Writing About Climate Change | Part 1
You, Too, Can Write About Climate Change!
During the pandemic, it has been frustrating that I haven’t been able to go out to protests. I really want to make a difference, but without being able to go anywhere…it’s been a challenge.
But now it occurs to me that, even while I’ve had to stay home, writing about the climate is one way I’m still making a difference!
A different way to make a difference
Have YOU ever wanted to do what I do: make a difference by writing about climate change?
Well, here are some tips––things I learned in the making of this website––and ideas to do just that!
Somewhere to post or publish
No, you don’t have to start a website. The first and most obvious way to publish a piece on climate change is to send it to a newsletter, newspaper, magazine, or other publication in your school or community. You can simply write a letter to the editor, or talk to the editor about writing a longer piece. And who knows? Maybe it will even become a regular feature in your school or community newspaper!
There are many writing contests where you may enter your writing, too. There may even be websites or nonprofits that are climate-focused and specifically looking for earth-loving contributions!
The blank page…
You sit down, blank page before you, and poise your fingers above the keyboard…then, oh, no! Your mind had gone just as blank as the sheet! What do you do?
I work best when I plan it out beforehand. With my stories, I make outlines––or I never get past the first page! With posts, which are a bit simpler, I just write down the idea, then write about it; although it often needs to be edited later, I have at least gotten the ideas onto the page. Sometimes I write down the different stages for the post. For example, for this one it would be something like: introduction, “Starting,” “Editing,” “Submitting,”conclusion.
When I’m having trouble deciding what I should even write about, I jot down all the possibilities––from the vague, to the silly, to the extremely complicated. Eventually, I get a good one, and I use it!
To copy, or not to copy…? Plagiarism (copying someone else’s writing) is bad news...a form of lying. But don’t worry; it’s not plagiarizing unless you copy someone else’s words without giving them credit––that is, without stating who wrote it, and where you read it. Write, “According to (writer’s name) in (name of the publication/website),” then tell what they’ve said. Paraphrasing (changing the words around a bit) can be okay, but credit should still be given even if you don’t use quotation marks...after all, where did you get that idea from? Copying or reprinting entire articles or long sections from them––even with credit––also need permission from the writer: “reprinted with permission from (source).” Always, always give credit for original content to the writers who created it...it’s the right thing to do.
Have you finished your piece? Good! Now let’s go on to the next (and very important step: editing!
Although it may seem boring and tedious, editing is super important! And it’s not all checking your spelling (although, you do have to do that!). It’s choosing, rearranging, subtracting and sometimes adding. But most of all, it’s making your piece better! I like editing, despite the difficulty, because I love looking back at my piece and thinking about how much more beautiful it is.
When you’re editing, you cut out words, sentences, and even paragraphs. Why? Even if it makes your piece shorter, this is very important because you must have nothing that distracts from the goal of the piece.
But often there’s only so much you can do when editing on your own. You’ve submerged yourself in your piece and it’s hard to tell where you need to make it more clear. That’s when you ask for suggestions: take your draft to someone you trust and show it to them. Help them along by asking “Is this the problem?” or “If I changed this, would it help?”
If you don’t have someone to help, take a break. Come back to it when you’re fresh…you will see it with “new” eyes, and it can help to imagine you are someone else reading it. You will soon realize what works and what doesn’t! Changes will be much easier.
When editing, follow my editor’s (and my mother’s) golden rule: Make sure every word counts!
Wait for it…
You’ve written, edited, and maybe even submitted your writing! Now what?
Once you’ve submitted your piece, just…wait. It’s understandable if you feel nervous—it happens to us all! If you’ve entered it into a contest and it doesn’t win, don’t feel bad! Use your piece for something else and in the meantime make it better! The possibilities are endless, and when it comes to the climate crisis, the need is great!
Now you know how to write a piece on climate change. I hope my tips are helpful—I’ve only been writing for a year about climate change, after all. But now you can, too…and I hope you will!
Interested in writing about the climate crisis? Comment below!
And look for next week’s post––Part Two––in which I offer tips on starting your own website like this one!
Picture This: Earth Day, Any Day
Happy Earth Daaaay!
Hi! SolarBear here.
Today’s post is going to be different then most posts. Because this is not a normal day. It’s…(drumroll, please)…EARTH DAY!
*Cue worldwide activist parties!*
Since it’s Earth Day (my website’s first birthday! Sniff…they grow up so fast… remember that very first post on Earth Day last year?), and since we have so many wonderful people working on posts now, including Tigress and Callisto (here’s a link to Callisto’s Earthrise post about the beautiful photo below), this is going to be a little longer than usual. But we worked really hard on it, so you’ll really want to read this one!
Happy, happy Earth Day, my eco-friends!
Callisto wrote a wonderful post about this famous photo, known as Earthrise (link above).
Picture a world where everything…and everyone…is safe.
Picture a world where freedom––and a vote that counts––is considered a fundamental human right.
