This week, as I was catching up on news headlines, a notification appeared announcing the 80th birthday of David Suzuki. David Suzuki is one of the most recognized and respected environmental scientists and activists of our time. And, he is Canadian – something I am very proud of. But when I shared this tidbit of information with my daughters, they didn’t share my enthusiasm. What I soon realized is that his name meant very little to them. How did this happen?
I remember being a child and thinking of David Suzuki as a homegrown hero. I would eventually study environmental science in university and graduate school, and then work as an environmental consultant. I think much of my career path was shaped by the Suzuki movement in Canada.
The very first fundraiser that I ever organized as a child was to save polar bears. Why were my daughters not feeling the same way? Sure, they love and respect nature, and spend their summer days exploring outdoors from dawn to dusk, but they were not nearly as passionate about environmental issues as I was when I was their age.
In response to this realization, I made a trip to our local bookstore and purchased a children’s book on climate change written by David Suzuki, himself. We then proceeded to hold mini-discussions within our family on various environmental issues. I have to admit, that I found it incredibly difficult. Climate change is scary. When you hear that a 2 degree Celsius change, in the global average temperature, can have devastating effects on the world in which we live, it underscores just how delicately balanced the earth really is.
Explaining this to young children is just as delicately balanced. How do you ensure they understand the severity of the issue, without making the situation terrifying and seemingly hopeless?
Through our discussions, my girls began to not only learn about the science behind climate change, but also about what they could do to limit their impact on the environment. They are becoming more and more passionate about environmental issues by the day. They now have countless ideas on how they can “help the environment”. One of their big concerns is parents idling cars in school pick-up zones. They plan on approaching their school to come up with a ban on idling, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It may be a small step, but it is a start. And, it allows school-aged children to not only have a direct part in reducing GHG emissions but also provides an avenue in which to have further climate change discussions at home, at school and within the community. I truly think that they understand the severity of climate change now, but their passion and commitment to change the future far outweighs their fear.
This all caused me to wonder how others, around the world, address the issue of climate change with their children.
Are there any resources or approaches that you use that others would benefit from knowing about?
This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.
Horseshoe Bend, part of Glen Canyon NP in Arizona.
Are you working on planning a summer vacation with your family? Are you interested in exploring amazing places? What if I told you that you could find just the right place for your family and that you could make it affordable? It’s right here…in your own backyard…it’s a National Park. (more…)
It’s been the kind of month in which the worn down clasp on my emotional baggage has popped open, spilling years of contents everywhere in disarray. I have been methodically working through the cleanup, but today, I felt the need to wander in nature for a mental health break.
I walked out the door with my furry companion, an amazing golden retriever who is the best dang dog who ever lived. Seriously, she’s awesome. I usually like to map out our adventures a bit more, but I didn’t have the reserves to make up my mind on where to go, so I decided to just leave the house and see where we would end up. (more…)
A woman being rescued from her house in Chennai, India.
My family lives in a low-lying area in Chennai, and we are, unfortunately, in the direct line of the reservoir’s outflow. We have been deeply affected by the #ChennaiFloods of 2015.
I’ve listened to to my son’s pleas to go back to his school which has been rained out for over a month. I have been heartbroken and in shock from the news of the many who have died around us from the floods. Helicopters overhead have dropped off supplies to my mother’s neighborhood. It began with a cyclone, and now the floods of Chennai, India have left the region where we live, in a crisis.
The school of the photographer’s daughter and buses under water in Chennai due to extreme flooding.
It was a wrong call. The people keep on saying this over and over again. In the newspapers. In social media. Chennai has had the highest rains in 100 years, but that is not what has caused our city’s problems. Lapses and error in human judgement, unplanned and predatory city development, high rise buildings on dried up river and lake beds, clogged drain water pipes, and a very poor civic administration are what led to our current catastrophe.
And the reservoirs and dams were opened up at the wrong time. This was a disgrace!
Sedimentary debris left behind by flood waters in Chennai, India.
The government had adequate warning from the weather department, but failed to respond in time. Who is responsible for this? One person’s bad judgment or that of one state government department led to this event which has been called a national disaster and crisis. Over 500 are dead, as bodies are still being recovered from receding waters, with over 1.8 million people losing their homes and possessions, and a net worth loss of $3 billion to the Indian Economy.
My city, fondly called Singara Chennai (Beautiful Chennai) in my native Tamil language, has now been aptly called Sink-aagara Chennai (Sinking Chennai) all over Social Media.
Dead bodies are covered as women mourn. Over 500 people have lost their lives in the Chennai Flood.
The damage is colossal. I am still numb reading and listening to accounts of dead bodies emerging from receding waters and closed highways because of the river in spate. Then there was the opening of Chennai International Airport after a long closure, the naval war ships coming to rescue people from the Chennai seaport, reported deaths in hospitals because of power outages, and the dead piling up and decomposing. Pregnant women were being airlifted from high rise apartments.
