Recently, my older son’s study guide included info about smog and ozone. Strangely, ozone was defined as a bad thing.
At least it seemed strange to me, because I learned back in the eighties about the holes in the ozone layer. What a minute, I thought. Isn’t ozone good, because it deflects the sun’s radiation or something? (Whatever happened to the ozone holes, by the way? Did banning CFCs fix everything? Also, wasn’t the ozone layer related to global warming back then? Why don’t we hear about the ozone layer anymore?)
Anyhow, I looked it up and learned that, yes indeed, the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere is good and necessary, but at ground level it is pollution. Not wanting to give him an incomplete picture, I explained both to him. He listened patiently, as it kept him out of bed a few extra minutes.
He’s in 3rd grade.
Not long after, he expressed worry about me wasting water with the garden hose and depleting the community’s water supply.
They’ve learned about the cycle of water in nature, you see. The lesson includes the importance of conserving water, and lots of ways to do so.
An observant young man, he also has noticed the signs everywhere on base, promoting Energy Awareness Month. Because, you know, being aware of how much energy you consume is so very, very important.
These are only three of the latest examples. Don’t even get me started on the environmental overkill at my son’s primary school in the U.K. Shudder.
He was too young to care much about it then. Now, he’s starting to notice.
So we had a talk about global warming, and environmentalism generally. We talked about how, when I was a kid, I was scared of acid rain killing all our trees and plants and stuff.
“Do you ever hear about acid rain?” I asked him. No, he answers. “Do you know why?” I asked. No. “Because it was a load of garbage. Nonsense. Just like the stuff you are hearing about running out of water. And when you are grown up, environmentalists will have moved on to some new idea which will be nonsense, too. That is what they do.”
We discussed how God put people in charge of planet earth, and how we need to be good bosses by not trashing the place or being wasteful. Just as we shouldn’t be wasteful at the dinner table (a common theme in my house). Whether it’s dinner or fossil fuels at issue, we should never waste the gifts that God has provided for us, I explained.
But there are some people who take it too far, I told him. We sat down at the computer and watched this video. At first he was scared, but I provided a running commentary that put it into perspective: What’s she doing in the desert? Why is there an earthquake? Where did all that water come from? Oh look, she dropped her polar bear teddy. Snicker.
You see, some environmentalists go overboard, and try to scare you into doing whatever they tell you to do. That video did not provide even the tiniest nugget of fact. It was not made to teach, it was made to frighten. To bully us, when it comes right down to it.
We stayed with the polar bear theme and watched the scrappy Phelim McAleer next, who introduced my son to Al Gore:
See, not every one agrees about all this scary stuff, kiddo. And the population of polar bears is increasing. Plus it’s fun to watch them argue like children.
The introduction of Al Gore led to a necessary introduction of a new vocabulary word: hypocrisy. What better example of hypocrisy is there?
He then asked me to find the car ad where the polar bear hugs the owner of a hybrid. Huh. Okey-dokey, here it is. We agreed that it is a cute ad, but Rush is hilarious and exactly right with this quote:
“My friends, don’t ever try to hug a polar bear. You will die. A polar bear will rip your head off. If a polar bear shows up in your driveway, run for the hills — or don’t leave your house. Do not go out there and let it hug you.”
That night, my son turned off the faucet I had left running during teeth-brushing. He glanced at me sheepishly and said, I’m not going overboard or anything. (Love. Him.) It’s all good, dear. You just don’t want to be wasteful, and that is fine.
Can I just say? Explaining all this to an eight-year-old is extremely difficult. Children are still learning the basics at this age. Can’t he learn about energy, weather, and the water cycle without it being tinged with obligation and worry? When they teach him about the human body in Science, are they going to bring up cancer and congenital defects?
I need to get another copy of this book; I think he may be old enough for it now.