One child complained that ‘big’ people were always telling ‘young people’ what to do but he wanted the ‘big’ people to know that children had thoughts and ideas too, so pod IGT is now setting a challenge for teenagers to voice their concerns.
Pod IGT’s challenge: What do you think is the biggest problem facing planet Earth in today’s world and how would you solve it? Send your suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The one issue that seems to be of major concern to our young people is that of climate change. Scientists tell us that man has done major damage to the ozone layer causing Earth to become warmer thus changing climatic patterns. On the other hand, there are others who believe that Earth is producing its own global warming and man can do nothing to prevent it. Like adults, the youth have conflicting views and these are just a few of their comments.
“Children don’t always get the chance to be heard but often have good ideas. I think we should all be consulted. After all, it is our future that is at stake. We should all be trying to help.” Mhairi from Inverness, Scotland.
“Some people think that by just switching off electricity we can solve the problem but that is only a small straw in a very big haystack. The problems we face will take a long time to solve and we need to look at the whole picture to come up with a solution to the problem. We must all work together.” John, 17 years, Manchester.
“Everything these days has to be bigger, better and faster to make more money for big companies. Why do cars have to go at 120 mph when by going at 70 mph fuel could be saved? Why are more guns allowed on the streets causing death and fear? Why are more and more phones, mp3 players and computers being developed daily? More energy is being used to produce them and people don’t really need them anyway. They only buy them because they are the latest gadgets on the market and are a status symbol to impress friends. Adults, please, please stop and think or you will create a world where today’s children have no future.” James, 18 years New York.
“We can’t afford to convince ourselves we don’t need to take action now. No one can be 100% certain that global warming is the fault of mankind but we cannot take that risk. We must act now, just incase. We need to re-educate people; show them that there is an alternative lifestyle that can be just as rewarding both personally and environmentally if the world is to saved.” Laura, 18 years, Birmingham.
“Why are people like ostriches sticking their heads in the sand? They have all heard about global warming but many think it will not happen to them so do nothing. That is selfish. It might not happen in their life time but it will affect me and my future children. I’m begging all you adults to help protect our planet now.” Diane, Durban, South Africa.
“The scientists are not so worried that the Earth is getting warmer as they are that it is doing it quicker than ever before. That means that the ice at the poles will melt and lands will be flooded. Let’s all do whatever it takes to slow down this process because I don’t think we can stop it completely now that it has started.” Pete, Vancouver, Canada.
“We are told to conserve energy and not to do anything that will affect the atmosphere. Why then do governments allow rockets to be blasted into space or think it is great to have huge firework displays at New Year. Surely that does more harm to the atmosphere than what people could ever do. Maybe adults should practice what they preach.” Jenny, Sydney, Australia.
The Natural World
Another issue affecting today’s youth is that of our diminishing landscapes and animal habitats. Through all mediums of technology, today’s children know more about the environment and the creatures to be found on the planet than any other generation before them. It is, therefore, no surprise that they have comments and suggestions as to what they think we should be doing to stop the destruction of the natural world.
“The main way to stop the jeopardy to all wildlife from pollution, poaching and destruction of natural habitats is through education. The protection and preservation of wildlife should be integrated into the morals and values of our society. At the rate we are consuming the trees on the planet, not only will wildlife die out, we will too. As I say, education is the key to this problem, as awareness usually sparks an interest and desire to help.” Marip, Zambia.
“I think the most important thing we should be doing is to look after the trees. Trees take in CO2 and give us back life saving oxygen. We need to plant more trees and cut down less. I think every member of every family in the world should plant a tree every birthday and people should be using recycled paper. Everyone can help.” Maaihle, aged 12, Hawaii.
“I think governments should educate farmers on the best way to farm the land so they don’t ruin the soil and cause desertification. We should also be planting indigenous trees to reduce harm to the soil as exotic trees use lots of water and can ruin the chemistry of the soil. People should be told to use less paper as that would mean less trees would be cut down which would reduce global warming and other environmental issues. I think the first step to solving the problem starts with looking after the trees.” Daliya Al-Said.
“I think we should be planting more trees and finding other ways of making things from bio-degradable materials. Also we need to stop fighting and start work together to solve the world’s problems. If countries don’t work together, nothing will stop Earth from its destruction.” Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
“Protecting wildlife all over the world is significant in many ways. It keeps vital food chains and webs alive and if rhinos and elephant are poached, food chains to which they belong will have an imbalance and could possibly cause a species to die out. If humans allow some animals to go extinct there will be nothing spectacular left for future generations to experience.” Emily C. Wilson, South Africa.
“In Japan our forests are rotting and there are very few people to look after them because lots of timber is now imported. For centuries, the Japanese have lived in harmony with their forests and their lives are based on Ki-no-bunka or wood-based culture. So this issue is a serious problem for us. We need to address the problem immediately.” Tatsuya Miyamoto
“The great apes are part of our lives and cultures but unfortunately, humans are driving them to extinction. To simply state the animals need help is an understatement. What is needed are more wildlife centres with programmes to rescue orphaned apes and rehabilitate them. this would bring tangible benefits to communities as the centres could employ local people and source food from local farmers. People must act now to protect the primates.” Jessica Snook.
