I am taking a break from “Project Management Tools That Work” as today is Blog Action Day on Climate Change (see http://www.blogactionday.org/).
Keep in mind that the solution to any problem, even worldwide problems, will need good project managers and good project management tools. Keep being your own best project management tool, and you’ll be ready to help solve worldwide problems like global climate change.
Work Cooperatively While Facing The Unknown
I admit, however, to being a skeptic on how well we understand climate change taking place on this planet. We seem to have too many examples of understandings about this world and people that change dramatically as we get smarter over time. Flu vaccines that kill more people than the flu does, for example, comes to mind.
With that said, I am a strong believer that we need to get together as a world and figure out how to work cooperatively on global issues such as climate, hunger, poverty, disease, etc. The more we do it now, the more capable I hope we’ll be as we are confronted by increasingly harder problems. So regardless of how much we know or don’t really know about world climate change, I believe the effort to address it and work together is worthwhile on its merits alone.
Teach Our Kids That Solutions Are Often Hard and Require Sacrifices
My kids are always enthusiastic about things such as saving the planet, saving animals, and stopping global warming. Unfortunately, they often learn it as “look at the bad things that were done before you were born!” I try to balance this by illustrating the reality of how we got to where we are today. How history is a series of events, and as we go through life, we often do things that turn out to be unwise or have consequences. However, it is not always obvious what dumb things we are doing as we do them. Too often we are taking available solutions, such as burning fossil fuels or by hunting whales and buffaloes almost to extinction, to meet the needs of the world.
I’ve come up with a few situations that have helped my kids understand the challenge of trying to always do the wise thing. It illuminates how often it is easy to overlook doing the right thing.
1. Turning off the lights. Every time they leave a light on in their room, I remind them the early explorers cut down trees for homes and fires and never worried about planting more. There were more than enough. Just like the light in their room that never seems to run out. Leaving a light on has the consequence of needlessly burning fossil fuels and contributing to global warming.
2. Closing the back door. If you leave the door open, you are air conditioning (or heating) the back yard. Again, we burn fuel (for cooling or heating) which consumes a possibly un-renewable resource as well as contributing to greenhouse gasses. If every kid in the world always closed the door, we’d have a lot less greenhouse gases and hence slow or reverse global warming. Ok, a bit of a stretch, but they understand how it could accumulate with kids all over the world.
3. Picking things up in the back yard. I remind them that our lawn, trees and shrubs, provide enough oxygen for a family of four, like ours. Taking care of it, such as not killing the grass by leaving stuff piled on parts of it for days, directly contributes to supplying the world with the oxygen we all need to live.
So telling someone, for the third time today, to turn off a light – as they are contributing to global warming – hits home. It hits home because it shows them how easy it is to contribute to a problem without thinking about it. It also shows them how hard it is to always do even the little things we need to do. When they study our world history and see the building of nations and the effort to support growing populations they see that often one goes for what at the time appears a workable solution. The long term consequences of these actions are not always as immediately obvious as are the immediate benefits many people will receive.
So, while we teach our young the errors of our ways, we need to help them understand that doing what is right is often hard. I tell them that if they don’t learn to do better than we did, then their kids will be telling them that the current woes of the world were brought about by their irresponsible actions. They deny it of course, but that is the wonder and optimism of youth.
Please leave a comment on your approach to teaching your kids about being environmentally responsible.