Write a climate-change letter to your great grandchildren

Jeff vonKaenel

They only weighed 8 pounds each. They were made up mostly of water. One had blue eyes and one had brown eyes.

When I cradled the little blue-eyed being in my arms, my life changed. The purpose of my life moved instantly away from myself over to this tiny helpless creature. The things I would do were endless. I would go without sleep. I worried about the silliest things. I was thrilled about even sillier things. I spent untold hours caring for this tiny creature. And then, four years later, when the brown-eyed one came into the world, it happened all over again.

Obviously, I am not alone. Billions of others have had the same experience. Many of my friends are again having their lives turned upside-down by their children having children. This has not yet happened to me. In case my children happen to read this column, let me mention that I’m definitely prepared to have my life turned upside-down again.

There is no doubt that billions of us would do anything for our children and their children. We would sacrifice time, money and even our own lives.

But are we willing to do something even more important? Will we support a carbon tax? Ridiculously expensive toys are great, but are we willing to pay more for solar instead of oil energy? Will we support the initiatives that are needed to reverse climate change?

Every reasonable person knows that the future of our children’s children is in danger. Our current practices will lead to disastrous environmental outcomes, endangering the lives of future generations as well as nearly all current life on this planet.

This December, the world’s leaders will be coming together for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris. This will be one last chance to decide how much we are willing to sacrifice for our children, their children and their grandchildren, and for the wonderful planet that has enabled our very existence.

Future generations need our help. I believe that if we could hold these little creatures in our arms and see the world through their eyes, we would change. If we could be transported into the future and see how our current actions will impact our children’s grandchildren, then we would change.

We need to imagine those precious children in our future. And Melinda Welsh, SN&R’s founding editor, is asking us to do just that.

This coming Thursday, SN&R is launching a national letter-writing project featuring letters from authors, artists, scientists and others. These letters are written to future generations of their families, predicting what happens at the upcoming climate talks in Paris and imagining what the world will be like that we leave to our great-grandchildren.

In November, just before the climate talks begin, some of these letters will be published in this newspaper, as well as in alt weeklies across the country and on partnering websites.

I invite you to write a letter. Post it online at www.LettersToTheFuture.org. Your letter will connect with thousands of people, who you may not know, but with whom you share a planet and a future. And who knows? Maybe an 8-pound creature, made mostly of water, will see a better planet 100 years hence.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.