Chuck McCutcheon: On Climate Change Advice and Your Kids


At ClimateMama we have the good fortune of meeting so many wonderful and committed people, who from so many different perspectives, work together to help us understand and communicate the reality and urgency of the climate crisis. Someone we met recently that we would love to introduce you and the kids in your life to, is journalist and author Chuck McCutcheon. Join us as we get to know Chuck a little better.

What inspired you to write your book, What are Global Warming and Climate Change, Answers for Young Readers?

I’ve been a journalist living all over the U.S. since the 1980s and have seen what an extremely important issue climate change has become. Since moving to Washington, I’ve focused on the political debates about it. I had written another book on the world’s first nuclear waste garbage dump, and subsequently my publisher, University of New Mexico Press, asked me if I would write a book on nuclear energy as part of a new series on science and environmental books for middle-school students. I said I’d rather address climate change.

As a parent, how can I use your book to empower my own children?

My book is unique among ones on this subject in that I use a question-and-answer format to cover all the issues — the science, the politics, the potential solutions and what people can do to reduce their carbon footprint. I spent a great deal of time working with scientists, students and teachers to ensure the material was readable and accurate. So parents who read my book can ask their children questions, then discuss the answers. I also include several separate activities to enhance their understanding of the issue.

What is the key message/point you see that I can give my children about the following:

The seriousness of the crisis we face:

There should be no doubt by now that the earth is getting warmer at a much faster rate than in the past, and that humans are responsible. This isn’t a liberal or conservative view; it’s the scientific reality. Parts of the world already are being affected — in March 2012, leaders of the Pacific island nation of Kirbati said they were considering moving their entire nation’s population to Fiji because of the threat of rising sea levels blamed on climate change.

Our ability as individuals and as a nation to tackle it:
This isn’t something that should be left to politicians or experts to solve. Other positive societal changes have happened and become ingrained in everyday life because people took an interest and then took proactive action. The recycling movement is just one example. I’d like to think it’s incumbent especially on children to take an interest in climate change. It affects everyone. And as one student told me, “This is our generation’s issue. We’re going to be the ones who are paying for it.”

Steps we can take as a family:
I devote a whole chapter of my book to what families and kids can do. They range from always filling the dishwasher with full loads to planting trees, bicycling instead of driving, and making sure they buy energy-efficient appliances.

Empowerment tools for kids:

Several students I spoke with for the book became empowered through joining global warming clubs. Others were empowered by watching “An Inconvenient Truth.” But there are other ways. Above all else, I think it’s empowering for kids to learn as much as they can — my book includes a list of other books as well as a variety of websites devoted to climate change.

Empowerment tools for parents:
All those same suggestions apply for adults. Ideally, my book and others like it will motivate them to teach their children how important this is. I welcome any questions or feedback that parents might have. Visit my Website and Facebook page from more information and details!

Around the country, so many positive companies, organizations and individuals (like Chuck!) are working on climate change education, mitigation and adaptation; this is what keeps us at ClimateMama motivated, empowered and hopeful. Yet, we continue to be confronted by “loud voices” that want to deny the reality of climate change, and put roadblocks in our progress to steam the worst of the impacts of the changes that are already with us. This often come to us from unlikely and unsuspecting sources, including politicians and “think tanks.”

Grab the kids in your life, and show them two easy ways you can fight for Reality on Climate Change together today:

1. Urge Tennessee governor Halsam to support sound science on climate change and veto House Bill 368.
2. Sign the Climate Reality Petition, and keep climate denialism out of the classroom!

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