We came home from our Thanksgiving travels to find a new issue of Ranger Rick in the mailbox, and this morning our younger daughter and I snuggled up on the couch in the Sunday morning sun to read it.
We read about harp seals, threatened by melting sea ice, and China's golden monkeys, threatened by deforestation. The articles didn't exaggerate the dangers and they made it clear that scientists are busy studying the situation and conservationists are trying to help. But this seven-year-old missed the nuances:
"It's not only the polar bears going extinct, there's a harp seal named Haley and the golden monkeys," she announced as her older sister wandered by, hairbrush in hand.
And so here I am again, fourteen hours after debating our family's choices in gasoline purchasing with the older daughter, wondering what to say to the younger one about the world she's been given.
I refuse to accept that it has to be this way. Our children don't have to grow up hearing that their world is falling apart with the only antidote to despair the flimsy reassurance that scientists are studying the problem and conservationists are trying to help.
I don't want my children to grow hearing about fixes around the edges, I want our entire global economy to be oriented toward their future. I want every article I read aloud to them about every endangered plant and animal, culture, village, child, estuary, or ecosystem to say, truthfully, honestly:
This is a serious problem. All life is interconnected; so what hurts the harp seals (the island children, the soil organisms) hurts us too. Thankfully people everywhere understand this now, even if we didn't always in the past.
That's why everyone - your parents, your government, every business in your country – is re-orienting towards what really matters: you and your generation and future generations. That's why it costs so much to pollute or overfish or clear cut and why the most proftable business are the ones that are working to restore the ecosystems, produce clean energy, feed people, and build the soils. That's why people are choosing quality over quantity, buying only what they need.
These are big changes, and they are taking what must seem to you like a long time. We know that everything that matters cannot be saved, but you, and the harp seal and everything else, are worth our best effort and that is what we are giving you.