Old Slogans, Hot Topics and a Few Facts

By Kathy Schwengler, Education & Outreach Coordinator Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council

Old Slogans – Modern Movement

Saving the planet isn’t a new idea. Can you believe that the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” was coined in 1976! Proven good advice! Today, social media posts bombard us from all sides regarding Climate Change. With the federal election and a visit from Greta Thunberg, Albertans from all sides of the political spectrum are venting their opinions and frustrations. Climate Change is a hot, polarizing topic and yes, I’m going to jump right in and give you my two cents!

Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council provides many Environmental Education programs including topics such as insects, trees, river quality testing, wetlands, geocaching, wilderness survival, bats, owls, etc.  Exposing kids to nature is good.  Giving them a positive experience in the outdoors helps them care about their natural surroundings.  As positive as we try to be, climate change does come up in our discussions with the participants.

What are We Doing about It?

In March, we added a program called Action for Energy.  The intent behind Action for Energy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through education. We show kids how simple things like turning off your lights can save your parents money and put less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the same time. Our participants have tons of great ideas and really are enthusiastic about putting these ideas into action.

While doing my research to prepare for the Action for Energy program, it became more and more apparent to me that the quantity of data and information on Climate Change is overwhelming and contradictory. In order to find unbiased sources of information, I read mountains of articles and looked at hundreds of bar graphs until my head hurt. How can kids or even grown ups make sense of all of this information?  To add to our frustration, so much of the information being released on social media has been paid for by one lobby group or another.

Just the Facts

Here are a few simple facts to help you sift through all the information on climate change:

  • Carbon it the primary component of life on Earth. Everything that is or was alive contains carbon.
  • Carbon circulates through living things, the ocean and the atmosphere in a constant cycle.
  • Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is used by plants during Photosynthesis.
  • Carbon is stored in plants (trees!), fossils, soils and the ocean (Carbon Sinks).
  • Carbon is released into the atmosphere by combustion (burning), respiration (i.e. breathing), decomposition(rotting/break down of dead matter) (Carbon Sources)
  • Carbon compounds in the atmosphere allow sunlight to pass through but trap some of the heat bouncing back from Earth.
  • Carbon compounds, water vapour and a few other gases are known as greenhouse gases because they trap that heat.

Good Idea – Old Slogan

I wrap up my article with another, old slogan on saving the planet: “Plant a Tree in 73, Plant One More in 74.”  That was good advice 46 years ago.  It’s good advice today!  So turn off your social media, take a walk in nature and plant a tree.  Do it for you, do it for your kids, do it for the planet.