It’s my hope that the following will be helpful as you navigate your futures.  These are the confessions of a climate activist:

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To My Grandchildren,

Rampant climate change is break’n my heart.

I am so, so sorry.  My generation had a chance to stop global warming in its tracks.  But, we didn’t succeed.  Yet, we learned so much from our failures at trying (isn’t that always so?).

It’s my hope that the following will be helpful as you navigate your futures.  These are the confessions of a climate activist:

Regret:  Many in my generation, myself included, assumed for too long that the ‘important people’ would take real climate change action, and that all we had to do was cheer from the sidelines.

Regret:  We miscast climate change as just another environmental issue that would be won by the usual marches, protests, and acts of disobedience.  Our anger let us get carried away.

Regret:  We tried to shock people into climate action with gloom and doom scenarios, but this mostly froze people like deer caught in headlights.

Regret:  Many people feel helpless, trapped in a materialistic lifestyle with fossil fuel dependency that’s hard to shake off.  We should have worked harder to avoid a ‘holier than thou’ impression.

Regret:  It seems we did more lecturing than listening.  We learned the hard way that listening is the secret for establishing common ground, ultimately leading to persuasion.

Regret:  For too long our mantra was ‘just say no’ to fossil fuels and offer clean energy as the solution, but we failed to understand that the real road block lack of a pragmatic political solution.

Regret:  I spent a lot of time, too much time, in ‘low octane’ greenwashing and ‘feel good’ climate activities.  These buoyed my spirits but were piddling.

Regret:  We anointed ourselves with empathy, which was a state of feeling.  In hindsight we should have immersed ourselves in altruism, a state of action, by putting ourselves on the line.

Regret:  We had a naive disregard for the opposition’s cleverness and staying power.  There are a lot of really smart people who spend their time, as an intellectual game, debunking change and its causes.

Regret:  Our climate movement is unruly and prone to factionalism.  A variation of the old cliché seems to apply to us:  everybody’s better idea is often the enemy of the commonly good idea.

Regret:  We mistakenly assumed climate kumbaya would carry the day.  In economies dominated by capitalism, using levers of capitalism against itself was the jujitsu move we should have made.

Regret:  People subconsciously use different sets of moral values to inform their worldviews.  We didn’t realize that persuasion was guaranteed to fail if it wasn’t aligned with others’ moral values.

Regret:  The persuasive power of hard science is much more limited than we thought.  The general public just ‘doesn’t get it’.  Science sets the stage but doesn’t direct the play.

Regret:  There is pervasive mistrust in government.  I’ve lately learned that climate solutions which minimize government involvement get much wider political traction.

Regret:  I have been too rich country centric, and not focused enough on the people and countries suffering from climate change’s onslaught and are helpless to do anything about it.

So, my dear sons and grandsons – and others of you who read this in your year 2050 – you’ve been ordained to live on a different Earth.  I’m crestfallen.  Your climate has been damaged though I’ve given it my best to prevent it, and will continue to do so.  That we will belatedly prevail, I am certain.

As the Laureate once proclaimed, ‘Ah, but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now.’

I love you.

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More Messages to the Future

 

To anyone who has heard my music,

I promise to care about the planet.

 

Dear grand nieces and nephews,

I wish you this security knowing we changed because we love you.

 

Al mio piccolo, grandissimo bambino,

Hai compiuto da poco 1 anno e giusto ieri hanno annunciato la scoperta di 7 pianeti che potrebbero racchiudere in essi la possibilità di sviluppare, o aver già sviluppato, vita a livello organico.

 

Dear Child,

Hope we get to have that snowball fight I always dreamed we’d have.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

I will stop using plastic and will plant trees. I will also not waste water and electricity.

 

Dear My Future Child,

I want to sculpt a world for you where you can play outside without gas masks, an ocean to swim in without toxins, and a thick lively forest for you to wander.

 

To older Rochelle,

You should’ve reduced your carbon footprint, should be using some source of renewable energy and be a vegetarian by now.

 

To my future self,

It is today on March 6th, 2017 that you have made the decision to make a difference in this world.

 

Dear Eleanor,

It seems silly to saddle yourself with guilt for something that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t want to do that. As of today, I don’t really feel guilty. I guess I just want to make sure I keep doing more, so that when you read this, and ask what I’ve done since then, I can still feel good about my efforts.

 

Dear Tomorrow,

I promise to take my bike everywhere. Taking Golden Gate Transit to SF tonight.

 

Dear You Tomorrow,

What we failed to do, at least early on, was to see how important it was to put those solutions together. To combine into a way forward.

 

dear future children,

As I write this, our world is slowly giving way to climate change.

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