If you ever need to have yourself a stern lecture about a very important subject, let me suggest that you get it from 8-year-old Hippocrates Polemis, one of the young stars of HBO’s spectacular, song-filled family special Saving My Tomorrow which premieres tonight.
Like his ancient namesake, the dark-eyed little fellow has a fine grasp on what is — and isn’t — good for us. Sporting a “ICARE For The World” t-shirt and a smudge of lunch on his face, Hippocrates reminds us — with all the gravitas of your high-school principal — that we can’t just travel through galaxies and go hmmm, that looks like a nice planet to live on. We can’t do that. We have to try to stop (fist pound) ourselves (fist pound) from mussing this one up!
Hippocrates is just one of the stunningly astute kids not waiting on us grown-ups to take the lead on aiding Mother Earth who are featured in the unique partnership between HBO and the American Museum of Natural History. And who make this program an utterly winning must-see for all ages.
Twelve year old Ta’Kaiya Blaney, from the Sliammon First Nation in Vancouver, became a prolific vocal activist after reading about the Northern Gateway Pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta and realizing that the supertankers that carry the resulting oil to California and China were impacting the whale population and could result in a spill could never be cleaned up. “I used to think that no one would listen to you unless you were a grown up. … And then I realized that I don’t really have time to grow up,” says Blaney, whose efforts have taken her to UN meetings around the world.
Thirteen year old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez explains that his deep understanding of and attachment to the land around his Boulder, CO., home led him to serve as youth director of Earth Guardians, an international non-profit environmental organization for kids. He, too, has spoken to government officials and environmental agencies around the globe.
“This is where I’ve grown up. This is what I love,” says Martinez of the Lodge Pole pine forests near his home that are being decimated by an overrun of pine beetles due to warming temperatures. “When you see it threatened, it not only becomes what you love and what you know but also what you have to protect.”
Aji Piper, 13, and his nine-year-old brother Adonis perform a song Aji wrote called “Exploding Trains” that expresses his concern about the 24 oil trains that blast through their Seattle hometown each week.
“The biggest problem of my generation is trying to figure out how to live on this planet with everything else, without destroying the planet,” says Aji.
And if you think you learned everything you needed to know about 2012’s Hurricane Sandy from news reports, hearing fourth graders from Long Beach read essays they wrote about its impact on their own lives will make you realize you only got part of the story. “I wished it was a dream,” one little guy reads somberly. “I prayed to God that it was a dream. But it wasn’t.”
Ready to do something, yet?
Saving My Tomorrow intersperses segments with these compelling kids with readings by Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Jeffrey Wright, Neil deGrasse Tyson and others (off camera, so the focus stays on the young activists); field trips to the American Museum of Natural History led by its experts; and musical performances by a wide range of artists, including Nashville’s Lennon and Maisy Stella, Stephan Merritt (whose tune “A Million Trillion Bugs” celebrates “biodiversity, a goose for you, a moose for me!”), and Willie Nelson, whose “Greenhouse Gases” reminds us that “Greenhouse Gases aren’t all bad — in amounts we’ve always had,” but “If you like your weather strange and your maps rearranged then maybe climate change is right for you.”
And along the way, you and your kids will learn how global warming is making our fish dangerously hungry and our polar bears dangerously thin; why 4,500 different species are currently in danger of extinction; and, how the meticulous nature journals kept by Henry David Thoreau about the wildflower growth surrounding his Concord, MA, home are helping today’s scientists understand how environmental change affects plants. All in a way that can’t help but inspire you to take action in your home, too.
Because, as 12-year-old Zoe points out, “The adults clearly aren’t doing enough to stop this, so we have to take it into our own hands.”
The Saving My Tomorrow special premieres Monday, Dec. 15 at 7/6CT on HBO.
Photos/video: courtesy of HBO