Minneapolis-based Climate Generation helps teachers, parents talk about climate change with kids

By Gail Rosenblum, Star Tribune
August 2, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS — Lindsey Kirkland was raised in a farming community in Iowa and “always felt a connection to the land and animals.” She pursued a degree in ecology, planning to navigate the world through a lens of plants and animals. That lens widened when she became climate change education manager for Minneapolis-based Climate Generation (climategen.org). The nonprofit, founded in 2006 by polar explorer Will Steger, educates youth, champions systemic equity and fights disinformation in the classroom and beyond. Kirkland, of St. Cloud, Minnesota, shares more below about her organization and why, despite so much grim news, she remains optimistic about Mother Earth, and about us.

Q: Let’s start on a sunny note. Despite raging fires, flooding, drought and storms, your organization maintains a message of optimism. Please say more.

A: It is hard to stay positive in our line of work, but we can see positive action happening all around us. People working in the green economy are creating climate change solutions; city planners are crafting sustainable and walkable cities; farmers are changing their agricultural practices; voters are supporting policymakers who are championing the issue. A lot of people are doing a lot of great things. Climate change action is collective; it takes a lot of people doing a lot of different things to make a difference.

Q: How much denial about climate change do you still witness in 2021?

A: Deniers are actually a small number of people, but they’re loud. A recent analysis from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that the “alarmed” segment of Americans has grown by more than 50% (from 17% to 26% of the U.S. adult population) between 2015 and 2020, while the “dismissive” segment has trended downward (from 10% to 8%). Overall, Americans are becoming more worried about global warming, more engaged with the issue, and more supportive of climate solutions.

Q: Your organization’s founder is a household name. How involved is Will Steger in daily operations?

A: Climate change is still his No. 1 issue. He continues to champion our work through speaking engagements and meeting with high level decisionmakers, as well as through his new documentary, “After Antarctica,” which features never-before-seen archival footage of his historic expedition across the coldest continent on Earth.

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