I don’t wish to go backwards, but I do wish we would slow down and design our brave new world with more care.

Sent on by
Cameron Brick
Send Your Own Message

To my dear children in the year 2050,

As always, the world roils with disagreement and conflict, mostly parochial and reactionary. Above this clamor looms ecological carnage on this pale blue dot, our only home. Technological advances doubled our lifespan and connected us globally, but are also causing a 6th mass extinction and a new geologic age.

During my education, I was most motivated by reducing social conflict and discrimination against disadvantaged groups. In graduate school, my friendships with environmental scientists revealed that complex ecologies and natural resources are increasingly fragile and their ability to sustain human flourishing is seriously threatened. It seemed unthinkable, but we released so many greenhouse gases that the entire world was warming. Quickly. Compared to racial conflict, climate change was a superordinate problem: without resolving it, conflict between groups could only intensify.

I’ve since discovered that we’ve known about human-caused climate change for more than 100 years, and recently we’ve uncovered horrifying projections of global temperature and sea level rise. Tipping points like the melting of the Arctic ice and the release of tundra methane may make it impossible to go back to the benign pre-industrial climate. As always, the most vulnerable among us will suffer the worst.

Fortunately, we know what societies must do: transition to renewable energy, reduce emissions, and consume less. Research shows that we could accomplish these and even improve our quality of life. As individuals, we also know how to accomplish those goals: get politically involved and change our own habits. We have the knowledge and the tools.

And as you learned in school, we utterly failed you. The disconnect yawns between what we know is necessary and what we’re actually doing. Humans were always short-sighted and rapacious, but never in such numbers and with such powerful tools as today. Technology has not brought us happiness, and in our unquenchable drive for consumption we do ever greater harm to other species. I don’t wish to go backwards, but I do wish we would slow down and design our brave new world with more care. We foul our own bed.

In response to this crisis, I refocused my career on society-level problems like climate change. I become more politically active: writing letters, marching, and promoting discussion. I changed my diet, transportation, and consumption of energy and water. It is not enough. I am falling short of my aspirations for service to vulnerable others and future generations. I am weak, like the other apes of my kind: desiring comfort, travel, and luxury. Even as the world burns, I fly great distances for fun. I don’t know how you’ll judge me. If most people are focusing on the present, on their families and jobs, does that make it right? The history of genocide reveals that philosophy as bankrupt. And yet, we shun activists and resist social and behavioral change.

I offer no excuses. We are frail, myopic primates and we failed you. I am so sorry. I don’t ask forgiveness. The horror we caused your world is done. From the present, please think of future generations: how can you serve stable systems of ecology, land, air, and water that will sustain your children and their children? I wish you more bravery than we had.

Cameron Brick

March 2017

Share on:
 
Send Your Own Message

More Messages to the Future

 

To what we’ve overcome.

The first step would be in overcoming ourselves. Because whether we end up fading into obscurity, or thriving in prosperity, we will overcome ourselves.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

I promise I will bring permaculture designs to my community.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

I promise to contact my local officials on passing measures against climate change

 

Dear Daughter,

I want you to be prepared for the world that the generations before you are creating for you. I love you Lucienne, and I will not give up. I will push you and teach you not to give up, either, even if others around you do.

 

Dear future child,

We’re presenting at conferences, writing articles, and organizing events with the goal of mobilizing our profession to act on climate, and to help them understand that it will deeply impact our mission to preserve history for future generations.

 

Dear Owen and Vivian,

Here’s the biggest secret: I KNOW it will have. We may not realize how, but we have changed the world.

 

Dear Future

My hope is for all who live in your time to still know the joy of swimming in the ocean, walking through the woods, and hiking in the mountains.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

I promise to ride a bike and take a smart train.

 

To My Fellow Two-Spirits,

Thank you — Thank you — without you, I would not hear butterflies singing, without you, I would not understand black bear humor, or the creativity of jays planning their breakfast, without you, I would not feel flora whispers of long-lived wisdom on the back of my neck while sitting in Padmasana.

 

Querida Alê,

Por você idealizei um mundo melhor e lutei incessantemente por ele.

 

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.

 

I promise to plant more flowers.

View All Messages

Send Your Own Message