An Apology to my Grandchildren About Global Warming

after the flood

copyright Des Pensable , 2014.

Dear (insert names),

I would like to apologise to you all for my inaction on Global Warming and hopefully explain why with all the scientific evidence available I chose to do nothing to help stop the problem which now threatens your lives.

I was born just after a great world war which was supposed to be the war to end all wars. I was brought up in a world that craved peace and security for their families. We just wanted to live and love and have a wonderful life. We all dreamed of having our own homes, a good job, a car and lots of time to be with our family.

In fact, the first three decades after the war the future looked very rosy, but slowly everything in our world changed and we all became greedy for material goods. It may surprise you to know that when I was born there was no television, stereo music, computers, mobile phones, supermarkets, jet planes, McDonalds, Internet, Google, Facebook or most of the things that you take for granted. They were all invented in my lifetime and we all wanted them.

At first we just wanted things that would improve our home life such as refrigerators, washing machines, a telephone and television. Of course, once we got TV our whole life changed. We had constant entertainment to take our minds off the world’s problems and we were seduced with advertising showing us all the new things that we could buy if we had money.

Did you know that when I was born there were no credit cards. If I wanted to buy something I had to earn the money first, saving every dollar and then buy it. When I did buy things it was very exciting and they were precious as I had to go without other things so that I could have them. Then the banks gave us credit cards and lots of credit. We didn’t have to save anymore. We bought everything we wanted and then worked to pay them back.

What we didn’t realise was at that moment we stopped being free. When we accepted the credit cards and began to buy everything we saw on the TV, we got into debt with the banks. It created a new problem which we were unprepared to handle. It’s called a debt cycle.

When you get into debt you need to work harder to get more money to pay back what you already owe to the banks. But after working hard all day and relaxing in front of the TV at night you see more things other people have that you want to buy. You buy them and get into more debt and the cycle continues. We never seemed to have enough money to buy all the things we wanted and to get out of debt.

We became addicted to money and all that it could buy. We forgot about everything else. We all wanted to be rich, own huge mansions, drive expensive cars and travel the world.  We ignored or didn’t understand that there were hidden costs in this wild pursuit for wealth. Our family life suffered, our health suffered and so did the health of the natural world.

Everything that was made used power that was supplied by fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. The more material goods we wanted, the more fossil fuels had to be burnt to produce those goods and the more carbon dioxide gas was released into the air.

One day the scientists began warning us that the carbon dioxide was changing our climate. It was warming up the world and if we didn’t stop putting it there then it would lead to a catastrophe in the future. They showed us the evidence and even told us how we could avoid the problem but it would mean that we would have to make changes in our lives.

We didn’t want to believe them. We watched as the summers got hotter and drier and the winters warmer. We saw the bushfire season start earlier and end later. We saw more violent storms happening around the world. We heard the sea levels were rising as the Arctic ice and most of the glaciers in world began melting. But we ignored it all and we did nothing.

We didn’t want to believe it could happen because it would threaten our comfortable lives. We might have to stop buying all those wonderful goods that we buy. We might have to change our ways, use less, buy less. We might lose some of our hard earned wealth. We might have to forget about all those lovely shiny entertaining things that we love so much.

The mistake I think we made was we trusted our politicians, the banks and the companies. We forgot that the politicians were just as addicted to money as we were. They wanted wealth and power and were open to corruption to get it. We forgot the banks and companies only existed to make money. They said there were no problems with Global Warming and we believed them. They lied to us.

I’m old now and I’ve realised how precious my family is to me. I’ve realised that the threat of Global Warming is real. I’ve been so absorbed in my own selfish wants and desires that I have forgotten that I am leaving all the problems my generation has caused in my lifetime for you to solve. I’m sorry that my inaction has threatened your future. I’m sorry for the pain and suffering that I have bequeathed to you.

Please forgive me and please don’t do what I did. Please work to fix the damage to our world that my generation has done. Please try hard to make the world a better place for your children and grandchildren if it isn’t already too late.

If I had my time over again I would fight to stop the use of fossil fuels and I would switch to renewable energy. I would resist the seduction of TV and try to avoid the debt cycle. I would certainly never trust politicians, and would push to heavily regulate companies.

Above all I would spend more time with the people I love. You, my family and my friends.

Your loving Grandfather / Grandmother.

For further environmental articles by the same author visit my website.

Published by

Des Pensable

Des is a native of Sydney where he currently lives with his partner Joanne. He has a PhD in neuroscience and worked as a biomedical scientist where he published widely in several areas of science. Since retiring, he’s been a keen writer of poetry, stories and philosophy which appear on his web, blog site and on line literary publications. He is also a performance poet that appears regularly in venues around Sydney.

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