I was born into a dream, but for most of my life I never knew I was dreaming. The misty promise of unlimited growth, of burning fuel indefinitely without consequence, of progress marching towards a bigger and brighter future has surrounded me for so long that I always took it to be true. During the time you’ve been alive the mist has parted in places revealing some nightmarish scenes: wildfires raging most of the year, Arctic sea ice melting away, coral reefs bleaching away to nothing. All the while the dream landscape tries to reform and assure me that all is well, just go back to sleep. Besides, who wants to wake up from a pleasant dream into a vivid nightmare?
However, I know it’s long past time to wake up. You deserve a future in which drought, famine, and war are not all your children ever know; the choices my generation makes (or doesn’t make) now will determine your future. A large part of the problem is the term “climate change” itself. It is a central part of the dream, lacking urgency and lulling us into inaction. Words matter, and I will start calling this nightmare by its true names: “climate negligence,” “climate sentence,” “climate cowardice,” and too many more to list. The time is short to build the infrastructure that will prevent my hopes and dreams for you from crumbling into dust, and every moment counts.
I hope that by the time you read this, the nightmare you were brought into will fade into a real and bright future. This future won’t be as gilded as the future promised to my generation growing up. However, the senseless waste of resources and life will be replaced with more thoughtful and grounded daily routines, and the wilted communities plugged into a single global culture will take root once again and flourish in all of their diversity and beauty. In short, I will do everything in my power to complete the metamorphosis of “climate change,” from the present “climate negligence” to a hard-fought movement toward “climate courage.”