Kids are born ready to learn. Ready to play doesn’t
come too far behind. They typically learn from being read books and playing with things. This much
hasn’t changed as the 21st century advances. They
learn about (and play with) colors and shapes and
farm animals and cars and planes.
Eventually they learn about letters and words
and start playing with those, learning how to
learn for themselves.
Then the video games kick in.
But before that point you can teach them about
anything you’d care for them to know, with pretty
much their undivided attention. And if one of the
things you’d like them to know about is the virtues of hydrocarbon fuels, Barbara Denson has
someone (something?) she’d like you to meet:
Gary The Go-Cart.
Gary is the title character in a series of children’s books Denson has written with the intent
of making sure they learn from an early age that
“carbon dioxide is a natural and very good thing.”
The first book in the series, “Wind Blows”, compared the reliability and environmental efficacy of
oil and gas energy with wind energy.
Carbon in the closet
Like many anthropomorphized characters, Gary
has a little buddy, in this case Sage the bird (spar-
row?). They go about their rounds in a carefree
manner, making sure to take time to smell the ros-
es. But “then one evening on the news, the Greenies
made their case; talking about carbon and how it
was foul and base.”
The Greenies went one step further, calling
carbon a pollutant that makes the planet hot.
“Keep it in the closet,” they said, “or our planet
soon will rot!” Carbon getting put in the closet
is a metaphor for real-life capture and sequestra-
It wasn’t long before opportunistic politicians
got on board, calling for a carbon tax to penalize
any who weren’t willing to get with the seques-
tration program and forcing them to “buy new
gizmos” to better capture the carbon.
In a bit of stretch, perhaps used to make a
point, the politicians even made Gary buy a new
gizmo despite being nothing more than a little
go-cart that delivered donuts to the mill. This put
Gary in the universally uncomfortable position of
having to “hold it” (the carbon) until he got home
and could store it in the closet.
Sage doesn’t like seeing his friend in distress
and begins questioning the motivations of those
making the rules and collecting the taxes. He then
doubles down, pointing out that “all the critters
in the zoo” let carbon out, people too, and that sequestering it “makes it hard for plants to breathe.”
Gary took a look around and didn’t see much
of a difference. Only when he talked to the apples,
and the cucumbers, and the daisies did it become
clear that they needed more carbon to grow to
their full potential.
Sage and Gary knew what to do. They broke
away from the dictums of their regulatory overlords and started releasing as much carbon as they
could. “The plants were all much healthier, the
plants were full of grins. With carbon in the atmosphere everybody wins.”
An author’s note
Benson allows in a note from the author that Gary
emits only CO2, “the type of carbon we are being
told to sequester,” and that real vehicles emit a va-
riety of other gases including carbon monoxide,
“which is indeed a pollutant.”
The kids might not catch that distinction, but
Benson wants to make sure they’re at least aware
that there are two sides to the environmental story.
Who knows what Gary and Sage will do next?
Or why their adventures have double entendre as
titles? As John F. Kennedy is quoted as saying in
the book’s ‘For The Adults in the Room’ section:
“The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion.”
Sequestration for kids