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Rachael Teel
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Baby Nephew,

You’re the sweetest munchkin I’ve ever met, and I’m thrilled to be your aunt. Seeing you this weekend, I had an overwhelming desire to keep you safe and make you happy. In the moment, that meant tickles, snuggles, and funny faces — but I know there are far more serious (and important) ways that I can and should be contributing to your wellbeing, particularly when it comes to climate change action.

I work in an environmental field and have a fairly small ecological footprint, taking steps like purchasing wind power, composting food scraps, and selling my car. But I’ve always known that I could be doing more — I just chose not too, focusing instead on how I was doing “enough.”

After spending time with you, with this letter on my mind, I am committed to making the harder changes — for example, using less energy around the house, eating less meat, purchasing carbon offsets, and lobbying my legislators — and continuing to critique my own actions (or lack thereof), rather than patting myself on the back for being “better than most Americans.” I’ve also realized, with a fair amount of trepidation, that I need to have some hard conversations with some of our family members. I gave up trying to talk to them about climate change more than a decade ago, but now that you’re here, I hope they’ll be willing to revisit the subject. It will be challenging for all of us to come to terms with our own selfishness, but I hope that your 1-year-old smile will motivate us to make these important changes. Personally, I think it’s just what I need.

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