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A superhero for climate change

By Julia Wolf

I remember Smokey the Bear’s visits to Ashland’s Wilmarth School in the 1960s. We’d gather in the new gym, and Smokey would lumber in and tell his story. When I recently saw a Smokey sign in the Chequamegon National Forest, it brought a smile to my face – like seeing an old friend.

I think Smokey has survived all these years, because his message is timeless and asks something specific: Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires. He’s like a superhero for the woods.

I think we need a 21st century companion for Smokey – a superhero for climate change. Like Smokey, our superhero should be easily recognizable and deliver a timeless message – maybe some kind of cool, animated figure who could go viral on Instagram or TikTok. Climate change is a global issue, and our superhero could show up on screens from Wisconsin to India, to the North Pole.

Like Smokey, I think our superhero should be a friend to all and able to work with all kinds of people. Because, in order to meet climate change challenges, we’re going to need the energy industry, car manufacturers, scientists, the ag industry, educators, faith leaders, world leaders, parents and their children, to name just a few.

And possibly an animator.

I think our superhero’s message has to be positive. A couple years ago, I helped a group of students write a play about climate change. After several false starts, we came up with a theme: We’re all part of the climate change problem, so we must all be part of the solution.

With a few tweaks, it’s pretty close to Smokey’s message: Only WE can solve climate change.

Finally, what’s our superhero’s name? Pete the Polar Bear? Carl the Carbon-eater? Future Woman? Captain Earth? Smokey doesn’t have a magic wand to prevent forest fires; he admonishes US to take care of the woods. Our climate change superhero won’t have a magic wand either; it’s up to US to solve climate change. I think our superhero’s name has to be Captain Us.

Because only WE can solve climate change. How? We need to educate ourselves. I recommend David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet on Netflix, the story of Attenborough’s love for all life on earth and his urgent plea for action. The film documents the increase in atmospheric carbon during our lifetime and its devastating effect on the planet.

The non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby recommends a revenue-neutral, carbon fee-and-dividend plan for carbon reduction. You can help to secure this legislation, by joining the Chequamegon Chapter at and clicking on JOIN CCL. (It’s free!) Visit to learn how to make your home or business more efficient, and sign up to receive one of six different energy-saving packs.

Captain Us! As climate change superheroes, it might seem like we can only do small things, but they add up. Let’s work to keep 1,000-year storms from washing out roads and to keep algae from blooming in bays.

Let’s all be superheroes.

Liz Fentress is a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Chequamegon Chapter. She recently moved home, with her husband, to northern Wisconsin, after working in the theatre in Kentucky, for 40 years, because she missed the lake.