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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. 
Editing

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

Original art by SolarBear

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!

Sincerely,

SolarBear.


Image credit: Unsplash

Callisto wrote a wonderful post about this famous photo, known as Earthrise (link above).

Picture This


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.

Photo credit: Unsplash

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.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Be Inspired


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”~!



by Callisto

Books for Kids Who Love the Planet

Seekers by Erin Hunter


Book Series Review by SolarBear

The fantastical Seekers series by Erin Hunter––the author of the much-loved Warriors saga––is about three bears and their shape-shifting guide journeying to a place of legends, a peaceful home for all bears where the spirits dance in the sky: The Last Great Wilderness. I’ve done my best to offer a no-spoiler review of this magical series.

Toklo, a brown bear cub, is driven away by his mother when his sick brother dies and is left to find his own path in life. Lusa, a lively black bear, has lived her life in the Bear-Bowl where she is taken care of by humans until she comes across a reason (and a chance) to escape her confined life and live in the wild like a true black-bear. Kallik, a white bear cub, is separated from her brother and mother during an orca attack out on the unforgiving Melting Sea. Soon, the dispirited Toklo, bewildered Lusa, and lost Kallik manage to find each other. Meanwhile, Ujurak, a shape shifting brown bear that though younger than the others seems wiser than them all, joins them, and together, with a relentless determination and unwavering hope, they battle through nature’s obstacles and obstacles far worse, such as the unnatural cities, dangerous roads, human-hunters with guns or “firesticks,” and horribly deadly oil rigs. So the bears begin to seek, in a quest for the rare peace and wilderness which humans have almost destroyed.

The Seekers series consists of: book one, The Quest Begins; book two, Great Bear Lake; book three, Smoke Mountain; book four, The Last Wilderness; book five, Fire in the Sky; and concludes with the sixth volume, Spirits in the Stars.

And if you want more, there’s also Seekers: Return to the Wild, a sequel series.

Recommended for ages 9 and up

Endangered: Tigers

ENA.jpg
By Tigress

The World’s Biggest Cats


And why they’re so important to save!    

Just one reason why tigers are so beneficial:  Healthy tiger habitats help mitigate (reduce) climate change

Healthy habitats for tigers provide fresh water to animals and even people who live around tiger populations, which can reduce the impact of natural disasters and improve the health of local people! A new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report details these often unseen benefits that come from helping tigers and improving their homes.

What you should to know about tigers

Tigers once ranged widely––from the Eastern Anatolia Region in the west, to the Amur River basin, and in the south from the foothills of the Himalayas to Bali in the Sunda islands.

But since the early 20th century, tiger populations have lost at least 93% of their historic range.  They have been extirpated (wiped out) in Western and Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and in large areas of southeast and south Asia and China. Today’s tiger range is fragmented, stretching from Siberian temperate forests to subtropical and tropical forests on the Indian subcontinent and Sumatra.

The tiger is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. As of 2015, the global wild tiger population was estimated to number between only 3,062 to 3,948 mature individuals (grown tigers), with most tiger populations living in small pockets isolated from each other. While these numbers may seem large to us, they are not––consider that only a century ago, tigers numbered in the 100,000s.

Major reasons for population decline are:  habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and poaching. Tigers are also victims of human–wildlife conflict, in particular, in countries with a higher human population density. India currently hosts the largest tiger population.

What makes tigers so amazing!

  • Tigers are amazing for many reasons:  they can hunt in the day or at night, in water or on land!
  • The tiger mother has amazing endurance in caring for her cubs, and in protecting them from male tigers, considering that a male will eat cubs if needed for his own survival.
  • They are also the biggest cats on the planet!
  • But the most amazing thing of all is the tiger breed whose fur became white, and even rarer, black. Even orange tigers can sometimes have white cubs!

