climate conversations

Polar Bears and Anxiety

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Artwork by Cora Shaklee, author’s daughter

Real world climate conversations are messy and awkward and often uncomfortable.  Here is a real world climate conversation between myself and my 12 year old.

My 12 year old and I recently read a book– called Wild Buildings and Bridges by Etta Kaner.  It’s an awesome book about how architects are learning from nature how to design more efficient buildings and other structures.  We read the section about houses in the Netherlands that were inspired by lily pads. The architects created them in such a way that they would float on the water and rise and fall with the water level.

Me: “Oh that is a really smart way to deal with rising sea levels.  I bet that could help a lot of people who live along the coasts.

My 12 year old:  “But it doesn’t help the Polar Bears”

Me (feeling panic-y, thinking oh crap the insurmountable problem of the Polar Bears, maybe I can stall):  “So what is the root of the problem for the Polar Bears.”

My 12 year old: “Well the sea levels are rising because the icebergs are melting and so the Polar Bears have to swim too far to find enough seals to eat.”

Me:” Yeah, that’s a hard one, isn’t it…”

12 year old: “They need places that float like those houses that stay above the rising sea” (ah ha, the connection to the book)

Me (maybe I can distract): “Oh let me show you something cool.  I saw this video about a river where people have made floating parks from recycling plastic.  The parks provide plants above the water and habitat for fish in the water”

12 year old: “That’s cool, but I don’t think it will help the Polar Bears”

Me (Damn, she sees through me every time! Finally remembering to acknowledge the anxiety) ” I guess your right, I can see you’re really sad for the Polar Bears, I am too.  We will have to keep thinking….”

For more climate change conversations click here

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