A very good friend of ours recently had the occasion to speak at the reception of his daughter’s wedding. He told us he might get choked up during his talk, and when those moments occurred, when he started to get choked up, he would pause and drink a sip of water. During his talk, as he shared his feelings toward his daughter, he drank a lot water. Parents know (and I can speak only as a father) how easy it is to get choked up when we talk about our kids, and now I’m learning the same holds true for our grand-kids. So as you’re reading this, please realize that I’ve had to pause my writing a couple of times to get a sip of water.
Not long ago I received an e-mail from my daughter sharing with me a recent newsletter from the elementary school where my granddaughter attends. One of the items in that newsletter announced the progress the school had made over the past year in reducing cafeteria waste. To quote from that newsletter:
… “(city officials) came to visit student recycling helpers in grades 3-4-5. The kids had a special pizza lunch to thank them for helping so much with the recycling program in our cafeteria and being committed to sustaining it for years to come. In March 2018 we produced, on average, 122 pounds of trash per day in our cafeteria. Today, after only one year of implementation, we are producing an average of 24 pounds per day. We are currently recycling over 80% of the waste that is produced every day. This is a great lesson for our kids, and a practice that hopefully will become a habit as they grow older.”
My granddaughter added to the e-mail: “Pop I helped out with the compost and recycling unit too! I got to go to a pizza party because of it. A great reward!”
The press has covered several recent environmental events initiated by our youth. I’ll reference two here. First, the March 15, 2019 rallies by youth groups in Washington DC and 46 other states protesting climate inaction by our leaders. The organizers are calling for an “international Youth Climate Strike to seek action on climate change”. Calling for a “national emergency” on climate change they want the United States to stop all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Like so many issues in today’s political environment, there is significant division among political parties regarding the need to address climate change. Our youth are calling on our leaders to take action to address the world they will inherit.
The second event I’ll note here is a federal law suit referred to as “Juliana v. United States”. In this case, the plaintiffs, 21 young people, are suing the federal government and demanding a Climate Recovery Plan. They argue the “government’s inaction to climate change violates their human rights to life, liberty, and property.” This law suit has been referred to as the “Trial of the Century” and has drawn support from numerous environmental groups and sparked rallies across the country. Filed in Oregon in 2015, the suit argues the world’s top climate scientists and health experts are in agreement for the need to take steps to reduce the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
This case has been weaving its way through the judicial system since 2015. A trial date of October 29, 2018 that had been set by the District Court is currently on hold, pending a ruling for a temporary stay filed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling is under appeal. Needless to say, a public trial on the merits of these arguments would be newsworthy and could ignite public discourse on these issues beyond what is currently underway. And all because a group of young people decided action – rather than inaction – was needed. Hurray for our youth!
So what do these events tell us? To me it screams that Our Children are Our Future. While the environment might be important to me, it is critical to them. They have much more at stake than I do since they will live in the world I leave behind. It is also a reminder of how challenging this issue is – because it impacts our current way of life so much.
So what can I do? What choices can I make to make a difference? Well, for one, I can do my best to ensure my children and grandchildren are aware and knowledgeable regarding these issues and in a better position to make better choices themselves. And armed with this knowledge they will be more likely to “pay attention” to these evolving issues and not be distracted into inaction.
Randy Newman, in a song entitled It’s a Jugle Out There, provides the lyric:
It’s a jugle out there, poison in the very air we breathe. Do you know what’s in the water you drink? Well I do, it’s amazing!
People think I’m crazy, cause I worry all the time, if you’d pay attention you’d be worried too. Better pay attention or this world you love so much, might just kill you. I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so. Cause it’s a jugle out there.