As I write this, history has yet to determine the fate of the world you inhabit.
If we are lucky, I will tell you I was there at the dawn of a revolution. I will tell you that I remember the moment when everything changed. I will tell you that we saw a great challenge – perhaps the greatest challenge we have yet faced – and we rose to meet that challenge. I will tell you about the massive shift in our energy infrastructure; the moment when we undertook the greatest feat of collective action the world has ever known.
Whether or not we are successful in this endeavor, I want you to know I fought as hard as I could. I want you to know that I took the challenge of climate change seriously. Even doing all I can, the inexorable truth is that islands will drown and deserts will form and reefs will die. Crops will wither and homes will be lost. But I want you to know I fought as hard as I could to keep that destruction at bay, for you. You must remember the words from Wendell Berry I will read to you nights when you have trouble falling asleep. Just like I have, I want you to know the peace of wild things. So these are the things I promise to do in hopes that a world full of wild and beautiful things will remain for you:
I will take responsibility.
I started eating meat again. I started taking Ubers. My bike has been broken for nearly a year. It has been so easy to say that what I do professionally makes up for my personal failures. One day we will not have to choose between laziness and environmental protection. Until then, I will take more responsibility for my actions. I will think about the impact of my actions before I take them. If I can’t, I should not expect others to either.
I will communicate.
I have been discouraged by too many eye-rolls. I became convinced that no one cared. I realize now that people like me are under the same misapprehension, precisely because I do not show them how much I care. So I will.
I will organize.
There was a period when I grew tired of climate change organizing. I didn’t think I could fight anymore. During this period, not too long ago, I was hiking in Chile. During the most challenging part of the hike we were caught in a blizzard on a mountain. Not knowing which direction was down, our feet soaked through from forging frozen rivers, I looked at the snow and thought how soft and warm it would be to curl up on the side of the mountain. It was Christmas eve. Hours later, after we had made it back to base camp and were warming ourselves by a fire, another group of climbers came by and told us of a woman and her child they had rescued during the blizzard. She was nearly hypothermic, and they found the family because the boy was calling to his mother through the storm. “She just gave up.” One of the climbers said.
I will not give up. As soft as the snow looks and as difficult as the climb is, we will come off of this mountain together and alive. I will form groups and organize campaigns and write letters and pressure my leaders. I will continue to pester but I will also infiltrate the halls of power. I will advise good decisions. I will become a leader myself.
I will keep fighting.
And I know that regardless of the world into which you are born, you will occupy a privileged position within it. Regardless of the good or bad that comes, know that others have been and will be hurt by climate change. I keep those people and ecosystems in my heart, and at the forefront of my actions. Moving forward, you must as well. It is the fragile things that are most beautiful and most in need of protection.
All my love,