I hope that this letter finds you well and that by the time you read this, we have come together as a society to give proper efforts and attention to combating climate change. I hope that you are living a happy life, and that you are not struggling to find nutritious food, clean water, or housing to help keep you safe and healthy. I hope that violence is not omnipresent due to the destruction of resources and land from droughts, wildfires, flooding, or severe storms. I hope you have happiness, hope, and a loving support system, and that there is still nature to enjoy.
I am writing to you now as a student of Public Health as well as a Project Manager at Vermont Center on Behavior and Health. Since I’ve started my Master’s in Public Health at the University of Vermont 2 years ago, I’ve become more and more interested in the health of our climate. Over the past 6 months, I’ve become increasingly concerned about the path that our country and world are taking regarding our carbon emissions. Our combined lack of effective carbon emission mitigation is contributing to more severe storms, droughts, floods and conflicts. Additionally, according to a United Nations Report, the current extinction rate is nearly 1,000 times the ‘baseline’ extinction rate determined by scientists, which is something we have not seen since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.
I cannot accept that the fate that the majority of our world is to stand by while these circumstances continue to occur and with increasing severity, so I do my best to both change my own habits as well as to speak out to encourage others to change their habits as well. Today, trying to communicate the importance of reducing our emissions with others who do not want to make massive changes in their daily lives can be very difficult, because some people become angry when their comforts are threatened. I do the best that I can do educate myself on the communication methods that could be most effective among people with various stages of motivation to make changes for our world and for our future generations. While I often feel very depressed and hopeless about the global inaction that has occurred in my generation despite trail blazing scientists like James Hansen and Jeremy Jackson who dedicate their lives attempting to communicate the immediacy and critical nature of this issue, I know that my feelings will not lead to change. Only action and communication will lead to change, and I continue to put all possible efforts into increasing communication and action to bring about the biggest change possible for the sake of you, your family, your children and grandchildren if you choose to have them, and future generations.
There are many leaders today that are putting forth incredible efforts to make large institutional changes. As I write to you, President Trump is now in office and we are preparing for the 2020 Presidential Election. While President Trump has led us further away from preventing devastating climate change by pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, calling for U.S. oil drilling in foreign countries and encouraging the continued success of large oil companies like Exxon Mobil, there are many 2020 Democratic Candidates that are very concerned about the health of our climate and our future generations and thus are endorsing climate plan initiatives. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of New York’s members of the House of Representatives, is another climate health advocate and has fearlessly and with great opposition proposed the Green New Deal, a large proposal that tackles many institutional failures regarding greenhouse gas emissions and economic inequality and proposes solutions that would take effect within 10 years of implementation. Important climate-related changes are going to originate in government and other influential organizations, and while leaders like Cortez and future presidents can make a huge difference in mobilizing laws and regulations, citizens also can play a large role by voicing our concerns and what we want to see change while also making changes to our daily lives so we can reduce our emissions rate and try to model this behavior for others.
I don’t know what the next 50 years will bring, but I hope with all of my heart that this letter reaches you at a point where climate action plans have been globally agreed upon and aggressively implemented. I am hopeful that enough of our citizens will elect political leaders that will have the foresight to fix this issue right now rather than waiting until it is too late.