Updated: May 8, 2020
I was wondering what little people are thinking about the planet. So I asked a few to sit down with me and talk about it. Here are some excerpts.
Ethan 9 - Ava 7 - Mabel 7 - Alder 3
Q. "So, what is your favorite animal?"
Ava: "Hyena!" She blurted.
Mabel: "A cat, a dog and all the animals of the sea even if they are kind of ugly."
Ethan: "What about you Ethan?" He pondered. "A dog because you can play with it."
Q. "OK, are you ready for a tougher question?" They nodded. "Close your eyes and I'm going to give a choice between two things. Are you ready?"
A. A chorus of yeses.
Q. "Its a nice winter day with beautiful, light, fluffy snow falling. You have a hot chocolate with marshmallows in your hands and you are waiting to sled down a long, sloping, snowy hill. OR You are on a sunny, beautiful sandy beach with the breeze coming off the water and the sea rushing up between your toes. Where would you rather be?"
Mabel (our California girl): "A snowy day with hot chocolate because I like the smell."
Ethan pondered. "I guess.... snowy?" he asked.
Q. "OK, here we go. How about this question. Have any of you heard of global warming?"
A. Mabel: "Yes." Ava: "Nooo." Simultaneously.
Ethan: "A huh."
Q. "What is it?"
Mabel: "People use a lot of... you know, gas for the car.. (Ava: "oh yeah - that.") ...and that makes it, like, warmer. Like that pollutes the air and then it gets warmer and it also pollutes the oceans and that's very bad."
Me: "Is that what your understanding is Ethan?"
Ethan: He nods, as does Ava.
Q. "So, this is not a good thing?"
Mabel and Ava together: "This is a very, very bad thing."
Mabel: "It's even bad for us cause.... we are also using a lot of plastic and if the plastic goes into the ocean or like the chemicals we use, they go into the fish and when you catch the fish and we eat the fish we can get sick."
Me: "Is that what you hear too Ethan?"
Q. "OK, so it's really, really bad. Is there any way you can stop it?"
Ava: "Yesss, by not using plastic."
Mabel: "Ride your bike to school or walk."
Ava: "Or go on your scooter or anything that doesn't use gas."
Me: "Is it important to stop it?"
Q. "So where do you hear about this? Who tells you about this stuff?"
Me: "Who else?"
Mabel, Ava: "School."
Me: "What do the teachers say about it?"
Mabel: "My teacher doesn't really tell me much about it, but like when you are studying the ocean our teacher talked about how the plastic affects the ocean and how we should use less of it and we have a whole chart about how we should use less plastic."
Me: "Do you have have something like that in your school Ethan?"
Ethan: "Yeah, but our class has like one book about it."
Mabel: "Seriously? Just one book?"
Ava: "Yeah just one book."
Me: "So, then, do they just tell you to go read the book or do they get up and ...."
Ethan: "If you want to read the book you can."
Mabel: "I also watch videos about it and they're soooo sad."
Ava: "You see like dead birds..."
They all are talking at once. Ethan: "Kids did research on it and.... this girl found 1,000 pieces of bottles on the beach."
Mabel: "One thousand pieces of what?"
Ethan: "Bottles..... and, like, those things that hold sodas together."
Mabel: "The rings."
Ethan: "Yeah. And there was a straw up a turtle nose."
Ava: "That's bad!"
Mabel: "Yeah cause you can, like, suffocate cause you breathe through the nose and it kind of clogs it up." (She demonstrates.)
Q. "So are there any animals in danger right now?"
All together, "Yes."
Mabel: "There are many endangered species right now."
Ava: "Yes a lot."
Q. "Are you guys worried about it?"
Ava, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!"
Mabel, "These animals don't deserve it like we don't deserve it. Like, what if there was a bunch of giant fish who were like riding on motorcycles in the sea and it was all going up in the air and it was smoking up our whole like...."
Me: "Oh, so if the sea animals were polluting the earth instead of us."
Q. "So what do your parents say about this?"
Mabel: "They say that one day we can all stop it.
Me: "Is that going to be a lot of work?"
Mabel: "We could.... like make plastic illegal and use other materials like leather bottles."
