Dear 2040: From Judy Wicks

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.

Judy WicksMy 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.

With hope,

Judy Wicks

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.

4 thoughts on “Dear 2040: From Judy Wicks

  1. This has been a frustrating morning; reading Judy’s letter has been a heartwarming reminder that there are good people who care … who really care enough to live their lives according to their principles. I remember Judy … I remember the White Dog Cafe where, when I lived in Philly many years ago, we would often meet for Sunday brunch. Thank you.

  2. Judy is so pure. It is so comforting to see someone so self satisfied with their own holiness and their willingness to share. So humble. So certain that she must be right and if only more were like her. What a world that would be. We can only dream. . .

  3. Judy,

    I too am an environmentalist (and peace advocate) and a fan of the former White Dog during and after my undergraduate days at Penn.

    But I am compelled to ask, among many other questions I have about this post: From where do you think your electricity comes? And where exactly will the heavy metals used in your solar panels and electric car batteries go?

    The basic laws of thermodynamics require that the energy consumed must equal the energy produced. Consuming energy — as we do, say, when running a restaurant — creates pollution of one form or another. There’s no way around it, and wishing it were otherwise will not make it true.

    But there is one way to eliminate pollution, which is to live in a cave year-round, never lighting a fire. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it is possible.

    So I’m afraid this post, to me anyway, has produced far more heat than light.

  4. Thanks Judy –

    I appreciate that you chose to put in solar panels rather than being forced by some government agency to do so.
    I agree with David Thayer’s comment above about the nasty materials used to make solar panels and the cost and disposal of lead acid batteries and so, being the “pro-choice” classical liberal that I am, I choose not to go solar.

    I am sure you would agree that it is the production (and use) of electricity that has brought so much good to this world.. longer and healthier lives, cleaner drinking water, greater variety of food, this computer I’m typing on now…
    I am sure our descendants will thank us for passing on all these great advancements that have bettered our lives just as I now thank our ancestors for producing them (and I hope they enjoyed the proceeds by “building big houses and having nice stuff”).

    So Judy, do you feel that a good solution might be to step up our consumption of fossil fuels to more quickly get rid of them? Then, when all the oil and coal is gone, the politicians could then go back to working for the people and we will have cleaned up the environment of all that nasty black stuff that nature has deposited in the earth and the ocean floor over the years.


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