Power to Change the Course of Environmental Decline

As Al Gore’s small masterpiece, “An Inconvenient Truth”, looms across our screens, the scourge of environmental pollution and climate change becomes more and more inescapable. While large international oil companies have been accused of feeding us propaganda for years about the real effects of environmental damage, environmental awareness has been growing rapidly in many corners of society, and one of these increasingly visible social groups taking a stand is children.

The number of children’s environmental awareness and activity groups has been rising rapidly in the last decade, with many taking a more and more active role in protests. However, most kids’ environmental organisations concentrate on education as the key tool in the learning process towards a better future for our planet. Some of these organisations are offshoots of larger institutions: for instance the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has a children’s education program called TUNZA , which works in partnership with children across the globe and aims to equip them with information on how to best treat the planet. Children are represented by a Junior Board, which is elected every two years at the same time as UNEP’s TUNZA International Children’s Conference. By creating an interactive website, which includes a cartoon strip called “Ozzy Ozone, Defender of Our Planet”, TUNZA’s approach is exemplary in its global outreach and ongoing commitment to keep children engaged with the problem of climate change.

Other important children’s environmental programs include Kids FACE, or Kids For a Clean Environment, which highlights important grievances like climate change and ozone depletion in a language that children can understand. It exposes them to basic, hidden facts, such as that active kids are the group most at risk from ozone exposure, as well as encouraging their three main aims to “recycle, build and plant”. Other organisations include the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Kids Club; this organisation also runs a High School Environmental Center which runs careers, internships and scholarships. Also of note is the electronic magazine EEK!, or Environmental Education for Kids, which is sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and aimed primarily at kids from Grades 4 to 8. This offers teaching activities and resources as well as profiles of environmental jobs, and although its focus isn’t exclusively on environmental protection as such, it exposes kids to crucial ideas about the environment and natural resources that are essential for a full grasp of today’s environmental complexities.

Clearly, there is a wealth of organisations eager to inform today’s children on the importance of environmental protection and the dangers it poses to their future. While many big businesses are being lambasted for not doing the same, some large companies are joining the cause. For example, Doubletree Hotels runs a program called Teaching Kids to CAREĀ® which is currently in its third year of running. This campaign aims to educate children about their role in caring for the environment, and involves more than 10, 000 kids in 150 communities across the continent. As other projects arise to complement and work together with the fraction mentioned here, it seems clearer than ever that the country is fighting the growing scourge of environmental decline by effectively teaching our children to take the bull by the horns.