives (see our feature story “A Bright Future” on page A1 of today’s Post-Record to read about one Camas couple making a difference in the battle against climate change), but by helping our children see the positive steps people, business leaders, government officials and nonprofit organizations are taking to protect our planet.

Conquering big problems in manageable, bite-sized chunks is how we adults keep our work from overwhelming us. The same holds true for our children. Knowing there are small, everyday things they can do at home or in school to help our environment allows our children to feel a little more in control when facing something as daunting as climate change.

Two of my favorite resources for positive news regarding the environment and climate-change mitigation are Yes! Magazine and Positive News.

Yes! Magazine (yesmagazine.org)

This Bainbridge Island, Washington, magazine describes itself at “journalism for people building a better world.” The articles in this magazine don’t gloss over the impacts of climate change, but do offer practical solutions and give a ray of hope amidst all the doom and gloom. In September, Yes! journalist Terri Hansen interviewed four climate scientists about “how to take on climate change today” and offered some positive news for our younger generations to take to heart.

Most of the Yes! articles offer practical tips that seem conquerable on an individual level. An Oct. 30 article by Alexa Peters for instance gives readers ways to help shrinking bat populations (install bat boxes in your yard, report bat sightings online and become a member of Bat Conservation International).

Positive News (positive.news)

Another source that appeals to newspaper folks like myself is Positive News, which describes itself as “the magazine for good journalism about the good things that are happening” and as “pioneers of ‘constructive journalism’ … rigorous and relevant journalism that is focused on progress, possibility and solutions.”

Click on Positive News’ “Environment” tab and you’ll get stories about the transformation of a coal power station into a plant using plastic waste to create greener energy; a woman who “sparked a plastic-free revolution”; and bus stops that are being turned into “mini urban havens” for bees.

As Randy Friedman, the Camas man behind the solar canopy story featured on today’s front page, said, we all need to rethink how we’re living to ensure a healthy future for our children and grandchildren. We may not all be able to install solar power at our home or drive an electric vehicle (although my Nissan LEAF only cost $5,500 used, so these cars are within many folks’ reach), but we can all take small steps toward combating climate change and offer our children hope for a better, brighter tomorrow.

~ Kelly Moyer, managing editor

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