Al Gore meets my babysitter

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Some 12-year-old girls are worried about 12-year-old boys. And some 12-year-old girls are worried about Al Gore.

Or at least one 12-year-old in Bay Ridge is. She is also worried about dying polar bears and global extinction — which is what happens when Al Gore gets control of the New York City school curriculum.

Few people outside of middle school know this, but “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore’s effort to promote social awareness of global warming, has been converted into a lesson plan for public school science classes — and as a result, tweens and teens are trying to make sense of what Brooklyn will look like flooded.

You know, from all the glaciers melting.

“We only have 10 years until all of New York is underwater,” my 12-year-old babysitter told me on Friday night — the one night a week when my wife and I go to Griswold’s for the barbeque ribs special.

“Don’t you feel concerned with the rise in natural disasters? Hello? Well, we should all be very afraid of what is coming next.”

Ten years, I think. Good thing I’m renting.

“Global warming isn’t a theory, it is now a fact that has been proven by scientists,” said the babysitter, who is currently an eighth grader at David A. Boody school in Bensonhurst. “And Al Gore was a vice president, you know.”

I listened to her for an hour or so. Her teacher had done his job, because she did know her stuff — or, at least, she knew the stuff on the “Inconvenient Truth” Web site, which conveys one basic message: “It is getting warmer,” and features images of those suffering polar bears (they’re the canary in this particular coal mine).

A spokesman for the city Department of Education said global warming has become entrenched in third- and eight-grade curriculums.

“Global warming and Al Gore aren’t a required part of a teacher’s curriculum,” said the spokesman. “But teachers are encouraged to use hot topics to engage students — and, obviously, the use of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in the classroom has become more popular.”

Perhaps it has always been thus. When I was in middle school, the big scare in the science book was overpopulation. The general idea was too many people in too little space. Judging by my morning commute on the B16, perhaps there was something to the theory.

The job of a 12-year-old babysitter is grueling, unsatisfying and often frustrating work. She can lay out her best case for saving the earth from certain peril, but it is never an easy job to convey the need for urgent action to a man with rib sauce on his face (mmmm, ribs).

Of course, 12-year-old babysitters are also blessed with persistence.

“Al Gore knows what he is talking about,” she added as she was walking out the door. “Did you know that he was on Oprah?”

She makes a good point. Then again, Oprah also hosted James Frey.

The Kitchen Sink

“DEAR STOOP: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE STOOP, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus? (signed) Virginia O’Hanlon, 87th Street.” Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as legendary community activist Carmine Santa Maria exists. As usual, Santa Maria made his rounds this holiday season, delighting kids (scaring some, he admitted) wherever he went. … State Sen. Marty Golden presided as 10 computers were donated to Our Ladies of Grace School. … The Starbucks on Third Avenue and 75th Street is STILL waiting to put chairs and tables in their already-built indoor café weeks after Rep. Vito Fossella claimed to have cleared the matter at a CB 10 meeting. … Maimonides Medical Center President Pamela Brier and former Community Board 10 Chairman Craig Eaton presented lifesaving defibrillators to 17 schools and community organizations. One of the defibrillators was seated on the table next to Eaton at the famous meeting last month when Allen Bortnick demanded a written ballot instead of a voice vote. Eaton got flushed, but the defibrillator was not ultimately needed. … A special Stoop welcome to James A. Sapala, M.D., considered a pioneer in the field of bariatric surgery, who is the newest addition to the Lutheran Medical Center surgical department. … A thumbs-up to My Thai Cafe, whose Jan. 2 grand opening offered up the best pad Thai in Bay Ridge. … The honors keep piling up as Marty Golden won the Sephardic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center’s coveted Humanitarian Award. … On Jan. 3, City Councilman Vincent Gentile celebrated his 48th birthday, marking his 22nd year in politics. If it weren’t for term limits, he’d serve us forever.

Updated 4:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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