“I knew you would want to know how the future turned out. You got so anxious about climate change as we grew older.  By coming back, I thought I could help you with that.”

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Curt Spalding
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Dear Future,

Last spring I wrote this very short vignette for the Public’s Radio here in Rhode Island.  It aligns well with the spirit of Dear Tomorrow.

Curt Spalding, Professor of the Practice, IBES, Brown University 

 

Several times a week Callie and I turn the corner onto Narragansett Boulevard and head to a park on Stillhouse Cove.  The smells from the marsh excite her dog’s brain. 

Approaching the Cove I see an old man on a bench.  A parent can always recognize their children.  Is that Henry? 

“Hi, Dad”. 

 “What!!  Have I collapsed with a heart attack?  Is this my death dream?” 

“No Dad you’re not dead.  It’s time travel.   I came back from 2100.  It cost a bit but I knew you would want to know how the future turned out. You got so anxious about climate change as we grew older.  By coming back, I thought I could help you with that.”

“Well, what happened to Narragansett Bay?  I spent my best years saving it.”  

“The Bay is much warmer and much higher and full of Redfish and Spotted Trout instead of Flounder and Tautog. The fishing is incredible.  People migrated away from the Bay.  Thousands of acres of stream, rivers, and marshes re-emerged after the people left.”  

“Why did everyone decide to leave the shore?”

“You know that book you read back in 2012, ‘Rising: Dispatches from the American Shore’ by Elizabeth Rush?”  She foreshadowed what happened in her chapter about Oakwood Beach on Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy.  That whole community decided to recruit a buyout.   After several hurricanes hit the Bay, neighborhoods all around the Bay wanted to leave.  The water kept rising and the Bay reclaimed the shore.  Our technology helped.  Super sensor networks and advanced green engineering improved ecological restoration work and the shore was transformed. “ 

“Where did everyone go?”

“Oh, Dad, the experience changed everything.  Notions that we can control nature with massive engineering structures are now absurd.   The pandemics and accelerating climate change were hard to deal with, but we now understand what you were talking about when you went on about socio-ecological resilience.  Resilience thinking drives how we sustain the economy and communities.  Technologies you cannot imagine give us unlimited climate-safe power.  With it, we stabilized the climate by extracting carbon and developed an architecture that is continually adaptive by design and use.  People wanted to leave what was old and threatened – for what’s new and healthier for themselves and their families.” 

“Wow, did dealing with climate change makes the world better?”

“Yes, it did.  By valuing resilience a new level of personal security and equity defines life around the Bay and everywhere else.  Universal health care, sufficient nutrition, and income were all seen as necessary to build the level of resilience necessary to adapt to rapid climate change.”   

“It sounds like the Bay is in good shape.”

“That’s right.  With most of the houses gone, it is accessible to everyone for fishing, swimming, and sailing like the Tribes and Rhode Islanders centuries ago.   We know how to sustain the Bay and our communities without degrading the quality of one for the other.” 

“Henry, this still feels like a death dream.”

“Dad you are not dead!  You have to keep working on building resilience.”

“Ok Henry, I will keep at it”

“Times up Dad. I have to go.  The Time Travel Authority gives us just a few minutes so we don’t have time to screw up the future.”

“Will I see you again?”

“Probably not.  The waitlist for time travel is over ten years.”

“Your visit is a wonderful gift.  I love you, Henry.” 

 

“Love you too Dad.”  

  

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More Messages to the Future

 

Dear Tomorrow,

I will do my part to help ensure that there is an Earth left when we are done borrowing it.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

Awareness is key. Learning about this issue can seem like a small effort compared to other actions, but it’s the most important.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

My climate promise: community awareness of the climate crisis.

 

Dear Annalyse and Greyson,

See people can say they care about climate change, but caring is not action.

 

Querido amanhã,

Sempre é bom ajudar a natureza.

 

Aos meus sobrinhos queridos, Ana Laura, Luis Carlos e Helloísa,

Talvez eu não esteja viva para ver alguma mudança, mas espero que vocês vejam e tenham um mundo melhor em 2050. Plantei um ipê rosa e outro amarelo, que eles estejam florindo até 2050.

 

Dear Alyssa,

I pray that more and more fathers will realize that to love their children well, they have to love and respect the ecological systems around them too.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

I will work to restore the wetlands.

 

To the future generations,

I hope that you all can enjoy the Smokey Mountains in your lifetime too and that they look how they did back in 2017 when I saw them.

 

Dear Nephew,

I believe i have truly played my part in raising awareness and practical solutions to climate change.

 

BATMAN SAYS, “LISTEN!”

How can I help you save the world and our country?

 

Hola Cariño,

Life is not easier being a believer but I would not have picked another path. Thanks to my Faith I found my passion to work to stop climate change for your future. Now go play outside and breathe clean air. Dios te bendiga.

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