by Ben Block
When I was as old as my son is now, back in 1986, the warnings of climate change first hit the news.
In the following years, climate science became conclusive. We know the impacts will be severe and widespread. Yet, even for me—an environmentalist to the core—our climate crisis did not feel truly personal until 16 months ago, when my wife brought our son into the world.
I recognize we do not live in an area prone to hurricanes or forest fires. Still, I worry about the worsening heat waves, the insect-borne diseases spreading to our neighborhoods and the costs to manage the growing number of storms and floods.
My environmental anxieties are compounded by the depth of love for my son. Rather than let these anxieties consume me, I chose to take action.
I began searching for like-minded caregivers who want to expand the environmental movement. Climate Dads was formed to unite fellow caregivers who are committed to addressing the threats of climate change.
Since its start earlier this year, I learned that millions of Americans have a clear interest in making the transition to a sustainable energy future and in preparing future generations to adapt to climate change.
Yet among those millions of voices, I could not find a single environmental group that specifically represented the perspectives, concerns and organizing power of male caregivers.
That’s when Climate Dads became a calling. In the months that followed, we began building a movement of climate-conscious men—starting with those here in Philadelphia—to sound the alarm on climate change.
Climate Dads serves as an inspiration for more families to transition to a low-carbon future. In the process, we hope to assist men in developing deeper connections with their families through environmental activities, learning and advocacy.
We have a lot of work to do. A 2016 study by Pew Research Center found 66 percent of men in the U.S. consider climate change to be a problem — nearly 20 percentage points fewer than the surveyed women.
Meanwhile, green jobs are multiplying across the region, with many of those jobs going to men. Nationwide, Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 93 percent of the green jobs workforce is male.
Clearly, climate change is not only a threat to our families. Solutions to climate change offer opportunities for us to support our families through work that is meaningful, dignified and profitable.
More dads need to speak up about climate change. Unabated, the climate crisis puts our children in harm’s way.
More dads need to advocate for the continued growth of the green job economy. Left to its own devices, the fossil fuel industry will continue to stop progress in its tracks.
More dads need to make clear what we hope and expect for our families. Otherwise, in silence, our power is lost.
If we organize and advocate as parents and caregivers, representing and vocalizing our unique perspectives, the vision for what can be will turn into the realities of a new future, sustaining and safeguarding us all.