Friday, February 8, 2008

Out Of The Mouths Of Children

If you have kids, you’ll know that they seem a lot more responsive to the big issues facing us on this planet than previous generations. Perhaps they feel time is running out, or more likely in my view, they get a lot better quality information in a far more engaging form. Look at some of the movies they watch. I’m thinking of documentaries like March of the Penguins, and so much of TV has animals in peril from a deteriorating environment as a storyline. Try watching a young kid’s TV show and you’ll start to see why they take the environment so seriously. It’s an education. Literally. Now we’re getting a positive cycle at work. As they get to know more and have more confident opinions, kids are becoming an increasing force to be reckoned with in the uptake of environmentally friendly products and brands. This is not twenty-somethings but young kids – kids in the single digits – with strong views they’re prepared to argue about. These kids are influencing their parents and their grandparents.

It’s well known that kids influence family decisions. The Economist calls them Trillion Dollar kids, but the gist is that kids under 14 influenced almost half of American household spending in 2005. That’s around $700 billion. Now imagine all that persuasive energy put behind sustainable enterprises and you’ve got a revolution underway. Next time you go buy a car, don’t be surprised if your youngest pushes for a hybrid Prius. Laurie David, producer of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, gets all this. She has written a beautifully illustrated book The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming with Cambria Gordon for just this group of young influencers and inspirers. The book has been attacked in the same way Gore’s efforts have on the detailed interpretation of data, but kids do need to understand the big issues of the day and global warming is certainly one of them. As for me, I have faith in the young. If we had made such a great job as custodians of the world, why do we need all these commissions and reports and committees now? It’s time to do some listening and you could do a lot worse than listen to a ten year-old.