Christine Colasurdo
Portland, Oregon, United States

A Prayer for the Children of the Future

“But now that we are many, there is no longer another frontier. We must stay and repair. We must treasure the only lifeboat we have.”

Dear Children of the Future:

Are you alive and well on a healthy planet? This is the question that worries many in my generation: have we Homo sapiens destroyed future viability for ourselves and other species? Have we gone too far in degrading the lifeboat that is Earth? The Paris conference was good news: we have the ability still to plan and act. But its timing was so very very late. Such is the tragedy of our species. Time and again we deplete our resources to the point of ecological collapse. When we were few on the planet, we could abandon the village and start a new colony somewhere else.

But now that we are many, there is no longer another frontier. We must stay and repair. We must treasure the only lifeboat we have. We must understand our moral obligation not just to our own species' future but to the future of all life forms. We owe the Monarch. We owe the Polar Bear. We owe the American Pika. We owe the whales, dolphins, manatees, rhinos, elephants, salmon, redwoods, ivory-billed woodpeckers, steelhead, varied thrushes. The Paris conference came late. But it did come. And that very fact gives heart.

But so did Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy and the Warm Blob in the Pacific Ocean. Talk is a starting point. But the question remains: was our species able to move past talk? Were we able to finally understand that it's not just about us, about Homo sapiens, but about all of life? And that greenhouses gases are not the only way we damage our lifeboat but that pollution of our air and water and land and minds is also a problem? Evolution is a strange thing. Did we evolve in time to fix our own self-destructive tendencies? Did we evolve in time to reach a deep understanding of how all life is connected, how if we harm the lowly worms we harm ourselves?

Children of the future, I say a little prayer for you: I pray we made it in time. That would mean that you are still thriving, that other species are still thriving, and that the complicated bewildering one-of-a-kind endlessly fascinating lively little lifeboat we know as Earth is still sailing through the cold dark nothingness of the universe with its amazing life-giving climate still intact and able to support a grand diversity of life.