Here is a list of cool facts you probably didn’t know about tigers…

  • Tigers are nocturnal animals, as in they prefer to do their most important activities at night.
  • Tigers do not normally view humans as prey.
  • Tiger cubs are born blind and only half of the cubs usually survive. (This is just one of the many reasons we need to help them.)
  • Tigers love the water and like to spend a lot of their time in it, unlike most cats, who despise water.
  • Tigers can only live to an age of 20-25 years; this shorter life span adds to the problem of their survival.
  • A group of tigers is called an ambush or streak. Seeing tigers in such groups is rare, though, since tigers are very solitary.
  • Tigers can also mate with other big cats. Example: A male tiger could mate with a female lion and have a hybrid baby, an animal of two types. This is very rare because usually tigers mate with their same species.
  • Tigers have antiseptic saliva. This is very helpful to tigers, because the saliva can help prevent infection of a wound, so tigers will lick themselves to help prevent their wounds from getting infected.
  • Tigers rarely roar, and if they live in a group, behave humbly toward the other tigers in their group.
  • Unlike domestic cats, tigers cannot purr.
  • Tigers can imitate the calls of other animals.

How parts of a tiger’s body help the tiger

  • Padded paws make the tiger almost completely silent, which helps with their hunting.
  • Retractable claws: tigers keep them retracted for walking and swimming, but extend them to climb and hunt. This helps them keep their claws sharp when they need them.
  • A tiger’s eyes have large lenses and pupils that increase the amount of light let into the eye! This helps the tiger with night vision and when light levels are low, such as in shadowy areas.
  • Stripes help tigers camouflage perfectly into their natural habitat, which is very beneficial when they hunt. And even if their fur rubs or falls off for any reason, the stripes are on their skin, so this effect is not lost.

What threatens tigers 

Across their range, tigers face unrelenting pressures from poaching, retaliatory killings, and habitat loss. They are forced to compete for space with dense and often growing human populations.

Besides poaching, the WWF is fighting tigers being kept as pets, which is illegal in most places, but is still happening everywhere.  It is not good for tigers; they are not meant to be kept as someone’s pets. Currently there are 3,900 tigers being kept as pets in the world, and that is a problem. 

Another problem facing tigers is that people raise the tigers on illegal tiger farms, then kill them and sell their skins and body parts on the black market (an illegal market) for a considerable amount of money. The people who do this are tiger traffickers, and they are criminals. They use a criminal network to do this, one which needs to be traced so that the criminals can be identified and brought to justice. 

These concerns facing tigers are what the WWF is primarily focused on. I implore you to subscribe to the WWF and/or donate to the cause.

What we can do to help tigers

Join forces with, and/or donate to, reputable organizations like the WWF who help tigers.  Tx2 (Tigers x 2) is a WWF operation that started in 2010, and their goal is to double the amount of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger on the Asian Lunar Calendar. 

Here is a list of active ways YOU can engage in NOW to help tigers!

  • You can start a blog––like this one––in which you can make people aware of, and protest, the threats facing this amazing cat
  • You could create a petition to send to the local government to ask for their support in donating to, and supporting, tigers
  • You could make signs with facts about tigers and the threats they face, and ask local businesses you support to allow you to post these signs in their stores or give out printed information to their customers
  • You can fundraise for organizations like WWF, who help protect big cats, by making and selling crafts at a local or online store
brown and black tiger on focus photography
Image courtesy of Unsplash

Movie Review

Movies for kids who love the planet


Wall-E

The film Wall-E is not typical, in that the main character is not human, not animal––not even a living creature! “Wall-E” is a strangely imaginative and caring robot living on a future life-deserted earth, and his only job is to smash small piles of trash into squares and stack them away to “clean up the earth.” This job is necessary so humans can eventually come back from their giant spaceship where they wait (and gain weight). But he has somehow developed consciousness and even compassion, dreaming of a friend or a love of his own, and is lonely… Meanwhile, the humans seem to have forgotten all about the trashed earth they’ve left behind.

But one day a probe comes to the dystopian earth, and Wall-E wonders if he’s found love…but the robot on the probe wonders if she’s found the earth’s last bit of remaining life. A misadventure takes Wall-E and EVE, the probe’s robot, to the massive commercial spaceship where ignorant — or maybe just clueless?— humans live, obese and unimaginative, while their servant-robots tend to their every want and need. But if the humans find out that they can return to their world, will they? After all, they left their planet in quite a sorry state…

This heartwarming movie is for all ages and offers a thoughtful reminder of the way things might go if we’re not a little more careful with our living planet.

All ages: PG