How to Raise Your Own Little Eco-Warrior (and Why You Should)

Environmental issues were seen as a niche interest until just a few decades ago. While the environmental movement has been going for years, emerging as it did in the decades following the second world war, it has really only come into its own relatively recently. There are a multitude of factors involved here - better general education means that people today are much more aware of environmental issues than their parents or grandparents were, for example.
Other important factors in the rise of environmentalism include improved technology that not only enables us to take more accurate readings of the current state of Earth environments but also to convey these findings to the general public in a much more concise way. But perhaps the biggest and most important of all these factors is the simple fact that the effects of climate change are now becoming apparent.
Around the globe, more extreme weather events are starting to become the norm. Europe has only recently emerged from a record-breaking heatwave, while the US has experienced its own extreme temperatures in recent years. From polar vortices in the north that have sent temperatures crashing below freezing, to heatwaves and intense tropical storms that are now part and parcel of living along the US coastline.
Studies show that millennials are choosing not to have kids because of their concerns about the environment. It no longer seems unthinkable that we will witness a calamity in our lifetimes that significantly reduces the amount of life on earth, human or otherwise. For parents who do decide to have children in the current climate, it is only natural to worry about the future that they will inhabit.

When Should They Start Learning?
There are lots of things that we need to teach our children before they reach adulthood. Some lessons - things like looking before crossing the road, or waiting for hot food to cool down before eating it - you want to teach them from the get-go. But there are plenty of other things - where babies come from, or the futility of all existence, for example - where it isn’t clear exactly when we should be teaching them to our children.
Environmental issues are easier for children to understand than issues like sex and death, which require a more developed sense of self to fully grasp. So, teaching children about environmental issues early shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, the ultimate consequences of climate change do involve a lot of death and unpleasantness. However, you don’t want to use fear as a motivating tool (more on that later), so it is better to encourage younger children to engage positively with the environment for other reasons. If you have a garden on your property, getting your children involved in some basic gardening is an excellent means of engaging them with the natural world around them.
You know your own child better than anyone else, so you should base your decisions about what to teach them and when on your own understanding of their maturity. But remember, even simple things like taking them for walks out amongst nature or having them help you plant some flowers can lay a solid foundation upon which you can build up their knowledge and understanding of the natural world.
Why Is it So Important?
There is still a very stubborn group of people who are either immune to evidence or shameless in their self-interest - both groups of people consistently try to downplay the climate emergency currently facing the planet. It is important to teach children from a young age that climate change is very real and is very definitely caused by humans. In fact, in addition to teaching them about the environment, this also teaches them another valuable lesson - fact checking.
Climate change is an issue that, like vaccines, is settled in terms of science. There is not any doubt that vaccines are safe and that human activity is driving climate change. And yet, there are people determined to paint these issues as ‘debates’ - implying that opposition to the consensus is valid. It’s not - climate change is real and caused by humans, vaccines are completely safe and effective. We really can’t say that enough. 
Those of us old enough to remember the turn of the millennium, even as children, can’t help but be staggered by just how normalized lying and distortion of truth have become in public debate. It has never been more important for children to learn the kind of intellectual self-defence skills needed in order to separate fact from fiction.
Teaching your children about climate change, and the concerted efforts of liars to lie about it, gives you an ideal springboard for teaching them about other important issues. As your child grows, they will no doubt come to realize that there are people out there who don’t share the same views as you. It is very important that they understand the difference between a lie and an opposing viewpoint.
The issue of climate change is perfect for teaching children about fact-checking and cross-referencing sources. Far too many people will simply read an article and take it at face value. Relatively few people will bother to dig into the story and verify it for themselves. Learning to research issues, verify and check sources, and draw conclusions is something that your child will need in order to succeed in their academic life.
Of course, in addition to the lessons they will learn about how science and research in general work, children who are more aware of environmental issues are much more likely to behave respectfully towards the environment. Educating children about the importance of climate change from a young age is one of the best weapons we have against an otherwise inevitable hell on earth.
