Dan Gutman, author of the My Weird School and Baseball Card Adventures books talks straight in this special Earth Day series. PART 1: The Problem

I was thinking—what is the biggest problem facing the world today? Terrorism? Poverty? Drugs? Crime?

No. The biggest problem facing the world is the world itself. Because if we mess up Earth to the point that humans can’t live on it anymore, none of those other problems are going to matter.

Well, I hate to tell you this, but we are messing up the Earth big time. We’ve got to do something about it, and fast.


You read that right. Twenty million barrels.

As a result, we’re running out of oil, we’re dependent on the (often unfriendly) countries that have oil, and we’re heating up the atmosphere around our planet.

The 1990s were the hottest ten years in recorded history. Glaciers all over the world are melting. Sea ice is retreating in the Arctic and Antarctic. If the polar icecaps melt, New York City, much of Florida, and many other parts of the world will be under water.

I’m not trying to scare you. I’m trying to motivate you to help solve the biggest problem in the world.

Even if there were unlimited supplies of oil, we could not continue as we have been. Burning fossil fuels causes pollution, global warming, and a host of other environmental problems.

People often assume that human beings and nature are independent of one another. In fact, we need nature and nature doesn’t need us. As fossil fuels are burned, they release gases that warm Earth and increase the chance of heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts. As the ice shelves and glaciers melt, it threatens coastlines, destroys agriculture, and threatens to exterminate biodiversity—the plants and animals that support our lives. As people burn or cut down the rain forests of some distant country, it impacts our air quality, water supply, and crops. All our food and most medicines were originally derived from nature. Everything is tied together in a vast and complicated global life-support apparatus.

Tomorrow, read Part 2: Leave Me Alone!

Dan Gutman is the author of nearly 100 popular books for kids. He also edited Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Authors Tell You How to Go Green. Learn more at www.dangutman.com.

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