I started to focus on climate action in earnest because I became afraid for my children. What world would they face if we don’t act? I’ve done everything I can for them, facing scary medical issues, up long and repeated nights, working long days, chauffeuring and doing homework. How can I not also act to preserve a livable world for them too?
So I have immersed myself in climate science and policy. I’ve worked to cut my own emissions, methodically and in a way that supports others doing the same. I’ve developed a network of friends and allies that are doing the same. We support each other. I keep my kids lightly informed, not wanting to overwhelm them with what I know. All the while, raising them the best I can, as they make plans for lives of their own.
And I encounter people who lightly and dismissively say it is “too late.”
Too late for what?
Too late to avoid warming? Of course it is. We’ve already warmed 1C over preindustrial times.
Too late to avoid 1.5C? Yup. That’s locked in.
Too late to avoid 2C? Perhaps. But no one is sure of that yet. It might still be possible.
Too late to avoid 2.5C? 3C? 3.5C? 6C? Well, no. It’s not too late to avoid that. .
What does “too late” mean?
It’s easy to feel defeated. Year after year, we talk about climate change. We talk about projected impacts and what we must do to avoid them. And then we see them come to pass anyway.
But “too late” isn’t meaningful. And it most certainly isn’t action-engaging.
It is essential that we understand how bad things are. And we prepare to adjust to the coming onslaught of change.
But we also must recognize that our actions still matter. The pace at which we emit carbon over the next 30 years will impact generations. Faster means much faster and harsher impacts. Slower means more time to adjust, more opportunity to act with compassion with each other and less suffering.
We must still fight for what we know is right.
Thankfully, we are seeing avenues for action working. Market disruptions are seeing the rise of solar and wind, married to battery storage and EVs, public transport and city planning that supports pedestrian and cycling. Coal is dying. Oil and gas are next, with the World Bank just announcing it will no longer invest in oil and gas, just as it did with coal some years ago.
China is churning out solar panels and pricing carbon. India is looking to be a renewable maven.
Things are hardly rosy. But we cannot fool ourselves into doom. We must focus on mitigating the damage, reducing suffering and increasing opportunities for compassion.
If we truly care about our children, then we are called upon to do the most difficult task of all. We must operate on the belief that love and compassion matter above all else.
Even more than fear that it is for naught.
After all my immersion in climate change, I’ve learned there is no “fixing” climate change. My initial journey to save the world for my kids has led me to a harder place that demands more of me.
Like with a child with a serious illness, all we can do is hold our child and reassure them “it will be alright.” And do our damndest to make it as alright as we can. All the while reducing their suffering by loving them. And loving them by reducing their suffering.
In the end, we mourn what we’ve lost. But we rejoice in what we are blessed to have.
Walk that difficult path. It’s the right thing to do.