In 2020, you will be seven years old, in school and likely learning about climate change. Perhaps this will be the first time you will ask me what I did about it. I hope I can make you proud.
Everybody tells me that you will grow up faster than I can imagine, and I can already see that is true in your first 2 years. Before I know it, you will be asking me and your mom about our lives before you, and not long after that I hope you will be asking us tough questions about our contribution to the world you are inheriting.
Someday sooner than I can imagine, I hope you ask me what I did about climate change. We are trying to raise you to be inquisitive, fair, fearless, and concerned about the world as a community, and concerned about making this world a little more just.
When you ask me this, I am afraid that I will not have an answer that will make you completely satisfied. In my personal life, I have tried to limit my own impact by not owning a car (even though you love cars :)), living in a city and relying on public transportation, not constantly buying the newest things, and re-using as much as possible. However, reducing the impact of climate change requires political solutions that I, and everyone else, need to create pressure to achieve.
When I decided to move into Public Health as a career, as a Master’s student the head of my department inspired me to focus my efforts on doing something to address the epidemic of HIV in Africa. He told our students that, in the early 2000s, HIV was the Public Health emergency of our time, and that looking back 20 or 30 years from now, all individuals moving into Public Health at this time should be expected to answer the question of what they did about the HIV epidemic. The message was simple: we know how to eliminate HIV, we just need the will to do so.
Climate change is more complicated than a single disease, because it effects everything that we see around us. But the bottom line is the same. We know how to reduce the acceleration of carbon going into the atmosphere, we just need the will to do so.
Before you were born, I can say that I really focused on my contribution to the climate change problem. With you now in my life, it is clear that I need to do more. What I can tell you is that during your childhood, I will do more than I have. I will support political leaders that take climate change seriously. I will participate in rallies in support of just climate change solutions. But perhaps most importantly, I will do my best to show you how important reducing the impact of climate change is, not just for you but for everyone in your shared world.
You are an incredibly special boy who amazes me every day. You will do amazing things in this world, pursue happiness, and make a contribution to this world that I cannot even predict. In 2020, you will be seven years old, in school and likely learning about climate change. Perhaps this will be the first time you will ask me what I did about it. I hope I can make you proud.
I love you,