Picture a world where everyone––children and adults of all races, cultures, faiths, and gender identities––are treated respectfully, fairly, and equitably, with free access to education, to honest information, and to health support. (Including a vaccine, if they need one.)
Picture a world where beautiful trees grow thick, lush, unharmed by humans.
Picture a world where the rivers, seas, and oceans are crystal clear, except for the plankton and important algae that feed the creatures living in it.
Picture a world where you can go outside and breathe fresh, clean air without worry––even those living in cities.
Picture a world where islands, and the populations and cultures living on them, are not threatened by climate-driven sea rise.
Picture a world where rainforests stretch on and on...to the very edge of the horizon…unharmed by humans.
Picture a world where your favorite––and the Earth’s most iconic––creatures are in no danger, but are safe in their natural habitats, which supply their needs.
Picture a world where our human footprints do not harm the rest of it.
We CAN have this world––picture it!––in which any day is an Earth Day.
If only we try.
The Power of Words
Have you ever wanted to do something about the climate crisis but have been too scared? Or maybe it’s just that you don’t exactly know how?
Well, I can help with that…a little, at least.
First, are you too scared or anxious to say what you think?
This is nothing to be ashamed of. Even while I’m writing this, I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to write it: Am I making mistakes? What if someone thinks this is weird or stupid? What if no one sees this at all?
But I have to ignore these nagging feelings because…the Earth is worth it.
Imagine if every voice––smart or stupid, cool or weird––spoke out for what they believed in: stopping human-driven climate change. That would be so many voices that the world leaders and people who are preventing us from moving forward would have to listen.
Every drop in the bucket counts
But my voice is too small, you might think. What’s one less voice in a million?
As an answer to this question, one voice is everything.
Perhaps there are nine hundred thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine voices? Then that one extra voice would be the difference between several thousand and a million. And one more? From a million to more than a million. Whether it seems like it or not, it’s a measurable difference: it COUNTS.
Or, perhaps, and much more importantly, what if everyone thinks what you think–that their voice doesn’t count, either? That would make the difference between one million…and nothing. No one would ever give the climate crisis a second thought, since no one ever asked them to think about it twice.
Okay, so maybe you understand this now. But perhaps you’re still too scared. What do you do?
You push those feelings aside, and speak anyhow. You can still be cautious, but just realize there is a very fine line between caution and fear. No matter what everything seems to tell you, it’s more important to get your voice out there, to take the risk to help and hope, than to overanalyze what you say, attempting to make sure it’s what your friends, your relatives, your teachers, or even some YouTube celebrities want to hear. All that matters is that you speak up and you tell the truth. Someone, somewhere, will listen.
Perhaps your voice will be the turning point for someone; that one extra nudge that puts them on the right track. Or perhaps your voice can be more than a turning point: perhaps it will be someone’s inspiration. For me, I never know when a sentence, a stanza, or a single word, will make impact. Most of the time it’s the inspiring ones out there who make a difference, but, sometimes…it’s the little, quiet, less-heard voices who make that difference.
Now for the next step…how to start
Just don’t know how to start…? I get this feeling, too. For a long time I was thinking a lot but not saying anything. I just wasn’t quite sure how. Those little uncertainties bothered me–and stopped me from even trying.
But then I began to look, to learn, to listen, and I created a website–and now my voice is being heard! By you, if by no one else.
Now I know that I should have done something, whether I knew how to or not––our world is simply worth it.
My advice is just DO.
Do something meaningful, even if it feels awkward. As long as you’re doing something, saying something, it counts! You don’t even have to really “know how.”
But if you do want to know how, just ask! There’s no shame in being a beginner, in asking what to do or how to start. Chances are, you know or have heard of someone who can help you. The world is full of kind, clever people who are just waiting for the question, “Can you help me?” “How can I help?” “What can I DO?”
I asked my parents when it came to this. They were happy to help, and even helped me set up this website — and since I asked for this website as a gift, they even helped pay for it! Now my dad takes care of all the complicated tech stuff and my mom edits every post! And my sister started making On Thin Ice— which has really brought the site to life visually. And our good friend Tigress is now adding her voice to the mix, speaking out for endangered animals who have no voices of their own. Thanks, guys! I’m so grateful.
So, in summary:
Start where you are. DO what you can.
Don’t worry what other people might think.
If you want to know how to start, how to make a change, or what it all means, ASK.
Use your voice. Because every voice counts, no matter how small.
This Earth Day, I’ve gathered a collection of quotes here that I hope will leave you inspired and enlightened as you do your little bit to help the Earth.
We should consider nature our home, not a place to visit.Roxana Jones
What we see mainly depends on what we look for.John Lubbock
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising every time we fall.Confucius
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.Albert Einstein
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.Proverb
The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.Helen Keller
Nothing is ever impossible. The word itself says, “I’m possible!”Audrey Hepburn
Teaser for my new graphic story, “Leopard’s Tree”~!