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Getting a Green Grip

globe21.gifAre you an environmentalist? Maybe you’ve heard about global warming on the news or at school or your parents have talked about it. Maybe you kind of listened but thought, That’s not my problem. I’m just a kid. All I need to worry about is recycling my soda can. Well, here’s a news flash: Scouts are environmentalists. And environmentalists are concerned about global warming.

HERE’S WHY YOU ARE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST: You like to go camping in a forest. Or catch fish. Or sit by a campfire. Or snorkel around coral reefs.

green2.jpgGlobal warming is threatening those simple things. It’s bringing warmer temperatures to forests so bark beetles breed faster and kill the trees. It’s cutting down snowfall on mountains so there’s less runoff, and rivers and streams are drying up. It’s creating drought, making chaparral so brittle that you risk a dangerous wildfire when you light a campfire. It’s causing warmer ocean water, which harms coral reefs.

WHAT IS GLOBAL WARMING? It is an increase in the Earth’s average temperature. Since the mid-1800’s, the average temperature of the planet has gone up by one degree. If one degree doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s the difference between a frozen Popsicle and a sticky puddle on the floor.

green-200x148.jpgThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, is made up of 2,000 scientists from more than 150 countries. They say human activity has caused the planet to warm up. What kind of activity? Turning on lights, powering computers, heating homes, driving cars, flying planes, and manufacturing furniture or toys or steel.

All this activity requires the burning of fossil fuels to release energy. Coal, oil and natural gas are fossil fuels. They are carbon-based substances that scientists say formed millions of years ago even before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. When burned, the carbon inside them hits the air and becomes carbon dioxide.

green3.jpgCarbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, meaning that it lets sunlight in, like a glass ceiling on a greenhouse, but doesn’t let heat out. In other words, carbon dioxide acts like a blanket over the Earth, trapping heat and warming up the planet more than is healthy.

The extra heat is melting our glaciers. It’s melting summer Arctic ice and permanent ice sheets covering Greenland. It’s creating extremes in our weather and changing the seasons. It’s bringing tropical diseases as mosquitoes breed in stagnant flood water. It’s putting animals such as polar bears, penguins, some species of butterflies and coral at risk of extinction. It’s eroding coasts because of rising sea levels.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE DOING ABOUT IT? With every problem comes an opportunity. The problem of global warming has created some cool solutions.

green4.jpgAlternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel are made from corn and sugar crops, as well as vegetable oil. There are “veggie” cars on the road today. (Some even have the faint aroma of French fries.) There are about 25 different brands of hybrid cars, which combine a gas engine with an electric one to cut down carbon dioxide emissions. Other alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen fuel-cell, are starting to zoom onto our roads.

Renewable energy is a way to generate electricity with resources that will never run out. Unlike coal or natural gas, solar power, wind power and hydropower (from water) are renewable. A company in Australia is building a 1,600-foot solar tower in a desert that will bring electricity to 100,000 homes. Twenty percent of the world’s electricity comes from dams, which use water to create energy. And one typical wind turbine can generate enough power for 1,000 homes.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT? Everyone has a carbon footprint. Just as you leave a footprint in the sand on the beach, you leave a “footprint” of carbon emissions every day.

Your carbon footprint comes from normal activities like turning on the light in your room, taking a shower, riding in a car to school, even eating a banana that’s been flown in from Mexico. (That airplane put out carbon dioxide to get the banana to your grocery store.) Unlike a footprint in the sand, you can’t wash away your carbon footprint. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for decades. So what you do today will affect the atmosphere your kids will live in. Find out how big of a carbon footprint you’re leaving here.

We need to think about a more sustainable way of living, meaning one in which we don’t waste valuable resources but use those that will never run out. Click here to see some simple things you can do today to Go Green!

book3.jpgCambria Gordon is coauthor of “The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming.” Scholastic,, $15.99 softcover. Ages 8 and up.

More Go Green reads:

book2.jpg“This Is My Planet: The Kids’ Guide to Global Warming” by Jan Thornhill. Maple Tree Press,, $10.95 softcover. Ages 9 to 13.

book1.jpg“You Can Save the Planet: 50 Ways You Can Make a Difference” by Jacquie Wines. Scholastic,, $4.99 softcover. Ages 9 and up.

20 Comments on Getting a Green Grip

  1. i feel very bad for all those endangered and soon to be extinct animals why can’t they make a space colony that can hold half of the world population so less of the rainforests can be cut down

  2. Global Warming is melting our Earth. People need to start thinking about our enviorment.

  3. Another Concerned Scouter // July 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm // Reply

    It is appalling that so many cannot recognize the distinct difference between Conservation (using only what you need, cleaning up your own mess, use it again if possible, etc.) and Environmentalism, which has become a loose organization of ‘believers’, which are more like religionists.

    As the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts continue to slip deeper into the massive efforts to ‘save the planet’, they naturally move away from their pledged and promised “Duty to God” because noone can escape the unspoken alternative that MUST exist, if Global warming were true, that:

    1.God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, was out to lunch regarding Carbon Dioxide (CO2-a trace gas which makes up .0003% of our atmospere, a gas that people produce just by exhaling) and therefore is dumber than Al Gore


    2. God does not exist

    The solution is obvious. God does exist and it is apparent from mankind’s lack of ability to create another universe, that He is infinitely smarter than anyone on earth and therefore any claims made the global warming religionists are admissions of ignorance or admissions of Idolatry.

    This organization cannot profess a Duty to God and continue to embark on a path so clearly marked with inconsistencies and fallacies.

    I beg the Scouting organizations and Boy’s Life to ignore the incessant hype and hysteria of the current environmental fad and reconsider their positions and policies regarding these weighty issues.

    However, if you continue the attempt, there are some of us willing and able to blaze a new trail.

  4. smelliott cookie // June 24, 2008 at 7:17 pm // Reply

    To avoid global warming, you can recycle. Recycling is very helpful!!!

  5. Ellibot 2487 // June 24, 2008 at 4:18 pm // Reply

    Everyone knows we can recycle paper. But why doesn’t everybody do it? well, if you don’t recycle, please start because we can make a difference; a HUGE difference. So start recycling now!!!

    If you don’t want to recycle, you can help the Earth in other ways to!!!

  6. raindeer56723 // June 24, 2008 at 3:40 pm // Reply

    To help the earth i would chose to recycle and shut the water of when i am brushing by teeth or i would use more recycle things than trash.

  7. SANTA 2496 // June 24, 2008 at 3:35 pm // Reply

    If you don’t want global warming to affect you, you can choose to recycle, shut the water off when you brush your teeth, or you take a quick shower or bath.

  8. GIVE' EM WATT'S,BOYS! // May 7, 2008 at 11:56 am // Reply

    green land was called green land for a reson, IT,WAS,GREEN!!!!

  9. globel warmig is never going to happen but we can take better care of are Earth.

  10. Anonymous // May 5, 2008 at 5:22 pm // Reply

    I am surprised that this topic has generated a level of discord. Conservation of our resources has been around for years and great Americans have been supportive of the cause. Teddy Roosevelt realized that our natural places and resources were not inexhaustible. We know we will run out of oil at some point, why wait until it is gone before we develop an alternative fuel? Conserve, reuse, recycle. These do not sound like radical ideas. Our grandparents practiced these things. They did not through away things after they were used, they fixed them up and used them again. I am not a tree hugging hippie, far from it. It makes fiscal and environmental sense to not waste our resources, global warming or not.

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