Climate Dads Founder Ben Block contributed an article in Generocity, a Philadelphia social impact news group with a mission of building better communities through smarter impact. Cross-posted here:
A new organization is forming to speak on behalf of the fathers, grandfathers and godfathers who are serious about climate change.
We see environmental challenges as opportunities to connect with our kids, bond over shared resources and dedicate ourselves to a collective mission of creating a more sustainable future.
As a new dad, I founded Climate Dads for my son and all his generation to thrive in a climate that will become increasingly unforgiving. Since launching this Father’s Day, we now have dads from more than a dozen U.S. cities uniting over the common cause of climate change. We plan to begin as a digital platform and transition to a chapter-based model made up of Climate Dads nationwide.
Whether motivation comes from saving electricity, reducing pollution, or embracing the simple joys of nature, a growing number of fathers care about climate change and are willing to speak up.
Climate change causes more intense and unpredictable natural disasters, threatens our food and water supplies, intensifies global security risks, and leaves us with greater exposure to insect-borne disease. Climate change puts our children in harm’s way.
We must acknowledge that it is our kids’ generation who will bear the brunt of these consequences. We cannot expect them to solve climate change. After delaying action for decades, this is our problem to solve — now.
Fortunately, climate change is more of a unifier among fathers than many would assume.
A 2016 study by Pew Research Center found 66 percent of men in the U.S. consider climate change to be a problem. While the polling suggests women respond with more passion — 83 percent expressed concern — the takeaway is clear. A significant majority of fathers take climate change seriously.
Climate Dads aims to create greater support for climate action among men, in particular male caregivers. For the unconvinced, the challenge is to find ways to connect climate with whatever makes them tick. Some fathers are called to act on climate change from their eco-conscience. Others are driven because they are simply budget conscious.
Messaging matters. When climate change is presented through a more relatable lens, any gender gap disappears or actually reverses.
Virtually no gender difference exists on support for vehicle fuel efficiency, funding for mass transit, or alternative energy research. Men and women support these measures for understandable reasons. Each protects clean air, saves families money, creates jobs, and helps grow our economy.
Dads are known to tinker around. A market survey of home energy efficiency improvements found men are nearly 15 percent more likely than women to embrace products labeled as “smart home” devices. These include advanced thermostats and other “Internet of Things” energy efficiency tools.
Fathers are just as likely as their partners to want their children to connect with the outdoors. This, too, is an important part of the solution.
Without a connection to nature, kids are less likely to develop their own motivation to become environmental stewards. Our kids need to get dirty and play in the mud. Studies show it creates healthier kids, with less stress, who perform better in school.
We need a new generational commitment to outdoor play. To ensure our kids spend as much time outdoors as we did when we were young, many of us need tips to find a local hiking trail or creative new ways to get our kids to play in the park — and off their phones.
All parents and caregivers have a clear interest in transitioning to a sustainable energy future and in fostering the next generation’s connection with nature. Climate Dads seeks to harness these unique motivations to inspire fathers into action. In the process, we strive to help male role models become agents of wider change.
Parents are busy. Many lack the time to research and act upon issues such as clean energy. Climate Dads will offer relatable ideas, research, and tools to make climate consciousness part of daily family life and to raise nature-loving kids.
If we collaborate, exchange ideas, share experiences, and create new tools, I predict that more families will make small but important changes that help combat climate change, and all of us will be better off.
To get started, Climate Dads is encouraging male role models across the country to submit their own story about the role each plays in addressing climate change. The campaign is in partnership with the DearTomorrow project, a community of people promising today to take action on climate change for a safe and healthy tomorrow.
This Father’s Day, Mother Earth is getting a supportive partner and our kids are getting a shot at a better future.