11 December 2011

We are Aborting Our Children's Future

Each week, I read many different things that I'd like to tell you about on Sundays when I write this blog, but of course I can't share them all. This morning, there is one story that is still resonating for me.

Kids in the United States are suing their federal government and several state governments for lack of action on climate change. You can read the story, The Young and the Restless: Kids Sue Government over Climate Change at The Grist.

The young Alec Loorz (who was about 12 when he founded Kids vs. Global Warming), is leading this initiative, probably with an unbelievable amount of disbelief at how so many adults have done so little, er, so much nothing. These are young people who understand what's happening. We can't begin to fully grasp their sense of frustration.

Our Children's Trust (a magnificent play on words) is supporting the initiative. Their byline is: "Protecting Earth's Climate for Future Generations." Sounds like good people. Their campaign has three aspects:
LEGAL ACTION: Coordinating an international mobilization of scientists, attorneys, and youth for legal action on the climate crisis.

COMMUNICATIONS: Creating ground-breaking documentaries examining the geographic, economic and societal impacts of climate change on our youth and their communities.

ADVOCACY: Giving a voice to youth.

I hope the federal court in the USA gives these youth their "day in court." (See more info on the case, including fascinating expert declarations, here.)

We're at a point in the climate change emergency where the only thing we can do is to keep on doing everything we can do. Climate activists are starting to realize that we've lost this fight — the ultimate battle for life on Earth; that the fight was too big and the enemies of life on Earth too many in number and too strong in influence. But each one of us can keep fighting because to not fight is not an option. I used to say "Hope is not an action verb; action is our only hope" but now I think it would be more honest to say "Fighting is our only salvation."

But all that is a long-winded way to share with you two comments from the original Grist article on this court case:

1. "So the Environmental Groups have resorted to using children to get their message across? There is just all kinds of things wrong with that." This comment (that's all they wrote; talk about not "getting it") reminds me of the time my husband suggested that an environmental group focus on children's environmental health. (Children, as a vulnerable sub-population, are like bellwethers ... canaries in the mineshaft.) His suggestion was shot down because it would be "using children." So we're allowed to injure children and ruin their future with our pollution, but we're not allowed to focus on their health and wellbeing. (This commenter missed the part in the article about young people being the ones "using children to get their message across.")

2. Another commenter said that "Conservative Republicans and their corporate multi-national masters are ABORTING the future of our nation's children." Now, I don't want to get into American politics today (after all, their Democratic president has done NOTHING to address the climate change emergency, a point the kids are pointing out!), but the terminology is correct.

I used to say we were foreclosing on our children's future, making their future a thing of the past, committing progenycide, but "aborting their future" is exactly what we're doing: halting, stopping, ending, axing it; calling it off; cutting it short; discontinuing, terminating, arresting, cancelling, scrubbing it ... pulling the plug on their future.

It breaks my heart to think that so many people care so little about the children, their own children, all the children. What kind of civilization have we become?


  1. "Climate activists are starting to realize that we've lost this fight — the ultimate battle for life on Earth; ..."

    eloquent, something about that last clause made me replace it with the ellipsis - I think it was the 'too many in number' (numerous?) etc. but that's just kibitz, you are eloquent, I mean it

    but not quite on, even those who wring their hands over their grandchildren like Jim Hansen (I have grandchildren too by the way), tell us that if CO2e emissions level off by 2015 (that is both stop accelerating and stop growing) then we have a chance, not a chance of a return to eden, but a chance of avoiding the runaway, and not a cetainty either, just a chance, probably not much of a one

    and bleak&black as this is, it is not quite absolute

    I have read that Vonnegut was depressed and even suicidal in his later years - but that he resisted because he did not want to set a bad example 'for the children' (his ironic emphasis I believe)

    not meaning to give myself airs but I feel something the same

    how much do I care for my children and grandchildren? very much. and I could easily say things like "I would step in front of a bus to save 'em! to the last nickel! to the last last gysm!" I could quote Shakespeare and say "but bears it out even to the edge of doom," and so on

    but somehow I don't, or not quite ... (this time I am thinking, trying to get this right and not sure that I can) ...

    Tim DeChristopher said something in a speech in the spring ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81EZUkYzrxU ), that if we went, a few at a time, and continuously obstructed, his example was coal, then Obama would either have to get out the troops or call off the mining, and not that I think Harper wouldn't jump at the chance to fill the new prisons he wants to build

    Tim was standing in front of 10,000 people remember, when we went to Ottawa in September there were only 200 or so ready to climb the fence, and half of those who did were 'dismissed' (and they went!!! and that includes my son and I, to our shame as we agreed over beers later, but there you go)

    if, as this debacle winds down in the years to come and things get really gritty, if my grandkids had a story something like Tim is talking about to tell each other, well, I would prefer imagine it that way, let's say, I think they would be able to take some comfort from it

    be well, David.

    [sorry, I re-read this and I see that it is not very clear (or worse), but I want to say something to salute your eloquence, so I will leave it and hope you understand]

  2. Thank you for this, David. If only eloquence could save us....

    I certainly do vacillate between "Crap, give it up - it's over, so just have some fun" and "Hell no, I don't see no flat lady singing."

    It's the oceans that will bite us in the butt, even if we do everything else right. They'll be happy to spew more CO2 into the atmosphere as soon as we take some out. It's the same conundrum (or catch 22) as the aerosols (10% of which are anthropogenic). We've got to stop burning fossil fuels and forests, but as soon as we do, we could lose the cooling effects of reflective aerosols that currently overwhelm the warming effect of absorbing aerosols. Blah, blah, scientific blah.

    When I think about the climate science, I start feeling quite down. BUT! if I think about the possibility of magic and miracles, that's when my optimism kicks in again.

    Tim DeChristopher displayed rare courage, made a kind of sacrifice that is far too rare these days, and set a rare example of action that has an effect. I appreciate your kind words, David, but I know that eloquence will not be what saves us. Perhaps that is what's eating me up.

  3. ah, you believe in magic, you are waiting for a miracle ... well,

  4. [oh shit ... it went before I wanted it to, sorry, mistaken keystroke, argh!]

    reminds me of that lennie cone tune 'Waiting for the Miracle' with what seem like whale sounds in the back ... but ... not my way anymore, miracles, sorry, nor waiting for 'em

    Six people stood up and turned their backs on Kent in Durban and Justin Trudeau has now added his voice.

    What if six more stood up and turned their backs on Kent every time he spoke, anywhere? What if six people stood outside his riding office every day with their backs turned? What if six people did the same in the riding of every cabinet minister?

    would that be a miracle then? or magic?

    the compassion I understand is the kind Illich was talking about, from the gut and grounded in a real experience - that's what I meant in praising your eloquence, not that it would save us

    be well, David.

    ps - I was fossicking about and noticed that your husband was connected with CAPE - so I wonder if you guys know Gerd in Ottawa?

  5. Yikes I too am a grandfather torn over the fate of the grandkids. It seems insane that I regard Monsanto as a destroyer of our food supply and Halliburton as a destroyer of our water supply and the U.S. and U.K. as tools of those who will in effect destroy much if not all of humanity. Yet the IPCC I believe to be the same liars who sold the Iraq invasion of 2003 ( websites Leading to War and also Antiwar.com )
    And medicine ! See the article on vaccines. They are only part of a travesty which made agribusiness a curse ( explore Nelson A Rockefellers investments in Central and South America which collapsed the food supply )
    I am not calmly asleep about threats to our future...but see them from a far different perspective.
    Twitter opit
    Diigo oldephartte

  6. Well-argued and more timely than ever!


I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?