By Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Cafe
Dear citizens of the world in 2040,
If you are able to read this letter, I am relieved. I have been worrying about you – you the children of our children’s children – because today’s humans, your ancestors, are endangering your future by destroying the natural systems your lives will depend upon. When I watch how other species care for their young – from gorillas to penguins to whales – I see how willing they are to give their very lives to secure a safe future for the next generation. Yet we humans, at least affluent Americans, seem more concerned with having a lot of stuff in our big houses than making sure that you will have the basics for a healthy life – clean air and water, healthy forests, rich soil to grow food, abundant river and sea life, a hospitable climate.
My biggest concern for your well-being is climate change. Our weather is becoming more and more destructive and unpredictable. Droughts and wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and mudslides, melting glaciers and rising seawater are threatening communities around the globe. Thousands have already been killed or displaced. You would think that humans would be learning our lessons and building a sustainable path toward the future. But I’m worried, because even with the signs so clear there is not yet a united effort to work urgently for change. Many of our political leaders even claim that climate change is a hoax. That’s another crisis we face in 2015 – we are loosing our democracy to bribery and greed. These politicians no longer work for the people; they work for the gas and oilmen.
By 2040 you will know if those of us who care about you have made a difference in turning the tide. Have we been successful in building a new economy that provides for everyone while working in harmony with natural systems? Some say they don’t know what to do. But it’s pretty simple. We have to stop burning fossil fuels. It’s beginning to happen. In the US, coal is finally on the way out, but again there are many misguided in thinking that natural gas is our friend. It’s not. Right here in Pennsylvania fracking is destroying rural communities and forcing toxic chemicals into the ground that is poisoning our water supplies. In our cities, refineries and factories spill toxins into our air and rivers.
I thought of you when I weatherized my home for greater energy efficiency, when I signed up for buying 100% renewable from the electric company, and when I installed solar panels on my roof. I think of you now as I convert my home to all electric power, so that I can cut off my natural gas line for good. And I think of you, too, as I go about choosing my first all-electric car, now that my hybrid is almost 13 years old, so that I never have to buy gasoline and oil again.
My hope is that you are reading this letter in a world where humans have learned to live at peace with each other and with nature, to cooperate and share with respect for all life. When I go into the woods and meadows, I look with awe at the beauty of this world. It’s my love for nature, for animals, for my children that give me the will to change my life and work for a sustainable future. The work of planet-saving will likely not be finished by 2040, but I hope by then that you humans of the future will have found our place on this planet, not as exploiters, but as lovers of life. And live with great joy in your hearts.
Editor’s Note: Dear 2040 is a series of blog posts containing some of the letters included in our 50th anniversary time capsule, buried in October 2015. Throughout the rest of 2015 we’ll be posting some of those letters, sharing what our leaders, thinkers, artists, and Schuylkill Center staff are thinking about the year 2040. You can read all the posts here.