An open letter to my parents

Words : Sophie Moore

I’m worried. I’m so worried about the world. I’m worried because I’ve just read a paper on the global environmental targets for 2010. I’m worried because it’s now 2016 and environmental degradation has only increased. Last night I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking of the crisis we are in. I was forming a life for myself given the predictions of our climate. I’m 22 now; if I live into a typically timed life I’ll most likely have a child by 30. And if that child follows that typical timescale of a 21st century female in a developed country, they will do the same. That leaves us at 2054. Now I don’t know if you’ve read the OECD environmental outlook for 2050, I told you to but why should you. In a way it’s not your responsibility to read it. It’s the responsibility for the predicted 9 billion people in existence at that point in time.

I remember when I was young, my hair was brighter and I was trying to make sense of the world, or more our backyard. Between you both, I was never afraid of the future. Sure, you let me figure things out on my own, but I was never scared because I didn’t know. Because of the support and opportunities you’ve given me, I’ve been able to experience and travel the world for enough time to understand the diversity of humanity, the incredibility of harmony, the beauty of the earth. I’ve developed such a deep connection with the natural environment that I now study it, I read, I film and spend much of my time within it. I am now adult. You’re both getting older. I miss being that young girl, but I’ve come to realise the thing I miss is the innocence that captivated my imagination. The naivety that lead me to think the outside world reflects the cooperative natural systems of our back yard. All my previous education and experiences bring me to a halt today as I realise the fate for myself, my future child, their future child and everyone involved in the next two to three generations. We are pushing our natural systems to a point of no return. We are far beyond borrowing resources, far beyond working within the balance of natural harmony. I am wondering if you could help me understand one more thing, if I could pretend to be a child just one more time and you can guide me towards an answer. 2050 isn’t that far away. You were born in the 50s where there were just 3 billion of us. The time you have seen is more time than I will see to this year of statistical predictions. They say by this year the world’s climate will have fundamentally changed. Fundamentally.. that’s a powerful word. Just to counteract an argument here, even if we ‘moderately’ reduce carbon emissions right now (which we are not), the fundamental climate changes will simply be pushed back by 19 years to 2069. I live in a rich country, I am from a very privileged part of the world and these immediate climate changes won’t dramatically affect me as it will for the 200 million climate refugees that will be forced to relocate. Just to put this in perspective, the current total of Syrian refugees is 4.6 million. I know you’re aware, as most of the population, at the struggle for Syrians to relocate. 15.4 million more people than this current humanitarian crisis will need to be accommodated for and don’t forget to factor in that the population is predicted to grow by 2 billion people by 2050. Just to increase your perspective even further, the world’s economy is predicted to be 4 times larger than it is today, requiring 80% more energy. That’s a lot of movement, a lot of growth and a lot more resource needed. This sounds like a emergency, don’t you think? An unprecedented planetary emergency. 

We have been looking into language linked with the environment in my university studies.The power of language to limit or enhance your interpretation of the world around you. I have been analysing the perceptions of the word ‘sustainability’. It’s a highly debated word that reflects varying world views and cultures. My interpretation of the word is that it is deeply rooted in our existence. We have all evolved from an existence which was engaged, directly reliant and living in harmony with the environment. My further definition is that to be sustainable is to do with our understanding of humans as a species within the environment. This is a very basic definition. Of course there is more, but fundamentally if we don’t truly understand our position in the world, we will never truly, as a whole population, be sustainable. Even if we invent innovative technologies to conquer the crisis, if we eliminate all use on fossil fuels, if we have a global one child policy, the list goes on.. But I believe, if we don’t reach a point of understanding and respecting the fundamental position of a human being within the wider ecosystem of the world, we will never be sustainable.

How can we? We will continually take and take.. and take even more because we are looking to grow, we are focussed on economy as this is what our societies and political systems revolve around. Money. I understand the position and value of money. But I also understand that money is a product of the economy which is a product of the environment. So it comes back to it, our dependance on the environment. So far I have only talked about us, the humans within the environment. Scientists estimate

Earth is home to 8.7 million species. Even if we combat our climate change emergency, we're still seeing a sixth mass extinction, directly linked to human activity. At least 10,000 species become extinct every year. Yes I know natural extinction does occur but this rate is said to be between 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. This biodiversity loss is devastating and intricately tied to our survival. Life on earth has been evolving over 3.8 billion years; it’s a perfect balance of life, a cooperating system giving and taking in harmony. Human activity.. our activity.. is making such a detrimental and direct change on the Earth’s geology and ecosystem that scientists have named it a new geologic time period; The Anthropocene. Loss of biodiversity breaks my heart so I won’t dwell on the multitude of issues that come along with it. The thing that is troubling me most, the thing I’m looking to my parents to consul an answer for me, to give me the comfort that a child gets when troubled at how they don’t fall off the earth even when they are upside down .. ‘it’s because of gravity’ .. ah yes, a huge confusion simply answered with the laws of graviton. My question now seems much easier so I’m hoping the answer will be as simple, hoping for you so you don’t have to bluff because remember I am now 22 and know a lot more. Why don’t people care? And I don’t mean you and me, I don’t mean any individual per se. I mean people, general people. We know what we’re doing, as a general population. We can see, we can hear, we can feel the earth dying. I just want to know why no is crying. That simple question. The world is dying but why don’t we realise the severity of it, why don’t we care enough to change? I’m not talking about individual changes. I know we both compost, attempt to grow our own vegetables and think about getting solar panels. I’m talking about a general shift in what drives our world, a general understanding about our connection as humans with our environment. The next 50 years, the next 100 years.. 200 years. We are driving ourselves to extinction and there is no denying it and no excuses.

I want to know the answer because this future crisis will be the reality that I will have to raise my child in. That has never troubled me until now. Maybe I am becoming older, maybe I am seeing the beauty in bringing to life a person, raising a child with your beliefs and interpretations. I really want that. I want to have a little girl who grows up feminine and wild and can engage with the natural power of our environment. I want to pass on the life you’ve given me, I want my daughter to do the same, and her’s the same. In 3 generations, it will be 2078 when my grand daughter is my age now. She is going to live in a very different world, if there is a healthy world to live in, than I live in today. You are now watching your grandchildren grow into little people and explore themselves and their enviroment. Can you imagine the world that I’ll be doing the same in? I can’t because I don’t want to. So why, why are we so disconnected to the fact that everyday we act violent towards the very thing that gives us life, and yet, how do we know this and still keep going?

Your daughter, Soph