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Sunday 21 December  

Earth Beat - Kids and Climate Change ... Enlightened or Frightened?

On air: 4 June 2010 10:30 (Photo: Radio Netherlands)

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This week on Earth Beat we look at kids and climate change. From scary eco nursery rhyme rewrites and zealous zoo educators, to teenage trash removers and pint-sized proselytisers, we ask: are we enlightening them or frightening them?

Listen to the whole show:

Kids and climate change
It’s hard enough as an adult to separate greenwash and scaremongering from good science. It’s even harder for kids. Most kids get their information from the media – turn on the TV and there’s bound to be footage of struggling orangutans, melting ice caps and oil-covered birds. So what message are children getting about climate change and how does it affect them? Marnie asks Psychologist Susie Burke, who works with the Australian Psychological Society and is our studio guest throughout the show.
Listen to the conversation
Read the tip sheet about how to talk to your kids about climate change

From the mouths of babes - how they feel
Earth Beat's Fiona Campbell visited the British School in Amsterdam and spoke to 8 and 9 year olds Caroline, Namisha, Maddy, Peru and Ewan about what they know about climate change.
Listen to the kids and the response from psychologist Susie Burke

Earlier this year, the UK government was highly criticised for scaring children with a set of ads using rewritten nursery rhymes to raise climate change awareness. To get an advertising eye on this we turned to Solitaire Townsend, the co-founder of Futerra, a communications company which specializes in sustainability issues. Marnie asked her what she thought of the UK governments campaign.
Listen to Solitaire Townsend

Psychologist Susie Burke responds to Solitaire’s comments

From the mouths of babes - what they're doing
Caroline, Namisha, Maddy, Peru and Ewan from the British School talk about what they are doing about climate change in response to the messages they hear.
Listen to the kids' comments and the response from studio guest Susie Burke

Kids and climate change in India
People in the town of Mussoorie in the lower Himalayas are meticulously neat in their homes, but they don’t have rubbish bins – never have. Instead, servants and city workers chuck most of the community’s waste down the mountainside. The town is also home to an exclusive boarding school called Woodstock. Reporter Leslie Branagan tells the story.
Listen to the report

Psychologist Susie Burke responds to the story

Learning to appreciate nature
Earlier we spoke with Solitaire Townsend, an advertising expert for sustainable businesses. She mentioned some new research which sets out how to enthrall children with the environmental message. Essentially, you get animals to do the work for you.
Hear about the research

An awesome animal experience
Earth Beat’s Jan Huisman went out to Artis Zoo in Amsterdam to test the theory. He spoke to kids, parents, and educators about how the zoo experience affects kids.
Listen to Jan tell about his trip to the zoo

Psychologist Susie Burke responds

From the mouths of babes - who they blame
Caroline, Namisha, Maddy, Peru and Ewan from the British School reveal who they blame for climate change.
Hear who the kids blame and what studio guest Susie Burke thinks about it

Pint-sized proselytizers
If you have any contact with children. You’ll have noticed that they can become a little dogmatic about things - give them a cause they can believe in, and they’ll beat you over the head with it forever. It seems there’s a real danger of today’s youth turning into a band of eco police, spying on parents and denouncing their bad recycling habits. Parents of the world, listen and learn from this week’s commentator Michael Odell.
Listen to the commentary

Psychologist Susie Burke has the last word

How do you make a toaster from scratch? First you need a microwave...
"I ended up just borrowing her microwave and then kind of 30 minutes at full power... and I'd made iron!"
One man's quest to find the true cost of a toaster.

  • Earth Beat&#039;s Fiona Campbell with students Caroline, Namisha, (Maddy - out of sight) Peru and Ewan<br>&copy; Photo: Fiona Campbell -
  • Earth Beat&#039;s Fiona Campbell with students Caroline, Namisha, Maddy, Peru and (Ewan - back to camera)<br>&copy; Photo: Fiona Campbell -
  • Woodstock school abseiling team in Mussoorie, India.<br>&copy; Photo: Lesley Branagan -
  • Earth Beat&#039;s Jan Huisman hears from Rinaldo, who likes crocodiles for their big mouths.<br>&copy; Photo: Zheng Yanfeng -
  • Milo Grootjen, who coordinates the Artis Zoo education programme, tells a story.<br>&copy; Photo: Zheng Yanfeng -
  • Dutch school children react when a massive sea lion comes to feed.<br>&copy; Photo: Zheng Yanfeng -


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JS 20 September 2010 - 3:03pm / UK

I think we are certainly frightening them. There is so much misinformation out there, beginning with the widespread failure to appreciate that greenhouses do not get hot by trapping infra-red radiation. They get hot by reducing the amount of mixing with outside air. Add that sort of ignorance, the highly emotional perspective taken by many intent on 'saving the planet', and I fear the chances of children being correctly 'enlightened' are quite low. I am collecting and sharing information on climate materials aimed at children on my blog at:

Karan Madhok 8 June 2010 - 9:29am / India

I'm responding to the report on Kids and climate change in India by Leslie Branagan (and subsequent response by psychologist Susie Burke):
As someone who actually lives and works with the Woodstock School in Mussoorie, I have a clear idea of the local situation that these kids are trying to improve - it may be well convinient to say that the "rich children" are taking away the livelihood from the poor "ragpickers", but when the ragpickers weren't cleaning up the trash themselves, someone else had to step in and do their duty for the community - for free! Woodstock has been involved with community service work for over a 100 years, and the people here know and appreciate the school's effort to assist the well-being of the town without trying to take away from others.

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