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We Can Change How Earth's Climate Story Ends

What will we tell them when they ask us why we didn't act?

08/24/2017 13:42 EDT | Updated 08/24/2017 13:46 EDT

Dear fellow passengers on Planet Earth,

We have to talk. It's about a topic you really don't want to think about. When it comes up, you flip into fear and then slip into denial while you silently hope that someone is going to save the day.

But there's no one here but us. We're all we've got on this tiny blue planet spinning in a dark void.

I know the data is overwhelming. It's difficult to wrap your head around the facts, the statistics, the predictions. I get that. So don't think about all that.

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Think about the children. The ones who just got here. The ones who arrived on a warming planet of rising seas, devastating droughts, monster wildfires.

At some point they're going to know that we knew what we were doing. That we knew we were putting too much carbon into the air. We knew that we were using up in seven months what it took the planet 12 months to replenish.

They'll also know that we knew what we needed to do to mitigate the impacts of the changes. We knew that we needed to stop burning fossil fuels, that we needed to stop shopping for pleasure so that we could stop wasting precious resources. We knew that an economy based on unlimited growth was unsustainable on a planet of limited capacity.

What will we tell them when they ask us why we didn't act?

What story will we tell?

See, that's what I want to talk about. The story that'll be told to the generations to come about this time when we were too afraid to think about how our children will cope in a world of 45-degree summers and dried-up rivers. A world of drowned cities and growing deserts.

It's true that stories like that already exist. Stories that are apocalyptic. Dystopian. Frightening. The kinds of stories that would give children nightmares.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

But what if in the future we could tell a different story?

What if we could tell our great-grandchildren about that time when we stopped being frozen in fear, the time when we realized that if we didn't change our present, there would be no future?

Is that time now?

It seems to be a good time right now because we're into back-to-school season, a time that's always felt like a second New Year, a time for beginnings and future dreams. What collective dream do we have for the children, those returning to school, those just starting their schooling journey, and those who just recently arrived on our planet home?

If we're ready, there's no shortage of topics and themes for new dreams, new stories. In the decades to come we could tell stories of the time we all leaped into a new relationship with our environment or the time a thousand towns transitioned. There's already unfolding stories within the new economy and plenty of fascinating plots in the pursuit of a zero-waste lifestyle.

Now, while we're living in the future's prologue, can we think about creating a new plot?

What say you?

Sincerely,

Passenger # 5,354,309,834

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