“I live in Western Canada and this week hundreds of baby seals will be clubbed to death and the ice will be red with their blood. The reason they are killed. Not because there are too many but because of the money their fur will bring to the country. The people should tell the government this is wrong. Maybe if the politicians thought they would be out of a job at election time, they might do something about it.” Patricia, 12 years, Western Canada.
Due to intensive media coverage, today’s youth are much more aware of the hunger and poverty experienced by families in many parts of the world due to either drought, famine, conflict or disease. They have seen or perhaps participated in the various campaigns led by pop stars ad charities so it is not surprising that they have their own views on this topic.
“Poverty/homelessness is a big issue. Help people who don’t have somewhere to live. Get everyone together to help provide shelter, food and heat to help them.” Kara, aged 16 years.
“Millions of people die from malnutrition because they live in countries affected by drought. We all feel sorry for them but what can be done? I think wealthy countries should pay farmers to grow extra crops which could then be given to the hungry people. Also the people in the drought affected countries should be taught how use underground streams to channel water to grow their crops.” Janice, England.
“I think that the worst thing on the planet today is the way people are going hungry. I know lots of people give money to help but does it always get to the people who need it the most? Giving money makes some people feel better and then they forget about the problem. There has to be a way for people to work together to make sure everyone has food. Once properly fed they can then be educated about growing food for themselves.” Billy Jean Murray, 16 years, Glasgow.
“I know that people all over the world are struggling because they are hungry, sick or poor but there is no simple solution to solving these problems. People give money to help but that only helps in the short term and sometimes only a fraction of the money is used to help out. The rest of the money often pays for people’s wages or to send stickers, cards and notelets to ask the public for more money. What good is that? I think we should all be asking just what is happening to money donate and maybe more of the money would be used for the right reasons.” Audrey Marsh, 17 years, London.
“Why must we always give money to the poor people of Africa? What about the poor people in our own country? Every country has poor people who are starving, cold and homeless. If you see these people in your neighbourhood you don’t need to give them money you can help out by giving them something to eat or drink or some warm clothing you no longer need. If we all helped people around us there would be less poverty.” Kieran, Toronto.
“How did rich nations get rich? They worked hard and used all the resources they found in their own countries. How did poor nations get poor? They depended on rich nations keeping them. Today we see that some of the poorer nations such as India are getting richer because they are now using the raw materials found in the country to produce goods to sell abroad. We must teach other countries to do that too. Poverty will never go away altogether but poorer countries can be helped to get better.” Laura, 17 years, North Carolina.
“It is very sad that there is so much poverty and people dying every day but this is because there are too many people living on the planet. The churches should be telling people to have less children and contraceptives should be given out freely to poor countries and they should be told that what is happening will get better when there are fewer people on Earth. The only way to stop poverty is to educate people in the countries where it is happening.” Jennifer, 16 years, USA.
“Poverty is probably THE issue in today’s society. Many environmental issues such as poaching, lack of drinkable water, mass garbage disposal, Aids etc. have some connection with it. Poverty is an issue that can be solved if governments realized the value of environmental conservation and environmental economics. We as a community are under considerable pressure but we don’t need to destroy all in order to help humanity. I am convinced the answer lies in conservation.” Radhika Gupta, South Africa.
“It is hard to solve the problem of poverty when so many people have so little. Primitive farming methods limit any increase in wealth. Deforestation leaves the land in turmoil and it is difficult to cultivate. My proposal is to have specialists trained in agriculture to educate poor people about land cultivation and for developed countries to send the machinery needed to begin this process. This solution helped in Mauritius which not only increased their economy but advanced the technology in the country.” C. Caball
Living in such a diverse world we should not be surprised to discover our youth have opinions to express on problems other than climate change, the natural world and poverty. These issues range from bullying, to social exclusion, religious barriers, aids/HIV, gun culture, war, drugs and alcohol. Adults are all well aware of the problems but it seems to be a case of ‘It doesn’t affect me directly, so why should I care?’ Tomorrow’s adults think differently and say we should be helping now.
“I think the biggest problem in the world today is how people are constantly at war with each other. Families have to move away from their homes and people in other countries don’t want them living in their country. It is so sad. World leaders must get together and sort out this problem or soon violence and terrorism will be spread to every single country in the world.” Tom Miller. Aged 19 years. Wales.
“It is about time we started acting on our thoughts. I have been working on a project that has been designed and organised by young people for young people. We try to promote the power of volunteering at local, national and international levels. We try to break down barriers regarding bullying, social exclusion and religious divides. The majority of people involved want to change the world, become better citizens and do something to make sure the planet lasts for many more millions of years.” Ashlee Kennedy, Durham.
