A recent paper in the British Medical Journal calls for a ban on coal as punishment at Christmas.
Written by pediatrician Tamsin Holland Brow and her daughters Lilac and Marigold, the article makes the environmental—and compassionate—case for ending what they call an “outdated and potentially harmful” tradition.
According to Holland Brow, the traditional practice of rewarding well-behaved children with gifts but leaving miscreant ones with coal in the festive season persists; lumps of coal are widely available from major online retailers, and the #coalforchristmas hashtag crops up on social media.
The authors point out that not only does the burning of this non-renewable fossil fuel exacerbate the climate crisis, but its impact on air quality can also be bad for children’s health.
They suggest that receiving a lump of coal might also have a negative impact on kids’ mental health.
So as alternatives to punitive coal, the pediatrician and her daughters propose giving recycled/upcycled gifts, plant-based foods, walks and bike rides in nature, inspiring novels, or even a stick insect.
The Holland Brow family also makes the case for rewarding ‘naughtiness,’ citing Greta Thunberg, the eco-activist who inspired millions of children to go on school strikes for climate. As Thunberg says, children “can’t save the world by playing by the rules,” so these children deserve to be on the nice—not naughty—list.
While the co-authors Lilac and Marigold have admitted that they missed school to attend a climate march in 2019, they point out that “[coal] is a fossil fuel and so giving children [coal means] the adults are being the naughty ones.”
So – It is true. The British Medical Journal, Pediatricians, and Mining.com do have a sense of humor. (other than the naming of children, of course)
Personally, I reserve coal gifts for our political leaders. A few academics can get a small lump too! I am still confused on one point of the gift. Is the size of the lump in direct or inverse proportion to the worse they are.
Merry Christmas to all – Bad or good you deserve it!
I got a lump of coal once as a joke.
I kept it for the last 12 years because I’ve never seen coal before. Coal use to fuel the industrial era. It feels like i have a part of history rather than a punitive gift.
But seem i think more outside the box than most people.
Hi John: My brother was a ‘bad boy’ just before Christmas. His wife announced his stocking would get a lump of coal. His daughter had no idea what Mom was talking about. So Christmas morning his stocking had a stick with a nail in it so the kids would understand. — true story.
What a load of cobbles!
That punishment was suitable for the nineteenth century, just like using coal as a power generator.