Climate Mamas and Papas

mama papa

Climate Change so often seems too big to get our hands around. We wonder where we can start and how we can actually make a difference. Each one of us has a different path that we will follow. Some of us cut a wider swath than others, but each of us has a role to play. We would like to introduce you to some amazing individuals, Climate Mamas and Papas who are making a difference, who are, through their daily lives, affecting the lives of all of us. They inspire us, empower us, and challenge us to reach for the stars, to strive to do the best we can to help change the crash course we are currently on with our environment. Lets meet some of these amazing people and find out what inspires them. Meet our featured Climate Papa, Gregg Kleinertoday!

Remember, this site is for all you Climate Mamas and Papas, wherever you call home.


Joyous, overwhelming, indescribable….holding my children for the first time. Feelings of responsibility wash over me, the realization that it is my “job” to make the world as safe and as secure as I can. Motherhood - not only providing a safe “womb,” - but also providing a “safe” world for my children to grow and flourish in. I live where access to clean water, food, and shelter are all easily within my reach. It is the unseen that we need to fear, our forgettable but unforgivable actions that are making our world unsafe for our children - the fumes escaping from my car; the energy that is burned and escapes into the sky when I heat and cool my house; and the needless waste, as I buy products wrapped in beautiful packages, packages that end up in the garbage within minutes of reaching my home. Pollution, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, all poisoning our water, our earth, our children.

As a Climate Reality Project mentor and leader and through our work at ClimateMama I get to reach out, talk to and educate people at the grassroots level about the dangers we are facing with climate change - My job, my calling, my profession, my passion, and my RESPONSIBILITY as a mother - It all makes sense. Transformational; my eyes are now wide open. I know what we face. I know what we are up against. You need to know too.

Join me and demand a better future for our children and our grandchildren. We need to stop burning fossil fuels. We need to demand a clean energy future for our children. As they grow, and ask you what you did, when you had the chance to change their future, you can tell them you didn’t stand by - you raised the alarm and demanded solutions. Our job as parents is to protect and nurture our children. Join me as we stand up for our mother, Mother Earth. She is hurt, she is crying, and she is angry! She is showing us, in no uncertain terms,  that we need to do something, and do it now.



P.S. If you know someone who we should be featuring on this page, please send us their name and contact information, we will do the rest!

Gregg Kleiner: Climate Papa

Meet book author and Oregon Climate Papa extraordinare Gregg Kleiner. As with many of the Climate Mamas and Papas we meet, what seems at first to be a chance meeting was definitely meant  to be. Gregg inspires us with his wisdom and thoughtfulness and we love his new children's book, Please Don't Paint our Planet Pink.  We first blogged about it back in November, 2014 and are happy to  share more about the book and Gregg with you here on our Features Page. Find out what inspired Gregg to write this book and hear from him, in his own words as he shares some simple yet powerful ideas. Gregg provides some great advice that will empower our children and us. He helps us get our arms around the challenges of climate change, and at the same time offers us ideas to help us seize on opportunities that will make a difference for our future and our now. 

What/who inspired you to write Please Don't Paint our Planet Pink  and why?

The inspiration, ultimately, is my two children. I found myself lying awake nights worrying about the world they're going to inherit and inhabit, given the growing impacts of the climate crisis. We don't have a lot of time to act if we're going to have a shot at slowing climate change, so I wanted to reach out to the younger generation – and their adults! - for several reasons. FIRST, the children of today are going to live in an altered climate, so I wanted to use storytelling and humor and a dash of science to inspire them to SEE carbon dioxide in the air and then act - now, when they're young. I wanted to inspire, not scare. I wanted to encourage courage and inquisitiveness. SECOND, kids have incredible imaginations, so I wanted to tap these imaginations in young minds, in hopes they "get it" faster than my generation has (and, really, we're the ones who are to blame for much of the whole climate mess!). I chose children – and their adults! – because we need all hands on deck when it comes to healing the climate, and that means young people with their fiery imaginations blazing bright as can be! THIRD, when my kids, or grandkids, one day ask me what the hell was I was doing back when everybody knew climate change was coming fast down the tracks, I want to be able to tell them that I was doing something, that I was using the power of story to inspire people to SEE climate change and change our ways. That I was working as hard as I could to move the masses to action.

I lived for a year in Thailand as an AFS student when I was 16, and that year changed my life. I saw people who has so very little and I saw that people everywhere just want to love and be loved, have enough to eat, watch their kids grow, share stories, laugh and cry together...simply live as well as they could. If I were Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, I would bankroll a worldwide exchange program for kids so very 16 year old could see how people in other places live. Ware would be obsolete within a generation - of that I have no sought. So my year in Thailand was an inspiration, too. 

What do you think we, as parents, can do to tackle climate change? 

I think the key for parents is to model for our children how to reduce energy consumption on many different levels, including not buying so much stuff. In the west we live in a consumer-based society. Consumption is a big contributor to climate change because consumption is ultimately tied to the destruction of natural resources the world over. Helping kids understand that connection is key.

During the holidays, for example, slow the gift-giving; make something simple, give the gift of time together doing something special or draw names and give only one gift = focus on community instead of consumption. We need to model gratitude for all we have and teach our kids that many people around the world have precious little...And teach what "having enough" really means. Teach that material goods don't bring happiness, but relationships do.

