I am writing to you from the winter of 2021 in Missoula, the city where you were born and where your dad and I have tried to build a home and a community. You’re reading this letter in 2050. I may be gone, maybe not, but if I am, please know how much I loved you. You were, and are my whole heart.
Right now, as I write in 2021, our natural world is on the brink of collapse. This is a hard, hard truth to sit with as you approach your eighth birthday in a few months. You and I have loved our beautiful world together. We garden, we chase butterflies, we plant plants for the smallest native bees and follow them flower to flower. You know the names of birds and take the form of all kinds of animals to play, to escape, to express your feelings. We lay in the grass or under our two enormous apple trees and let the birds in.
Beyond our small pocket of nature in our backyard, we hike and camp. But our window for these activities is shrinking. Our forests are becoming drier and more prone to wildfire. The prairie and agricultural land to the east is drying out as well due to warming global temperatures. Beyond Montana, our oceans are acidifying, and the ocean life that supports billions of humans is plummeting because of over-harvesting fish and other creatures, as well as plastic pollution. The rainforests that keep our planet fully functional and able to support life are in huge trouble, being plundered by greedy interests and everyday consumption. And, most devastatingly, our planet is heating at an unprecedented rate because of fossil fuel emissions and other greenhouse gas pollution. We have no idea how this is going to end, but right now the news is hard.
You would think that the natural reaction of every human being, especially those with children, would be to try and stop our unfolding climate crisis. But unfortunately, human hearts are complex, and people with money and power–many of them benefiting from the fossil fuel industry–have sown disinformation across the globe, or are simply greedy, and this has slowed our ability to respond to the crisis. And, of course, many people are simply paralyzed by the enormity of the problem. We have some movement forward, this year in particular, but as one of our great climate leaders, Bill McKibben, has said, “Winning slowly is the same thing as losing.”
So, dear heart, I am doing everything I can as the situation worsens. I promise to work hard, along with the many others who are fighting for our shared future, to turn things around. I promise that as things unfold in the coming years, I will act fiercely to defend your future. I will do everything I can to ensure that what remains for you and your generation are not just remnants of our Earth’s beauty, but a connected, thriving world. I know we can make a beautiful world–we are so capable and have all the solutions we need, and I know that this will take a majority of humans working together to accomplish. I promise, my sweet, sweet love, that I will fight for you everyday, and make as many choices as possible to support your future, and at the same time love everyone, and try to bring them along.
I love you, dear heart. I hope you are always with the bees and butterflies.