Given my busy life, I try to to make time to impact at least one important social issue. There are lots of important problems in our world but I believe the most pressing is Climate Change (often known as Global Warming). I won't spend much time here teaching or debating the issue as its pretty widely known (look at the EPA site or Wikipedia for relatively unbiased info or watch the Inconvenient Truth from Mr. Gore).
This is a tough problem to tackle as it has a relatively slow impact on our planet which doesn't affect our daily lives at the moment ('the frog not knowing it's slowly boiling in water' analogy is appropriate) and meaningful progress requires the actions of millions across political, geographical, and cultural boundaries. Finally, humans (especially older ones) are creatures of habit - and habits are hard to change.
I believe one way to spur change is to appeal to those in a position of strong influence to adults, to those who we care about enough that we would change habits to be a good role model - that group is our children. If we can get children to become aware and then care about climate change and its impact on their world, they may be able to cause change in every household on our planet. Despite popular culture portraying kids as silent in the household, their voice is heard by parents and they can influence through our hearts like no other.
The hard part is making the issue of Climate Change real and interesting to kids. I believe the answer is to put a face on climate change and use emotional appeal. The face is in the form of the tens of thousands to potentially million species (many which are cute and somewhat cuddly) that will be endangered by climate change (check out a great article from National Geographic explaining this). The idea is to have each household and/or classroom "adopt a critter" that is endangered, learn about the animal, establish an emotional connection, understand why they are in danger and go to their parents with a list of actions they can take to make a difference to save this animal - and the world (e.g. changing energy consumption, engaging in the political process, etc).
This idea came about at a great conference I attend yearly called TED which offers inspiration from people presenting great ideas - such as Al Gore around Climate Change and EO Wilson on biodiversity and species extinction. The community of people attending TED makes it really special as you can find someone else that is passionate and a leader in making things happen. My friend (and former CEO of Snapfish competitor - Ofoto), James Joaquin, is a fellow TEDster and working wih me on the plan - he has given a great moniker to our idea - "Critter Crisis". We welcome your ideas and thoughts in making Critter Crisis a reality...
I believe the millions of children in the world are a catalyst to combat this crisis and they are also the group that will be impacted most by climate change. I truly hope we can leave this world a better place for them...with their help.