 It's important to also model:
  • reusing things instead of throwing them out
  • buying locally whenever possible
  • shutting off lights (implement a fine or reward system for this the whole family can get into!)
  • shopping at used stores first
  • turning off the shower when soaping up (I lived in Japan and saw how they take showers…the water is quick on to get wet, then quick off to soap up, then rinse fast…they don't do 20-minute showers!)
  • challenging them to take super-short showers (set a timer and see who can shower fastest)
  • riding bikes and taking mass transit
  • this list could go on and on<
All these small things are tangible ways children can pitch in and feel like they're doing something. But we the parents have to model this, and talk about it honestly without frightening them, which is the objective of my book. And we must tap their active imaginations to SEE carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What if CO2 were really pink? How might we respond?

(How I wish President Obama would us his bully pulpit to challenge kids to take action on climate change, kind of like the John F. Kennedy physical fitness challenge issued back in the 1960's. Obama's a parent, yet he's only recently started to say much about climate change. Let's get him on our side!) 

Do you think that the word, and in particular the US is waking up to the challenges we face from our changing climate? And if so, can you give us some positive examples of how you see this happening? 

Awareness of climate change is growing, albeit slowly. And that cheers me, because even five years ago, it wasn't a term you heard very often. Now it's regularly mentioned in the news and is taking a front seat in elections. Part of the reason I wrote "Please Don't Paint Our Planet Pink!" is that climate change is hard to see, because CO2 is invisible. So there's no enemy to point at and say, "There! That's what we need to stop! Let's do it!" So how do we respond to something we can't really see for feel or hear or taste? Well, I believe we have to collectively tap our imaginations, and then take action. I'm cheered by the multitude of groups, like ClimateMama, who are working hard in the trenches to slow the climate crisis and raise awareness. This is paying off, but we must keep pushing, imagining, taking action. It will take all of us, working together and engaging our children. And I'm seeing this happening, and that gives me a great deal of hope!

The world is starting to see the early effects of climate change (more powerful storms, droughts, the effects of ocean acidification), so it's becoming more tangible for people. But we need to keep working to connect the changing weather patterns to our emission of greenhouse gasses, which is again something I try to do in my new book. Again, you have to be careful, with the little ones at least, not to frighten. But we need all the little helpers we can get, because they'll be the adults of tomorrow.

How can we help our kids understand the realities we face from our changing climate without scaring them, and vice a versa? Same/different advice for parents with elementary school age kids, middle school, high school...and beyond? 

The biggest challenge of writing this book was to find the right balance between offering a good story with some science and humor, but not frightening kids or overwhelming them with dire predictions or stacks of facts. The doom-and-gloom scenarios generate fear that paralyzes instead of motivates. So as parents, we need to talk with our kids about climate change, clearly and honesty and age-appropriately, and show them what they can DO to help out. For the little ones, challenge them to notice when lights are left on, inspire them to walk or bike or bus more, challenge them to take faster and faster showers (set a timer!). And let them know how much carbon (pink!) their actions are keeping from entering the atmosphere (could do this with a chart or a jar that fills representing the savings from their actions).

For the middle schoolers, get a gang of them to ride bikes to school together. Challenge other neighborhoods to have their kids ride to school too. Kids love that sort of competition. Schools could help sponsor these sorts of things. Launch an Alternative Transit Tuesdays, or something like that. It kills me to see the line of traffic near schools of parents dropping kids off one by one, or high school kids driving the 3/4 mile to school in a parents car. By late middle school and high school, kids need to know the honest truth about climate change BUT ALSO what they can do about it. We need to have these kids take ACTION that they can feel good about. This will help address the scariness. I grew up scared to death of being nuked or getting drafted. A whole generation did. There wasn't much I could do, and I don't think that did my psyche much good. So I believe we need to tap the imagination, use story, art, song and science to move people into ACTION. (We also need to reduce our meat consumption, because rearing animals for food is a huge greenhouse gas contributor, but that's a story many people may not want to hear.)  

Our mantra at ClimateMama is: Tell the truth, actions speak louder the words, and don't be afraid. Can you give us examples of folks you know who are putting these idea into practice, and how? 

I think the "don't be afraid" is huge. Because as I said, fear paralyzes. Telling the truth is key, because we need honest communication, especially for a topic where there are still divergent opinions. And action is the salve for our fear and the fuel that will help us keep working on this important issue.

The Alliance for Climate Change Education is doing great things by coming into high schools to present. A local high school teacher here in Corvallis, Oregon has started a very cool project called Seeds for the Sol that helps people get solar panels on homes by working together. Bill McKibben is tireless and relentless and is having an impact (people are hungry for action, or else those 400,000 people wouldn't have marched in New York in September, 2014).

If we all do a little something, we'll hit the tipping point, and just maybe we'll be able to turn the aircraft carrier that is climate change. And if we can inspire kids to put down their digital devices and hold hands and stick together and take action…well, we have a gazillion brilliant young minds out there able to help: help imagine, help sing, help tell stories, help inspire, help dance us toward solutions that will work. And if that happens…wow! My hope is that my little book might in some way add to the collective action underway by so many people worldwide who care so deeply about our beautiful planet. My gratitude to everyone who is a part of that collective action. Together, we'll get there! 

You can find more about  Gregg and Please Don't Paint Our Planet Pink, here.  

Also, check out Gregg's interview in Orion Magazine!