“I hope that you—meanwhile we—have found solutions we’d never dreamed of, so you don’t have to live as our worst imaginings insisted you would.”
I will tell you that we did learn about it early, but couldn’t make power listen for the longest time. Early on we did make a holiday, which you may still celebrate: Earth Day—it felt like a meaningful gesture at the time. But then that was essentially it, seemingly forever. Or for forty-five years to date.
I devoutly hope that the steps they took in Paris in 2015 have ameliorated things for your world (carbon dioxide is 400 ppm. as I write), so that it’s not as fearsome as we’ve imagined it becoming. There was no excuse for not acting sooner, for not acting in concert, though everyone seemed to find excuses; we certainly did hope, this year in Paris, for a binding agreement among all nations to put every possible resource into stopping fossil-fuel use and developing the alternatives urgently. If I could show you the pictures of the demonstrations.... You have these letters. Do you have fusion power yet? I hope so. We were dreaming of it. I hope that you—meanwhile we—have found solutions we’d never dreamed of, so you don’t have to live as our worst imaginings insisted you would.
It’s hard to explain the needless fears that kept us from trying for so long. People invoked huge obstacles that then turned trivial. It was as if we didn’t want to survive. Just now I’m remembering a poem, by one W. H. Auden, that was written in 1940, well before Earth Day. Its refrain goes, “Time will say nothing but I told you so. / Time only knows the price we have to pay; / If I could tell you I would let you know.” I think that’s the knife edge we’re all perched on now as we write to you.
But have you been able to protect the people in the low-lying places? That was the great fear—that the powers that be would simply decide (or not even decide!) to jettison them. It was when those people became us that things began to move. I do hope it wasn’t too late. How you must hate us all, if it was. Or perhaps (I hope) the Anthropocene has brought good things to the species, too?
I hope you’re well. And that you have pictures, of now and before now and of then, that bear looking at side by side.
With much love and, again, hope.