Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jenny Learns About Climate Change

After Jenny's first day at a new school, she and her new friend, Deidre, were walking through the park on their way home. Jenny waves at a friend who drives by in an SUV.

That car is sooo bad for the planet.” Deidre says. “Your friend just doesn't care about the planet.”

What? He's my neighbor and why doesn't he care?”  Jenny asked.

Cars put bad CO2 in the air and make the planet hotter.” 

Deidre, there's SNOW on the ground!” Jenny exclaimed.

Wow, you really don't know anything, do you? CO2 makes it hotter and that makes it colder. You should learn more.” 

Whatever. I have to turn here to get home. See you later.” Jenny said, turning down the block toward her home.

Mom, Deidre says Mr. Raymonds SUV is killing the planet and that Mr. Raymonds is a bad person.” 

She did?” Mom asked.

Yeah—and she said CO2 makes the planet hotter and that makes more snow.  That's silly. Hot makes cold?” 

Some people believe that car exhaust, power plants and other things that use oil or gas hurt the planet. It's called 'global warming'or 'climate change'.” Mom explained.

But hot can't make cold.” Jenny insisted.

It's kind of hard to explain. There's a lot of math and computers used in the theory.”  

Why didn't I know about this?” asked Jenny.

Not everyone thinks this is true. Your dad and I don't think it's true.  I guess we should have talked about it. Where we lived before people really didn't talk much about global warming. It's not that way here, it seems.” Mom answered.

What do I say to Deidre when she says Mr. Raymonds is killing us all?” 

Tell Deidre not everyone agrees on global warming, and that Mr. Raymonds is a nice man with a car he needs for work. That's all.  It's time for dinner now."  Mom answered.

Jenny learns about “deniers”

Jenny arrived at school the next day. Deidre and her friends pounced on Jenny as she came on to the playground.

Look” said Deidre, “it's Jenny. She's so stupid she doesn't know anything about climate change.”

Yeah,” chimed in Mary, “who doesn't know about climate change?”

Is it true you have a neighbor with one of those planet-killing SUV's?” asked Marci.

Yes,” sighed Jenny “my neighbor has an SUV.”

And she waved at him!” Deidre said.

My mom says Mr. Raymonds is a nice man who drives a car he likes.”

Whoa—is your mother a denier?” Marci asked.

A what”, Jenny replied.

A DENIER”, Marci said, her voice getting more shrill. “Someone who doesn't believe in climate change?”

Does your dad work for an OIL company?” Mary asked.

One question at a time. I don't know what makes someone a denier and no, my dad is an accountant for a bunch of local grocery stores 'Lee's Markets'" answered Jenny.

So your mom's as stupid as you are—doesn't know about climate change?” Mary snipped.

It's not stupid if no one explained something to me.  My mom knows. It wasn't important where I lived before.”

Aaaccckkkk! A colony of deniers,” Mary exclaimed, running away like Jenny had some contagious disease. Marci ran after Mary.

Thank you so much, Deidre, for making fun of me. Who needs friends like you?” Jenny said, walking off. The bell rang and that was the end of that discussion.

After school, Deidre caught up to Jenny.

Hey, I'm sorry I made fun of you. You need to know that everyone believes people are hurting the climate by burning fossil fuels and having too much stuff. If they think you don't agree, they really pick on you and make fun of you.”

So you told them about my not knowing so they would pick on me instead?” Jenny asked.

I don't know” Deidre answered. “I guess I wanted to make sure Mary and Marci knew I believed so they wouldn't tease me when they found out you didn't.”

Do you?”

Do I what?”

Do you believe people are hurting the planet by driving cars and stuff?”

Everyone does,” Deidre answered. “Everyone who knows anything about this. That's what the teacher says. Everyone knows cars and electricity and all that stuff is bad for the planet.”

I didn't” Jenny pointed out.

Everyone who counts, Jenny. The smart people. They know.”

These are the same people who say it's cold because the world is getting hot?”

No!” snapped Deidre, “that's not it at all.”

That's what you said yesterday” replied Jenny.

You just don't understand at all. I'm going home now.” Deidre snapped as she turned the corner toward her house.

Okay. I'll see you tomorrow, Deidre” and Jenny continued on home.

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