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Environmental Awareness - What are Teens Thinking?

written by: •edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 3/5/2010

I interviewed three teens in Taos, New Mexico on what scares them about the environment, what they are doing, and how they think President Obama can help. Some answers were surprising and well, I learned a lot!

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    What Teens Are Saying

    Teenager School Class II by Chris8800 Over drinks of chai tea, three teens and I sat down at a local Taos eatery to talk about the environment. I was joined by Dylan Felt and Ann Caroline Franklin, both are 15 year-olds and attend Moreno Valley High School. I also chatted with 13 year-old Pachin who is an 8th grader at Yaxche Community School.

    I first posed the question of what scares them most about our planet. Dylan expressed his concerns on the Great Pacific Garbage Dump which is the size of Texas and continues to pollute. The size of our deserts and how they continue to get bigger concerned Pachin, and Ann Caroline, told me she was afraid of what kind of life her children would be living in years to come--after all, she said, "we all have it pretty good right now."

    On their environmental accomplishments, I was surprised at how much they are involved. Amazingly, we are not required to recycle in Taos and Dylan told me he and his buddies had done this on their own through a local organization, Rivers and Birds and are seeking a government funding grant for recycling in Taos. All three teens talked about how their families are very prudent about recycling on their own--but only after a little push from the teen! A great job on the kids part, especially keeping their parents on their toes.

    When asked if President Obama would be able to help with the environment and alternative energy solutions and how they liked his plans for the future, Dylan was concerned about US off-shore drilling because of its risks to chemical release into the water and the underwater accidents it could bring from repairs to rigs. He also felt that if Obama could step it up, not only would green and alternative energies come into play but it could help with the unemployment issue.

    Ms. Franklin talked about the Kyoto Treaty that apparently the US hasn't signed or been a part of since it was established in 1992! This treaty is part of the United Nation's Convention on Climate Change and its main focus is stabilizing the Earth's greenhouse gases. Surprisingly, being green myself, I was totally unaware of this! Pachin feels we have put too many demands on Obama for four years but likes the President's we/us approach. All three teens though a little brainwashing from the government was going on.

    Image Credit: Teenager School Class II by Chris8800/The Commons

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    What Teens can do in the Future

    Finally, I asked these teens to tell me what they wanted to do as adults to lessen their carbon footprints. Dylan, who is a passionate young man stated, he wasn't going to have a 9-5 job where he was tied to a desk, but whatever he did he would use public transportation and find alternative energy sources on his own. Pachin leads the pack already by biking everywhere he goes in Taos, and Ann Caroline said if New York City is one of our greenest cities, why not Taos? Why not everywhere?

    All three of these teens surprised me at how much they knew and cared about the environment, especially when it came to the global forefront. Kudos to their teachers for keeping them informed. I on the other hand, a baby boomer, was never told anything except the proverbial "stop, drop, and roll."

    My husband, who knows Dylan Felt very well, has always said he wanted to be Dylan when he grew up--funny, but I think now I want to be Ann Caroline. We have much to learn from out teens especially when it comes to the environment and how to be good Earth stewards.