During all this, there was just this crazy thought in our hearts as parents, that our son should survive this.
It is our hope that our son survives all this mess, the bureaucracy, and live in a beautiful, safe world.
A helicopter evacuates a person who needs medical care in Chennai, India.
On the night of the reservoir opening up, we went over to our neighbour’s place in the first floor (in India the first floor is above the ground floor), because of the fear of flood waters entering our homes on the ground floor. It was with great pain that we left our home (for a single night), which we had built with all of our love and life savings, at a time when we had nowhere else to go. It was far too emotional.
I thought, it’s not the floods, not the waters, not being left homeless or penniless, but it is this great fear in our hearts of the questions. “What life are we leaving for our son? How are we leaving the earth, for all generations to come? What is happening with humanity right here, before our eyes? How did we, as a community, allow this to happen?”
Yes, the deluge of rain was unforeseen, an act of nature – but Chennai was left unprepared for it.
Left unprepared, because of the subconscious feelings and acts of violence, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, in the hearts of men. Left unprepared, because of the bending of rules and flouting of norms in the name of development of urban land. Left unprepared, because of the nonchalance on the part of governmental officials in the event a flood warning is issued. Left unprepared, because of the switching off of phones of the city police officers for emergency call-ins. I could go on.
We have watched apocalyptic movies like “2012″ and “Independence Day.” And, this week, we found ourselves living it.
As we waded through the flood waters to our neighbour’s place on the first floor, my son jokingly said, “Is this how it was like, for Noah, during the great biblical flooding?” We all humored him and laughed with a pain in our hearts.
A school library in Chennai that was wrecked by the flooding.
I keep my head up and continue with the strenth of these words from a speech given by my spiritual friend, Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachri. It is almost a year since he passed on, but his legacy and love, lives on in Heartfulness Meditation, which he has left behind.
“We have a duty to our race (human beings); We have a duty to the world. We are not just nationalistic, which is very narrow. We are responsible for the universe. One problem in Japan – the tsunami, a problem with their atomic [power] generator and the whole world is shivering. Which wind will blow what towards us? A flu somewhere, and everybody is sick; at all airports there are tests. Today, it is not your country or my country – it is my world. Anything happening anywhere can affect us. Bomb blasts in Mumbai. “Oh, But I am in Chennai.” Where next?
It all stems from the violence in the individual mind of every one of us here. We have violent thoughts. We have thoughts of acquisition, of greed, of power. Our politicians lead the country in this mad race towards destruction. We follow. They want votes based on religion, we are willing. “Who will vote for me?” So in the newspapers you find suddenly the Muslims are pampered, they are given special facilities – for the Muslim vote. In another area, it is the Christian vote. Nobody talks of the genuine vote, the legal vote, the moral vote – and we are prey to all of them.”
“The Veda (ancient sanskrit scriptures) says, let only noble thoughts come to me from everywhere in the universe (aa no bhadraah kratavo yantu vishvatah).”
“Always look at the heart whenever you are afraid, whenever you are going off track. Babuji Maharaj always said, “Don’t trust this head. It is only a thinking thing. It will give you information. It cannot tell you what is right or wrong. When you are in doubt, refer to the heart.”
The heart never misleads. The heart always tells you the right thing to do. It is way beyond morals, ethics and judgements. It always tells you how to go about peace, love and joy. The heart is the way. We could have done better. We MUST do better.
As a parent, as a mother, as a human being, I want to leave behind a just world where serenity and tranquility prevails.
This is an original post from our UNCA Award Winning World Mom and Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan.
Her contributions to World Moms Blog can be found here.
Photo credits to Savitha, Purnima’s sister-in-law.
Last week, South Carolina experienced the worst flooding is has seen in 1,000 years. World Mom, Sophia, shares her search for clean water after the storm last week…
Today the National Guard had two posts at which troopers were giving out clean water bottles by the case. As I prepared to go get some of this water, I thought of the safest, most effective and expeditious way of getting through the line of people waiting.
Would there be a truck at which troopers would be handing out the cases? Would there just be a group of us standing there with no adhered-to order, or would there be a line? How could I carry more than one case back to my car? I surely couldn’t get to the front of the line (or group) more than once… Maybe I should take the stroller, and put as many cases of water on it as I could take. (more…)
As a wife of one and a mom of four, it seems like I am always learning and discovering! I know I am not alone. Let’s just admit it: The world is a big place, life is a lesson, and children can be the best teachers. Normally my series, Life Lessons with Mexico Mom, is hosted on Los Gringos Locos, but today I am posting here on World Moms Blog.
Here are my insights and experiences as a Mexico Mom after we climbed Parícutin volcano in Southern Mexico. I don’t have the images edited yet or I would share! Stay tuned and watch for them on my blog. In the meantime enjoy our crazy experience. (more…)