First, educate your parents.
When you were younger, your parents taught you how to ride a bike, how to tie your shoes, and how to catch a ball. Now, it’s up to YOU to educate THEM.
Most grownups don’t realize how serious our environmental problems are.
Talk to them about the facts and ideas you’re reading here. Clip articles from the newspaper about the environment and put them on your parents’ pillow. Yell at them!
GET A NEW CAR!
You may have heard about hybrids—cars that have two engines. One runs on gas, and the other runs on electricity. Hybrids are the cars that can squeeze more than fifty miles out of a gallon of gas.
If your family can go fifty miles on one gallon of gas, obviously you’ll use a lot less gas than a family whose car can only go ten miles on a gallon. You’ll not only be burning less gas, you’ll also be creating less pollution, sending less money to Saudi Arabia or some other oil-rich country, and you’ll be preventing global warming. Now THAT’s patriotic.
Your parents may drive a sport utility vehicle, or SUV. A small number of people NEED to drive an SUV because they live in an area where the roads are too rough for regular cars. But if your parents don’t need an SUV and they’re driving one anyway, it’s your job to nag and whine and complain about it until they switch to a car that doesn’t waste so much gas.
You can also help your parents drive LESS. Most of us just hop in the car without a second thought. Ask your folks—Do you really need to make that trip? Can that trip be combined with another errand? Could they walk? Could they take a bike? (They’ll live longer) Could they carpool with somebody else who is going to the same place?
VOTE FOR THE EARTH
Convince your parents to vote for politicians who will protect our environment instead of destroying it. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Doesn’t EVERYONE want to live in a safe, clean world? When Election Day approaches, find out which candidates are endorsed by environmental groups such as The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and The Natural Resources Defense Organization (their web addresses are below). Convince your parents to vote for those candidates.
GROW UP AND BECOME A POLITICIAN
If you don’t like the way politicians make the laws that affect our planet, then become one of the people who make those laws. Good, caring people will be needed to be our future leaders.
GROW UP AND BECOME A SCIENTIST
People are also needed to come up with solutions to our environmental problems. We’re going to need heroes.
CHANGE YOUR OWN ATTITUDE
When we turn on the TV, we’re bombarded by commercials that give the impression our lives will be better if we run out and buy new toys, cars, shampoos, DVDs, pimple creams, and all kinds of other stuff.
What will truly make our lives better would be clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and people around the world who aren’t homeless, starving, and dying. In fact, scientists have found that after our basic needs (food, shelter, water, clothing) are met, buying things does not make us much happier.
SPREAD THE WORD
After you finish reading this, tell three of your friends about it. If YOU tell three friends and THEY tell three friends and THEY tell three friends, 27 kids will get the message. And if they tell three friends and they tell three friends and they tell three friends, 2,187 kids will get the message.
If that were to happen just six more times, over a million and a half kids will get the message. It’s crucially important that every kid get this information.
You can help spread it even faster if you get on the Internet and chat it up by email and instant message. Take these words and email them to your friends. Go ahead. You don’t need my permission.
GET YOUR SCHOOL INVOLVED
Tell your teacher how important this is. Form a club of kids who care about the environment. Start a petition. Make your voice heard.
Tomorrow, read Part 5: Get Started!
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.