Dear Emilia and Tommy,
You know me today in 2017, but I don’t guess you’ll remember me in 2050. As I write, you are 5 year olds and in Kindergarten. In my younger days I taught a variety of subjects in high school to kids who’ve now grown securely into their adulthood, but am now absolutely delighted to read to you once a week as a volunteer in Oregon’s Smart Reader program. I know you and the other 5 year old girls and boys I read to, as energetic, often giggly, smiley young kids full of life and abundant potential, delighted in what happens in the books we read together: “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, or “Dragons Love TACOS!” ~ We read together to engage your enjoyment and enthusiasm in stories and reading early in your education to forward the journey, and the magnificent possibilities and adventure of your life.
But this letter, instead of hopes for your future, is about fears of what I, WE, my generation may be leaving you and future generations to deal with. That is, the real possibility of a Planet that as early as 2050 and into the next century, before you are even 40 years old will no longer be the supportive and habitable environment it has been for all of human history, for you to live on and grow your own kids.
That increasing likelihood, will be because my generation and its leadership denied and refused to acknowledge or meaningfully confront a Climate ~ changing before our very eyes, nor stopped ourselves from a destructive and addictive energy and fossil fuel consumption habit that feeds too much carbon into our atmosphere. I fear that we will not have done enough or will have acted too late to prevent a climate on average 6 degrees Celsius warmer by 2100, when you guys will be only 90, and none of you able to do a thing about it. I’ll know that neither my driving of a Prius nor riding an electric bike, nor turning off my coal fueled electric appliances will have been enough! ~ For you it will be much worse.
Today in 2017 I know your delight in books about Dinosaurs… (What kid doesn’t love stories of the now extinct T-Rex, Brontosauruses and Stegosaurs?!) ~ I know your laughter at the ‘Dragons’ who love Tacos…, But NOT HOT SAUCE! … Because hot sauce turns them into fire breathing dragons with inflammatory habits that forever ruin the Fun of Taco Parties.
My generation has in a way become those fire breathing, havoc wreaking dragons who may ruin the party for Every One! What is tragic is that we, informed by physics and our best science, have known and ignored the consequences of what we’ve been doing for decades. We know the chemistry by which carbons and water vapor trap the Sun’s heat within our atmosphere making our Earth either receptively habitable to human life, or destructively hot for ours and other life forms. ~ The Planet we leave you may soon be one with progressively disintegrating and disappearing polar regions, and dramatically higher coastal sea levels ~ A world with erratic and massive weather events, with droughts, famines, species die-offs, resource allocation wars, massive migrant populations fleeing politically unstable territories ~ And all far more severe than what we already know today in 2017, and even after three successive years of the hottest average global temperature on record.
I’m hoping the best for you, but also truly frightened. We, in our time, still have the chance to change course. We have the knowledge and emergent means, even the profitable technologies, to do so. Yet our politicians and corporate leaders ~ most of whom are highly educated, even compassionate people, who must deep down know better … refuse to act.
I don’t know if that is out of greed for short term monetary profits, or self aggrandizing and blinded myopia, but it is where we are. I do know that IF my generation, that can change the course, does not… your lives will likely be a living Hell.
I am sealing this letter to you, intended for the year 2050, but also sending it now in 2017 to my own Congressmen and Senators, to local officials and the power brokers of my generation. They have children and grandchildren, nieces and grand nephews too… You will know before you reach middle age whether my generation acted and succeeded or failed your’s and future generations. When you read this, I will most certainly be already gone. Before then, I will do my best to save you from the worst, and hope with all my heart that this so lovely blue/green Earth will still be for you a nurturing HOME.