The births in 2018 of Lilja, Lucas, and William catapulted me to the year 2092. Lucas and William are great-grandchildren. I am one of Lilja’s several designated “aunties.” In 2092, Lilja, Lucas, and William will be as old as I am now. You might think seventy-four years is a very long time. Ask any seventy-something-year-old, and she’ll tell you those decades fly by with frightening speed, picking up momentum like a bowling ball hurtling down the gutter.
No one is sure what the world will be like in 2092. Scientists have offered grim projections of elevated temperatures, higher sea levels, acidic oceans, droughts, wildfires, extreme weather patterns, and social chaos. All of this while Lilja, Lucas, and William are growing up, going to school, starting careers, raising families.
Much depends on what we do now. Not next year, or next decade, or after the next election, but now.
There are climate change deniers, and there are disavowers. Deniers reject reality and the well established fact that it’s human-caused. More worrisome (and more numerous) are the disavowers: yeah, we know the world is warming, but it isn’t our fault and it hasn’t changed our lives, so we don’t have to worry about it. Yet.
On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the U.S. government issued its Climate Science Special Report. Americans were too busy buying the most stuff for the cheapest price to notice. Climate change, said the report, won’t be cheap. Lilja, Lucas, and William will have to figure out how to live in an economy that will lose trillions of dollars.
The economic bleeding has been underway for quite some time. Since 1980, the cost of extreme weather events for the United States has exceeded $1.1 trillion. Do we even want to talk about the federal deficit we’re passing on to Lilja, Lucas, and William?
All three of these babies were born to smart, loving parents who will raise them carefully. But how will their parents protect them from the inevitable social chaos created by millions of climate refugees? Gated communities? A fenced nation?
“You can set up a wall to try to contain 10,000 and 20,000 and one million people, but not ten million,” said an author of a United Nations climate report.
As individuals, we could buy Priuses or better yet, take public transportation. But it’s too late for individual efforts to make an adequate difference. We have to become part of a concerted action. We have to join up and cough up. Join the organization that best reflects your values and views, and cough up money to support it. In addition to local environmental groups, I support the nonpartisan Citizens Climate Lobby, which advocates for carbon reduction policies. There are others: National Resources Defense Council, 350.org, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, to name a few.
I’ve made it easy for you. Just click one of the above, join, and give. I’ll bet there’s a Lilja, Lucas, or William in your life whose future you care about.