The question of exactly how you teach your child about climate change is completely up to you. Again, you know your child better than anyone else and so you are in the best position to make this decision.
Start Small
No matter how old your child is, or what their academic abilities are like, there is always something that you can do to introduce them to environmental concepts. Start with simple things, especially if you are dealing with young children, like having them plant their own flowers in the garden. You don’t have to attach an entire lecture to every activity that you do with them, but it is a good idea to explain things to them as you go.
For example, if you’re planting some bulbs with them and checking every day to see how they are flowering, talk to them about how plants grow and the fact that they need water and light in order to make energy. This then enables you to explain to them how pollution can mean that plants aren’t able to access the resources that they need to live and grow.
Make it Interactive
Most children will learn best from interactive experiences that they are involved in. Simply sitting back and listening to adults talking can quickly become boring and isn’t an effective way of making the lessons that you teach stick with the child. If you can immerse them in an activity, they are much more likely to take on board the lessons you are trying to teach without having to put in any extra effort.
Spending more time outdoors is something that all of us could do with, but many parents face a challenge in getting their child to go outside and exercise. There’s nothing wrong with spending the occasional day indoors playing video games, especially when you’re a child. However, it is important that you also encourage your children to experience and appreciate the great outdoors. Don’t just take them for a token day out at the zoo. Instead, make an effort to regularly visit places where they can see nature - animals, insects, plants, trees, whatever - and be amongst it.
Make sure that you are constantly pointing out to them where the effects of climate change can be seen first-hand. If you have lived in the same area for a long time, you have probably already witnessed some quite dramatic changes in the environment around you. These might not be directly related to climate change, although you would be surprised just how much of the world around you is being shaped by it. But things like more houses being built or new shopping malls opening provide you with openings through which to discuss with your child how human activity is reshaping their environment.
Go Solar
There are lots of things that you can do in your own home to show your children that you take environmental concerns seriously. Simple things like encouraging them to recycle and switch off appliances when they aren’t in use will show them that this is something you care about and will also encourage them to think more about their own actions.
Depending on where you live, adding solar panels to your home could turn out to be both a great way of teaching your kids about environmentalism and saving yourself some money in the process. 
Take California as an example. California is one of the best states for solar power - hardly surprising given how much sun the state experiences throughout the year. Not only are there a number of legislative initiatives on the books that are aimed at increasing the rate of adoption for solar power technologies, but the state also offers homeowners some generous tax credit benefits if they pay to have solar panels fitted on their home.
As well as government initiatives, businesses like Semper Solaris, one of the best businesses for solar panel installation in Los Angeles, are helping to make solar energy more accessible and attractive. What makes Semper Solaris one of the best solar companies in Los Angeles is that they don’t just provide solar panels - they also offer general roofing services and energy storage systems. This means that they can mend or alter your roof while fitting solar panels, and can also provide you with what you need to store up solar energy,
If you live in California, we would recommend checking out Semper Solaris, but wherever you live, it is worth finding out what kind of tax credits and other incentives are on offer to those who adopt solar power. Adding solar panels to your home is another excellent demonstration of how seriously you take environmental issues.
Make sure that you explain to your kids why solar panels are important - it’s hard for children to understand the environmental costs of things like electricity because those costs are hidden from view. You never know, if you do a good enough job of explaining the virtues of solar power to your kids, then they may well end up choosing solar power when they have a home of their own.
For many of us, climate change has gone from being a distant hypothetical calamity to a very real and pressing issue. There is no doubt that if we are to survive as a species and overcome the roadblocks that climate change is going to throw in front of us, we will need to take action at all levels. It’s not enough to shrug our shoulders and wait for governments to mandate action. Instead, everyone needs to start taking responsibility and looking for ways to do their bit.

The above ideas are just a starting point, however. If you want your lessons to be effective and for your children to take on board everything that you have to say, you will need to speak to them in a way that only a parent can. Make them see that when it comes to climate change and the environment, this isn’t about them doing as they’re told. Instead, make them understand that by taking even seemingly insignificant actions now, like turning lights off when they leave a room, they can make a real difference to the planet that they will inherit when they grow up.

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