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Getting a Green Grip

globe21.gifAre you an environmentalist? Maybe you’ve heard about global warming on the news or at school or your parents have talked about it. Maybe you kind of listened but thought, That’s not my problem. I’m just a kid. All I need to worry about is recycling my soda can. Well, here’s a news flash: Scouts are environmentalists. And environmentalists are concerned about global warming.

HERE’S WHY YOU ARE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST: You like to go camping in a forest. Or catch fish. Or sit by a campfire. Or snorkel around coral reefs.

green2.jpgGlobal warming is threatening those simple things. It’s bringing warmer temperatures to forests so bark beetles breed faster and kill the trees. It’s cutting down snowfall on mountains so there’s less runoff, and rivers and streams are drying up. It’s creating drought, making chaparral so brittle that you risk a dangerous wildfire when you light a campfire. It’s causing warmer ocean water, which harms coral reefs.

WHAT IS GLOBAL WARMING? It is an increase in the Earth’s average temperature. Since the mid-1800’s, the average temperature of the planet has gone up by one degree. If one degree doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s the difference between a frozen Popsicle and a sticky puddle on the floor.

green-200x148.jpgThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, is made up of 2,000 scientists from more than 150 countries. They say human activity has caused the planet to warm up. What kind of activity? Turning on lights, powering computers, heating homes, driving cars, flying planes, and manufacturing furniture or toys or steel.

All this activity requires the burning of fossil fuels to release energy. Coal, oil and natural gas are fossil fuels. They are carbon-based substances that scientists say formed millions of years ago even before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. When burned, the carbon inside them hits the air and becomes carbon dioxide.

green3.jpgCarbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, meaning that it lets sunlight in, like a glass ceiling on a greenhouse, but doesn’t let heat out. In other words, carbon dioxide acts like a blanket over the Earth, trapping heat and warming up the planet more than is healthy.

The extra heat is melting our glaciers. It’s melting summer Arctic ice and permanent ice sheets covering Greenland. It’s creating extremes in our weather and changing the seasons. It’s bringing tropical diseases as mosquitoes breed in stagnant flood water. It’s putting animals such as polar bears, penguins, some species of butterflies and coral at risk of extinction. It’s eroding coasts because of rising sea levels.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE DOING ABOUT IT? With every problem comes an opportunity. The problem of global warming has created some cool solutions.

green4.jpgAlternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel are made from corn and sugar crops, as well as vegetable oil. There are “veggie” cars on the road today. (Some even have the faint aroma of French fries.) There are about 25 different brands of hybrid cars, which combine a gas engine with an electric one to cut down carbon dioxide emissions. Other alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen fuel-cell, are starting to zoom onto our roads.

Renewable energy is a way to generate electricity with resources that will never run out. Unlike coal or natural gas, solar power, wind power and hydropower (from water) are renewable. A company in Australia is building a 1,600-foot solar tower in a desert that will bring electricity to 100,000 homes. Twenty percent of the world’s electricity comes from dams, which use water to create energy. And one typical wind turbine can generate enough power for 1,000 homes.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT? Everyone has a carbon footprint. Just as you leave a footprint in the sand on the beach, you leave a “footprint” of carbon emissions every day.

Your carbon footprint comes from normal activities like turning on the light in your room, taking a shower, riding in a car to school, even eating a banana that’s been flown in from Mexico. (That airplane put out carbon dioxide to get the banana to your grocery store.) Unlike a footprint in the sand, you can’t wash away your carbon footprint. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for decades. So what you do today will affect the atmosphere your kids will live in. Find out how big of a carbon footprint you’re leaving here.

We need to think about a more sustainable way of living, meaning one in which we don’t waste valuable resources but use those that will never run out. Click here to see some simple things you can do today to Go Green!

book3.jpgCambria Gordon is coauthor of “The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming.” Scholastic,, $15.99 softcover. Ages 8 and up.

More Go Green reads:

book2.jpg“This Is My Planet: The Kids’ Guide to Global Warming” by Jan Thornhill. Maple Tree Press,, $10.95 softcover. Ages 9 to 13.

book1.jpg“You Can Save the Planet: 50 Ways You Can Make a Difference” by Jacquie Wines. Scholastic,, $4.99 softcover. Ages 9 and up.

21 Comments on Getting a Green Grip

  1. Global warming exist but will it’s effect out weigh the deaths caused by using the environmentalists recommended course of action

  2. i feel very bad for all those endangered and soon to be extinct animals why can’t they make a space colony that can hold half of the world population so less of the rainforests can be cut down

  3. Global Warming is melting our Earth. People need to start thinking about our enviorment.

  4. Another Concerned Scouter // July 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm // Reply

    It is appalling that so many cannot recognize the distinct difference between Conservation (using only what you need, cleaning up your own mess, use it again if possible, etc.) and Environmentalism, which has become a loose organization of ‘believers’, which are more like religionists.

    As the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts continue to slip deeper into the massive efforts to ‘save the planet’, they naturally move away from their pledged and promised “Duty to God” because noone can escape the unspoken alternative that MUST exist, if Global warming were true, that:

    1.God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, was out to lunch regarding Carbon Dioxide (CO2-a trace gas which makes up .0003% of our atmospere, a gas that people produce just by exhaling) and therefore is dumber than Al Gore


    2. God does not exist

    The solution is obvious. God does exist and it is apparent from mankind’s lack of ability to create another universe, that He is infinitely smarter than anyone on earth and therefore any claims made the global warming religionists are admissions of ignorance or admissions of Idolatry.

    This organization cannot profess a Duty to God and continue to embark on a path so clearly marked with inconsistencies and fallacies.

    I beg the Scouting organizations and Boy’s Life to ignore the incessant hype and hysteria of the current environmental fad and reconsider their positions and policies regarding these weighty issues.