Q. "So, Ethan, if you were the President of the United States what would you do?"
Ethan: Hmmmm..... I want to think about it."
Me: "OK, always good to think about it. How about you two, what would you do about it."
Mabel: "I would make cigarettes illegal."
Ava: "Me too and I would make a way to not use plastic anymore."
Mabel: "First ban plastic bottles and then ban soda cans"
Ethan: "Whoa! You can reuse plastic bottles."
Mabel: "Yeah but a lot of people would like, decide not to use them anymore and just throw them away."
Q. "What can you guys do today to help out?"
Ethan: "We can pick up garbage."
Mabel: "We can save some animals like if we see a seal tangled in a net we can try to take the net off."
Ethan: "One time my family actually saved a fish."
Me: "Really! How did you do that?"
Ethan: "So, we went to California and we went in the ocean and we were standing in the water and there was like a fish and I sat down and there was this sharp thing, "ching" went into my foot and it came out of the fish and stuck in me."
Me: "So what was the sharp thing?"
Ethan: "It was a needle."
Mabel: "It could be a puffer fish, maybe."
Ethan: "No it wasn't a puffer fish."
Q. "What are you going to be when you grow up?" A leading question if ever there was one.
Ava: "I'm going to work at the animal shelter."
Mabel: "I want to be the President."
Ethan: "I think there is a job where you save animals."
Ava: "Yeah, I want to do that."
Mabel: "Animal Control kind of does that but in the movies there always make them the bad guys."
At this point Alder walked over for the first time and made his contribution. "I.. I.. I'm gonna be a fish." He said with quiet conviction.
Me: "OK, then all of these people will take care of you." (chuckling all around.) Alder nods and leaves the scene.
Q. "So, what else do you guys have to say about he planet."
Mabel: "It's the only planet that we know about that has life so we want to take care of it."
Ethan: "And like in the ice areas its getting warmer and all the ice is melting and the polar bears....."
Ava: "......the polar bears will be extinct."
Mabel: "If it keeps going for like a hundred more years then the polar bears are going to go extinct. A lot of animals will go extinct."
Q. "Are your friends worried about it? Do they talk about it?"
Mabel: "My friends are very worried."
Ava: "Yeah, I have a lot of friends and only one is really, really worried because she really loves animals."
Mabel: "A lot of my friends are really worried. They're like 'Oh gosh I hope this stops."
Q. "So did you ever hear about trees helping out because they take the CO2...."
All jump in: "oh yeah... yes....yup"
Mabel: "If our world did not have trees we'd...."
Ava: " .... we'd all die...."
Mabel: "....all be dead."
Ava: "We wouldn't have such a good life without trees."
Mabel: "And trees all over the world are being cut down."
Ethan: "And we waste a lot of toilet paper that takes a lot of trees and water to make."
Mabel: "And we are wasting water and we only have a little bit of fresh water."
Ethan: "We have a lot of water. How are we wasting water?"
Mabel: "There is only a little bit of water available to us." Said the "California drought girl" to the "Wisconsin Lake Michigan boy". "and if we keep spilling water or, like, aren't using it right or like turning the sink on for the whole day we are going to have no more water left."
Ethan: "I think there is a lot of water."
Ava: "If you take a shower you should take a bucket and catch the cold water with it first."
Me: "Then what do you do with it?"
Ava: "You can water your flowers."
Mabel: "If you have a dog you can wash your dog with it or your car."
Ethan: "We don't wash our car, we go through a car wash."
Ava: "Next question."
Q. "Well... we are kind of at the end. What would you tell people right now?"
Ava: "Could you please help save animals and water and save trees."
Mabel: "Save the planet by not throwing plastic everywhere. Don't be so uncaring about our planet."
Ethan nodded in complete agreement.
Me: "Thank you for talking to me about our planet."
Retrospect: I thought 15 minutes was pushing my luck, but these kids would have talked a lot longer if I had let them. Clearly it was topic in which they were greatly interested. I learned a couple things about being very young in 2019. When you are 3 years old your world is still full of as many dreams as you want to have - "I'm gonna be a fish". Secondly, such dreams and possibilities are getting more complicated much sooner than they used to.