“MOMMY, WHAT IS CARBON?”Written by Maureen Reno:
When MCAF invited my daughter, Satori, and I to represent New Hampshire at its first PLAY-IN for Climate Action in Washington D.C., I was excited by the opportunity to teach my six year old a very important civics lesson. Like most lessons, Satori learns by asking a barrage of questions. During this event, however, she asked a couple pertinent questions that made this mamma proud.
Mommy, what is carbon?
Shortly after the PLAY-IN children’s events of yoga and parachute games, Satori was sitting on the Upper Senate Park lawn hiding between me and our New Hampshire poster – hiding from the crowds around us, from the noise of the press conference. In her silence, I should have realized that her mind was racing, but instead I took this as one of her moods. While we were listening to Senator Whitehouse’s speech, she looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, what is carbon?”
My heart soared in that moment because I realized that she was listening and understood enough to ask such a specific question. I explained that carbon is a building block of life on Earth, and one of the most important elements on our planet. We breathe it out, and plants breathe it in. But right now there is too much of it going into our atmosphere, and that is changing the atmosphere and the weather. Carbon is on of the many elements that are released into our air from power plants to produce electricity, run our cars and make lots of the stuff we buy. I also explained that we were about to march to visit our Senators and tell them how worried we are about the air we breathe. I also told her carbon released by polluters is causing climate change, and that is making children sick. For the first time I didn’t dumb things down. Again, she fell silent and looked at the ground for what seemed to be an eternity.
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