Hot Planet

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Praise for A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids

“Cool kids can only get cooler once they take in the vibrant and colorful vision of change in this book. Every page offers a morsel of insight relevant to kids’ lives and the planet’s future. Cool kids may have to fight their moms and dads for the chance to read it first! Once both generations catch the spirit of hope from this book, we’ll change the nation—and the world.”

Jay Inslee, Washington Governor, former U.S. Congressman, and coauthor of Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy

“What’s so dangerous about global warming is that it leaves many people feeling hopeless, as if nothing they could do would matter. This fine book makes it clear that that’s not the case—and from changing lightbulbs to changing laws, it shows young people how they are able to help.”

Bill McKibben, leader of 350.org and the People’s Climate March and author of Deep Economy

“All kids will benefit from reading this book. A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids provides young readers with the knowledge and tools to tackle what will undoubtedly be one of the greatest issues facing their generation.”

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change

“What an important book for kids and grownups to read. From down-to-earth descriptions of the greenhouse effect to what’s really going on in our climate, A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids empowers readers with solid, no-nonsense information as well as giving them tools to make a difference. With clear, accessible text, rich images, and thought-provoking activities, this book is a must-have in any science classroom and is a powerful tool to put in the hands of all of our children.”

Lynn Brunelle, Emmy-winning writer for Bill Nye the Science Guy and author of Pop Bottle Science

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Meet Julie Hall: An Interview with the Author of A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids

 

What made you write this book?

Quite honestly I was feeling depressed and overwhelmed by global warming and the lack of response to it. I was reading more and more about it and, as many of us do, feeling helpless to do anything meaningful to fight the problem other than the lifestyle things I’ve done for years, like compost, recycle, buy organic, use a push mower, help animals, ride my bike, and so on. Especially as a parent, I was feeling deeply concerned for my daughter and what she and her generation were inheriting. And then I found myself writing a book to educate kids on the topic and motivate them to get involved.

I suppose I was impelled forward by a desire to help and a desire to make myself feel better by helping. As with all the writing I do, writing this book was a learning journey for me, a way to teach myself more about the topic and to feel involved with it in an active, positive way. Given the subject matter, immersing myself in the research and writing was not easy, but in the end it was cathartic and gratifying.

 

Global warming is a heavy topic. Why do you think it’s important to talk to kids about it?

It’s necessary to talk to our kids about it precisely because it is such an important and serious issue. I don’t believe in lying to kids, either directly or by omission. Parents who think they are protecting their kids by depriving them of awareness or information are doing their children a great disservice. Often what these parents are really doing is trying to protect themselves, and by shielding their kids they are perpetuating their own denial. The only protection from global warming is awareness, action, and fundamental change. That is the unfortunate fact.

When we do not talk about climate change with our kids and do not respond to the problem appropriately at home through lifestyle changes, we are communicating fear and/or indifference. We are also depriving our kids of the opportunity to help make things better. The fact is, our kids know climate change is happening, and they are scared. Parents need to help their kids handle their fears and move beyond them into positive action.

 

What advice do you have for parents about how to talk about climate change with their kids?

I would say the place to start is examining your own thoughts and feelings about it and educating yourself. Many adults have told me that they learned a lot from reading my book. I actually wrote it with parents and teachers in mind as well as kids. My intention was to present a clear, straightforward explanation of the major causes and effects of climate change, a sampling of the good work people are doing to reduce it, and an inspiring call to action for families and schools.

Obviously how parents discuss climate change depends on the child’s age. Kids themselves are usually your best guide as to how much they are ready to hear, and they will let you know with questions. With very young kids it is good to talk about the positive things you are doing in your household to help the earth. It is also so important to teach and model humility and appreciation for the natural world, for other living things, for Earth’s natural processes. As I say in the book, if kids care about the earth and living things, they will be far more motivated to work to protect them. They will also be much happier and more whole beings, so connecting kids with nature and with their animal selves is an all around great thing to do.

With older kids, help them understand what is happening. My book is a perfect tool to help older kids understand the science and social issues around climate change. And it is full of positive actions that parents and kids can do together. My hope is that parents will read the book with their kids, discuss it, and work together on the activities to really bring about change at home and in the community.

 

In the book you ask kids to identify fears they have about global warming and consider possible solutions. What are your biggest fears about global warming?

Well one of my biggest fears is that we won’t do enough about it in time to turn the tide. It is too late to prevent it from happening, because it has already started to happen, and it appears that what is already in motion cannot be reversed. But there is still time for us to prevent it from becoming much worse. We have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and reinvent ourselves. One thing the human species has demonstrated throughout history is how extraordinarily adaptive we are.

My hope is that that adaptiveness will emerge in new and transformative ways that will make our lives ultimately happier and more meaningful by reconnecting us with the earth and our animal selves. Kids especially are full of creative energy and are flexible and capable of great growth and change.

 

Congressman Jay Inslee described your book as a “vision of change.” How would you characterize your vision?

While my book provides lots of ideas about how to fight climate change both on a societal and personal level, it is not simply a catalog of actions. Nor is it merely a science lesson. The book expresses my belief that kids (and their adults) need to reconnect with the earth to heal it and heal ourselves. It isn’t enough just to switch to renewable energy sources. We need to reinvision and rearrange our lives: how we farm, how we eat, how we organize our communities, how we set up our homes, how we see ourselves in relation to other living things.

Particularly in so-called developed countries, we need a shift in values away from imbalanced consumption toward balanced living. My book challenges and encourages kids, parents, and teachers to change their thinking as well as their behavior. It helps young people examine their assumptions about their place in the world and about what matters to them.

 

What advice do you have for young people who want to get involved to fight global warming?

Read my book! Do what you’re good at. If you like to make movies, make one about helping the earth. If you like to organize things, put together a green event in your school or community. If you like animals, help at a shelter or create animal habitat in your yard or community. Another thing is believe in yourself and believe in the future. Life is resilient. Earth has endured many changes, and we humans are part of the natural order. I would also tell kids to get started now!

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