The Kids Are Alright: The Youngster Climate Crusade

Taking a cue from young folk on climate activism | ISSUE 7, 02.05.19

ONE | Who’s the Adult in This Room? TWO | ‘Skolsrejk for Klimatet.’ THREE | Strike While the Planet is Hot. FOUR | Hit the Emergency Brake! FIVE | Going After Greta. SIX | How to Throw a Climate Tantrum. SEVEN | Lilly’s Class on Climate Change. EIGHT | Climate Times Feedback Loop. NINE | Do Russians Love Their Kids’ Climate Future, Too? TEN | PS: You Promised Cartoons.

There are many reasons for climate change despair, summarized by scary headlines like “The Devastation of Human Life is In View.” But let’s talk about kids these days. If you have one, two or five—or are grandfather, aunt, friend or mentor to someone under 20—climate change is our greatest legacy to them and their adulthood. One would think that’d wake anyone from the immobilization of complacency or of praying someone else does something first. (In perhaps a sign from the climate change gods, my spellcheck tried to replace ‘immobilization,’ with ‘immolation’— which about says it all.) Yet while adults across the globe dither and delay, a whole bunch of young people have mobilized. And they want you and me to mobilize. (Hey, aren’t you and I the adults in their room?)

TWO | ‘Skolstrejk for Klimatet’

The Climate Kid of the Moment is Greta Thunberg, who at the tender age of 16 has her own Wikipedia page, a global audience and a gazillion Youtube views. For those not following along at home, Thunberg is the Swedish teen who stopped attending school August 20, 2018, to protest inaction on heat waves and wildfires in Sweden. Her backpack beside her, she began sitting outside the Riksdag government building, demanding the Swedish government live up to carbon reduction goals called for in the Paris Agreement. Her signage read: Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for the climate). Her ‘This little light of mine…’ protest lit a global bonfire. By the end of 2018, copycat strikes brought tens of thousands of students out of school, in nearly 300 cities and more than a dozen countries.

THREE | Strike While the Planet is Hot
So, we are about five months out from Greta Zero Hour and there is a big youth climate strike planned across planet Earth on March 15. If you are… like, young, or an adult who cares about the world that young’uns will inherit, follow along on Twitter here, and This Is Zero Hour. And tune into the activism by young(er)-people powered campaigns such as the get-in-the-street Extinction Rebellion (website: and Sunrise Movement (website:

FOUR | Hit the Emergency Brake!
”You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.”

~Greta Thunberg, addressing the COP24 United Nations climate change summit plenary assembly, 12.12.18

FIVE | Going After Greta
This being the age of calculated, drive-by social media hit jobs, the inevitable hate mongering against a teenager by Climate Denial Powers That Be and their social media minions has got some game. So much so, that Thunberg took to Twitter to respond this past week:

From her 02.02.19 Facebook post:

Many people love to spread rumors saying that I have people ”behind me” or that I’m being ”paid” or ”used” to do what I’m doing. But there is no one ”behind” me except for myself. My parents were as far from climate activists as possible before I made them aware of the situation…. There is one other argument that I can’t do anything about. And that is the fact that I’m ”just a child and we shouldn’t be listening to children.” But that is easily fixed—just start to listen to the rock solid science instead.

Because if everyone listened to the scientists and the facts that I constantly refer to —then no one would have to listen to me or any of the other hundreds of thousands of school children on strike for the climate across the world. Then we could all go back to school… I am just a messenger, and yet I get all this hate. I am not saying anything new, I am just saying what scientists have repeatedly said for decades. And I agree with you, I’m too young to do this. We children shouldn’t have to do this. But since almost no one is doing anything, and our very future is at risk, we feel like we have to continue…

Illustration from The Tantrum That Saved the World by Michael Mann and Megan Herbert. Credit: © Megan Herbert

SIX | How to Throw a Climate Tantrum

Let us turn to items not about children activists, but which encourage kid (and by extension, parental) climate action. Climate scientist Michael Mann and writer/illustrator Megan Herbert produced via Kickstarter a children’s book, “The Tantrum That Saved the World.” It tells of Sophia, whose life changes when a polar bear, a Kiribati family flooded by rising seas, a bee swarm, a fisherman, and others knock on her door seeking aid. Annoyed at first, Sophia realizes she has to help. The book’s language channels Dr. Seuss:

Sophia was minding her business one day,
When, quite without warning, a bear came to stay.
The ice that he lived on had ceased to exist.
He hoped that Sophia would kindly assist…

The book includes a climate change glossary, such as coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and ice sheet. A section explains what’s up with polar bears, bees, and the people who live in low-lying islands already going under because of rising sea levels. Herbert explained the book’s mission in a 02.01.19 interview in The Verge, in an article whose headline sums it up: “This picture book about climate change won’t freak your kids out.” The book, which Herbert says is for kids ages about 4 to 11, is geared toward solutions, not despair:

“People are so daunted with the idea of changing everything at once, that they just don’t do anything,” she says. But “if you’re doing one little change a week, if you’re changing two or three habits over a month, if everyone is doing that, it actually makes a big difference.”

One quatrain might make a good action plan for not a few of us adults:

Sophia’s strong feelings smouldered once more,
And this time they’d gotten too big to ignore.
Raging with purpose, her banners unfurled,
She kicked off a tantrum to save the whole world!

PS: Order a hard-back (which comes with a fold-out Action Plan) or e-book version of at this link. PSS: The book is billed as “a carbon neutral kids book.” It’s printed on 100% recycled materials, uses soy ink in a printing facility run on renewable energy, with no waste going to landfill, and includes “carbon offset” shipping.

SEVEN | Lilly’s Class on Climate Change
Here on my homefront — the Appalachian hills — I’ve been doing work with the Citizens Climate Lobby chapter in West Virginia. Last year, a member crafted a story about how one girl enlightened her class on climate change: "Lilly's Class: Kids Talk About Climate Change," by Eleanor Spohr (copyright 2018). The booklet is available for purchase for classrooms and individuals by e-mailing: ehspohr AT Above is a video translation (by my multimedia craft co-op, which makes the book’s message accessible to those who can’t get their hands on a hard copy.

EIGHT | Changing Climate Times Feedback Loop
If you’ve read this far, you’re one of the people who read this far in newsletters. I’d put a <heart> sign if I could. We—well, me and the two cats—seek feedback. Starting next issue, I’ll move to 5 instead of 10 items. All feedback, suggestions, and constructive criticisms welcome. Send to douglasjohnmartin AT or comment below.

NINE | Do Russians love their kids’ climate future, too?

A few issues ago (Issue 4, Item Six), I put out a call for music to add to a climate action playlist, starting with Neil Young’s “Who’s Gonna Stand Up?” I’ve been pondering the power of music to change perceptions. You have to wonder, for example, what business-as-usual politicos, corporate overlords and strongmen who roadbloack the move to de-carbonize the planet think about when they go home to their kids or have a gathering with grandkids. Which got me to thinking about Sting’s still-chilling and inspiring Cold War, anti-nuclear war song “Russians.” So, to leaders and readers in Russia (and Saudi Arabia, and China, and, well, Sweden)—we must assume you love your children, too, right? Right?!

By Dan Piraro |

TEN | PS: You Promised Cartoons

I did. Please pass the newsletter forward. And if you caught the forward pass like Rob Gronkowski on an end run, subscribe for free at | Suggest items below or e-mail them to: douglasjohnmartin AT | Thanks for reading. Be well. Douglas John Imbrogno