To my Dad,
This year my birthday and Father’s Day have coincided again, and I get to share a special day for me with a person who deserves to be celebrated every day. I wanted to commemorate this with a letter that I’ve been meaning to write for a while. (I’ll try to do it in a somewhat concise manner – for the journalist that you are.)
This is for a person I owe my developing career, and my sanity during the constant hiccups of adulthood. This is for one of my best friends, and my most importantly, my dad.
When I was first presented with this project in October at the 2017 BECC conference, I was taken aback by its simplicity and importance. I came into my environmental skin in my later years of college and learned that this movement was missing a vital component: the human element. We are social creatures — something I have been fascinated with, and intrinsically motivated to study. It blows my mind that we have been fighting for the health of our planet since the 60’s and neglecting the very piece that caused the need for this fight. This project brings in the simple and powerful reminder that climate change is deeply human. It is one of the most impending threats to our existence and can be fixed by something a simple as our collective daily behaviors. If it wasn’t for the amazing role model in my life, I wouldn’t have come to this powerful realization.
This letter is also for people who don’t have those role models to teach them compassion for our collective home.
I was never forced to love the outdoors. My dad accepted me no matter what I loved, even though he grew up as badass backpacker in the mountains of California and wanted to share those experiences with his daughters. When I got to college and realized my shyness was actually high introversion, –nature became my safe haven. Just being in the trees instantly calmed my nervous system and all life’s overstimulation disappeared. I began to thank Mother Nature for the repeated times my dad took me into the outdoors because it felt like home. What I came to realize from my new conservation-psychology-focused study-, is this is feeling all humans should have –regardless of the early exposure I was lucky enough to experience. Our species evolved from nature, and existing among the trees will always be where our brains thrive rather than the overly stimulating life of cities where “opportunities” exist.
But life isn’t as simple as we evolved from nature, therefore we should care about it because it’s in our very nature. People are struggling just to live everyday and I acknowledge my privilege allows me to fight to stop climate change. However, I believe this is why this project has so much power. Regardless of what you think about our natural world, or the status you were born into, caring about the existence of our species is wired into our genetics. And more specifically, it is in our genetics to care about our Kin. Mother Nature will survive climate change — after all — she has made it through five mass extinctions. The problem is we won’t. So all of us in a place of privilege should act for those who can’t, and for those we cherish the most. For me its my dad, who I dedicate this letter to and thank constantly for instilling his humble values in me. For the rest of my amazing support system, my mom and sister, who impact me just as much. For my friends, the children I might have (though the thought of climate change strays me from their adoption constantly) and my future partner who will share these same values.
I hope on this Father’s Day, my 24th birthday, and the rest of days, we remember that the most basic part of life is living happy with the ones we love. Acting every day against climate change will allow us to keep that simple piece of humanity.