Dan Gutman, author of the My Weird School and Baseball Card Adventures books talks straight in this special Earth Day series. PART 3: Me? I’m Just a Kid!

What can a kid do [to fix environmental problems]? When you’re a kid, you sometimes feel powerless in a world run by grownups. You can’t even stay up past your bedtime. You can’t get your allowance raised.

But kids CAN change the world. It was kids who–to a large extent–put an end to the Vietnam war. It was college kids who invented the personal computer, started Microsoft and Google. It is mainly teenagers who fight our wars, create our music, and determine what kinds of TV shows and movies get made.

Politicians listen to voters. Business leaders listen to customers. Teachers learn from students. And parents can learn from their children.

Kids often teach their parents how to use computers, cell phones, DVD players, and other technologies so many adults find baffling. Parents need to be taught about the looming environmental crisis the same way. And kids are the ones who need to teach them.

Kids need to convince grownups that conserving gasoline and switching to other sources of energy should be a national priority. We need Congress to pass laws requiring carmakers to build more fuel efficient cars. We need laws that reward cities and companies that switch to renewable sources of energy. We need laws that punish companies and governments that cut down rainforests, pollute air and water, drive animals and plants to extinction, and threaten the very existence of the human race.


Oh yeah? When I was five, President Kennedy said America should send a human being to the moon within ten years. It sounded like science fiction at the time. Man hadn’t even been into space yet. But Kennedy’s words captured our imaginations. A massive national effort was undertaken, and when I was fourteen, Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon and said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Now we need to undertake ANOTHER massive national effort. America needs to switch from burning oil to using renewable sources of energy. That would be an even bigger leap for mankind than putting a foot on the moon. And it can be done.

Tomorrow, read Part 4: How Can We Fix It?

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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