India has Green Kid Power

Posted by: Jennifer Scarlott on

I'm just back from a trip to India, where my 14-year-old daughter and I attended the Sanctuary/Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) Fifth Bengal Tiger Consultation at the Nehru Library in Delhi. The new Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh was a visible presence (promising to do everything in his power to save India's national animal and its forests), and there were other ministers, as well as a who's who of India's indefatigable tiger experts and advocates, including Valmik Thapar, Belinda Wright, Ullas Karanth, Fateh Singh Rathore and many others. Bill McKibben, head of 350.org was there, accompanied by his inspiring daughter Sophie. The American father-daughter team have been traveling the globe of late, spreading the word about the crucial need for the concentration of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere to return to 350 parts per million (it's currently at 390 ppm), a goal agreed upon by the likes of Al Gore, Sir Nicholas Stern, Jim Hansen, Rajendra Pachauri of IPCC, and countless others. The McKibbens are spreading the word about the global campaign for simultaneous 350 actions on October 24. (see www.350.org for details -- it's not too late to organize an action wherever you are, or to join one already being planned!)

And last but certainly not least, the adults at the two-day Bengal Tiger consultation were joined by hundreds of children from schools around Delhi. I have never seen anything like it! I have never been to a conference of any kind in the U.S. where kids not only were invited, but actively participating, listening, speaking out, taking notes, meeting in the hallways, and asking incisive, respectful questions. A couple thousand of them worked for hours in the hot sun and damp grass on the library's lawn, to form a magnificent tiger, and the figure 3-5-0. It filled me with hope to see all these young people participating, with such joy and brilliance, in crafting their own future. Back in New York now, I'm inspired to find ways for American kids to join hands with their peers in India. Perhaps one day, we can find a way for India's vigorous Kids for Tigers program to go global. Then the tiger would really have something to celebrate.