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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

"Ask Beth" About Climate Change

Air Date: Week of

"Ask Beth" columnist Peg Winship (Photo: Richie Bittner)

Don't ask Peg Winship to give advice on teen problems anymore. The "Ask Beth" columnist is retiring her column after penning it for more than two decades. Now, she’s turning her attentions to global warming.


GELLERMAN: It’s Living on Earth. I’m Bruce Gellerman.

YOUNG WOMAN: Dear Beth, I’m fourteen and my boyfriend is pressuring me to have sex with him but I don’t think I’m ready. I don’t want to lose him. What should I do? Signed--Confused

GELLERMAN: Dear Confused well, I just don’t have an answer for you, but for almost fifty years, advice columnist “Ask Beth” has been answering questions like this one from teenagers. Elizabeth Winship wrote the “ask Beth” column for a quarter of a century before handing it off to her daughter, Peg Winship.

But now, “Ask Beth” has answered her last questions about teenage relationship troubles. Peg Winship is retiring the column and turning her attention full-time to what she says is a far greater challenge confronting teens today.

WINSHIP: The burning issue for me now is not whether young people are having sex or not but what kind of a world they’ll be inheriting from us. I fervently believe the most critical factor in our kids’ future is global warming. The more I learn the more convinced I’ve become that we have a very short time to improve the outcome for our children. If we wait until “more is known” it will likely be too late.

"Ask Beth" columnist Peg Winship (Photo: Richie Bittner)

Why are people ignoring this? Why are the serious implications for life on earth still not getting a fraction of the attention reserved for the Anna Nicole Smiths? The media hasn’t done its job - we’re in denial - things are so grim we feel powerless. The reasons don’t matter, what matters is that if you are listening to this, the jig is up. We really can’t make any more excuses. We’ve all got to get to work. Fortunately, it’s an issue each of us can do something about.
What can you do? Become informed. It’s actually fascinating to learn about the earth’s climate and to see how energy is interwoven throughout our lives. You’ll get inspired to take action, with your families, in your home, at school and at work. Do an energy audit with your kids and figure out the many ways to reduce your CO2 emissions.

It does take perseverance and gentle reminders to develop new habits. My husband and I are retraining ourselves to turn out all our lights except for the room we’re in and to unplug our energy draining gadgets. It surprises me how long it’s taking. I’m not Ed Begley Jr. yet, but I’m finally developing a turn-off reflex and each time I do, I get a positive little buzz.

We can’t wait for our leaders to lead us—we must demand that they do. Pressure your representatives to pass strong legislation to reduce our heat-trapping emissions 80 percent by mid-century. They need to hear an urgent and constant drumbeat from every-day citizens that drowns out the corporate fossil fuel juggernaut. When they hear from enough of us they will respond.

Conserving and developing sustainable practices is actually innately satisfying. If we truly change our ways we won’t diminish or “lose” our lifestyle—we’ll gain enormously. When people are asked to reflect on the highlights of a past year, they usually mention slowing down and connecting with family or friends, taking notice of something beautiful in nature. We can experience lots more of this.

We have the most exciting challenge before us that has yet to be achieved – we have to overcome our ignorance, greed, fear and aggression to create a sustainable way of life on earth. Survival of our civilization is at stake. We have a good chance of saving it if each of us acts now.

GELLERMAN: "Ask Beth" columnist Peg Winship lives in Cambridge, NY. She recently discontinued the column to focus her attention on global warming.



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