A love letter to my son
Everything changed on 26th November 2011. In the midst of blood, sweat and tears of joy my body joined billions of other women before me as I gave birth to you, my son, my firstborn. So common but yet so extraordinary. That day I was the weakest and the strongest all at once. I was a kitten and a lioness. I wanted to protect this little flicker of light at any cost. I felt a new bond with all other new mums that must be feeling all these feelings too.
That first year with you on my chest was an emotional blur of nursing, deep love, worry and sleep deprivation. The fragility of life was brought to the fore as my mum passed away the day before you turned one. Life and death met each other almost at the door. One came and one left. So common but yet so extraordinary.
In the year 2050 you will be 39 years old, exactly the same age as I am now. Maybe you’ll have kids of your own (I hope so!). I wonder what the world around you will look like and if you’ll be safe. I wonder where you will be living. In fact, I’m terrified of where scientists are telling us we are headed at current rates with escalating levels of climate disruption. The year 2050 is significant as it’s a marker for when, at the latest, we must have transitioned our societies and be powered by close to 100% clean energy, having left dirty fossil fuels in the ground for decades already.
I hope this year is a real turning point and by the time you’re a teenager, your life is powered almost entirely by clean energy like solar and wind, and you get to enjoy clean air in whatever city you live in.
Currently, our kids are in the firing line. Climate disruption and extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and heat waves are hitting more frequently and more severely. Those most vulnerable, our kids, are being hit first and worst. Unless we take urgent action to confront climate change now, we can expect to see many disturbing impacts including:
- Climate disruption already takes 150,000 lives each year, and almost all of those deaths are among children in developing countries through weather-related disasters, heat, and respiratory infections. And eighty-eight percent of the burden of disease from climate change today is felt by children in developing countries.
- Rising temperatures and periods of drought will lead to low birth weight in infants, which is a marker of overall health.
- We will see insect-borne diseases like malaria, Dengue fever and Lyme disease spread to new areas affecting children adversely, as well as water and food-borne diseases causing diarrhea, a common killer in children in poorer countries.
As weather patterns change, crops will fail, putting more children at risk of malnutrition and hunger.
- Children are also more likely to suffer emotional trauma and psychological stress due to extreme weather events and disasters.
Finally, our kids little lungs are at risk from bad air quality exacerbating respiratory disease and asthma due to rising smog levels in urban areas, increased pollen counts and lengthening of the pollen season and smoke from wildfires. Children living near or being exposed to coal plants, oil refineries, trucks and cars, smelters and mines are the most at risk.
Climate disruption is happening now, in every country around the world, and our precious children are at the centre of this unfolding disaster. They will see the consequences of our actions and decisions we take today.
I make sure you wear a seatbelt in the car, I protect you from harmful substances wherever I can, and I watch over you when you’re swimming in the sea, and I will keep using my parent power to fight for the best possible future for you and for kids everywhere.
I love you.