“Dad, what is sustainability?” She lifted her head from the book she was reading and looked at him.
“You mean you don’t know?” She was pretty quick at that. He liked his little girl question him, but was also uneasy on feeling cornered.
She continued “It is ok if you don’t know everything. tell me what you know. Because in this book it says that many people are less aware of it” She showed the book she was reading.
He looked at the book. It was like any other usual kids book and it had a picture of earth and an article on how to take the first step on saving the planet. He went through it and he could understand what made his girl ask the question. There were more words in it than what her vocabulary and probably his too had not been equipped for.
He gave back the book to her and looked at her
“OK now that you agree that your Dad does not need to know it all, let me try to explain the way I know and you can understand”
“OK over to you” She said with a giggle
He liked when the kids pushed him to the limits of his knowledge which was after all not a whole lot either.
“Well in the most simple form it has to do with how we use what we have, if we have something and we use it moderately and in only necessary quantities, we can enjoy to have these things for a longer period right?”
“yes I am with you” she nodded feeling good entering into an important discussion
“So sustainability can come from different things. Let us take the case of the earth we live in. As you know we have a lot of natural resources, things that we take from mother earth. Can you name a few for me dear?”
She looked at him and then spoke out “trees, coal, oil, air, water, land, rivers, lakes”
“Well that is a great list angel. And the point is that if mother earth has to maintain life in it as it does today, it needs to have these resources and many others available always. And if we use them without thinking of tomorrow there will come a time when mother earth will be dried up of all these and it will become tough for us to live”
“But Dad, is it going to finish up soon” She enquired
“Well that is the whole point people debate on, many people think it will not end while they are alive and this might be even true, but as people living now, we have a responsibility to not use it all and leave nothing to the ones who are yet to be born. It is a way of thinking beyond what we can see in our present life.”
“But is there a way we can stop this. Can we do something that will help” She was now interested more in finding a solution. Kids are not just smart they also have a genuine to change what is not right, a trait we as adults seem to have lost somewhere.
“Yes there are. As you know the biggest use of many of the natural resources is to get the energy to run the world, like the gas for the car, electricity for powering the house and so on. And because the world contains resources that can be renewed or restored again and ones that are near to impossible to recreate at least not in the pace we use it, we need to know what we should do to ensure that we always have enough to keep running.
“What is renewable?” She asked
“Well renewable means something that is naturally restored faster Forexample some of these resources like fossil fuels, like the ones that are formed from buried organisms over millions of years will take millions of years to form, and are being used in the form of coal, petroleum at a much faster rate than new ones are being made and this results in these resources not being available any more. These are not renewable”
He continued “ Again there are some other natural resources that are available in abundance like sunlight from which you can make solar energy and wind form which you can get wind power. Haven’t you seen the windmills as we drive downthe freeway. They all create energy that is renewable”
“Yes I have seen them” She was all excited that now she could relate to this whole debate.
“Not only are these resources available in abundance to create energy, they also make energy that we call as clean energy”
“Clean energy?” she smiled “Wow! I like that word”
How fast do kids get hooked to the word clean, while we never seem to get beyond the gas in the car. He continued “Well it is a cool word and now more people feel cool spelling it which is good, It is just that we need many more to start acting on it. When you use the fossil fuels they emit gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which in result adds to global warming”
“I have heard that, Global warming, they always talk about it on TV” She jumped up to switch on the TV
“No, Not now, let us leave the TV alone. You see, keeping the TV ON always uses a lot of energy, so let us give it some rest. But yes you said it right, people world over now see Global warming as a global warning sign. That if we don’t take care of this now, it is going to get tougher and tougher for life forms to sustain, see we came with you word again, SUSTAIN in this planet”
He stopped to see if she in with him, the thought of TV had slightly side tracked her mind, probably the cartoon network she watches was calling her in her mind.
He continued “Well this is one aspect of sustainability but in a larger sense sustainability has to do with everything we do. The earth being able to sustain life, the political system being able to sustain the growth of the nation, the economy being able to sustain the peoples goal to better living standards and your personal health being able to sustain your well being and a longer life.”
“Sustainability is in everything you see, it is for you to know that you have nothing in abundance to waste and that you have a moral responsibility to give back what you take and if possible more than what you take. A responsibility to leave this world a better place than it is when you leave”
She looked at him with open eyes. He was not sure if she understood what he said last. She is not the age when you think about leaving this world.
He smiled at her and said “See as your Dad I want you to have a better life than what I had, I want you to be able to fulfill all your needs much better than how I could, I also want you to be more responsible about the world than what I was when I was a kid your age. It is my responsibility to hand over the need for sustainability to you and from you to your kids”
“Dad, Can I ask you a question?” She interrupted.
“Yes go ahead”
“Why is it that you don’t off the lights when you don’t need them?”
He looked at her apologetically.
“You are right dear, I told you, you need to be more responsible and I am happy that you asked me that. Let me go off the one in the bedroom and come back”
He went to the bedroom and switched off the lights and came back and sat net to her.
“You know what, it is so true that we adults have missed the train and often lost the right to teach you kids many things, but I think it is still not late and we all can together work on this. So now on you are the eco-manager for the house and you plan to work on sustainability and let us start with energy use. You are ready for it young lady?”
“You bet I am” She said feeling all important being entrusted the role to save the whole world starting from her own little world.