Have you heard about the frogs who will doze till they die in water that is gradually heated up?
You probably have. One place you may have heard about it is as a metaphor for climate: are we going to be as lethargic as those frogs? Are we going to just let the Earth (and the oceans) heat up and heat up, til we’re fried?
But here’s something you might not know, a piece of true good news: actually, most frogs jump out of the water and save themselves before temperatures get too high.
Now, it’s not unreasonable to hope that we can be at least as rational as frogs; that we can learn to leap and save ourselves, before things get much worse.
However, and here’s where I am going with this, the only ones really urging us out of the water at the moment are our children. They’re the ones acting like wise frogs. They’re the ones who have been sounding the alarm, through the brilliant school climate strikes initiated by my young friend and colleague, Greta Thunberg.
And, while that is highly commendable and makes me very proud, it’s also wrong – at least if they are alone in this quest.
As parents (or aunts and uncles, or godparents, or anyone who cares for and about a young person), I would hope we would all now listen to what the next generation are telling us. Especially at this literally vital moment in the history of our species… The post-Covid ‘reset’ is giving us one last pivot point, one final chance to change our ways and do right by our kids. It’s (past) time.
So far, we have failed to truly acknowledge and resonate with the facts of what is happening, because we will then have to do something about it, or because it’s ‘too big’ and overwhelming when we seem to have so much else going on in our lives.
But if you love your young person, as I have no doubt you do, it’s time to stand beside them – or perhaps even in front of them – and face the climate emergency. Because that’s what it is.
Maybe you feel powerless? Well, look at your child. How must they feel to see their future being slowly and steadily taken away from them and most adults ignoring the problem? They have found a way to be heard; now it’s our turn. It’s our turn to make them proud.
At this point in history, you can’t protect your child the old-fashioned ways, by just looking after their health and their schooling and so on. Together, we have to stop the whole world caving in on them. You can’t outsource their collective protection any longer to governments, which are drastically failing them, and us all.
The best way you can protect your kids now… is by rising up, to meet the rising tides. At your workplace, in your community, and on the streets. It’s time to be counted. It’s time to make your voice and your power count.
And here’s the great thing: enough of us truly caring about our own children is enough to save humanity. Because that care iterates into the future. You care about them, therefore you care of course about any children they might have, and so on so and so on, into your great grandchildren and beyond; and, so really, what you’re doing now, by loving them, is parenting the whole future.
That’s why we can be the generation to turn this around, even yet. We can be the ones to lead everyone away from the rising waters, and make this place a place of greater safety. We can make a great leap, before the heat overwhelms.