“My dad is in the army and has to fight in wars which I think is wrong. The leaders of all the countries should make peace with each other and not threaten to use nuclear bombs. If some one did that it would be silly as humans would probably all be wiped out, even the people who set it off. Why do adults behave like children and not listen to each other. We are supposed to learn from adults but I think they could learn a lot from us children.” Johnny, 15 years, Cyprus.
“I think Bullying is a big problem for lots of children. If someone is popular, looks nice or is clever, there is always someone who is jealous and they bully that person. It’s not right. We should all learn to accept people for who they are and get on with each other. Bullies should be made to suffer their own medicine if they are told to stop and keep doing it. Let’s have a happy world.” Suzanne Chester, 16 years, Birmingham.
“I think some film stars and celebrities are a lot to blame for some teenage problems. Young girls try to look thin just like them; some people copy the way they use drink and drugs; others wear clothes or trainers because a certain celebrity wears them. I think these celebrities should be told of the bad influence they are having on young people and should start to act properly.” Sheena, 16 years, London.
“Aids is a terrible disease and is rife here in Africa. Many people die from it and children are left orphaned. Some children get HIV from their parents when they are born. I wish there was a cure but there isn’t. All we can do is educate people about safe sex and not sharing needles. I think it is bad that people discriminate against those with aids or HIV as no one can get it from just touching someone. What these people need is help not being ignored.” Neave, Cape Town.
“Why do doctors waste so much money on medicines. My dad was ill and the doctor gave him 28 new tablets to try to help him get better but they did not agree with him. He was given even more tablets that did not agree with him either. Think of all the money wasted when tablets had to be thrown away. What can be done? That’s easy. Give people only a few tablets to begin with and if they work the patient can get more. Think of the money that would save.” Jen Murphy, Dublin.
“Drugs and alcohol seem to be a big problem for many young people today. I don’t think adults can do much about that as young people don’t like to be told what to do and they don’t want parents harassing them. They want to be treated with respect and shown what to do. If youngsters don’t listen it is their own fault and they have to live with the consequences.” Terry Black.
“Everyone says the best way for children to learn is at school but I disagree. Children can learn so much from home life and the outside world. We learn from example and by watching others, can find out the best way to do things. Some children don’t have any way of getting to school but that does not mean they don’t have thoughts and ideas that would make the world a better place. We must find a way of communicating with these underprivileged children and find out what they think would help them. Communication and co-operation between nations is the only way we can move forward.” James O’Connor, aged 18 years, Ireland.
“I live in South America and I think the problems facing today’s youth is that in any country some places are rich and some places are poor. Where I live, the children get clean water, go to school and can read or write. We are all looked after when we are ill, however, I don’t know what is happening in other parts of South America or in the outside world. Only by knowing more about others can we be of help.” Maria de la Fuezillies.
“I think a big problem today is where countries allow people to carry weapons. Every day we hear about some place where someone has been shot or stabbed. Many lives are lost for no reason whatsoever. I think maybe many violent films or online games have led to young people believing its alright to do this. There should be a big clamp down on the sale of dangerous weapons and parents should instill in their families from a young age that it is not right to attack other people.” Enzo Durand, Paris.
We are all Responsible.
Words of encouragement from celebrities to help young people voice their opinions on what is wrong with our planet.
“Sometimes people old enough to call themselves ‘adults’ fall into the trap of thinking age inevitably brings wisdom and that they ‘know better’. One good example of how flawed that belief is has to be the pickle we’ve got ourselves into with the environment. The ‘big’ people clearly don’t know which way to turn. They need some help, an injection of fresh thinking from young people able to see the bigger picture not just what suits for the short term. Please put your minds to it. We are all counting on you.”
Kaye Adams (TV presenter/UNICEF UK ambassador for Scotland)
“A new generation of concerned citizens cares deeply about the environment, poverty and injustice wherever it occurs – on the other side of the world as well as on the other side of the street. This challenge will give young people the opportunity share their views and their passion for these issues.”
David Cameron (former UK Prime Minister).
“As young people growing up, you will inherit a world changed by the decisions that are made each day. It is only right that you should be encouraged to understand the impact of those decisions, as well as helping to make them. New ways of thinking about problems are needed to overcome some of the challenges our world faces – from climate change to wars over access to food. Young people often bring with them fresh ideas and ideals so it is important that politicians listen to what you are saying. Your voices are the closest we have to voices from the future.”
Caroline Lucas MP.
“We all need to help in the battle to protect our planet for future generations to enjoy. Have your say today and make a difference.”
Lorraine Kelly (TV presenter)
“Anyone of any age can and should speak up for what they believe in. When the subject is the future of the world we live in we all HAVE to speak up. Do the brave thing. Make your voice heard.”
The Proclaimers (Craig and Charlie Reid)
“During my time presenting ‘Blue Peter’ I was sent to make a film about the Cheddar Gorge in Somerset. One of the geologists working on the preservation said something simply frightening. “You see the Earth needs us humans to help it grow and develop but now we are nothing but an irritant damaging more than we create. If we don’t change our ways its patience will run out and it will just get rid of us because the Earth’s survival is more important than ours. Everyone must help.”
Anthea Turner (TV presenter)