    However, if you continue the attempt, there are some of us willing and able to blaze a new trail.

  5. smelliott cookie // June 24, 2008 at 7:17 pm // Reply

    To avoid global warming, you can recycle. Recycling is very helpful!!!

  6. Ellibot 2487 // June 24, 2008 at 4:18 pm // Reply

    Everyone knows we can recycle paper. But why doesn’t everybody do it? well, if you don’t recycle, please start because we can make a difference; a HUGE difference. So start recycling now!!!

    If you don’t want to recycle, you can help the Earth in other ways to!!!

  7. raindeer56723 // June 24, 2008 at 3:40 pm // Reply

    To help the earth i would chose to recycle and shut the water of when i am brushing by teeth or i would use more recycle things than trash.

  8. SANTA 2496 // June 24, 2008 at 3:35 pm // Reply

    If you don’t want global warming to affect you, you can choose to recycle, shut the water off when you brush your teeth, or you take a quick shower or bath.

  9. GIVE' EM WATT'S,BOYS! // May 7, 2008 at 11:56 am // Reply

    green land was called green land for a reson, IT,WAS,GREEN!!!!

  10. globel warmig is never going to happen but we can take better care of are Earth.

  11. Anonymous // May 5, 2008 at 5:22 pm // Reply

    I am surprised that this topic has generated a level of discord. Conservation of our resources has been around for years and great Americans have been supportive of the cause. Teddy Roosevelt realized that our natural places and resources were not inexhaustible. We know we will run out of oil at some point, why wait until it is gone before we develop an alternative fuel? Conserve, reuse, recycle. These do not sound like radical ideas. Our grandparents practiced these things. They did not through away things after they were used, they fixed them up and used them again. I am not a tree hugging hippie, far from it. It makes fiscal and environmental sense to not waste our resources, global warming or not.

  12. CFL bulbs contain toxic mercury and cannot be disposed of in normal trash. They have to go into the special toxic waste collections. If they break in the house, you and your family are exposed to deadly mercury. How can they be better for our home environment?

    I oppose your series which is trying to indoctrinate scouts into global warming hysteria. There is no way we are going to reduce carbon emissions just to please all such chicken littles. We need energy for our civilization. Or does BL advocate for the green elites to continue to have a modern lifestyle and everyone else is to become their serfs, living in one place their whole life without electricity? Wind and solar do not drive cars or put enough power into the electric grid.

  13. If its soppesed to be global warming than why is it gonna snow chacago soppesed to get snow!!!

  14. Wozzo the Wonder Dog // April 18, 2008 at 10:05 am // Reply

    Even if you are not a tree-hugging hippie there is some stuff you can do that will likely help the environment while saving you money. If you tell people to save money by airing up their tires, adding insulation to their attic, and using CFL bulbs they will get on board. I’ve used CFL bulbs for a year and love them. We should all buy an extra pack of CFL bulbs and give them to the poor or the elderly, or donate a pack to our church for distribution. Because of the high initial cost for CFL bulbs the poor/elderly (those who would benefit the most) are least likely to use them.

  15. Think Logically // April 14, 2008 at 5:15 pm // Reply

    There are three questions to be asked.

    1 Is the planet warming?

    2 Are people causing the warming?

    3 Is that warming bad?

    We would do well to keep these questions separate. If we buy into Global warming hysteria without answering all of these questions the result will be a devastated economy and a government with unconscionable power. No economy ever grew on conservation. Always be suspicious when people tell you that you must do what they say to “Save the World”.

  16. I feel the green series is like fox news. It reports and we decide. If the overwhelming majority of the worlds scientists (no just left wing American scientists) say carbon emissions are the cause, reporting that in the magazine is not a scare tactic.

    What if they are wrong? The earth will be a cleaner, healthier place because we took action.

    What if they are right? We should be scared and ashamed for not doing something.

  17. Global warming. Just because Al Gore says the earth is warming doesn’t mean it is. Where did he get his facts? His jets cause more greenhouse gases than all of us put together. You are using scare tactics on the youth. Why is it Al Gore can make a movie and it is gospel. Everybody puts it in their library as gospel. The tape goes to class and it is gospel. Balogna!!

  18. Astrophysics Professor // March 31, 2008 at 2:11 am // Reply

    Ask the majority of the world’s RESEARCH climateologists or HISTORICAL meteorologists and they will tell you that global warming is cyclic and often solar in nature and little to do with man-made conditions. Being good environmental stewards is part of being great Scouts, but the focus should be on conservation, ecology, and resulting polution reduction. Too little of the ‘going green’ campaign is rooted in scientific fact; many conclusions are drawn from unconfirmed data and recent speculation. BSA needs to encourage Scouts to get involved for the right reasons: recycling, renewal, and responsibility, but not shaming and blaming them if the Earth’s natural temperature cycles shift naturally.

  19. use fencing wood to build furiture instead of buying more wood you wil save trees.

  20. Leave No Trace // March 25, 2008 at 11:28 pm // Reply

    As scouts, we were taught to leave no trace when camping because it is the right thing to do and is considerate of others that follow us in the woods. Going green is simply doing that to the planet in our everyday life.

    Saving energy, saving resources, recycling and teaching our scouts that thoughtless wasteful actions leave a trace and minimizing that is stewardship of creation that our great God so beautify made.

    Good work guys.

  21. Concerned Scouter // March 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm // Reply

    Boys Life magazine and the Boy Scouts of America are perpetrating a lie with this global warming ‘series’. I will be counter-balancing your intentionally misleading, or perhaps, just grossly ignorant and uninformed ‘facts’ within my den and pack meetings.

    It is sad to see this organization succumbing to this hype and even worse, attempting to indoctrinate the worlds youth in its folly.

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