Green Ninja: A Smokey the Bear for Climate Change
Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own superhero to reduce the global carbon footprint? Enter the Green Ninja, a climate action superhero who fights global warming through education and social change.
We all know the importance of reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases to help stabilize our climate system. In 2012, the U.S. experienced a number of significant weather and climate events including the warmest year on record, a drought that peaked in July with over 60 percent of the nation in drought conditions, and devastating storms including Super Storm Sandy. Together with another record-setting minimum in Arctic sea ice, policy makers have again been forced to take climate change seriously.
So what is the way forward and could the Green Ninja help?
The Green Ninja Project is a collaboration among scientists, educators, and artists to create unique educational experiences that inspire young people to take action on climate change. The humorous adventures of the Green Ninja are featured in a series of animated and live-action short films hosted on YouTube. Related games and contests are used to promote hands-on learning experiences in the climate-related areas of food, energy, and water. A collection of educational resources help teachers bring the Green Ninja and climate science topics into the classroom.
So how does the Green Ninja help reduce one’s carbon footprint? In this video, a man’s feet start to grow as a result of his large carbon footprint. The Green Ninja rushes to the rescue!
Education certainly plays an important role in moving our nation to a more sustainable path in terms of our climate. At present, most children know very little about climate change, and their teachers are often underprepared to teach these topics in their classrooms. The Green Ninja Project develops short films, social media tools, and accompanying teacher lesson plans using the humorous adventures of the Green Ninja as a unifying theme. In a manner similar to Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, we aim to create a universally recognized icon for education and action on climate change.
One sample activity is the Green Ninja Smart Energy Contest. In the Fall of 2012, over 200 middle and high school students learned about energy conservation through some Green Ninja films and lessons. Students were then asked to be their own Green Ninja by taking action at home to reduce energy use. Using existing smart meter technology, students tracked their home energy use for two weeks and compared their numbers with a similar period before their actions. The result—nearly a 10 percent reduction in household energy use, and more importantly a learning experience that connects climate science with home lighting, heating, and those pesky energy vampires!
In Spring 2013, we will begin production of the Green Ninja Show; a weekly variety program that blends existing films and animations with experiments, skits, and interviews. The Green Ninja Show will explore climate and energy topics in a quirky and crazy manner, in the spirit of our hero Bill Nye the Science Guy. The show is aimed at upper elementary to middle school children, their teachers, and parents. Through existing partnerships with educators, each episode of the Green Ninja Show will have curricula that teachers can use in their classrooms to teach science and math topics and fulfill the next generation science standards.
Would you like to help the Green Ninja? Subscribe to our YouTube channel or become friends on Facebook, and you’ll join the Green Ninja Team! As the launch date for our new show nears, we’ll ask team members for feedback on new content, testing our new mobile phone app, or connecting with friends to help spread the reach of our educational materials.
Thanks and Go Green Ninja!
This month, challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Throughout February, we'll share ideas and resources for shrinking your household carbon footprint, so join the conversation at good.is/energy.