To my children,
I am writing to you as I sit in my office in the Rowell Building at the University of Vermont. It is a Friday evening and the sun has just set over Lake Champlain leaving me with a subtle sunset to enjoy from my 3rd floor window. It is not winter yet, but you have already had two snow days this year, earlier and more than this time last year. It is November 22 and we have just celebrated Boden’s 13th birthday. By the time you all will be reading this, you may have families of your own, the careers that you dreamed of, or be well into or on your way to retirement (Drake, if you became the international soccer superstar you dreamed you would be, you may have retired long before your older siblings!).
My hope is that the world in 2050 is still a beautiful place for you to enjoy. For the past few months, I have been taking a course called Climate Change Emergencies. It has been a wonderful, eye-opening exploration of the state of our climate and the consequences that will have a ripple effect on the mental, economic, political and environmental health around the world. It was first called global warming, then it became known as climate change, now in 2019/2020 it is a climate crisis. I know landscapes will change and I know people will have to move. I know storms will continue to form and that biodiversity will be threatened. Despite all of that, I hope that the fervor that is building continues to build and spread and that the world has made progress to minimize the effects of our past actions.
I would be completely irresponsible and selfish if I did not take action to ensure that you and your families have a safe and healthy world in which to exist. To make sure I have done my part, it is my promise to you to:
- be as efficient as possible to lower our family’s carbon footprint
- minimize our consumption of material items to prevent unnecessary waste
- teach you to garden so you are able to grow your own food and share with others who may need it (yes, I told you someday you’d love your vegetables!)
- continue to explore the natural world to have an appreciation of our surroundings and the joy and peace nature brings
- live true to our family values of compassion and service for others so that we do our part to help when needed
- vote and be an advocate for those in powerful positions who can create positive environmental changes
By 2064, I am positive the world will be incredibly different – from nanotechnology and robots, to telehealth and foods that are not even available today, to super travel and extreme efficiencies and resource recycling. (Ania, I can’t even imagine what music will be like in 30 years and I hope you are still playing!). I also think your generation’s love and passion for the world and people around you will create more integrated living environments with the natural world. You must have beautiful forest topped skyscrapers now!
This course has brought a wide range of emotion including fear and hopelessness, but now I feel excited for you and your future. I hope I am there to see how you have contributed to the world and its inhabitants and hope that you, too, do your part to leave it better than you found it. It is never to late to make a difference.