I really love my oldest daughter, Charley. She is five years old and incredibly sweet and sensitive. Last night she cried her heart out because she didn’t get to see her friend. The previous weekend we went to Oklahoma City and visited the memorial for the OKC bombing. She took it all in. She saw all the chairs for each person who died. She saw the little ones that represented the children. She saw the fence strewn with things left by friends and family members who lost loved ones. She saw the messages left by children with sidewalk chalk, and left her own flower (with hearts for pedals) and signed her name.
One of her favorite songs – she is a music lover like her Daddy – is Masters of War by Bob Dylan. Just yesterday we were listening to it in my car. When the song was over we talked about what the song means.
One of her other concerns is Global Warming. In fact, on Tuesday before her karate class her friend saw an empty pack of cigarettes lying on the ground and she says to Charley and my wife, Amy, “That’s littering.” Charley says, “No, that’s Global Warming.” What she meant was the process of making those cigarettes inevitably was involved, and she is right.
Back to our drive yesterday – somehow the conversation turned from war to Global Warming. I explained to her that we are an oil-based economy and that to get the oil out we have to tear up the ground. Of course that releases carbon stored in plants and the soil up into the atmosphere. I explained to her the greenhouse effect and that co2 are tiny molecules that float up to the top of the sky and when the Sun shines in and bounces off the Earth that these little molecules, when there is enough of them up there, trap in heat. We returned to talking about what we do that caused Global Warming and I told her how when we suck out any oil we find we send it to refineries, which uses carbon-based fuels that when burned releases carbon into the atmosphere. After being refined we send the gasoline to gas stations and what not, and of course that involves burning fuel as well. Then we drive to the gas stations and fill up our cars and you get the point. We also talked about how buildings consume energy. And I told her about our assault on ecosystems – the rainforests, wetlands, grasslands, the oceans and rivers and streams, and in general industrial development. This is a lot to explain to a five year old and you may be surprised at how well they understand.
I told her to look around her. At this time we were driving down I-20. I said look at all of these cars. Each one of us is polluting. It would make a lot more sense if we used various forms of public transportation system. I explained that our private transportation system, while convenient for us, is very inconvenient for our planet. I also explained to her about how carbon-based fuel should be a thing of the past, that like the superior technology of Nature, we should be relying on the Sun, wind and water. I told her to look at all of the trees and plants and animals – even us. I asked her where they got their energy. I told her from the Sun. Plants get their energy from the Sun. She said, “Daddy don’t forget the rain.” Of course she would say this because I have been very happy with all of the rain recently since it has saved our yard and saved me from having to water it myself (she knows that rain water is “free water”). I said and the wind – the wind blows the rain clouds to us and that’s how we get our rain and with the Sun we get energy and we grow and so on and so forth.
She looked up with a look that says she wanted me to explain further.
“Charley, you know how in the song there are the Masters of Wars who hide behind walls and their desks? Well there are companies run be people who also hide behind walls and desks. And they sell oil or they sell cars or they sell electricity. They make money off of selling the things that cause Global Warming. They are the Masters of Global Warming.”
Charley asked whether her shoes cause Global Warming. I explain to her that they are made out of plastic which oil is used to make them and that the machines used to make them are themselves reliant on oil in a number of ways. So, yes, they are.
She started to get concerned with herself. I told her a story about a snowball that started rolling down the mountain and that once it got too big one person couldn’t stop it. “Charley, that’s the situation we are in. You are not responsible for creating this snowball and there is nothing you yourself can do about it right now.”
She wanted to know why enough people didn’t know or care. I told her that the Masters of Global Warming spend a lot of money to lie to people, to fool them, to make them think Global Warming isn’t real. “All you can do is care.” I recited the line in the book, The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss: “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” I told her, “And it helps to know, and we need to help others care and to know and when there are enough of us who do then we will be able to stop the Masters of Global Warming.”
She told me she cares and she has gotten someone else to care…