This is Ben.
At nine years old, Ben’s favourite pastimes include playing on his Nintendo Wii, iPad and computer. His favourite subject at school is IT, and nothing is more exciting to him than the thought of robots taking over the planet.
Born into a world where technology dominates, children these days seem to be losing their love for nature, the majority choosing Wiis over trees. But what do today’s children think about our ever-changing environment? Do they truly understand the importance of conserving wildlife, or has all love for the natural world been lost?
I decided to set out to answer these questions, and who better to ask than an intelligent young chap with a passion for technology? I set up several questions for Ben that would enable him to express his views on some of the important issues facing our environment, and here are the results of this discussion.
Q: What is the environment?
It is the surroundings around you.
Q: What do you think makes a good environment?
Not littering. A good environment would be clean.
Q: How important do you think it is to keep the environment clean?
It is very, very important, because lots of animals could die if it’s not very clean. When there is pollution, some fish could get trapped in something and couldn’t get out.
Q: What do you do every day to help the environment?
I put the rubbish in the bin not outside or anything.
Q: Do you know what global warming is?
It is when like the weather, is like, the like, heating, like, like it’s like the weather. It keeps you warm.
Q: Do you think that global warming is a good thing or a bad thing?
It is a good thing, because without any heat or any heat or any coldness we would die.
Q: By the year 2050, 15-37% of species will be committed to extinction as a result of climate change (Thomas et al, 2004). What do you think about that?
That is very bad, because if animals die the bees wouldn’t produce any honey.
Q: We contribute a lot to global warming, through the use of cars, electricity and factories. What could we do to make this better?
Um, like, instead of turning on the lights, we could use a lamp or something. Linking onto that, we could make sure when we go out all the lights are turned off, and all the electricity.
Q: The United States of America just elected a new president called Donald Trump, and he thinks that climate change is a made up concept. What do you think about that?
I think he’s wrong, because we have warmth and coldness and if there’s no such thing as global warming there would be no warmness or coldness.
(Later added: “he’s an idiot”.)
Q: What do you think world leaders could do to make sure that climate change is under control?
Sometimes if there’s too much factories that we don’t really need, don’t use them. They could tell people not to use the factories.
Q: If we didn’t have factories, how would we get the products we need, like video games and shampoos?
Well there are some things we want but we don’t actually need.
Q: What sort of things do you have that you would be willing to sacrifice to save the environment?
Some of my lights, we have lots of lights in our house, some we don’t actually need.
Q: Do you think that animals are important to society?
Yes. They help us with our food.
Q: What about the animals we don’t eat, like butterflies?
We need them for pollination.
Q: Do you like bees?
Yes, because they help us produce some honey.
Q: Bees are very important to humans, because they pollinate our plants and our crops so that we can grow our food. But bees are declining. What do you think about this?
That’s sad. Then all the plants, we wouldn’t have anything to eat.
Q: What do you think we could do to help bees?
Get lots of people to stop trying to kill them, some people are really mean to bees.
Q: Can you draw me a picture of the perfect landscape?
Q: Tell me about your picture.
This here is lots of hills, and here is the sun, and here is a little river.
Q: Does the landscape in Britain look like your picture right now?
It looks like where we go to take our dog for a walk, and we can see lots of little hills and the sun.
Q: Do you think we need to do anything to make your landscape better?
Maybe add some detail! Like some cows.
Q: Do you think animals would be able to live in your picture?
Yes, because there are lots of bushes.
Q: If you were Prime Minister, how important would protecting the environment be to you? Is it more or less important than curing human disease?
More important than curing disease. Because diseases can be caused by the environment. Like there is lots of, around you, if you are allergic to nuts, there might be lots of nuts around you and that could make you really sick. If I were Prime Minister I would try to save the planet.
All in all, I was deeply impressed by Ben’s responses to the questions. Although there was some lack of understanding with some terminology (global warming = warmness and coldness, so it must exist! #childlogic), I felt that he valued the environment and wildlife as a whole. At nine, he was already beginning to form opinions and even a political stance on the importance of wildlife conservation and what climate change means for our planet.
Faith in humanity restored!
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