To the Editor:
To quote John Denver: “It is here where we must begin to seek the wisdom of the children.” We must do so because they will pay the costs of our failures. I speak specifically about climate change and our inability to face their uncertain future. Recently, we have encountered disasters such as the most intense hurricanes on record in the south, massive flooding in the midwest, devastating fires in the west. We know now that these regional calamities are largely influenced by a global phenomenon: climate change due to greenhouse gases produced in large part by human activities. In 1988, the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess our knowledge of climate change. Its 195 members collect information from thousands of people world-wide. In 1990, the panel warned of future dangers that require immediate reduction of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane to minimize our impact on future climate change. We now know these warnings were underestimates. In their 2018 report, they stated that the impacts and costs of a 1.5 degrees C increase in global temperature are far greater than expected.
Because our kids and grandkids will face the full brunt of climate change, we as parents and grandparents need to engage them now about this most serious challenge. We need to discuss their concerns, awareness, and knowledge of climate change. We should ask them what they have learned about climate change in their science courses, and what they can teach us. Since most kids and grandkids are more computer savvy than us older folks, we can get them to “Google” our “carbon footprint” to see what we can do as individuals to reduce our CO2 emissions. I personally learned several things I can do to change my lifestyle when I did this. However, things that can be done at the state and national levels to reduce CO2 and methane emissions are much more effective. Thus, we need to assess the views and policies favored by our elected officials and vote for candidates that prioritize policies and programs to minimize climate change. Discussing this with our kids and grandkids is a good way to start. We must talk with them now to engage us and work on this serious issue together. Their lives depend on it.Rick Howard