Jeff Masters Weather Blog

8-year-old spurs his dad to climate action » Yale Climate Connections


One December about 20 years ago, Fred Carter’s 8-year-old son Akin was upset when there was no snow in Chicago on Christmas.

In trying to understand why, Akin began learning about climate change and how his parents’ generation had contributed to the problem.

Carter: “He came up to me and my wife … and he said, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ … So we’ve been trying to fix it ever since.”

Back then, Carter worked as a supplier for General Motors. But he started learning about his industry’s climate impact and eventually left his job.

And he began reading and attending conferences and trainings about climate solutions — including clean energy and sustainable food production.

Carter: “I’ve never been in a world like that before, but it was exciting and it disrupted so much. But it created so much.”

And he was determined to use his new knowledge to help others.

The family bought 40 acres south of Chicago, moved out of the city, and began living off-grid.

On their land, they created the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable, Renewable Living. The center educates others about reducing carbon pollution, adopting clean energy, growing local food, and reconnecting with the Earth.

So Carter is still responding to his son’s challenge from all those years ago.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media


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