Write your grandkids a letter . . . and explain yourself

100year.pngClimate change denialists — what are these guys thinking?  I mean, what do they really think, in their heart of hearts (or whatever organ it is they use to make arguments such as this) when noone else is listening?

I have often daydreamed of responding to the more hard-core denialists by suggesting that they write letters to their great-grandchildren and explain to them why they are doing what they are doing (or, more importantly, not doing) and what they hope for their future world.  What would you tell your descendents if you could talk to them 100 years from now, in their world inherited from us, about what you were thinking and doing to ensure that their inheritance included at least some shadow of the miraculous world we take for granted?  I would be very intrigued, for example, to see such a letter from Oklahoma Senator and infamous former Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe (see, for example, here and here).

grandparent.jpgEvidently, great minds think alike.  My colleagues at DeSmog Blog have beat me to the punch (way to go guys!) with a very similar idea, albeit not explicitly directed at denialists, in their “100 Year Letter” project.  A few letters have come in so far.  I would love to see more of them, because I think this personal, emotional approach is just the sort of thing that might work in breaking through the thick, desiccated crust of apathy and cynicism and (deliberately fabricated) confusion and fear that keeps people from getting it, from understanding that climate change is a real problem that will have real and serious consequences for the people that we love most in this world — our children and their children.

I think it would be a useful exercise for each one of us to sit down and think hard about what we want for our great-grandchildren and what we are willing to do to provide it for them.  Then write it down and send it to DeSmog Blog.  Or send it to your local newspaper, or both.  I’m thinking about mine now.  Stay tuned . . .


About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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One Response to Write your grandkids a letter . . . and explain yourself

  1. Mr. R says:

    I would tell my grandchildren that I was doing the very best I could and that I had complete faith in the resourcefulness of our species. (Resourcefulness, after all, is the only path that can lead us to the time when my presumed grandchildren are alive and reading.) Thus, rather than write that I was planning to curl up in a ball and fade away (something many eco-minded scientists would wholly endorse, no doubt; think about how much consumption and offspring production dying prevents!), I would tell them that I was planning to conserve when I could, etc… but continue living much as I have been.

    It’s terribly romantic, dear blogger, to think “Oh no, we’re ruining everything and this is the beginning of the end!” TERRIBLY romantic…and TERRIBLY banal. Religion has fallen out of fashion with most of the scientific crowd, but the need for Armageddon/impending doom remains a persistent and ubiquitous part of human nature. You, for example, appropriate lofty or spiritual phrases like “more perfect union” and “arise, patriots” for this “cause” that just might be the end of the world…GASP!

    But to the point at hand: Icecaps could melt, tropical diseases could flourish…who knows for certain? Basically, the world will change. I’m rather fond of the way it is now, but it’s naive to think we can keep it that way. Oh I know, it’s not change you’re worried about–it’s rate of change (I never liked advanced math). But here’s an idea: it’s going to be the resourcefullness I mentioned earlier and NOT any kind of widescale-self-inflicted-sacrifice that’s going to save us/the earth. Scientists notice bad stuff happening, they point it out, and the world begins to slowly change in ways that make doing what’s recommended pleasureable and feasible. What you do is important, but you need a more realistic view of just how little your views/those of the “denialists” (there’s that language again–this time almost Inquisitorial)change the course the world as a whole is on. Things take time, and they change in the process of becoming.

    In closing:

    Dear Grandchild,

    The world used to be a different place–I can’t say for certain whether it was better or worse when I was alive. By now, the worries of my generation have vanished like vapor to be replaced by the concerns weighing heavily on the minds and hearts of your generation.

    To say my life was a complete sacrifice in the name of bettering yours would be a complete lie, and you should be happy for that. Who wants their ancestors being miserable because they thought their suffering would make me/you happier? All we need to do is try to be the best person we can be. Well good luck.