Celebrate our Amazing Planet with Fossil Fools Day
Earth Day might be the oldest environmental holiday, but saving the planet takes more than one day per year. That’s why environmental activists have devised so many other collective actions to remind Homo sapiens to take care of our habitat. In our Celebrate our Amazing Planet series, your kids will learn about the challenges affecting our environment and how they can be part of the solution.
Fossil fuels are no laughing matter! The number one environmental concern of our time is climate change caused in no small part by burning long-dead organic substances for energy: fossil fuels. These over-utilized energy sources release carbon into the atmosphere at alarming rates, punching holes into our world’s protective ozone layer faster than the Karate Kid and polluting the air we breathe. Who are the fools who created this unsustainable system of living?
So asks Fossil Fools Day, a blissful mashup of April Fools and fossil fuels, practiced every April 1 since 2004, when American and Canadian students decided to organize against climate change. Each year, “pranks” that approximate the unsavory looks of disaster caused by fossil fuels are carried out by students on high school and university campuses throughout North America. The goal? To inform the public about renewable energy options and push for tougher legislation on carbon emitters. These tactics seek to change the future of climate change.
Those major carbon emitters – or rather, the CEOs of global oil companies and the legislators and lobbyists who push for more pipelines, fracking, and drilling – are the “Fossil Fools” to which the day refers. And who better than high school and college students to play practical jokes on those fools?
The premise of Fossil Fools Day might sound a little dubious to some parents: create a devious public disturbance to illustrate the dangers of fossil fuel production and emission. Or, perhaps it reminds you of your own days as a heady idealist. If so, read on:
Kids can download the Fossil Fools Day Action Guide for some pranks to start them on their journey. Staging a mock oil spill at a public fountain; snaking an inflatable black “pipeline” through the streets to protest the proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the United States; creating a fake “fracking” set-up at a government building and dressing up like disfigured hospital patients – the ideas are endless!
These ideas are also just an excuse for your teenagers to research and read up on iconic fossil fuel mishaps, like the BP Gulf oil spill. Encourage them to come up with their own re-enactment and film it. YouTube celebrity could be just around the corner!
If you’ve got younger kids who might not get into activism-enactments, consider a more low-key way to support divestment from fossil fuels. Pranks on the energy-elite may be philosophical fun for collegiates, but younger kids should instead practice being proactive.
Plan your day around living with renewable energy. Cook by the power of wind energy. Light up your house with soy or beeswax candles. Go screen-free. Ride bikes to school. Get a solar-powered light to do homework. Practicing these green techniques for living fossil fuel free is a great way to get involved without being a prankster.
After the Fact
Even after the fun and pranks of Fossil Fools Day are over, student-led action on climate change continues, and so should your kids’ education on the causes of climate change and the ways they can take care of the planet.
Encourage kids to start a petition at their school for actionable energy change. Perhaps converting to solar power, or installing a wind turbine on campus is a good place to start. Even creating a recycling program or banishing plastic and other oil-based products from campus is a good start.
Want to learn about other forms of renewable energy that can power our world? Task your kids with finding renewable energy in the United States, and plan your next family vacation around exploring these electricity sources.
The Hoover Dam and Niagara Falls are both massive sources of hydroelectric power, generated by diverting the rushing flow of water into turbines that power generators. A trip to Hawaii’s volcanoes will teach your kids all about geothermal energy sources, which use superheated water under the ground to create energy.
No matter how you carry the climate change focus of Fossil Fools Day forward, creating awareness about the environmental and social dangers of fossil fuels is a lesson that will stick with your kids.
The Long Run
The goal of these student activists is divestment from fossil fuels. They seek to create renewable solutions to stop climate change.
Your kids can get involved in the student-led Energy Action Coalition, which is an umbrella organization for youth-led environmental and social justice groups. These groups not only participate in Fossil Fools Day, but they form a much larger annual conference called Power Shift to train youth activists and leaders all over the United States.
Check out WeArePowerShift.org and GoFossilFree.ca, the complimentary action organizations in the United States and Canada, for more information.
Will your kids be participating in Fossil Fools Day this year? What pranks do you have lined up? Share with us!